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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'September 2013'


    What? Study X reports Nutrient Y does/does not Affect Condition Z

    You may have seen the news questioning the brain benefits of omega-3s. Let’s discuss the Bad and Ugly points raised regarding omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) by Dr David Samadi.

    Bad – While Ammann and colleagues did not find an association between red blood cell (RBC) levels of DHA and EPA with age-associated cognitive decline in older, dementia-free women, a single secondary analysis of a sub-study with observational data does not reflect the body of evidence. The Women’s Health Initiative Study of Cognitive Aging (WHICSCA) was ancillary to the primary randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to assess the effect of postmenopausal homone therapy  on age-related changes in cognitive function. 

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    Nutrition Lessons on Carotenoids from Dr Seuss

    Dr Seuss’ made Green Eggs and Ham a universally recognized lyric. He asked , “You do not like green eggs and ham?”and the response was “I do not like them, Sam-I-am.” Perhaps Dr Seuss meant brightly colored yolks, rich in carotenoids. Egg yolks derive their brightness because of the carotenoids chickens consume. Flamingos are colorful for the same reason.

    Choosing a colorful, carotenoid-rich diet is important to maintain cognitive function of the brain throughout life. For this reason, Kesse-Guyot and colleagues evaluated the carotenoid intake 

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    Millenium Development Goals, Enlightened Leadership and Political Courage

    Yesterday world leaders meeting at the United Nations General Assembly called for greater efforts in achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDG). Goals 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) are nutrition-related. However, success will depend upon 7 (ensure environmental sustainability) and 8 (global partnership for development).

    In a new report, de Morais and colleagues identify factors associated with nutritional inadequacy in free-living elderly (65-98 y) in 8 European countries 

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    Time for a Renaissance in Vitamin E Research

    Vitamin E refers to a collection 4 naturally occurring tocopherol  and 4 tocotrienol isomers. Its primary role in the body is to prevent lipid peroxidation by breaking the chain reaction generating free radicals. Because α-tocopherol has the highest biologic activity in the body, much of the research has focused on this form even though γ-tocopherol is the predominant dietary form. Based on insights in the metabolism of different vitamin E isomers, the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine recommends that people consume 15mg α-tocopherol daily.

    In her IUNS 20th International Congress of Nutrition presentation “Advances in Vitamin E Science: Research Trends and Perspectives in Benefits for Human Health”, 2013 DSM Nutritional Sciences Award recipient Professor Maret Traber of the Linus Pauling Institute emphasized the symbiotic relationship between polyunsaturated lipids and vitamin E.

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    What Are the Most Common Breastfeeding Concerns for Women?

    Breastfeeding is the recommended way to provide infants with the nutrition that they need early in life. Even though breastfeeding initiation rates are generally high in many countries, the proportion of infants that are exclusively breastfed for the advised period of 6 months is low. The reasons why women stop breastfeeding are diverse yet is important to know what is going on so that women who want to breastfeed can be assisted as much as possible. A study published today provides insights from a large survey of women.

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    Isn’t it Time to Address the Social and Economic Costs of Malnutrition?

    People need nourishment to survive. Without adequate nourishment, children die before they reach 5 years of age and adults fail to live as long. These are the immeasurable social costs of poor nutrition. There are also measurable economic costs.

    A new economic report “Smart Prevention – Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements” issued by the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation, in consultation with the economics firm Frost & Sullivan, examines the health care cost savings nations could achieve by reducing medical events associated with nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. 

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    More Research Needed on Nutrient Structure-Function and Disease Relationships

    Atherosclerosis is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Researchers believe that inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis (Hansson, 2005). As a result of an accumulation of white blood cells and macrophages in the intima, artery walls thicken and the accumulated cholesterol and triglycerides harden into plaque. The biological process restricts the elasticity of arteries and their capacity to dilate. A rupturing of the plaque can block blood flow. 

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    The Road to Better Nutrition ..and Reduced Health Care Costs

    The CDC Healthy Aging Program released a Health Aging Data Portfolio focusing on adults 50-64y or ≥65y. The number of people living in America who are over 65 years of age is expected to double to 72 million over the next 25 years. One of the factors driving this growth is the baby boomer population. The other is that people are living longer.  Click here to see state statistics.

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    Vitamin E Scholar wins 2013 Nutritional Sciences Award

    Dr Maret Traber, Director of the Oxidative & Nitrative Stress Laboratory, Linus Pauling Institute was awarded the 2013 DSM Nutritional Sciences Award at the 20th International Union of Nutrition Sciences (IUNS) meeting in Granada Spain. The DSM Nutritional Sciences Award forms part of the DSM Bright Science Awards program. It is granted every 2 years and alternates between the fields of human and animal nutrition. 

