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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'July 2013'


    Chicken or the Egg: Vitamin D and a Healthy Liver

    Harvard University educator, philosopher, psychologist, and physician William James pragmatically said, “Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver”. A century later this quote is taking on new meaning. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease. WebMD reports that 20% of adults and more than 6 million children may have NAFLD. The incidence is higher in individuals who are obese or have diabetes.

    Jablonski and colleagues used a retrospective cohort study design to examine records from 130,000 adults admitted to 23 hospitals and 150 outpatient clinics. They identified 607 patients with NAFLD 

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    Resveratrol, Mitochondrial Efficiency, and Exercise

    The human body is amazing. It is remarkably resilient to stress, malnutrition, physical inactivity, and exposure to toxic substances, e.g. smoking. Nevertheless, oxidative stress and inflammation are hypothesized to accelerate aging. Consuming a high-sugar, high-fat diet, especially when sedentary, can lead to weight gain and increase risk cardiovascular risk factors. Increasing the omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) balance of our diet can reduce inflammation and lower atherosclerotic lipids. But LCPUFA are more susceptible to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidation than saturated fats. Having an adequate intake of antioxidant vitamins (C and E) and compounds is also important.

    Resveratrol, a natural antioxidant compound found in grapes and red wine

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    Health of Newborn Princes (and Princesses) and Mom’s Vitamin D Status During Pregnancy

    With the excitement of a new royal baby, Prince George Alexander Louis, it is easy to overlook the important role his mother had over the past 9 months. A new study examines the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy.

    Asemi and colleagues randomized 48 healthy pregnant women (18-40y) at 25 wk gestation to receive vitamin D supplements (400 IU/d) or placebo for 9 wk. At baseline, the women has serum 25(OH)D levels ranging from 14-18μg/L. 

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    Release of Dietary Supplement Database Improves Access to Supplement Information

    Looking for information on dietary supplements sold in the USA? In the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Kuehn reports on the recent release of a dietary supplement database

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    Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFA: We are What We Eat

    Based on recommendations to replace animal fats with vegetable oils, there has been a 3-fold increase in the consumption of the omega-6 PUFA, linoleic acid (LA, 18:6n-6). Shorter chain omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs compete for desaturation/elongation enzymes to produce long-chain PUFA. In 1992, Lands and colleagues showed that competition between omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA changed the abundance of eicosanoid in blood and tissues.

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    Aging with Grace and Nutritional Adequacy

    As the adage goes, ‘getting old is better than the alternative’. With growing numbers of older adults hoping to live independently, and for more years, the Institute of Medicine published a workshop report Nutrition and Healthy Aging in the Community workshop. The report focuses on under-appreciated and under-studied aspects of community-based aging.Like global warming, aging populations are a worldwide phenomenon. The world is becoming old. By 2015, there will be almost 70 million people over 60y of age in the US. Of these, over 6 million will be over 85y. By 2018, for the first time, the number of people over 65y of age should outnumber those under 5 years of age.

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    Sub-Clinical Vitamin E Deficiency and Brain Health: An Emerging Area of Nutrition Research

    The existence of vitamin E was first discovered back in 1922 when Evans and Bishop reported on a fat-soluble compound in butter fat and wheat germ that restored fertility to rats raised on a restricted diet. Fast-forward nearly one hundred years and the functions of vitamin E and its role in human health is still being researched, according to Ulatowski and Manor in the 2013 edition of Annual Review of Nutrition, published this month.

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    Do Sunscreens Block Vitamin D Production?

    We received a question recently about some research that showed that people who applied sunscreen properly during a sunny break had an increase in vitamin D levels. The study was carried out by Dr Antony Young at the St John’s Institute of Dermatology in King’s College, London, however it has not yet been officially published in a peer-reviewed journal (due later this year, according to a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald). This study seems to turn on its head the traditional mantra that sunscreens block vitamin D production. Or does it?

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    Summer Heat, Winter Freezes and Vitamin D

    Heat can be a killer. In the US, more than 1,250 and  700 deaths were attributed to heat waves in 1980 and 1995. High temperatures baked Europe in June. Excessive heat, and cold, also keeps people indoors. Without direct exposure to sunlight, vitamin D cannot be synthesized by our skin and the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency can increase.In the absence of sunlight, the only solution to maintain serum 25(OH)D concentrations is to consume foods containing vitamin D. The primary food sources of vitamin D are animal foods.  Schmid and Walther review the vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) content of animal foods. It isn’t great news.

