Do You Need Vitamin D Supplements?

There has been a spike in the number of people taking high-dose Vitamin D supplements and when we say high dose, this means intake of more than 1,000 IU. Deficiency in vitamin D can be a factor for increasing your risk to various health issues like depression, type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and bone fractures to name a few. And due to these worrisome risks, there has been a reported increase in vitamin D screening and use of the supplement for older adults beyond the age of 60.

A Doctor’s Take on Vitamin D

According to an associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine, Dr. Audrey Chun, “Having low or deficient levels is not part of normal aging, however, it is very common.” She says that the reason behind it is that as people grow older, the less time they spend under the sun which helps to stimulate specialized cells underneath the skin to create vitamin D. Add to this, as we grow older, these specialized cells also become less efficient in the production of vitamin D.

What Scientific Evidence Suggests

Ok, so we have an increasing number of people who have low vitamin D levels which leads to supplementing their diet with said nutrient. This boils down to the ever-important question, is it working? How do we know it’s working? How can we say it’s working?

So, let’s go back to the reasons why people who are deficient in said vitamin want to supplement it in their diet. Essentially, they want their risk factor for diabetes, depression, bone fractures, and other health issues related to low vitamin D to go down, right? Right!

In a review of a variety of clinical trials that studied more than 80,000 individuals with an average age of 66, they found that intake of vitamin D consecutively for a year did not lead to a significant decrease in their risk for low vitamin D related health issues—no significant decrease in risk for stroke or heart attack. And these studies were published in JAMA cardiology.

In another study on 25,000 people, 50 years and older, who had continuously supplemented with Vitamin D for over 5 years did not show any correlation with a decreased incidence of cardiovascular problems or cancer. More importantly, even those people who had low vitamin D levels to start off did not reap any benefit from supplementation.

The majority of people take vitamin D supplements to promote bone health. Sadly, in an analysis of 81 studies published in 2018 showed no evidence that intake of vitamin D supplements led to fracture and fall prevention.

Get Your Vitamin D Naturally

The population can meet normal vitamin D levels without having to supplement. Natural vitamin D can come from a 15-minute sunshine exposure or it can also come from yummy sources like canned tuna, sardines, egg, salmon, and fortified foods like orange juice, cereal, and milk.

Lastly, too much vitamin D is not good or recommended because it may make you more prone to kidney stones.

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Supplements or Whole Foods: Which Has Best Long-Term Health Benefits?

People turn to supplements because they contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in a single dose or pill form. And with just one gulp, whether they are hungry or not hungry, have an appetite or not, can still enjoy their daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Another reason for supplements is they that contain all the potent phytophenol that vegetables and fruits of all colors can contain, and this is undeniably more “palatable” for people who don’t like their veggies.

However, emerging research shows that nutrients coming from whole foods have better long-term health benefits. In fact, vitamins in a pill form may not have as many protective benefits as its whole food counterpart.

Supplements vs. Whole Foods

Hands down, supplements DO give health benefits and may have a positive effect on all-cause mortality primarily due to the nutrients they contain. However, all the positive health benefits may partly or largely depend on where you get these nutrients.

In fact, a cancer epidemiologist of Tufts University, Fang Fang Zhang cited that “while supplement use contributes to an increased level of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements.”

Whole Foods for The Win With The Best Long-Term Health Benefits

It was seen that minerals and vitamins coming from whole food sources were linked to a lowered risk of death and heart-related problems.

In the study conducted by Zhang, it was done on a total of 30,000 plus people whose vitamin intake were recorded. Proper levels of copper, zinc, vitamin K, and A were linked to a decreased risk of heart diseases. But the huge eye-opener for them came when the sources for these vitamins were traced, and the results hinged on the sources of these nutrients.

Finally, Zhang concluded that those individuals who got their vitamins from supplements resulted in no reductions to their risk of heart disease. But, for those who got their nutrients from whole foods, enjoyed a lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as all-cause mortality risk. Therefore, where you get your vitamins is crucial to your long-term health benefits.