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    Astronauts Chang-Diaz, Hoffman and Nicollier eating in their sleep racks. NASA Identifier: STS075-302-016

    Eating Healthy in Zero Gravity: Nutrition During Space Flight

    Here on Earth, there is amazing variety in the types of foods people eat. Astronauts don’t have this luxury. Their food must be storable, transportable, and compact, and still provide all the nutrients needed to sustain life, especially during the longer missions. Taste may be a priority; think of living off plane food for months at a time. In the most recent issue of Advances in Nutrition, Lane et al. describe some of the nutrition issues that arise during space travel. 

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    What Is Important For People When Choosing Food in the Supermarket?

    When I shop for groceries, I have many considerations when choosing what to buy. I like to eat food that tastes good. I also need quick, easy to prepare meals for weekday nights. On the weekend, I like to experiment, perhaps trying a new recipe that takes a little longer to prepare. Cost can be another consideration; while I don’t mind spending a little more on quality ingredients, I like to make sure I am getting a good deal. I also like to make sure that my meals are healthy and meet the dietary guidelines. These thoughts and others shape the decision making process for everyone when selecting foods for themselves and their families. But which are the most important ones? 

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    Controversy in the Measurement of Vitamin B12 Levels

    How do you know you have a nutrient deficiency? In the past, people had clear clinical signs of deficiency, or suffered with non-specific symptoms for years with no one knowing what the problem was. Nowadays, various biochemical tests can identify if nutrient levels are low. For each micronutrient, there appears to be an array of different testing methods that can be employed. Choice sparks controversy.

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    The Synergies of Adequate Nutrition

    This blog shares information on the benefits of nutrients. The approach is to identify a new study linking a nutrient (vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids) with a health outcome (bone health, cognition, etc) and putting the study into perspective relative to the totality of the literature. The blogs tend to be nutrient-specific. 

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    Playing Together in Concert or Solo Performance: The B Vitamins in Cognitive Health

    The B vitamins involved in one carbon metabolism are important co-factors in related biochemical pathways. For example, elevated homocysteine is a non-specific indicator of deficiency in either folate, vitamin B6 or B12, as all three are required to convert it to either methionine or cysteine. Megaloblastic anemia can be caused by either folate or B12 deficiency, as both are required for red blood cell DNA synthesis. These relationships make it difficult to establish cause and effect in nutrition studies. The talks on the second morning of the Homocysteine and One Carbon Metabolism Conference held this week in Dublin, Ireland, have investigated how the B vitamins and related metabolite homocysteine affect brain health. 

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    HCY2013: Latest Research on Folate and Neural Tube Defects

    This week, TalkingNutrition will be covering the latest research on the B vitamins and other nutrients involved in one carbon metabolism.

    The effect of folate fortification on reducing neural tube defects (NTDs) is a nutrition success story. The first two speakers, Professor Patrick J. Stover from Cornell University, Dr Jim Mills from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development both highlighted research that showed a drop in neural tube defects by around one third in the United States and Canada after folic acid fortification of cereals was introduced 

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    Research Links B Vitamins with Diabetes and Cognition

    The increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus is a global public health concern. 347 million people worldwide have diabetes. WHO projects that diabetes will bet the 7th leading cause of death in 2030. In 1990, diabetes ranked 15th among leading diseases and injuries in terms of years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs). In 2010, it is number 7 after the top 4: ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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    Feeling Depressed? Then check your Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake

    A new study supports growing evidence that depressive symptoms are more common in people with low omega-3 status.

    Beydoun and colleagues assessed self-reported depressive symptoms in 1,746 adults (30-65y) living in Baltimore, MD. Using two 24-hr dietary recalls and a 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, they report a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms in women (25.6%) then men (18.1%). In women, depressive symptoms were more common in those with low omega-3 fatty acid intakes (% of energy) and n-3 PUFA:n-6 PUFA ratios. 

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    New Guidance for Preconception Care Research and Policy Development

    The term ‘preconception care’ typically attracts the attention of women and couples hoping to start a family. Since the majority of pregnancies are unplanned, today’s blog applies to anyone involved in improving maternal, newborn and child health.

    Dean and colleagues propose a framework to prioritize objectives and guide research policy to have the greatest impact on the health of women and couples of reproductive age (and their children). They identify 3 highest scoring research questions 

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    Malnutrition Jeopardizes Patient Health and Hospitalization Outcomes

    With increasing treatment costs and decreasing insurance reimbursements, who doesn’t want to pursue strategies to reduce hospitalization costs?  A new health economics and outcomes report suggests that in-hospital use of oral nutrition supplementation can save $4,734 daily in medical expenses. That is the estimated reduction in patient hospitalization costs from providing oral nutritional supplements hospitalized adult patients. Nutrition supplementation reduced the length of hospital stay by 21%.

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