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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'March 2011'


    CDC Reports Vitamin D Inadequacy in USA

    The Center for Disease Control issued a report analyzing vitamin D status of Americans on Wednesday. Drs Looker and colleagues examined serum 25(OH)D levels of persons 1y and older between 2001 and 2006. Approximately 1/4 of Americans had vitamin D inadequacy, defined as serum 25(OH)D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Black and Mexican American persons were more likely to be deficient (< 30 nmol/L) or inadequate (30-49 nmol/L) than white persons. USA Today journalist Mary Brophy Marcus reported that “One-third of Americans are lacking vitamin D”

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    FDA Consideration of Food Colors and Hyperactivity Begins

    The FDA is holding a two-day meeting on food colors and hyperactivity beginning today. The Advisory Committee is being asked to consider relevant data on the association between consumption of synthetic color additives in food and hyperactivity in children, and to advise the FDA as to what action, if any, is warranted to ensure consumer activity. It guarantees to be a controversial session with polarizing opinions. The media is actively promoting the event. There are videos on from San Antonio, TX, TODAY from Washington, DC, and

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    Are Seasonal Allergies Increasing Your Need for Vitamin D?

    Mary Brophy Marcus writes in USA Today that at least 10% of the population has serious seasonal allergies due to pollen. An allergy is an abnormal immune response. It turns out that vitamin D status might be involved. Scientific studies have associated low plasma 25(OH)D levels with a range of immune-related diseases. Dr McMillan and associates measured serum 25(OH)D in 33 British patients before and after elective knee surgery.

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    Going to “New Developments in Carotenoid Reseach” Conference?

    On March 11 & 12, the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) is holding an international conference “New Developments in Carotenoid Research” at Tufts University downtown Boston Campus. It is a two-day program stacked full with international experts who will share new research on the function and mechanisms of action of carotenoids in the human body. The Co-chairpersons for the conference are Dr Simin N Meydani, Director of HNRCA and the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Center, and Dr Robert M Russell, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Nutrition at Tufts University, current President of the American Society for Nutrition, and Special Expert to the Office of Dietary Supplements at NIH. Click here for information on registration and hotels.

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    Food Fight: Synthetic Colors and Hyperactivity

    The FDA has scheduled a public hearing to discuss data linking synthetic food dyes have on children’s behavior on Mar 30-31. A 2007 Lancet study linking synthetic food colors with hyperactivity in children is key to understanding the debate about synthetic food colors. Based partly on this study, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned to ban the use of 8 synthetic food dyes in June 2008 and as an interim measure to bear a warning label “WARNING: The artificial colorings in this food cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.” Not everyone agrees.

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    How Should the World be Nourished?

    Epidemiologists and nutritionists, often using reductionist approaches, try to elucidate the role of nutrients in human health. Agriculturalists strive to improve crops to deliver missing nutrients. At the behest of policy makers, scientists meet and define nutrient reference intakes and make dietary recommendations for populations of mixed ages, with some regard for differing socioeconomic and cultural needs. Lower socioeconomic status groups consistently have lower intakes of vitamins and minerals, regardless of whether intakes are expressed in absolute amounts or corrected for energy intake. The addition of small amounts of essential nutrients to processed foods (fortification, restoration, and substitution) has significantly reduced

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    Should UK Increase Vitamin D Recommendations for Infants?

    During the mid 1960’s, the recommendation for vitamin D supplementation for all infants in Finland was 2,000 IU daily (50 ug), 5 times greater than current recommendations in Finland and 2 and 1.3 times the tolerable upper level (25 ug) established in the Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D for infants 0-6 mo and 6-12 mo, respectively. In a newly published Journal of Nutrition paper, E Hypponen and colleagues examined the growth data from children born in 1966 (12,058 births, coverage 96%) to see if high-dose vitamin D supplementation negatively affected linear growth. They used data obtained from 91% (10,821 children) of the babies born who were examined at 1 y of age. They found no evidence supporting the hypothesis that high-dose vitamin D supplementation adversely affects bone growth, even at levels exceeding current recommendations.

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    Confusing Dietary Guidance and Pharmacologic Rx to Prevent Disease

    People eat foods to live. Diets reflect food choices. By varying food choices, one can emphasize or avoid different nutrients to affect health and disease risk. So why do scientists not make it clear to readers when testing pharmacologic doses of nutrients to see if they are more effective than drugs? Dr Bragt and Mensink compared 3.7g omega-3 fatty acids daily [1.7 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.2g docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] against 200 mg fenofibrate or placebo treatment for 6 weeks separated by a 2 week washout in 20 overweight and obese individuals. While neither intervention improved markers of low-grade systemic inflammation,

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    If it wasn’t for Processed Foods and Beverages...

