Older Americans are hooked on vitamins

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When she was a young physician, Dr. Martha Gulati noticed that many of her mentors were prescribing vitamin E and folic acid to patients. Preliminary studies in the early 1990s had linked both supplements to a lower risk of heart disease.

She urged her father to pop the pills as well. But a few years later, Gulati, now chief of cardiology for the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, found herself reversing course after rigorous clinical trials found neither supplement did anything to protect the heart. Even worse, studies linked high-dose vitamin E to a higher risk of heart failure, prostate cancer and death from any cause. “‘You might want to stop taking [these],’ ” she told her father.

More than half of Americans take vitamin supplements, including 68 percent of those 65 and older, a 2013 Gallup poll said. Among older adults, 29 percent take four or more supplements, according to a Journal of Nutrition study.

Often, preliminary studies fuel exuberance about a dietary supplement, leading millions of people to buy in to the trend. Many never stop. They continue even though more rigorous studies — which can take many years to complete -— hardly ever find that vitamins prevent disease, and in some cases cause harm. “The enthusiasm does tend to outpace the evidence,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

There’s no conclusive evidence that dietary supplements prevent chronic disease in the average American, Manson said. And while a handful of vitamin and mineral studies have had positive results, those findings haven’t been strong enough to generally recommend supplements, she said.

The National Institutes of Health has spent more than $2.4 billion since 1999 studying vitamins and minerals. Yet for “all the research we’ve done, we don’t have much to show for it,” said Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute.

Part of the problem, Kramer said, could be that much nutrition research has been based on faulty assumptions, including the notion that people need more vitamins and minerals than a typical diet provides; that megadoses are safe; and that the benefits of vegetables can be boiled down into a pill.

Vitamin-rich foods can cure diseases related to vitamin deficiency. Oranges and limes prevent scurvy. And research has long shown that populations that eat a lot of fruits and vegetables tend to be healthier than others.

But when researchers tried to deliver the key ingredients of a healthy diet in a capsule, Kramer said, those efforts nearly always failed. It’s possible that the chemicals in the fruits and vegetables on your plate work together in ways that scientists don’t fully understand, said Marjorie McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

More important, perhaps, is that most Americans get plenty of the essentials. Although the Western diet has a lot of problems — too much sodium, sugar, saturated fat and calories, in general — it’s not short on vitamins. Read more…

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Major misperceptions in how supplements are tested before being launched for sale

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Many horse owners are quick to try new horse supplements to remedy any number of health issues. But just how well do people understand the equine supplement industry? Recent study results from Ireland suggest there’s room for improvement.

While several studies have focused on identifying types of supplements fed according to riding discipline, Jo-Anne Murray, PhD, PgDip, PgCert, BSc(Hons), BHSII, RNutr, FHEA, a professor at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine, in Scotland, and colleagues sought to learn about the use and perceptions of dietary supplements among Irish equestrians. They defined a supplement as “any additional feed ingredient that is a nutritional or health supplement.”

The researchers distributed an online survey to collect information on user demographics, types of horse supplements fed, reasons for use, factors influencing supplement choice, where respondents sought advice, and perceptions of equine supplement testing and regulation.

The researchers collected responses from 134 equestrians identified as equine industry professionals (30%) or nonprofessionals/amateurs (70%).

Most participants (98% of professionals and 86% of nonprofessionals) reported feeding at least one supplement. Joint and calming supplements were the most common, fed by 22% and 13% of all participants, respectively. Respondents fed digestive, vitamin/mineral, and electrolyte supplements least frequently.

Further, the researchers found that:

  • 12% of participants reported giving horses more than the recommended feeding rate, anywhere from 1.5 to two times the manufacturer’s suggested amount;
  • 53% of respondents sought nutritional advice from their feed merchants while 46% sought advice from their veterinarians;
  • 90% of respondents said veterinary recommendation was the most influential factor when choosing a supplement, followed by cost (69%);
  • Many respondents believed horse supplements were regulated better than current law requires; more than 93% said they believe supplements must meet legal standards, 73% believe each supplement batch is analyzed for quality, and 92% believe supplements are tested on horses before being marketed; and
  • 89% of participants reported being dissatisfied with the availability of unbiased nutritional advice for their horses.

