It’s time for family, friends, celebration and the yearly assault on our immune systems which can result in sneezing, coughing and misery instead of fun and joy.
While it is impossible to get a vaccine that is specific for every cold and flu virus, it is possible to strengthen our own innate defenses. I put together a presentation about Vitamin D and the immune system for my immunology class this summer and found that study after study is showing that there is a correlation between higher serum levels of Vitamin D and a lower risk of succumbing to a viral infection. This correlation makes logical sense since the ‘cold and flu season’ occurs when there is both less sunlight available and less skin exposed to the sunlight that is available. There is also plenty of documentation that ‘influenza epidemics occur simultaneously at the same latitudes across the globe.’ The same latitudes are always the same distance from the sun and therefore receive the same amount and intensity of light rays throughout the year. When there is more sun, our serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are higher. When there is less sun during the fall and winter months, our serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels decrease and the cold and flu season begins.
An impressive study entitled ‘Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and the Incidence of Acute Viral Respiratory Tract Infections in Healthy Adults’ was published just days after my presentation in June. The study is a prospective cohort study that measured the serum vitamin D level and incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infection in 198 adults. Serum Vitamin D concentrations of 38 ng/ml or more were not only associated with a significant (p<0.0001) two-fold reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections but also a marked reduction in the percentages of days ill. The study also revealed that light skin pigmentation, lean body mass, and supplementation with vitamin D were found to correlate with higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D meaning that dark skinned and obese individuals will probably need to supplement with higher levels of Vitamin D to maintain adequate serum levels. The researchers concluded that ‘maintenance of a 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentration of 38 ng/ml or higher should significantly reduce the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections and the burden of illness caused thereby, at least during the fall and winter in temperate zones.’
The recently released 2011 “Report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D” from the Institute of Medicine recommends that individuals maintain a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 20 ng/ml since they determined that higher serum levels were not consistently associated with greater benefit. This recommendation and the results of so many studies that definitively show a benefit from higher serum levels guarantee that Vitamin D will continue to be a topic of great interest and debate for many years. My primary care physician, who is an MD in Charleston, SC, recommends that I maintain a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 80 ng/ml. As you can see, there is a huge range of opinions on this clinically significant subject. Hopefully, high quality gold-standard research will provide clear answers about both adequate daily dosage and ideal serum levels in the future.
I hope you have a Happy and Healthy holiday season!!!
Sabetta JR, DePetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, et al. (2010) Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and the Incidence of Acute Viral Respiratory Tract
Infections in Healthy Adults. PLoS ONE 5(6): e11088. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011088
We have a feeling you'll relate to that HAPPY feeling that comes through in this 2 minute video on what we really love about whole food nutrients! It may surprise you! Happy Holidays from all of us at Innate Response!
This is a simple Holiday travel story, and a wonderful reminder.
While my main task here is to write about the vital and healing aspects of whole food nutrients this story reminded me there are many more vital nutrients in our lives that are simply unobservable by any scientific equipment.
This is a simple story of faith, hope and timing…
Tessa made it to the airport terminal for her flight after a long wait at self check-in kiosk to drop off her bag. This reminded her why she usually packs “carry on” only. She ended up having to hurry if she hoped to make her flight.
As she dashed by the great windows looking out to planes on the runway she couldn’t help but wonder, what if the Wright Brothers decided not to trust their inner inspiration to attempt to build a plane? This miracle of flight reminded Tessa of Alice’s Dad, in the classic, Alice in Wonderland; when he urges that the only way to make the impossible possible is to first believe that it is possible!
As timing would have it, Tessa’s flight was delayed 4 hours. Needing some form of entertainment to pass the time she fished for her earphones in her bag without success. A walk down to the busy little shop 5 minutes away was in order.
Halfway there, she realized that she forget her wallet. Can’t buy earphones without money, right!? Well, something told her to continue to the store, anyway. Tessa thought this inner inclination was a bit “strange” but she decided to listen as she did have four hours to burn and could always make another trip. She arrived at the store to find the cheapest set of earphones were $25.00.
