Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't boil your cabbage either

Not to unexpected that when you boil cabbage you kill the beta carotene in it. Think about it, you put in green cabbage into the water and get white cabbage out. Slight exaggeration but it does highlight the principle. When you boil the cabbage for only 5 minutes you loose 73% of the beta carotene. And if you simmer cabbage in coconut milk (never tried this, it sounds yum) you loose 82% of the beta carotene.

Yet another reason to enjoy coleslaw!

Ref: Zakaria et al Caroteniod bioavailability of vegetables and carbohydrate containing foods measured by retional accumulation in rat livers. Jounral of Food composition and analysis 2000 vol 13 pg 301

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Uncooked carrots still better for you ?!

It is well known on the scientific literature that cooking carrots makes the beta carotene more available for the body to absorb. It is also known that pureeing them maximizes the bio availability. It is thought that cooking breaks down the physical structure of the carrot, thus making it easier for your body to extract the nutrients. Pureeing again maximizes the ability for the digestive process to extract the beta carotene.

A quick google search brings up a paper that shows bioavailability of pureed cooked carrots have a 65% bioavailability were as raw chopped carrots have 40% availability.

So it seems pretty simple - you should have your carrots cooked, and were possible mashed.

Well life is near that simple! Reading today a study that showed that 60% of carotene in carrots is destroyed in the cooking process.

Let us imagine that our carrots have 100 mg of beta carotene. So after cooking we are left with 40 mg, and the body can absorb 65% of this. Thus we absorb 26 mg in total. So for the same carrots but eaten raw we would get 40 mg of beta carotene.

Therefore it would look like raw carrots are still better for you. This makes sense to me, as rule of thumb is the more your process something the less nutritional value it has. However my disclaimer is that this is not an exhaustive literature review so in time cooked might be better. But until them feel free to keep eating your carrots raw (I loath the taste of cooked carrots - so I am happy!)

Ref's: Zakaria et al Caroteniod bioavailability of vegetables and carbohydrate containing foods measured by retional accumulation in rat livers. Jounral of Food composition and analysis 2000 vol 13 pg 301
Livny et al ß-carotene bioavailability from differently processed carrot meals in human ileostomy volunteers Volume 42, Number 6 / December, 2003 European Journal of Nutrition
Picture credit 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Zinc - baby gets enough zinc through breast milk.

Zinc is a wonderful and important mineral. Interestingly enough supplementation of zinc to breast feed mums doesn't seem to increase zinc in the breast milk. (1 and 2). This would imply that either diet provides mums with enough zinc or zinc is taken out of body stores and into breast milk. I suspect the latter - because this is what happens with calcium and magnesium, and atomically zinc is a similar metal.

So breast feed infants should have enough zinc (although there seems to always be a exception to the rule). So make sure you breast feed your baby - even if it is preterm.

Some research has just (January 2010) been published that looked at preterm babies. These babies were either feed a multivitamin or a multivitamin plus zinc. The multi plus zinc had higher hemoglobin and zinc plasma levels at the end of the trial. Also the zinc group grew significantly longer than the multivitamin group over the 6 week. This sounds positive........................

 scroll down

and some more

I just have two questions:
Why isn't it standard that preterm infants get a multivitamin and a multimineral

And more importantly - would it not be better if this money went into supporting breast feeding which provides all the nutrients!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"glad wrap" in microwaves only use with fruit and vege's

I dismissed the  scaremongering emails that came out 5-10 years ago about how nasty cling film was. They always implied that little to no work had been done on determining if plastics in cling film contaminated food, and what studies had been done showed disastrous results of high contamination. I dismissed them because they were sensationalist and I suspected quite a bit of work had been done looking at this issue.

Well the good news is that I was right about studies being done and that things aren't as bad as they seem. However there is still some disturbing information that I have uncovered in 1997 paper.

So first the good results. Because cling film, and it associated chemicals don't mix in water, using cling film on food that is low in fat and high in water eg vege's and fruits, minimal plastics migration into the food occurs. Thus you can cook your vege's in the microwave without worrying about plastic. Now I would love to say that we didn't use our microwave to cook vege's - there are possible health impacts - we live in the 21st Century and know others do to. Thus cooking via steaming over stove is not always practical.

