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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'July 2014'


    Antioxidants, Vitamin E and Maintaining a Fat Head for Years

    Outside of fat deposits, the brain has the most fat per gram of any organ or tissue in our body. Anyone with a brain can be called ‘fathead’! Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, represents 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids and 40% of the PUFA in the brain. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are very sensitive to oxidation and our brains can become rancid! Not surprisingly, antioxidant status affects brain health and function

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    Astronauts Chang-Diaz, Hoffman and Nicollier eating in their sleep racks. NASA Identifier: STS075-302-016

    What is Impact of Malnutrition vs Carrying Excess Weight on Health Risk?

    Being overweight doesn't equate to being overnourished. Nutrition is much more complicated than energy balance. Nutrition poverty, food security and poor dietary choices can result in being overweight and undernourished. Today we ask, how much of the increased risk observed with excess weight could be the consequence of insufficient intakes of essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals)?

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    Babies are so Precious. Why Gamble with their Health? With their Future?

    For decades, obstetricians have routinely injected newborn babies with vitamin K soon after delivery. Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin named “K” for the German word “koagulation” causes blood to clot, or coagulate, and prevents uncontrolled bleeding. As Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) writes in Slate, some misinformed parents are refusing to have their infants injected. This is foolishness.

    Babies are born vitamin K deficient. Severe vitamin K deficiency can occur within 6-15 weeks of birth. 

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    The World We Want: Sustainable Development without Chronic Hunger

    Undernutrition during childhood increases risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCD) in adulthood.  History teaches us that girls who experience famine conditions famine conditions are more likely to develop peripheral artery disease and diabetes mellitus in adulthood (Portrait et al., 2011).

    Undernutrition in early life leads to stunting. 

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    Is Your Life Being Shortened by a Lack of Vitamin E?

    Dr Arya Sharma, Professor of Medicine and Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta states that body mass index (BMI) is a poor indicator of health. Nevertheless, he is concerned by the rapid increase in the prevalence of severe obesity (BMI of 40-59.9 vs normal weight BMI 18.5-24.9) because of its association with a loss of 6.5 to 13.7 years of life.

    Being overweight and obesity increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 75% of those who are obese or have diabetes have NAFLD. Possibly 90% of those who are severely obese

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    Preventing NCDs: Where to Apply Resources?

    Want to stay healthy and active into your 80’s? Of course the answer is yes. Researchers say it can be accomplished by promoting behaviors that prevent molecular and metabolic dysfunction. In other words, adopting healthy nutrition and physical activity behaviors.

    Inflammation is a normal defensive response to infection and injury. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is believed to contribute to the development of several  non-communicable diseases (NCD)

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    Malnutrition in Vulnerable Refugee Populations: Report on Syria

    The civil war in Syria started almost three and a half years ago. As a result of the conflict, roughly 2.9 million people have fled Syria, and another 6.5 million are displaced within Syria. The majority of the international refugees now live in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey, in refugee camps and also in the general community in these countries. Refugees are at increased risk of malnutrition, especially in protracted conflicts such as in Syria. A recent report from the CDC investigates rates of malnutrition in Syrian refugees living in and outside of a refugee camp in Jordan. What is the nutritional status of people living in such a compromised situation?

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    What do Maintaining Muscle, Being Strong and Healthy Aging Share? Vitamin D!

    Vitamin D is most commonly associated with bone metabolism. Did you know low vitamin D status also affects muscle?

    Liu and colleagues report that lower 25(OH)D concentrations are linked with greater muscle mass loss in middle-aged people. Using a subset of 3,289 community-dwelling residents from the Nutrition and Health of Aging Population in China Project living in Beijing and Shanghai, they report muscle mass 

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    Nutrition and Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases

    The future of non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention needs more investment. That is the message from Yach and Calitz in JAMA. They identify 4 areas of focus:

    • 1. Conducting more research on the health care costs of preventing NCDs  in community settings.
    • 2. Increasing NIH support for prevention science generally and providing more resources to the NIH Office of Disease Prevention.
    • 3. Stimulating the Foundation of the NIH to accelerate prevention science through private-public research partnerships.
    • 4. Developing a framework to ensure acceptance of personalized health technology (similar to that of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program).

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    Who Doubted Safety and Benefits of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation?

    Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for bone health. Many people, especially women, do not consume recommended amounts of these two nutrients from their diet. With a few exceptions, i.e. dairy products, snack bars and ready-to-eat cereals, it has been difficult to fortify foods with calcium (a mineral) without negatively affecting taste (and consumer preference). Federal regulations restrict the types of foods which can be fortified with vitamin D. Dietary supplements become a primary option to fill calcium and vitamin D shortfalls.  

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    What is the Evidence Base for Vitamin D Supplementation in Pregnant Women?

    Many people are interested in how diet during pregnancy can affect health of both mother and infant. In fact, our fourth most popular blog post ever discusses how vitamin D supplementation influences gestational diabetes-related health measures. Recently, Harvey and co-workers published an exhaustive review on the effects of vitamin D supplements in pregnancy. Did these authors find a benefit to vitamin D supplementation?

