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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'April 2016'


    Read Nutrient Facts Panels, Compare Daily Values (DV), Make Informed Choices

    The Fundamentals of Organic Certification” by Ilana Orlofsky describes the growth of organic food and beverage sales and provides a nice summary of regulatory requirements to be certified ‘organic’. As ‘organic’ certification moves outside of agricultural commodities (fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy) to finished food products, the number of food and  beverage manufacturers entering the category increases.

    Although ‘nutrient vitamins and minerals’ are approved ingredients within the National Organic Program (NOP), many manufacturers of finished organic foods and beverages do not enrich or fortify their products with vitamins and minerals. Why? 

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    How Useful is Screening of Donor Breast Milk?

    Two of our recent posts have looked at donor breast milk for infants: one from February found that donor milk reduced rates of necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight infants, and the other found that 10% of breast milk purchased over the internet contained some cow’s milk. A recent publication by Bloom looked at the frequency of potential infectious agents and contaminants in donated breast milk from screened donors. 

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    Vitamin D and Blood Glucose Management

    As summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, we look forward to spending more time outdoors. This is good because our skin can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. With most people spending most of their days indoors, serum 25(OH)D concentrations are known to decrease through the fall and winter months. The most recent data (NHANES 2007-2014) finds 24% of Americans have insufficient vitamin D levels (<50 nmol/L).

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    March of Dimes Coalition Petitions FDA for Folic Acid Fortification of Corn Flour

    Mandating folic acid enrichment of select cereal grain products reduces the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTD). The number of babies born with NTDs in the US decreased from 4,000 infants in 1995-1996 (before mandatory fortification) to 3,000 infants four years later. 31% and 16% decreases were observed in the prevalence of spina bifida and anencephaly, respectively. As said by Dr Krista Crider, a geneticist with the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said, “Many put [folic acid fortification] on the list of the most effective public health interventions.” 

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    Pregnancy, Zika Virus, Mosquitoes and B Vitamins

    With growing concerns about the impact of mosquito dissemination of Zika virus among pregnant women, one can forget that a lack of B vitamins can also stunt a baby’s brain development. Folate and B12 deficiency are linked to disruptions in myelination and  normal development of an infant’s central nervous system during pregnancy. Because of the high incidence of neural tube defects, folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grains and cereal grain products was mandated by law in the US in 1996. However, the law was limited to certain standards of identity (bread, rolls, and buns; wheat flours; corn meals; farina; rice; and macaroni and noodle products).

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    Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Pregnancy, Lactation & Infant Immune Development

    On Tuesday, April 5, Dr Philip C Calder was awarded the 10th Danone International Prize for Nutrition in recognition of his nutrition research contributions at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).  

    In a video interview, Professor Calder discusses his surprise and the personal impact of this award. He highlights the importance of nutrition, especially vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, in the support of the immune system. 

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    Family Dining Al Fresco

    How Do Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies Affect Wellbeing?

    Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies have symptoms that are well defined enough for us to give the disease that they cause a name: think of scurvy for vitamin C deficiency, pellagra for vitamin B3 deficiency, rickets for vitamin D deficiency in childhood, and beriberi for thiamin deficiency. Others are “silent”, such as vitamin D deficiency in adulthood, which weakens bones but has no overt symptoms. Still others have non-specific symptoms, such as the general fatigue that is found with any of the vitamins or minerals that affect red blood cell production. Can biochemically-defined deficiencies affect how the average person feels?

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    Do Americans Eat Enough Fish for Omega-3 Recommendations?

    In the blog posts from today and tomorrow, I have the chance to discuss two of my own analyses that I conducted for the Experimental Biology 2016 scientific meetings in San Diego. My posters were presented on April 5th from 9 am PST in exhibit halls A-D. My first poster looks at the consumption of fish and how it relates to intakes of omega-3 PUFA.

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    Announcing the 2016 Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigator

    Congratulations to Valerie Darcey, MS RD for being selected as the 2016 recipient of the ASN Grand Prize for Young Minority Investigators, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products LLC. Her presentation was entitled “Omega-3 status is related to prefrontal cortex-mediated impulse control in adolescents” Ms Darcey is advised by Dr John VanMeter, Georgetown University. Her doctoral research focuses on the relationship between diet, brain and cognitive development in adolescents.

    Valerie follows in the footsteps of previous winners: 2015 Michelle Cardel, University of Colorado, Denver; 2014 Monique LeMieux, Texas Tech University; 2013 Christine Hutchinson, Iowa State University; 2012 Wanida Lewis, North Carolina State University; and  2011 Maria Carlota Dao, Tufts University.

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    Can Biofortification or Reduction of Phytic Acid in Beans Increase Iron Uptake?

    Iron deficiency anemia is the most widespread micronutrient deficiency, according to the World Health Organisation. Eliminating iron deficiency anemia is a world-wide priority, and a three-pronged approach is suggested including increasing intakes of iron, controlling infectious disease with better hygiene and immunization, and improving overall nutrient intakes. Measures to increase iron intakes need to focus not only on increasing the iron content of the diet but also the absorption of iron. How can plant breeding techniques help in reducing iron deficiency anemia. 

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