The bad news is that for fatty foods significant migration occurs. In theory cling films that had higher migration into foods due to ways they are manufactured are not allowed to be used for high fat food. Now this study was done in Demark which has quite tight regulations regarding food. They found that 77% of cling films had higher levels of the chemical DEHA. than the maximal allowable transfer from the plastic to the food. DEHA  has been shown to cause liver cancer in mice!

What I find really scary is that the limit of migration is either less than 10 mg per square centimeter or no more than 60 mg/kg of food. So what this means is that over a thumb nail area 10mg of plasticizers can migrate into the food. 10 mg seems like a very high figure! Yet 77% of cling films have more migration than this! Testing had already been carried out in 1991 and 1995 before the 1997 tests. Therefore these problems should have been solved - but were not.

What I also didn't know was Great Britain they recommend to avoid the use of cling film in cooking fatty foods.  
Many fatty foods are covered in cling film. Think of hot chickens in the supermarket. Cold meats are almost exclusively wrapped in plastic and cling film as is cheese. I don't think you can purchase general cheese not wrapped in plastic! So this is a challenge to why I shop, guess this is another reason to use a local butcher instead of purchasing meat from a supermarket.

Reference: Petersen et al Migration from PVC cling films compared with their field of application. Food additives and Contaminats vol 14 1997 pg 345
Photo credit

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nutrients intake while pregnant impacts labor

It makes logical sense that mum's nutrition before, during and after pregnancy affects baby. One point that stresses doctors is the "late" onset of labor. We have had personal experience with people getting antsy when our girls were "overdue". Tiffany went into labor naturally for the first two, but at 14 days "overdue". For Yasmin, number 3, me moved Tiffany's dates so that Yasmin was due two weeks later than in "theory". Thus no one got upset and worried. We figured that Tiffany just carries late - or ovulates late in the cycle.

So I am interested as to nutritional things that effect onset of labor. In a Jordan study they found that:
Daily intakes of zinc, calcium, vitamin B6, and n-3 and n-6 fatty acids were associated with labor spontaneity 
I should point out that they only looked at: zinc, calcium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Thus we cannot exclude other nutrients/minerals/vitamins as being important with onset of labor. I also wonder if the intake of these things are correlated with a healthier diet......Zinc is used in so many different places in your body and calcium intake is very important in pregnancy as baby "sucks" calcium out of mum. I am also aware that one of the omega-3 fatty acids is used by the body to make the hormone that dilates the cervix, thus it is no surprise that it is in the list. More interesting is the omega 6 fatty acid, again it could be that intake of this is correlated with a better diet.

So in conclusion it would make sense to eat well and take a multi & high quality fish oil, so your intake of these nutrients are at optimal levels

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Regularly sick - take some vitamin A (in a multi)

Today the theme continues on vitamin A. Our family is very rarely sick. Some of this I am sure is due to genetics.... however we often find other families have far more sickness than what we have. I believe that some of this is due to lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet.

The vitamin A article that I have been blogging about discusses the implication of non optimal vitamin A intake. When you have very low vitamin A levels eg > 100 micro grams per liter, this being a vegetable intake of less than the RDI, there is a clear connection between vitamin A lack and a increase in illness. Due to the complexities of the human body it is however very difficult to determine if sub optimal level of vitamin A results in increased sickness. But there is a number of pointers that suggest sub optimal vitamin A status increases risk of infection.

It would appear that the body uses up vitamin A in sickness. For instance the used up vitamin A (decarboxylated) appears in the urine for at least the following sickness:
  • Pueumonia
  • Nephritis Inflammation of the kidney's
  • Hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatic fever
 It is unknown how or why this occurs. However what is known is that vitamin A enhances the natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell, activity. It also improves the function of macrophages, another type of white blood cells.

