Thursday, 6 November 2008

Check it Out!!

Cary G Dean.

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):

1. Fight Winter Aches and Pains with Vitamin D
2. Wines Contain Heavy Metal Hazard
3. Multiple Births, HRT Hard on Joints
4. Small Amounts of Caffeine May Harm Fetus
5. Canned Tomatoes Pack Big Cardiac Boost

Fight Winter Aches and Pains with Vitamin D

It’s no wonder many people feel achy and sore, and sometimes tired and depressed, during winter months – they’re often not getting enough vitamin D.

The body makes vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so it’s known as the sunshine vitamin, but this source is in short supply throughout late fall and winter.

According to an extensive review of clinical research in a report from Pain Treatment Topics (, inadequate vitamin D has been linked to a long list of painful maladies, including bone and joint pain, muscle aches, fibromyalgia syndrome, rheumatic disorders, osteoarthritis, and other complaints.

Lack of vitamin D also has been implicated in the mood disturbances of chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which are more common during winter.

Author of the report and editor of Pain Treatment Topics, Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD, notes that for many people sunshine is not an ample source of vitamin D during most of the year and the few foods containing the vitamin do not provide enough of it.

“In our review of 22 clinical research studies persons with various pain and fatigue syndromes almost always lacked vitamin D, especially during winter months.

When sufficient vitamin D supplementation was provided, the aches, pains, weakness, and related problems in most sufferers either vanished or were at least helped to a significant degree.”

The report mentions the following important points:

Vitamin D is a complex nutrient that actually functions as a hormone to benefit numerous body tissues and organs, including bones, muscles, and nerves.

A surprising majority of persons in many parts of the world, including the United States, do not get enough vitamin D from sunshine or foods.

The currently recommended adequate intake of vitamin D – up to 400 IU per day in children and 600 IU per day in adults – is outdated and too low.

According to the research, most children and adults need at least 1000 IU per day, and persons with bone or muscle aches and pains could benefit from 2000 IU or more per day of supplemental vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol), especially during winter months.

Vitamin D supplements are generally safe if taken as directed.

They interact with very few drugs or other agents, and are usually not harmful unless very high daily doses – such as, 50,000 IU or more – are taken for an extended period of time.

Vitamin D supplements are easy to take, usually have no side effects, and typically cost as little as 7 to 10 cents per day.

In conclusion, Leavitt stresses that vitamin D should not be viewed as a cure for all pain conditions, and it is not necessarily a replacement for other pain-relief treatments.

“While further research would be helpful,” he says, “extra vitamin D should be considered for all persons in late fall or early winter, and especially for those who have developed aches and pains, or fatigue and mood disorders.”

Wines Contain Heavy Metal Hazard

Your glass of wine may not be as healthy as you think.

Although touted for its heart-health benefits, a new study found that many wines contain potentially hazardous levels of at least seven heavy metal ions that could be a health hazard.

An analysis of wines from sixteen countries found that only those produced in Argentina, Brazil and Italy did not have levels of metal high enough to be considered a possible health threat.

The study, carried out by professors from Kingston University, South West London, used a formula developed by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to estimate health risks linked to frequent, long-term exposure to pollutants.

The Targeted Hazard Quotient (THQ) is based on the upper safe limits for chemicals, and a THQ below 1.0 is believed to be safe.

In comparison, seafood with THQ of between one and five has raised health concerns.

Metal ions of vanadium, copper and manganese were responsible for most of the contamination, but zinc, nickel, chromium and lead were also found in higher levels than considered safe.

Most red and white wines had THQ levels well above the safe level.

Even though a THQ level above 1 pointed to a health risk, typical wines were found to have THQ levels between 50 and 200.

Nations that export large quantities of wine to the United States, such as France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal, had THQ values over 100.

Hungarian and Slovakian wines had levels over 350.

“These values are concerning,” said Professor Declan Naughton.

“Excess intake of metal ions is credited with pathological events such as Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to neurological problems, these ions are also believed to enhance oxidative damage, a key component of chronic inflammatory disease which is a suggested initiator of cancer.”

The study’s authors suggested that metal levels should appear on wine labels and steps should be taken to remove metal ions during wine production.

Multiple Births, HRT Hard on Joints

Early puberty, giving birth to multiple children, and taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) all increase a woman's risk of needing joint replacement surgery due to arthritis, according to data from a large, study of middle-aged women in the UK.

The findings come from the Million Women Study, in which 1.3 million British women recruited in 1996-2001 at an average age of 56.

During an average follow-up of 6 years, approximately 12,000 women had hip replaced and 10,000 had a knee replaced.

Results showed that early menstruation (i.e., younger than 11 years old) increased the likelihood of both needing both types of joint surgery by between 9 percent and 15 percent, while every successive birth increased the risk of needing a new hip by 2 percent and a new knee by 8 percent.

