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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Nutrients Affect Health: Let there be no Doubt

By Michael McBurney

This blog is dedicated to providing perspective on emerging nutrition science. As a scientist, I believe choices should be guided by the totality of the evidence rather than results from a single study.  Typically, this blog is written around the release of a new peer-reviewed scientific paper (with a link to the abstract). Several other relevant citations (usually 3 or more) are added to the blog to provide context to the new finding.  To restrict the field of studies we try to monitor, we choose to limit our blogging to human studies published within the past 24-48 hours.

In his 2014 WO Atwater Lectureship, Dr David Allison, professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, spoke to the need for nutrition to be guided by science rather than beliefs. Often the nutrition narrative focuses on dietary beliefs (contributions of processed foods to health) and if there are health benefits from using dietary supplements.  Often it feels like medical and nutrition professions are at odds over the best approach to systematically review science.

However, there should NEVER be any doubt that nutrients affect health. Vitamins are basic to life. Other nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are required for healthy eyes, brain, immune system and more. The Road to Good Nutrition outlines the essentiality of nutrients for the health of individuals and societies.

And if one ever doubted that nutrients change the function of our bodies, note that the FDA has approved another pharmaceutical company to sell prescription omega-3 products for the treatment of adults with severe hypertriglyceridemia. We are what we ingest – food, dietary supplement , or prescription drug.

Pharmacologic doses of nutrients should only be used under medical guidance in disease states. However, without question, this FDA approval indicates that nutrients can affect the functioning of our bodies.

Each of us, regardless of age or sex, should be consuming the Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes.


Weaver CM, Dwyer J, Fulgoni III VL, King JC, Leveille GA, MacDonald RS, Ordovas J, Schnakenber D. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. 2014 AJCN doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089284

Heaney RP. Guidelines for optimizing design and analysis of clinical studies of nutrient effects. 2013 Nutr Rev doi: 10.1111/nure.12090