Studies with rats were non optimal vitamin A feeds eg no clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency was compared to rats feed a higher vitamin A level. They found that the rats with the lower blood vitamin A level had lower Immunoglobulin levels (IgG-1, IgG-3, IgM). Immunoglobulins are more commonly known as antigens, and are special proteins that your body makes to attack germs.

Another study supplemented Australian children with a history of frequent respiratory infections, the found that it resulted in a 25% decrease of infections. The paper states:
None of the children was considered biochemically deficient on the basis of a single plasma retional results.
 What this is saying is that they measured the retional level in the blood and it was about 100 mico g/ L which is the cut off for vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A was also given to children in South Africa who had sever measles. There was a lower death rate and sickness rate among the children. Yet children in South Africa are considered to get enough vitamin A.

Thus there are a number of pointers that strongly suggest vitamin A and sickness are tied together. I would strongly recommend that instead of having a vitamin A supplement that you get a good multi instead.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vitamin A RDI - what a good diet protects you from.

Continuing on from yesterday's post about vitamin A, today we look at the vitamin A RDI. Lack of vitamin A produces issues with the eye(this link has some rather fascinating/disturbing illustrations). These include:
  • Night blindness (poor adaption to seeing in the dark)
  • Dryness of the eye caused by lack of tears (Conjunctival xerosis)
  • Oval of triangle shaped build up of keratin that are on the outer layer on the eye (Bitot's spot)
  • Roughness of cornea (Corneal xerosis)
  • Ulcers on the cornea (Cornael ulcerations)
  • Corneal scar  which often leads to permanent blindness.
WHO have levels in which these health issues appear in a population to state if that population has issues with vitamin A deficiency.   For example if Bitot's spots are in more that 2% of the population or 0.1% of the population have corneal scaring the whole population has issues with vitamin A deficiency.

You will be pleased to know that your RDI of 750 µg protects you from the above mentioned deficiency diseases. Or to put it another way your plasma levels will remain above 100 micro grams per liter.What do you need to eat to get your daily dose of vitamin A? Leafy green vegetables. For instance this is 5 cups of sprouts or an 1/8 of a cup of broccoli or 1/10th cup of Bok Choy. So when your well meaning nutritionist says you don't need to supplement to live a healthy life. What they are saying is that you can eat enough not to get clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency, which is true.

Is this the optimal amount of vitamin A intake. NO!  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Different types of vitamin A - targets different parts of your body

From the interesting fact file discovered out this morning that the body uses three different types of vitamin A. Retinal, a aldehyde affects vision, retinol, an alcohol, affects reproduction and retinoic acid affects cellular growth and division.

There is also a vitamin A2 which is found in fresh water fish, however mammals including humans cannot use this.

Reference: Tomkins and Hussy Vitamin A and Immunity Nutrition Research Reviews vol 2, 1989 pg 18

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For longer love making more often - live under a celll phone tower ? !

I receive a large number of emails highlighting the latest articles in journals. I receive way to many to read each email. Therefore I typically search these emails for a key word, or only read the journals I know will have something relevant in them.

Occasionally however I read these emails at random. Today it was the International Journal of Impotence Research: The Journal of Sexual Medicine. It had an article which I find both humorous and somewhat unbelievable. They subjected male rabbits to cell phone radiation. The cell phone was on standby only - that is no calls taken/made. Thus the amount of radiation would be much lower than when call is made. They were subject to this for 8 hours a day for 12 weeks. Compared to the control group the irradiated group, and I quote:
Ejaculation frequency dropped significantly, biting/grasping against teasers increased notably
So what they are saying in that the irradiated rabbits tried love making more, but ejaculated less. Right then..... does this mean that if I live under a cell phone tower, or sleep with a cell phone close by I will get increased sex drive, but last longer?!

My biggest question is - who funded this ? and Why? Makes one wonder if I will soon be getting spam. Buy this electronic circuit and put it under you bed side table. You will have a much enhanced sex life. Hmmm may be I should quite blogging and become a promoter of such things...... people must purchase such things if spamer's keep on selling little blue pills.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unexpected vitamin E supplement absorption

Population studies show those who eat foods high in vitamin E (green vege's, cold pressed oil's, milk cows feed of fresh grass) have lower risk of health disease. However when individual trials were carried out with supplements the results have been very variable.