It Pays to Be Health Conscious

According to Zhang’s analysis of the data from a Gallup 2013 poll, showed that as much as 51.2% of Americans take dietary supplements and as much as 38.3% took them within the last 30 days. Although supplements may not have equal nutritive value to its whole food counterpart, the regimen of taking it is linked to positive traits like the person’s high level of health consciousness. As a result, they are less likely to be obese, drink heavily, or smoke—meaning they are conscious when it comes to lifestyle choices.

Zhang reported that those people who do take supplements generally had a higher baseline nutrient intake than those who did not supplement their diets.

To drive the point of the study once again, multivitamins may be convenient, but they fall short on providing the needed long-term health benefits—as hoped. Thus, there are no shortcuts when it comes to eating right, but the health benefits do accumulate even when you start with a vegetable or two.

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Food Vs Supplements: Which Way is Best to Get Nutrition?

Studies and research have shown that nutrients gained from whole foods are associated with a decreased risk of death. On the other end, an excessive intake of specific supplements has a detrimental effect on health.

When we talk of dietary supplements, we are focused on enzymes, amino acids, herbs, minerals, and vitamins. It has been noted that the intake of supplements helps boost your nutrient intake. As a result, a lot of health suppliers provide these supplements in a variety of forms like liquid powders, capsules, and tablets for more efficient delivery of nutrients.

When it comes to nurturing your body, supplements should NOT replace complete meals. That’s why they are called supplements because they are there to supplement your diet and not as a substitution for complete whole foods.

Data on U.S. Supplement Consumption

In 2009, a survey showed that 65% of the U.S. population takes dietary supplements. And by 2018, it jumped to 75%, which shows that consumer confidence and trust in nutritional supplements is growing strong. This led researchers to hypothesize that wellness and modern-day health regimen will always have dietary supplements as its mainstay.

Amongst the most popular supplements are calcium and vitamin D as well as other vitamin and mineral supplements. However, in the past five years, botanicals and herbals are gaining traction, especially turmeric supplements. According to surveys, the main reason people take dietary supplements is to support overall health and wellness.

Why High Intake of Supplements Can Harm You

There are many reasons why taking too much of a supplement can be harmful. One reason is that they may contain strong biological effects that can be harmful or life-threatening, especially when taken with other medication or supplements. Example, iron, vitamin D, and A can be unhealthy when taken in high amounts. Excessive calcium can cause palpitations and other muscle issues.

Dr. Zhang has stated that the studies they have conducted showed an increased level of nutrient intake with supplement use. However, the nutrients with beneficial health associations were from whole foods, which are not entirely seen in supplement intake. Foods as a source of nutrition trumps supplement intake.

Nutrients from Food Vs Supplements

Although many people use supplements, a recent study has shown that there is no advantage or decreased risk of premature death and heart diseases when you supplement with vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, and multivitamins. But, folic acid and B-vitamin complex has shown to be effective in risk reduction of cardiovascular disease.

While ongoing studies are still being conducted on supplement benefits, some studies provide evidence of the harmful effect of excessive nutrient intake. Overconsumption of supplements has been linked to the risk of certain cancers. Here are the key findings:

  • Excess calcium supplement intake of at least 1,000-mg daily is associated with early death due to cancer.
  • Sufficient intake of vitamins K and A as well as zinc from food is linked to lower chances of dying from heart problems.

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Food Premix Market Update & Key Findings

Worldwide, we are witnessing a surge in the popularity of the food premix market. The global market is foreseen to have a 5.6% growth increase during 2017-2026. The market is expected to exceed $2 billion in revenue. The surge of nutrient premix consumption, for example, amino acid-based formulas in baby food show the growing preference of consumers for nutritional fortification. The demand for nutritional fortification has had a constant growth.

The growth is driven by the high rates of micronutrient deficiency diseases found in all populations worldwide. These diseases are great factors for cases of malnutrition. Maize, sugar, wheat, vegetable oils, and flour are the types of food products that are fortified with vitamins and minerals that help ensure better health.

