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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'August 2014'


    Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health: Algal, Krill or Fish Oil Supplements

    Most people do not consume enough fatty fish containing long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 LCPUFAs). Consequently, our intake of the ω-3 LCPUFAs - eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – is low. ω-3 LCPUFAs help reduce production of triglycerides by the liver and increase triglyceride clearance. Increasing ω-3 LCPUFA intake can also increase HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Based on this evidence, the FDA approved the use of omega-3 LCPUFAs in the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia

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    Clinical Studies With Food Highlight Limitations of Nutrition Research

    Today, two studies that conducted clinical trials using food appeared on my nutrition research radar: a study by Navarro and co-workers looking at the effect of cruciferous vegetables on markers of inflammation, and another by Pereira-Caro and colleagues on the bioavailability of polyphenols from orange juice. What do these types of studies tell us about health benefits of foods and phytonutrients?

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    Fish-to-Krill isn’t exactly Apples-to-Apples

    Krill oil has hit the Omega-3 supplement market as an alternative to fish oil, touting claims of better absorption. But is it really true? A recent re-examination of the evidence challenges these assumptions.

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    Do Parents’ Shifts in Identifying Childhood Obesity Reflect the Normalization of Excess Bodyweight?

    Hansen and colleagues report on how parents’ perceptions of childhood overweight have changed over 15 years. Comparing sampling periods from 1988-1994 with 2005-2010, the researchers found that the probability that parents correctly identify their child as overweight decreased by 16% between the two study periods, with more parents thinking that their overweight or obese child had a weight that was about right. What is going on here?

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    Using Technology Advancements to Improve Nutritional Assessments

    Nutrient intakes are routinely used to estimate nutrient status. Because of day-to-day variability in eating patterns, the number of days of food intake data required varies tremendously by nutrient. Food intake must be recorded for 5-16 days to estimate the true average vitamin B intake for a group of individuals and greater than 19 days for vitamins A and C. Most nutrient intake studies are not this comprehensive.

    Ideally, nutritional status is assessed using objective measures

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    Micronutrient Powders Improve At-Risk Infants’ Language Development

    Malnutrition can have long term effects on health and development, especially when it occurs during the first thousand days of a child’s life, from before conception to the age of two. From a nutrition stand-point, the best outcomes for children occur when their mothers are well-nourished from the pre-pregnancy period up until birth, and they receive appropriate and adequate nutrition that is tied to their age and development throughout infancy and childhood. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. The prevalence of children who are negatively affected by malnutrition is high in low- and middle-income, and probably limits the health and cognitive ability of populations, to the extent that overall national development is impaired. Can micronutrient supplementation be helpful?

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    Teenagers need Exercise & Sunshine: Vitamin D Supplements Recommended

    The television commercials of tanned, active young men and women enjoying outdoors activities, especially the beach, effectively compel us to warmer climates during the winter months. When skies are cloudy, temperatures are cool, and conditions can be downright wet or cold, people yearn to feel the sun warming their bodies. It feels good. It is good because vitamin D supports bone and muscle health. Especially important for teenagers.

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    Can DHA and EPA help your heart if they don't come from fish?

    The link between fish-based omega-3 fatty acids and heart health has been recognized since the 1960’s. We now have recommendations from the American Heart Association (among others) for intakes of omega-3 fatty acids which aim to support heart health. But what’s a person to do if they don’t like fish? Or if you’re a vegetarian? Are there other sources of EPA and DHA?

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    Choline, B-vitamins and Neural Tube Defects

    While the nutrient choline is not considered a vitamin in the strictest sense, as it can be synthesized by the body in limited amounts, it has nonetheless garnered research interest as it participates in the same group of biochemical reactions as B-vitamins such as folate and vitamin B12. In particular, as Zeisel explains, it may be especially important for expecting mothers and their infants. Choline is required for normal fetal development and the proper functioning of the liver and placenta. 

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    Want to be Pregnant? Remember Vitamins are Important

    When people think about vitamins and dietary supplementation, the tendency is to think about prolonging life for older adults - reducing risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease later in life. Vitamins are also important to conceive and carry a baby to full term.