Well reading today I found some amazing data. They feed a breakfast "meal" of 400 IU vitamin E tablet with glass of skim milk, or the same amount of milk with breakfast cereal. The breakfast cereal was fortified with either 30 IU or 400 IU of vitamin E. Staggeringly enough the lowest vitamin E blood levels were the 400 IU supplement as the graph below shows. The graph is vitamin E levels in blood after the breakfast. The triangles are the 400 IU supplement. The circles are the 30 IU breakfast cereal and squares are the 400 IU breakfast.
What this shows is that the same synthetic vitamin E ground into cereal is much better absorbed than a tablet with a glass of milk.Logically the scientists then asked the question - what happens if we give the same subjects 400 IU tablet with the breakfast cereal that has no vitamin E added. The results were again unexpected. The 400 IU tablet with breakfast gave highly variable results, as shown below. Some test subjects gave blood level rise that was no different between the two 400 IU test meals. However some fed the 400 IU tablet with cereal absorbed as little as the 400 IU tablet without the cereal !

Clearly there is something going on that we do not yet understand. My first thought was that this was different people in each test, hence the variation. However this was not the case. It was the same people spread out over time so after each test meal the vitamin E levels returned to baseline (normal) before the next test.

This really surprised me. So did a little digging around. Couldn't find a definitive answer, but found some more clues. Firstly that vitamin E uptake is very strongly dependent upon what food is in the meal. It is generally accepted that you need fat in a meal to absorb vitamin E. That makes sense as vitamin E is found in nature in fat. An example of this is vitamin E mixed with orange juice or full cream milk.  This is shown below, approximately twice level of vitamin E (solid diamonds) vs the orange juice (solid triangle). 
However this does not explain the difference between the cereal that has vitamin E added as a powder and taking a tablet with the meal. One such reason could be that they used synthetic vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E is alpha-tocopheryl acetate. The body needs to turn this into alpha-tocopheryl. To do this enzyme needs access to the vitamin E. Hence the finely powdered vitamin E in the cereal would be more available for changing. This would make sense as to why people supplemented with synthetic E didn't see the same health benefits as diets high in natural vitamin E. The synthetic vitamin E might not have been absorbed!

What is the take home message:
  • Try to eat lots (6+)of green vege's, cold pressed oils, nuts and fats from animals feed a full grass diet, so you get maximum amount of vitamin E through your diet. 
  • Make sure you are supplementing with natural vitamin E 
  • Take you supplement with a meal, not with just a drink 
  • Take your supplement with a meal that contains fat 
  • Could indicate that powder supplement would be better. However I not seen a powdered form of vitamin E for sale (not that I was looking)
Scott W Leonard, Carolyn K Good, Eric T Gugger and Maret G Traber Vitamin E bioavailability from fortified breakfast cereal is greater than that from encapsulated supplements American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, No. 1, 86-92, January 2004

KC Hayes Andrzej Pronczuk1 and Daniel Perlman Vitamin E in fortified cow milk uniquely enriches human plasma lipoproteins American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 74, No. 2, 211-218, August 2001

Monday, March 15, 2010

looking for the habit

Sorry blogging is unusually sporadic at the moment. Just goes to show that a habit cultivated is easily lost when the big picture gets out of focus.

I will work at getting back into the daily blogging routine.  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another way to trick your family into eating more vege's

As I have previous mentioned I am not really a vegetable fan. So I am always on the look out of ways I can increase my, and my families, vege intake. One way that I have already discussed is increase vege serving size. Well here is another way. This study looked at increasing pre schooler's vege intake.

Ten minutes before their standard meal raw carrots were placed on the table. Three different serving sizes were used 30, 60 and 90 grams of carrots.