“This study has identified the main types of supplements used in the Irish equestrian industry along with the reasons for their use,” the researchers noted. “However, it has also highlighted major misperceptions in how supplements are tested before being launched for sale and further work on this aspect of the findings would be beneficial.”

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Did you know more sunlight brings down cholesterol?

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Despite being a country with abundant sunshine, Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common in India. The country has also seen an increasing trend towards taking Vitamin D supplements, either as prescription medicine or as a nutritional input. A study comparing the effects of increased sunlight exposure versus Vitamin D supplementation, conducted by researchers at Jehangir Hospital in Pune and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Manchester, found that the former not only led to an an increase in Vitamin D concentrations, it also brought down cholesterol.

Dr Vivek Patwardhan, Dr Anuradha Khadilkar and others at the research centre of Jehangir Hospital conducted the study on over 200 men and found that there was significant decline in total cholesterol concentrations in individuals who had increased sunshine exposure for at least six months. The study was published recently in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide, even in sun-rich countries such as India and those in the Middle East. Suboptimal concentrations of Vitamin D have been reported in over 50 per cent of the Indian population, possibly due to changing lifestyles, leading to reduced effective exposure to sunlight.

The effect of increased casual sunlight exposure on Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile has not been studied earlier, said Khadilkar. “So, we tried to assess the effect of increased sunlight exposure, in comparison with Vitamin D supplementation, on Vitamin D status and lipid profile in Indian men (aged 40-60 years) with Vitamin D deficiency. A total of 203 men were enrolled in the study that was conducted in the last two years,” she said.

“Apart from other lifestyle changes, reduced sunlight exposure in populations that migrate from areas with higher sunlight to lower sunlight seems to have an unfavourable effect on lipid metabolism. But we do not have enough data on the issue,” said Khadilkar.

A large-scale study is being planned to find prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency, she said. A significant decline in total cholesterol in individuals, who had increased sunshine exposure, was also observed during the study.

“Our study demonstrates that with increase in sunlight exposure, there is improvement in Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile, while, in comparison, orally administered Vitamin D had an adverse effect on lipid profile though it was not significant,” said Khadilkar. Read more…

What you choose to put on your fork can make a difference to your thyroid

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A friend recently messaged me saying a few of her friends “are being knocked around by Hashimoto’s,” and asked if I had some advice.

As I entered my 40s I was confronted with the dreaded bulge. I exercised more and ate less but couldn’t budge it. I also suffered from tiredness, constipation, hair loss, severe menstrual cramps and dry skin.

A little research revealed these symptoms could be associated with a sluggish thyroid gland. Obligingly, my GP ran blood tests and confirmed my anti-thyroid antibodies were too prolific to count. My body was attacking itself.

Japanese physician and academic, Hakaru Hashimoto, discovered these antibodies in the early 1900s. The target organ—in my case the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of my neck—differentiates Hashimoto’s thyroiditis from other increasingly pervasive auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac and inflammatory bowel disease.

I was one of the lucky ones to discover this oft-overlooked condition early. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects around 12 percent of Australians. Nearly ten times more endemic in women than men, it is most common between 40 and 60 years of age.

As a forty-something female with a familial history of thyroid conditions, I was in the high-risk category. Genetics can increase susceptibility. But its increasing prevalence suggests lifestyle factors weigh in.
My GP prescribed synthetic Thyroxine to replace T4, a hormone normally produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid also produces small amounts of T3, the active hormone, but most T3 is converted from T4 by the liver and bodily tissues as required. All body cells need these hormones to regulate metabolism.

