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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'March 2013'


    Impact of Ageing Populations on European Governments

    Many western nations spend a lot of health care. The US spends the most per capita ($US 8,362). Luxembourg , Norway, and Switzerland all spend about $US 8,000. Canada spends about $US 5,222 according to the WHO. These estimates include health services (preventive and curative), family planning, nutrition, and emergency aid. Because the proportion of older people is expected to increase in Europe, Rechel and colleagues examined the impact of ageing populations on health systems. They considered 3 theories:

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    Iron Deficiency Anemia: Children Deserve More

    Young children are especially vulnerable to iron deficiency anemia during the first 5 years of life because of high iron requirements during rapid growth. WHO estimates there are ~600 million anemic preschool and school-age children worldwide. Providing iron alone isn’t the solution because iron inadequacy is often accompanied with other micronutrient shortfalls. A 1997 survey in the Kyrgyz Republic found 50% of children 3-36 months of age were anemic. Subsequently, the government launched a nutrition education program to promote breast feeding and home fortification with micronutrient powders (MNP). Serdula and colleagues report on the incidence of micronutrient deficiency pre- and post-intervention.

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    Latin American Map Shows Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy

    When it comes to vitamin D status, people increase their risk of deficiency if they spend most of the day indoors, use sunscreens, live nearer the poles of the earth in winter months, and have more melatonin in their skin. The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has a map of vitamin D status around the world. With the exception of Argentina, the IOF didn't publish data on Latin American countries. In the Food and Nutrition Bulletin of the International Nutrition Foundation for the United Nations University, Brito and colleagues report the first systematic review assessing the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy in Latin America. In Mexico, the only Latin American country with a nationally representative sample, 24% of preschoolers have vitamin D levels which are inadequate (< 50 nmol/L).

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    Improving Nutrition, Hidden Hunger and Personal Fulfillment

    In a seminar at the University of Wageningen, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva spoke of the need to guarantee the production of safe food as he emphasized the importance of traditional crops, family farms, and technology to drive agricultural productivity and production increases. With 2 billion people suffering from hidden hunger as the #March4Nutrition campaign of FutureFortified enters its last week in 2013, Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva is correct to say, “We need integrated nutrition strategies, formed with the inputs of society as a whole – the private sector, consumers, doctors, and consumer organizations and others.” This is NOT an issue only in emerging economies.

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    Understanding the Importance of Nutrition and Genetics in Maintaining Vision

    Eye health is one of our top health concerns, and a growing concern according to the 2011 Health Focus Health and Wellness Trend Report. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic progressive eye disease which can lead to irreversible blindness. Despite genetic factors contributing to AMD, there are several modifiable risk factors: smoking, antioxidant vitamin intake, consumption of leafy green vegetables and fish. Leafy green vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin. Out of ~60 carotenoids in our diet, these are the only dietary sources found in the macular fovea region of the retina co-located with the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids come from marine and algal sources. Most Americans do not eat the recommended number of servings of fruit, vegetables or fish. Thus, there intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids are low.

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    MARCH for Nutrition: Nutrition Today for a Rich Tomorrow

    March 2013. It is hard to believe that millions of women and children still do not have access to essential nutrients. In a time with instantaneous communications around the world, 2 billion people are suffering from hidden hunger. One in 3 children worldwide is undernourished. As Feike Sijbesma, CEO or Royal DSM, writes, “You cannot be successful, nor call yourself a success, in a society that fails”. Hidden hunger is one of the most serious failures we face. Mothers without food cannot adequately nourish their children. Children without proper nutrition are at greater risk of becoming stunted and not achieving their cognitive potential. Micronutrients are essential for good health. M also stands for micronutrient powders, blends of essential vitamins and minerals, which ensure nutrition security.

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    The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Good Nutrition

    Today in the Journal of the American Medical Association is a short piece by Friedrich highlighting a link between malnutrition and gut microflora. The author discusses a study conducted in toddler twins in Malawi; half of the twins were healthy, and the other half were malnourished at some stage during their first three years of life. The gut microflora of the malnourished twins was “immature” compared to that of the healthy twins. Interestingly, during feeding with a peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic food, gut flora matured, but reverted back to the immature type after consumption of this food was stopped.