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    Girls_birthday_cake_100_yrs Celebrates Third Anniversary

    Three years ago, at IFT10, was launched. After a year of blogging experience on the DSM intranet, behind the firewall, an innovative management team approved the establishment of the TalkingNutrition blog to communicate and shape conversations surrounding new advances in nutrition science. Within a year, twitter and facebook were engaged to facilitate communications.Our goal is to add context to emerging science. At DSM Nutritional Products, we believe nutrition guidance and habits should be established by the totality of the evidence, not a single study. Through we strive to summarize new studies, 

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    IFT 2010 Chicago Logo

    IFT13 is in Full Swing in Chicago

    Top food professionals, from almost every sector (63% industry, 21% academia, 55 government, 11% other) are meeting in Chicago for 3 days of intensive sharing of insights into the latest scientific developments, newest innovations, and hottest food trends.The meeting began with opening remarks by Dr Fareed Zakaria, @FareedZakaria, from CNN . He began talking about gloom (as captured here by Ted Wells @theodorewells), moved on to emphasize past successes in tripling the number of companies with growing economies (as tweeted by @JSirangelo), and ended with a note of optimism captured in 140 characters by @SarahSalbu “The challenges we are going to face is a result of growth – if we approach as we have in the past we will find solutions #IFT13”. It was a powerful transition.

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    A Meta-Analysis About Cataract Risk, Dietary Antioxidants and Vitamins

    Nutrition and lifestyle have a large effect on a great number of facets of health, and eye health is no exception. Cataracts are one of the major causes of blindness in the world. The main risk factors are age, UV-light exposure, cigarette smoking, high body mass index, and presence of diabetes mellitus. But what if you are a non-smoker, wear glasses with UV protection when outside, have a healthy weight and your lifestyle otherwise lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes? Is there more you can do to prevent the leading cause of world blindness?

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    DHA and Prostate Cancer: More Illumination, or More Smoke?

    Sometimes nutrition research helps us to make good food choices. Other times, it muddies the waters, creating confusion. Today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Brasky and co-workers have published another nested case-control study within a larger intervention trial that has linked plasma DHA with prostate cancer. 

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    Vitamin D Status, Heart Disease, Mortality and Ethnicity

    Using 15 years of NHANES data collected from 15,099 adults (≥20y), Sempos and colleagues report that having serum 25(OH)D levels <60 nmol/L significantly increases relative risk (RR) of all-cause mortality. The relationship was strongest in men, women, adults 20 to 64y, and non-Hispanic whites. The NHANES study was too small to evaluate the association in ethnic groups.Using data collected from 6,436 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), Robinson-Cohen and associates report that low serum 25(OH)D concentrations are associated with increased risk of incident coronary heart disease (CHD) in white [Hazard Ratio (HR) = 1.26 per 25 nmol/L decrement] and Chinese [HR = 1.67] but not black or Hispanic persons.

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    Eating in Restaurants, Traveling and Nutrition

    Having just finished a marathon trip with interrupted travel and long periods of time stuck in airports, it isn’t a happy moment to reflect on my diet. The food and beverage choices were limited. And apparently, so was the willpower!Overeating when traveling should not be a surprise. In her July/August 2013 newsletter, Elizabeth Somer, references a nutrition study on the accuracy of restaurant-stated calorie labels. Urban and colleagues measured dietary energy content of foods from 42 restaurants using bomb calorimetry. The portion calorie counts were accurate, usually within 10 calories per portion, but the unnerving facts were the number of calories per portion. Some side dishes contained nearly 1,000 kcal per portion. Many meals provided enough calories for the entire day.

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    Obesity and Vitamin D Deficiency: Correlation or Causation?

    One consistent finding in vitamin D research is between obesity and deficiency. People with higher measures of body fat tend to have lower vitamin D levels. The most recent issue of the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease today has three articles that look at the relationship between obesity and vitamin D levels. The research to date has been unable to determine whether lower vitamin D levels are caused by lifestyle factors related to obesity, by dilution due to higher body mass, or vitamin D sequestering from increases in fat mass, or another reason. The recent articles may shed some more light on this question that has been puzzling researchers for decades (see early report from Compston and colleagues).

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    Red, White and Blue? Try Red, Orange and Yellow in your Diet

    On Independence Day today, many of our American readers will be celebrating the occasion today with family and friends, perhaps by holding a barbecue and serving some patriotic treats. When thinking about the significance of red, white and blue, think also about how important colors in the diet are. Many of the most colorful parts of the diet come from carotenoids, which are naturally-occurring pigments that make carrots orange, corn yellow, and grapefruit juice pink. Cooney and colleagues in the latest issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology looked at the effect of the colorful dietary components the carotenoids as biomarkers for survival in cancer patients.

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    Multivitamins and Health: Reacting to Headlines

    In journalism, writers are not responsible for headlines. Headlines are created by others to attract readers. This may explain why the headline ‘Time to kick the multivitamin habit, studies suggest’ doesn’t reflect the last statement written by Sarah Mahoney. After interviewing more than 10 nutritionists, doctors, and supplement experts and examining data from USDA, FDA and others, Prevention still recommended calcium, vitamin D and omega-3 supplements for adults.

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    Marine Omega-3 PUFA Intake and Breast Cancer Risk

    Approximately 40 years ago, Dr Kenneth Carroll and colleagues associated high fat diets with increased risk of cancer. Using national breast (and colon) cancer rates and changes in frequency as people immigrated to new regions, he established a link between total fat intake and cancer risk. These observations led to recommendations to reduce dietary fat to less than 30% of total energy intake.A new meta-analysis and systemic review of 21 independent prospective cohort studies reports that higher consumption of dietary marine omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

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