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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'December 2015'


    2015: The Year in Review

    Another year has passed! Amazing! You may wonder, what compels us to write more than 245 TalkingNutrition blogs? The answer is simple. A single newly published study does not change everything known about nutrition. While new research studies add to the body of scientific evidence, they need to be put into context. With TalkingNutrition, we try to put nutrition research into perspective. And there was a lot that went on in 2015.

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    The Most Researched Vitamin, Mineral and Fatty Acid of 2015

    Nutrition research is important. We can only advance understanding of the roles of micronutrients if we study them in detail. But what is the most important focus at the moment? As we have done in previous years, TalkingNutrition will be reporting on the most researched vitamin of the year, but with a twist. To reflect the greater emphasis that DSM is placing on preventing all micronutrient deficiencies, we have expanded our scope to include research into minerals and a range of fatty acids.  Read on to find out what vitamin, mineral and fatty acid was the most researched this year…

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    The Nutrition News that Moved Us in 2015

    The end of the year is almost here, and I thought it would be interesting to look back at 2015 and see which nutrition research had the most impact over the past year. There is no definitive way to do this, so I will be experimenting a little with some tools to give the best overview of what has been going on. 

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    Feeling Down? Could it be the Season or your Omega-3 Status?

    Today is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. A lack of sun exposure can lead to seasonal affective disorder. A new study from Japan finds low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are associated with depressive symptoms.

    In a cross-sectional study conducted in 1,050 men and 1,073 women (≥40 years of age) living in Japan, adults with the highest concentrations of EPA+DHA in the blood were the least likely to experience depression symptoms.

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    Helping Those with the Greatest Nutritional Needs

    DSM extends its partnership with the World Food Programme for another 3 years. Having already helped 25 million people annually, the public-private partnership that began in 2007 will continue providing essential vitamins, nutrients and fortified rice to pregnant and nursing women and young children.

    Good nutrition in the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday sets the foundation for all days that follow. Undernutrition is responsible for almost half (45%) of all child deaths under five years of life.

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    Helping Babies be Their Best

    Babies are wonderful, aren’t they? Each is a unique bundle of life, so different and yet so similar with fingers, toes, ears, eyes, wiggles, cries, and other less-appealing bodily functions! Because the world population exceeds 7.3 billion people, we seem to have evolved to successfully transition newborns to healthy adolescents.

    In reality, the nutritional value of human milk isn’t constant. Millk composition changes within a feeding, over the entirety of a lactation, and between mothers.

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    Ending Malnutrition and Hidden Hunger

    Micronutrient deficiencies co-exist with overweight and obesity in many parts of the world. Hidden Hunger is a term describing the invisible nature of symptoms associated with inadequate micronutrient intake and suboptimal vitamin and mineral status.

    A new report finds that the prevalence of hidden hunger (measured by a higher Hidden Hunger Index) continues to worsen in Africa. Improvements in other regions of the world are primarily attributable to reductions in the prevalence of zinc and vitamin A deficiencies. Chile continues to have the lowest score of 138 countries.

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    How Would You Change Your Behavior If You Had a Heart Attack?

    Good advice about healthy behaviors is everywhere. Even if we don’t want to look for it on our own, public service announcements sent out on the radio and on the television try to get us off the sofa, well-meaning Facebook friends chronicle their weight-loss and can’t help but try to convince others to follow the same path, and even packets of food extol the virtues of a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Starting from now, we can all make changes that will have a positive impact on our health and quality of life. But sometimes we need a major trigger, a lightning bolt, to illuminate a better way forward. Does a heart attack trigger a simple lifestyle change?

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    Getting Depressed About Omega-3s?

    Remember when 3 commercial broadcast networks provided news, typically at 6 and 11pm? With 24-hour news networks, there is a continuous stream of updates. No longer do we have Walter Cronkite, the “most trusted man in America”, ending the day with “And that’s the way it is”.

    You may have heard that there is insufficient evidence (two studies) to conclude that omega-3s alone, or combined with anti-depressant therapy, affect depression. Only 2 studies involving omega-3 fatty acids were included in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report (Table 16).

