In a clinical trial published yesterday, Palmer and co-workers studied the effects of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation (LC PUFA) in pregnancy on the development of allergy in children. Allergy is very common, and can manifest itself as minor symptoms such as hay fever and sneezing, less pleasant symptoms like eczema, and potentially life-threatening asthma and anaphylactic shock. There are multiple triggers for allergies. These range from pollen and dust mites to natural foods like eggs, cows’ milk, nuts and seafood as well as chemicals and cigarette smoke.Allergies can be seen as the unfortunate consequence of an over-active immune system. Food allergies and eczema normally are highest in children until they reach school age. LC PUFA have been identified as a potential protecting factor against allergy because they help to regulate the immune response.
Archive for 'January 2012'
Allen and Parker write today about the importance of treating neglected tropical diseases in a sustainable and culturally sensitive way. They highlight a recent increase in support of programs that control diseases such as lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis and dracunculiasis, which cause considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide, mainly in developing countries. They highlight that mass drug administration is not the best approach to prevent and cure these diseases, and draw on some experiences treating these diseases and also helminth infections in some affected countries. Providing drugs to treat parasites is only part of the solution.
The World Economic Forum has been meeting in Davos, Switzerland. A focus today is on women in leadership. This is important. As @UN_Women tweeted, “We need men and women working for women’s rights and empowerment”. In reality, women spend 90% of their money on children whereas men spend 40%. Children are our future. The first 1000 days of life is important. It has a profound impact on a child’s ability to learn and rise out of poverty. Improving nutrition during the first 1000 days of life has a lifelong benefit. Yet, many women live in nutrition empoverished communities with limited resources to feed themselves or their children. As described in this UNICEF video, nutrition programs are vital to empower communities to an extent that they can feed their children. For example, neural tube birth defects (NTDs)
The World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership with DSM, held a session “Increasing Livelihoods by Making Nutrition Accessible and Effective” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today. Speakers included Josette Sheeran (WFP), David Nabarro (UN), Muhtar Kent (Coca-Cola), Ken Powell (General Mills), Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University) and Feike Sijbesma (DSM). Listen to Josette Sheeran. Her words ring true. Food affects every person. We all have to eat. The topics of food and hidden hunger cannot wait. And as she says, private sector investments in areas like Africa also generates opportunity. Feike Sijbesma said, “Malnutrition is solvable but it will only be solved if we work together.
At TalkingNutritionDSM, we often write about the importance of getting enough folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, especially when it comes to their roles in amino acid metabolism. In fact, these metabolic processes, needed for DNA synthesis and the interconversion of amino, also require riboflavin. An emerging area of nutrition research at the moment involves the interplay between micronutrients and different genes and how they affect health outcomes. Wilson et al. write today about the effects of riboflavin supplementation on hypertension in people with a common variant of a gene involved in amino acid metabolism, with clinically important results.
Yesterday’s blog summarized two new studies linking cardiovascular and diabetes risk with low serum 25(OH)D levels. With increasing awareness that many people globally are vitamin D insufficient, some countries are taking action. In fact, more than half of adults in the UK are vitamin D insufficient. Because of high rates of multiple sclerosis in Scotland and associations with vitamin D insufficiency, Professor George Ebers called for increased food fortification. Because of increasing prevalence of rickets in young children, one year ago Professor Dame Sally, the Director General of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health recommended that children 6 months to 5 years of age be given vitamin D supplements
A new review authored by Muscogiuri and colleagues examines the effect of vitamin D deficiency on risk of cardiovascular disease. They analyzed 5 epidemiologic studies. By combining all 5, they report a significant 35% increased risk for persons in the lowest vs highest quintile (<50 nmol/L) of serum 25(OH)D levels, particularly during winter. Earlier this month, Hwang and colleagues reported that low vitamin D status was associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. They examined 2008-2009 data collected from 12,263 Korean subjects and found a 76% lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in those with serum 25(OH)D levels >75 nmol/L vs those <25nmol/L. As analytical challenges measuring serum 25(OH)D levels have been resolved,
Remember the headlines in November? “Pizza is a Vegetable? Congress Defies Logic, Betrays Our Children?” “Pizza is a vegetable? Congress says yes” “Pizza as a Vegetable? Congress Proposes New School Lunch Bill”. The end result was that Congress decided to count tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable. Well, Sesso and colleagues examined the association between tomato-based food product intake (pizza, tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato sauce) and coronary biomarkers
Two new publications report that obesity levels among US children and adolescents and adults have not changed in the past 5 years. The most recent NHANES data (2009-2010) finds that 16.9% of children and adolescents are obese. Over 35% of adult men and women are obese. Statistically significant increases in obesity among non-Hispanic black and Mexican American women were observed over the 12 year period. The only way to prevent gaining weight, or to lose excess weight, is to reduce food intake and/or increase physical activity. In other words, to balance calorie intake with calorie expenditure. This is easier said than done. Now one doesn’t have to be thin to be healthy.
