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TalkingNutrition

Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'April 2013'

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    Expecting a Baby? Iodine Levels in Pregnant Women Do Not Meet the Mark

    Although the prevention of iodine deficiency-related brain damage and reduction of IQ in children through the iodization of salt is seen as an important public health nutrition success story, there have been recent reports that iodine status is not yet optimal, even in high income countries. Iodine is needed to produce two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones have wide-ranging roles in the body related to protein synthesis and enzyme activity, which in turn affect growth, development, metabolism and reproductive function. Pregnant and lactating women have higher iodine needs because of the demands of the fetus and infant. Young children are at risk of permanent brain damage if deficiency is not cured. Gahche, Bailey, Mirel and Dwyer reported recently in the Journal of Nutrition on the iodine status and use of supplements containing iodine by pregnant and non-pregnant reproductive age women in the US population.

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    Age-Related Eye Disease Study Anticipated

    A week from today, the results of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) from the National Eye Institute will probably be a top media story. Findings from a randomized, controlled clinical trial of lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract are anticipated at a special session (beginning at 4:15pm PST) of the Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO) in Seattle, WA.

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    Announcing 2013 Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigator

    Congratulations to Christine Hutchison, Iowa State University, for being selected as the 2013 recipient of the ASN Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products LLC. Her presentation was entitled “Effect of soluble fiber dextrin on postprandial appetite and subsequent food intake in healthy adults”. She follows the 2012 winner, Wanida Lewis from North Carolina State University, and 2011 winner, Maria Carlota Dao from Tufts University. The competition was chaired by Dr Rafael Perez-Escamilla, Yale School of Public Health. This year, 18 young scholars were selected

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    2013 Experimental Biology 2013 Wrap-up

    EB2013 has come and gone. It was an exciting time in nutrition. DSM Nutritional Products was proud to continue its support of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Minority Affairs Committee. This year, 18 young scholars were selected for ASN Minority Access to Research Careers Travel Awards. For the first time, ASN selected a winner for the 2013 Grand Prize for Young Minority Researchers. It was Christine Hutchison from Iowa State University. For more information on Christine and the other 17 winners, click here. Pictures from the Tuesday morning poster session and breakfast can be found at TalkingNutritionDSM. Julia K Bird (@juliakbird) from DSM Nutritional Products gave an oral presentation

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    Measuring the Benefits of Fruit, Vegetables and Whole Grains

    At EB2013 this week, there was a spirited discussion at “Are dietary bioactives ready for recommended intakes?” session sponsored by the ILSI North America Flavonoids Committee. The question of dietary recommendations is important as science accumulates linking dietary components – omega-3 fatty acids such as stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as lutein, zeaxanthin, and flavonoids – with health. The topic is not only relevant to scientists. Unless people significantly change (increase) their consumption of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, nutritional adequacy is dependent upon the capability of the food industry to add these food components to prepared, ready-to-eat foods or our willingness to take dietary supplements.

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    Nutrients of Concern in Older Americans: An Analysis of Vitamin and Mineral Intakes

    Nutrition is an important part of healthy aging. Older people are at a greater risk of poor nutrition due to the aging process and related mechanisms. At the American Society of Nutrition meeting held during Experimental Biology this year in Boston, Bird and Fulgoni presented national data about nutrient intakes in the older US population in the symposium “Nutritional Assessment and Status in Older Populations,” presentation 245.5.

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    Does Dosing Frequency of Vitamin D Affect Safety?

    Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known nutrition issue that regular readers of our blog will be familiar with. Currently, considerable research is ongoing about this vitamin, and today Zwart and colleagues report on the effects of dosing frequency on efficacy and safety of vitamin D3. This was a four-arm study conducted in healthy adults. The authors summarize the results as “the relative risk of hypercalciuria was higher in the 1250 mg group than in the placebo group,” however this is a rather strange result that should be carefully analyzed.

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    Ready to be 'Twitterpated' with Nutrition from EB2013?