Conclusion: When carrots were offered toddlers ate more vege's in their day. The more that were offered the more that were consumed. Take home message: Have your vege's before the "main" meal. Thus you satisfy your hunger with vegetables thus increasing your intake. We already do this with the kids..... but more as an indication of how hungry they are. If they ask for food while cooking is underway, or just before bed, they get offered a carrot. We know that they will only eat it if they are truly hunger so it stops them "fishing" for yummy food at these times. 

Picture credit

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some things never change

History has a disturbing way of repeating. When I was working in my biotech job I was always amazed how literature tracked back decades and someone 50 - 100 years ago would be doing the same things as I was attempting to do with newer technology.

Reading a 1930 paper about influence of food on longevity of life. Rats were feed a diet, called diet A, that had adequate vitamin intake. Thus these rats didn't have any signs of vitamin deficiency and grew normally. We would consider that the rat got their RDI of vitamins. However when the diet was changed to supply more vitamins and nutrients the rats lived longer. The graphs below illustrate this, again clicking figure makes it larger. You can see that diet B which had more nutrients the rats lived longer.

Interesting if we create a semi-log graph from the data we get the following graph. This makes the lines almost linear (straight line). What this indicates is that the life expectancy increased by 100 days for the new diet. 

Thus this shows the dramatic impact that nutrition has on life expectancy. I suspect that the 70 gap between 1930 and 2000 when studies like this came back into vogue was caused by two things, one lack of appropriate technology and a narrow focus. Technology wouldn't have allowed the scientists to delve deep enough into the food composition to determine what factors extended the life span. Secondly scientists would have tried to isolate exactly what nutrient would be the cause of the increase in life expectancy. However it wouldn't be just one nutrient it would have been the complete set of nutrients and how they acted together.Thus isolation of one nutrient was bound to fail. So for decades this research would have ignored much to our peril.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Supplement for kids - Review and Recommendations

What supplement would I recommend for children? A very good question. The supplement that we currently use was done via a browses of what was easily available at the store at the time.... Not a systematic review. Sometimes a quick decision with error is better than a labored decision that takes months! So with that in mind any supplement for your kids would be better than no supplement at all and if the supplement that you have been using is not recommended, please don't feel bad. Least you were giving your child a supplement!

The assumption is that this must be a chewable supplement. Getting kids onto a non chewable adult supplement around puberty (if not before) so they can have assess to higher levels of nutrients is important.

Overall highest quality
Clinians Vitamin & Mineral Boost Powder (1-MV) came out on top.  This is likely because it is designed for optimal adult vitamin intake. It is the only powder that was reviewed. Being a powder you can use a heaped teaspoon for adults or a flat teaspoon for children. 

It impressed me with high levels of vitamins. For example had 10 times level of B1 as other vitamins, other vitamins were also plentiful. It also had choline, inositol and PABA. Choline has been a vitamin for about 20 years now and insositol and PABA are "almost vitamins" that is they could be helpful to your body.

It had very good levels of minerals, it was also one of two that had boron, one of three that had chromium, and one of four that had Selenium. Most of the minerals were amino acid chelates - which means they are highly bio-available and can be used by your body. 

At 50 cents a serve (for kid) this was also the 2nd most expensive at 50 cents a serve. However if you reduced the dose to 1/2 tsp or 1/4 tsp this would drop the price to 25 or 12.5 cents. To compare this with others the average cost per dose of all 20 (check) supplements was 34 cents with range from 17 - 76 cents a dose. So a 25 cent dose price would provide excellent value.

Disadvantages. It didn't have any carotenoids (only vitamin A). It also used synthetic vitamin E, this is unfortunate as synthetic vitamin E is not something I would feed my children if I had the choice. I had the feeling that even the bioflavonoids (contained highest level being 100 mg, closest next level was 10 mg, with most being around 2mg) were manufactured as opposed to coming from a natural source. Thus only the specific bioflavonoids created would be contained, not a broad sample from a natural source.   

2nd best (also best in mid-range price)
This was Solgar Kangavites multi. Cost of 37 cents a dose. What impressed me was the use of natural vitamin D (D2) they were the only one to include this in their supplement - all others were D3. [There are questions stated to be raised about effectiveness of D3, however I have not looked into this.] It also contained carotenoids from a mixture of sources and a range of vegetable concentrates. This means it had lots of "extras" in it.