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    What Can Happen in a Decade? Associations Between Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Bone in Late Childhood

    Think back to 2003. What were you doing then? How have you changed in a decade? For a fetus, ten years is an incredible amount of time. In that time, potential human goes from being completely dependent on another for all its needs to a fully functioning person that is mostly able to take care of itself. Increases in body size are incredible in this time. Most infants are born with a weight between 3 and 4 kg, while a ten year old boy will weigh between 30 and 40 kg. Recently, Lawlor and colleagues investigated whether there was a relationship between the vitamin D status of pregnant women and measures of bone health in their children around 10 years later. Can we find any associations over such a long period of time?

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    Processed Foods, Essential Nutrients, and Healthy Children

    Eating is easy. Unfortunately nutrition is complicated. Am I eating too much? Or too little? Should I eat more protein and less sugar? What about fat? Isn’t it bad for me? Wait, experts say it is good to consume more olive oil and to take fish or algal omega-3 fatty acids. Does this sound confusing? Yes, and we haven’t even started on essential vitamins and minerals. Nor have we discussed the fact that nutrient requirements for women differ from men. Children have different needs when growing than aging grandparents. And pregnancy requires one person to eat properly for two. While activists and the courts battle about the size of sugary soft drinks in New York,

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acids, EPA, DHA, and Heart Health

    Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy. The American Heart Association endorses eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. The FDA has approved a health claim for two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with respect to reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. How do DHA and EPA reduce cardiovascular risk? One proposed mechanism is to reduce triglycerides, a cardiovascular risk factor. Normal triglyceride levels are ≤ 150 mg/dL and high triglycerices are defined as 200-499 mg/dL. Overall, 31% of Americans have triglyceride levels above normal. Or to give an estimate, ~ 97 million people of the 314 million Americans. And 3.4 million Americans have severe hypertriglyceridemia (≥ 500 mg/dL).

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    Vitamin A Deficiency, Dietary Supplementation, and the Value of a Child

    Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness. Vitamin A deficiency increases mortality, especially during the first 5y of life. Worldwide, nearly 19,000 children under five die every day. It is estimated that 190 million children under 5 suffer from vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A supplementation saves lives. The question scientists ask is, “How many?” In 2010, Imdad and colleagues published a review of 43 randomized control trials (RCT) representing 215,633 children (6 mo – 5y) given vitamin A capsules. Summarizing the results from 17 trials meeting their search criteria, they estimated that vitamin A supplementation reduced the overall risk of death by 24%. Vitamin A supplementation reduced the incidence of diarrhea and measles morbidity by 15% and 50%, respectively. Lancet published the results of Awasthi and colleagues summarizing the largest vitamin A intervention RCT

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    Vitamin D3 More Effective than D2 in Maintaining Optimal Status

    It is generally recognized that many people are vitamin D insufficient, if not deficient. Although it is the ‘sunshine vitamin’, serum 25(OH)D levels are low because of the few foods which are naturally rich in vitamin D (or allowed to be fortified) our increasing tendency to be indoors and to wear sunscreen when outside. The solution is vitamin D supplementation. But according to new research not all dietary vitamin D sources are equivalent. Vitamin D comes in two forms. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the form found in animal cells, fatty fish, and cod liver oil. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is found in plants or synthesized by UV irradiation of ergosterol, typically from yeast or mushrooms. Both forms can be added to foods and supplements. Both forms are metabolized in the body to their D2 or D3 form [25(OH)Dx] and then further hydroxylated to the active form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D].

