Spike in kids’ health issues foretells problems

Rise in chronic ills may up health-care spending, disability risk, experts say
Updated: 7:50 p.m. ET June 26, 2007
WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. children with chronic health problems such as obesity has soared in the past four decades, foreshadowing increases in adult disability and public health-care spending, researchers said on Tuesday.
More time in front of the television and use of other electronic media, decreased physical activity, increased time spent indoors, increased consumption of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, and changes in parenting are all likely to blame, the researchers said.
Writing in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted to childhood chronic disease, researchers tracked rising rates of obesity, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among U.S. children.
In the early 1970s, about 5 percent of children ages 5 to 18 were obese, compared to about 18 percent now, the researchers said. Asthma rates are estimated at 9 percent among these children, doubling since the 1980s, they said.
About 6 percent of school-age children currently report an ADHD diagnosis, also a dramatic increase in recent decades, the researchers said.
“The expanding epidemics of child and adolescent chronic health conditions will likely lead to major increases in disability among young and then older adults in the next several decades, with major increases in public expenditures for health care and income support,” the researchers wrote.
They based their estimates on government data and previously published research in scientific journals.
Focus on prevention
“One of the most important messages is that we really need to focus on prevention,” said Steven Gortmaker of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the report.
“Genetic bases have been described for obesity, asthma and ADHD. Nonetheless, gene pool changes cannot explain the recent dramatic growth of these conditions,” the researchers wrote, pointing instead to a host of behavioral and environmental changes.
Gortmaker said while prevention sounds simple — eating a more healthful diet, getting more exercise and cutting down on TV — making it happen is not.
In many children, chronic health conditions continue into adulthood and can be expected to raise health care costs while driving down quality of life, the researchers said.
Obesity is recognized as a growing public health problem worldwide. Obese people are at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.
ADHD persists into adulthood roughly half the time, putting people at higher risk of other mental health problems, the researchers said. Asthma persists to adulthood in at least a quarter of childhood cases, they said.

March is National Nutrition Month

Making Smart Food and Dietary Supplement Choices

Research increasingly validates the connections between nutrition and health and the types and amounts of food we eat. Science also helps us understand the impact of nutrition on the likelihood of developing certain diseases as well as the likelihood of maintaining good health and increasing longevity. For example, we know that both dietary excesses and deficiencies are linked to certain diseases. Obesity and high fat diets are established risk factors for the development of coronary heart disease, many types of cancers, ischemic stroke and type 2 diabetes. In fact, these four conditions alone account for approximately 85% of all deaths in the United States.

On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies in our modern diets have also been connected to numerous health conditions. For example, we know that suboptimal intakes of calcium and vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis and inadequate intakes of folic acid at conception and during pregnancy can increase a women’s risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect. Yet many Americans fail to consume the recommended servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products to meet their nutritional needs. Many of us rely on fast and convenience foods that are highly refined and often low in vitamin and mineral content. And to make matters worse, as we age we tend to absorb nutrients from food less efficiently. So in honor of National Nutrition Month, vow to improve your nutrition, which in turn will help reduce your risk of disease and promote lifelong health and well-being. Commit to making smarter food choices, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, and taking appropriate dietary supplements to fill in nutritional gaps, address your specific health needs or assist you in weight management.

Let’s start with making smarter food choices. Unless you’re a farmer or rancher growing, raising and harvesting your own food, chances are you’re like most Americans and find it a challenge to get back to basics and do some home cooking. Finding the time these days to make it to the grocery store to shop for healthy food choices may be difficult. And even if you do make it to the store, taking the time needed to rummage through the aisles and select the smartest food choices from over 40,000 items you’ll find there can be overwhelming. So, to help make your next trip through the grocery store a little bit easier, here are some basic supermarket survival tips:

. Most grocery stores are arranged in about the same way, with the freshest foods placed around the perimeter, or the “square,” of the store. That’s where you’ll find the fresh produce, low fat dairy foods, lean meat (poultry, fish, etc.), and whole grain breads-and that’s where you should start.
. Make your first stop in the produce section, where you can choose fresh fruits and vegetables that are low in calories, high in fiber, and abundant in vitamins and minerals. Dark green and deep orange-yellow fruits and vegetables are better choices than pale colored produce. Take advantage of buying organic produce, if you can (less pesticide exposure).
. Next is a visit to the dairy section. Choose nonfat or 1% fat products, which are a great source of quality protein, calcium, and vitamin D without too many calories. If you are a soy milk drinker, you will probably find the ready-to-drink, refrigerated soy milk there, too. Look for a low-fat version.
. On to the meat section, where you should look for lean, protein-rich foods such as skinless chicken or turkey breast meat, fresh fish, extra-lean beef, and extra-lean ground turkey made from white meat. Diets higher in protein may aid in weight loss because studies suggest that protein helps control hunger.
. Then follow your nose to the bakery section. Skip the unhealthy stuff like
muffins, donuts, and scones, and look for whole grain breads that are high in fiber and low in fat, such as 100% whole wheat bread, pitas, and tortillas.
. Once you’ve shopped the square, make a brief trip to the inner aisles to
grab some brown rice and whole grain cereal.

Next, if you’re like 65% of Americans, overweight or obese, now is the time to achieve a healthy weight that’s right for you. And the good news is that you don’t have to lose a lot of weight to reduce your risk for disease and improve your health. A modest weight loss of 5-10% in body weight (10 lbs. for example) can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease and can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Achieving a healthy weight starts by watching your caloric intake and the best way is to make modest decreases in the amount of food you eat each day combined with a significant boost in your level of physical activity. Commit to a comprehensive weight management program, designed to help your body preserve lean muscle which is essential to weight management success. Preserving lean muscle while you lose weight from fat helps preserve your metabolic rate or your ability to burn calories.

And while you’re making those smarter food choices and achieving a healthy weight, remember to make wise supplement choices a part of your daily routine. Despite our best efforts to eat healthier, it never hurts to get some nutrition insurance with a balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement. Supplemental calcium, vitamin D, and the antioxidant vitamins C and E should also be considered. In fact most of us fall short in getting the recommended amount of calcium each day, so taking at least 1,000 mg of supplemental calcium each day is a smart choice, especially for women who are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Adding in other supplemental nutrients that are supported by strong scientific evidence for their potential health benefits is also highly recommended. For example, the research supporting the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Increasing one’s intake of the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and significant improvements in various inflammatory disorders. Higher intakes of EPA and DHA also help to retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Although omega 3 fatty acid rich fish is a great way to get omega 3 fatty acids, many people are concerned today about heavy metal and PCB contamination in fish. Therefore, one of the best and safest ways to get your omega 3s is to choose a highly purified omega 3 fatty acid rich fish oil supplement each and every day.Certainly, the old adage from our mothers and grandmothers continues to be valid: “we are what we eat.” So again, make a special effort on behalf of National Nutrition Month to improve “what you are” by eating plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains. Achieve a healthy weight by cutting your portion sizes, boosting your physical activity and following a weight management program designed to help you preserve lean muscle, and be sure to include a wise array of appropriate dietary supplements to fill in your nutrition gaps, address specific health needs and assist in your weight management efforts.
Here’s to being the best you can be!
Dr. Jamie McManus MD, FAAFP
Chairman, Medical Affairs, Health Sciences and Education