Disappointed, Tessa decided to ask the cashier for the hidden stash of “normal” priced earphones. The cashier politely stated no such stash existed, and continued to scan the items of a customer she was assisting.
As Tessa left the store a woman yelled “wait!” Unaware this woman was calling for her, Tessa continued to walk away, only to make a screeching halt at the command wait! The woman said, “I have a pair of earphones somewhere in my purse that you can have… I knew there was a reason why I bought the darn things with me today.” She fished around in her purse and kindly passed over a new set of headphones still in the package. Delighted and touched, Tessa gave her the biggest hug. Tessa didn’t need her wallet after all; and if she had it she didn’t have enough to buy even a reasonably priced set. Tessa recognized that had she ignored an inner prompting, she would have missed this moment.
We may not always think that we have everything we need in order to trust an idea, intuition, or next step in life, although we must. A synchronistic and warm encounter at the airport pales in comparison to the magnitude of the Wright Brothers courage to take the first steps to follow an inner inspiration; but it is a great reminder! We owe it to ourselves and our fellow world to have faith to take the next steps we’re inspired to take in life, even though we don’t quite understand how things will work out.
The Ophthalmic Research Journal recently published a literature overview of the most recent findings on the role of dietary micronutrients and/or supplements on vision and the prevention or delay of ocular disease, with an emphasis on cataracts. Investigators elaborated on the relationships between oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses as one of the central factors in ocular diseases. In their review, Agte and Tawardi, of the Agharkar Research Institute of Pune, India, sought to assess which “food based antioxidant nutrients might be useful in the treatment of macular degeneration and cataracts.” They explored up to date research on the roles of dietary sources of specific nutrients, supplementation with selected antioxidants or trace minerals, and reports on the effects of multiple micronutrient supplementation.
Investigators note that clinical understanding of the roles of micronutrients and eye health is relatively recent. Based on their assessment, antioxidants from food sources appear to offer the most significant health benefits without risk. Agte and Tawardi specifically highlight that carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin from fruits and vegetables are beneficial for the treatment of macular degeneration and catatracts. Utilizing PubMed and Web of Science, they also searched for articles on ocular disease and the use of vitamins A, B, C and E, minerals selenium and zinc, and Ginko biloba. Their findings were mixed. Some studies found no associations with supplement use, others observed detrimental effects, and still others observed preventive influences – particularly in high risk individuals.
Agte and Tawardi conclude that while the use of supplements is not without risk and must be accurately monitored they may serve as a therapeutic complement to dietary and other measures in the treatment or prevention of ocular diseases. With regard to micronutrients from foods, Agte and Tawardi present an extensive table outlining numerous micronutrients, their predominant food sources, and their role in vision and preventative health. Clinicians who treat ocular diseases and are interested in using foods and/or supplements will find consulting this review worthwhile.
Study: Agte, v., Tawardi, K., Ophthalmic Research, 44: 166-172 (2010)
Part 1 of this series described the categories of available supplements. Here, we’ll discuss what factors you should consider when evaluating supplement quality. This may seem daunting, but having a list of criteria simplifies this task and can provide a good comparison tool.
Before we delve into our list, let’s briefly review the regulation and standardization of supplement quality.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) defines dietary supplements as food (not drugs) and requires that they are labeled as dietary supplements. DSHEA also states that manufacturers of dietary supplements are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products before they reach the market and that the information on the product label is accurate and not misleading. The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe supplement on the market.
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) include provisions regarding equipment, sanitation, operations, testing, quality control procedures, complaint handling, and record-keeping in the manufacturing and testing of dietary supplements. GMPs are typically general enough to enable each manufacturer to decide how to best implement the controls to ensure consistency in the identity, purity, strength, and composition of supplements. In the U.S., GMPs are enforced by the FDA under the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and refer to "current good manufacturing practices" (cGMPs) to remind manufacturers to employ up-to-date technologies and systems to comply with the regulation.
