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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'July 2015'


    Nutrition Missing from the Lancet’s Cognitive Footprint of Dementia Prevention

    In leading medical journal The Lancet, Rossor and Knapp frame the challenge in reducing the disease burden of dementia as a “cognitive footprint”. As world populations age, there are concerns that the costs of treating and caring for people with dementia will be problematic. Via a “cognitive footprint” Rossor and Knapp attempt to bring attention to a wide range of activities that can preserve cognition over the lifespan. But, where's the nutrition?

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    B-Vitamins help maintain Healthy Bones

    Until the last century, scientists weren’t certain that diseases such as scurvy, rickets and night blindness were caused by dietary deficiencies. The discovery of vitamins of vitamins in the early 1900s was founded upon controlled experimental studies manipulating the diet of humans and rats, chicks, pigeons, guinea pigs, mice and dogs.

    Many people are still at risk of vitamin deficiency globally. Even more are at risk of vitamin inadequacy – vitamin concentrations in the body which are too low (insufficient) to support health. 

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    Learning about the magic inside olive oil

    As innovative and exciting as so many reports in nutrition can be, often there’s a long history behind it. In nutrition, the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and heart disease goes back to the 1950s when it was first described by Ancel Keys, an early pioneer in the field nutrition epidemiology. Dr. Keys made an observation that residents of Naples, Italy had a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, which he suggested was due to their unique diet. Generally speaking, this diet was low in saturated fats and high in green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and olive oil.

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    EFSA Recognizes Vitamin D helps Maintain the Immune System

    Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system”.  This is the conclusion of the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). The expert committee determined a cause and effect relationship exists between the dietary intake of vitamin D and contribution to the normal function of the immune system.  It is a beneficial effect.

    This scientific opinion extends the benefits of vitamin D beyond recognized benefits in the maintenance of normal bones and teeth.

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    Don’t Like Counting Calories, Better Nutrition Tools are Coming

    In the New York Times, Margo Sanger-Katz writes about the difficulties researchers have in assessing food intake. Based on three sets of data, the federally-executed National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey (NHANES) of approximately 8,000 individuals, the Nielsen consumer data company tracking of in-store food purchases of 100,000 families, and the United States Department of Agriculture tracking all food grown and sold in the US, three trends are identified. 

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    Pills / vitamins woman

    Iodine Supplementation Improves Iodine Status and Cardiovascular Disease Markers

    Treating iodine deficiency is perhaps best known for being the cheapest and easiest way to reduce brain damage and cognitive impairment in the world. Salt iodization programs cost only around 5 cents per person per year and are effective in raising the population’s iodine status. But is there an effect on other areas of health?

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    Choose Nutrient Rich Foods, Especially Enriched/Fortified Ones!

    Around the world, lifespan is increasing and creating new challenges. Reductions in childhood mortality was a major driver of this change. More recently, people are living longer because of medical advances in late life. Unfortunately for many, quality of life diminishes with age because of chronic disease – diabetes, cardiovascular, and osteoporosis. Many of these diseases are strongly correlated with obesity and overweight so there is a tremendous educational effort to have people consume fewer calories and to vilify certain types of macronutrients.

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    Not all Meta-Analyses and Review Papers Adopt the Same Standards

    What to believe? Who to trust? Complicated questions with so many available information sources, clamoring for attention. Historically, governments had the last word on nutrition policy but social media is challenging agencies every day.

    Because of financial interests, scientific research funded by industry has been viewed suspiciously but people are motivated by many factors other than financial gain. White hat bias is a threat to the integrity of scientific reporting because it distorts interpretation and fuels misunderstanding. 

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    If Only Nutrition was as Easy for Us as it is for an Astronaut

    When it’s a slow news day, the media, including bloggers like me, lean on comedians and congress. My friend and colleague, @drdairy50, tweeted a link to the Congress Blog article entitled “Dietary guidelines: Focus on diets, not individual nutrients”.

    Ken Lee and Robert Murray, both professors, wrote an interesting article. They emphasize the importance of dietary patterns. Many readers will like this article but I have my doubts.

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    A Standardized Approach to Measuring Human Fatty Acid Concentrations would help Everyone

    Depending upon the type of fat we consume, experts write that dietary fat is not so bad for us. In fact, the debate about ‘added sugar’ is probably driven by nutrition guidance beginning in the 1980’s that vilified fat, especially saturated fat. As a consequence, carbohydrates represent a greater proportion of calories consumed. As percent of calories from carbohydrate goes up, percent as fat goes down. Which nutrient is at fault for increased obesity and related disease? The answer lies in the details. 

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    Celebrating our 5th Anniversary with >1,200 Blog Posts

    This month celebrates its 5 year anniversary. According to marital traditions, TalkingNutrition is no longer ‘newly married’. With >1,200 blogs posted over the past five years, we tend to agree.

    It seems just yesterday, in reality the spring of 2010, when the leadership of DSM Nutritional Products approved the launch of a science-based blog. It was a bold move for executives to endorse scientists writing and sharing perspectives on emerging research in real-time directly to the internet. When websites were just beginning to surpass radio and newspapers as information sources, DSM Nutritional Products took a leadership position in social media.

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    If Stephen Colbert doesn’t see Color, Could it be a Lack of Fruit and Vegetables?

    Everyone knows we should eat more fruit and vegetables. Higher intakes are associated with lower risk of chronic disease. But we don’t consume the recommended number of servings. Among US women, 90% don’t consume the recommended amount of servings. Fewer than 5% of Australian women consume 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables.