A vitamin a day may do more harm than good

What’s in your daily vitamin? You may be surprised, according to a new report.
• Harmful vitamins?
Jan. 19: Tod Cooperman of Consumerlab.com talks with TODAY host Matt Lauer about his company’s report, which finds that some vitamins may actually be hazardous to your health.
If you’re banking on a daily vitamin to make up for any deficiencies in your diet, you may be getting a whole lot more — or less — than you bargained for.
Of 21 brands of multivitamins on the market in the United States and Canada selected by ConsumerLab.com and tested by independent laboratories, just 10 met the stated claims on their labels or satisfied other quality standards.
Most worrisome, according to ConsumerLab.com president Dr. Tod Cooperman, is that one product, The Vitamin Shoppe Multivitamins Especially for Women, was contaminated with lead.
“I was definitely shocked by the amount of lead in [this] woman’s product,” he said. “We’ve never seen that much lead in a multivitamin before.”
Other products contained more or less of a particular vitamin than listed on the label. And some did not dissolve in the correct amount of time, meaning they could potentially pass through the body without being fully absorbed.
“Half the products were fine, half were not,” said Cooperman.
ConsumerLab.com is a Westchester, N.Y.-based company that independently evaluates hundreds of health and nutrition products and periodically publishes reviews. In the new report, released to MSNBC.com, the company purchased a selection of the popular multivitamins on the market as well as some smaller brands and sent them, without labels, to two independent laboratories to be tested.
On a positive note, several of the most popular multivitamins on the market did pass muster, said David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C.
These included Centrum Silver, Member’s Mark Complete Multi (distributed by Sam’s Club), One A Day Women’s and Flintstones Complete.
“I think this confirms the advice often given: You’re safer choosing a well-known brand sold by some company or store that you have confidence in,” Schardt said. “There are no guarantees but that’s your best bet.”
Tips for picking a multivitamin
Vitamins and other dietary supplements aren’t required to undergo the same testing as medicines, so it’s buyer beware. But there are some steps you can take to help you pick a better product, says David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in Washington, D.C. He recommends:
— Choosing well-known mainstream brands by companies that have a lot at stake.
— Buying from large, trusted retailers, not unknown sellers on the Internet.
— Looking on the bottle for a stamp from USP, NSF or ConsumerLab.com. While the stamp doesn’t guarantee the product is safe and effective, it does indicate that the manufacturer has submitted the product for testing to show that it contains what is stated on the label.
— Not spending a fortune on vitamins. Pricey products toting all sorts of “extras” aren’t necessary and may be trouble.
Random vitamin testing isn’t foolproof. For instance, because ConsumerLab.com tested several bottles from a particular lot number of each vitamin, it’s not a given that products produced at a different time would have the exact same contents. But detectable problems are a red flag that there could be problems with a company’s production process.
In the report, tests showed that The Vitamin Shoppe women’s product contained 15.3 micrograms of lead per daily serving of two tablets.
This amount of lead is more than 10 times the amount permitted without a warning in California, the only state that regulates lead in supplements, Cooperman said. On average, most American adults are exposed to about 3 micrograms of lead through food, wine and other sources, he said, and while 15.3 micrograms of lead per day may not be immediately toxic, the mineral is stored in the body and could build up to dangerous levels with time.
“I would be concerned about a woman taking a multivitamin that contains 15.3 micrograms of lead per daily serving,” said Judy Simon, a dietitian at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Among other effects, she said, lead can contribute to high blood pressure.
The same product also contained just 54 percent of the 200 milligrams of calcium stated on the label.
The analysis also showed that Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears, a multivitamin for children, had 216 percent of the labeled amount of vitamin A in the retinol form, delivering 5,400 International Units (IU) in a daily serving. That’s substantially more than the upper tolerable level set by the Institute of Medicine of 2,000 IU for kids ages 1 to 3 and 3,000 IU for those 4 to 8.
Because too much vitamin A can cause bone weakening and liver abnormalities, the Yummi Bears “could be potentially doing more harm than good,” Cooperman said. “Vitamin A is one of those vitamins where you really don’t want to get too much.”
Schardt said the lead and vitamin A findings are worrisome because vitamins are generally taken every day, potentially building up to toxic levels and leading to problems down the line. In particular, he noted, women with high levels of lead in their bodies who become pregnant could pass on problems to a fetus.
David Morrison, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at The Vitamin Shoppe, said his company’s products are all tested more than once, including screening for lead, and he questioned the new results. “It would be very surprising to me if this were actually true,” he said.
Hero Nutritionals did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group in Washington, D.C., that represents supplement manufacturers, said that if the findings on lead and vitamin A are, in fact, accurate, “that is not acceptable for the industry.”
Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears, a multivitamin for children, had 216 percent of the labeled amount of vitamin A.
But he also said that top manufacturers consistently produce quality products and that with 150 million Americans taking vitamins or other dietary supplements annually, few problems surface.
“If we had a serious issue of safety, we’d be hearing concerns from consumers in large numbers and we’re not,” he said.
The ConsumerLab.com report also found that some vitamins didn’t break apart within the 30-minute standard set by the United States Pharmacopeia. Nature’s Plus Especially Yours for women required more than an hour to disintegrate, while AARP Maturity Formula took 50 minutes.
These products “could potentially go through your body without releasing all the nutrients,” Cooperman said.
Mark Kitchens, an AARP spokesperson, said the Maturity Formula undergoes routine testing, and that during testing in November “among the attributes tested was dissolution and it met FDA requirements.” Still, “as precautionary measures to protect our members” AARP is pulling the product from the market and offering refunds to anyone who has purchased it, he said. How some multivitamins measured up
ConsumerLab.com selected more than 20 brands of multivitamins to be tested by independent laboratories. Here’s a partial list of how some of them fared:
Multivitamins that met standards:
— Centrum Silver
— Member’s Mark Complete Multi
— One A Day Women’s
— Flinstones Complete
Those that failed:
— The Vitamin Shoppe Multivitamins Especially for women: Contaminated with lead
— Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears: Had twice the labeled amount of vitamin A
— Nature’s Plus Especially Yours for Women: Took twice as long as allowed to disintegrate
— AARP Maturity Formula: Took nearly twice as long as allowed to disintegrate
— Eniva VIBE: Had only 54 percent of claimed vitamin A
— Pet-Tabs Complete Daily Vitamin-Mineral Supplement for Dogs: Contained lead
In other findings, Eniva VIBE, a multivitamin liquid sold in packets, had only 54 percent of the claimed vitamin A.
ConsumerLab.com also tested a vitamin marketed for dogs called Pet-Tabs Complete Daily Vitamin-Mineral Supplement for Dogs and found the product was contaminated with 1.4 micrograms of lead per tablet.
Whether most people — or dogs, for that matter — really need to take a multivitamin is a subject of debate.
Experts agree that prenatal vitamins are important for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and that people with very poor diets can benefit from nutrients in a pill.
Schardt says multivitamins offer everyone “an inexpensive insurance policy.” But Cooperman and many dietitians note that it’s better to get your nutrition from a well-balanced diet.
“In many cases, you don’t need a multivitamin,” Cooperman said.
© 2007 MSNBC Interactive.
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Statins and Vitamin D Deficiency

