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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'February 2015'


    Increasing EPA and DHA Concentrations in Blood to Modify Diabetes Risk

    Fats are carried in the blood in many forms (chylomicrons, lipoproteins, etc). The enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, found in blood vessels, muscle and fat cells releases free fatty acids, also known as nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), which serve as a fuel source. NEFA can be chronically elevated and have pathological consequences in individuals who are obese or diabetic. Elevated NEFA are an independent risk factor for sudden death.

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    Winter Storm Remus: Take Care Outside and Inside

    Another winter storm, Remus, is traversing the US. More than 175 million people from the Upper Midwest to the interior South and Northwest will have to endure severe cold conditions. Without doubt, people living in these regions will not be exposing much skin for vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

    Cold weather is one of the environmental factors contributing to low vitamin D status. Genetics is another factor. Hansen and colleagues report that 55% of African Americans studied in the Health ABC Study were vitamin D insufficient 

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    The Quest: Using Vitamin Status, Not Dietary Creed, to Guide Health

    We are what we eat. Dietary preferences are cultural and often established in childhood . Despite national recommendations since 1977, dietary patterns of the American public remain suboptimal. Worldwide, dietary patterns persist for generations. Nutritional inadequacies contribute to poor individual and population health and higher chronic disease rates.

    The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reportedFew, if any, improvements in consumers’ food choices have occurred in recent decades.”  It is a dismal story. Eight nutrients are under-consumed by almost everyone (vitamins A, C, D, E, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber). In addition, iron is under-consumed by adolescent and premenopausal females

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    Hidden Hunger has Huge Personal and Economic Consequences

    Dr Klaus Kraemer, Director of Sight and Life, writes of hidden hunger – when people have an adequate supply of energy from the food they eat but the nutritional value is insufficient to support optimal growth and development. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) observed that dietary patterns of Americans are suboptimal and casually related to poor individual and population health and higher chronic disease rates.

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    New report from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Stresses the Need to Improve Diet Quality

    Every 5 years the Dietary Advisory Committee (DGAC) composed of leading nutrition experts release a report that reflects evidence about healthy eating. This report forms the scientific basis for Dietary Recommendations for Americans issued by the federal government.  For 2015, an emphasis was placed on developing recommendations of public health importance and it is clear that guidance is needed. The DGAC report states “The dietary patterns of the American public are suboptimal and are causally related to poor individual and population health and higher chronic disease rates. Unfortunately few improvements in consumers’ food choices have occurred in recent decades.”

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    Long-term Use of Multivitamin-Multimineral Supplements Linked to Heart Health in Women

    Are you one of the nearly 40% of Americans who uses a multivitamin-multimineral supplement?  Multivitamin-multimineral supplements have been available since the early 1940s and are increasingly common.  Numerous studies have shown that multivitamin-multimineral supplements help people meet nutrient gaps in the United States and worldwide.  They also help promote health in people with low nutrient status. A timely study (February is Heart Month) suggests the same may be true for heart health in a general population.      

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    So Many Health Behaviors, So Little Time

    Sometimes the number of recommendations to help you lead a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Do this -  but not too much! – then make sure you absolutely don’t do that. So if it can be so overwhelming, why have so many recommendations? The answer is because they’re all important is the answer. Health behaviors maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking, and following a proper diet are all pillars to maintaining your health as you age.  

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    Does Nutrition From Yesterday Impact Today's Health?

    So often in nutrition we’re concerned with how what we do today impacts our health tomorrow – but what of the opposite? How does our nutritional exposure from our youth impact our health today?

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    Fortification: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

    Over the weekend, an opinion piece entitled “ Vitamins hide the low quality of our food” was published in the New York Times. In the piece, author Catherine Price, makes a case against the practice of food fortification stating that “we use the presence of synthetic vitamins in so many of our foods as justification to continue to eat whatever we want, and seek to fill any remaining gaps via pills.” Is this really true?

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    Vitamin D Goes Beyond Bone Health: A Link To Colon Cancer?

    Vitamin D is the darling of nutrition – it’s received the lion’s share of attention among the vitamins for its ever-growing list of health benefits beyond just supporting bone health. Studies have shown a compelling -  yet still emerging -  relationship between vitamin D and colon cancer. But what does the research say regarding vitamin D in patients who already have colon cancer?

