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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'May 2013'


    The Difference Between Organic vs. Conventional Breakfast Foods from a Nutritional Point of View

    Nowadays, consumers have a great deal of product choice in the supermarket. A great number of different types of foods, brands and varieties are available to fulfill our wishes in foods. One food specification is organic. Organic foods are grown without the addition of synthetic chemicals including pesticides and fertilizers, and other strategies used to enhance yields or reduce costs including use of sewage sludge, biotechnology and ionizing radiation are not used, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The authors Woodbury and George looked at the nutrient content of breakfast cereals made with both organic and conventionally grown ingredients.

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    Is Folate Supplementation in Late Pregnancy Also Worthwhile?

    Increasing folate levels in women during the first trimester is associated with a reduced risk of birth defects. Although the precise mechanism of action is still being researched, folate deficiency affects DNA synthesis and methylation, which could lead to errors in cell growth. Adequate levels during the peri-conceptual period and first 8 weeks of pregnancy are desirable to ensure sufficient supply of folate to the embryo. But what is the effect of folate in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy? In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, McNulty and colleagues report on a pilot randomized controlled trial in pregnant women that looked at the effects of folate supplementation on markers of deficiency, including homocysteine levels.

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    Resolving Conflicts Between Personalized Nutrition and Nutrition Guidelines

    Do we need an individual approach in nutrition, or is a one-size-fits-all approach that is backed up by the best possible evidence the right approach? In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Goldberger and Buxton write about conflicts between evidence-based medical guidelines and personalized medicine. They see a conflict arising when general guidelines for a particular patient are not appropriate, and the best quality medicine would actually be to withhold the treatment recommended by the guideline.

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    Staple Food Fortification: Making Adequate Micronutrient Intakes the Default

    Have you ever been affected by default settings and how they can influence your purchases or behavior? There is a field of study that looks at the effects of default settings, which can reduce building energy use, entice buyers of high-end performance bicycles to choose options that maximize profits, and increase retirement savings contributions. Default choices also relate to nutrition. A study reported today in Public Health Nutrition by Just and Price looked at the effect of default options on food choices.

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    Being Recognized and Recognizing Scientists for Achievements

    May has been the month of awards. DSM was honored with the first “Nutrition Innovation Gold Award”. The Chinese Nutrition Society (CNS) recognized DSM for its strong support of the academic community and outstanding contributions to constantly enhance and improve human nutrition. In the photo are Cheng Yiyong, CNS President, and Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President of Nutrition Science and Advocacy of DSM Nutritional Products. Accepting the award, Dr Eggersdorfer said, “We will continue to strive for ongoing, solid innovation in health and wellness, promoting an adequate nutrient intake and taking latest recommendations into account.

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    What is the Gold Standard in Nutrition?

    When people learn that my graduate training was in nutrition science, they frequently seek dietary advice (should I be doing this?) or affirmation of a current practice (I am doing this. Do you have an opinion?). The answers are never simple. Social conversations are fraught with risk of confrontation because nutrition is personal and our actions are more often guided by beliefs than data. To circumvent expert opinion, health professions, including nutrition, have embraced ‘gold standards’. For example, the evidence hierarchy to rank scientific research places randomized controlled trial (RCT) as the ‘gold standard’ for intervention studies. While RCTs are useful for pharmacological trials with a true placebo

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    World Vision and DSM Announce Partnership to Save Lives

    The first thousand days, counting from the start of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday are critical. Their tiny bodies undergo tremendous change. Proper nutrition is essential for organs to grow and mature. Sparkling little eyes require vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, and long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids to see. Immune cells needs zinc and iron to protect the body. Bones and teeth require vitamin D and calcium. Without adequate nutrition, irreversible damage – stunting – of both the child’s mental and physical development will occur. The partnership, signed today at New Partnerships for Nutrition along with the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva, is a step forward to help the most vulnerable receive needed nutrition.

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    What Is It About Tomatoes That Makes Them Good for the Heart?

    Another name for the tomato is “love apple.” Maybe because they taste delicious, maybe because they can look like a perfect red heart when cut through the middle, and maybe because they have been associated with heart health. In the British Journal of Nutrition, Jacques and co-workers looked at consumption of lycopene, the carotenoid supplied predominantly by tomatoes in the diet, and its relationship with cardiovascular disease.

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    Using Nutrition to Enhance Quality of Life: Balancing Long Chain Fatty Acids

    Yesterday’s blog emphasized the importance of balancing omega-3 and omega-6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) intakes with respect to seasonal allergies. We could have simply cited the review by GD Lawrence in Advances in Nutrition. In a masterful understatement, Dr Lawrence concludes “Saturated fats are benign with regard to inflammatory effects, as are the MUFAs.” [For the record, MUFAs refers to mono-unsaturated fatty acids]. He also emphasizes the importance of fatty acid balance. To paraphrase Dr Lawrence, it is especially important to have adequate long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intakes when the diet is rich, one could even say saturated, with saturated fats.

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    Ethnic Differences in B Vitamin Intake and Value of Food Fortification

    Cereal grains are an important source of nutrients. They can be good sources of B vitamins and dietary fiber when consumed as whole grains with bran (external fibrous layer), endosperm (rich in antioxidants and vitamins), and the starchy core (endosperm). However, the practice of ‘polishing grains’ removes the bran and endosperm. This makes flour whiter and less likely to go rancid. Valuable attributes when people bought flour in bulk and cooked with flour at home, especially before refrigeration. However, the cost of increased shelf life was decreased nutrition. The consequences led to the discovery of the B vitamins and a history of enrichment and fortification. Sharma and colleagues used a quantitative food frequency survey to analyze grain choices by ethnicity.