Other tests revealed alarmingly low vitamin D levels (20ng/ml), linked to under-active thyroid and autoimmunity. I added vitamin D supplements. But despite these pills and my new daily jogging routine, my energy levels stayed down while my weight stayed up.

Another doctor prescribed compounded thyroid extract, containing T4 and T3. My energy levels improved, and weight stabilised. But shedding excess kilos remained an uphill battle. Alas, you can’t just take more thyroid hormones. The human body has fine-tuned homeostatic feedback loops, so the more hormone the thyroid detects, the less it produces.

Being a nutrition researcher, I scoured the literature. I learned that the thyroid needs selenium (rich in foods like Brazil nuts, oysters and tuna) and iodine (in seaweed and fish) to produce hormones. Levels must be tested and monitored to avoid overdosing.

Other research points to intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”, as a likely culprit for autoimmune disease. Our gut lining is the interface between our body and the outside world. Its exquisitely complex jobs include letting nutrients in while blocking toxins, pathogens or undigested food. If these substances enter the blood through a compromised intestinal barrier, the immune system mounts an attack.
Increasing evidence suggests the 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes that subsist in our gut facilitate this immune response and protect the intestinal barrier’s integrity. I had taken regular series of antibiotics while growing up to fight recurring tonsillitis and other ailments. Antibiotics dramatically decrease bacterial diversity, research shows. I decided to take probiotics.

In support, a study published last month reported that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis had an altered microbiome profile compared to healthy controls. These differences were correlated with clinical symptoms, suggesting gut bacteria could be involved in the disease’s pathogenesis.
Soy products emerged as a possible contributor to autoimmune thyroid disease. Soy products had been a staple in my diet, so these were out.

Stressors, both physical and psychological, impact immune function and may also trigger autoimmune disease. A review of this association concluded that “treatment of autoimmune disease should thus include stress management and behavioural intervention to prevent stress-related immune imbalance.”

This made sense and became another target in my work and personal life. I also added magnesium, associated with stress, to my daily regime.
But autoimmune disease research is scant. I drew on some general principles. My diet was already high in nutritionally rich plant foods and I progressively ate less processed food, even relinquishing my favourite potato chips and ice cream. Some research suggests protein can curb appetite. I started taking whey protein powder and noticed food cravings subside. Bolstered by this I eliminated sugar and cut out bread, pasta and pastries.

Sugar alters the gut microbiome and can cause inflammation. Some evidence links gluten with intestinal permeability. This research says gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that helps maintain tight gut barrier junctions. However, more research is needed to establish gluten’s role in autoimmune conditions other than celiac disease. Read more

 

Vitamin A- Something Between Too Little And Too Much

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Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin and assumes its critical role in vision, maintenance and development of healthy and younger looking skin, hair, reproduction, immunity, and mucous membranes.

Vitamin A is additionally called retinol. It might be found in any of the following forms:

  • Retinol: it is the animal form of this A vitamin
  • Different retinoids: retinoic acid, retinol, retinal, and other similar compounds
  • Carotenoids: natural colors that are normally happening in plants.

Vitamin A: daily requirement

Unit of measurement of vitamin A is RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent). The suggested every day prerequisite for vitamin An is 700 RAE (retinol action proportional) every day for ladies and 900 RAE every day for men.

The prerequisites are varied for developing kids, during adolescence, and for ladies who are pregnant or lactating. So, it is advisable to counsel your specialist for appropriate and suggested the intake of vitamin A.

Great sources of vitamin A

Eating food that is rich in vitamin A (and carotenes) is the most ideal approach to get an adequate amount. Fit people who have a balanced eating regimen hardly require supplements. Truth be told, an excess of vitamin A can be poisonous too.

Liquor, espresso, or too much iron would all be able to drain the body’s supply of this basic vitamin. However, fortunately, vitamin A is promptly accessible from various food. Main vitamin A rich foods are:

  • Liver
  • Mango
  • Spinach
  • Cheese
  • Melon
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Dried apricots
  • Egg yolk

Vitamin A that is obtained from animal sources can be efficiently ingested and utilized effectively by the body.