In my book, Statin Drugs Side Effects and the misguided war on cholesterol, and on this website I have discussed the vital role of cholesterol in the human body. Our most important hormones depend upon adequate reserves of cholesterol for their production and nowhere is this more important than as the precursor substance for the synthesis of Vitamin D, know also as calcitrol.
Researchers in this field are sufficiently concerned from the results of their studies to pronounce that we are in the midst of an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency of immense proportion. Study after study of nursing home populations, of nursing mothers, of healthy male and female volunteers and of various children’s groups have consistently documented how relatively rare it is to have optimal levels of Vitamin D.
Some authorities support more liberal dietary supplementation of Vitamin D in our foodstuff. Others are urging that practical new approaches for vitamin D repletion in our country are urgently needed. This high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, even in those taking multivitamins, indicates that a critical review of vitamin D needs is a major priority.
A vitamin D precursor is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol in response to absorbing UVB rays. It then gets converted in the liver to an intermediate form. In the kidneys it joins with an important enzyme for conversion into its active hormonal form.
Many factors potentially interfere with the UVB conversion. People having darker skins are much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The aged skin of the elderly impairs cholesterol conversion as does the presence of obesity. Our present day emphasis on protecting our skin from the sun, using sun-screens and blockers, also cuts down on the ability of UVB to convert cholesterol to vitamin D. Last but not least, one needs UVB exposure.
Without any sun exposure you need about 4,000 units of vitamin D a day. In the absence of other supplements you would need 40 glasses of milk or ten multi-vitamins capsules daily to supply your vitamin D needs. Most of us make about 20,000 units of vitamin D after 20 minutes of summer sun due to UVB conversion of cholesterol. Numerous studies document that the majority of our society falls short of meeting either their dietary of UVB conversion needs for vitamin D.
Now consider the impact of statin drugs on a society already overburdened with an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Cholesterol must be available in our bodies in amounts sufficient to allow UVB conversion to vitamin D. We are all genetically blessed with a “natural level” of cholesterol. What is natural for one person may be completely inadequate for another. Into this heterogenous pool we dump statins indiscriminately in a misguided attempt to bring everyone’s natural level of cholesterol down to some artificially low level. Need I add that eight of the nine people making the 2004 cholesterol guidelines were subsidized one way or another by the statin drug manufacturer?
I cannot think of anything more likely to aggravate our already immense, vitamin D deficient state. There is little doubt that the availability of statins drugs these past two decades has made a major contribution to this problem.
Duane Graveline MD MPH
My book, “Statin Drugs Side Effects”, is now
available from my website (www.spacedoc.net)
Duane Graveline MD MPH
4414 Cormorant Lane
Merritt Island FL 32953

Vitamin D may fight Multiple Sclerosis

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
Tue Dec 19, 8:48 PM ET
CHICAGO – An abundance of vitamin D seems to help prevent multiple sclerosis, according to a study in more than 7 million people that offers some of the strongest evidence yet of the power of the “sunshine vitamin” against MS.
The research found that white members of the U.S. military with the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 62 percent less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than people with low levels.
There was no such connection in blacks or Hispanics, possibly because there were so few in the group studied. Also, the body makes vitamin D from sunlight, and the pigmented skin of blacks and other dark-skinned ethnic groups doesn’t absorb sunlight as easily as pale skin.
The new research echoes findings in smaller studies that examined why the nerve-damaging disease historically has been more common in people who live in regions farther from the equator where there is less intense year-round sunlight.
“This is the first large prospective study where blood levels are measured in young adults and compared to their future risk. It’s definitely different and much stronger evidence,” said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the senior author and an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health.
The study appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
“If confirmed, this finding suggests that many cases of MS could be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels,” Ascherio said.
Still, he said the findings don’t prove that a lack of vitamin D can cause MS, so it’s too preliminary to recommend that people take vitamin D pills to avoid the disease.
Vitamin D also is found in fortified milk and oily fish, but it’s hard to get enough just from diet. Sunlight is the biggest source of vitamin D, which is needed for strong bones. Other studies have linked high levels of vitamin D in the blood to lower risks of a variety of cancers.
The MS researchers worked with the Army and Navy in analyzing blood samples of military personnel stored by the Department of Defense.
Military databases showed that 257 service men and women were diagnosed with MS between 1992 and 2004. The increased MS risk was especially strong in people who were younger than 20 when they entered the study. The researchers said that finding suggests that vitamin D exposure before adulthood could be particularly important.
Using blood samples to measure vitamin D levels “tends to nail it down in a much more reliable way” than studies that have relied on people’s memories of vitamin D exposure, said Dr. Nicholas LaRocca of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
MS is among the most common nerve disorders affecting young adults, mostly women. About 350,000 people in the United States and 2 million worldwide have MS, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the fatty insulation that surrounds nerve fibers.
Ascherio said there’s some evidence that its incidence is increasing in sunny regions including the South and West, possibly because people are avoiding the sun or using sunscreen to protect against skin cancer.
Some doctors think those practices also have contributed to vitamin D deficiencies in adolescents and young adults.
“There’s no question that vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. William Finn, a vitamin D expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The MS study “is just one more reason to pay attention to it.”
MS symptoms vary but can be disabling and can include tingling pain in the arms and legs, fatigue and vision problems.
Doctors believe it is genetic and perhaps triggered in susceptible people by environmental causes, including possibly some viruses. Vitamin D deficiency could be another trigger.
It’s unclear how lack of vitamin D might contribute. In mouse experiments, the vitamin stimulated production of chemicals that fight an MS-like disease.
On the Net:
JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org
National MS Society: http://www.nationalmssociety.org

