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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for '2012'


    TalkingNutrition: Our Most Popular Post and Tweet of 2012

    In 2012, TalkingNutrition had over 12,000 visitors and over 45,000 page views. Around one in ten visitors are regulars, visiting more than once. We also currently tweet to 1500+ followers and have 250+ “likes” on facebook. We are glad to be able to provide up-to-date, relevant content about micronutrients and the world of nutrition science to a wide audience from all over the world. Our blog posts are what drives our site: each work day we aim to provide fresh, up-to-date content about the world of nutrition research, written by scientists. We base our posts on issues that are less than two days old, to keep readers on top of what is going on. This is post number 236, which means that we have covered almost every day this year, and two blogs more than in 2011!

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    The Most Researched Vitamin of 2012

    The end of 2012 is rapidly approaching and we are all looking back on the past year, and thinking about what is in store for us in 2013. It has certainly been an interesting year for the field of nutrition! One hundred years after the vitamins were first discovered, there is still plenty to be discovered about the vitamins, their roles in the body and interactions with health and disease. TalkingNutrition monitors nutrition science every day and we try to keep our finger on the pulse regarding the latest breakthroughs. We have our hunches about what is being researched the most. But what do the statistics say?

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    Micronutrients in Christmas Dinner Around the World Part 4: We Unwrap the Results for the Most Nutritious Meal

    The past three posts, TalkingNutrition has looked at the micronutrient composition of typical Christmas meals in Mexico, Sweden and English-speaking countries. These countries all have their own unique celebration foods for Christmas, and the menu changes the amounts of vitamins and minerals provided by each meal. Today we compare these meals, and decide which offers the best mix of micronutrients.

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    Micronutrients in Christmas Dinner Around the World Part 3: Sweden

    The Julbord is the Swedish adaptation of their Smörgåsbord to celebrate Christmas. Normally two or three courses of small dishes are laid out buffet-style, and the meal includes national, regional and family specialities. The first course normally consists of cold fish dishes, such as herring, pickled eel and smoked salmon. Cold cuts such as ham, liver pate and cheese make up the second course. Finally, warm dishes including meatballs, sausage and casseroles are brought out for the third course. But how well does this meal fulfill dietary requirements? Take a look at the micronutrients in the Swedish Christmas meal via the Micronutrient Calculator.

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    Micronutrients in Christmas Dinner Around the World Part 2: Mexico

    In Mexico, Christmas is a true fiesta! On Christmas Eve, many families gather around a pot of pozole, a soup with pork shoulder, corn and a wide array of garnishes, served with tostadas (fried corn tortillas) and a glass of Christmas punch. The use of corn, a sacred plant according to the Aztecs, dates back to ancient times and is used for celebrations. The ponche Navideño is a fruity punch containing guava, oranges, sugar and rum. But how does this meal contribute to micronutrient intakes? TalkingNutrition takes a closer look at the nutritional composition of Christmas Dinner in Mexico.

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    Meta-Analysis Offers Clarity on Effects of Omega-3 PUFA on Infant Vision

    Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3) accumulate in the brain during the third semester of prenatal development. In particular, cell membranes in the retina contain high levels of omega-3. Clinical trials have been conducted over the last two decades have looked at the effects of omega-3 supplementation on visual development in infants and young children. A meta-analysis published recently in Pediatrics by Qawasmi and colleagues collated the results of these studies to determine the strength of the evidence behind omega-3 and vision.

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    What Micronutrients Are in Your Christmas Dinner? Around the World Part One

    As many people around the world take time off over the festive season, TalkingNutrition thought it would give a seasonally-appropriate salute to the micronutrients by looking at the nutritional content on some Christmas meals around the world. To start with something close to home for the TalkingNutrition writers, we will look at the nutritional composition of a basic Christmas dinner that could be found in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. The meal consists of roast turkey and potatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin, cranberry sauce and finishes off with some fruit cake. Portion sizes are typical of what could be expected during the feasting that normally occurs during the holidays. The entire nutritional composition can be viewed via the Micronutrient Calculator Christmas Dinner page.

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    Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplementation Supports Visual Health

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness in developed countries. AMD affects ~2 million individuals living in the US. In the UK, ~5% of those over 65y and >12% of those over 80 years have AMD. AMD results from the breakdown of photo sensors in the macula at the back of the eye leading to a loss of central vision. The loss is usually gradual, ultimately progressing to an inability to read, drive, or recognize faces even though peripheral vision generally remains functional. There is currently no cure for AMD although oxidative stress and inflammation is implicated in its etiology and progression. Ma and colleagues screened individuals (50-79y) with probable AMD.