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    GBC Health Summit 2013: Improving Nutrition with Entrepreneurial Social Business Models

    The GBC Health Conference 2013 continues today at The Roosevelt Hotel. The meeting convenes business and allied leaders to inspire them to engage in meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and solve our global health challenges. At 11:35am, DSM will participate in a session, along with Moderator Albert Tseng (Business Call to Action), Bill Drayton (Ashoka), Anuj Pasrija (Novartis), Erika Tatad (Hapinoy), entitled “When Top Meets Bottom: Social Business Models for Health”. This is an extraordinary panel highlighting innovative experiences to improve health by activating and/or enabling smaller social enterprises. Michael McBurney (@MIMcBurney) from DSM Nutritional Products (@DSMNutrition) will share the story of KeBAL.

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    Seasonal Allergies and Omega-3: Omega-3 Long-chain Fatty Acid Intakes

    With spring come pollen and seasonal allergies. WebMD says that almost one out of every 4 struggle with allergies. If you live in the United States, today’s local and national allergy forecast will help set expectations as you head outdoors. Our immune system protects us. And our immune system is also the cause of allergies. It produces immunoglobin E antibodies (IgE) that bind to mast cells, causing an allergic reaction as they release histamine and heparin. Van den Elsen and colleagues examined the effect of omega-6 vs omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) on human mast cell responses

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    Improving Health by Adding to, not Subtracting from, our Diet

    With aging, often comes weight gain. Typically, 10 pounds every decade. Weight gain is a predictor of inactivity. Obesity-related conditions include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. However, there are positive steps, outside of walking more, that we can take to manage our health. As Prevention Magazine (@PreventionMag) tweeted “Most think about healthy eating in terms of subtracting and dividing, but sometimes, adding is more effective”. What is an example Belobrajdic and Bird report that diets rich in wholegrain components (dietary fiber, antioxidant phytochemicals and vitamins) are associated with a 20-30% reduction in risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research, especially in animals, suggests that regularly eating a diet rich in dietary fiber stimulates the proliferation of microorganisms in the gut.

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    What’s in a Name? Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Olive Oil, Statins and Health

    Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The Italian Risk and Prevention Study would better be named Italian Study Confirms Benefits of Healthy Fats. In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial (RCT) enrolling 12,513 individuals with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, the investigators report no significant differences in outcomes. Headlines report ‘Fish Oil Supplements May Not Prevent Heart Trouble’. This sounds like a negative study, right? Let’s examine this study comparing n-3 fatty acid supplementation against an olive oil control.

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    Healthy Mothers lead to Healthy Babies: Carotenoids and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    The first 1,000 days of life is critical for newborns. It is a time of rapid growth and development. Mothers are encouraged to breast feed, especially for the first 6 months. The 1991 Institute of Medicine report ‘Nutrition During Lactation’ examines the links between maternal nutrition and the nutrition and growth of the baby. Breast milk composition varies considerably among women. It also changes over the course of the lactation. Colostrum, produced immediately after delivery, has an intense yellow color because of its high concentration of carotenoids, including β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The carotene concentration of colostrum is 10X higher than that of mature milk.

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    Dietary Fiber and Weight Managment

    Like many others, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie chose gastric band surgery to try to lose weight. Gastric band surgery physically limits the amount of food one can eat. Another surgical option, gastric bypass, reduces the size of the stomach and changes how food gets digested and absorbed. But dietary choices are important too. When we eat a meal, the presence of nutrients in the gut stimulates the release of hormones from the intestine. These are called ‘gut hormones’. Higher levels of gut hormones such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and PYY, contribute to feelings of satiety. GLP-1 also stimulates the pancreas to secrete more insulin in the presence of elevated blood glucose levels. In fact, after bypass surgery, many individuals have improved glucose tolerance because of an exaggerated release of GLP-1.

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    AREDS2: Nutrition Supplements for Protection Against Eye Disease

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for people 55 years and older in the United States and the developed world. In 2008, the National Eye Institute (NEI)reported that oral supplementation with antioxidant vitamins C, E, beta carotene and zinc reduced the risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25%. This April, in a follow-up of the volunteers in the AREDS trial, Chew and colleagues reported that longterm use (10 y) of high-dose antioxidants and zinc (AREDS formula) reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by 34%. They wrote, “Five years after the clinical trial ended, the beneficial effects of the AREDS formulation persisted. “ Yesterday, at the annual meeting of The Association for Research in Vision and Opthalmology (ARVO), the results of the second Age-Related Eye Disease (AREDS2) study

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    A SNP Peek at the Current Progress of Nutritional Genomics

    We have had nutrient-based dietary recommendations for decades based on the expected needs at the population level. But in the past, we have not been able to determine individuals’ nutrient needs. The increasingly affordability of genome sequencing and discoveries about how genetic variations affect nutrient needs may mean that in the future, we will be able to tailor nutrient intakes and lifestyle to meet needs based on our personal genetic code. In today’s version of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr Hasketh from Newcastle University in the UK writes about current progress in the fascinating field of nutrigenomics.

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    Is All Natural Always Good? Key Issues Discussed

    In the latest version of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr Mendelsohn writes about his experiences as a pediatrician where he contrasts the ideals of parents wanting a natural start for their children, with those of parents of very sick children whose lives are being prolonged by intensive, and “unnatural” medical procedures. The dichotomy between natural and artificial is also one that affects the world of food and nutrition.

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