Blog Archive 2009

Reading Labels
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009

The FDA is set to begin research into an area of critical importance for the health-awareness of the general population: Why is it that food labels are roundly ignored by so many people?

Since the early 1990’s, the number of consumers who utterly ignored food labels on food products has risen by almost 50 percent, and the worst for this were populations under 35 years old.

A new internet-based study has been proposed by the agency, and it expects over 40,000 volunteer participants to help them learn more about three main points:

  • The identification of attitudes and beliefs to do with health, diet and label usage
  • The relationships between these attitudes and beliefs, demographics, and actual label use
  • The relevance of these attitudes between different demographics, to see whether there are different barriers to label use for different age groups


For more info on this study and food labels: Internet Survey on Barriers to Food Label Use (bottom of the page) Consumer Info: Nutrition Facts Label
NutraUSA: New study to investigate why people ignore food labels

Good Morning America Weighs in on Vitamin D
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On Monday morning, ABC's Good Morning America ran a feature about vitamin D.

The segment kicks off by highlighting "Five Ways Vitamin D Can Save Your Life" and goes on to itemize the most efficient ways one can go about ensuring that vitamin D levels are optimal.

The video is nice and simple, so if interested in a bare bones explanation regarding the vitamin, have a look: GMA has a look at the Sun Vitamin.

DSIB: Vitamin D

Omega-3 Deficiency
Posted Monday, July 20, 2009

Harvard researchers, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have determined that Omega-3 deficiency is responsible for 72,000 to 96,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States. This startling finding would mean that Omega-3 deficiency is the sixth largest cause of death for Americans.

According to the data, collected in a 2005 study, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure were responsible for an estimated 436,000-500,000 deaths, high blood pressure taking 372,000-414,000 victims, responsible for nearly 20% of deaths for US adults. Overweight and obesity conditions caused 188,000-237,000 fatalities, while physical inactivity caused 164,000-222,000. High dietary salt (97,000-107,000 deaths), low dietary omega-3 fatty acids (72,000-96,000), and high dietary trans fatty acids (82,000; 63,000-97,000) round out the top causes of mortality.

Last month, Dr. Daniel Fabricant made the following statement to NutraUSA about such recent finding:

“We need more clinical research that nails down why omega-3 is so effective,” Fabricant said. “This seems to be the last missing piece for omega-3s in terms of clarifying the picture for governmental/regulatory bodies of its efficacy.”

To learn more about what we do know regarding Omega-3, please have a look at the DSIB Healthnotes page: Omega-3

AAD: Vitamin D and UV Exposure Levels
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has just updated their position regarding vitamin D as related to UV light. A few brief highlights here, and then check out the entire statement at the link below.


The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that an adequate amount of vitamin D should be obtained from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D should not be obtained from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
There is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk.

Position Statement on Vitamin D (AAD)


Vitamin C PSA
Posted Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DSIB has a new radio public service announcement on the air that we'd like to share:



While you may reach for Vitamin C during allergy and cold season, when you feel your immune system can use a boost, what you may not realize are the year round benefits Vitamin C provides.
Research on Vitamin C indicates that it may be beneficial to you in many ways, including helping to shorten the duration of a cold. Vitamin C also may help in reducing muscle soreness from exercise, and further research is being conducted on its role in preventing chronic disease. This incredible antioxidant enhances iron absorption and is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, a protein responsible for the formation of skin, hair nails, connective tissue, ligaments and bones.
A Vitamin C supplement might be an easy way to help add to the Vitamin C intake you would normally achieve from a healthy diet.
You can learn more about Vitamin C by logging on to That's This message is brought to you by the Docter Whitaker Show, and the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, your partners in scientific-based supplement information.
Vitamin Strange
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009
The story we'd like to draw your attention to with this post comes across a bit as mad science gone good -- Philadelphia researchers are altering E. coli in order to create vitamin A. Here are some cool bits from the Philly Inquirer:
The goal is to provide a low-cost supply of the vitamin to the developing world, where deficiencies of that nutrient cause widespread blindness and even death. The early-stage project, in which Anthony's lab has made one strain of the bug with an eye-catching shade of carroty-orange, is part of a fast-growing field called synthetic biology.

So, a strange combo of things, for sure. Using E. coli, something we generally associate with rather dramatic illness, to create vitamin A, a nutrient which is generally an afterthought for most people living in the developed world. Here's another great quote from the lead researcher on the project, biologist Jennifer Anthony: "We could potentially ask these bacteria to make anything, if we could find the genes for the pathway and put it in." Cool and fun science, check it out here: Finally, something good about E. coli.

To learn more about vitamin A, please have a look at the following page: DSIB Vitamin A

We are all a-tweet
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009

If you are an avid tweeter, we would love to follow and be followed by you: ( :




News on Folic Acid and Vitamin D
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some news round-ups here, on two of the most buzzed about vitamins, folic acid and vitamin D.

First up, folic acid. It has long been known that folic acid supplementation is an essential precaution for pregnancies, which is the main reason why it is now added to the mass-produced bread you buy in the supermarket. New research has found even more compelling evidence supporting folic acid's benefit's for expectant mothers. A study from the University of Texas has found that taking folic acid supplements a year prior to conception reduces the likelihood of premature birth by 70%, a dramatic result, to say the least. This study was conducted with a very large population, nearly 35,000 women. If you or someone you know is thinking of having a child sometime soon, the below links are definitely suggested reading:

DSIB: Folic Acid
NPA: Folic Acid
PLoS: Preconceptional Folate Supplementation and the Risk of Spontaneous Preterm Birth: A Cohort Study
: Science DailyTaking Folic Acid Supplements Before Conception Linked To Reduced Risk Of Premature Birth
LA Times: A pre-pregnancy year of folic acid sharply lowers risk of very premature birth

On to vitamin D. The prevalence of forthcoming vitamin D research ensures that this isn't a supplement we will only be hearing about in the dark and wintry months when people don't get enough sun. The positive news surrounding this vitamin continues to pour in, and we'd just like to direct your attention toward a few prominent items of interest.

DSIB: Vitamin D
MSN: Getting Your Vitamin D All Year Round: Why the buzz about vitamin D is warranted.
BBC: Elderly need more 'sun vitamin'
Science Daily: New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role
Daily Mail: Millions face serious health risks over lack of vitamin D in diets
NY Times: Nutrition: Vaginal Infection Tied to Low Vitamin D
MedPage Today: Low Vitamin D May Slow Cognition in Older Men
NutraUSA: Vitamin D good for brains and lungs, say new studies
NutraUSA: Low vitamin D may boost metabolic syndrome risk
UPI: Vitamin D or sunshine may help treat MS
Eureka Alert: Is vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia? Vitamin D & Asthma
Forbes: Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay

The Junk Foods of Canada
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009

According to an article in Tuesday's Canadian Medical Association Journal, our neighbors to the north may soon be reversing a policy which initially sounded like an entirely positive step: Back in 2005 Health Canada had proposed broadening the field of foods that might be fortified with nutrients such as thiamin, beta-carotene, calcium and vitamin D. The Federal regulations for this proposed plan have yet to appear, despite expectation that they would be released in March. This delay has fueled speculation that the expanded fortification plan may be altered drastically when it finally arrives, or discarded entirely.