    Tomorrow is the start of Experimental Biology 2013 (EB2013) pre-meeting workshops. Researchers are traveling to Boston MA to participate in annual science meetings for 6 professional societies: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology and of course, nutrition. The meeting will host nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors. The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) will hold its annual meeting bringing together many of its ~4,000 members from around the globe.

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    Finding Foods that are Right for You

    With more and more consumers preferring foods with fewer preservatives and shorter ingredient lists, it seems logical to assume that natural and organic food products are healthier choices. This isn’t true. Essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, must be obtained from our diet. During food preparation - washing, cutting and grinding, cooking, and storage - some vitamins can be lost. Before food fortification, nutrient deficiencies were common. Food manufacturers can restore lost nutrients to the original level (called enrichment) or add more (fortify) micronutrients than originally found in nature. When foods are enriched or fortified, the ingredient list becomes longer and more complex because of labeling regulations regarding added vitamins and minerals.

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    We are What We Eat: Distinguishing Food Intake from Nutritional Status

    Recording food consumption to estimate nutrient (and calorie) intake is time-consuming. It is easy to forget to record something eaten or to underestimate the amount on the plate. In other words, it is very difficult to accurately estimate nutrient status from dietary records and food frequency questionnaires. And stepping on the bathroom scales, or trying on a pair of slacks, is not an accurate assessment of nutritional status. The best way to evaluate nutritional status is with biochemical assessments. One year ago, the Sackler Institute for Nutrition convened a conference “Biomarkers in Nutrition: New Frontiers in Research and Application” to catalyze the implementation of cost-effective, meaningful biomarkers. An example of using biomarkers is published by Pfeiffer and colleagues

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    Young Women, Ethnicity, Vitamin D, and Gynecological Health

    Women with sufficient levels of vitamin D were 32% less likely to develop fibroids than those who were vitamin D insufficient report Baird and colleagues. Because of pain and bleeding associated with fibroids in premenopausal women, benign fibroid tumors are the leading cause of hysterectomies in the US. Jacoby and colleagues estimate that approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the US. Uterine fibroid tumors are more prevalent in block women, and in some studies among Asian women. In fact, black women are ~3 times more likely to have fibroids than white women (Jacoby et al.) In the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, black women were 3 times more likely to have a hysterectomy than white women (12% vs 4%). The most recent US data shows ethnic disparities with respect to vitamin D inadequacy.

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    Vitamin D and 1st 1,000 Days: Maternal Supplementation and Infant Status

    Babies are nourished by maternal cord blood during pregnancy. The mother’s nutritional status can limit her capacity to divert essential nutrients to the child in utero. Because 40-80% of pregnant women may have inadequate vitamin D status, neonates may be at risk. Roth and colleagues conducted a double-blind, randomized control trial (RCT) evaluating the effect of high-dose, 3rd trimester supplementation. Bangladesh women (n = 160) were randomized to placebo or vitamin D3 supplements (35,000 IU per week) to determine the impact on maternal and neonatal (cord blood) vitamin D concentrations. At baseline, the mean maternal serum 25(OH)D concentration was ~45 nmol/L. In other words, according to the IOM threshold (50 nmol/L), they were vitamin D insufficient.

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    Dietary Guidelines, Nutritional Adequacy and Human Behavior

    The fact is that some people like to cook more than others. Just like some people experience food more than others. A new study by Smith and colleagues evaluates cross-sectional data from 6 nationally representative dietary surveys and 6 time-use studies conducted in the US between 1965 and 2008. Total average daily energy intake increased by 197 kcal (783 kJ) among women from 1965-66 to 2007-08. No significant change was seen in men. All socioeconomic groups showed a reduction in the percent of calories consumed from home foods and time spent in food preparation with time. There was a 23% reduction in foods consumed from home sources between 1965 and 1992. More men reported cooking in

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    Vitamin E, Cognition and Living Life to its Fullest

    According to What We Eat in America 2009-2010, the average daily vitamin E intake for men and women 70y and older is 8.2 and 6.3 mg, far short of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 15 mg. Because vitamin E acts protects cells from oxidative damage and is essential for normal immune and neurological functions, the ‘vitamin E shortfall’ may be especially relevant for older individuals. Mangialasche and colleagues compared clinical assessments of cognitive function with fasting plasma vitamin E concentrations and 67 different measures from high resolution magnetic resonance (MRI) images of the brains of 253 individuals.