Fact.MR is a market research firm that offers customized market research reports. 5 things to take away from the FactMR’s food premix market update report:

1.    Premix that will help manage weight

Customers will continue to prefer food premix that can offer energy and weight management. Consumers are very concerned with ailments such as obesity. Fruits and vegetables have been proven time and time again to help with energy and weight management. GrandFusion vitamins and minerals are essential to creating products that can achieve these results for consumers.

2.    Premix has a small cut in the revenue pie

During the forecast period, food premix accounts for the least in the food market revenue share. Food and beverages will most probably remain dominant applications to food premix. Although, in nutritional improvement programs sales of food premix will have a similar CAGR in beverage and food.

3.    The amino acid, a precursor to protein, is the top premix preferred ingredient

The top preferred ingredient in food premix will remain to be Amino acids. The market revenue share for vitamins and minerals will remain significant, the share will be over 33% from 2017 to 2026. Nucleotide sales will be the fastest expansion of sales in terms of value in the market through 2026.

4.    North America and Europe are the top in the premix market

Food premix’s largest market will continue to be North America followed by Europe in terms of volume and value. Western economies that have an aging population, for example, Germany, the U.K., U.S., and Italy, will have an ongoing demand for food premix. These nations focus most on being healthy by regularly exercising, maintaining good diets, and leading active lifestyles. Because of these priorities, these nations will always have a strong demand for premix.

5.    North America and Europe account for more than half of premix revenue

In Europe and North America, sales of food premix revenues will together account for over three-fifths of the market’s share. The market in APEJ, in addition, is set to have a somewhat faster expansion compared to Europe. Although it will not account for as much in comparison to market revenue share.

6.    Powdered food premix is most in-demand worldwide

Worldwide it is expected that powdered form of food premix will be the most looked for among consumers. The sales of powder food premix will always have a larger revenue compared to revenues from liquid food premix. Powdered premixes are much easier to work with and it’s one of the key reasons we developed GrandFusion fruit and vegetable powders the way we did. With such a small concentrated amount of powder, you can add up to 21 vitamins and minerals all from plants. Consumers benefit and processors are able to create products that are better for you.

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Infant Autism Risk Can be Greatly Reduced with Prenatal Vitamins

Studies show that taking prenatal vitamins may help decrease the chances of infants developing autism even in families with higher risks. Folate, also known as folic acid, used as a dietary supplement has shown to significantly lower risks of developing ASD, also known as an autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Risk in the Family

Families have a higher risk of having another child with autism if they already have a child that is on the spectrum. Because of their genetics and heredity, they are 14 times more at risk to develop ASD. In JAMA Psychiatry, on February 27, new research was published that showed how even in high-risk families, prenatal vitamins are just as sufficient. Based off these studies, prenatal vitamins lower the risk of developing autism by 50% for these younger siblings.

Rebecca J. Schmidt, Ph.D. first author of the study and assistant professor in the department of public health sciences and the MIND Institute, UC Davis School of Medicine, informed Healthline that “Evidence is building for an important role of gestational exposures, including nutrition, in relation to autism. Research from imaging and other studies of the brain show that processes affected in autism occur during pregnancy. Studies have repeatedly shown that taking folic acid supplements was associated with protection from autism in the general population.”

Results of the Study on Prenatal Vitamins

Her studies showed how 241 families with ASD were affected by prenatal vitamins and supplements. They wanted to see if they were affected the same as other families and to see if they also received the same benefits from these supplements. The results showed that 96% of mothers said they took prenatal supplements, but the only ⅓ of supposed mothers took them in the recommended time, which was before pregnancy.

The study also showed that children were less likely to develop severe autism symptoms if the mothers took prenatal vitamins in the first month of their pregnancy. These children also received higher cognitive scores.

The results that came from these studies could profoundly impact public health. It is essential to spread the prevention of ASD for future generations. These findings can guide future expecting mothers with nutritional advice and inform them of health implications that come with supplements.

What the Study Could Mean

Vice-chair of the department of pediatrics at University of Missouri Health Care and part of Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Dr. Kristin Sohl, stated: “This is a small study that needs to be replicated in a larger sample before true risk reduction calculations and public health policy decisions can be made.”