Along with all the vitamins it had Choline, inositol and lecithin, thus providing a wider range than other supplements. It had all the minerals except for boron. These minerals were in a bio-available form, although not always a amino acid chelate, if not they were salts or oxides that which the body could absorb.

Best on a budget.
Healtheries Kidscare multi vitamin and mineral chewables. At 17 cents a tablet this was the lowest cost / tablet, it is also very interesting that this came in 3rd. It had all the vitamins and most of the minerals. The minerals it did have were in a bio-available form. However it contained no boron, copper, molybdenum, nor any of the "icing on the cake" like choline, inositol, PABA or lecithin. It had higher B vitamin levels than the Solgar supplement, however in general it had lower levels of the vitamins, being lower in folic acid, Biotin, C, D and E.

So if you are unable to afford either the Clinican's or the Solgar then the Healtheries would suffice.

The remaining supplements were analyzed and wouldn't be recommended over the above three. These supplements are listed below in alphabetical order, with the reasons they didn't make the cut.

  • Blackmores Kids Multi: Was very unimpressed that they listed some of their vitamins in micro grams instead of milli grams like all other manufactures. Thus the numbers initially gave a positive impression only to look closer to find that instead of being one of the better B vitamin levels they were in fact the lowest in vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. 
  • Microgenics Every day please: At 48 cents a dose it was at the high end. It was however missing quite a few minerals and didn't state the minerals properly so couldn't tell what level they was contained. 
  • Natures Own Child Care: This was very inexpensive, and the product reflected this.Lowest levels of vitamin E (this is expensive to purchase), no bioflavoinds and a zinc level was 0.1 micro g, where next level up was 10 times higher. And as you would expect no trace element minerals.  
  • Nordic Naturals Nordice Berries - multivitamin. Very few minerals, not labeled properly. No bioflavonids or carotenoids. 
  • Nutra-life Nutrimon Children's Multi-vitamin: Not stating sweeter straight up and has "bubble gum" flavor one would immediately question ethics of putting dodgy chemicals into kids multivitamins! For this reason alone I would not recommend it, because how can I trust a brand that doesn't behave ethically. It also had low minerals including no calcium!  
  • Nutraway Chewables. I was disappointed that this product didn't do better as Nutraway has a focus on providing the best. At 35 cents a dose being almost the average price goes against the belief that Amway products are expensive (Nutraway is distributed by Amway). However it had no minerals, which would have been ok, but it didn't have all the vitamins. It had no carotenoids, Biotin nor any Choline. Nor did it have any inositol, PABA or lecithin which would have pulled it up the ranks so to speak.    
  • Radience Kid's multi boost chewables. Didn't state minerals correctly, it generally had lower vitamin levels than other supplements. 
  • Swisse Children's 1 Children's Ultivite 1 - Calm and Children's 2 Children's Ultivite 1 - Stamina. These didn't make the cut as low range of minerals. It also failed the calcium/magnesium ratio test. The magnesium level should be about half the calcium level. This ratio was way out being about 30:1 !  
  • Thompson's Junior Immunofort. This one almost made it onto the approved list (up until this post we had been purchasing this). However it didn't have many of the trace elements. No boron, chromium, molybdenum or selenium. However the minerals that it did contain were very bio-available and it contained all the vitamins. Close but no cigar.    
  • Twin-Labs Animal Friends: Very expensive at 76 cents each. Did not list the minerals in such a way that real levels could be determined. Also lacking a number of minerals. Cannot see the justification for absorbent prices.   
  • Yummi Bears Multi-Vitamin and Mineral: I was very shocked to find it didn't contain all the vitamins missing B1, B2, B3, B6, Biotin and choline.
Hope this helps - we are going to change the supplements that we give or kids!Now I should really be enabling purchases of these three brands through me web site...... or would I lose my "independence?"

If I have missed any kids supplement feel free to email me a link to it and I will add it to the review and update appropriately.