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    Scientists Recommend Increasing Vitamin B12 Intakes for Adults

    In 1926, Georg Minot and William Murphy discovered that feeding patients large quantities of liver could restore red blood cells in patients with pernicious anemia. These two scientists and George Whipple received the Nobel Prize for their treatment of pernicious anemia in 1934. Almost 90 years later, vitamin B12 deficiency is still common among the elderly and more likely to be observed in vegans. Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia and complex neurological complications, including dementia and difficulty with maintaining balance.

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    GAIN, WFP, and SUN Call for Private Sector Partnerships to Solve Malnutrition

    On Tuesday this week, representatives from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and leaders from government, industry, and non-government sectors met in London to launch the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement Business Network. GAIN and WFP issued a press release calling for efforts to work with the private sector to help develop national nutrition plans, food products, and distribution systems to improve nutrition for vulnerable communities. Today’s key research citation demonstrates why this initiative is so important.

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    What Do Quitting Smoking, Exercising More, and Eating More Pizza and Pasta Have in Common?

    Some lifestyle choices are hard to make. Quitting smoking is very difficult for many smokers to achieve. Exercising more can also be hard for many people to fit into an active lifestyle. Changing the diet can also be hard if people have to give up favorite foods, or eat foods they don't like so much. The study published recently by McEneny and co-workers is welcome news for people looking for a delicious way to improve their blood lipid profile. The researchers looked at the effect of increasing lycopene consumption via the diet or a supplement on inflammatory proteins and antioxidant enzymes in HDL-cholesterol, and found favorable results for both the diet and supplement.

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    Tackling Malnutrition with the World Food Program, Sight and Life, and Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science

    The December issue of Sight and Life Magazine is published! It is the last issue to be published in the year of the 100th anniversary since Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk coined the term ‘vitamine’. With the Reichstein Process, it became possible to produce vitamin C in large quantities. This was the first industrial production of a vitamin. Thus, Nobel Laureate Tadeusz Reichstein forever changed the landscape of malnutrition as scientific insights were translated from research lab benches to industrial production sites. For the first time in human history, the availability of pure vitamins allowed for the fortification of foods and distribution of dietary supplements.

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    Folate, Economics, and the First Trimester of Pregnancy

    In some countries, like New Zealand, there has been a backlash against mandatory folic acid fortification of breads. As a scientist the sentiment is surprising since the majority of pregnancies are unplanned and folate status during the first trimester is critical to the development of the spinal cord in utero. If however, you are interested in the economical impact of fortification, keep reading. Australia and New Zealand introduced voluntary fortification of food in 1996. From 1992 to 2005, this resulted in a 26% reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects (NTD). In 2009, Australia mandated folic acid fortification of flour for breads. Rabovskaja and colleagues evaluated the cost effectiveness of mandatory folic acid fortification in Australia. They estimated that 13.3 pregnancies per 10,000 births in Australia are affected by NTD.

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    Coenzyme Q10 Helps the Heart Pump More Effectively

    Coenzyme Q10 is considered to be a vitamin-like compound. This is because it is required in very small quantities by the body as a co-factor in metabolic reactions, in particular in energy reactions in cell mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 is found in high levels in organs like the heart, which show high metabolic activity. Unlike the vitamins, which must be obtained from the diet, humans can produce coenzyme Q10. The amount produced varies and lower levels are associated with risk of congestive heart failure (CHF) and cardiovascular disease. In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Fotino, Thompson-Paul and Bazzano report on a meta-analysis conducted of intervention studies using coenzyme Q10 in CHF patients.

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    Northern Climes, Vitamin D Inadequacy and Risk of Diabetes

    For people living at latitudes above 40⁰N, the days are getting shorter and the opportunities for vitamin D synthesis in the skin are diminishing. At this time of year, it is particularly important to choose vitamin D rich foods, typically fortified dairy products, or to supplement with vitamin D3. Why is it so important you may ask? There are many reasons. The obvious is because vitamin D is essential for strong bones and teeth. Higher serum 25(OH)D levels also support strong muscles and reduce the risk of falls (and fractures). Two new papers published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that optimal serum 25(OH)D levels may be protective against diabetes. Husemoen and colleagues examined the association between serum 25(OH)D status and independent risk of incident type 2

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    Resveratrol: Testing Nutrients Under Metabolically Receptive Conditions

    If you read this blog regularly, you will know that nutrients are not drugs. Unfortunately, many randomized clinical studies use a prescription drug approach. One of the pitfalls can be a failure in design, i.e. that people studied are adequately nourished or healthy. Once healthy, it is difficult to measure ‘healthier’. Today’s blog contributes to the proof of this principle. Crandall and colleagues tested the hypothesis that resveratrol improves glucose metabolism and vascular function in older adults with impaired glucose tolerance.