Living in a Toxic World – Children’s Nutrition

I just read an article about a study that compared the health of Americans with those of Britons of the same age and ethnicity ie caucasian, of course the Americans won hands down in ill health. The article wondered why with all the money that we spend on health care over here, we are more unhealthy. They were saying that maybe we spend less on preventive health care etc. As a physician that has practiced medicine on two continents and being married to one that actually practiced in England for 5 years I can vouch for the fact that we practice more preventive medicine here than anywhere in the world. The problem lies somewhere else. As a country USA has more chemicals insidiously pervading in every aspect of our lives than any country in the world. No wonder with all the money in the health care system we are so unhealthy.
One of my patients, recently showed me a hamburger that she had bought from a fast food joint 6 years ago. It looked maybe a day old, thats how stuffed with preservatives it was! How can the body handle food like that. Food is meant to be broken down into basic building blocks for the body to use. Anything that is not food is sent to the liver to handle or stored elsewhere or excreted by the kidneys and so on.
So, as a parent what are you to do? How do you protect your children given this environment? Its not easy. You do need extra effort but you cannot afford not to! Consider the fact that according to a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, household chemical and pesticide exposure doubled childhood leukemia risk! The authors described the links as “significant” and said that preventive action should be taken to make sure that the risks to children were as small as possible. A group of pesticides known as carbamates present in plant treatments, lice shampoos and insect sprays were most commonly linked to leukemia. Did you know that essential oils that are obtained from natural plant sources can be used as insect killers and lice treatments! You don’t need to subject your children to dangerous pesticides.
So, lets start with the lunch box. Many lunch boxes that you buy in stores contain lead. There is no safe level of lead for children. You can buy lead free lunch boxes from reusablebags.com. Next, the plastic wrappers. Some of them contain additives like bisphenol A and phthalates that are cancer causing. Paper wrapping is safer like parchment paper, brown bags etc.
Next, read labels. You will find that baked goods that are imported from europe, by and large will have 3 or 4 ingredients. Flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Go check out some of the baked goods produced here. The ingredient list is so long that if I listed it, it would use up the remaining space for my article! Monoglycerides, diglycerides and long chemical names that most people cannot even pronounce!
Then we have the class of compounds known as excitotoxins, the most infamous of which is monosodiumdiglyceride or MSG. I am amazed at the number of products that contain it!
Soups, chips, crackers, noodles, instant rice and the list goes on and on! How many chemicals can a child’s small body handle!
Some of the juices and sodas that are marketed to children contain both ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate which when mixed together produce the cancer causing substance – benzene. Don’t buy poison for your children and monitor what they buy in school!
Milk has gone from being a health food to a toxic drink. It is stuffed with hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals. On the top of that homogenization turns a natural food into an unnatural substance that makes the body work harder to deal with it! Buy organic and buy non homogenized.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats damage your child’s brain. They cause the cell membrane to become rigid and inflexible. They are toxic! Please read labels for the sake of your and your family’s health. The coalition for healhier schools has a “Back to school checklist” that you can check out at Organic consumers.org. The state of Minnesota has recommended that schools use Integrated Pest Management to reduce toxic threats to children. They also passed legislation to reduce unnecessary school bus idling to protect children from dangerous diesel fumes.
Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Ultrametabolism says “We live in a culture that makes it nearly impossible to make healthy food choices. A number of food industry and political factors keep us sick and fat. In supermarkets 25% of the square footage is devoted to selling sugar. Political advice focuses on personal responsibility, not the effects of a toxic food environment, it focuses on individual choices instead of public health initiatives. And it makes things way too complex (like the new food pyramid) instead of focusing on simple principles like eating whole, organic foods, with lots of fibre and consuming a diet plentiful in fruits and vegetables and omega 3 fats, and low in sugar and junk food.
His suggestion :- and I could not put it better myself!
– Buy around the perimeter of the store (that’s where the healthy stuff is)
– Don’t go down aisles (that’s where most of the junk food is)
– Don’t buy food in a box
– Or with more than 5 ingredients
– Or with ingredients you can’t pronounce
– Or with a cartoon on the package.
Dr. Bakhru is an internist with a practice in Poughkeepsie. Visit her website http://www.arunabakhrumd.com for more information.

Organic, non toxic complete vitamin and mineral supplement for children

Multivitamin Supplements are a Safe and Effective Contributor to a Healthy Lifestyle

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently held a State of the Science Conference on Multivitamin/Mineral (MVM) Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention. As many of you are aware, the committee’s position statement has received some attention in the media and has been subject to confusing and mixed interpretation. Shaklee would like to take this opportunity to clarify the conference findings and share with you the basic tenets of MVM use that have been a part of Shaklee’s heritage since its inception.
Any recommendations by the panel that influence consumers to modify or reduce MVM usage would be a setback to consumer health. In fact, the Chairperson of the committee indicated during a press conference that if you are already taking a multivitamin, then you should continue taking it. Here are some points that support this position:
Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements are a safe, effective, and reliable means of filling nutrition gaps and ensuring adequate intake of a variety of nutrients-an affordable nutritional insurance policy.
According to the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, intakes of vitamins A, C and E, along with calcium and magnesium are especially low in the diets of Americans.
Generous intakes of antioxidant vitamins have been associated with reduced risk of some chronic diseases, in the same way that generous intakes of fruits and vegetables have been associated with similar health benefits.
The March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control encourage women of child-bearing age to take a multivitamin with folic acid daily as part of a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle practice to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects.
The Alpha Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Trial (ATBC) which suggested a protective effect of vitamin E in the prevention of colorectal and prostate cancer.
Studies showing selenium intake associated with protective effects on total mortality and incidence of lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers.
The Women’s Health Initiative Study (WHI) which showed an increase in hip bone density and trend toward reduced hip fracture rate in those supplementing with calcium and vitamin D.
The Supplémentation en Vitamines et Minéraux Antioxydants Study (SUVIMAX) that documented a reduced cancer risks in subjects supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, selenium, and zinc.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) which showed a decrease in the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration with supplementation of antioxidants and zinc.
A study of women taking Shaklee Vita-Lea showed a rate of bone density improvement that was 2 to 3 times greater than that found for subjects on a calcium/vitamin D supplement alone.
Another study of Vita-Lea that yielded significant increases within the normal range for serum vitamin B12, vitamin C, and folate suggesting that even those consuming dietitian designed meals might still benefit from MVM supplementation such as Vita-Lea.
We at Shaklee recognize the multivitamin is not a substitute for other healthy lifestyle choices like eating right, exercising regularly and visiting your doctor. But a multivitamin, used daily and consistently over the long-term, and combined with other smart lifestyle choices, will provide important benefits for optimal health.
The best advice is to eat your fruits and vegetables, take your vitamins, and try to adopt other healthy lifestyle habits that Shaklee has been promoting for 50 years. For decades we have promoted Vita-Lea as the foundation to your nutritional insurance program because the benefits of bridging nutritional gaps in the diet are indisputable.

