June 8, 2011
Some vegans may not be getting enough iodine in their diets, a new study suggests, and researchers expressed this finding is particularly relevant for women who are pregnant, as that’s a time when a mother’s iodine levels are strained by her growing baby.
Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to help regulate metabolism and development, especially in babies and young children. Iodine deficiency during fetal and early-childhood development is a leading cause of brain impairments in much of the world.
Dr. Angela Leung of Boston Medical Center, lead author of the new study, said that little research has been done on whether vegetarians and vegans may be more likely to have iodine deficiencies because of their dietary restrictions.
Leung’s colleagues recruited 140 vegetarians and vegans (mostly women) and tested their urine for concentrations of iodine and calculated an average iodine level of 147mcg in vegetarians and 79mcg in vegans.
According to the World Health Organization, the general recommended range of iodine concentrations per liter of urine is between 100 and 199mcg, and between 150 and 249mcg per liter in pregnant women.
Researchers also measured the participants’ levels of thyroid hormones as a gauge of how well their thyroids were functioning, in addition to levels of a couple of chemicals— perchlorate and thiocyanate, known to interfere with iodine in the thyroid.
There was also no relationship between thyroid hormone levels and urine concentrations of perchlorate, a contaminant in food and water, or of thiocyanate, a chemical found in cabbage-like vegetables and in cigarette smoke. Leung said that’s probably because the study was very small, which makes it harder for those associations to come out. One limitation of the study is that the urine test for iodine is only a window into recent iodine consumption, and can’t get at how long-term iodine levels may be affecting the thyroid.
Leung said the purpose of this study was mainly to make the public aware of the issue of iodine deficiency, especially in women who forego some high-iodine foods, and to open the door for more research into this topic.
A recent study by OrgaNext Research (Arnhem, The Netherlands) found that activated vitamin D stimulates expression of the androgen receptor in skeletal muscle cells.
The researchers also found that nandrolone, the active metabolite of the anabolic steroid nandrolon decanoate, stimulates expression of the vitamin D receptor in skeletal muscle cells and that the combination of nandrolone and hydroxylated vitamin D (NDD) has a synergistic effect on the in-vitro proliferation of human skeletal muscle cells. Dutch scientist Lenus Kloosterboer, PhD, presented these findings on June 4 at ENDO 2011, the Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society held in Boston, MA.
“We found that both compounds stimulate expression of their own and each other receptors in human skeletal muscle,” said Kloosterboer. “This has never been published before and could help unravel the mechanism of action of muscle regeneration".
What makes this study unique is that both young and aged human skeletal muscle cells were used. However, the receptor expression was greater in the aged muscle cells. It is likely that the number of both the androgen receptor and the vitamin D receptor on human skeletal muscle lower as we age, which may be why muscle regeneration slows down as people grow older. It is really promising that we were able to demonstrate that the proliferation of satellite cells, also known as new skeletal muscle cells, can be triggered by the active metabolites of NDD.
“Muscle mass plays a key role in recovery from illness or trauma,” continued Kloosterboer. “Hospitalized elderly patients can lose up to 10 percent of lean leg muscle mass in only three days and there remains a substantial unmet medical need to support the recovery of these patients. The results of this study may help us understand the underlying mechanisms of human muscle regeneration and bring us closer to offering a clinical solution.”
First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. The intent of introducing the new generation icon is to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times.
The new MyPlate icon is a plate split into four sections, each representing a different type of food (protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables). The sections vary in size depending on the recommended portion of each food a person should eat. A circle shape next to the plate represents dairy products, especially milk. Viewing the icon online allows consumers to click on each section of the plate for more information.
“With so many food options available to consumers, it is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said Vilsack. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”
MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “I think there was general consensus that this [MyPyramid] wasn’t a useful tool, and despite many revisions they weren’t able to address core issues to improve its usefulness so they moved on to a different icon,” said celebrity dietician, Ashley Koff, RD.
