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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'April 2012'


    100 Years of Vitamins in the Century of Aging

    Imagine, more than 1 of 4 Europeans and 1 of 5 Americans living will be >65 years of age in 2040. The 6th leading causes of mortality in the elderly are non-communicable diseases. Troesch and co-authors address the role of nutrition in maintaining health and vitality. And the analysis isn’t comforting. In the 2nd National Report, the CDC show vitamin D levels generally declining with aging. Almost 9% of adults >60 years are vitamin D deficient (< 30nmol/L) and ~26% are between 30-50 nmol/L. At least 35% of the population has serum 25(OH)D levels below

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    Cognitive Function: Folate, Vitamin B-12, and Homocysteine

    An interesting commentary by Dr Lei Feng in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reinforces the value of folic acid and vitamin B-12 supplementation in helping maintain cognitive function in older adults. Previously, Walker and colleagues reported that folic acid and vitamin B-12 supplementation helped prevent cognitive decline in community-dwelling older adults. Using a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial randomized controlled trial (RCT) design, they conducted cognitive tests in 900 adults, ages 60-74y, after 12 and 24 months of supplementation.

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    Food Insecurity in the United States

    Food insecurity affects almost 50 million Americans. The rates of food insecurity during the past 3 years are the highest seen in the US since 1995. In her article, Sharon Kirkpatrick emphasizes the close association of food insecurity with suboptimal nutrient intakes. In the same issue of JAND, Walker and Kawachi examine factors affecting food purchase decisions by food-secure and food-insecure adults in Boston. All participants valued convenience, cost, cleanliness, and convenience. Food security was not seen as an important factor in hindering healthy eating. Nevertheless, food-insecure participants were more likely to be overweight or obese.

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    Balancing Nutrition and Antioxidation with Vitamin E

    What is the story with vitamin E? Yang and colleagues report results from an animal study and their assessment of the literature to suggest that the health benefits of vitamin E are attributable to some tocopherols but not all. They are quoted, “On the basis of these results as well as information from the literature, we suggest that vitamin E, as ingested in the diet or in supplements that are rich in gamma- and delya-tocopherols (sic), is cancer preventive; whereas supplementation with high doses of alpha-tocopherol is not.”

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    Announcing 2012 Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators

    Congratulations to Wanida Lewis, North Carolina State University, for being selected as the 2012 recipient of the DSM Nutritional Products Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators. Her poster was entitled “Anti-inflammatory effects of peanut skin extracts on COX-2 in raw 264.7 cells”. She follows the 2011 winner, Maria Carlota Dao from Tufts University. The ASN Minority Affairs Committee (MARC) held its Travel Awardees Poster Competition and Networking Breakfast at EB2012 this morning. It was an excellent session with passionate, inspired young investigators explaining their research. In reverse alphabetical order, the other 9 winners

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    Food Insecurity and Health Across the Lifespan

    The Great Recession has contributed to food insecurity across America. According to recent USDA statistics, almost 50 million Americans are living in insecure households. In October, Dr Donald Shepard, Brandeis University, wrote that nearly half of the households seeking emergency food assistance report having to choose between paying for food or utilities/heating fuel. Nearly 40% report having to choose between paying for food or their rent/mortgage. In a symposium on “Food Insecurity and Health Across the Lifespan” held yesterday at EB 2012

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    EB 2012 Satellite Symposium on Long-chain n-3:n-6 Fatty Acid Balance

    The Global Nutrition Transition: The Role of Lipid Supplementation satellite symposium, organized and supported by Herbalife Nutrition Institute and DSM Nutritional Products takes place today, Friday April 20, from 8:30am – 5:00pm in the Indigo Ballroom D, Hilton San Diego Bayfront. During the past decades, there has been a marked increase in the consumption of vegetable oils rich in short-chain omega-6 fatty acids. Supplementation with long-chain polyunsaturate fatty acids, especially n-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA),

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    Thinking About the Benefits of Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA)

    Two articles in the British Journal of Nutrition got me thinking about the benefits of docosahexanoic acid (DHA). For decades nutritionists have known polyunsaturated fats are essential. Because humans cannot add double bonds (desaturate) near the methyl end of the fatty acid chain, omega-3 fatty acids, eg α-linolenic acid (ALA) are essential for brain development and function. ALA can be elongated and desaturated to eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and then docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Because of the essentiality of omega-3 fatty acids, the Institute of Medicine has established a Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for ALA. Unfortunately, the conversion efficiency of ALA to DHA is very low. Consuming preformed dietary sources of DHA and EPA guarantees an adequate supply of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

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    Micronutrients are Essential for Eye Health

    The Ocular Nutrition Society issued a statement that Significant scientific evidence exists to support the role of certain nutrients, including zinc, vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, to help promote health in the aging eye. The displacement of nutrient-dense foods by processed foods in the Western, or American, diet is disconcerting, as is the lack of awareness of key nutrients and other modifiable risk factors that impact eye health.