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    Indicators of Vitamin B Adequacy Show That Some European Teens Need More

    There is more than one way to look at nutrient adequacy. Dietary intake is important for estimating the contribution of various foods to overall nutrient intakes. Biochemical indicators may give a better indication of adequacy because they take into account the bioavailability and interactions between nutrients. In a recent European study conducted in 9 countries, a study group lead by González-Gross reports on a survey of nutrient adequacy in adolescents based on laboratory biochemical indicators. The B vitamins are all water-soluble nutrients that are needed for a range of functions such as DNA methylation, carbohydrate metabolism and red blood cell formation. A few are linked together in the metabolism of amino acids: vitamins B6, B12 and folate. This means that deficiency in just one affects overall amino acid metabolism. In adolescents, there is a paucity of nutrition research.

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    University of Basel

    Today is the day! One hundred years of vitamins will be summarized in 1 day. Watch the live webcast. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the term ‘vitamin’, coined by a Polish biochemist Dr Casimir Funk, scientists are being convened by DSM Nutritional Products and its think tank, Sight and Life, in Basel Switzerland. Vitamins are essential for life. They are required at every stage of the lifecycle – pregnancy through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. However, as Dr Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President of Nutrition Science & Advocacy says,

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    Nutrition, Genes, and Health over the the Next 100 Years

    Tomorrow is the 100 Years of Vitamins Celebration at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Today’s TalkingNutrition uses its looking glass to peer into the future of personalized nutrition. What can one expect from ‘personal nutrition’ in the next 100 years? Traditionally, nutritionists have accepted the premise that nutrient requirements of populations can be described statistically by a normal distribution. Thus, one could define the estimated average requirement (EAR) and its variability (including that inherent in experimental design and analytical methods) to derive a dietary recommendation (RDA) that would meet the needs of 97-98% of the population. Two new scientific papers disrupt these assumptions. And they may explain the results of a third publication.

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    Who Knew? Like Vitamin D, Vitamin C Status Varies with Season

    Seasonal variations in vitamin D concentrations are expected. In winter months with colder temperatures, people simply don’t spend enough time in the sunshine with skin exposed to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D. However, who would have guessed that a similar situation could occur with vitamin C? Paalanen and colleagues hypothesized that plasma vitamin C concentrations might be lower in the spring than in the summer/fall when fresh vegetables and fruit are abundant. They measured plasma vitamin C concentrations among 43 men and 56 women living in northwestern Russia, Pitkaranta to be exact. In the fall, plasma vitamin C levels were > 50μmol/L. However, both men and women were severely to marginally deficient in the spring, 6.8 and 19.6μmol/L for men and women, respectively. This is not unique to Russia.

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    Discover US Population Nutrient Intakes on the Micronutrient Calculator Website

    Population nutrient intake data is used to work out how well-nourished a population is. Average intakes of the macro- and micronutrients form important part of public health nutrition and these data are used along with other estimates of nutritional status to make sure that people are getting the right balance of nutrients to stay healthy. Today, a tool is being launched that provides US micronutrient intakes and recommendations in an easily accessible format via the Micronutrient Calculator website. Usual mean intakes and percentage not meeting recommendations of many micronutrients, carbohydrate, protein and dietary fiber, are provided for a wide range of age, gender, ethnicity and household income sub-groups, based on NHANES dietary intake data from 2003-2008.

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    How the Vitamins Were Discovered

    This year is the vitamins’ 100th anniversary of when the word "vitamine" was coined to describe compounds needed in small to minute quantities to sustain life. Since ancient times, humans have known that some diseases can be cured by eating certain foods. The practice of using food as medicine was fraught with difficulties, however, because the levels of vitamins in food varies and can be changed by storage and cooking. Understanding the vitamins was only achieved after decades of careful experimentation starting in the 1800s. Researchers located around the world progressively discovered, isolated, described and synthesized each of the vitamins, starting with vitamin A in 1909 and ending with the synthesis of vitamin B12 in 1972. We are still discovering all the functions and health effects of the vitamins, and trying to prevent deficiency, which unfortunately is still a significant problem globally.

