Health trends point to lower prices as competition soars. Standardized plant extracts have become cheaper due to increased competition. The more companies that compete to sell various plant extracts, the lower in price many of them become.
And at larger restaurants, including the fast-food chain eateries still have not lowered their added salt content enough or listed the type of fat or oil in which the foods are fried. But seasonal fruits for some of the large chain eateries are on the way. The trend may be slow, but the pressure from consumer groups for healthier eating is relentless.
This recalls a link to competition that happened over the past decade or two when it applied to health foods and supplements, especially the standardized plant extracts. For example, when standardized green tea extract hit the market in 1993, then sold by Life Extension®, it was considered relatively expensive.
Then as more research continued to be read in various medical and scientific journals on the health benefits of green tea, more companies began to offer green tea extracts. The key is to offer consumers a standardized extract. As more competition arose in the health foods and supplements businesses, the price of the extract become less expensive.
Higher potency extracts were made and offered at lower prices. People wanted decaf varieties as well as the lightly caffeinated types. That’s what sometimes happens in the supplement business. More competition means more affordable products that are standardized as say so.
Which vitamins do you take with the largest meal of the day that contains some fat or oils? Take your vitamin D with the largest meal of the day because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin and won’t absorb well enough on an empty stomach or with a tiny snack or small meal. Also take fish oil, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, gamma tocopherol, astaxanthin, all with your largest meal, if you take those supplements. How this works is that there’s a greater increase in the serum blood levels of vitamin D if you take this vitamin and the other mentioned supplements with your largest meal of the day.
Studies were conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Bone Clinic on the subject of how fat-soluble nutrients absorb when taken with a meal that contains some fat. This may cause an issue for people who are told to eliminate all fats and oils from a vegan diet, for example, to reverse some forms of artery blockage, according to the methods used by some doctors. You can read more about the study in the Journal of Bone Miner Res, April 2010; 25 (4): 928-30. The news article also is published in Life Extension Magazine on page 17 of the October 2012 issue, recently published in print.
Vitamin D supplementation can decrease risk of respiratory infections in children. With the school year starting soon, wintertime infection risk may be cut in half among children with very low initial vitamin D levels, says a new study from the Massachusetts General Hospital published online August 1, 2012. Low baseline vitamin D levels seen in study participants are relatively common in some groups of Americans, such as African-American children, children with darker skin, and young people living in northern states.
A study conducted in Mongolian schoolchildren supports the possibility that daily vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of respiratory infections in winter. In a report that will appear in the journal Pediatrics and has received early online release, an international research team found that vitamin D supplementation decreased the risk of respiratory infections among children who had low blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the study.
Check out the August 20, 2012 news release, “Vitamin D supplementation can decrease risk of respiratory infections in children.” Or read the abstract of the original study, published in the August 1, 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics, “Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation and Risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infection in Mongolia.”
“Our randomized controlled trial shows that vitamin D has important effects on infection risk,” explains Carlos Camargo, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the study’s corresponding author, in the news release. “In almost 250 children with low blood levels of vitamin D during winter, we found that taking a daily vitamin D supplement cut in half the risk of a respiratory infection.”
Several recent investigations have suggested that vitamin D – best known for its role in the development and maintenance of strong bones – has additional important roles, including in immune function. Studies led by Camargo and other researchers have associated higher vitamin D levels with reduced risk of respiratory infections such as colds or flu, but such observational studies cannot prove that the vitamin actually protects against infection.
That kind of evidence must come from randomized controlled trials comparing two similar populations that either do or do not receive an intervention such as vitamin D supplementation. The first such trial, in Japanese schoolchildren, had equivocal results, showing a reduction in the risk of one type of influenza but no effect on another type, so many organizations have called for further randomized trials to settle the issue.
Since vitamin D is naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, maintaining adequate levels in winter is particularly challenging in areas such as the northern U.S. and Canada that have significant seasonal variations in daily sunlight. The current study analyzed data from the Blue Sky Study, conducted in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by a team led by Harvard investigators in collaboration with local health researchers.