Alarming fact about vitamin A

Vitamin A can likewise produce toxicity. An excessive amount of vitamin A has been connected to expanded hazard for lung disease and birth disorders, for instance. However, before you get anxious, just go towards a simple solution to avoid any inconvenience.

Most of the whole grains and foods don’t contain vitamin A, yet beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is likewise called pre-vitamin A. Your body changes over beta-carotene into vitamin A. Beta-carotene from whole grain sources are protected.

Your body precisely limits the measure of Vitamin A you get by regulating the measure of beta-carotene it changes over into vitamin A. So, in case if you eat more beta-carotene than your body can utilize, your body just disposes of the additional.

Conversely, the vitamin A found in supplements gets put away in your fat where it can develop to undesirable levels.

What does happen if vitamin A is taken excessively?

As per some researches, having more than a normal of 1.5mg every day of vitamin A over numerous years may influence bones and make them more inclined to fractures when aged.

Aged individuals, especially ladies, are as of now in danger of osteoporosis. This is the point where the density of bone decreases thus the danger of fractures increase.

In case if you are pregnant, having a lot of vitamin A can hurt your unborn child. Thus, therefore if you are expecting or considering having a child, you ought to avoid eating liver or similar foods on the grounds that these are high in vitamin A.

You ought to likewise abstain from taking supplements that contain vitamin A. In case you have been taking a lot of vitamin A and figure you might have vitamin A cerebral pains, quit taking all vitamins supplements immediately.

Consult your specialist to be checked for any damage to organs. Drink a lot of water to help flush your accumulated toxins and poisons. You may cure your cerebral pain with over the counter pain killers as long as your specialist says it is alright.

After some time, the side effects will vanish once you stop the intake of it. At the point when all the abundance vitamin A is gone from your body, your vitamin A migraines should stop too.

Unfortunately, if there has been any liver harm from the vitamin A, consult your doctor to avoid further damage.

Dangers associated with insufficiency of vitamin A

  • Zinc is required to make RBP (retinol binding protein) which transports vitamin A in the body. Like this, a lack of zinc confines the body’s capacity to move vitamin A from the liver to body tissues.
  • Night blindness is one of the principal indications of deficiency of vitamin A.
  • Deficiency of vitamin A also lessens the capacity to battle diseases, for example, pneumonia.
  • Deficiency may build a youngster’s danger of creating respiratory diseases, improper growth, moderate bone development, diarrhea and also reduce the probability of survival from severe diseases.

Vegetarians who don’t eat eggs and dairy products require provitamin A carotenoids to address their issue for vitamin A. They ought to incorporate at least five servings of fresh veggies and fruits.

Pick dull green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow organic products to satisfy prescribed measures of vitamin A.

 

  • Vitamin A is necessary for bright and good vision

In case if you don’t get enough vitamin A in your eating routine, you won’t have the capacity to make the proteins basic for vision. Therefore, vitamin A insufficiency can prompt vision issues. Actually, overall vitamin A insufficiency is one of the main sources of visual impairment.

  • Vitamin A is key for the strength of immune system

Without vitamin A, your immunity won’t be strong enough. Indeed, even children who are mildly deficient in vitamin A become a substantially higher danger of respiratory infections and looseness of the bowels.

First of all, vitamin A appears to enable our white platelets to differentiate. These cells pick up the rank of detectives and bodyguard thanks to some degree to vitamin A.

Subsequently; you can have a more advanced interior protection force. Besides, your body creates an extraordinary molecule with vitamin A that tells these same white platelets and other cells of immunity to get dynamic.

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Wondering how to keep your furry pal healthy?

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Getting yourself to the gym can be a significant challenge. It’s even tougher when you can’t drive, you lack opposable thumbs, and your primary skills are “Sit” and “Stay.”