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    Multiple Micronutrient Interactions with Nutritional Anemia

    Iron deficiency anemia is a considerable problem globally. It is the fourteenth largest contributor to worldwide disease burden. Women of childbearing age, pregnant women, and young children are the main risk groups for iron deficiency anemia. While many people consider low intakes of iron-rich foods, anti-nutrition factors in foods, and intestinal parasites to be the main causes of iron deficiency anemia, because they reduce the supply or increase the need for iron in the diet, there are other micronutrients that are also essential to prevent nutritional anemia. Jafari and co-workers today report on the effects of vitamin A and vitamin E on iron deficiency and anemia.

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    The Adequacy of European Teenage Diets

    Adolescence is nutritionally demanding, yet it occurs at a time when teenagers are establishing a sense of independence and undergo dramatic physiological and psychological changes. Teenagers must make sure that they have an adequate diet to support their high growth rate. Nutritional recommendations are based on age and gender. Adolescents have specific requirements than older or younger people due to the considerable increases in height and weight that they undergo. Diethelm and co-workers report on the results of the large, cross-sectional HELENA study, conducted in teenagers in ten cities in Europe. What are normal European teen nutrient intakes, and are their any risk nutrients in this well-nourished population?

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    Changing the World by Addressing Hidden Hunger

    Leaders from government, academics, non-government, and universities gathered this week in Stuttgart Germany at Hohenheim University to address micronutrient deficiencies globally. The goals of the organizers of the International Congress of Hidden Hunger were to create awareness and get the issue of inadequate intakes of essential micronutrients on the agenda of key opinion leaders from government, academics, and industry. As emphasized by Stephen Tanda, Managing Board Member of DSM, approximately 2 billion people worldwide cannot access or afford enough nutritious food. This occurs even in wealthy countries

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    Being the Strongest you can be: Vitamin D and Muscle Strength

    Who doesn’t want to be strong? Everybody does. From the toddler who flexes his biceps with a superman pose, to the tween ballerina reaching for the stars, to the struggling stroke victim who wants to jettison their walker. The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, may be a key element. Sinha and colleagues assessed muscle function in 12 vitamin D deficient individuals before and after vitamin D supplementation

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    Vitamin D, Genetic Variants, and Nutrient Requirements

    Around the globe, experts and health authorities have assumed that the nutrient requirements of humans (and domesticated animals) are distributed normally. This allows one to calculate the average nutrient requirement and using standard deviations estimate Dietary Reference Intakes meeting the need of 97.5% of the population. What if a single curve doesn’t describe everyone accurately? What if people could be classified to one group or another? This is probable with genetic polymorphisms. If a gene mutation affects the efficiency of absorbing a nutrient or the circulating concentration needed to bind to a receptor, it could be possible to genotype and assign individuals according to their genotype. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increasing risk of several chronic diseases.

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    Don’t be Fooled: Choose Nutrition Products with Scientifically-Supported Ingredients

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released ‘6 Tip-offs to Rip-Offs: Don’t Fall for Health Fraud Scams’. The 6 points are: 1. Beware of one product that does it all. Our bodies are complex. Good nutrition requires a multitude of nutrients. Deficiency diseases, like scurvy, rickets, pellagra, arise when not enough essential nutrients, e.g. vitamins and minerals, are consumed.

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    National Nutrition Month and Choosing Nutrient-Dense Foods

    March is National Nutrition Month in the United States. Initiated in 1973, its history can be found in the March, 2006 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (if you are a member). The intent is to educate people to make informed food choices, to develop good eating and physical activity behaviors. This is important. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill more than 36 million people annually.

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    Not All Ready-to-Eat-Cereals are Equal: Read the Label and Choose Fortified Products

    For years, moms and dads have been telling their kids that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The brain requires glucose to think and learn. We also need key nutrients, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), lutein, zeaxanthin, and essential vitamins to form neurological cells and membranes. Ready-to-eat-cereals (RTEC), consumed with milk, can be important sources of nutrients. And a new study emphasizes that point, again. Frantzen and colleagues evaluated the impact of RTEC consumption on nutrient intakes in low-income minority children living in San Antonio, TX. Children who frequently consumed RTEC had higher intakes of essential nutrients. This is not a new observation.

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