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    To D3 or Not to D3, That is the Question: On the Bioequivalence of Vitamin D

    There is some controversy in the nutrition world about the effectiveness of vitamin D supplements using cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). A group of New Zealand researchers published the results of a long term study on the effectiveness of both forms of the vitamin on circulating levels in the British Journal of Nutrition (Logan, 2012). This issue has been discussed before by TalkingNutrition and you can follow some of the most recent publications on our blog. Vitamin D3 is the form that is produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight, and vitamin D2 is found in plant sources of the vitamin such as UV-light exposed mushrooms. Vitamin D3 is converted to hydroxyvitamin D3 in the body as the circulating form, which D2 is converted to hydroxyvitamin D2.

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    Critical Nutrient Density and Complementary Foods for Children 0 to 36 Months

    Everybody knows that nutrition is important. Without adequate nutrition, our abilities to be active and our cognitive capabilities become limited. We become more susceptible to infections and our risk of diseases increase. As summarized by the World Food Programme, malnutrition results from not getting enough food or the right sorts of foods. Children are at the greatest risk of malnutrition because they also need to grow. This requires protein to build muscle and fats to build membranes to surround new cells. It also requires carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy. But children can have normal weight gain and still be malnourished if they have inadequate intakes of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and things like lutein and zeaxanthin to support eyes and brain development. In a letter to the JAMA editor, Friedrich comments on a study published earlier by Huybregts and colleagues,

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    Diet Quality: Separating the Effects of Calories from Essential Nutrients

    As America prepares to sit down and celebrate Thanksgiving, a greater emphasis may be placed on planning this savory meal than for most meals, and diet quality during the rest of the year. Hiza and colleagues assessed diet quality using data collected from >8,200 children, adolescents and adults participating in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They report that diet quality was superior for:

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    Vitamins D, C and E, Family Genetics and Diabetes Mellitus

    For those living in the northern hemisphere, days are getting shorter and shorter. Despite a shift from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, mornings are still dark. Shorter days and colder temperatures reduce sun exposure and increase our dependence upon dietary vitamin D sources. And outside of fish and evaporated milk, most food servings provide < 1/5 of the recommended 600 IU daily. This increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. It may also contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In a new study published in Diabetes Care, Neyestani and colleagues report that some people may need more dietary vitamin D to maintain their serum 25(OH)D levels. 140 individuals with diabetes were randomized to consume 1,000 IU, given as 500 IU vitamin D in 2 servings of a yogurt drink (doogh), for 3 months. Participants with a specific vitamin D receptor (VDR) genotype, the Fok-qI polymorphism, had a significantly lower response

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    Is it Time to Rethink Nutrition Communications?

    Board-certified neurologist Dr David Perlmutter (@DavidPerlmutter) visited DSM Nutritional Products (@dsmnutrition) yesterday. He spoke about the role of nutrition in maintaining a healthy brain. He reviewed the importance of antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and to block inflammatory processes. The message was clear – by using nutrition to maintain healthy tissues, it may reduce the need for medical and pharmacologic interventions later. For more information on brain health, see his video “A Better Brain: Alzheimer’s Disease is Preventable”. The underlying question is: do people understand the role of nutrition with chronic disease risk? Insights can be found in a 5 year (2006-2010) retrospective of American Attitudes toward food, nutrition and health published by Hornick and colleagues. Looking at trends , the authors report:

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    Flip-flopping about Calcium Supplements and Heart Attacks? Experts Weigh In

    A nutrition-related issue that has made headlines in the past few years involved the risk of heart attacks found in randomized clinical trials using calcium supplements. This has been rather confusing, as calcium supplements seem to be recommended one week, and shunned the next. The latest study, published yesterday by Heaney and co-workers in Advances in Nutrition, provides a review of the evidence and a statement of scientific equipoise on the issue. Calcium supplements are used widely, with data from the US (CDC) and Europe (Skeie, 2009) showing that they are one of the most widely used supplements; over half of American women aged over 60 use calcium supplements, and in the top three supplement ingredients in Greece, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Calcium supplements are generally considered to be a helpful way for people with low calcium intakes to meet intake guidelines and help maintain bone mineral.

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    Personalizing Health with Nutrition (Vitamin D) and Genetics

    Most people know that calcium (86%) and vitamin D (79%) are important for bone health according to the 2012 Gallup Study of Bone Health report. We know that vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and together they strengthen bones, prevent bone loss, and reduce the risk of fractures. Low serum 25(OH)D levels are also associated with increased risk of many chronic diseases. And the International Osteoporosis Foundation has published a vitamin D map showing rampant insufficiency globally.So it was controversial when a US Preventive Services Task Force reviewed the literature and issued a draft report concluding there was insufficient evidence to assess the benefits of calcium and vitamin D supplements on bone health. The Council for Responsible Nutrition issued a press release that the draft recommendations and the accompanying media coverage did not accurately reflect the science and would confuse consumers. For a detailed examination of the Task Force report, click here.