Although Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, aka “The Rogue Nutritionist”™, said it’s questionable how much the new icon will influence American eating habits, he added, “It’s way easier to understand visually and could serve as a good subconscious reminder to have protein at every meal and eat much more vegetables.”
“For years its just been assumed that people did not know what to eat,” noted Amber Lynn Vitse, CN, LMT, an ayurvedic practitioner. “The focus has been on a balance of nutrients attained by generally adhering to the pyramid concept of proportions of types of foods. Now it is clear, with obesity clearly correlating with leading causes of death, that people do not know how much to eat either. Also, the food pyramid has been altered in so many ways to suit different trends in nutrition. There are all kinds of different versions.”
While MyPlate is a step in the right direction, some believe it may not be enough, because it leaves much up to interpretation. “Sadly, I don’t believe that this image is more helpful,” explained Koff. “I believe that people need a tool that they can really use and this one remains too open to interpretation so it lacks usefulness.”
“Time will tell if this new icon helps people to better understand vital nutritional messages of balance, variety, moderation and adequacy,” said registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association President Sylvia A. Escott-Stump. “If MyPlate can assist people in effectively adopting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, it will be a success.”
For more information, visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
A new University of Missouri study shows that the exposure to the controversial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) through diet has been underestimated by previous lab tests. In the study, researchers compared BPA concentrations in mice that were given a steady diet supplemented with BPA throughout the day, compared to the more common lab method of single exposure, and found an increased absorption and accumulation of BPA in the blood of mice.
Cheryl Rosenfeld, associate professor in biomedical sciences and Bond Life Sciences investigator, is the corresponding lead author of the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives on June 6.
The authors continuously exposed the mice to BPA through their feed, which is considered the primary route of exposure to this chemical in animals and humans. In previous studies examining the effects of BPA, mice were exposed to BPA only through a one-time administration. Following the exposure through the diet, a significantly greater increase in the active form of BPA, which is the greatest threat as it is the form that can bind to sex steroid receptors and exert adverse effects, was absorbed and accumulated in the animals.
“People are primarily and unknowingly exposed to BPA through the diet because of the various plastic and paper containers used to store our food are formulated with BPA,” said Rosenfeld. “We know that the active form of BPA binds to our steroid receptors, meaning it can affect estrogen, thyroid and testosterone function. It might also cause genetic mutations. Thus, this chemical can hinder our ability to reproduce and possibly cause behavioral abnormalities that we are just beginning to understand.”
For more information, visit www.missouri.edu.
Codex’s Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) has agreed to discontinue its work on definitions and labeling conditions related to GMOs following no agreement at last month’s CCFL meeting in Canada, IADSA reported.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) said that the decision was made to develop a compilation of Codex texts relating to the labeling of foods derived from modern biotechnology instead. The Committee agreed a draft compilation at the meeting, which will be presented for final adoption at the Codex Alimentarius Commission meeting in July.
“This decision ends years of discussion in which the CCFL was divided between those proposing process-based GMO labeling and those proposing that GMOs should be declared on the label only when they are present in the final product,” said David Pineda Ereño, IADSA’s regulatory affairs director. “The compilation document will recall and assemble some important elements of guidance from Codex texts that are relevant to the labeling of foods derived from modern biotechnology. It is not intended to suggest or imply that foods derived from modern biotechnology are necessarily different from other foods simply due to their methods of production, and the idea is that any approach implemented by Codex members should be consistent with already adopted Codex provisions.”
For more information, visit www.iadsa.org.
Vitamin and supplement maker Schiff Nutrition (Salt Lake City, UT) recently announced that it paid $40 million for digestive supplements developed by Ganeden Biotech Inc. (Mayfield Heights, OH).
Under the deal, Schiff owns rights to the probiotic formulation used in over-the-counter brands Sustenex and Digestive Advantage. The companies plan to collaborate on future products using probiotics, which are supplements containing microorganisms believed to be beneficial.
Schiff said the brands acquired from Ganeden generated $17 million in revenue in 2010. The transaction is expected to increase Schiff revenue for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2012. The company plans to announce the impact on its financial position in July.