PS for those who are interested I can provide the excel spreadsheet that I created to compare between supplements. Drop me an email and I can flick it out to you.  

What suppement I reccomend

A number of people have asked me what I would recommend as a supplement........ the answer is not quite as simple as it sounds. However I will work at my recommendations...... and post them as they come to light. Thank you all for your patience.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book is now purchase-able

Exciting news - you can now purchase my book. Click here to get yourself a copy.

Has been a lot longer journey than I anticipated. However it feels great to have come this far. Thanks to all the people who have encouraged me in the journey. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's about the economy stupid

Bill Clinton supposedly said something like this in one of his debates. It brings home the point that so many of our decisions in life revolve around the ability to pay for things.

Unsurprisingly an article in the NZ herald today discussed a study which showed if the price of fruits and vegetables were dropped by 12.5% (the level of GST) then purchases of these went up 11%. However if people were just educated about how they should be increasing fruits and vegetables they didn't change their behavior.

This really doesn't surprise me. Fortunately we grow a lot of our fruit and vege's and know a lot of people who are happy for us to come an share in the abundance of their back yard fruit tree(s). Therefore we don't purchase a large amount of fresh produce from the supermarket. However we will do it if we see something on special. Something that we perceive to be a great deal. So if the price was reduced people's purchasing would go up (note purchase doesn't always mean it gets eaten).

Also it shows up the problem with our Greek/Roman thought pattern. We have equated knowledge (education) with wisdom. Wisdom is the correct application of truth, the truth itself without action is just knowledge. To grow in wisdom involves grappling with the truth and ingraining into your life.

I of all people wrestle with this. I know more about nutrition than most people. Yet I have eat a lot of sugar and chocolate, knowing that it is not healthy but my poor habits are rather ingrained......

Monday, March 1, 2010

How vitamin C is anti inflammatory

If you have been around in the "wellness" space for a while you will have heard about how mega doses of vitamin C work wonders. I have found very little about why these work. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, however in my mind this does not account for all the wonderful things it can do.

I have just read a 1973 paper that stated:
Numerous other reports in the literature indicate that large doses of ascorbic acid are beneficial in a variety of stressful situations such as burns, injuries, surgical operations, infections, col, trauma, pregnancy and lactation...... we have shown that auto-oxidation of ascorbic acid in the presence of histamine leads to rupture of the imidazole ring, making the histamine biologically inactive. We have further indicated that the beneficial effect of large doses of ascorbic acid in different stressful conditions i due to its detoxification of the excess histamine produced in response to the stress
So vitamin C has an anti histamine effect. So a quick look at Wikipedia shows that histamine has the following effects:
  • Causes vasodilation, bronchoconstriction, bronchial smooth muscle contraction. So this is why large doses of vitamin C (2grams) helps some asthmatics. Why large doses before a cold sets in are helpful. 
  • Separation of endothelial cells (responsible for hives), and pain and itching due to insect stings. Again why vitamin C helps some people with hives or allergies 
  • The primary receptors involved in allergic rhinitis symptoms and motion sickness.This is likely why grams of vitamin C decrease signs of hay fever (allergic rhinitis). I am interested to know if vitamin C improves motion sickness. I have not heard about this one. 
  • Primarily stimulate gastric acid secretion. In the early days of vitamin C it was noted that giving vitamin C to "poor eaters" decreased their stomach issues and increased their appetite.
  • Decreased neurotransmitter release: histamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin. This will explain how some people have improved their depression (low serotonin) with vitamin C.Also why vitamin C helps stressed people as norepinephrine is released when you are under stress.
Most of my comments are anecdotal in nature. However if I get the time I will do some literature searching to determine what studies have been done in this area. I find it amazing that we have known that vitamin C has an anti inflammatory effect, yet nearly 40 years on we don't have it as a first port of call in inflammatory disease or issues.

Reference: B. K. Nandi, A. K. Majumder, N. Subramanian and I. B. Chatterjee  Effects of Large Doses of Vitamin C in Guinea Pigs and Rats. The Journal of Nutrition 1973