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    Adopting Electioneering Tactics to Eradicate Micronutrient Inadequacies

    Granularity does bring clarity. Increasing lens resolution can bring insight. This concept was driven home as I listened to pundits discuss the 2012 voting patterns by county within Florida. It becomes clear that it is an oversimplification to characterize states as a single color – red or blue. Clearly, voting patterns differ by district. One size does not fit (describe) all. The same can be said when it comes to evaluating the nutritional health of a nation. The CDC Second Nutrition Report presents information on 58 biochemical indicators which were measured in blood and urine of people who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) from 2003 to 2006. The prevalence of nutrient deficiencies (yes nutrient deficiencies, not inadequacies) has not changed much over the preceding 8 years at a national level:

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    How Can Pizza Influence the Activity of Your Brain?

    Pizza is not only delicious, and potentially a healthy choice if you go easy on the cheese and salami, but the phytonutrients in the oregano that gives pizza its characteristic taste might help you to think more clearly. At the International Society of Neuroscience conference held last month in New Orleans, Mohajeri and co-workers presented the results of a clinical trial showing the effects of oregano extract on brain wave activity (presentation abstract 227.08).

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    How are Antioxidant Vitamins Linked with Exercise and Leg Pain?

    Strenuous exercise has been shown to increase oxidative stress, leading to the hypothesis that antioxidants, like vitamins C and E, might be protective. Research from Linus Pauling Institute shows that tissues release crucial antioxidants into the blood during prolonged exercise. In fact, the rate of vitamin E utilization increases during exercise. A new study by Muller and colleagues studied the effect of intravenous vitamin C prior to exercise in 14 individuals with peripheral arterial disease. Blood pressure increases in the leg during exercise and before pain manifests. This pressure response is an effect of muscular contraction. They report that vitamin C helped attenuate the onset of muscle pain by 50%.

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    Critical Nutrient Density Essential in Complementary Foods for Infants

    Just as Hurricane Sandy reminds us that nature controls our environment and our lives, we need to remember that babies rely upon others for nutrients, at least until they are able to forage for food themselves. A new paper in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses the importance of nutrient adequacy of young children’s diet. WHO recommends ad libitum exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life with the introduction of complementary foods from 6 to 24 months of age. Vossenaar and colleagues identify nutrient gaps facing Guatemalan infants.

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    How Can You Measure Effects of Vitamin D Levels on Newborns' Bones?

    Bones are the framework that supports and protects bodies. They may seem strong and permanent, but they grow considerably until the end of adolescence, and after that constantly undergo remodeling to repair the many minor and sometimes major fractures and damage that result from daily life. The importance of providing the right nutrients for proper bone growth and maintenance throughout the lifespan, starting before birth, is given due attention in general nutrition advice. In pregnant women, protein intakes are required for not only bone but also for other functions. Most women in high income countries get enough protein. Developing fetuses normally are not at risk of calcium deficiency because they can draw on the large reserves in maternal bone. The third important bone nutrient, vitamin D, is a risk nutrient.

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    The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

    The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy continues to subsume activity. New Jersey was particularly hard hit. Eight days later, one of our two DSM campuses is still closed. Phone service was just restored yesterday to our other campus. Many employees still do not have electricity in their homes. Without electricity, there often isn't heat or running water.

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    Who Should be Taking a Daily Multivitamin?

    At the American Heart Association scientific session today in Los Angeles, CA and simultaneously in JAMA, Sesso and colleagues report that US male physicians taking a daily multivitamin supplement to more than a decade do not have reduced risk of major cardiovascular events compared to those taking a placebo.The Physicians’ Health Study II (PHS II) report is expected to generate headlines dismissing the value of using multivitamins. Is that really the case? Let’s examine the facts. Beginning in 1997, a total of 14,641 male US physicians, 50 y and older, were enrolled in the study.

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    Linking Mechanism to Epidemiological Research to Investigate Role of Vitamin D in Bladder Cancer

    Vitamin D deficiency has been identified as a serious issue for many people over the world, as the Vitamin D Map shows. Besides its role in bone health, the discovery of vitamin D receptors on many cell types including muscle, bone, breast and bladder tissue as well as in cells important in the immune system has stimulated considerable research into other areas of health. The active form of vitamin D, calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D), has been shown to modulate gene expression, in particular to activate gene transcription (see this review of vitamin D metabolism by Colorado State University for background information).In vitro studies show that vitamin D also affects tumor cells both at the cellular level and in the environment surrounding tumors, which means that vitamin D can regulate tumor cell death, adhesion, growth of blood vessels near the tumor cell and metastasis of the tumor.