New Study Supports the benefits of Vitamin E

New study supports the benefits of Vitamin E
A study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association’s July 6, 2005 edition confirms not only the safety of vitamin E, but also specific heart health benefits for women.
This study, called the Women’s Health Study (WHS), is particularly significant since it is the largest and longest single study involving vitamin E ever conducted, involving 40,000 women over a 10-year period. Among the positive findings, WHS showed A 24% reduction in cardiovascular deaths among the entire population of women who took vitamin E supplements over a 10-year period, and a 49% reduction in cardiovascular deaths among the women aged 65 and older who took vitamin E supplements over a 10-year period.
Dr.Andrew Shao, the vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s regulatory and scientific affairs, said the data from this new study clearly shows that vitamin E can help healthy women, especially older women, and that they can expect to derive substantial benefit.
Dr. Maret Traber, a world renowned vitamin E expert, and principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute, said the results of the study were exciting, and that vitamin E has clear value in helping to reduce the risk of heart and other serious degenerative diseases, especially for people who smoke, have high blood pressure, or who don’t eat properly-habits that can cause inadequate levels of this essential vitamin.
Jamie McManus, M.D., and Chair of Medical Affairs & Education at Shaklee, said the WHS findings are significant for two reasons: 1) The data showed convincingly that taking vitamin E supplements reduces the risk of cardiovascular death even in healthy women indicating that this essential nutrient confers benefits beyond those derived from healthy lifestyles, balanced nutrition and regular exercise; 2) It is now recognized that while heart disease is the number one cause of mortality in both men and women, the signs and symptoms typically occur about ten years later in women versus men. Accordingly, the Women’s Health Study demonstrated that the protective effects of vitamin E were most apparent in the age group having the greatest risk; thus in women aged 65 and older, cardiovascular death was reduced by 49% and heart attack by 34% in the group receiving Vitamin E.

“I firmly believe that more studies like this one,” said Dr. McManus, “where healthy people are followed over long time periods, will reveal new and important information about the role of nutrition along with the use of supplements in optimizing people’s health.”
We encourage people to supplement their diets with vitamin E, since the benefits are clear.
Vitamin E is Safe and Effective

There are more than 1,000 studies that support the safe and efficacious use of Vitamin E supplements. Research studies on Vitamin E supplements have linked the antioxidant to numerous health benefits including reduced progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration, reduced occurrence of cataracts, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, slower progression of atherosclerosis, lower incidence of non-fatal myocardial infarction, and reduced incidence of upper respiratory infection, to name just a few.
The Council on Responsible Nutrition, Jeffrey Blumberg, Chief of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University and member of the Shaklee Scientific Advisory Board, as well as other experts on Vitamin E affirm its safety and effectiveness. Use supplements as directed on the label. The scientific and clinical data shows well-established benefits of Vitamin E. Supplementation with vitamins, including Vitamin E, makes sense in support of a healthy lifestyle, and for people who desire nutritional insurance for the gaps left unfilled by the typical diet.
For additional expert information about the safety of Vitamin E, see the Council for Responsible Nutrition website at: www.crnusa.org/vitaminEissafe.html

Click here for state of the art whole food Vitamin E supplementation
References supporting vitamin E
1993 – supplementation with vitamin E was associated with a 30-40% reduced risk for coronary disease in a study of 90,000 nurses (Nurses Health Study; NEJM 328:1444-1449)
1993 – total vitamin E intake is inversely related to the risk of colon cancer; those with a highest vitamin E intake had the lowest incidence of colon cancer (Iowa Women’s Health Study; Cancer Res:53:4230-4237)
1994 – Levels of vitamin E intake were inversely correlated with coronary deaths in both women and men in a large (>5000 people), long-term (14 year follow-up) Finnish study (Am. J. Epidemiol. 139:1180-1189).
1997 – A review of the literature concerning vitamin E and breast cancer concluded “although epidemiologic study results have been inconsistent, further study of this nontoxic vitamin is warranted.” (Nutr. Cancer 27:109-117).
2000 – supplementation with Vitamin E supplementation may prevent ischemic stroke in high risk hypertensive patients (Arch Neurol. 57:1503-1509; analysis of data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study)
2004 – protective effect of vitamin E supplementation on upper respiratory tract infections in elderly nursing home residents (JAMA 292:828-836)
2004 – supplementation with vitamins E and C in combination is associated with reduced prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer Disease (Arch. Neurol. 61:82-88; this study is from Johns Hopkins)
FDA – allows qualified health claim regarding “consumption of antioxidants (including Vitamin E) and reduced risk of some forms of cancer.”

