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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'June 2015'


    C’mere Sweetie: The Role of Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners in Weight Loss

    When non-nutritive sweeteners were first discovered, they seemed ideal. They provided foods with sweetness, but without the sugary calories. A boon for diabetics, people wanting to lose weight, and our teeth. These products have been used in a wide array of different foods and drinks, from diet soft drinks to breakfast cereals to confectionary to dairy products. Artificially sweetened foods are popular: around one in three consumers worldwide have recently purchased a low- or no-sugar product such as a beverage or yoghurt, according to a global survey on consumer behavior by DSM. But are these products useful for what most people use them for: weight loss?

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    Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and Digestive Enzymes

    A new paper evaluates the ‘healthfulness’ of gluten-free foods in Australia. A total of 3,213 packaged food products across 10 food categories were analyzed for nutritional quality using the Health Star Rating (HSR) system. The HSR system is calculated based on an algorithm factoring in nutritional quality. Unfortunately, they do not assess the food products in terms of the one attribute that often matters most - gluten exposure.

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    Glass Half Full or Half Empty: Vitamin D and other Nutrients

    There is a proverb “Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die”. Personally, I prefer the words of the Dutch Renaissance scholar, Desiderius Erasmus, “Prevention is better than the cure” because it emphasizes stability rather than a slow, torturous decline.

    Cardiovascular disease is a consequence of inflammation, malnutrition and atherosclerosis. Genetics also play a role. Cardiovascular disease typically progresses for years before being clinically diagnosed. The practice of medicine is initiated by a cataclysmic event

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    Balanced Nutrition is the Foundation for Beautiful Skin

    I love the last phrase of this quote: “Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that is important in the hematological and nervous systems, and it has a complex relationship with the skin”. Let’s discuss the ‘complex relationship with skin’ which is being reported by Fox News, UK Daily Mail, and maybe others.

    Over 40 years ago, it was known that treatments with pharmacologic doses of vitamin B12 (and vitamin B6) may trigger skin outbreaks in select individuals.

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    What Role Does The Food Industry Play In Nutrition Science?

    Who is allowed to have a voice in the debate on nutrition and health? Who is allowed to have a seat at the table? There is no shortage of opinions on how to answer that question.

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    Leveraging Nutrition to Maintain Physical and Cognitive Health as We Age

    With 12% of the world population over 60y of age and the United Nations estimating that the total number will double from 841 million in 2013 to >2 billion in 2050, maintaining health is important. New research finds undernutrition may be associated with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. In other words, our dietary choices today can affect the aging process (positively or negatively).

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    The Easy-to-Swallow Story on Multivitamins

    Last week,  the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a paper reporting vitamin supplements significantly improve serum vitamin concentrations in patients after intestinal surgery. The capacity to absorb vitamins into the body from food or supplements is even greater in persons who have not undergone bypass surgery. Increasing vitamin intake, even from dietary supplements, can improve micronutrient status.

    So why the persistence of articles demeaning vitamin supplements, apparently arising from a university press release on a study that never existed. The answer partially lies in scientific research methods.

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    Trying to Unravel the Role of B Vitamins (and Genetics) in Pregnancy

    When a baby is developing in the womb, sometimes the spinal column does not develop properly. In the United States, 8 babies are born daily with a defect in the development of the brain and spinal column. Folate deficiency is known to increase the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects (NTDs) but it is not the only risk factor. This fact is eloquently personalized by Amanda Kern as she discusses her son Chance in her blog “To the doctor who believes folic acid can prevent spina bifida and a lifetime of disability”.

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    Dietary Supplements help Improve Vitamin Status

    It isn’t unusual to see headlines suggesting multivitamins are a waste of money. People are sometimes told that vitamins present in supplements are not absorbed into the body. Today’s main citation puts that misperception to rest.

    Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure increasingly being used to treat morbid obesity. Surgically bypassing the stomach and its acidic secretions impairs digestion and increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency. 

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    Study of Dietary Changes After Cancer Diagnosis Highlights Pitfall of Epidemiological Research

    Most of us, at one time or other, have made a behavior change to improve our health. Rather than being a gradual process, decisions to stop smoking, get more active, or eat a healthier diet tend to be made after a trigger or cue sets us on the path to better lifestyle choices. Cues may come from seeing a certain news report, or noticing information provided by a public health campaign. Diagnosis of disease can act as a trigger. And therein lies a problem for epidemiological research, as shown by a recent study of behavior change after cancer diagnosis. 

