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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'May 2012'


    Following Folate Recommendations in Pregnancy Also Reduces Autism Risk

    It seems that recommendations to pregnant women to get enough folate may do more than just protect against neural tube defects. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed in around 1 in 100 children, more often in boys than girls. There is a large range of symptoms and abilities of affected children, however for many families, a child with an ASD will require intensive, specialized care to help improve their communication skills a chance of leading a normal life. While it appears that there is no single cause of ASD, some research indicates that environment-gene interactions that result in ASD start early in pregnancy. Schmidt and co-workers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the link between folic acid intake and ASD.

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acid Update from ISSFAL Meeting

    For the past 3 days, Vancouver, British Columbia has been abuzz with experts presenting the latest science on dietary fatty acids and lipids. Convened by the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL), scientists have gathered around the globe to learn cutting edge science. DHA and EPA are omega-3 nutrients required for the growth, development, and maintenance of the brain, eye, and heart. From a select list of 2012 New Investigator Awardees, the 2012 New Investigators Awards finalists were won by Dr Melissa Gregory from the Royal Adelaide Hospital (Australia), Dr Zacharoula Nikolakopoulou from Queen Mary University of London (UK), and PhD candidate Sarah Orr from the University of Toronto (Canada).

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    Could Low Vitamin D Be a Piece of the Childhood Obesity Puzzle?

    Childhood obesity is attracting much attention because of its long-term effects of early obesity on health over the lifespan. It is attracting attention from international groups (World Health Organization), national-based programs (Let’s Move from First Lady Michelle Obama), and considerable media interest, for example from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. One nutrient that is the focus of considerable research interest is vitamin D. Authors Crozier et al. in the online first articles of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on the link between maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy, and fat mass in their children up to 6 years of age in women living in the city of Southampton, one of the more sunny cities in the UK.

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    Time to Revise Omega-3 Fatty Acid Recommendations? A Summary of the Evidence

    The latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition contains a series of excellent systematic reviews of the evidence base for omega-3 fatty acids in various populations and for a number of important health conditions. In particular, Aranceta and Pérez-Rodrigo review dietary recommendations for fats and fatty acids; the issue’s editors remark in the editorial that considerable work has been undertaken in dietary lipid research since further uses were found than simply a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins and a concentrated source of calories. Regular systematic reviews are needed to compile the evidence base to further our understanding of the role of fatty acids in the diet for health.

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    Nutrition Gives Children a Strong Start

    In case you missed it, micronutrients are essential, especially during the first 1000 days of life. Roberfroid and colleagues assessed the effect of UNICEF/WHO multiple micronutrient (MM) supplementation (vs iron and folic acid alone) during pregnancy and lactation on survival, growth and morbidity of infants. They reviewed data on 1,276 infants with a total follow-up of 30,459 infant-months; 15,262 infant-months during the first year of life. Children whose mothers received MM had significantly greater length-for-age, weight-for-age, higher z scores, greater thoracic circumference, larger head circumference-for-age and a 27% reduction in rate of stunting during the first year of life.

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    Folic Acid Fortification of Grains May Reduce Childhood Cancers

    Folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grains was made mandatory in 1998 to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTD). NTD occur during the first trimester of pregnancy; often before a woman realizes she is pregnant and needs to ensure an adequate folic acid intake. By increasing the folic acid content in the diet, the food fortification has reduced NTD and saves US taxpayers $300 million annually. Linabery and colleagues report epidemiological evidence collected from 1986 through 2008 from 8829 children 0-4 years old who were diagnosed with malignancies

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    Regulating Nutrition Labels to Inform Consumers

    The European Commission has mandated nutrition labeling for packaged foods. After 8 years of negotiation, the new food labeling regulations requires food manufacturers to provide information on the energy value and 6 nturients (fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and salt on products. The information must be expressed per 100g or 100mL of product. Article 2 of Regulation No 1169/2011 also carries references to definations for ‘processing’, ‘unprocessed products’, ‘processed products’, ‘food enzyme’, ‘food additive’,

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    Confused about Dietary Supplements: Read the Bottomline

    Are you getting mixed messages about taking dietary supplements? What should you do when headlines read “Dietary supplements can elevate cancer risk: Study.”? First, read more than the headline. Within the article, Dr Tim Byers, co-author of a comment published in JNCI is quoted. It’s not that nutrients are toxic – they’re essential and we need them, but we need them in a certain balance. That sounds different than the headline, doesn’t it?

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    Calling all Champions to Scale Up Nutrition

    A coalition of international non-government and civil society organizations are leading a high-level nutrition briefing in Washington DC today. The goal is to highlight progress and to stimulate more action addressing hidden hunger and malnutrition. Confirmed speakers are impressive collection of US senators, congressman, and government officials; executives from World Food Programme, Scaling Up Nutrition, World Bank, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Alliance to End Hunger; and Canadian and Irish governments.