The principle concern of many Canadian health experts is that this plan may lead to a marketing coup rather than actually improving public health. As proposed, the fortification plan would exclude foods which naturally contain vitamins and minerals (fruits, vegetables, grains, fresh meat and fish, spices, etc.), while foods that are less well thought of by nutritionists (frozen foods, packaged snacks, junk food essentially) would then have the opportunity to be fortified, and consequentially marketed as such: "Cheese puffs, with added vitamin D", as the Globe and Mail has it in Wednesday's newspaper.

So, perceived difficulty seems to be this: Will adding healthy ingredients to products which are not healthy 1) improve the health of those who are not particularly health-conscious in diet, or 2) sabotage the efforts of the individuals who are attempting to eat a healthy diet, but who will be misguided by new labeling and advertising claims. There is quite the spirited debate going on this topic in Canada, and to make it simple, it seems based around the public's gullibility to advertising. Here is a great quote from the CBC:

"My concerns are people might be avoiding healthy foods because they think, 'Now I don't need my apple a day, I can have a chocolate bar a day,'" [said Dr. Tom Ransom, an endocrinologist and obesity expert with Capital Health in Halifax.]

What do you think? Are we this easily mislead, wherein we could go so far down the (hyperbolic) path and fly so directly in the face of common sense? Chocolate bars/cheese puffs/whatever-your-vice being more healthy than the apple a day? Advertising is powerful, but so too is common sense. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Globe and Mail: Cheese puffs, with added vitamin D
CBC: Health Canada weighs fortifying junk foods
CTV: Critics slam planned food fortification changes

FDA 101
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Food and Drug Administration has just released a pamphlet and info which we would like to direct everyone's attention to: FDA 101: Health Fraud Awareness. There is also a printer friendly pdf right here: FDA Health Fraud Pamphlet.
Kava and Mood Disorders
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New research from Australia suggests that Kava may be a helpful way for people to naturally treat anxiety and nervous disorders. Kava (Piper methysticum) is a medicinal plant native to Pacific Ocean islands, and is a member of the pepper family. The plant's stem has traditionally been used in herbal preparations to treat pain. In the past, the plant, which is used in social ceremonies on some Pacific islands, has been noted to induce states of heightened mental acuity, memory, and sensory perception.

The study from the University of Queensland, Australia was the first clinical trial which found Kava extract to be effective as an anxiety treatment and mood enhancer. While traditional methods have often prepared the plant as a drink, the study was carried out with water-soluble tablets. In a placebo/control study, researchers noted Kava to be a safe and helpful treatment for individuals with depressive and anxiety difficulties.

“We’ve been able to show that Kava offers a natural alternative for the treatment of anxiety, and unlike some pharmaceutical options, has less risk of dependency and less potential of side effects,” said Jerome Sarris, lead researcher on the project.

In the past, concerns over potential liver complications has keep Kava out of the public's awareness, but it is believed that if the plant's properties are extracted in the appropriate way, Kava's potential dangers should subside. Larger studies to confirm the safety and efficiency of Kava, but as a beginning, the plant seems a promising alternative to the current pharmaceutical solutions for mood disorders.

As this line of research is in opening stages, Kava use is still recommended only under the supervision of a physician. To read more about this Kava and this study, please have a look at the links below:

DSIB: Kava
Science Daily: Medicinal Plant Kava Safe And Effective In Reducing Anxiety, Study Suggests
Psychopharmacology: Study Abstract
Psychopharmacology: The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study(In Full)

Lizards in the Sun
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009

While this is not exactly what we normally talk about on the blog, it is interesting, and it is vitamin-related: The news section of the Discovery Channel website has a cool story about lizards.

Scientists now believe that one of the reasons lizards bask about in the sun so much is actually for the same reason many of us do (and why we feel better after a little time out in the light) — the necessity of converting Vitamin D.

Like us, lizards have compounds in their skin which need UV exposure to be useful. Apparently though, lizards, unlike ourselves, are highly attuned to the levels of UV light they are receive.

"They were really, really good at hitting an optimum UV level," said Kristopher Karsten, a behavioral ecologist at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "It broadens our perspective of what they're really doing when they're sitting out there in the sun."

Perhaps since they have a bit a head start on us, dating back to the Jurassic period and all, they naturally are a little more wise to the ways of the sun. Still though, it seems balance is the key. Too much or too little vitamin D (brought on by UV exposure) is harmful. Too little and illness, slow growth, and reproductive problems occur. Too much vitamin D is toxic, whether you're reptilian or otherwise.

Until we develop such highly calibrated sun-worshiping capabilities, other methods, such as dietary supplements, are a healthy solution to our UV quandary. After all, though one might love to lie around in the sun all day, we don't really want to end up looking like lizards!

Discovery: Lizards Sunbathe For Vitamin D

Regarding H1N1, Swine Flu
Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009

The new strain of influenza, H1N1, popularly dubbed swine flu, has dominated the news of late. By the third of May, backup antivirals will distributed to every state in the country, and guidelines and advice are popping up everywhere. The best source we have seen thus far regarding the topic is the webcast below featuring newly sworn in HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano answering the public's questions concerning the virus: Webcast.

Due to the fatal nature the virus has taken in Mexico, all care should be taken, and many of the foremost suggestions are the simple, hygienic considerations one would be advised to take at any time when illness threatens. Take care of yourself by washing your hands, getting enough rest, eating right, and being sure that you are meeting all your dietary needs. There is a wealth of information about this which we highly recommend from the >Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:


NPF Tweets for Healthy Match Program
Posted Monday, April 27, 2009

Twitter, the popular social networking tool that allows users to answer the question “What are you doing right now?” is great way to keep in touch with friends, family and co-workers. But Twitter is more than just a peek into the lives of others—it’s also a way to let people know about the good work being done by NPF and ask for small donations to help us with our initiatives. The Natural Products Foundation is gearing up to start a Twitter micro-fundraising campaign, which will raise money for a new program to match vitamin and supplement companies with needy health care clinics.

Due to the tough economic climate, many community health clinics that care for those without means to pay are seeing a decrease in funding and an increase in people needing services, dietary supplements and other natural products. All donations from the Twitter campaign will be used by NPF to match each participating vitamin and supplement company with a clinic.

The principal Twitter user heading this campaign is Janis Krums of Elementz Nutrition. If you use Twitter, you can follow Janis here: @jkrums, or, if you would be interested in helping us spread our message on the site, please contact the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau at

For those who don't use Twitter but would still like to help with the Healthy Match Program, micro-donations ($5, $10, $15 or more) can be made right here: Healthy Match.

FDA Update on Pistachios
Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We would like to share an item with everyone out there concerned about the ongoing Pistachio recalls. You can use or upload this widget from the official FDA page which lists all recalled Pistachio products, as well as providing a search function so you can check specific any item's status. 