The Disappearing Nutrients in America’s Orchards

The Disappearing Nutrients in America’s Orchards
By Alex Jack
“Will an apple a day with 40% less vitamin A, 40% less iron, and 30% less phosphorus still keep the doctor away?”
Fruit Basket Upset: The Disappearing Nutrients in America’s Orchards
To get the same calcium content from fresh veggies today as when JFK was president, you’d have to eat twice as much broccoli. To get the same amount of iron as when the Beatles were singing “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine,” you’d have to eat four times as many collard greens. To maintain your vitamin A and C levels under the next administration, it will take three times as much cauliflower and twice as much watercress as during the Nixon and Watergate era. These are a few of the conclusions gleaned from comparing the U.S. government’s food composition tables from the 1960s and 1970s to the present day.
Despite more food consciousness, the quality of the America’s food supply continues to hemorrhage. Since it was reported several years ago that the vitamin and mineral content of the nation’s garden vegetables had declined 25 to 50% in the last generation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has done nothing to reverse this trend except deny that it could be connected with the environmental crisis and government policies supporting chemical agriculture (see appendix below).
Citing my earlier research, Organic Gardening magazine ran an open letter addressed to the Secretary of Agriculture demanding an answer to the questions raised by his agency’s own data. “It is true that in many (but not all) cases, the apparent nutrient content of these vegetables has decreased,” Phyllis E. Johnson, director of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, admitted in a response on behalf of the secretary of agriculture. She listed thirteen variables that affect nutrient data. In respect to chemical agriculture, she stated, “We are not aware of specific data showing a linkage between over application of nitrogen fertilizer and decreases in food nutrient content. In some cases, nitrogen application has been found to increase the uptake of trace elements into the edible portions of plants.” She also rejected the theory that acid rain (which reduces calcium and other mineral content in forests) could affect cropland in the same way.
Over the last several years, conventional horticulture magazines, trade journals for the produce industry, and the mainstream press picked up on the story and brought it to the attention of millions of their readers. But there still has been no comprehensive study of the disappearing nutrients in the nation’s food supply or official proposals to remedy it.
In fact, despite the USDA’s new user-friendly database on the Internet, it appears that virtually none of the new nutrient data is finding its way into reference books or food labels. A spot check of several popular books on diet and health at Barnes and Noble found that every one used nutritional data from a generation ago. Similarly, most food labels appear to reflect nutritional levels that prevailed during the Cold War but no longer exist. (What food manufacturer would want to switch to new labels showing lower vitamin and mineral content than before?) The implication is that hundreds of millions of meals that are prepared every day in homes, schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, nursing homes, and other institutions are based on obsolete nutrition!
Falling Fruit
Similar studies in Europe have come to the same conclusion, and calls by scientists and journalists for any follow up data have inspired me to undertake research and analysis of several other food groups. For this article, I have investigated the nutrient loss in fresh fruits over the last 25 years. In a recent experiment, I compiled a “digital fruit basket” of twelve common fruits and compared their nutrient content today with that published in Handbook #8 issued by the USDA in 1975. Like the sample of twelve random vegetables I investigated earlier, I found that the fruits have lost a major share of their vitamins and minerals. Overall, vitamin C levels are off 1.9%, vitamin A levels are down 16.4%, phosphorus has diminished 23.9%, calcium content has fallen 28.9%, and iron levels have plunged 47.6% (see charts).
The vitamin A in apples, for example, dropped 41%, strawberries lost 55%, and that in grapefruit plunged 87.5%. Vitamin C fared better, with minor losses in a majority of the fruits, though that in cherries was off a hefty 30% and lemons dropped 31.2%. Grapefruit, also significantly down in calcium and iron, has particularly lost its vitality. This may be the result of pollution in the Everglades (caused primarily by run off from sugar refining). The vitamin levels in oranges, Florida’s other top crop, remained constant, but its iron content fell 75%.
Though the vast majority of changes were losses, there were a few gains. The iron in apricots rose 8%, calcium in watermelon increased 14.3%, and the vitamin A in cherries soared 94.6%. New hybrid seeds, variable climatic conditions, and other factors may account for these increases. Of course, determining the precise cause of nutrient loss is difficult. Even environmentalists, organic farmers, and biologists are deeply divided over whether geographical area, soil type, soil moisture, soil health (humus content, fertility, microbial activity, etc.), weather and climatic conditions, or cultural practices (such as fertilization, composting, seed source, irrigation, and post-harvest handling) are primary factors. Then, too, looking only at individual nutrients compared with the energy of the whole food is also problematic. Still, the overall downward trend is alarming. Will an apple a day with 40% less vitamin A, 40% less iron, and 30% less phosphorus still keep the doctor away?
The question also arises whether organically grown foods are also losing nutrients? The USDA does not distinguish or keep separate statistics for conventionally and organically grown foods, but we may assume that most of the data in its food composition tables is from chemically grown crops. Overall, the few independent studies that have been done of organic produce show that they generally contain about 50 percent or more nutrients than their conventional counterparts. I suspect that the quality of organic produce has also fallen sharply in recent years, but studies are needed in this field.
What can be done? Here are several recommendations:
* The USDA and other federal, state, and local agencies should be required to monitor the changing nutritional content of the nation’s food supply; analyze to what extent it is caused by chemical agriculture, air and water pollution, soil erosion and loss of fertility, decline of seed vitality, the introduction of new hybrid and genetically altered seeds, the thinning of the ozone layer, global warming, and other factors; and develop strategies to protect personal and planetary health.
* Comprehensive studies of the nutritional content of organic foods compared to chemically grown foods and genetically engineered foods should be undertaken, especially given the introduction of new federal organic food standards and certification.
* A holistic, sustainable approach, based on natural and organic agriculture and a plant-centered diet, needs to be implemented to help preserve the vitality of the nation’s food system and the health of the American people. Loss of nutrients should not be used as an excuse to promote genetically engineered foods, chemical agriculture, or artificial supplementation of the diet.
In early 2005, the U.S. government will release the newest version of its Dietary Goals, including a revised Food Guide Pyramid. Reportedly, it will stipulate for the first time that whole grains (in contrast to refined grains) should constitute the foundation for a healthy diet, accompanied by abundant servings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Overall, the U.S. government dietary recommendations are gradually moving in a healthier direction. But if the nation’s nutrient base continues to decline, menus and recipes based on these guidelines will be tragically out of date, and “the fruited plain,” so eloquently described in the song “America the Beautiful,” will grow increasingly barren.
