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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'November 2011'


    WHO Vitamin and Mineral Information System Changes

    Wouldn’t it be great to know your vitamin status? To have answers to the questions: Am I eating properly? Do I need a dietary supplement or not? Nutrition assessment shouldn’t be a ‘food recall’ test or toss of the dice. Nutrition indicators are needed. Some are available. Vitamin D status can be measured by serum 25(OH)D status. The World Health Organization has established biochemical indicators to assess iron status (serum ferritin) and vitamin A deficiency (serum retinol). According to their website, priority nutrients are iodine, zinc, folate, vitamin C, and thiamin.

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    Vitamin D, the Immune System, Babies, and Type 1 Diabetes

    Vitamin D is required for a healthy immune system. An immune system which sometimes goes awry, destroys insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas, and contributes to type 1 diabetes mellitus. Researchers are now finding links between vitamin D status and the incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus in children. Sorensen and colleagues studied a cohort of 29,072 women in Norway. They found a twofold higher risk of type 1 diabetes in children born from women in the lower quartile of serum 25(OH)D levels. Because 40-80% of pregnant women may be vitamin D deficient, it is not surprising that

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    Help your Heart and the World with Sustainable Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend replacing meat and poultry with seafood. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and lake trout, at least two times (two serving) a week. The reason: to increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Then there is the ‘yuck factor’ of eating fish. Taste. Smell. And the fact that fish can contain high levels of mecury, PCBs, dioxins and other environmental contaminants. Both the FDA and EPA have issued cautionary guidance to women who might be pregnant, are pregnant, or nursing and young children to avoid some types of fish. It is confusing. Eat more fish but be careful. Greenpeace International warns that many marine ecologists think the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing.

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    Keeping Healthy Serum Vitamin D Levels through the Solstice

    Only one more month in the Northern Hemisphere to go before the solstice and the days finally start to get longer. In the meantime, sufficient exposure of skin to sunlight to synthesize vitamin D will be low to non-existent. Unless you travel to a warm, exotic venue where you can spend time soaking up the sun. Otherwise, it is important to consume vitamin D fortified foods, the availability of which are limited by law in many countries, or use dietary supplements. Three studies presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, FL reported on the benefits of maintaining adequate serum 25(OH)D levels:

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    Daily Values Need Updating to Reflect New Science

    Want to eat healthier? It is best achieved by using the Nutrition Facts panel to compare foods: whether buying groceries, reading a menu in a restaurant, or perusing for snacks in the pantry or fridge. Only by comparing number of calories, grams of fat and sugar, or Daily Values (DV) for essential nutrients between foods can one make an informed, more nutritious choice. DVs help make life simpler because we don’t have to do as much math, know actual recommended nutrient values, or remember units (mmol/gram). Someone else does the calculation and labels the DV for us. How was it done?

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    Could Mars-Venus Differences in Fat Metabolism affect CVD Risk?

    Understanding differences between men and women in their relationships was the basis of the best selling book entitled, “Men are from Mar, Women are from Venus”. In his book, Dr John Gray provides insights into sex-based differences in brain and body chemistry which impact relationships, romance, and health. New research suggests that there are sex-specific differences in metabolism of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA. Decsi and Kennedy report that sex hormone differences between men and women may lead to differences in PUFA metabolism. According to stable isotope studies, women are better able to desaturate and elongate α-linolenic acid (ALA) via eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) then men.