From the FDA site:

The FDA and the California Department of Public Health continue to investigate Salmonella contamination in pistachios and pistachio products. Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc., Terra Bella, Calif., is voluntarily expanding its recall of roasted pistachios to include all lots of roasted in-shell pistachios and roasted shelled pistachios that were produced from nuts harvested in 2008. The firm is also recalling those raw shelled pistachios from the 2008 crop that are not subsequently roasted prior to retail sale. The pistachios may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Initially, the firm’s recall was limited to certain lots of roasted pistachios. Information from the joint FDA and California Department of Public Health inspection indicates the presence of Salmonella in critical areas of the facility and the potential for cross-contamination between raw and roasted products. After this information was shared with Setton, the firm decided to expand its recall.
Probiotic PSA
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Supplement Info has a radio public service announcement on the air that we'd like to share with you here too:


Having problems with your intestinal tract? You may need more bacteria in your diet! Scientists are now learning that maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut can help strengthen overall health.
Digestive health is more than an upset stomach and regularity. The proper balance of bacteria in your gut is essential to the body's functioning. They help the immune system function at its best, assist in digesting food and may even manipulate how the body stores fat.
Since some foods that encourage good bacteria growth are now rare in many diets, supplementing with acidophilus may be important. Look for formulas that contain at least a billion microbes per serving, the recommended amount for effective probiotic support.
Log on to for the latest information on the safety, benefits, and uses of probiotic acidophilus and other dietary supplements. That's This message is brought to you by The Dr. Whitaker Show and The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, your partners in scientific-based supplement information.
In the Sun's Stead
Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This morning Cancer Monthly has posted an article about the importance of vitamin D in reducing the risk of several different forms of cancer: Cancer, Vitamin D, and Sunshine. Its well worth having a look at, and it highlights one of the main conflicts in the community, namely: should we seek sunshine (a fabulous source of vitamin D), or should sunlight be avoided for the sake of our skin's well-being?

Dermatologists have long been at odds with unprotected exposure to the sun, advising that people to receive little to no direct sun in attempts to lower rates of skin cancer, especially melanoma. It is supposed though, that this foresight and prevention may be having unforeseen consequences as our national vitamin D levels have dropped greatly over the past decade.

According to studies by the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), at least 14 different types of cancer are linked to low UVB exposure. (UVB is the good kind of UV, helpful in producing vitamin D.) Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian and kidney cancer were all linked to low-levels of vitamin D, and colon cancer and breast cancer showed the strongest associations with the vitamin D deficiency. These same studies estimated that 17,000 to 23,000 people die in the U.S. each year due to a lack of vitamin D.

“The amount of vitamin D in diet is just not sufficient to have an impact," said Dr. William B. Grant, Director of SUNARC. Dr. Grant recommends 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily for disease prevention, ten times the amount recommended as a daily minimium. However, without supplementing one's diet or direct sunlight, this is rather difficult for many to achieve. During the winter, and especially for those in northern climates, it is advised that people take vitamin D supplements to keep your daily vitamin D at appropriate levels.

Vitamin D, In Proper Amounts
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009



The focus on vitamin D continues, as several recent studies have shed new light on our understanding of this increasingly popular and scientifically heralded supplement. 

One of the most persistent and important messages about vitamin D is that it strengthens the skeletal system and lowers the risk of bone fractures, especially as you age. Research published in the March 23rd Archives of Internal Medicine adds further evidence to this claim, and focuses on the appropriate dosage amounts as a crucial factor for the efficiency of vitamin D supplementation. Simply, if you are not taking enough, you may not receive the protection possible with the correct amount.

It was found that oral vitamin D supplementation of at least 400 international units (IU) per day was linked with a lower risk of bone fractures in older adults. 400 IU per day is now widely seen as a minimium recommended amount of vitamin D, and just late last year the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled their recommended dosage for youth, bring younger age group recommendations up to 400 IU, while others have recommended even greater increases in daily vitamin D dosage for certain at-risk groups.

Heike Bischoff-Ferrari of the University of Zurich, lead author of the recent meta-analysis appearing in Archives of Internal Medicine, writes:

“The greater fracture reduction with a higher received dose or higher achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels for both any non-vertebral fractures and hip fractures suggests that higher doses of vitamin D should be explored in future research to optimize anti-fracture efficacy. [...] Also, it is possible that greater benefits may be achieved with earlier initiation of vitamin D supplementation and longer duration of use. Our results do not support use of low-dose vitamin D with or without calcium in the prevention of fractures among older individuals.”

After the results of this study with over 40,000 participants, it is believed that individuals receiving 400 IU of vitamin D will reduce hip fractures by 18% and non-spinal (vertebral) fractures by 20%.

In the same issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado researchers have found a disturbing trend: the average US blood levels of vitamin D have been on the decline for the past decade. Now, more than ever before, low levels of vitamin D appear to be linked with a host of health issues, cardiovascular disease and cancer among them. New findings have linked low levels of vitamin D to such disparate issues as elevated narcotic use by those in chronic pain and fat-related weight gain in teenagers. A whole spectrum of risk-problems for teens have been associated with low vitamin D levels of late, and this landslide of scientific evidence shows no sign of slowing.

Our advice: test to find out your vitamin D levels, and be sure to receive the recommended amount of vitamin D each and every day.


DSIB: Vitamin D
Archives of Internal Medicine: Prevention of Nonvertebral Fractures With Oral Vitamin D and Dose Dependency
WebMD: Vitamin D Pills Cut Bone Fracture Risk
Archives of Internal Medicine: Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004
Science Daily: Increasing Number Of Americans Have Insufficient Levels Of Vitamin D

Combination Vitamins Combat Hydrocephalus
Posted Monday, March 23, 2009

New research from the University Manchester and Lancaster University suggests that hydrocephalus, a common brain birth defect, could be prevented by a combination of vitamins, tetrahydrofolate and folinic acid. Hydrocephalus affects around one out of every thousand live births in the US. In developing countries, this risk rises to one out of every one hundred births.

“Hydrocephalus is a condition arising from an abnormal build-up of fluid within the chambers of the brain. This fluid build-up – usually caused by a blockage in the fluid’s pathway due to trauma, infection or abnormal development – is associated with an increase in the pressure on the brain resulting in brain damage. When this happens, doctors can relieve this pressure only by performing surgery," said Dr Jaleel Miyan, lead researcher on the project. “Our studies have revealed that hydrocephalus is associated with a change in the composition of the cerebrospinal fluid and it is this chemical change that prevents normal growth of the brain cells resulting in arrested brain development. This occurs prior to any brain damage due to raised pressure.”

In the Western world, hydrocephalus has been reduced to the range of 1:2000 – 1:5000 due to terminations, but this control measure may be rendered unnecessary if vitamin treatment succeeds. Administering the combination vitamins has dramatically reduced the risk of hydrocephalus in clinical trials, and so their is much hope that this method will have continued success in further evaluation.

This study was funded by the ASBAH, the Association of Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus, and its findings were published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology. “A combination of tetrahydrofolate and folinic acid – both naturally occurring substances – stimulated brain cell growth and had a significant positive effect on brain development in laboratory experiments on rats and reduced the incidence of hydrocephalus," explained Dr Miyan. “In laboratory experiments, the combined folate supplement works at any stage during pregnancy which means that it may be effective even if it is commenced after the diagnosis of hydrocephalus is made at an 18 to 20 week pregnancy scan. We believe that the combination folate supplement could be given to a woman whose fetus had been scanned and shown to have hydrocephalus, to improve brain development and perhaps rescue the child from hydrocephalus. We have yet to carry out experimental studies in the laboratory to test whether treatment at later stages of development, including after birth, would lead to improvement in the condition."

This sounds extraordinary, and the researchers' enthusiasm is very encouraging. This is the first work suggesting that cerebrospinal fluid is not just a cushioning liquid around the brain, but that it is actively produced and transported, playing a key role in brain development.

Andrew Russell, ASBAH Chief Executive, said: “Hydrocephalus can cause severe disability and learning difficulties, so the possibility of prevention through a specific vitamin supplement is exciting. ASBAH is helping with this ground-breaking research because many babies born with hydrocephalus today survive, but with a lifelong disability.”