    Approximately one out of four couples have fertility problems. Vitamin insufficiency is associated with impairments in sperm production and sperm competitiveness. 

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    How can Anyone Know if Vitamin D Status is Optimal without Measurement?

    Everyone should have an annual physical assessment. In addition to routine measurements (weight, height, blood pressure, reflexes, prostate exam for men, breast examination for women), blood and urinary samples are important tools to assess disease risk. Preventive medicine should be more than disease assessment and subsequent management.  Maintaining healthy nutrition levels is important for longevity.

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    Be Informed, Vitamin D Affects Health, especially D3

    Many of you will have heard low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The risk was 2.25 higher for individuals who were severely deficient (serum 25(OH)D3 < 25 nmol/L) and 1.5 times higher for deficient (≥25 to <50 nmol/L). To be clear, this is a correlative study describing a relationship.

    In a new report, Ford conclude baseline vitamin D concentrations do not predict mortality 

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    Building a Foundation for Healthy Aging: Omega-3s, EPA & DHA

    Despite headlines to the contrary, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) does not cure periodontal disease, or anything else. Omega-3s are nutrients not medicines. However, inadequate DHA intakes have health consequences. Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA, are important for brain and cardiovascular health. From conception and throughout life.

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    The Wonders of Vitamins

    Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to age-related disease. Non-communicable diseases (NCD) share common pathologies associated with oxidative stress, inflammation and mitochondrial alterations.  Poor diet increases the risk of NCDs.

    Fruit and vegetables are important sources of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. With the exception of women in South America, >69% of men and women do not consume recommended ≥ 5 servings daily

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    Mothers’ DHA Omega-3 Levels Affect Infant Developmental Outcomes

    Earlier this week, we wrote about how the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA are important for cardiovascular health. The evidence base for omega-3 and heart health is strong enough to allow a qualified health claim in the USA and article 13 health claims in the EU. But these healthy fats are also important in other health areas. How are they important for expectant mothers?

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    Hardened against Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements? Maybe you should Reconsider

    WebMD defines antioxidants as ‘man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements.’ The antioxidant vitamins are: C, A, E and β-carotene.  Yesterday’s blog shared CDC data reporting a marginal trending increase in fruit consumption  but no change in vegetable intake among adolescents. What is the impact of not eating enough fruit, vegetables and whole grains?

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    Fruits and veggies are best: What happens if nobody eats them?

    Most people understand that fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone to a healthy diet yet the overwhelming majority of the population falls short of the recommended 5+ servings per day. Coming off the heels of a recent report that most children eat a serving of fruit daily, the CDC released new trend data on fruit consumption among children between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010. The result: fruit intake among children increased from 0.55 to 0.62 cup equivalents (aka, servings) per 1000 calories consumed (abbreviated as “CEPC”).

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    There is No Question: EPA and DHA are Important for Cardiovascular Health

    Epidemiologists slice and dice datasets trying to identify the single most important health indicator. Teasing out the relative impact of risk factors is difficult so keep in mind the words of Mark Twain, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” So let’s look at the reports coming from one study.

    The Cardiovascular Health Study  enrolled older (≥ 65 years) men and women from 4 counties in the US beginning in the early 1990s.  

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    A TalkingNutrition Retrospective and Announcement

    Despite disturbing headlines about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ebola outbreak in West Africa, it is a slow news day in nutrition science. None of the newly published research studies are of particular relevance. So here is a walk through our archives for the first Monday (week) of August in past years and peek into the future.

    2013: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Headaches and Brain Health. In an intent-to-treat analysis, increasing n-3 and reducing n-6 fatty acid concentrations in red blood cell (RBC) membranes 

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    Definitely an Opportunity (and Need) for Daily Multivitamin-Mineral Supplement

    The CDC released statistics from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010. The good news is that youths are eating fruit regularly: 91.7% of 2-5y olds, 82% of 6-11 y olds, and 66.3% of 12-19y olds. The bad news is that this includes those eating ONLY ONE fruit serving daily.

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