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    Glaring Problem: Lack of Lutein and Zeaxanthin

    With dark wet roads, nighttime driving becomes more difficult. Headlights glare, waterdrops reflect, and it is challenging to see. Two new reports suggest that following mother’s advice “eat your vegetables” plays an important role in eye health and vision. In the Practice Strategies section of Optometry – Journal of the American Optometric Association, Elliott and Williams summarize the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin in maintaining visual performance. They note that 81% of adults experience eye discomfort from glare or fatigue while driving at night. Thirty-nine percent have the same complaint while driving or riding in the car during day. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in vegetables

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    Verify your Information on Safety of Vitamin D Supplementation

    It’s a slow day for release of new nutrition research on vitamins and carotenoids. Unfortunately, The Telegraph, MSNBC, and Fox News are reporting that high vitamin D levels to a serious heart condition – atrial fibrillation. It is unfortunate because the data is suspect. As mentioned yesterday in, the blood vitamin D levels presented at the American Heart Association meeting need verification. There must be an error. Levels of 40-100 ng/dL (or 40-100 ng/100 mL) don’t make sense. Assuming the Utah scientists got their units wrong and not the laboratory clinical analysis, it is possible they meant ng/mL when reporting ng/dL (or ng/100 mL). If so, how many people between 30 and 70 years of age might have vitamin D levels exceeding this amount?

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    Conversion Errors and Vitamin D Nonsense

    Earlier today The Telegraph published a headline High dose vitamin D pills ‘can double heart condition risk’. Don’t believe the headline because the results cannot be trusted. Oral presentations at scientific meetings should not be communicated to the public until the research is subjected to peer review. The data presented at the American Heart Association meeting needs to be dismissed until the scientists check their serum 25(OH)D values for analytical or mathematical errors. Dr T Jared Bunch, a heart rhythm specialist, was quoted that patients, mostly over 70y of age, having vitamin D levels above 100 nanograms per 100mL were 2.5 times more likely to have atrial fibrillation (AF) than those with normal levels (41-80 ng/100mL). So what’s wrong with this statement? It’s the vitamin D values. These cannot be correct.

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    Nutrition Security: A Human Right or Privilege?

    Doing something meaningful is an aspirational thought. It leads to the question, “what is meaningful action?” Some movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, try to change the world through nonviolent demonstration. It can also be improving lives of women, men, and their children by advocating for better nutrition and long-term nutrition security. Nutrition adequacy and security are worldwide problems. Even in developed nations. Even amongst the overweight and obese. Snacking is often considered to contribute to obesity more than nutrient intake. Zizza and Xu set out to test this concept. They examined 24h dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) on 11,209 adults. Snacking was associated with a more nutrient-dense diet, partially through increased intake of fruit and whole grains

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    Nutrition, Exercise, and Vitamin D

    With 350 million people having diabetes worldwide and today being World Diabetes Day, it is time to talk about diabetes. Indeed, the numbers are higher because another 175 million do not know they have diabetes, that is 50% more have not been diagnosed. Diabetes leads to blindness, kidney malfunction, increased risk of a heart attack and amputation. It is deadly. Diabetes can be managed. However, it is costly. Medical expenditures among people are 2.3 times higher for those with diagnosed diabetes than those without diabetes. More than 80% of the diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization projects diabetes deaths will double by 2030. What is the answer?

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    Common Theme: Carotenoid Malnutrition in US and Bangladesh Women

    Proving nutrient-disease relationships is complex. Reducing the issue to placebo-controlled clinical studies with isolated compounds helps to determine nutrient bioavailability, metabolic pathways, and requirements but diseases develop over time. Because diseases are chronic and multifactorial, it is very difficult to elucidate nutrient-disease relationships. Yet, 2 studies published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrate the importance of adequate intakes of pro-vitamin A carotenoids and vitamin A in maintaining health.

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    Do Artificial Food Colors Contribute to Hyperactivity in Kids?