Folates and folic acid are intentionally added in to many grain products so that pregnant woman will be ensured to receive and adequate amount to prevent nerual tube defects such as spina bifida. These new research findings into folate combination vitamins could potentially provide the desired effects even after the beginnings of hydrocephalus, which would be a great step forward in treating and managing birth defects.

For more on this story and folates in general, please follow the links below:

DSIB: Folate
BBC: 'Vitamin' for baby brain disorder Birth brain defect could be treated with vitamin supplement

Natural Products Foundation Books!
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Natural Products Foundation and Tastebook have partnered to give you an incredible new cookbook: Cooking, Naturally.

'Cooking, Naturally' is a collection of savory recipes (and gorgeous photography) that's truly one-of-a-kind. These dishes are healthy, diverse, and sure to give you some amazing ideas for a cuisine as natural as it is delicious. Proceeds benefit the Natural Products Foundation.

To support the Natural Products industry with your purchase, please make sure to enter NATURALPRO in the coupon box when checking out.

Also check out our new Amazon Bookstore on the DSIB homepage for titles from David Heber, Phyllis A. Balch, and Dr. Hyla Cass. Enjoy!

Older Americans Not Receiving Adequate Nutrition
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The findings of a new study published in the March edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that middle-aged and older U.S. populations are not receiving adequate daily nutrition corroborates an earlier study performed by The Lewin Group for a subsidiary of the Natural Products Foundation (NPF). Both studies found that, with age, adults have a tendency to reduce how much they eat. As a result, the basic needs for essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C are not being met for many Americans, especially senior citizens.

This lack of sufficient levels of nutrients may lead to health complications. By the year 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be between 65 and 75 years old, and the estimated health care costs for those over 65 will reach $16 trillion.

The NPF study indicates that aging populations could be spared hospitalizations, loss of independence, and major medical problems by corrections in dietary intake. One phase of the study found that simply availing seniors of the proper levels of calcium with vitamin D through supplementation could save several hundred thousand hospitalizations every year, as well as billions of dollars annually, and this is just a single example.

"It is clear that the current nutritional well-being in this country is less than optimal," said Tracy Taylor, Executive Director of the Natural Products Foundation. "By addressing these deficiencies in nutrition, we can save ourselves a lot expense in the coming years as our senior population expands."

According to another NPF-sponsored study, the appropriate use of select dietary supplements would improve the health of key populations and save the nation more than $24 billion in health care costs over the next five years.

"The transition to greater dependency of our seniors, whether in terms of home and community care or transition to a nursing facility, places considerable financial burden on seniors, their families and the health care system," the study's authors conclude. "Daily supplementation [...] can decrease the risk of disease advancement in seniors and allow them to live longer healthier more independent lives. ...[S]upplements are an inexpensive and safe way to improve health status and reduce health care and other expenditures. In these cases, the role of public policy to support their use is unambiguous."

The Health Impact Study mentioned above is "An Evidence-Based Study of the Role of Dietary Supplements in Helping Seniors Maintain their Independence " by Joan E. DaVanzo, Ph.D., MSW, Allen Dobson, Ph.D., Myra Tannamor, M.Ph., Jeannine Dollard, M.P.A. This multiphasic study was conducted by the Lewin Group and Dobson/DaVanzo, and prepared for the Natural Products Foundation. The latest phase of the study can be seen in its entirety here: Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction – Study Update

New Supplement Database
Posted Thursday, March 5, 2009

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Data Lab, collaborating with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, has created an online database which aims to provide accurate estimates of nutrient intake from supplements. The organizations hope to create a better guide than databases which rely on labels alone. The first version of the database, the Dietary Supplement Ingredients Database (DSID-1), assesses nutrients in vitamins and minerals through chemical analysis of products in the marketplace. Additionally, the system can break vitamins and minerals categorizations down into the groups they are intended for by gender and age.

From the DSID site:

The Dietary Supplements Labels Database offers information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers.

To have look at the database, click here:

NPA Response to GAO's Recommendations for Supplement Oversight
Posted Thursday, March 5, 2009

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recently released a report on the oversight and regulation of dietary supplements, suggesting that the FDA take further steps to improve oversight of the supplements. David Seckman, Executive Director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, the nation’s largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry, released the following statement in response to the GAO's findings:

“The Natural Products Association appreciates having the opportunity to be included in the GAO’s review of dietary supplement regulation, particularly regarding the recent implementation of adverse event reporting and good manufacturing practices. Our initial impressions regarding the four key recommendations of the report are as follows.

“Contrary to opinions stated in the report, the FDA already has a great deal of information about individual dietary supplement products and their manufacturers. The dietary supplement industry has cooperated by registering all manufacturing facilities under bioterrorism regulations that went into effect more than five years ago. Additionally, the NPA is currently working with the government to create a database of all dietary supplement labels to augment this information.

“We also take issue with the implication that the FDA has limited power to remove products from the marketplace. In fact, although the agency has had scant reason to do so, it has exercised its ability to take products off the shelves it deemed a health risk.

“While we supported legislation to establish mandatory adverse event reporting for dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs, we still believe that reporting should be limited to incidents that are serious. If the FDA’s resources are already stretched, as the report indicates, then adding to this burden by mandating that any complaint be dealt with by the agency does not make sense.

“We support further guidance clarifying how the FDA determines when an ingredient is considered ‘new’ to the marketplace and what evidence is needed to document safety. Likewise, we are in favor of the agency clarifying when it believes products should be marketed as conventional foods versus dietary supplements.

“One of the fundamental principles of DSHEA [Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994] is providing consumers with more information so that they can make informed decisions to maintain and improve their health. So we are in agreement that the FDA should work with stakeholder groups to educate consumers about the safety, efficacy and labeling of dietary supplements.

“Finally, there is little scientific data regarding underreporting of adverse events and the data that are cited are not specific to dietary supplements, but represent all FDA-regulated products, including pharmaceuticals, a category that accounts for more than 460,000 reports annually.”

To have a look at GAO report in its entirety, click here and let us know what you think by commenting below.

NPA Commends FDA for Enforcing Laws Against Weight Loss Products
Posted Monday, March 2, 2009

The Natural Products Association (NPA) applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing investigation of weight loss products containing prescription medication and falsely marketed as dietary supplements. The association contends that products containing medications, even if they are labeled as “dietary supplements,” are illegal drugs masquerading as legitimate supplements in the face of sometimes lax enforcement. An estimated 70 percent of American consumers enjoy the health benefits of a wide array of herbal remedies and dietary supplements, manufactured by an industry that takes very seriously its commitment to the health of its customers and the quality of its products.

“There are four key points regarding the law that regulates dietary supplements, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act [DSHEA],” said David Seckman, executive director and CEO of NPA. “One, dietary supplements are by definition not drugs, nor can they contain them. Period. Two, the law requires that what’s in the product must be listed on the label; no exceptions. Three, the FDA has the enforcement power it needs to ensure companies meet these standards and we encourage the agency’s continuing action against any brand that violates the law. Likewise, we encourage those companied identified as having contaminated product to willing and speedily comply with a recall. And four, the FDA’s recent actions prove that the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act is working to protect consumers against products illegally marketed as dietary supplements.”

