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TalkingNutrition

Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'April 2014'

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    Colon Cancer Risk Reduction from Antioxidant Nutrients May Not Be Caused By Antioxidant Activity

    Greater intakes of certain nutrients with anti-oxidative properties seem to be associated with reduced risk of many cancers. This is thought to be because antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to cells and the resulting DNA mutations that may give rise to cancer. However, antioxidant nutrients can have other effects on the immune system, gene expression and DNA repair in addition to antioxidant activity that could also affect cancer risk. 

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    JAMA Internal Medicine, Jaundiced Headlines and Cardiovascular Health

    Wow! What is the agenda of the Editors of JAMA Internal Medicine? Why the use of  opinionated subtitles like “Gluttony in the Time of Statins”? Or “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements”? Do the managers of this medical journal believe that such headings advance scientific discourse? Do they believe these interpretations help inform consumers to adopt healthier behaviors? Or is the goal simply to get their journal name in the media? In other words, to build brand awareness?

    Sugiyama and colleagues examined trends in 24h dietary intake records (calories and fat) of a nationally representative cross-section of US adults. 

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    Announcing 2014 Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigator

    Congratulations to Monique LeMieux for being selected as the 2014 recipient of the ASN Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products LLC. Her presentation was entitled “Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance by altering adipose tissue glycolytic and inflammatory function”.  Her advisor at Texas Tech University is Dr Naima Moustaid-Moussa. Monique LeMieux follows in the footsteps of previous winners: 2013 Christine Hutchinson, Iowa State University; 2012 Wanida Lewis, North Carolina State University, and  2011 Maria Carlota Dao, Tufts University.

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    American Society for Nutrition Annual Meeting Update

    Experimental Biology 2014 (EB2014) starts today in San Diego, CA with pre-meeting workshops. Six professional societies: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry & molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology & experimental therapeutics 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.

    DSM Nutritional Products is proud to continue its support of the ASN Minority Affairs Committee

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    Does the Latest Vitamin D Meta-Analysis Cast Doubt on Vitamin D Recommendations?

    Headlines today are picking up on latest meta-analysis from Bolland and co-workers, which contains the bold conclusion “there is little justification for prescribing vitamin D supplements to prevent falls”. This is strange, since recent meta-analyses from other groups, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and from the rigorous Cochrane Collaboration recommend vitamin D to prevent fractures in institutionalized adults. Has something changed recently in the evidence base to warrant this conclusion?

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    Vitamin D, Inflammation, Biomarkers and Weight Loss

    Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, has been linked with cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome-associated disorders (obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and hepatic steatosis). Maternal inflammation during pregnancy can even affect the health of a child.

    Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations are a marker of inflammation. CRP concentrations increase in response to infections, inflammation, and oxidative stress.  Eating a diet lacking adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, is associated with higher CRP concentrations. Vitamin D supplementation increases serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations and reduces CRP concentrations.

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    B Vitamins, Child Health and the Nutrition Problem

    Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure, large waist circumference, and low HDL-cholesterol levels. As societies transform and develop, the incidence of metabolic syndrome increases. For example, 40% of women and 29% of men living in Nairobi have metabolic syndrome.

    People can still be malnourished, missing essential vitamins and minerals, even when they are overweight. Because metabolic syndrome is primarily a disorder of abdominal obesity, Yakub and colleagues evaluated the association between plasma homocysteine (Hcy) concentrations and 

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    Vitamin D Sufficiency for Child Development and Nutrition for All

    Vitamin D and calcium are required to build strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is essential for normal absorption of calcium. Rickets, a failure in bone mineralization, was identified in the early 17th century and became endemic in the 20th century with industrialization. People were spending more time indoors and air pollution was reducing sun exposure. With vitamin D fortification and supplementation, rickets almost completely disappeared in the 21st century. However, rickets is re-emerging as fluid milk consumption decreases and people spend more time indoors and/or reducing skin exposure to sun.

    Schroth and colleagues recruited pregnant women from an economically disadvantaged urban setting. Serum 25(OH)D levels were measured.

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    Serum Carotenoids and Perspective on the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Study

    Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments found in plants. Out of over 600 carotenoids found in nature, only six, i.e. β-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, are absorbed in quantity into the body. Only three (β-carotene, α-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin) can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Lutein and zeaxanthin are highly concentrated in the macular pigment of the retina, playing an important role in vision. Lutein supplementation increases visual function in adults.  Emerging science links lutein status with cognitive function.

    Because serum carotenoids have been inversely associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, Wang and colleagues assessed carotenoid intakes (2-24h recalls) and serum carotenoid concentrations  

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    Immigration, Unhealthy Dietary Habits, and Nutritional Status

    Moving from one place to another takes effort and is fraught with unknowns. Different cultures, languages, laws, and more. People do this because they are seeking opportunity, to improve their circumstances.

    Contrary to this notion, Eldeirawi and colleagues report a negative effect of immigration/acculturation on nutritional status using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994). The data is not recent but the results are insightful, based on 1,559 Mexican American (MA) children 4-16y of age. 

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    Headlines can Drive you Crazy! Today’s Rant is Vitamin E

    Headlines. They are seductive. They are memorable. Unfortunately, the details beneath the headline may be different.  In an insightful article (The media wails about money wasted on Tamiflu – but we were the ones who demanded it), Oliver Wright tracks headlines last week in Great Britain condemning their government for wasting taxes to stockpile the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Then he cites 2005 headlines when the media criticized government for failing to protect its citizens, leaving 500,000 defenseless. Mr Wright makes the argument that media pressure led to the British government decision to buy and stockpile the drug Tamiflu in 2005. The case being made: policy decisions by controversial headlines are not synonymous with good governance.