Yes: Dogs need to focus on their fitness, too. And like any good workout partner, they depend on their fellow friends to keep them in shape.

For a primer on keeping your dog healthy, we talked to Ernie Ward, D.V.M., a veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Ward is also the creator of K9 Fit Club, where personal trainers, dog trainers, and dog owners can take classes to exercise with their dogs. (They have over 46 locations around the country. You can check out other dog fitness centers near you.)

Ward walked me through the best exercises you can do to get your dog moving, and the exercises you should probably avoid. Here are a few workout scenarios for different types of canines.

When your dog thinks kettlebells are toys

Kettlebell swings make for a great at-home workout, until your 10-month old Labrador-mix puppy (like mine) decides to jump up and get involved.

“I’m kind of anti-kettlebells-around-dogs,” Ward says. “It’s critical to evaluate [how dangerous the exercise you’re doing] could be to your dog when you’re doing swift movements or you’re moving weight. Sometimes you can’t overcome that movement instantly—like the arc of a kettlebell swing—and if your dog is in the same room, you could injure them,” he said.

Before you start any exercise or activity, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the potential risks here for my dog or myself?

“We do lunges in K9 classes, but we actually have the dog under restraint when we’re doing big movements, because your dog may dash underneath you—then everybody gets injured.”

If you’re exercising near your dog, keep them on a leash. Knowing how your dog reacts will help you determine what exercises you can do while they’re around.

When your dog loves to tackle you (especially during planks and crunches)

Plenty of pet owners have found they can do workouts with their dogs out of their crates. But when I get on the floor to do planks or abs routines on a mat, my dog thinks this is the perfect opportunity to jump on me or barrage me with licks.

If you have a calmer dog that can lie nearby and chew a bone or relax while you’re on the floor, go ahead with one of our core routines. Otherwise, doing floor work may lead to injury—or, at the very least, a lackluster abs workout.

When your large dog gained weight and you’d like to help him shed the pounds

Veterinarians often see “spring-training injuries” in dogs that hibernated all winter, then started running again, Ward says. If your dog spent all winter on the couch, then they “aren’t ready to spring forward and play Frisbee, do agility exercises, or even swim.”

So, as with any new workout routine, ease yourself and your dog back into action.

“We see a lot of knee ligament tears in the spring from deconditioned dogs who have put on a few extra pounds or just lost muscle and strength,” Ward says. “Sometimes it’s a trauma injury where the dog falls off because their agility isn’t there. They’re just out of practice, so be aware this “spring-training” scenario is real for dogs…as well as people.”

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Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients

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Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients by enhancing their exercise capacity, according to a study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients’ quality of life and even survival. The study examined the impact of dietary nitrate in the form of beetroot juice supplements on the exercise capacity of eight heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, a condition in which the heart muscle doesn’t contract effectively and can’t get enough oxygen-rich blood to the body. Tens of millions of people suffer from heart failure. In about half of all such people, the ejection fraction of the heart is reduced. Because of their condition, these patients exhibit labored breathing, have diminished peak oxygen uptake and use more energy while exercising than would otherwise be the case.

Researchers found that the beetroot supplement resulted in significant increases in exercise duration, peak power and peak oxygen uptake while exercising. Those improvements were not accompanied by any changes in the breathing responses of the patients, and there was no change in their exercise efficiency, a measure of how much external work a person gets for a certain input of energy.

“Abnormalities in aerobic exercise responses play a major role in the disability, loss of independence and reduced quality of life that accompany heart failure,” said Andrew Coggan, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI and one of the researchers who conducted the study.

“Perhaps more importantly, elevations in ventilatory demand and decreases in peak oxygen uptake are highly predictive of mortality in patients with heart failure.”

A second important aspect of the study is there were no untoward side effects from the dietary nitrate, Coggan said: “In this case, lack of any significant changes is good news.”

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