Seckman went on to say that his industry is committed to ensuring products taken by anyone, whether those trying to lose weight or augment an inadequate diet, contain exactly what is listed on the label. He also added that the term “natural” is in most cases unregulated by government agencies allowing marketers to make this claim based on their own concept of natural.

“Unless the term ‘natural’ is tied to a transparent national standard, it’s difficult for consumers to distinguish what truly is and isn’t natural.” said Seckman. “Natural products retailers can be a big help in identifying truly natural products, whether dietary supplements, foods or cosmetics.”

To further help consumers discover truly natural products the association launched a natural certification and seal program so consumers can easily identify those personal care products that meet high standards for natural ingredients. Click here for more info: Certified Natural.

Sources of Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins
Posted Monday, March 2, 2009

Vitamin makers are being strongly urged to use only potassium iodide and not other sources of iodide for their prenatal products. Boston University School of Medicine researchers have found that potassium iodide is the most efficient way for expectant mothers to receive iodine.

Researchers compared over 200 prescription and nonprescription prenatal multivitamins that are sold in the United States. Of these, over 100 contained iodine. The iodine content most often would come from one of two sources: kelp and potassium iodide. In tests that isolated the iodine content of the multivitamins, those that contained potassium iodide had approximately 75% of the amount as stated on the product’s label. While this is not exactly ideal, it is also in no way inconsistent. In contrast, the products using kelp for iodine had a very large range of actual iodine content, and the variation therein was much more unpredictable: researchers found levels ranging from 33 to 610 micrograms per daily dose. Iodine can degrade over time, and this can have some affect on quantities found in the study, but it is obvious that potassium iodide appears to be the more consistent of the two primary sources for iodine.

"The American Thyroid Associated has recommended that women receive prenatal vitamins containing 150µg of iodine daily during pregnancy and lactation. However, the iodine content of prenatal vitamins is not mandated in the United States," said Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, lead author of the study. While the ATA has recommended 150 micrograms a day, other sources have the amount at slightly elevated levels. The Institue of Medicine, for example, recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers receive 220 to 290 micrograms of iodine a day. Iodine itself is commonly added to table salt, and it can be found in dairy, seafood, and bread products.

The amount of iodine that a mother receives plays a crucial role in promoting correct thyroid function for fetuses and breastfed infants. Thyroid function is crucial for correct neurocognitive development, and iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental handicap. At present, more that 2.2 billion people worldwide are iodine deficient. Even slight iodine deficiency can cause problems in development, affecting hearing and speech, as well as mental development and growth.

DSIB: Iodine
Eureka Alert!: BUSM researchers encourage use of potassium iodide


Cinnamon and Blood Sugar
Posted Friday, February 20, 2009

Is there anything that a little bit of cinnamon can't improve? Not that we can think of: pasta or peanut butter, sea food or salad, bananas or blood pudding, cinnamon is good on pretty much everything, and new research suggests that a little cinnamon every day may help control blood sugar levels as well.

A new study by Swedish researchers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that ingesting cinnamon reduces blood insulin levels, the property responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This adds to other recent investigations which have highlighted the potential of cinnamon for individuals afflicted with diabetes.

Cinnamon trees grow in tropical areas of India, China, Madagascar, and Brazil, and the common substances which we are all familiar with, cinnamon oil, powder, and sticks, are manufactured from the bark of the trees. Historically, medicinal cinnamon use dates back over four millennia, and has a wide range of applications across the world, treating
rheumatism, food poisoning, diarrhea, and menstrual
disorders in turn.

While much research is yet to be done to decode cinnamon's further uses, and to define its relationship with insulin, blood sugar, and diabetes, this is not a tough recommendation to make: sprinkle a little cinnamon on it. Any it.

Karugapatta, pattai, lavangappattai, kurundu, korunda, tvak, dārusitā, dalchini, alseni, taj, or qerfa. However you say it, from the Song of Solomon to this morning's waffles, cinnamon is a lovely, natural gift.

DSIB: Cinnamon
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon...
NutraIngredients: Cinnamon may improve blood sugar levels
Natural News: Cinnamon Balances Blood Sugar and Lowers Cholesterol



Vitamin D and Muscle Power in Adolescent Girls
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009
University of Manchester researchers have recently found that vitamin D levels are positively associated with muscle strength in adolescent girls. While vitamin D is often thought of in its capacity as a preventative measure against bone disease, this study is an example of some of the proactive properties of the vitamin.

“We know vitamin D deficiency can weaken the muscular and skeletal systems, but until now, little was known about the relationship of vitamin D with muscle power and force,” said Dr. Kate Ward, primary author of the study which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Vitamin D has become a hot topic in the wintry months, as a lack of sunlight for many Americans leads to a deficiency of vitamin D in the body. Many times, a vitamin D deficiency can go unnoticed until it is too late. "Vitamin D affects the various ways muscles work and we've seen from this study that there may be no visible symptoms of vitamin D deficiency," said Dr. Ward. Often the outcome of vitamin D deficiency results in skeletal issues much later in life, such as osteoporosis. Only now, with studies like this one, are we beginning to see the many other issues a lack of this essential vitamin may raise.

DSIB: Vitamin D
JCEM: Vitamin D Status and Muscle Function in Post-Menarchal Adolescent Girls

Vitamins and Noise
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009

Continuing with our senses theme from earlier in the day, we'd also like to direct you to some information concerning sound and hearing. Two recent animal studies, backed by the National Institute on Deafness, have demonstrated that temporary noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by a combination of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and magnesium. There is some evidence that these nutrients may work to protect a structure in the ear which is related to the hearing loss issues of advanced age, though these findings were more tenuous.

Repeated incidents of temporary noise-induced hearing loss can lead to permanent hearing loss, and researchers have now begun more extensive studies to determine the relationship between these two types of hearing damage.

EurekAlert!: Battling noise with nutrients
DSIB: Beta-carotene
DSIB: Vitamin C
DSIB: Vitamin E
DSIB: Magnesium

Vitamins and Taste
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009

Bitter                     Salty                    Sour                     Sweet

Vitamins play an essential role in our general well-being, and a simple lack of them can cause untold problems. A great example of this was highlighted in the Chicago Tribune yesterday, relating to one of the bodily senses, taste. The cumulative effects of vitamin deficiency can contribute to a loss of the ability to taste food. The article focusing on some of the key vitamins relating to taste:

  • Folic acid (or folate)—abundant in legumes and vegetables and green leafy "foliage"—helps in the formation of new cells within the body. Interestingly, a deficiency of this vitamin can show up as a smooth, red tongue and resulting loss of taste sensation. Blood tests can detect if a deficiency of this vitamin exists.
  • Vitamin B-12—a vitamin found almost exclusively in foods of animal origin (meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk)—is closely related to folic acid. So a deficiency of one is often linked to a deficiency of the other. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 may affect the nerves that carry taste sensations to the brain. Note: Microwave cooking destroys vitamin B-12. Best to cook meat and other B-12 containing foods by another method.
  • Thiamin—a B-vitamin found primarily in whole grain or enriched grain products—occupies a special site on nerve cells. A deficiency of thiamin can therefore interfere with normal taste sensations.
  • Zinc—a trace mineral found in high amounts in oysters, beef and crab—supports several processes in the body, including the perception of taste. A deficiency of zinc can cause changes in taste and appetite.

If you are having any difficulty with your taste sensations, investigating your daily nutrients is a good place to start searching for answers. Simple alterations can help you back on your way to appriciating the full spectrum of life: Open wide and have a taste!

