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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'December 2010'


    Consumers Choose Supplements to Augment Diet and Health

    Dietary supplement use in the US continues to increase. The majority report taking only one dietary supplement usually on a daily basis. Scientists from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in the Journal of Nutrition (Dec 22) results on dietary supplement use by Americans from National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006. Fifty percent of Americans report using dietary supplements with 79% having taken them within the last 30 days.

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    Seeing a Better, Brighter Future…

    The December issue of SIGHT AND LIFE magazine has a great article by L Renzi and BR Hammond on the role of nutrition in maintaining visual health. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 314 million people are visually impaired worldwide and 12 million of these are children.

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    Cardiovascular Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    With today’s acquisition of Martek, TalkingNutrition will increase its coverage of research pertaining to omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Dr Wennberg and associates used a case-control study design within a northern Swedish cohort involving 431 cases of myocardial infarction, including 81 sudden cardiac deaths to study the effects of fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and red blood cell concentrations of mercury. On average, these people consumed 1.26 fish meals per week. The authors found a protective effect of fish consumption on risk biomarkers. Although they did not find harmful effects of fish consumption, intakes of mercury, EPA and DHA were interrelated. People who ate more fish had higher intakes of DHA, EPA and mercury

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    Ladies: Are you too hot for the holidays?

    Hot flushes are the most common reason for women to seek treatment for postmenopausal symptoms. Isoflavones, found in soybean-based products, bind to estrogen receptors and can modulate hot flushes during menopause. A study published Dec 14 reports a 51% reduction in the number of hot flushes in women using a once-daily 30 mg genistein supplementation regimen.

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    Not Necessary Reading for Southern Californians!

    Everyone living outside of sunny warm geographies like California should be assured that vitamin D is important for cardiovascular health, maintaining strong bones, and a healthy immune system. Don’t be misled by confusing terminologies and misguided headlines. A study published today in the American Journal of Medicine reports that vitamin D levels are not associated with cardiovascular mortality. It is misleading to draw nutrient-disease associations in a subset of people who have the highest serum vitamin D levels in the world. This study should carry “Warning, results seen in southern Californians not typical”.

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    First Baby Born in 2011 is Counting on Mother’s Food Choices Today

    Two very interesting papers published today demonstrate the importance of maternal diet during pregnancy. They show that a newborn baby can lack essential nutrients on the first day of life when the diet of the mother didn’t contain adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, eg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),

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    FDA Works with Industry Partners to Benefit Consumers

    The FDA asked for industry support in today’s announcement of their new initiative to rid the market of drugs masquerading as dietary supplements. During the press conference, FDA Principal Deputy Commission Dr Joshua Sharfstein stated that about 300 products have generated warning letters or recalls since 2007. The FDA issued a letter today to manufacturers of dietary supplements focused on products with undisclosed ingredients to promote weight loss, sexual enhancement and body building. Call 1-800-964-3648 if you wish to the recording of the FDA Media Advisory.

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    Fortification: Meeting the Needs of Most but not All

    Mandatory fortification of foods is a one-size fits all approach assuming a normal statistical population distribution. Single substitutions within a gene may lead to bimodal populations. What will guide policy when individuals within one part of the population have different requirements or risks from others? In 1998, the Canadian government began mandatory folic acid fortification of cereal grains. A primary driver of this policy was to increase folate status of women of childbearing years and reduce the incidence of neural tube defects during the first trimester of pregnancy. A Dec 13 study by Dr M Tremblay and colleagues published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal examined red blood cell folate concentrations

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    Supplying Essential Nutrients to Children helps Secure Tomorrow

    Social inequalities contribute greatly to health inequalities. Vitamin A deficiency is a major public health problem worldwide. A Cochrane review of 43 randomized controlled trials (RCT) with almost a quarter of million children between 6 months - 5 years, concluded that vitamin A supplementation reduced the risk of death by 24%. Vitamin A supplementation reduced new occurrences of diarrhea and measles. Severe vitamin D deficiencies across India and Pakistan in all age groups, as well as insufficiency in populations of South-east and East Asia were reported

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    Near Misses: Do You Measure Them by a Hair, Inch, or Millimeter?