Nutritional Bleak House
In 1998, I first stumbled on official data showing a sharp decline in the nation’s food quality while updating nutrition charts for a new edition of one of my books. I soon discovered that the USDA no longer published nutrient data in book form, but posted it on the Internet (www.nat.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_s.pl). Not only could new information be made available instantaneously, but it could also be freely accessed in seconds.
“Great!” I thought. “This will really simplify my life.” But as I updated vitamin and mineral charts that I’d compiled fifteen years earlier, I realized that many of the nutrients had declined. “What’s going on here?” I wondered, dimly glimpsing the research headache that would ensue.
In an experiment, I jotted down twelve common garden vegetables at random and discovered that on average their vitamin and mineral had declined 25 to 50% across the board since the last published edition of the food composition tables in 1975 (including data going back to 1963 and earlier).
Alarmed, I called the USDA and was put in touch with Dr. David Haytowitz, the official in charge of the vegetable sector. Like the State Department with its China desk, a Middle Eastern desk, and other divisions that monitor specific regions, the USDA has experts at the Nutrient Data Laboratory in Maryland in charge of every possible food group. Dr. Haytowitz also turned out to be the web master, so he was familiar with the entire database of over 5000 foods beside his own specialty.
“Are you aware that the nutrients in the American food supply appear to have declined sharply from a generation ago?” I asked.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of it,” he replied nonchalantly.
“Isn’t the USDA concerned that the food the American people are eating every day is losing its energy and vitality?” I asked.
“The USDA doesn’t monitor or analyze trends,” he explained. “We only gather data.”
I felt like a waif in a novel by Charles Dickens populated by bureaucrats and government functionaries who compile a mountain of data about the abject conditions around them but do nothing to avert the impending catastrophe.
“Could the decline be due to a change in testing procedures over the last several decades?” I inquired.
We had a lengthy discussion about new improved testing techniques, including colorimetry, atomic absorption, and inductive coupled plasma (ICP). The scientist was clearly in his element describing how researchers use ever more sophisticated methods to reduce piles of food to ash in their laboratories and calculate grams of edible portion to three decimal places. However, the bottom line was that new methods would probably not result in changes of this magnitude, but only to several further decimal points.
I ventured that the decline might be the result of the environmental crisis, especially increased use of pesticides and chemicals on America’s farms. Dr. Haytowitz replied that, on the contrary, farmers a generation ago probably used more chemical fertilizers, soil supplements, and other additives than they do now, artificially elevating nutrient levels compared to more normal samples today!
“Has the USDA tested organic food compared to chemically grown food to measure such changes?” I asked in reply to this Alice-in-Wonderland reasoning.
“No, such tests have not been performed,” he admitted. “The USDA presumes that the nutrient content of organic and conventionally grown food is substantially equivalent.”
“And on what scientific research studies have you based that assumption?” I replied, leaving him temporarily speechless.
Alex Jack is an author, teacher, and dietary counselor. His books include The Cancer Prevention Diet (with Michio Kushi), Let Food Be Thy Medicine, and Amber Waves of Grain: Traditional American Whole Foods Cooking and Contemporary Vegetarian, Vegan, and Macrobiotic Cuisine. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife, Gale, a cooking teacher, and can be reached by email: shenwa@bcn.net
Table 1. Calcium Content in Selected Fruits*
………………1975……..2001……Net Change
Apples………..7 mg……..7 mg………None
Apricots………17 mg……14 mg…….Down 17.7%
Bananas……..8 mg……..6 mg………Down 25%
Cherries……..22 mg……15 mg……..Down 31.8%
Grapefruits….16 mg……12 mg……..Down 25%
Lemons………61 mg……26 mg……..Down 57.4%
Oranges……..41 mg……40 mg……..Down 2.4%
Peaches……..9 mg……..5 mg……….Down 44.4%
Pineapples…..17 mg……7 mg……….Down 58.8%
Strawberries..21 mg……14 mg……..Down 33.3%
Tangerines ….40 mg……14 mg……..Down 65%
Watermelons..7 mg……..8 mg………Up 14.3%
Net Change…………………………Down 28.9%
*Based on 100 Grams, Edible Portion. Source: USDA food composition tables
Table 2. Iron Content in Selected Fruits*
……………..1975………2001…….Net Change
Apples…………0.3 mg….0.18 mg…..Down 40%
Apricots……….0.5 mg….0.54 mg…..Up 8%
Bananas………0.7 mg….0.31 mg…..Down 55.7%
Cherries………0.4 mg….0.39 mg…..Down 2.5%
Grapefruits…..0.4 mg….0.06 mg…..Down 85%
Lemons……….0.7 mg….0.6 mg…….Down 14.3%
Oranges………0.4 mg….0.10 mg…..Down 75%
Peaches………0.5 mg….0.11 mg…..Down 78%
Pineapples……0.5 mg….0.37 mg…..Down 26%
Strawberries…1.0 mg….0.38 mg…..Down 62%
Tangerines …..0.4 mg…..0.1 mg……Down 75%
Watermelons…0.5 mg ….0.17 mg ….Down 66%
Net Change………………………..Down 16.4%
*Based on 100 Grams, Edible Portion. Source: USDA food composition tables
Table 4. Vitamin A Content in Selected Fruits*
………………1975……..2001…..Net Change
Apples………..90 IU…….53 IU…….Down 41.1%
Apricots………2700 IU …2612IU…..Down 3.3%
Bananas……..190 IU…..81 IU……..Down 57.4%
Cherries……..110 IU…..214 IU……Up 94.6%
Grapefruits….80 IU…….10 IU……..Down 87.5%
Lemons………30 IU…….29 IU……..Down 3.3%
Oranges……..200 IU…..205 IU…….Up 2.5%
Peaches……..1330 IU….535 IU……Down 59.8%
Pineapples…..70 IU…….23 IU……..Down 55%
Strawberries…60 IU……27 IU……..Down 67.1%
Tangerines …..420 IU…..920 IU……Up 119%
Watermelons…590 IU….366 IU……Down 38%
Net Change……………………….Down 16.4%
*Based on 100 Grams, Edible Portion. Source: USDA food composition tables
Table 5. Vitamin C Content in Selected Fruits*
…………….1975………2001…….Net Change
Apples………….4 mg……5.7 mg……Up 42.5%
Apricots………..10 mg….10 mg…….None
Bananas……….10 mg…..9.1 mg…..Down 9%
Cherries……….10 mg…..7 mg……..Down 30%
Grapefruits……38 mg…..33.3 mg….Down 12.4%
Lemons………..77 mg…..53 mg…….Down 31.2%
Oranges……….50 mg…..53.2 mg ….Up 6.4%
Peaches………..7 mg……6.6 mg……Down 5.7%
Pineapples…….17 mg….15.4 mg…..Down 9.4%
Strawberries….59 mg….56.7 mg…..Down 3.9%
Tangerines…….31 mg ….30.8 mg ….Down 7%
Watermelons….7 mg……9.6………..Up 37.1%
Net Change…………………………Down 1.9%
*Based on 100 Grams, Edible Portion. Source: USDA food composition tables
Table 5. Phosphorus Content in Selected Fruits*
…………….1975…….. 2001…….Net Change
Apples…………10 mg…..7 mg……..Down 30%
Apricots……….23 mg…..19 mg……Down 17.4%
Bananas………42 mg……20 mg…..Down 52.4%
Cherries………19 mg……19 mg…..None
Grapefruits……16 mg……8 mg……Down 50%
Lemons………..15 mg……16 mg…..Up 6.7%
Oranges……….20 mg……14 mg…..Down 30%
Peaches………..19 mg …..12 mg…..Down 36.8%
Pineapples……..8 mg…….7 mg……Down 12.5%
Strawberries….21 mg……19 mg…..Down 9.5%
Tangerines ……18 mg……10 mg…..Down 44.4%
Watermelons… 10 mg ……9 mg……Down 10%
Net Change………………………..Down 23.9%
*Based on 100 Grams, Edible Portion. Source: USDA food composition tables
See also:
ANH – “Declining minerals in our food…and fewer minerals in our supplements?” by David Thomas
Hi-tech crops are bad for the brain by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent, Independent, April 23, 2000
Nutrient decline in garden crops over past 50 years
Addendum by Dr. Bakhru : The reality is that Vitamins and Minerals MUST be supplemented in our current environment. Not only that, but they must be made from whole foods, not synthetic. The body had to work harder to process synthetic, unnatural substances. They also must be certified non toxic, containing no synthetic or toxic fillers. Moreover, the food sources MUST be organic.

