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!
Archive for 'December 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.