Measuring vitamin D status in children
Mongolians are known to be at high risk for vitamin D deficiency, especially during winter, and the Blue Sky Study followed schoolchildren, all of whom were found to have low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), which is considered the best measure of vitamin D status, at the study’s outset. Children with dark skin or even olive-hued skin living in areas of low sunshine may have vitamin D deficiencies.
Those with darker skin can’t produce vitamin D as quickly as those with lighter skin, according to the National Institutes of Health. A light-skinned person can make enough vitamin D with 15 minutes exposure to sunlight. But it can take a dark-skinned person 45 minutes to make the same amount of vitamin D, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. And further studies also revealed that even when people live in states such as Florida or California, many still can’t make enough vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. For more information on this issue, check out the article, Vitamin D – University of Maryland Medical Center | Home.
Researchers added vitamin D in the study to locally produced milk
In the current study, Camargo and colleagues compared the number of winter respiratory infections among a group of children who received daily doses of vitamin D added to locally produced milk with that of a control group receiving the same milk without added vitamin D. The supplement was undetectable so that children, teachers, and local researchers could not tell which group received vitamin D.
While blood samples taken at the outset of the study revealed vitamin D deficiency in all participants, with average 25OHD levels around 7 ng/ml (17 nmol/L) in both groups, at the end of the seven-week treatment period, differences between the two groups were significant, with those receive vitamin D averaging 19 ng/ml (47 nmol/L), which although still low was significantly higher than at the start of the trial. Based on reports from their parents, the children receiving vitamin D had about half the incidence of respiratory infections that the control group had.
“Our study design provides strong evidence that the association between low vitamin D and respiratory infections is causal and that treating low vitamin D levels in children with an inexpensive and safe supplement will prevent some respiratory infections,” says Camargo, a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, according to the news release.
At what initial vitamin D level would children no longer receive benefit from winter supplementation?
“The large benefit was undoubtedly related to the low baseline vitamin D levels of these children, so I would not expect the supplement to provide similar benefit in children who start with healthy levels of vitamin D. The key question for future research is at what initial vitamin D level would children no longer receive benefit from winter supplementation?”
The researchers note that while the vitamin D dosage used in this study (300 IU daily) was higher than the recommended daily dosage at the time the study was launched. Since then, the U.S. Institute of Medicine has raised the recommended dose for children to 400 IU, and other groups recommend daily dosages as high as 1,000 IU for children at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
The authors also point out that, while Mongolia may appear to have little in common with the U.S., the low baseline vitamin D levels seen in study participants are relatively common in some groups of Americans, such as African-American children living in northern states.
Mc Donald’s will put calorie counts on its menus
If you’re wondering how many calories are in a Big Mac with fries, the answer is 1,050 calories. Next week McDonald’s will post its calorie counts on the fast-foods. It’s listing calorie information on menus in some 14,000 U.S. restaurants and drive-throughs. Could it be because a national rule soon will require larger restaurant chains to make such disclosures? What’s not on the list along with calorie counts for most restaurants are the sodium count or what type of fats are used.
Regulations and pressure from public health activists finally haven driven certain restaurants if they’re large enough, such as the chains and fast-food eateries, to keep a list of calorie counts of what they offer so customers can see what’s in the food as far as calories.
Under the new U.S. healthcare law, restaurants across the country must soon put calorie counts and other nutrition details on menus. The national rules target restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as other retail food outlets. Most major chains have resisted posting such information, without legislation and the threat of fines. But the date for national compliance is not expected to be set until after the U.S. presidential election.
This past summer, McDonald’s began to show a “Favorites Under 400” menu that highlights products in that calorie range. McDonald’s also plans to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to its menu and has set a goal of decreasing calories, saturated fat and added sugars across its U.S. menu by 2020. Again, there’s still no information about how much salt is in the food and what type of fats are used.
Consumers want to know whether or not they’re getting GMO soybean oil, canola oil, other types of fats and oils, or animal fat in the fried foods. When it comes to food for kids, Corporate Accountability International has been pressing McDonald’s to make bolder changes to its menus and to stop advertising to children. For further information, check out the September 12, 2012 news articles, “U.S. McDonald’s to put calorie counts in lights | Reuters,” and “McDonald’s Menu to Post Calorie Data – The New York Times.”
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