Although Folic supplements have its pros, studies from Johns Hopkins University have revealed some cons. In 2016, researchers from the university released that mothers with high levels of vitamin b-12 and folic acid supplement had an 18% increase in chances of autism. But, only in extreme cases do prenatal supplements have a role in causing autism.

In the study, the women had excess levels of the vitamins and supplements; this was not the recommended intake by the World Health Organization. Even researchers from the survey agreed that prenatal vitamins were still essential and beneficial to mothers. Sohl adds on “Because many pregnancies are unplanned and because neural tube defects can develop in the first 28 days of fetal development, all women of child-bearing age are recommended to take increased folic acid.”

Parents should take the initiative to visit their doctors and consult about proper supplements and vitamins to take.

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Why Leafy Greens Protect Liver Health

In a study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers found out that leafy greens contain compounds that can help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in mice. Non-fatty liver disease, also called steatosis, is a disease wherein the fat builds up in the liver. Several studies suggest that NAFLD occurs in up to 40% of adults in the United States. NAFLD is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease especially in many developed nations where obesity rates are high. Experts linked NAFLD with other conditions including metabolic risk factors and obesity.

Leafy Greens Can Help Reduce The Risk For NAFLD

To date, there are no known approved therapies for NAFLD. Thus, if left unaddressed, it can lead to severe conditions including liver cirrhosis, steatohepatitis, and fibrosis. While there are no approved drug treatments for NAFLD, it can still be managed by losing weight, doing more physical exercise, and reducing fat intake. But aside from these strategies, it is also important to eat the right food.

A study conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered that the presence of inorganic nitrate in leafy greens could help reduce the incidence of fat buildup in the liver. Senior researcher Mattias Calstrom from the same university noted that inorganic nitrate is essential in reducing the prevalence of NAFLD in mice.

Benefits Of Nitrates On Mice Model Experiments

To conduct the study, mice models were used. The mice were divided into three groups and were fed with different diets. The control group was given a regular diet, the second group was given only a high-fat diet, and the last group was given a high-fat diet with nitrate supplementation.

Studies show that the mice that were given high-fat diet and supplementation had better insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure compared to those that were never given nitrate supplementation. Nitrate, commonly found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, is an essential compound in the body. Previous studies suggest that nitrates can increase the efficiency of the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell – thus improving energy. But more than boosting the energy, studies also show that nitrate can help protect the body against metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Aside from benefiting from the lowered risk for NAFLD, studies also show that there are many other health benefits from taking in foods rich in nitrate. One of the benefits is that it can have positive effects on cardiovascular health.

The Future Of Nitrate Supplementation

Calstrom noted that diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease follow the same mechanism wherein oxidative stress affects the nitric oxide signaling thus resulting in many metabolic disorders. As such, intake of nitrates has a lot of benefits to the body as it can help fight off the effects of oxidative stress. However, it is important to take note that researchers are yet to find out what other compounds make leafy greens very helpful to the body, but nitrates can pave the way to more discoveries.  For now, supplementation with nitrates can lead to new approaches to liver health.

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FDA Commissioner Plans to Modernize Dietary Supplement Regulations

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., resigning FDA Commissioner, revealed plans of strengthening the agency’s dietary supplements regulations. He expressed concern about FDA policies and abilities to manage risks that may emerge with the changes in the industry.

The head of the FDA announced a goal this month to regulate modern dietary supplements. Resigning FDA commissioner, Gottlieb, raised concern that changes in the supplement market have exceeded the level of security provided by the agency’s policies. A quarter of a century after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), was passed by Congress, the industry experienced extraordinary growth. The majority of adults are now taking supplements. Annual sales have reached a new peak, earning tens of billions of dollars.

But new plans were revealed that entails a different approach to regulating these products. According to Gottlieb, public health requirements need to be strengthened and made to be more modern to fulfill their obligations to the public. He also states that the FDA will commit to their priority concerning the oversight of supplements. They will also evaluate more ways to oversee the dietary supplement market. Most importantly, the FDA plans on educating and alerting the public about dangerous ingredients that may be contained in these supplements. They will also encourage new dietary ingredient notifications.