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    All of a Child's Life starts with Vitamin D

    The expression "May you live in interesting times" is attributed to Confucius. And he lived before the internet and mobile devices were invented. As Kevin Fickenscher, President of American Medical Informatics Association (AMIO) said at World Health Day 2012 hosted by Tufts USDA HNRCA, society is moving from a professionally dominated theocracy to an information democracy. This means having to distill the grain from the chaff. According to the most recent NHANES analyses, Ganji and colleagues report that 62 percent of children 2-5y

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    Cardiovascular Health, Vitamin E and Genetic Interactions

    Vitamin E is the forgotten micronutrient. Despite the fact that >97% of Americans do not consume the RDA, vitamin E recommendations were not considered by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Institute of Medicine defines vitamin E deficiency as plasma α-tocopherol concentrations <14 μmol/L (0.6 mg/dL). This cutoff is based on in vitro measures of hydrogen peroxide-induced erythrocyte hemolysis. A review by Dror and Allen reports widespread vitamin E deficiency

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    Elvis and “Good Health Adds Life to Years”

    World Health Day 2012: Population Aging and Urbanization, hosted by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded the first of 2 days of dialogue and presentations. The 2 day meeting, hosted by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging, brings together experts to discuss issues of aging,health, and urbanization to advance science and policies needed to support the growing number of older adults in urban settings. After opening remarks by Dr Simin Meydani, Director of the HNRCA

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    Supplements Help Canadian Women Get Enough Folic Acid for Healthy Babies

    A nutrition success story is the introduction of folic acid fortification to flour to raise the folic acid status of the population, and the resulting decrease in neural tube defect incidence in newborns. It is clear that adequate folic acid levels are part of the total nutrient package needed by pregnant and lactating women to provide the best nutrition for their children. The current issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism contains an article by Colapinto, O’Connor, Dubois and Tremblay that reports on predictors of folic acid status in women of child-bearing age.

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A Lifelong Investment

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the events of a lifetime could be wiped away with a single act? Like a lottery ticket can transform a life from one with mortgages, car loans, and other debts to a life of riches? Unfortunately, health is more of a pay as you play game. The wear and tear of bumps and bruises accumulate; sometimes in debilitating ways decades later. The effects of malnutrition are equally persistent. Redemption cannot be found for a lifetime of choices in a short-term remedy. It isn’t surprising that a meta-analysis of 14 randomized, controlled studies (RCT)

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    Eat Your Vegetables: β-Carotene and Mortality

    Using data from an ongoing, population-based, prospective cohort study in middle-aged Finnish men and women, the Kuoipio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), Karppi and associates report that low beta-carotene concentrations increase the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. A total of 2,682 participants were screened at baseline, between Mar 1984 to Dec 1989, and 4-year re-examinations were conducted between Mar 1991 and Dec 1993. Men who died from CVD were

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    Vitamin C, Sodium, and High Blood Pressure

    A new meta-analysis of 29 trials, using a median dose of 500 mg vitamin C daily, for 8 weeks, and trial sizes ranging from 10-120 participants concludes that vitamin C supplementation reduced systolic blood pressure (SBP, -3.84 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (DPG,-1.48 mm Hg). Juraschek and colleagues published this finding in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They also found that larger trials measured greater reductions for SBP (-4.68) and DPB (-2.69). There was a trend for greater blood pressure reduction in individuals with hypertension, versus those without, but this difference was not statistically significant.

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    What’s the Skinny on Fats?

    The Grocery Manufacturers of America 2012 Science Forum held a session entitled “What’s the Skinny on Fats?” in the Health, Wellness and Ingredient Safety track. The session focused on public policy over the past decades to decrease the consumption of trans fats and saturated fats with little regard for other types of fats. The speakers addressed the increasing evidence for cardiovascular and other health benefits from consuming omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).

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    Eating Vegetarian is Healthy, But Mind the Micronutrients!

    A wide range of diets are considered vegetarian, and can range from low-meat diets that contain little meat, to ovo-lacto-vegetarians and pescetarians that eat eggs, milk and/or fish, to vegans that avoid all animal products. McEvoy, Temple and Woodside review the health effects of vegetarian diets in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Vegetarian diets are in general healthy, with epidemiological studies showing that vegetarians have lower incidences of the two most significant chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Likely dietary components that produce this health benefit are from the high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses and soya protein, and relatively low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. This review agrees with a position paper from 2009 by the American Dietetic Association.

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    Caring More About Electrical Service than Nutrition?

    Perspective is interesting. Perception so often depends upon viewing angle or the lens being used. Take the Second National Report released by the CDC this week. Yesterday, in its press release, the CDC stated “Overall the U.S. population has good levels of vitamin A and D and folate in the body.” In fairness, the press release did mention that some groups needed to improve their vitamin D and iron status. But the overall tone was that nutrient deficiency rates were generally low, <10%. Excuse me, but we are discussing deficiency – not inadequacy. When Hurricane Irene knocked out power to some 6.7 million people in 13 states

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    Nutrient Malnutrition: An Unchanging US Reality

    The Centers for Disease Control just published the Second Nutrition Report with information on 58 biochemical indicators. They collected blood and urine samples from 2003 to 2006 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They report that the prevalence of nutrient deficiencies hasn’t changed from 1999 to 2006. Vitamin B6, iron, and vitamin D had the highest prevalence of deficiency with 10.55, 9.5% of women, and 8.1%, respectively. 6% of the population is vitamin C deficient. If you think the proportion is low, remember this is DEFICIENCY not inadequacy.

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