DSIB: Folic Acid
DSIB: B-12
DSIB: Thiamin
DSIB: Zinc
Chicago Tribune: Vitamin deficiencies lead to loss of taste

FDA Tweets
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009



The FDA has added a Twitter feed to provide users of the social site with instant updates for urgent product recalls. Twitter allows 140-character message updates to be sent amongst a wide group of users, and the agency is seeking to reach out to keep consumers informed instantaneously of new developments in recalled products.

The FDA's Twitter feed for product recalls is here: FDA Recalls.





Multivitamin Use for Postmenopausal Women
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009

A new study claiming that multivitamin use by postmenopausal women does little to improve their risk of mortality fails to take into account important dietary factors or accurately grasp how dietary supplements and health claims are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the study, which was published in the February 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, postmenopausal women who take multivitamins have the same risk of dying from “most common cancers, cardiovascular disease or of any cause as women who do not take multivitamin supplements.”

“While cohort and observational studies like these can be important, they in no way constitute convincing or conclusive evidence,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association. “This study fails to tell the whole story about the positive effect that vitamins and minerals can have on health. It also does not take into account important factors such as nutrients gained through diet.”

Fabricant said it is “unprincipled” that the authors arbitrarily lumped supplement types into generalized categories that do not represent nutrient intake accurately. And when coupled with the fact that nutrient intake through the diet was not accounted for, Fabricant explained, the study has no means of establishing a baseline for which to draw any comparisons or eliminate bias.

Also troubling was the author’s apparent lack of understanding about how dietary supplements are regulated.

“The authors seem to be confused or unaware of how supplements are regulated and exactly what constitutes a health claim authorized by the FDA,” Fabricant said. “For example, they cite that there is only one supplement, folic acid, worthy of a public health recommendation by way of a health claim. However, even a cursory visit to the FDA’s Web site would have revealed that other nutrients and dietary ingredients, including the very calcium and vitamin D that they studied, also have FDA-authorized health claims.” The FDA was granted the ability to approved or authorize claims explaining a nutrient’s positive health benefits when supported by research as a result of the 1994 regulating dietary supplements.

Taken as whole, the research on dietary supplements in the prevention of chronic diseases, is strong and consistent,” said Fabricant. “To suggest that taking vitamins and minerals with a demonstrated health benefit is unnecessary sends the wrong public health message."

The NPA and NPF Respond to Study on Vitamin Usage by Children and Teens
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Natural Products Association and the Natural Products Foundation issued the following statements in response to a study published today in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine titled "Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Use by Children and Adolescents in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey."

Comments are from the association's vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., and the foundation's Tracy Taylor, its executive director.

"The study is important, especially in a time where health care cost savings have moved into the center of our stream of consciousness, because it supports previous NHANES data not only on adults, but more importantly the data sets on children and adolescents that demonstrate that those with less healthy nutritional, activity and other socioeconomic factors, use vitamin and mineral supplements the least, thus may be at even greater risk for nutritional insufficiency and the health hazards associated with it," said Fabricant.

"The authors of the study are incorrect in their assertion that the industry is unregulated; nothing could be further from the truth. The industry is strongly and fairly regulated with mandatory adverse event reporting and cGMPs [current good manufacturing practices] at the front line of those regulations, in the same manner and magnitude as they are present in other industries also regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the authors' mistake is not surprising considering that studies have demonstrated time and again that the majority of medical schools do not even meet the 1985 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommendations for hours of nutritional education and coursework.

"This is why we are a part of developing quality research tools like the National Institutes' of Health Dietary Supplement Label Database. Scientific decisions and national health care policy should be based on accurate information in understanding the universe of dietary supplements, including, but not limited to how dietary supplements are regulated, so that researchers and health care providers have the ability to factually evaluate the contributions of supplements to the diet, and do not make uninformed statements regarding supplements."

Taylor agreed with Fabricant about the importance of the research, but expressed concern that Americans historically do not get their nutritional needs met through diet alone, as the study's authors recommend.

"At a time when families are struggling to eat balanced and nutritious meals, this study could be seen as discouraging the use of the very vitamins and minerals that could bridge any nutritional gaps," said Taylor. "History has demonstrated that Americans will often forgo purchasing nutrient rich foods in favor of inexpensive fast foods in an economic crunch. And given the fact that more than two-thirds of Americans already fail to get the essential nutrients they need even in the best of times, we hope the take away from this study is not to cancel the nutrition insurance vitamins and minerals provide for many."

The Natural Products Association is the nation's largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids. Association members meet annually each July in Las Vegas at the association's official tradeshow, Natural MarketPlace.



South American Appetite Suppressants and Amphetamines
Posted Monday, February 2, 2009

A study released in late January warns that individuals who have purchased diet pills from South America may be unintentionally compromising their health. Due to the unprecedented international purchasing possibilities of the Internet, it appears that many US residents who are looking for new dietary solutions may fall prey to unscrupulous sales -- and may even be taking amphetamines without even knowing it!

A study recently been published online in Springer's Journal of General Internal Medicine which was carried out by Dr Pieter Cohen of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School, brings attention to this unfortunate abuse. In the US, the FDA has already banned amphetamine-based appetite suppressants, but they are still prevalent internationally.

Fenproporex is one of the most widely used of these appetite suppressants. It is quickly converted into amphetamine, and addictive. But due to its international availability in locales like Brazil, this drug has found its way to the US through Internet sales despite the FDA's appropriate ban on the substance. It appears that many are unaware that these diet pills combine fenproporex and benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, diuretics, laxatives, thyroid hormones and other substances.

"To illustrate the risks posed by taking these diet pills, Dr Cohen reviews two case reports of patients taking appetite suppressants containing fenproporex, illegally imported from Brazil. In the first case, a 26-year-old woman suffered from intermittent chest pains, palpitations, headaches and insomnia for two years. She consulted her doctor numerous times over the two-year period for these unexplained symptoms. Her urine tested positive for amphetamines and benzodiazepines, and both fenproporex and chlordiazepoxide were present in her pills. Her symptoms disappeared after she stopped taking the imported pills.

"In the second case, a 38-year-old man tested positive for amphetamines after an occupational urine screening test and was suspended from work. Both fenproporex and fluoxetine were detected in his imported pills. While he was taking the pills he also experienced insomnia and palpitations, symptoms which disappeared after he stopped taking the pills. In both cases, not all the substances detected in the pills matched the ingredients on the vial labels."

"Given the wide variety of potential adverse effects from the medications included in these diet pills, patients attempting to lose weight who experience unexplained symptoms should be specifically questioned [by their physicians] regarding the use of imported diet pills," said Dr. Cohen.

We might add that before taking any form of dieting pills, it is always prudent to make sure that it has approved by the FDA and is sold legally in the US. In all cases, it is always best to consult one's doctor first before any dietary alterations of this type.

SpringerLink: Imported Fenproporex-based Diet Pills from Brazil: A Report of Two Cases
Science Daily: Hidden Amphetamines In Some Diet Pills Pose Health and Employment Risks
MSNBC: Diet pills from Brazil pose big health risks
Examiner: Amphetamine Based Diet Pills Ensure You'll Lose More than Just Weight
Fox News: Report Warns of Dangerous Amphetamines Found in Online Diet Pills

Potassium Intake May Lower High Blood Pressure
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009

A new study from the January issue of Archives of Internal Medicine suggests an additional or alternative path to lowering high blood pressure: balancing sodium and potassium intake. Potassium acts as a counter to sodium, helping to balance or minimize the detrimental effects of sodium in diets that need to be wary of salt. The ratio of sodium-to-potassium was found to be a much stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease than independent measures of either sodium or potassium by themselves.