    Fruit and vegetables contain many carotenoids. These colored compounds can be measured in skin. Pezdirc and associates measured skin reflectance 

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    Breast Cancer Risk: Don’t just Avoid Fat, Add Some Oat Beta-Glucan

    In 1993 when the FDA confirmed significant scientific agreement existed for a dietary lipids and cancer health claim (21 CFR 101.73), the agency indicated the strongest possible positive association had been found between total fat intake and risk of some types of cancer. In the same year, the FDA indicated diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol were associated with increased levels of blood total- and LDL-cholesterol and, thus, with increased risk of coronary heart disease (21 CFR 101.75).

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    From Newborn Screening to Personalized Nutrition: The Example of Biotinidase Deficiency

    Recently, Vallejo-Torres and co-workers looked at the costs and benefits of introducing biotinidase deficiency screening to the national newborn screening program in Spain. Biotinidase is an enzyme that the body makes to extract the vitamin biotin from food, and also to recycle biotin from its complex with carboxylase enzymes.  When the enzyme does not work as it should, biotin cannot be properly absorbed or recovered after use in the metabolism. How can information about the genetic basis of this disease be used for nutrigenomics?

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    Thanks For The Vitamins, Mom!

    Babies depend on their mothers for so many things: comfort, support, protection, and of course, nourishment. The contents of mom’s diet have a profound impact on baby’s health now and in the future – look at the case of maternal folic acid intake and the risk of neural tube defects or the growing body of literature suggesting a relationship between the maternal diet and offspring cancer risk. But really, the simplest thing mom wants to ensure is that her baby has enough nutrients to support healthy development and that the baby is born free of deficiency. Are the current recommendations providing enough to make sure of this?

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    EFSA Confirms Nutritional Importance of α-Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

    Since 1993, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies has been reviewing Dietary Reference Values (DRVs). Yesterday, EFSA’s nutrition experts released DRVs for vitamin E as α-tocopherol and cobalamin (vitamin B12).

    Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin. Although previous definitions for vitamin E have included 4 tocopherols (α, β, γ and δ) and 4 tocotrienols (α, β, γ and δ), the EFSA nutrition experts consider vitamin E as being α-tocopherol only.

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    Omega-3s are Part of a Healthy Life

    Is it a wasted effort to try to increase your omega-3 status? Controversy garners attention but let’s examine history. Peter Whoriskey took on a difficult topic trying to reconcile two interdependent dietary considerations.  First, in challenging dietary guidance to reduce fat intake, the impact of reducing fat consumption cannot be separated from a proportional increase in calories as carbohydrate or protein (when calorie intake is kept constant). The pros and cons of consuming carbohydrate versus fat are still being studied. The second challenge is understanding the role of dietary fat type (saturated fat, monounsaturated, and the polyunsaturated fats – n-3 (omega-3) and n-6 (omega-6) on health. 

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    Food for Thought on Strokes and Risk

    Until today, the thought of ‘silent strokes’ was unhead-of. It was shocking to read that 1 in 10 adults experience a silent stroke by their early 60s. Twenty percent of women (1 in 5) and 1 in 6 men have a stroke during their life. Almost 1/3 of these may suffer significant cognitive impairment for months after the event.

    According to the American Stroke Association, the most common risk factors are age (being > 65y), genetics (having a family history), race (being African American), sex (being female), and having had a stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or heart attack.

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    Michael at UN General Assembly

    Vitamin D can be Measured: Has Your 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 been Assayed?

    When it is summertime and beaches beckon, we aren’t very likely to reflect upon vitamin D status. But scientists will. Bhagatwala and colleagues report results from a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) evaluating blood vitamin D responses to vitamin D3 supplementation in overweight/obese African Americans with suboptimal vitamin D status (<50 nmol/L).

    The Institute of Medicine recommended daily intake of 600 IU for adults was insufficient to achieve serum 25(OH)D concentrations of 75 nmol/l in this group whereas 2,000 and 4,000 IU doses daily were adequate.

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    Want Strong Muscles? Make Sure You're Getting Your Omega-3's!

    It always amazes me how certain nutrients seem to play a role in nearly every tissue in the body, and even when a nutrient has a strong relationship to the health of one aspect of health, science discovers another. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA play an important role in maintaining the health of the heart, brain, and eyes – so what’s next for them?

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    Why Do People Take Multivitamins? Another Survey Says: To Fill Nutrient Gaps

    I take a multivitamin. I first started taking them at university, a time when my diet lead a lot to be desired.  It was part of my routine when I felt a bit run down: go to bed early and take a multivitamin. Maybe that cold was coming on because my normal diet consisted of instant noodles, toast and butter chicken, with nary a vegetable in sight? 

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    Using the Tolerable Upper Limit to Avoid Excessive Vitamin Supplementation

    Vitamins are essential: there is absolutely no doubt about that. However, as with everything, moderation is the best strategy. While it is important to avoid too little, too much is also a problem, as was found recently in a case study of vitamin B6 intoxication. How can the Tolerable Upper Limit help here?

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    Are Pregnant Women Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

    Pregnancy and breastfeeding are incredibly special times in a woman’s life. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) make intake recommendations based on pregnancy and lactation status, which generally speaking are higher than for non-pregnant/lactating women of childbearing age. But are they set high enough?

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