    Dr G Weber published an excellent review on the benefits of consuming processed foods. As he writes, iodine was first voluntarily added to salt in Michigan USA in 1924 to prevent endemic goiter. Within 1 year, 94% of Michigan homes used iodized salt and the incidence of goiter dropped from 38.6% to 8.25 between 1924 and 1936. Pretty amazing statistic, yet 18 million infants are mentally impaired as a result of iodine deficiency today. Fortunately, the Micronutrient Initiative and others are working to address iodine and other micronutrient deficiencies. Pellagra was eliminated in the 1940’s in America with the addition of niacin (vitamin B3) to bread. Mandatory fortification of flours with

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    Insights into Vitamin C: Nutrient and Potential Drug

    The new journal, Advances in Nutrition, has an excellent review written by Dr M Levine and co-authors on the nutritional and therapeutic role of vitamin C in human health. Key conclusions are: Plasma vitamin C levels in plasma and tissues are tightly regulated At oral doses >400 milligrams per day, plasma vitamin C concentrations plateau Benefits of vitamin C supplementation are observed in those with poor vitamin C status, including studies evaluating the effect of antioxidant status on preeclampsia and other pregnancy-related complications. Intravenous doses of vitamin C at pharmacological levels under supervision of a physician may be effective in treating cancer

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    New Data Supporting Vitamin E Supplementation

    Long-term vitamin E supplement use is associated with lower risk of Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS). In a study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Dr E O’Reilly and colleagues combined results from 5 large US studies involving more than 1 million adults. They reported that persons who had been using vitamin E supplements for at least 5 years were about 1/3 less likely than non-users to develop ALS. Approximately 30,000 Americans currently have ALS. The results may reflect the fact that most adult Americans are consuming less than half the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 15 mg/d.

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    Establishing the “End of the Leprechaun’s Rainbow” in Africa

    DSM Nutritional Products, General Mills and Cargill announced the launch of Partners in Food Solutions as a hunger-fighting non-profit to bring expertise from ingredient suppliers and food producers to small and medium-sized food processors in Africa. Through a partnership with TechnoServe which will provide support in Africa and a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Partners in Food Solutions plans to expand its reach and impact in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. More information on Partners in Food Solutions can be found here on TechnoServe’s blog or yesterday’s issue of The Wall Street Journal.

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    Seeing New Science on Carotenoids, n-3 Fatty Acids and the Eye

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss. Reduced macular pigment optical density (MPOD) is a risk factor for AMD. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that supplementation with antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins E and C and zinc and copper could slow the progression or AMD. It is known that xanthophylls, lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help protect the retina against oxidative damage. According to a new study in Archives of Opthalmalogy, regular consumption of DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may help prevent AMD. Dr W Christen and colleagues examined DHA and EPA intakes of 38,022 women over 10 years in women without AMD at baseline. They found that consuming DHA and EPA was associated with a 35-45% lower risk of developing AMD over 10 years.

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    Insights into the Acronyms of DC

    Steve Mister, President & CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) published a great article “INDs and NDIs: Should we LOL or say WTH?” yesterday on NEW HOPE 360 BLOG. It is a really important piece for researchers and food/supplement industry experts to read if interested in bringing to market new ingredients with health benefits. In 2007, Congress passed the FDA Amendments Act, including FDAAA 912, which could shift the separation between foods and drugs. An analysis of FDAAA 912 can be found at FDA Law Blog.

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    Carotenoids Conference held at Tufts USDA HNRCA

    The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging held a 2 day “New Developments in Carotenoid Research” Conference on Friday and Saturday. It featured 21 keynote speakers from around the globe. The first day was focused on beta-carotene. As covered by Steve Myers of Natural Products Insider, speakers emphasized that beta-carotene provides 30-70% of the vitamin A activity worldwide with the lower percentage being in more developed countries where more preformed vitamin A is consumed from animal sources. Much time was spent discussing the efficiency of conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A. Especially because Dr Johanne von Lintig and Georg Lietz presented evidence of genetic polymorphisms which influence conversion efficiency and oxidative stress. Dr Susan Mayne, Yale University, presented data on the value of Resonance Raman spectroscopy to assess carotenoid status and reviewed literature emphasizing the U-shaped risk/benefit curve for nutrients

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    Is a Lack of Beta-Carotene Intake Leading to Obesity?

    Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A production via an enzyme, beta-carotene monoxygenase 1 (BCMO1). Beta-carotene intake appears to regulate the development of adipocytes and body fat stores in animals. Animal studies show that BCM01 knock-out mice develop dyslipidemia and are more susceptible to diet-induced obesity. In humans, beta-carotene levels are significantly lower when body mass index is increased even though serum retinol levels do not show the same relationship. Overweight children have significantly lower plasma carotenoid levels compared to healthy weight children.

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    Racial Differences in Biomarker Estimation of Fruit & Vegetable Intakes

    Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is assumed to reduce the potential risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Plasma concentrations of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are presumed to be effective biomarkers for dietary intake. Dietary intake (24h food frequency) and plasma carotenoid samples (lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene) were obtained from 250 healthy, white and African American adults. African Americans. Dr L Arab and colleagues reported today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that plasma carotenoid levels did not predict dietary carotenoid intakes for African Americans as for whites. The difference was not attributable to reporting differences because total energy predictions from dietary records was stronger in African Americans than whites. It could reflect ethnic differences in the polymorphism of a gene which converts beta-carotene to vitamin A.

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    Why Fear Food when We Choose what We Eat and it Nourishes Us?

    There is a great article in Food Insight by Liz Rahavi this week. She writes, “Often, people deem something ‘risky’ based on purely subjective reasons” and that people often “base their judgements on what they hear”. Unfortunately, this is true. Yesterday, Melanie Warner exploited fear by suggesting collusion between food companies and scientific associations is contributing to the obesity epidemic. She cited a paper suggesting industry bias. Cope and Allison also published a paper examining reporting bias and inaccurate citing of scientific studies exploring diet and weight management, ie nutritively sweetened beverages and breastfeeding. They documented that the results had been distorted,

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency Identified as Challenge to Humanity

    On March 4, 2011, experts attending the Global Omega-3 Summit unanimously signed a consensus document stating: Short chain omega-3 fatty acids have poor conversion to DHA in humans Most people to not consume adequate amounts of long-chain omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Maintaining optimal ratios of long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in tissues is important To reach optimal n-3:n-6 tissue concentrations, the quantity of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids [alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), DHA, and EPA ] needs to be increased and the quantity of omega-3 (n-6) fatty acids [linoleic acid (LA)] decreased in human and animal diets.

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    Supplementing Vitamin D: D3 found to be more potent than D2

    Most people assume that all forms of vitamin D are equal. However, a recent study by Dr R Heaney and colleagues compared potencies of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) against vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) in 33 healthy adults. The scientists found vitamin D3 was 87% more potent than vitamin D2 in raising and maintaining serum 25(OH)D concentrations. Moreover, 2-3 times more vitamin D was stored in the body when people used vitamin D3 than D2. The authors concluded, “Given its greater potency and lower cost, D3 should be the preferred treatment option when correcting vitamin D deficiency.

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    Do you get enough of the right fats in your diet?

    Lipid research continues to evolve. Just as it seemed we only had to worry about saturated and trans fatty acids intakes, everything changes! To help sort through the new science, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Technical Committee on Dietary Lipids is inviting experts to summarize the latest science related to the health impact of dietary lipids. According to the program, presentations will range from the role of fatty acids in taste and satiety to prevention of cognitive decline with DHA. Emerging science on sphingolipids and gangliosides in brain development and inflammation will also be covered. Looks very interesting. If you read the column by Dr Roger Clemens in the February 2011 issue of Food Technology

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    Is Nutrition part of Your Annual Checkup?

    The Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a press release emphasizing the importance of nurse practitioners, often as part of the annual checkup, in helping guide people into making wise and healthy lifestyle choices. According to the most recent CRN “Life…supplemented” Healthcare Professionals Impact Study, 83% of nurse practitioners agree it’s a good idea for patients to take multivitamins, presumably because 82% believe there are gaps in their patients’ diets that could be effectively addressed with dietary supplements. And nutrient gaps exist. Most Americans are not consuming the recommended number of fruit and vegetable servings daily. To find out why it is important to eat fruit and vegetables, check out the CDC website on fruit and vegetable consumption.

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    National Nutrition Month

    The American Dietetic Association has named March “National Nutrition Month” and focused their efforts on educating people to develop sound eating and physical activity habits and to make informed food choices. The “It’s About Eating Right” website is a great resource. For example, the most recent (2009) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System finds that approximately 75% of Americans do not consume the recommended 5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables daily. So dietary changes are needed. Registered Dietitians have partners to help them inform.

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