"There isn't as much focus on potassium, but potassium seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure and the combination of a higher intake of potassium and lower consumption of sodium seems to be more effective than either on its own in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Paul Whelton, principle author of the study and the president and CEO of Loyola University Health System.

The study's trials, which followed a middle age population for 15 years, found that participants with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratios were 50% more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest sodium-to-potassium ratios. This study is a vast improvement over previous investigations of the relationship between sodium, potassium and cardiovascular disease because it had such a long duration, high participant population, and physical data collection (urine samples) compared with previous trials. Many earlier studies relied on participant recall of what they had eaten, or what they ate, and many of those previous efforts had been cross-sectional rather than follow-up studies.

Whelton was a member of the recent Institute of Medicine panel which has laid out new recommendations for salt and potassium intake. For 19-to-50 year-old adults, in order to prevent the onset of heart disease, it isrecommended that you should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day -- equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt. Presently, 95% of men and 75% percent of women in the US exceed this amount, while only half of US population receives the recommended amount of potassium. In order to lower blood pressure and minimize the effects of sodium intake, adults should have 4.7 grams of potassium in their diet on a daily basis. (There are exceptions of course -- those who have a clinical condition or medication should consult their doctor before increasing potassium in their diet.)

For more info about potassium and the Loyola Study, please click on the links below:

DSIB: Potassium
Loyola Medicine: Reducing Salt Intake Isn't The Only Way To Reduce Blood Pressure

Green Tea Properties and Uses
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2009
It is well known that green tea has vitamins, minerals, and caffeine, but the most important health-related active constituent of this herbal concoction is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a catechin, and it is one of the many polyphenols which are believed to be most responsible for green tea's healthy effects. From Healthnotes:
Green tea has been shown to mildly lower total cholesterol levels and improve the cholesterol profile (decreasing LDL “bad” cholesterol and increasing HDL “good” cholesterol) in most, but not all, studies. Green tea may also promote cardiovascular health by making platelets in the blood less sticky.

Green tea has also been shown to protect against damage to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol caused by oxygen. Consumption of green tea increases antioxidant activity in the blood. Oxidative damage to LDL can promote atherosclerosis. While population studies have suggested that consumption of green tea is associated with protection against atherosclerosis,9 the evidence is still preliminary.

Several animal and test tube studies have demonstrated an anticancer effect of polyphenols from green tea. In one of these studies, a polyphenol called catechin from green tea effectively inhibited metastasis (uncontrolled spread) of melanoma (skin cancer) cells.13 The polyphenols in green tea have also been associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer in humans. However, some human studies have found no association between green tea consumption and decreased cancer risk.

In a double-blind trial, people with leukoplakia (a pre-cancerous oral condition) took 3 grams orally per day of a mixture of whole green tea, green tea polyphenols, and green tea pigments orally, and also painted a mixture of the tea on their lesions three times daily for six months. As compared to the placebo group, those in the green tea group had significant decreases in the pre-cancerous condition.

Compounds in green tea, as well as black tea, may reduce the risk of dental caries. Human volunteers rinsing with an alcohol extract of oolong tea leaves before bed each night for four days had significantly less plaque formation, but similar amounts of plaque-causing bacteria, compared to those with no treatment.

Green tea polyphenols have been shown to stimulate the production of several immune system cells, and have topical antibacterial properties—even against the bacteria that cause dental plaque.

One study found that intake of 10 cups or more of green tea per day improved blood test results, indicating protection against liver damage. Further studies are needed to determine if taking green tea helps those with liver diseases.

Tea flavonoids given by capsule reduced fecal odor and favorably altered the gut bacteria in elderly Japanese with feeding tubes living in nursing homes. The study was repeated in bedridden elderly not on feeding tubes, and green tea was again shown to improve their gut bacteria. These studies raise the possibility of using green tea in other settings where gut bacteria are disturbed, such as after taking antibiotics. Further studies are needed to clarify the role of green tea in this respect, however.

High-tannin tea has been shown to reduce the need for blood removal from people with iron overload, or hemochromatosis, in an open study. The tea had to be taken with meals and without lemon or milk to be effective. Tea is believed to help in hemochromatosis by preventing iron absorption. In a double-blind trial, men with precancerous changes in the prostate received a green tea extract providing 600 mg of catechins per day or a placebo for one year. After one year, prostate cancer had developed in 3.3% of the men receiving the green tea extract and in 30% of those given the placebo, a statistically significant difference. These results suggest that drinking green tea or taking green tea catechins may help prevent prostate cancer in men at high risk of developing the disease.

There are four case reports in which certain types of leukemia or lymphoma (low grade B-cell malignancies) improved after the patients began taking green tea extracts.


Green Tea Beginning
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Green Tea is derived from the same plant as oolong and black tea, Camellia sinensis. The resulting difference between these teas are a simple result of how the leaves are prepared: green tea undergoes minimal oxidation and is not fermented, so the active constituents inherent in the leaves remain unaltered.

All Camellia sinensis teas are Chinese in origin, and their popularity for medicinal and social use has spread across the world. Lowering cholesterol, reducing risks for influenza and cancer, and promoting weight loss are just a few of the manifold medical uses of this herbal drink.

According to Chinese legend, green tea was discovered by Shennong, Emperor of China and mythical hero in equal measure. Shennong, the founder of Chinese agriculture and medicine, is said to have happened upon the drink in a rather fortuitous fashion: the Emperor was drinking some boiled water (the only safe way to drink water at the time -- undoubtedly he was a very wise man) and a leaf fell into his cup. He went ahead and tasted the result, and the rest is history.

Buddhists believe that the Buddha himself discovered tea, and another Chinese legend has it that the god of agriculture would chew various plants to discover medicinal herbs -- if the god would happen upon a poisonous plant he would chew tea leaves to detoxify the poison. Over the next week or so we'll go into detail over this mysterious and ancient beverage, so please check back in the coming days. In the meantime, please kick back and enjoy a cup of tea!

Supplements and Sport: The Controversial Cycle
Posted Friday, January 23, 2009

By Jim Roza

The latest controversy regarding Phillies’ pitcher J. C. Romero's use of 6-OXO (a designer type quasi-steroid which is sold in some health food stores) begets the question, “When is a compound a steroid or a supplement?” Clever chemistry has created many steroid-like compounds that supposedly provide the same benefits as the banned substances that FDA allows only by prescription. Through the manipulation of molecules, new compounds that have never before been seen can be put onto the market with little or no oversight.

A recent article in ESPN’s ezine entitled, “Steroid Nation: Wait and Watch”, illustrates how entrepreneurial individuals can seemingly evade FDA jurisdiction under the guise of dietary supplements. But what about the provisions of DSHEA? Aren’t new compounds marketed as dietary supplements prior to 1994 suppose to be submitted to FDA as new dietary ingredients for their review? Apparently, these individuals and companies are not fulfilling the requirements set forth in this law.

Sadly, I have not seen nor read one comment about this issue as it applies to new dietary ingredient submissions as prescribed by DSHEA. That’s unfortunate because the brunt of criticism that our industry is taking for these sins could easily be eliminated if more emphasis was based on exercising this requirement.