    It is important to read the body of articles and not just the heading. A new scientific study has generated headlines today that too much vitamin D may not be beneficial. In reality, the headlines confirm that vitamin D disparities may put some women at greater risk. A Dec 9 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study reported a U-shaped risk association between serum 25(OH)D level and risk of frailty in older women. The authors conclude that risk of frailty was lowest among older women with serum 25(OH)D levels between 20-30 ng/mL.

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    Reports on the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Getting old is better than the alternative. New evidence shows that omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the aging process by helping maintain vascular health, mental health, and vision. Vascular aging increases blood pressure, the risk of cardiovascular disease and reduces quality of life. Dr M Pase and colleagues conducted a systematic review of omega-3 fatty acid randomized control trials (RCT) studying vascular function. In a Dec 7 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper, they report chronic omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (1.5-25 month) improved measures of vascular function in 8 out of 9 trials.

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    Nutrition Security in the News

    Undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious and least addressed socioeconomic and health problems according to the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition policy brief “Climate Change & Nutrition Security.” Climate change is predicted to exacerbate the risk of hunger and malnutrition. On Dec 8, UNICEF reports that two of the biggest killers of Pakistani children - acute respiratory infections and malnutrition – will increase as winter approaches. While almost 200 nations are meeting in Mexico this week to consider the impact of climate change (food insecurity and climate change map),

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    What are Experts Saying About Vitamin D?

    The latest controversy in nutrition seems to be the Institute of Medicine’s new vitamin D report. It is confusing when The Wall Street Journal Nov 30 headline is to triple vitamin D intake and The New York Times headline negates the value of extra vitamin D and calcium. Actions speak louder than words. What are the experts doing and saying? According to FDA guidance on evidence-based reviews, significant scientific agreement (SSA) doesn’t require consensus. SSA represents the best judgment by qualified experts. However, the same standards aren’t necessarily applicable to drugs and essential nutrients.

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    Working under stress, remember those antioxidants!

    Long work hours, night shifts, and inadequate social networks contribute to increased stress among people working 24h on-call shifts. Make certain you are getting your antioxidant vitamins – C, E, and beta-carotene. A Dec 3 study in the American Journal of Medical Sciences measured oxidative stress in 70 healthcare shift workers. Dr H Buyukhatipoglu and associates reported that serum total oxidative status decreased significantly and the oxidative stress index increased significantly in this pool of nurses and medical residents after hours of continuous work.

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    Vitamin D Crisis in Ethnic Populations Being Overlooked

    Ethnic disparities aren’t being discussed with regards to new Institute of Medicine (IOM) vitamin D recommendations. They need to be considered because vitamin D is related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a Dec 4 publication reports CVD death rates are higher in African-Americans than in whites. While a Watchdog has filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to see reports from 14 vitamin D experts who were not on the IOM-appointed committee, it will take time to for this material to be released. In the meantime, let’s consider the IOM press release of Nov 30 which stated that “the majority of Americans and Canadians are getting enough vitamin D“. How is it possible to draw this conclusion when Table I-1 in the report shows non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans have 5- and 2-fold fold higher rates of vitamin D inadequacy (defined as 40 nmol/L) than non-Hispanic whites.

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    Are Dietary Guidelines Right for You and Your Loved Ones?

    Identification of nutrient-gene interactions will transform the development of future dietary recommendations. New research shows that single nucleotide polymorphisms can change an individual’s nutrient requirement. This study challenges the concept of a normal population distribution with an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). One-carbon metabolism generates precursor molecules needed for neurotransmitters, hormones and cell membranes. Flux through the pathway depends upon a reaction catalyzed by the MTHFR enzyme. Folate is an essential methyl donor in this pathway. Individuals with a nucleotide substitution in MTHFR, known as the MTHFR 677TT genotype, have lower serum folate levels and plasma homocysteine concentrations than those with the 677CC genotype. In a Dec 1 scientific paper, Dr M Caudill and colleagues report

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