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    Vitamin E: Managing The Fire For Heart Health

    Vitamin E is one of the unsung heroes of nutrition. It is one of only two essential antioxidant vitamins and it helps to support the health of the heart and immune system. Coming off the heels of recently released data showing a relationship between vitamin E and lung function, new data shows that vitamin E supplementation reduce the level of systemic inflammation.  

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    High Fiber Breakfasts Benefit Metabolic Health

    In 2012 there were 29.1 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes and a further 86 million American adults with prediabetes.  How much and the type of foods in the diet are important considerations for people with diabetes to help manage blood glucose levels.  The American Diabetes Association has identified 10 ‘super foods’ to incorporate into diabetes meal plans, all of which have low glycemix index (GI) and nutrients like fiber.  In addition to lowering cholesterol, dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels.  The pairing of low glycemic foods and fiber may have additional health benefits.       

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    Vitamin E: More Evidence of Health Benefits and Gaps in Intake

    Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that plays a key role in protecting cell membranes, protecting low density lipoproteins (LDLs) from oxidation (oxidized LDLs contribute to cardiovascular disease), and the regulation of cell growth and differentiation.  Adults aged 20 and older have an RDA of 15 mg/day, but the most recent dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows gaps in intake in the United States.  Males and females aged 20 and older who do not use dietary supplements have mean vitamin E intake of only 9.9 and 7.3 mg, 66% and 49% of the RDA. Intakes are even lower in adults over age 60; 62% and 46% of the RDA, respectively (DSM internal research). Given the importance of vitamin E and the gaps in intake, the lack of attention around vitamin E from researchers and health professionals is surprising. 

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    Vitamin D helps power athletic performance

    Optimal nutrition is essential for supporting physical activity as well as athletic performance.  The importance of protein and electrolytes including sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium for performance and recovery are well-known and are widely found in sports bars and energy drinks.  The role of other nutrients for performance is beginning to be appreciated and a recent study by Maroon and colleagues is sure to peak interest around vitamin D, especially among aspiring football players or parents cheering from the sidelines.  

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    Nutrition By The Slice

    Everyone loves pizza, and for better or for worse, pizza has become a staple of the American diet. Children and adolescents in particular seem to be enamored with pizza as it remains a major contributor to the overall caloric intake of those under age 18 (which might at least partially explain why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles loved it so much). So what does all that pizza mean for your diet?


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    Seasonal Changes in Vitamin D Status and Physiological Norms

    Watching the news drives home the fact that the northern hemisphere is deep into winter. Barcelona, Spain and Boston, USA are both experiencing snow. Because of inclement weather conditions (and sun block for those in warmer climates), our ability to synthesize vitamin D3 in skin is limited. Without sun exposure, serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations fall  during the winter months.

    Scientists wondered if a single very large dose (bolus) of vitamin D might maintain serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations over an entire winter.

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    Vitamin A and Malaria Risk in Children Under 5 Years

    Johns Hopkins researchers report children under 5 years of age living in sub-Saharan Africa who are supplemented with vitamin A are 54% less likely to develop malaria.

    This is big news. Why? More than half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria. The affirmation of vitamin A supplementation in 20,984 children comes from analysis of national survey data from 4 sub-Saharan countries (Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal). Vitamin A supplementation was protective against Plasmodium parasitemia.

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    Nutrition Labeling: How Can We Make Choosing Healthy Foods Easier?

    Do you use nutrition labels on food packages when grocery shopping? Does the information guide your food selection? The Nutrient Facts label required on most foods in the US and Canada is designed to help consumers make informed and healthier food choices. A previous study showed that reading nutrition labels is associated with a lower-fat diet.  But according to a recently published study, the required nutrition labeling in the US and Canada is the hardest to digest out of the four systems tested.   

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    Separating the Chaff from Grain, Fruit and Vegetables on Inflammation and Health

    Inflammation is considered to be a key factor initiating many chronic non-communicable diseases. Some nutrients are known to influence inflammation. In a Belgian cross-sectional study of 2,524 generally healthy subjects (35-55y), Shivappa and colleagues measured associations between dietary recall data (Food Frequency Questionnaires of 25 foods items) and inflammatory markers (IL-6, homocysteine, C-reactive protein and fibrogen).

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