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    female commuter

    Can a Healthy Diet Protect Us from Air Pollution?

    Air pollution can be highly localized and has the potential to affect us all. It is produced both indoors by the use of open fires and from various emissions from items in the home, and outdoors with vehicles and emissions from industry. Surprisingly, there is a link between diet and the health effects of air pollution, primarily through nutrients' effects on the immune response. Péter and co-workers summarize the research.

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    Suboptimal Omega-3 and Iron Blood Concentrations Affect Performance & Function

    Two newly published studies demonstrate the importance of measuring blood concentrations of nutrients. Neither of these reports rely upon self-reported dietary intake data combined with food composition databases. Both studies directly examine the relationship between plasma concentrations and performance.

    As noted yesterday, low plasma omega-3 concentrations (eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, and docosahexaneoic acid, DHA) are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. Using data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study (participants were 47-83y old), Sun and colleagues compared plasma omega-3 concentrations 

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    Whoa…Researchers find Low Omega-3 Index is Common

    Low intakes of dietary omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish, fish oils and algal oils are reflected in low blood concentratiosn. The omega-3 index is a measure of DHA+EPA concentrations in blood. Harris proposed that an omega-3 index of <4% was a high risk indicator for coronary heart disease.

    Using the most recently published national data on blood omega-3 fatty acid concentrations, a new study finds ~96% of American adults have an omega-3 index below levels associated with cardiovascular protection (~4%). 

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    What is Wrong with a Little Insurance?

    The American Society of Nutrition held its 5th Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition Conference Dec 4-6 in Long Beach, CA.  Dr Marian Neuhouser, a member of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, presented highlights from the 2015 DGAC.

    Today’s accompanying image shows results for the consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Briefly, nobody in the United States is consuming the recommended number of whole grain servings daily.

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    When was your Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D Concentration Measured?

    The Institute of Medicine (IOM) updated Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D and calcium in 2010. At the time, the vitamin D Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) were increased to 600 IU daily for all age groups except those over 70y which were set to 800 IU. Estimated Average Intakes (EARs) and RDAs were based on serum 25(OH)D concentrations of 40 and 50 nmol/L, respectively. The Upper Tolerable Limit (UL) for adults was set at 4,000IU.

    In a new study, Veugelers and associates aggregated data from 36 studies with 108 study dose estimates and 13,987 observations (participants).

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    Tackling Micronutrient Inadequacies in Bangladesh: Is Food Fortification Enough?

    The FAO’s 2012 report on food insecurity states that “progress in reducing hunger has been more pronounced than previously believed”. Even so, almost 1 billion people suffer from chronic undernutrition. Eating the right amounts of all vitamins and essential minerals, as well as protein, fats and carbohydrates, is important for people to be healthy and productive. Food fortification is one means to improve the micronutrient intake of populations. Is it a silver bullet approach to reducing hidden hunger?

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    Vitamin D, Fertility, and Infant Language Development

    Hoping to have a baby? Low blood vitamin E concentrations have been associated with infertility and increased risk of miscarriage. Not a trivial association with ~90% of Americans not consuming recommended intakes of vitamin  and 93% and 81% of 20-30 year olds and 31-50 year olds, respectively, having suboptimal vitamin E status. A new study finds vitamin D status is also very important.

    To understand if vitamin D concentrations affect fertility, Pagliardini and colleagues measured 25(OH)D3 concentrations in 1,072 women visiting an infertility center. 

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    A Case Study on the Genetic Basis of Nutritional Variability of Food

    How much vitamin C is in 100g (about two thirds of a cup) of blueberries? Well, that depends. My trusty kitchen companion “The Food Guide” reckons 13mg, my nutrition textbook “Understanding Nutrition” counts 7mg, and the USDA food database has measured 9.7mg in their release 28. What the online USDA food list does not mention is that this value was based on 4 data points, the minimum amount measured was 7.4mg and the maximum was 11.5mg (based on the Access database for release 28). There is a lot of variation in the vitamin content of blueberries, it seems.

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