    ‘Bouncing off the walls’ is an expression sometimes applied to kids. Could hyperactivity be related to food colors or is their behavior due to overstimulation, excitement, pent-up energy, or maybe a behavioral disorder? For over 30 years, researchers have suggested artificial food colors might contribute to hyperactivity and learning disorders. Is this the case? The leading non-profit organization serving individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is holding their annual meeting, starting today, in Orlando, FL. This is an excellent forum to learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

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    Trapped by the Allure of Nutrition Epidemiology

    Andrew Lang, a Scots poet, is remembered for saying, “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than illumination”. When it comes to epidemiological research relating food and supplement use with health outcomes, too often studies are cited as evidence to support a point of view rather than a basis for hypothesis generation. Au contraire and the tendency is to dismiss the study. Take for example a recent Japanese study by Hara and colleagues. They surveyed over 28,000 men and 33,000 women about vitamin supplement use and analyzed medical diagnoses of cancer and cardiovascular

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    Ever Wondered What Happens After Wolfing Down a Meal?

    Eating too much and too quickly increases risk of becoming overweight. Maps published in Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine show that too many Americans are overweight or obese. Being overweight increases cellular stress and leads to inflammation. However, having a healthy weight doesn’t guarantee good health. Every meal changes concentrations of nutrients and their metabolites in blood. Each meal-related rise in blood lipids, and the longer they remain elevated, increases inflammatory mediators of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Lifestyle choices such as the composition of the meals we eat, and the amount we eat at every meal/snack, affects disease risk. Just like body weight does over time. Peairs and colleagues examined the effect of meals containing 3 different high fat milkshakes

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    Better Planning, Shopping Lists & Fact Panels Improve Health

    Monday mornings can be difficult to face, especially when the news isn’t good. And last week was definitely not a good week. Well, one could argue that the bathroom scales indicate it was an especially GOOD week, but weight gain was definitely not a goal. A new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides insights to help. Simple really. Meal planning and using shopping lists. Glanz and colleagues tested the impact of a nutrient profiling tool and education surrounding food shopping and meal planning

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    Supplement Industry Proposes Scientific Framework for Bioactives

    Deficiency diseases led to the discovery of vitamins – vitamin C cured scurvy in sailors, vitamin A prevented blindness, thiamin prevented beriberi, etc – guiding the introduction of nutrient recommendations in the 1990s. Historically, nutrition scientists adopted reductionist approaches, isolating single chemical moities, testing dosages and estimating toxicities using drug paradigms involving randomized-control trials (RCTs) to develop Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) and tolerable upper intake levels (ULs are the levels below which no adverse effects are noted). But nutrients are not drugs. While we do not all follow nutrition recommendations,

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    Looking to Improve Vitamin D Status? Researchers Compare Forms

    Living in the Northern hemisphere? With days getting shorter and temperatures getting colder, vitamin D status is getting worse. It is a fact. Skin can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight but most people do not spend enough time in the sun. While some foods are fortified with vitamin D, it is still difficult to obtain recommended intakes from our diets. This also applies to people living in sunny, warm climates. Orthopedic surgeons from Washington University reported that 25% of their patients (total n = 313) coming for spinal fusion operations were extremely vitamin D deficient at the 26th Annual North American Spine Society 26th Annual

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    Clinical Studies Touting Benefits of Red Wine Component, Resveratrol

    With the most people needing to lose a few pounds, wouldn’t it be great to know if some food ingredient or dietary supplement could help. A study published in Cell Metabolism raises some interesting possibilities. Timmers and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind study where 11 obese, healthy men were treated with placebo or 150 mg resveratrol daily for 30 days. Resveratrol significantly reduced sleeping and resting metabolic rate. In essence, this preliminary study showed that resveratrol mimicked the effects of calorie restriction.

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    Adequate Vitamin Status Matters, Especially for Kids

    Have you ever heard or read that using dietary supplements is like flushing money down the toilet? Or that it may even increase risk of cancer? Sensational headlines and polarizing opinions may drive readership but science is based on the totality of the evidence. A Nutrition Journal paper published yesterday emphasizes the importance of an adequate micronutrient status. Mehta and colleagues studied 8 weeks of multivitamin supplementation in Tanzanian children with tuberculosis. Within 8 weeks, children receiving supplementation raised hemoglobin levels and stimulated growth (height) although weight gain did not differ.

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