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    Nutrition Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

    As Hurricane Sandy blew across the northeastern region of North America, it was a reminder of the importance of building for the future. The importance of an infrastructure to support people during a time of need is undeniable. Investments are needed at a community level to have emergency centers with electricity, heat, and water. At a personal level, those who have aggregated nonperishable foods, potable water, and fuel to run generators have a better opportunity to survive the assault. In a similar fashion, people need to accumulate nutrients to build strong bodies capable of withstanding unexpected stresses. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsement of the Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D are very important because these shape national programs targeted to ensure nutrient adequacy.

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    Conflicting Reports on Cancer and Folic Acid: Placing New Research in the Big Picture

    The past two weeks have seen a number of conflicting research articles published on the relationship between folic acid and cancer. Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is essential for the biosynthesis, metabolism and repair of DNA, and metabolism of amino acids. Adequate intakes of folic acid are needed in the same biochemical pathways along with other B vitamins such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and riboflavin. Inadequate folic acid intakes may affect cancer risk because DNA synthesis or repair is hindered, or levels of inflammatory amino acid homocysteine are elevated. The introduction of folic acid fortification in many countries over the last 15 years has improved folic acid status of entire populations.

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    Perspective on the Metabolic Benefits of Resveratrol

    The 'French Paradox' is based on the observation that cardiovascular risks in countries with high intakes of saturated fat are lower where people consume wine. The question has been: is the benefit derived from alcohol or a component found in wine? Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes and wine, especially reds, which helps prevent oxidative damage from free radicals. The daily consumption of 250 mL of red wine for 3 weeks has been shown to improve endothelial function, often referred to as flow-mediated dilation (FMD). At the 24 th scientific meeting of the International Society of Hypertension this fall, Wong and colleagues reported (Abstract 231) that 75mg of resveratrol daily for 6 weeks resulted in a 23 percent increase in FMD in obese men with mild hypertension. Previously, acute doses of resveratrol had been reported to improve FMD in overweight individuals with mild hypertension.

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    Iron and Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cognition in School-Aged Children

    Iron deficiency anemia has been identified as an area of concern by many international organizations concerned with improving health of nutritionally impoverished populations, particularly to improve concentration, learning and work capacity. Omega-3 fatty acids have been identified as important for cognition and heart health. Results from a randomized 2x2 factorial placebo-controlled trial in South African school children were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Baumgartner and colleagues. The trial randomized 321 children with poor iron status aged 6 to 11 to either 50 mg iron or a DHA/EPA supplement with 420mg DHA and 80 mg EPA four days per week. The iron dose was very high and designed to reduce deficiency

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    Why is Vitamin D Like Your Pay Check? Some Perspectives From the Latest Research

    Vitamin D is currently the most actively researched vitamin. Every week, TalkingNutrition finds scientific articles published about vitamin D: its role in many aspects of human health, bioavailability, consumption and risk groups. In the last two days, two articles were published about the relationship between circulating levels of vitamin D and adequacy. The first publication (Kramer et al) looked at circulating levels of people with reduced kidney function compared to the general population. The second (Taylor et al) used a new approach to determine population levels of vitamin D adequacy.

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    Some Nutrition Advice for the Giants and Tigers: You Can Only Hit or Catch Balls You See

    If you are anticipating the 8pm ET opening pitch for the 2012 World Series Fall Classic, did you know that the outcome might depend upon whether these veterans eat their vegetables? As Hammond Jr and Fletcher write, baseball players tend to have very good visual acuity. College baseball players have ~15% better dynamic visual acuity than their peers. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in vegetables – spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, dandelion greens, etc. They are the only carotenoids found in the eye, out of ~200 carotenoids found in the diet. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the macula of the eye at levels 10,000 times that found in blood.

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    Vitamin D, Pregnancy, and the First 24 Months of Life

    Low maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy may increase child’s risk of having eczema. Jones and colleagues measured cord blood serum 25(OH)D concentrations in 231 Australian infants and the subsequent development of infant eczema and allergies. They found: Lower cord blood serum 25(OH)D levels were correlated with risk of child eczema Maternal supplemental vitamin D use increased cord blood vitamin D levels Eczema was most prevalent in those with serum 25(OH)D levels <50 nmol/L

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    Folic Acid, Pregnancy and Healthy Children

    Healthy children are the desire of every parent. And grandparent. And godparent. And the list goes on. Yesterday’s blog ‘Vitamin D, Pregnancy, and the First 24 Months of Life’ discussed the importance of vitamin D during the first 1,000 days. Today we learn that women who take a folic acid supplement before and during pregnancy may reduce the risk of their child developing a brain tumor by almost 50%. Using data collected from 327 children with cancer at 10 pediatric oncology centers in Australia, and 867 control children, Milne and colleagues report that using a folic acid supplement before and during pregnancy may protect children from brain tumors.