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    Nutrient Status is More Important than Nutrient Intake

    For the most part, our bodies can interconvert macronutrients but vitamins and minerals must be consumed. Our bodies use carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol as energy sources. While some amino acids and fatty acids are essential (must be ingested), excess protein, carbohydrates, and fats are metabolized and stored in adipose tissue (as fat). Because of inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals, people (and animals) can be overweight, even obese, and still malnourished.

    While low dietary intakes of vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, and vitamin C are correlated with mortality,  estimates of nutrient intake are crude estimates of nutrient status. 

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    Multivitamin-Mineral Supplements: Safe Insurance for Micronutrient Gaps

    The most commonly used dietary supplement is a multivitamin-mineral (MVMM) supplement. In 2011 survey,  the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN) reports the most commonly used dietary supplement is a multivitamin-mineral supplement (Dickinson et al, 2014). Consumers use MVMM supplements primarily:  1) for overall health and wellness and 2) to fill nutrient gaps.

    Multivitamin-mineral supplements are an important source of nutrients for many. While we may dream of eating garden-fresh fruit and vegetables with eggs, meat and fresh, unprocessed milk from a local farmer, i.e. foods that are not enriched or fortified, it is difficult to make (or afford) wise choices to meet essential micronutrient requirements

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    Iron Supplementation is Beneficial for Female Athletes

    Iron is an essential nutrient, especially for athletes. Iron’s most important role is to transport oxygen through the body via the blood protein hemoglobin. When iron intakes and absorption are inadequate to meet needs, the hemoglobin molecule that contains iron at its core cannot be produced. Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and dizziness relate to the reduced ability of the body to transport oxygen. Iron deficiency in athletes reduces oxygen uptake and the output of muscles, impairing performance. Female athletes are at additional risk of iron deficiency. Can iron supplements help?

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    Nutrition Choices for Pregnant Women Fail to Meet Recommendations

    One of the keys to a healthy pregnancy is good nutrition. What pregnant women eat during pregnancy can affect not only their own health, but also the risk of undesirable birth outcomes and the health of the fetus. In general, nutrition guidelines include specific recommendations for pregnant women to ensure that they receive adequate energy, protein, fat and micronutrients during pregnancy to support both themselves and their offspring, and also to avoid foods that carry specific health risks. How well do women meet these recommendations?

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    Mobile Telecommunication Technologies for Nutrition and Health

    In the not so distant past, the thought of having a portable device capable of sending/receiving messages and phone calls at any time and place was science fiction.  Today the number of active cell phones is estimated at 7.3 billion. More cell phones than people on this planet.

    We are on the precipice of adopting mobile telecommunication technologies (mHealth) to manage our health and wellness. According to Steinhubl and colleagues, three factors are driving mHealth acceptance

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    Liver Disease, Obesity, and Essentiality of Vitamins

    Obesity is associated with two metabolic aberrations. The most prevalent is metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders produced by a fatty liver, including elevated blood glucose and triglycerides. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is defined by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver. There are  no outward signs of NAFLD. Both metabolic syndrome and NAFLD contribute to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other chronic diseases, e.g. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease. All forms of NAFLD increase the risk of NASH, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

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    The Antioxidant Functions of Riboflavin

    When we think of antioxidant nutrients, we think of the big names: vitamin C, vitamin E, the carotenoids, selenium. It is less well known that riboflavin also supports the body’s antioxidant functions. These less well known properties have been reviewed recently by Ashoor and Saedisomeolia.

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    Simple Strategies to Help People Make Better Food Choices: Can Supermarkets Help?

    Choice can be our downfall in selecting foods for a healthy diet. Factors such as attractive packaging, price, expected sensory gratification, convenience, and familiarity with the product can all override healthier food choices. Many professionals working in nutrition and public health are interested in how we can help the average consumer to select foods that are suitable to avoid nutrient deficiencies and maintain a healthy weight. Can supermarkets help here?

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    Don’t be a Nutrition Statistic: Vitamin D, Bones, and More

    The first identified biological role of vitamin D in calcium absorption and deposition. Of course, calcium is also essential to build bones and teeth. Because of the complex regulation of vitamin D and its metabolites, researchers have wondered if our bodies might conserve vitamin D during periods of low calcium intake. If so, vitamin D requirements could be affected by dietary calcium intake.

    Cashman and colleagues conducted a 15wk, randomized placebo-controlled double-blind (RCT) study with 125 free-living men and women (≥50y). 

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    Meta-Analyses of Vitamin D and the Nuances of Nutrition Research

    In the British Medical Journal today, two articles attempt to synthesize research into vitamin D and a variety of different health outcomes (lead authors are Chowdhury, Theodoratou)  and there is a comment by Welsh and Sattar in the same issue. While the collation of research seems like a good idea at the outset, allowing us to see the forest rather than looking at the individual trees, the approach is perhaps not ideal for nutrients, and also fails to capture differences in the study design or population that may affect the outcome. 

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    How Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease?

    Achieving adequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids are recommended for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have various biological effects: they are structural cell membrane components, they are involved in the production of messenger molecules in the immune system, and they regulate the expression of a number of genes. All of these effects have been linked to reduction in cardiovascular disease. A new study looks at the mechanisms behind how omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk of heart disease. 

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