TheUnited States Pharmacopeia (USP) is a non-government authority that sets standards for the quality, purity, strength, and consistency of food ingredients and dietary supplements as well as for prescription and over-the-counter medicines. USP's standards are recognized and used in more than 130 countries.
NSF International is an independent, non-profit organization offering testing of dietary supplements and GMP inspections for supplement manufacturers. The NSF Dietary Supplements Certification program verifies label claims, ensures that there are no ingredients not listed on the label, and ensures that there are no unacceptable levels of contaminants present.
Now that you know a bit about the regulation of supplement quality, we’re ready for our list of quality criteria. To answer the questions posed here, I recommend first looking at the manufacturer’s website for information about their quality practices. Another potential resource is theEmerson Ecologics Quality Program, which provides information about its suppliers’ quality practices.
o Regulations and standards. Which regulations and/or standards does the supplement’s manufacturer adhere to: cGMPs? USP? NSF? Other? Does the manufacturer have a clean record with the FDA (i.e., no citations for unsafe products)?
o Production process. Does the manufacturer produce their supplements in-house, or does it outsource production? If production is outsourced, how does the company verify quality control? What measures does the manufacturer have in place to avoid contamination during manufacturing? Does the company use fillers or binders in its products?
o Raw materials. How/where does the manufacturer source its raw materials? What requirements must the suppliers meet? Are the materials subjected to verification testing? Are the materials organic?
o Testing. What testing methods does the manufacturer employ for identity verification, potency, and contamination (microbes, heavy metals, solvents)? What allergen testing does the company conduct? Does the company conduct testing in-house or by a third party? Is every product lot tested? At what phase(s) of the production process is testing conducted? What tests does the company conduct on the finished product?
While this is not an exhaustive list of questions to consider, you can feel comfortable that you’ve chosen a high quality supplement if your answer to most of the questions is “yes” or involves an impressive list of tests, procedures, requirements, or measures.
In this featured study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers sought to determine possible associations between B vitamins and DNA damage due to ionising radiation (IR), an established carcinogen which airline pilots are exposed to at elevated levels. IR is known to cause DNA damage and is measured by way of the frequency of “translocations”; which are established biomarkers for chromosome aberrations. Yong and Peterson note previous research on the protective effects on translocation frequency due to specific fruits and vegetables and high dietary intakes of vitamin C, b-carotene, b-cryptozanthin, lutein-zeaxanthin and vitamin E. This is the first study to examine B vitamins and their food sources relative to translocation frequency in pilots.
Notably, Yong and Peterson did not observe any significant associations between translocation frequency and higher total (food and supplement fortification) intake of folate, vitamin B12, B6 and riboflavin. While an inverse association was observed for total niacin intake (food and supplements) it was only the food sourced intake of niacin alone that demonstrated a statistically significant protective effect. Similarly just as niacin from food was inversely related to translocation frequency it appears that other B vitamins and compounds from whole food sources may also be involved in the protective associations observed. Investigators noted, for instance, that refined grains (which are fortified with synthetically derived B vitamins) showed no significant association with the frequency of translocations; yet whole grains were associated with a 30% reduction. Red and processed meats were associated with a significantly increased translocation frequency.
Given the variances in results based on the sources of B vitamins (supplements, refined grains, whole grains & processed meat) Yong and Peterson state “there is a possibility that the present results for the dietary intakes of the B vitamins may be attributed to other nutrients as well as protective or harmful factors for similar foods.” The only statistically significant decreases in translocation frequency observed in this study were among pilots consuming high intakes of niacin from food (not high intakes due to supplements), and among pilots consuming diets high in whole grains (not refined grains). Based on their findings, Yong and Peterson suggest niacin from food as well as a diet high in whole grains may protect pilots against “IR-induced cumulative DNA damage.” Study: Yong, L. C., Peterson, M. R., British Journal of Nutrition (2010)
Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Innate Response
Formulas makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for the content. All information is provided on an as-is basis.