Click here for pure, whole food, non toxic vitamins and minerals

Sobering thoughts about our Fruits and Vegetables

LE Magazine March 2001

Vegetables Without Vitamins

Imagine the surprise of going online and discovering that the vitamin and mineral content of vegetables has drastically dropped.
Thats what happened to nutritionist, Alex Jack, when he went to check out the latest US Department of Agriculture food tables. The stunning revelation came after Jack compared recently published nutrient values with an old USDA handbook he had lying around. Some of the differences in vitamin and mineral content were enormous-a 50% drop in the amount of calcium in broccoli, for example. Watercress down 88% in iron content; cauliflower down 40% in vitamin C content-all since 1975.Jack took his findings to the USDA, hoping for a reasonable explanation. That was two years ago. Hes still waiting. So is Organic Gardening magazine, which published an open letter, seeking an explanation from Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture. Glickman didnt respond, but USDA employee, Phyllis E. Johnson did. Johnson (who is head of the Beltsville area office), suggested to Organic Gardening that the nutrient drain should be put in context. According to her, the 78% decrease in calcium content of corn is not significant because no one eats corn for calcium. She further explains that the problem may not even exist at all; that the apparent nutrient dips could be due to the testing procedures. For example, changes in the publics perception of what the edible portion is may determine what parts have been analyzed over time. In other words, back when the old food tables were made up, people may have been eating the cobb too, so they got more nutrients.The vitamin drainWe decided to look into this further. Jack had used a 1975 version of the food tables for his research. We dredged up a 1963 version. After comparing the nutrient values for over a dozen fruits and vegetables, it was clear that the nutrient value of many foods has dropped, in some cases drastically. For example, the amount of vitamin C in sweet peppers has plummeted from 128 mg to 89 mg.= The vitamin A in apples has dropped from 90 mg to 53 mg. The fall-offs seem to be limited mostly to vegetables, and some fruits. Some vegetables appear to be gaining vitamins-at least vitamin A. Carrots, for example, have more of the vitamin now than they did in 1963. Why is a mystery. But the phenomenon has apparently occurred just in the nick of time. The National Academy of Sciences has issued an alert that it takes twice as many vegetables to get the daily requirement of vitamin A as previously thought. Carrots and pumpkin are exempt from the caveat. Despite the apparent increase of vitamin A in carrots, most vegetables are losing their vitamins and minerals. Nearly half the calcium and vitamin A in broccoli, for example, have disappeared. Collards are not the greens they used to be. If you’re eating them for minerals and vitamin A, be aware that the vitamin A content has fallen from 6500 IUs to 3800 IUs. Their potassium has dropped from from 400 mg to 170 mg. Magnesium has fallen sharply-57 mg to 9. Cauliflower has lost almost half its vitamin C, along with its thiamin and riboflavin. Most of the calcium in pineapple is gone-from 17 mg (per 100 grams raw) to 7. And the list goes on and on. The USDA refuses to actWhats the deal on this nutrient drain? We decided to ask USDA ourselves, so we contacted the head of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, whose job it is to track the vitamins in food, among other things. Mr. Edward B. Knipling responded to our inquiry with a restatement of Ms. Johnsons letter to Organic Gardening magazine. So we pressed for a better answer. Isnt the agency concerned that Americans may not be getting the vitamins they think they are? What about the food pyramid? Wont a nutrient drain upset the pyramid? Already the National Academy of Sciences is telling us our vegetables don’t have as many vitamins as they’re supposed to. Will the USDA double the required servings of vegetables to make up for the vitamin loss? So far, no answer from the agency.The question is, what is the nature and extent of the problem? Vegetables are a major source of nutrition. Without them, humans miss out on important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Many nutrients (such as folate) werent measured in the past. If they are also disappearing, the extent is unknown. What about more exotic nutrients such as flavonoids, or compounds like I3C? These arent tracked by the USDA. Are they disappearing also? 90% of women and 71% of men get less than the RDA for vitamin B6. Dietary vitamin B-6 intake and food sources in the US population: NHANES II, 1976-1980. Kant AK, et al. 1990.
Men with the lowest amount of vitamin C have a 62% increased risk of cancer and a 57% increased risk of dying from any cause. Vitamin C status and mortality in US adults. Loria CM, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 72:139-45, 2000.
Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the incidence of cataract by 22%. A prospective study of carotenoid and vitamin A intakes and risk of cataract extraction in US women. Chasan-Taber L, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 70:509-16, 1999.
People with low levels of retinol, beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium are more likely to get cancer. Serum retinol, beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium as related to subsequent cancer of specific sites. Comstock GW, et al. Am J Epidemiol 135:115-21, 1992.
Supplemental vitamin D reduces the risk of colon cancer by half compared to dietary vitamin D which reduces it 12%. Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy foods and the occurrence of colon cancer in men. Kearney J, et al. Am J Epidemiol 143:907-17, 1996.
The area of China with the lowest micronutrient intake has the highest rate of cancer. Supplementation with vitamin E, selenium and beta-carotene lowers the rate. Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer risk: internationaal chemoprevention trials. Blot WJ. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 216:291-6, 1997.
American children have inadequate levels of vitamin E. Vitamin E status of US children. Bendich A. J Am Coll Nutr 11:441-4, 1992.
Flavonoids protect against stroke. Dietary flavnoids, antioxidant vitamins, and incidence of stroke: the Zutphen study. Keli SO, et al. Arch Intern Med 156:637-42, 1996.Whats for dinnerThe USDA advises that we should be eating 3 to 5 servings of vegetables plus 2 to 4 servings of fruit a day to maintain health. (A serving is one cup of something raw and leafy or one-half a cup of something either not leafy or cooked-or 3/4 cup of vegetable juice). That is potentially 9 cups of vegetables and fruit a day. Thats a lot of lettuce. Are people doing this?Harry Balzer is vice president of NPD Group, a firm that gathers information on the eating habits of Americans. His data says no way. According to him, the preferred American meal is one-dish, already prepared. Unless a vegetable can be squirted out of a bottle, its a nonentity. Why? Were in a hurry. Vegetables are considered side dishes, and Americans dont have time for such frivolity. The decline is relentless. Within the last 15 years, the percentage of all dinners including a vegetable (other than salad or potatoes) dropped 10%. Its now 41%. This raises a big question. If people are not eating their vegetables, how are they getting their vitamins? The answer is theyre not. Study-after-study show that Americans dont meet the RDAs for many nutrients. Thats not good considering that RDAs are probably too low to keep most people in optimal health to begin with. Americans know what they should be eating. Theyre just not doing it. And theyre not likely to. According to Balzer, for example, pizza is one of Americas favorite meals. It fulfills, he says, the American ideal of being easy and fast, liked by old and young, and easy to clean up. If you blot it with a paper towel, throw on some pineapple, and use your imagination, it even seems to fit with the food pyramid. What else are people eating? Bread, doughnuts, pasta, cheese, beef and milk. Without fortified cereal, Americans would not come close to meeting RDAs.Yes, but what about the produce section? Isnt it filled with resealable bags full of wholesome, scrubbed little carrots, prewashed salad greens and spinach? Somebody must be buying them, or they wouldnt be there, right? According to Balzer, those puppies are highly successful, raking in a billion dollars in sales ($100M is considered successful for a new food product). But the fact that people are buying them doesnt mean theyre eating them. The reality is that onions are most-often served vegetable in America. Tomatoes (including ketchup) are second. According to one study, less than one-third of Americans get the minimum five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, let alone the recommended nine. According to Balzers data, the percentage of Americans who buy healthy groceries is about 10%. The other 90% relies on ketchup, onions, fat-free snacks, ice cream, cheese and Sweet TartsTM as their source of nutrition. Now we find out that even if a person accidentally eats a vegetable, it may not contain the nutrients its supposed to. What can a person do?
Vitamin supplements work “…the nutritional content of produce is not as important as things like appearance and big yield. In other words, the view of commercial growers is that food is a product in the same way that running shoes are a product. Looks are more important than substance.”
All Contents Copyright © 1995-2001 By The Life Extension Foundation