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    How Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve the Immune System of Older Adults

    The immune system is extremely complex, made up of a disparate group of cells and organs that protect us from pathogens, toxins and the by-products of metabolic processes that can damage cells. Perhaps paradoxically, we may be concerned that the immune system is not functioning well when we catch a cold, but the runny nose and coughing are actually a sign that the immune system is doing its job. Medicines designed to manage the symptoms of a cold actually dampen the immune response. Thus, it is important to have an immune system that can keep out the infectious agents, but not over-react. Can long chain omega-3 fatty acids help here?

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    Vitamin D and Avoiding Hospitals

    Despite the fact that skin can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, the use of sunscreen and the amount of time spent indoors limits vitamin D synthesis. Thus, almost 1/3 of Americans are vitamin D deficient (defined as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels <50 nmol/L). The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is higher in those with darker skin. Why? Because skin pigmentation increases the amount of sun exposure required to synthesize vitamin D. What are the consequences of vitamin D deficiency?

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    The Challenges of Meeting Iron Needs During Pregnancy

    Yesterday, TalkingNutrition discussed the importance of folic acid for prenatal nutrition. Today, a second nutrient important for pregnant women is on the menu: iron. Why is iron so important? Pregnant women are at high risk of low blood iron because they must produce a large volume of blood over a short period of time to support the placenta and growing fetus. Poor iron status is linked to poor birth outcomes and irreversible, poorer cognitive function in the child. Is an iron supplement an effective way to reduce iron deficiency anemia?

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    Expecting Moms: Don't Forget Your Prenatal Supplements!

    There is no more important time in the lifespan for maintaining a healthy diet than during pregnancy. This point in the lifespan is unique since the health of two individuals depends upon the dietary choices of just one, namely mom. We know that what mom eats has an incredible impact on baby’s health – case in point, the well-known relationship between maternal folic acid intake and neural tube defect prevention. Surprisingly, there is a knowledge gap regarding the diets of expecting moms when it comes to their nutrient intake, particularly when it comes to the so-called “one-carbon nutrients”, like folic acid.

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    Did You Forget About Nutrient Status?

    Memory is unreliable, especially when it comes to what we eat. A report published this week challenges the data generated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for caloric intake, asserting that the data are so flawed they’re essentially useless. Why would the public be so interested in something as nuanced as technical limitations of nutrient assessments?

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    Can You Predict Vitamin D Status Without a Lab Test?

    Much has been written about the global epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Yet, there is still a considerable lack of awareness of vitamin D deficiency in the general population. Perhaps this has something to do with the current range of tests available. Unlike other vitamins, skin synthesis after sun exposure is an important source of vitamin D, therefore the dietary analysis tools that can normally be used to estimate vitamin and mineral intakes are not useful for vitamin D. Are there alternatives?

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    Malnutrition: A Major Cause of the Global Disease Burden

    Eleanor Roosevelt once said “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, and there is perhaps no better place to do this than in the area of healthcare. Past estimates of the global burden of disease have been limited by poor data.  Even so, our capacity to produce data is ever-expanding, and this also includes information on health-related outcomes. How has the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study used big data to help identify causes of disability, and how does nutrition fit in?

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    Dietary Supplementation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Parents with children on the autism spectrum want their child to be healthy, as all parents do. However, children with autism can have particular issues with food. Children with autism are more likely to use dietary supplements to meet perceived dietary shortfalls, according to recent research from Stewart and colleagues. Can these supplements help special needs kids meet dietary guidelines?

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    What Makes Fruits and Veggies So Healthy?

    If there is one mainstay in nutrition recommendations, it’s that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining good health. But what’s remained a mystery is exactly why that is – is it nutrients like vitamin C that are present in fruits and veggies? Something else? This is a surprisingly complex question and it requires smart approaches to answer.

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    Review finds Omega-3s Benefits to be Well Established

    In 1995, the American Heart Association introduced their Heart-Check program to help consumers identify low-fat foods at point-of-purchase. To institutionalize health and nutrient content claims in the United States, Congress created the FDA Modernization Act in 1997 (FDAMA). Significant scientific agreement on the role of dietary fat, especially saturated fat, with cancer and cardiovascular disease led to several fat-related health claims.  

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    Vitamin D and Calcium are to Maintain Strong Bones, not Every Health Eventuality

    Because of an effective PR effort by the Kaiser Permante Center for Health Research, you are likely to see media that vitamin D and calcium supplementation does not improve menopausal symptoms. If you are a woman over 50y of age, what does this mean? Here are some things to know.

    The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) is composed of 3 trials. One trial had a stated objective: to determine if calcium and vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of hip and other factures

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    Innovating for Health and Sustainability: EAT FOOD Forum

    Today and tomorrow, the EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2015 meets to build a food roadmap to 2050. It is an impressive collection of leaders. In her opening comments, Dr Gunhild Stordalen (@G_stordalen) challenges leaders to work together to find solutions.

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