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    Multivitamins Essential for Children to Grow and Learn

    Tuesday was World Food Day, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to increase awareness about the importance of improving food security and ending hidden hunger. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition emphasizes the importance of micronutrients for children. Each year 2.8 million children under 5 years die from malnutrition. As the infographic in the Sight and Life Magazine shows, this can be stopped for only pennies a day by Scaling up Nutrition. Recognizing that nutrition interventions in Vietnam do not target school children despite a high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies, Hieu and colleagues conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled study with 403 children (6-9y).

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    Which is Better for a Child? Being Nourished Tomorrow or Waiting Years for Reform?

    Today’s blog is an exclusive article written for Everything Nutrition in Nutraceuticals World. Ok, I admit, this piece was stimulated by a news article not a peer-reviewed paper. My ire was raised when I read the Australian Herald Sun headline - "Experts fear popping vitamins may corrupt kid's dietary habits into adulthood". Here are some direct quotes: Sales of children's vitamin pills soared 20 per cent in the past year to $10 million, a new study reveals. And the sales leap comes at a time when government research shows only one fifth of children aged 4-8 is eating the recommended daily serves of vegetables. Nutritionists fear the surge in kiddie vitamins is sending the wrong message about healthy eating habits.

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    Doctors Benefit from Long-term use of Multivitamin Supplements

    A new study reports that using multivitamins may help reduce the risk of cancer in men. Gaziano and colleagues examined data from the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS) II, a large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (RCT) of long-term multivitamin use in 14,641 middle-aged and older US medical doctors. They report an 8% reduction in total cancer risk in men taking a multivitamin daily (vs placebo). As stated by the Council for Responsible Nutrition vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs Duffy MacKay ND, “the study reinforces the value of long-term consistent use of a daily multivitamin as a convenient and affordable insurance policy for health.”

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    World Food Day is Time to Reflect on the Importance of Providing Good Nutrition to the World

    On October 16 every year, World Food Day is celebrated, a day that highlights the challenges feeding a growing population. This event is organized each year by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and many groups and organizations to raise awareness about the issues surrounding malnutrition, poverty and hunger. The statistics on hunger are staggering: around 870 million people are food insecure, according to the FAO in their most recent report (listen to the podcast with World Food Program Chief Economist, too). The causes of under-nutrition are complex and interrelated. Weak political situations, social instability, and poor economic growth all contribute to catastrophic situations in which populations cannot cope with normal fluctuations in local food production. The FAO has identified key areas that require focus to continue progress in reducing global hunger.

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    Connecting the Dots in Nutrient-Disease Relationships

    The news today on the Women’s Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study reminded me of a paper entitled ‘A potential design flaw of randomized trials of vitamin supplements’ published April 11, 2011 in JAMA. Morris and Tangney wrote: “Vitamin treatment may not be effective in these trials because nutrient intake among the participants is already at optimum levels. To specify, examples are provided from the field of dementia and investigations of 3 dietary components: vitamin E, B vitamins, and docosahexaenoic acid.” Song and co-authors didn’t find statistically significant effects of combined folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 treatment on colorectal cancer risk among women at high risk of cardiovascular disease. However, these women were consuming

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    Vitamin D and Viral Infections – HIV and HCV

    Imagine, a week almost past without a blog posting on vitamin D. This is a rarity given the number of scientists who have turned their attention to vitamin D. Well, it didn't happen. Vitamin D is in the news again this week. Today's blog focuses on a new report linking vitamin D status with virologic responses to therapy in patients co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Mandorfer and colleagues retrospectively examined samples from 65 patients who received chonic hepatitis therapy (PEGIFN+RBV). They report more patients (n=37, 57%) with deficient serum 25(OH)D levels (<25 nmol/L) than inadequate (26-75 nmol (n=15; 23%) or normal levels (n = 13, 20%). The authors highlight statistical differences in immunological variables and

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    Got Questions About Carotenoids? Look No Further for the Latest Research Highlights!

    Carotenoids are brightly colored pigments that give tomatoes their red color, make carrots orange and corn yellow. Carotenoids are important for health, and the most well-known example is that some carotenoids are converted to vitamin A, making them an important source in diets around the world. The discovery of the antioxidant qualities of carotenoids has also encouraged research into other areas of health, and the current focus is on immunity, vision, skin, and cognition. The science is evolving quickly, so it is useful that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has just published online a selection of articles based on presentations at the recent "New Developments in Carotenoid Research" symposium held in Boston in March, 2011. These articles provide an overview of cutting edge topics in carotenoid research.