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    Striving for a Nutritionally Sustainable World

    Today I searched Wikipedia for the word ‘sustainability’ and found,  “Achieving sustainability will enable the Earth to continue supporting human life”. With respect to food and nutrition, sustainability requires understanding the determinants and costs of producing, processing, and distributing foods globally to sustainably feed a growing population regardless of where they live.

    People in the US spend less on food than any other country, only 6.4% of their expenditures in 2012. Americans don’t necessarily spend less on food than others, they just tend to eat more, mostly prepared foods rather than cooking with staples, and leaving more uneaten (waste).  

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    Wanting to Get Out of the Kitchen? Some Free Advice

    Whether on vacation, traveling for business, or trying to avoid standing in front of a stove during the summer, a common choice is eating at a restaurant. When doing so, most people underestimate the calories in restaurant foods.  

    A CDC report finds that 57% of Americans use menu labels when making food choices. Women are more likely to read menus than men. 

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    Vitamins and Cancer: Is Nutrient Balance Important?

    Recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Wang and colleague published an article describing follow-up analyses of the high-dose vitamin E and C component of the Physicians Health Study II. This study was exceptional in that it recruited a large number of subjects that were well-nourished (male physicians), randomized them to various dietary supplements, and followed them to track key cardiovascular and cancer-related endpoints for a very long time: follow-up occurred over 14 years. However, some of the results were a little paradoxical. We explain further after the jump. 

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    The Rise and Rise of Yogurt: Using an Ancient Food to Meet Nutrient Needs

    Yogurt is a food known from ancient times. Around 77 AD, Pliny the Elder wrote “the barbarous nations…understand how to thicken milk and form therefrom an acrid kind of liquid with a pleasant flavor” in his famous encyclopedia of the ancient world. This is our first description of yogurt consumption, although it was likely to have developed at least 7000 years prior to its description by the Roman naturalist. Over the past millennia, societies that have bred animals for their milk have learned the art of fermentation with lactic acid bacteria to form delicious and nutritious yogurt. Even today, the last few decades have seen a steady increase in global yogurt consumption, according to a consumer survey from DSM that focuses on how and why people in emerging and established markets in the USA, Brazil, Turkey, Poland, France and China eat yogurt. What is driving this trend, and what does this mean for nutrition?

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    The Alchemy of Nutrition and Environment to Age with Grace and Tranquility

    Getting  older is only better than the alternative. Everyone’s goal is to age, surrounded by family and friends, in the best of health until the last day. The chances of the ideal scenario depend upon genetics, environment, nutrition and sometimes luck. The 6 leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases  (NCD) globally are high blood pressure, tobacco smoking (including second-hand smoke), household air pollution, diet low in fruits, alcohol use, and high body-mass index.

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    Getting Antioxidants We Need from Fruits and Vegetables

    To counteract the severe oxidative stress created with the production of O2 during photosynthesis, plants load themselves with antioxidants. Antioxidants commonly found in fruits and vegetables are beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthy for humans.

    Processing can also affect the bioavailability of antioxidants found in food.  Because most of the compounds are unstable, exposure to oxygen or heat treatment (blanching, cooking, pasteurization, sterilization, dehydration and freezing) can  lead to a significant loss of natural antioxidants

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    60 Years Later, Where is the Fitbit to Measure Nutrition Status?

    Does diet affect health? Of course it does. Vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases are evidence that nutrition is essential. Overweight and obesity are caused by eating more calories than we expend. This implies that obese individuals must eat more. And the insinuation is they probably eat more energy-dense foods too.

    Albar and colleagues used 4 day self-reported dietary records from a nationally representative survey of  636 UK adolescents (11-18y).  

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    Eating to Reduce Prescription and Health Care Costs

    A new report finds that the USA has the highest total and public health expenditure per person compared to 5 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland). The average health expenditure per person was $7,212 in 2011. The US spent 17% of GDP on health spending whereas the other 5 nations ranged between 10.6 to 11%. Out-of-pocket health expenditure per person is the highest except for Switzerland. Probably attributable to higher spending on hospital costs ($2,408 vs $909 to $1,501) and pharmaceutical and other medical non-durables ($878 vs $408 to $664). 

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    Are you Feeling your Oats Today?

    The number of people with diabetes mellitus has doubled over the past 3 decades. WHO estimates 150 million people worldwide have diabetes and the number will double by 2025. There is increasing interest in finding nutritional components which may help control healthy blood glucose levels.  Oats are considered unique among cereal grains, partially because they contain β-glucan, a high-molecular weight polysaccharide exhibiting high viscosity at relatively low concentrations. Because of its viscous nature, β-glucan, slows starch digestion and helps slow the absorption of glucose from the gut. 

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    Are you Grilling a Salmon? Why not Increase your Omega-3 Status?

    For our Canadian readers, Happy Canada Day! Enjoy a day of celebrations. National celebrations are associated with special activities – parades, fireworks, and barbecues with family and friends. There may even be birthday cake. Everything can be tasted and savored. July 1 is a special day soon to be followed by the Fourth of July!

    Health is a long-term goal requiring a regular diet supplying essential nutrients. Our plates should be sprinkled with nutrition – some fruit to provide vitamin C, kale rich in folate, carrots for carotenoids 

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