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    Call to Action: Micronutrients to Help Kids have a 5th Birthday

    After a year of investigation, the Copenhagen Consensus Panel of 65 experts, including 4 Nobel Laureates, issued a press release yesterday identifying malnutrition as a top priority for the world. Nobel laureate Vernon Smith is quoted that getting more nutrients to the world’s undernourished will increase health, schooling and productivity. The experts evaluated nearly 40 investment proposals to understand how the world could prioritize aid spending. They considered issues such as armed conflict, biodiversity, chronic and infectious diseases, and climate change. They concluded that a $100 investment per child could reduce hunger and malnutrition by 36%.

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    The Weight of the Nation isn’t only a Matter of Calories

    HBO, the Institute of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control, NIH, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente premiered the “Weight of the Nation” on May 14. It continues tonight. The first part correctly confronts the personal and health impact of obesity in America. However, obesity is a consequence of many factors, including slowing metabolism as people age. As one progresses through life, weight will accumulate unless accommodations are made in energy intake or activity. Any food and beverage containing calories can be held accountable for this weight gain but it is shortsighted to

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    Two Studies Find Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits

    Two new studies report that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids is good for one’s health. Well, the assumption is that the benefit of fish arises from increasing omega-3 intakes and altering the polyunsaturated: saturated fat ratio of the diet rather than the actual consumption of more ‘fish and chips’. Patel and associates report on a case-cohort study with 3.99 million person-years of follow-up (whew that is a big number) of 16,835 Europeans from 8 countries. The men and women reported eating 138 and 92 grams of fish weekly, respectively.

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    Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Seeing the Future

    Eyesight is important to so many parts of life: reading, driving, recognizing friends at a distance, and watching television. Because changes in vision can occur slowly, often people are unaware of the deterioration. People with diabetes can also develop diabetic retinopathy. Chalk and colleagues developed a simulation to assess different screening policies. They recommend a new screening interval, every 2 years rather than annually, for people with type 2 diabetes who have not developed retinopathy. This is policy. What should individuals know and do to maintain their vision?

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    Future Fortified & Global Partnerships to Improve Nutrition

    Future Fortified is a public awareness campaign seeking to help millions of women and children around the world gain access to essential nutrients needed to lead healthy, enriched lives. This campaign by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) currently reaches more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries. To learn more about Future Fortified, watch the video. DSM is pleased to be one of GAIN’s partners, along with 1,000 Days, Edesia, and Herbalife. As Stephan Tanda, DSM Managing Board Member with responsibility for DSM’s Nutrition activities says, “working together with a wide range of stakeholders

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    DHA: Supporting Visual and Brain Development in Infants and Beyond

    Almost one year ago, the European Union (EU) authorized 3 article 14(1)(b) health claims establishing the importance of docosahexanoic acid (DHA) for the development of eyes and brains of children. Based on reviews by the EU Commission, the legislative body approved 3 DHA-related health claims for children’s development and health. Foods providing a daily intake of >200 mg DHA were authorized to carry statement informing mothers (and fathers) of the role maternal DHA intake contributes to the normal development of the eye and brain of the baby during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. For infants being fed formula, the law provided a means to educate caregivers of the value in feeding a formula providing a daily intake of 100 mg DHA, with at least 0.3% of the total fatty acids as DHA. In short, the EU recognized that DHA is important to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age.

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    New Study Reports Vitamin D3 Superior to Vitamin D2

    Vitamin D is one of more than a dozen essential vitamins but it is getting an unprecedented amount of attention by scientists. Since the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency exceeds that of any other vitamins, people are advised to increase their vitamin D intake. A meta-analysis by Tripkovic and colleagues compared the effectiveness of vitamin D2 (egocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in raising serum 25(OH)D status. Data from 8 intervention studies showed D3 increased serum 25(OH)D levels more than D2 regardless of dosage, frequency or route (oral vs intramuscular) of administration.

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    Vitamin D Nourishment from Meat, Fish and Poultry

    Earlier this week, we discussed the 2011 Endocrine Society recommendation that adults 19-50y supplement with vitamin D to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels above 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) to maximize bone health and muscle function. Vitamin D comes in 2 forms. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is obtained from plant sources, eg yeast exposed to UV irradiation, and found naturally in sun-exposed mushrooms. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can be synthesized in the skin and is naturally found in fatty fish, eg salmon and herring, and it is obtained from lanolin. Both forms are used for food fortification. After absorption, the liver hydrolyzes vitamin D to 25(OH)D, the best measure of vitamin D status.

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    Living Near the Poles of the Earth? Remember your Vitamin D

    When people live closer to the poles of the earth, they are not able to synthesize vitamin D from the sun during the winter months. This is because they wear clothing for warmth, they spend more time indoors, and the UV light is not strong enough to stimulate 25(OH)D synthesis. According to studies by Michael Holick, 95-99% of vitamin D production is reduced by wearing sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more. A new report by de Boer and colleagues confirms the seasonal impact on vitamin D status in older adults. They evaluated

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