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    Genetics, Diet, Pregnancy, and Infant Development

    The last trimester of pregnancy is a time of profound fetal development. Babies undergo explosive growth with more than 200 active growth-promoting genes being turned on. This time of rapid cell proliferation requires nutrients. Nutrients to fuel cell expansion and metabolism. And nutrients to make structural components, like cell membranes and proteins within cells. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the macular pigment of the eye where they serve as antioxidants and filter incoming light to help maintain vision. The long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), plays an important part in normal brain and eye development. While in the womb, babies need a sufficient supply of these nutrients so their brain and eyes can develop. Lutein, zeaxanthin, and DHA are important for visual and cognitive development. Lattka and colleagues report on maternal-fetus of LCPUFA across the placenta.

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    Saving the Lives of Children During the First 1,000 Days

    A group of nutrition organizations gathered today in Singapore at the first regional World Health Summit. The group includes World Vision, Save the Children, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Essential Micronutrients Foundation, and Sight and Life - the humanitarian nutrition think tank of DSM. Almost 1 billion people are undernourished today (from GAIN website). One in seven does not get enough food to be healthy and live an active life. Malnutrition accounts for 11% of the global burden of disease and 40% of the 11 million deaths of children under 5 years old. If a child makes it past 5 years of age, their chance of survival increases significantly.

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    The Importance of DHA from Cradle (and Before) to Grave

    Headlines surrounding the Harvard study reporting high plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels are associated with longevity may compel baby boomers for personal reasons. (See Living a Healthy Lifestyle and the Benefits of a Lifelong Plan). However, it is also important for their daughters and granddaughters who are pregnant. The fatty acid profile that a baby receives in utero reflects the mother’s diet. Women with higher omega-3 fatty acid intakes will provide more docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (DHA) across the placenta.

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    Who Is Actually at Risk of Vitamin B6 Deficiency?

    Recently, Dr Andrew Weil published a short article on vitamin B6 deficiency and whether people are getting enough. The article provides some background information on vitamin B6 however it is lacking details, such as Dietary Reference Intakes, how the content of foods relates to intake levels, and risk groups for vitamin B6 deficiency. TalkingNutrition will attempt to provide readers with some expanded details about vitamin B6 and the risk of deficiency.

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    What Works Better to Raise Hemoglobin: Weekly Supplementation or Daily Supplementation?

    A common question in public health is how the frequency of an action changes compliance. There are two schools of thought on this: one prefers less frequent actions that are supervised, and the other prefers more frequent actions that have less supervision. The concern with frequent actions is that people grow tired of having to go through the same procedure so often and compliance may drop. With less frequent actions, missing one may become critical. This can be seen in many different areas.

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    Living a Healthy Lifestyle and the Benefits of a Lifelong Plan

    Even if today isn’t your birthday, it can still be a time to think about the effects of ageing. Mozaffarian and colleagues investigated the impact of using omega-3 fatty supplements on total and cause-specific mortality in healthy older adults. The authors studied 2,692 healthy older (74 ± 5 y) without evidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke or heart failure at baseline. Phospholipid fatty acid levels were measured in 1992 and associations with total and cause-specific mortality, incident fatal or non-fatal CHD and stroke were assessed until 2008, a total of 30,829 person-years. Higher plasma levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with lower total mortality

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    Could Food Color Labeling Changes Help Inform Consumers?

    Two years ago, TalkingNutrition posted “No Joke, Artificial Food Colors are Safe”. They still are. The continuing saga surrounding the use artificial food dyes is one of labeling and transparency, not safety. As noted by Rachel Tepper in The Huffington Post, the evidence linking azo food dyes with health risks in children is lacking. Why don’t US food manufacturers reformulate to remove azo dyes? Food companies face two challenges.

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