New FDA Announcement: Modernize Dietary Supplement Regulations

The commissioner announced, “We’re developing a new rapid-response tool to alert the public, so consumers can avoid buying or using products with that ingredient and notify responsible industry participants to avoid making or selling them.” Gottlieb talked about multiple ways to help the FDA advance their policy goals. He also brought up how they will use new and more effective ways of communicating when ingredients for dietary supplements are unlawful due to dangerous effects it could have on the public. One of Gottlieb’s goals is to alert the public to help customers avoid dangerous products. He would also like to notify manufacturers and distributors of safety concerns because they are known to ignore NDI notifications as there are usually dozens of notifications sent out each year. The commissioner also added, “We’ll look to address other challenges that may act as barriers to dietary supplement innovation and safety, including issues such as what the right incentives might be for establishing dietary supplement exclusivity, and the scope of permitted dietary ingredients.”

Gottlieb is fighting for a requirement to make a mandatory listing. He discussed how mandatory listing would have significant benefits for the public. He states, “A mandatory listing requirement could provide significant benefits by facilitating efficient enforcement of the law and establishing new mechanisms to identify bad actors who put the public at risk and undermine consumer confidence in the entire industry.” He is interested in hearing from more stakeholders so that his agency can accurately represent their current clients and the current state of the supplement industry. Some stakeholders have already expressed interest in a mandatory product listing system. Gottlieb states that a listing system will make it easier for the FDA to take effective action against dangerous products.

President and CEO of CRN, Steve Mister, has said that he appreciates Gottlieb’s efforts to modernize the supplement industry. Mister calls on Congress to take action and provide funds to the FDA so that they can make the required action to address critical problems in the dietary supplement market.

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Gen Z Eating Habits are Healthier and More Convenient

Generation Z refers to a group of people who are born from 1995 to 2010. Although they are one of the youngest demographics, they are moving the food culture in the United States. A report released by Packaged Facts noted that Gen Z eating habits are more likely to include a snack between meals compared with millennials. Moreover, they are also keen on preparing their own meals than millennials who currently live more fast-paced lives.

Gen Z eating habits have influenced the food industry by encouraging manufacturers to produce snacks that are appealing to this particular demographic.  What makes food appealing to this generation is its natural origin. In fact, many of this generation prefer food that is made from organic and natural ingredients. They also prefer food that does not contain additives such as preservatives, sugar, and many others. They are also most likely to prefer vegetarianism over other types of diets.

Health And Convenience Are Defining Factors in Gen Z Eating Habits

Because many Gen Zs are opting for healthy eating habits, more food manufacturers are producing healthy food products to meet the demands of this generation. It is also important to take note that although this generation is relatively young, their eating, as well as shopping habits, will probably not change as they age. This means that they will continue to seek products that are made from clean ingredients and come with transparent labels.

Why this generation is so obsessed with healthy living comes from the influence of their millennial and gen x parents. In a recent report in 2018 released by SPINS, they noted that this generation still prefers products that are easy, accessible, and convenient. Gen Z is in perpetual motion and surrounded by gadgets. As a generation that is adept in performing multiple tasks at one time, this has influenced their eating habits such that they prefer foods that they can easily eat but do not require too much prep time. They also prefer products that are microwavable, but they are looking for those that are organic, natural, and free from synthetic ingredients.

The Direction Of Many Food Manufacturers

The demand for healthier food products by Gen Z eating habits has led to many food companies producing healthy products. One such company is Barilla that recently introduced healthy microwavable pasta that people can take as snacks or dinner. Research Director of Packaged Facts, David Sprinkle, noted that many from this generation know the value of healthy foods but they want the convenience of easy-to-prepare foods. There are huge present opportunities for many foods and beverage manufacturers to create different preparations of packaged foods from canned soups, chips, and desserts to name a few.

The bottom line here is that many food and beverage manufacturing companies can gain a lot from developing food products that will appeal to the larger population of Gen Z eating habits. In fact, they account for at the most $143 billion in terms of direct spending.  And since they make up about 26% of the population in the United States, they are a force to be reckoned with.

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