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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'November 2014'


    Being Thankful for Good Nutrition

    We’re officially less than 24 hours away from Thanksgiving and people are clearly excited by the thought of going into tryptophan-induced turkey comas*. Another nutrient found in turkey that is involved in tryptophan metabolism is vitamin B6. And did you know that, according to the CDC, vitamin B6 deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the United States?

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    Giving Thanks To the B-Vitamin Niacin

    It seems like the only nutrition-related topic in the news this week is Thanksgiving, and rightfully so! We’ve all heard the story about how the tryptophan in turkey makes us sleepy because it supports the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is involved in the brain’s regulation of sleep. But did you know that tryptophan can actually be used to produce the B-vitamin niacin in the body?

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    Actions are Measurable. What Nutritional Choice did you Make Today?

    Dietary guidance encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood.  Why? Because far too many people are not consuming recommended amounts of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin E. As discussed yesterday, most people need to increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to balance n-3:n-6 fatty acid levels in the body. These food groups provide these nutrients.

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    Omega-3 Fortified Foods and Supplements Effectively Improve Nutritional Status

    The membranes of cells in our bodies require long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) to function normally. Based on typical dietary patterns, recommendations are to increase intake of LCPUFA and limit saturated and trans fatty acids.

    With the exception of coconut and palm kernel oil,  vegetable fats tend to be richer sources of LCPUFA then saturated fatty acids. There are two families of LCPUFA : the omega-3s and omega-6s.

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    A Framework for Action to Solve Nutritional Inadequacies

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is holding its Second International Conference on Nutrition this week in Rome. In their Declaration on Nutrition, the Ministers and Representatives reaffirm the right of everyone to adequate food and fundamental right of everyone to be free of hunger. Malnutrition, including undernutrition, micronutrient inadequacies, overweight and obesity, affect individual well-being. They limit human potential and reduce productivity of individuals. 

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    Possible Concentrations of an Essential Element in the Diet

    Yet another example of why nutrient status impacts nutrient intervention studies...

    Following the scientific literature on the relationship between plasma homocysteine and health has been something of a roller coaster ride over the last few years. The brief introduction is that elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with an increased risk of health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and cognitive decline – yet randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have had mixed results. So what’s going on here?

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    Nourishing Mothers-to-Be and Babies-to-Come

    Babies are beautiful. How amazing that a fertilized egg can transform over 9 months into a wiggling, sometimes screaming, little being! After birth, it seems like the parental challenges of feeding, comforting, and nurturing begin but maternal nutrition has already had a major developmental impact.

    Increased folate levels in women during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with reduced risk of birth defects. Maternal folate status may affect the risk of a preterm birth. 

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    Using Phytase in the First 1,000 Days for a Lifelong Impact

    Phytate is a known as an  ‘antinutrient’ because it binds with iron, zinc and calcium to limit absorption from the intestine. In some regions of the world where animal sources of protein are scarce, the most commonly consumed form of phosphorus is linked with phytate present in plant-foods.

    Micronutrient deficiencies during the first 1,000 days of life can have lifelong effects. Plant-based complementary foods can contain high levels of phytate

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    Eat Fiber for the Health of Your Gut, Liver and Kidneys

    People don’t eat enough dietary fiber. We just don’t and we aren’t changing our habits. The average intake of US adults still hovers around 15g daily. We should be eating twice that amount. Why?

    There are good reasons. Let’s start from the back and work forward! Bacteria living in the large intestine have the enzymes that we lack to digest fiber. As gut bacteria break down dietary fibers anaerobically (called fermentation), they also use nitrogen sources 

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    Could Omega-3 Benefits be Partly Explained by Vitamin E?

    For decades, the advice has been to reduce consumption of saturated and trans fatty acids. As evidence accumulated, people were urged to replace solid fats with oils and increase their seafood consumption. The intent was to encourage dietary patterns rich in long-chain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and better balance omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. What about antioxidants protecting LCPUFA?

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    Life Choices can Tip Risks and Benefits of Vitamin D

    Life is a balancing act. Regularly we find ourselves weighing circumstances.  An obvious example is work-life balance. A classic nutritional example is vitamin D status. When exposed to sunlight, skin can synthesize vitamin D3. However sun exposure, especially sunburns, increases the risk skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US.

    Guy Jr and colleagues report the incidence of skin cancer is increasing. Using data from the 2002-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey,

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    YAWN, Today’s Main Citation Won’t Make Headlines

    Controversy grabs attention. It makes news cycles turn. Eyeballs become focused. People stop to listen. People converse about current events. All of these actions help make cash registers ring. Today’s nutrition story won’t do any of those. Unfortunately because the scientific insight is important. What is the message?

    Multivitamin use is safe. Multivitamin use is not associated with long-term risk of cardiovascular (CVD) events: myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, or cardiac revascularization or CVD death. The story confirms previous findings.

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    Using Biochemical Indicators of Nutritional Status for Resilience

    What is good health?  According to the World Health Organization, it is more than the absence of disease.  The social well-being of people in a community must be considered when defining good health.  The Samueli Institute writes of resilience – the ability of individuals and societies to respond to stressful challenges, including our ability to cope mentally and physically.

    Dr Barberger-Gateau explores nutritional opportunities to support the brain during aging. 

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    US Military Evalulating Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation

    At the Council for Responsible Nutrition Day of Science, Dr Wayne Jonas (@waynejonas1) from the Samueli Institute highlighted the release of a special issue of Military Medicine entitled “Nutritional Armor: Omega-3 for the Warfighter”. The collection of peer-reviewed papers demonstrate the importance of maintaining n-3/n-6 balance to fulfill demanding mental and physical performance expectations of active military personnnel.

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    No need for panic: folic acid is still essential to maintain a healthy pregnancy

    Women of childbearing age are encouraged to supplement with 400 mcg/day of folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their children. The current Dietary Reference Intake for folate during pregnancy is 600 mcg/day, yet women who are considered at high risk for having children with neural tube defects are often advised to consume up to 5000 mcg/day. Recent data suggests that this practice may be harmful – so is it cause for alarm?

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    People Want Gluten-Free Products

    Researchers confirm the food system is primarily an economic enterprise. Food choices are affected by price, demand, cost, and trade regulations. Our food supply is complex with over 85,000 uniquely formulated food and beverage products which are often changing. New products enter the market, old ones leave, and others are reformulated.

    Miller and colleagues examined the US food supply in relation to the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010 

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