While agriculture produces more cereal than ever, the world population has doubled over the past 50 years. 9 million die every year from hunger. Another 925 million are undernourished. The FAO website shows the prevalence of undernutrition over time: 1990 to 2008. Much remains to be achieved. What should be done? Greenpeace advocates for production of food without destruction. This will require fundamental changes to existing farming and food systems. What is sustainable? According to the United Nations, >50% of the world’s population now live in cities. Urban populations grow at the expense of rural areas, and arable land. Where will food be grown? By whom? Is there enough arable land to grow all the fruit,
When is enough enough? Calories can be measured by stepping on the scales or the fit of clothes. However, it is very difficult to assess adequacy with micronutrients. Sure, we can read Nutrition Facts Panels on prepared foods, use food composition tables, estimate portion sizes, and number of servings consumed. We can tally the numbers for several days. But still we only have an estimate of daily intake for every nutrient. The best measure of nutrient adequacy relies upon biological samples. Take vitamin D for example. Understanding of the role of vitamin D in health surged in the past decade when: 1) serum 25(OH)D concentration was identified as the best measure of vitamin D status, 2) analytical methods were validated, and 3) a vitamin D standard was made available for analytical purposes. With these tools, scientists could precisely study the relationship of vitamin D status with health risk. And the news hasn’t been good.
Adequate perinatal folic acid status is essential for normal brain development. The National Institutes of Environmental Health named an Epidemiology research publication titled “Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism” as one of the top extramurally funded studies of 2011. Autism Speaks, a leading autism advocacy organization, also identified the research by Dr Rebecca Schmidt and her colleagues as one of the top 10 research advances in 2011. Vitamin B12 and folate metabolism are interconnected. It is known that a single nucleotide substitution (polymorphism) where the common C/C genotype is replace by the rare T/T genotype
Fact: Human skin can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Fact: People living near poles of earth do not get enough solar exposure during winter to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels. Fact: Vitamin D status is also compromised by lifestyle changes, e.g. spending more time indoors. News: European Nutrition Societies from Switzerland, Germany and Austria changed vitamin D dietary recommendations based on these facts. Serum 25(OH)D levels below 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL) are considered insufficient. The new recommended vitamin D intake, except for infants, during periods without endogenous synthesis is 800 IU daily (20 ug). This recommendation could also be applied to citizens of
Nutrition matters, whether one is a growing child or trying to fight cancer. Three new studies affirm this statement. Given that the last national nutrition survey in Australia was conducted in 1995 and Australian nutrient recommendations were revised in 2005, Grieger and Cobiac analyzed data from the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey on 781 Australian boys (12-16y). They reported that ready-to-eat-cereal (RTEC) consumers had higher breakfast intakes of calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, dietary folate, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and potassium than non-RTEC breakfast consumer
Recently someone asked ‘what is the coolest, most transformative nutrition research going on right now?’ My answer: insights into genetic polymorphisms which will ultimately transform views on food choices and nutrition policy. What if a blood sample could define your nutrition goals for the rest of your life? If it allowed you to personalize your nutrient requirements? With this information, you could set your mind at ease. The concept is identical to present day phenylketonuria (PKU) testing of newborns. With a single test, parents know if their child needs to only eat foods low in the amino acid, phenylalanine, or not. Today, governments attempt to address nutritional deficiencies through education programs
Tomato-based foods are rich sources of lycopene and other antioxidants. A new study suggests that US Members of Congress may not have been just ducking tomatoes when arguing this fall over the amount of tomato paste needed to count as a serving of fruit and vegetables. In a January 2012 Journal of Nutrition paper, Sesso and colleagues examined the cross-sectional association between tomato-based food products and coronary biomarkers in 27,000 women in the Women’s Health Study. Women who reported to eat ≥10 servings/wk of tomato-based food products were
For those living in the northern hemisphere, day length is increasing but cooler temperatures still prohibit exposing much skin to sunlight for vitamin D synthesis. A new British Journal of Nutrition report by Forsythe and colleagues studied the effect of adiposity and vitamin D supplementation during winter in healthy younger (20-40 years) and older (>65 years) Irish adults. Three key findings were reported:
Dietary advice too frequently focuses on negatives – counting calories, reducing salt, avoiding trans fats. We should also remember the importance of getting more nutrients. Chiu and colleagues investigated the relationship between cognitive function and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3 fatty acids, concentrations in blood plasma or red blood cell membranes in 132 at-risk older (average age 67.8y) people. The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition today
Setting New Years’ resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more is easy. The challenge is keeping them. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple, convenient solution? Holmes and colleagues provide an answer to the question: how can I eat healthier? Breakfast cereals, especially fortified and whole-grain cereals, are important sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They are also consumed with milk – an important source of calcium, riboflavin, and protein.
Visions of Tuscany contribute to perceptions of a healthy Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. However, a nutrition evaluation of dietary and health behaviors of 240 people finds that living in the middle-southern region of Italy may still leave room for improvement. Zappacosta and colleagues report data collected from healthy blood donors (18-66 years of age). They found 70% of them eating 2 or less servings of fruits and vegetables daily. They found approximately 75% of women had inadequate serum red blood cell folate concentrations, using a cut-off of ≥ 305 nmol/L. Only 20 of 79 women had an idealhomocysteine (Hcy) concentration of <10 umol/L.