DSIB: Supplements at the Olympics

DSIB: Supplements and Doping at the Olympics

Coffee Consumption Lowers Alzheimer's Risks
Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new study conducted by Scandinavian researchers suggests that drinking coffee may dramatically decrease Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) study, begun in 1972, has recently found that individuals who drank between three to five cups of coffee each day when they were middle aged were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's in later life. Over 26 million people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer's, and that figure could grow four-fold in the next forty years, leaving 1 out of every 85 people on the planet affected. The direct and indirect care costs for Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, is currently well over $100 billion dollars in the US alone.

"We aimed to study the association between coffee and tea consumption at midlife and dementia/AD risk in late-life, because the long-term impact of caffeine on the central nervous system was still unknown, and as the pathologic processes leading to Alzheimer's disease may start decades before the clinical manifestation of the disease," said lead researcher, Miia Kivipelto.

While drinking coffee produced a dramatically lessened risk, tea consumption has not yet shown a significant effect on dementia risks. Previous studies have noted that coffee consumption may help reduce dementia, as in the case of Parkinson's disease.

“[These findings need] to be confirmed by other studies, but it opens the possibility that dietary interventions could modify the risk of dementia/Alzheimer's Disease. Also, identification of mechanisms of how coffee exerts its protection against dementia/AD might help in the development of new therapies for these diseases," said Kivipelto.


(Ivana Kobilca, Kofetarica, 1888)

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
DSIB: Alzheimer's Disease
WebMD: Moderate Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s by 65%
NutraUSA: Coffee may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s

The How and Why of the Statins Push
Posted Monday, January 19, 2009

Today we would like to highlight an excellent article by Christiane Northrup, MD: Statins are not a panacea.

Dr. Northrup sets her sights on statin drugs, a class of pharmaceuticals that are designed to lower cholesterol levels. The big news push of late concerning these drugs has been based on a recent study which reported that in addition to high cholesterol levels, inflammation is a independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This knowledge is not novel, but the spin put on its announcement has certainly presented it as such. The worrying factor involved here is that the study seems almost transparently a marketing ploy: the drug used in the study was manufactured by the company that funded the research. Additionally, the study suggested that physicians begin regular testing for C-reactive proteins (CPR); while tests for this measure have been available for some time, this particular recommendation comes now, from this study, whose head researcher happens to own a patent on a new CPR test.

Conflicting interests of this sort in the current research of pharmaceutical drugs are all too common, but what Northrup truly takes issue with is how these manufacturers are trying to stake out a larger market share. The drug in question, which was initially prescribed to lower cholesterol, is now trying to branch out—the study recommends statins for anyone with inflammation, even those who are healthy and not at risk for heart disease.

One of the large issues with this is that the saftey of statin drugs is not fully understood. What has been shown repeatedly though, is that statins lower CoQ10, an essential enzyme for many bodily systems. This alone can cause problems with heart disease, muscle weakness, liver, nerve, and brain damage, as well as cancer, all of which is detailed at some length by Dr. Northrup. And statins have yet to show that they are actually helping: some of the biggest (and least publicized) studies have concluded that there is no difference in cardiac and death rates for those taking statins for high cholesterol from those who are not. With that in mind, it would seem prudent to find some other measure for which statins could be marketed. The fact is though, that people at no risk of heart disease may find other ways to go about lowering inflammation, and prescribing relatively new, unproven drugs to those individuals who don't need them seems a bit of a careless swindle.

From Dr. Northrup's concluding remarks:

Don’t be sucked in by this study. Do some research and understand all the facts around this issue before taking statins. The press reported that the study was stopped because [the manufacturing company] felt that the benefits of [their statin] and insights from the study were too important not to share now. But when you dig deeper, you also find out that the study was halted after two years to inflate the alleged benefits of the drug. This combined with the fact that both the company who funded the study and lead researcher had much to gain from its results make it look suspect.

Dr. Northrup's suggestion: a good multi-vitamin/mineral high in antioxidants, a low-glycemic diet, and having an active, healthy lifestyle. For the full article, have a look here: Buyer Beware, by Christiane Northrup.

Vitamin D and Young Type 1 Diabetics
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009

As we mentioned last year, the flood of positive literature surrounding vitamin D research has placed the supplement's popularity in a rapid ascendancy, and with good cause. The latest news about Vitamin D research concerns vitamin D levels and young type 1 diabetics.

Boston researchers have found that children and teenagers with type 1 diabetes have a very high rate vitamin D deficiency, with three-fourths lacking sufficient vitamin D levels. As a result, youths with type 1 diabetes are at great risk for bone and skeletal issues later in life, especially bone fractures. 61% of the young group had levels that are considered to be "insufficient", while 15% of the population were found to be vitamin D deficient. "To our surprise, we found extremely high rates of vitamin D inadequacy," said senior researcher Dr. Lori Laffel, of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "We didn't expect to find that only 24 percent of the study population would have adequate levels."

Research suggests that lowered levels of vitamin D may be inherent in type 1 diabetes, putting individuals at greater risk for bone-density loss. Elevated blood sugar, lowered calcium levels, and symptomatic inflammation are all thought to potentially contribute to the problem. As these are inherent difficulties of the condition, and because vitamin D is not naturally contained in most foods, the American Academy of Pediatrics and researchers have recommended that children and teenagers should take 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D supplements each day.

DSIB: Vitamin D
Reuters: Vitamin D deficiency common in diabetic kids
Diabetes Health: Vitamin D Extremely Important for Young Type 1s
JPEDS: Significant Vitamin D Deficiency in Youth with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
JAPMA: A Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Nondiabetic and Diabetic Patient Populations
Science Daily: Vitamin D Is The 'It' Nutrient Of The Moment

DHA and Neurological Development in Preterm Births
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009

According to new research presented in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), DHA supplements may prevent mental retardation in preterm infant girls. Infants born before 33 weeks' gestation have a drastically increased risk of developmental disorders and learning disabilities, and it seems that DHA supplementation (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) may be a potential safety measure for infant girls. Preterm girls who received higher levels of DHA had higher measures of neurological development than preterm girls who had the normal amount of DHA. The girls with the high-DHA levels were 55% less likely to have a "mild mental delay" and 80% less likely to have "significant mental delay".

DHA has no harmful side effects, and passes naturally from mothers to their babies in the womb. Maria Makrides, author of the study, believes that preterm babies miss out on the benefits of DHA, which may help develop their brains during the final weeks of pregnancy.

A similiar safeguarding effect of neurological development has not yet been seen among preterm boys. In general, preterm boys have greater risks of complications than girls. Research of DHA and preterm births is just in its beginning stages, so it is difficult to posit any definitive conclusions. Thus far, research of this type has only been conducted with preterm infants, and so the overall effects that DHA may have on normal term infants are completely unknown.

"Given the lack of an alternative therapy for cognitive delay in this group of infants and the apparent safety of the current dose of DHA, further studies are warranted," writes Makrides and her co-authors. Based on these initial findings, the site of the study, The Women's and Children' Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, is preparing to offer DHA-rich diets to its preterm patients.

To learn more about this issue, please have a look at the links below:
DSIB: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
JAMA Abstract: Neurodevelopmental Outcomes of Preterm Infants
Science Daily: Fatty Acid Appears To Improve Neurodevelopment For Preterm Girls
USA Today: DHA supplements may help premature baby girls

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