Although use of oral contraceptives did not impact the risk of joint replacement surgery, "current use" of HRT raised the odds of hip replacement by 38 percent and of knee replacement by 58 percent, compared with never having used HRT.

Dr. Bette Liu and colleagues at the University of Oxford report their findings in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, posted online on October 28.

Having a high body mass index (BMI) is known to increase the risk of osteoarthritis and joint replacement, the investigators note in their report, "but it is unlikely that a woman's current BMI would explain the associations found here as ... our findings were consistently observed within subgroups of current BMI."

Nonetheless, Liu's team concludes, "The underlying reasons for these findings remain unclear."

SOURCE: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, online October 28, 2008.

Small Amounts of Caffeine May Harm Fetus

Pregnant women who consume caffeine -- even about a cup of coffee daily -- are at higher risk of giving birth to an underweight baby, researchers said on Monday.

The new findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) also linked any source of caffeine, including that from tea, cola, chocolate and some prescription drugs, to relatively slower fetal growth.

The findings are the latest in mounting evidence indicating the amount of caffeine a person consumes may directly impact one's health, especially when pregnant.

In January, U.S. researchers found that pregnant women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are at twice the risk of having a miscarriage as those women who avoid caffeine.

Babies born underweight are more likely to develop a range of health conditions when they grow older, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.

Women who drank one to two cups of coffee daily, or between 100-199 milligrams, had a 20 percent increased risk of having a baby of low birth weight, the study found.

This was compared to women who consumed less than 100 milligrams daily.

"Caffeine consumption during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction and this association continued throughout pregnancy," Justin Konje at the University of Leicester in Britain and colleagues wrote.

"Sensible advice would be to reduce caffeine intake before conception and throughout pregnancy."

Konje and his team -- which included researchers from the University of Leeds -- looked at 2,645 women at an average age of 30 who were between 8 and 12 weeks pregnant.

The women reported an average caffeine consumption during pregnancy of 159 milligrams per day, lower than new recommended limits of 200 milligrams in Britain.

The likelihood of having a low birth weight baby rose to 50 percent for women who consumed between 200 milligrams and 299 milligrams each day, about two to three cups of coffee.

The impact was about the same as from alcohol and the association with low birth weight was maintained throughout a woman's pregnancy, the study found.

Even small amounts may prove harmful but Konje said in a telephone interview the best advice was to limit caffeine consumption to below 100 milligrams a day.

"We couldn't say that there was a lower limit for which there is no effect," he said.

"My advice is if possible to reduce caffeine intake to a minimum.

You have to be realistic because you can't ask people to stop taking caffeine."

Canned Tomatoes Pack Big Cardiac Boost

New research being presented at the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) annual expo indicates that people who ate at least one-quarter cup of canned tomatoes had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), one of the markers for cardiovascular disease risk, than people who ate less than that amount, providing reason to believe canned tomatoes may help decrease the risk for heart disease.

The new research also showed that those Americans who ate canned tomatoes had a greater intake of vitamins and nutrients recommended for improved health.

The research was funded by ConAgra Foods, the manufacturer of Hunt's(R) canned tomatoes, and the study was authored by Victor Fulgoni, III, Ph.D., of Nutrition Impact; as well as Kristi Reimers, Ph.D., R.D., and Patty Packard, M.S., R.D., both of ConAgra Foods.

Presented by Fulgoni at the ADA's annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, the research is based on data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a large national study of diet and health relationships among 13,292 American adults conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As a company, we're focused on better understanding the nutritional benefits of canned tomatoes," Reimers said.

"We also have a strong interest in making sure consumers have science-based information to make food choices based on their personal nutrition needs.

This study is part of the work we do to truly understand the health benefits a variety of products may have and to communicate those benefits to dietitians and consumers."

"This study shows that people who eat canned tomatoes have a higher quality diet as shown by their higher vegetable, vitamin, mineral and fiber intakes.

Knowing that, it's important that People consider canned tomatoes to be one more option for building a delicious and healthy diet," said Fulgoni.

The study also found that individuals who ate canned tomatoes consumed more of the nutrients that are lacking in many People' diets, including fiber, vitamins C and E, potassium, and magnesium.

Additionally, People ate canned tomatoes also consumed less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and added sugars.

"At a time when consumers are as concerned about getting the most for their grocery's as they may be about their long-term health, products like Hunt's canned tomatoes can help them balance value with nutrition," Reimers stated.

"Tomatoes are a warehouse of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene.

More specifically, canned tomatoes are superior to fresh for delivering antioxidants because their lycopene is much more easily absorbed."

The study identified and compared 1,851 individuals who reported that they consumed at least one-quarter cup of processed tomatoes to the remaining 11,441 individuals who ate less than that, according to the NHANES survey results.

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