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mental Health

    Keeping up with the latest science on omega-3 fatty acids isn’t easy. There are so many topics of interest. Omega-3 intake and cardiovascular health. DHA and brain development in kids. DHA and vision. A new study reports omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may also help with symptoms of depression. Rizzo and colleagues recruited 76 female residents (65-95y) living in a nursing home. They were randomized to receive placebo or omega-3 fatty acids (~0.83 g DHA and 1.66 g EPA) daily for 8 weeks. All participants were required to have a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score > 24. Baseline Geriatric Depression Scores (GDS) were 17. The levels of EPA and DHA in blood were lower in depressed subjects. Omega-3 supplementation significantly increased

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    The First Thousand Days and Folate Policies

    Because of their 120d lifespan and the fact that only developing erythrocytes take up folate, red blood cell (RBC) folate concentrations are indicative of longterm folate status. The cutoff for RBC folate depletion is 305 nmol/L (140 ng/mL) and folate insuffiency to prevent neural tube defects (NTD) is 906 nmol/L (400 ng/mL). These levels are based on an Irish case-control study showing an 8-fold increased risk of NTD in women < 340 nmol/L and 2-fold increased risk in women with RBC folate concentrations measuring 680-906 nmol/L versus those >906 nmol/L. A new EJCN publication reports that 39% of Belgium women have a less than optimal folate status to prevent NTD. Belgium is a country without folate food fortification or periconceptual folic acid supplementation policies. Fortification policies beginning in the late 1990s have significantly increased folate intakes and serum folate concentrations in the US and Canada.

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    Levering Nutrition to Reduce the Risk and Burden of Diabetes

    Almost 26 million children and adults in the US have diabetes. Diabetes is almost twice as prevalent (12.6%) among non-Hispanic blacks as non-Hispanic whites (7.1%). Adults with diabetes have 2-4 times higher heart disease death rates than adults without diabetes. Mild to moderate vitamin D inadequacy has been proposed as a risk factor for diabetes. Using data from the Danish Monitoring Trends and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease (MONICA) collected from 2,656 persons during 1993-1994 and followed for 10 years, Husemoen and colleagues examined the relation between serum vitamin D levels and incident diabetes. At baseline, the average serum 25(OH)D levels were 60-62 nmol/L (ranging from mid-forties to low-eighties). Low serum 25(OH)D levels were significantly associated with diabetes risk in people.

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    Vitamin K1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Recent Research Supports Link

    The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been rising in recent years as the obesity epidemic has evolved. The effect of excessive caloric consumption on adiposity and the risk of type 2 diabetes is well known. Micronutrients may also modulate risk as they are bioactive molecules that contribute to epigenetics and may act on pathways associated with diabetes or its pathology. Vitamin K1, otherwise known as phylloquinone, has been the subject of research by Ibarrola-Jolado and co-workers. These investigators are involved with the PERIMED randomized controlled trial of dietary interventions associated with the Mediterranean diet in multiple centers located in Spain. They used cross-sectional and longitudinal dietary assessment data to determine the association between vitamin K1 intakes and the development of type 2 diabetes.

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    Evidence Builds For Resveratrol's Role in Cardiovascular Health

    Resveratrol has been linked with cardiovascular health since the "French Paradox" theory was first proposed to explain the low rates of cardiovascular disease despite high saturated fat intakes in the French population. Researchers have been looking for the dietary factor responsible for maintaining heart health in the French. One feature of the French diet is the liberal consumption of red wine. Resveratrol is a bioactive component in red wine that shows potential for being the mystery compound responsible for keeping the heart and blood vessels healthy. At the International Society of Hypertension's 24th annual meeting held in Sydney Australia, a research team from the University of South Australia presented results from a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial that tested the effects of resveratrol on circulatory function in obese subjects.

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    When it Comes to Colds and Flus, Could Vitamin D be the Real McCoy?

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if nutrients could prevent colds and flus? Then nobody would ever get sick and there wouldn’t be any need for medications or vaccinations. Life would be grand. Life is, however, fraught with challenges. So, it is not surprising that Murdoch and colleagues did not find that vitamin D supplementation, once a month, did not reduce the incidence or severity of upper respiratory tract infections in 322 healthy individuals. It is especially not surprising given the trial was conducted in individuals with above average vitamin D status. Their average serum 25(OH)D levels were 72.5 nmol/L, well above that observed in many populations.

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