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26 February 2008

Is Vitamin D the "Nutrient of the Decade?"

This New York Times article posits that Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is poised to become the “nutrient of the decade”. A growing legion of medical researchers now maintain that high levels of vitamin D can counter a host of serious ailments.

Vitamin D increases bone and muscle strength and strikingly reduces tumor growth. Many observational studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of cancer, including cancers of the breast, rectum, ovary, prostate, stomach, bladder, esophagus, kidney, lung, pancreas, uterus, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Vitamin D can also dampen an overactive immune system, and lower the risk of multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Researchers like Bruce W. Hollis believe that the current top recommended daily level of 2,000 I.U. for vitamin D is far too low. Dr. Hollis has been giving pregnant women 4,000 I.U. a day, and nursing women 6,000, with no adverse effects.


* New York Times February 19, 2008

Zinc Can Cure Diarrhea

A new analysis of research shows that zinc can cut the severity and duration of acute or persistent diarrhea in children. It is unknown, however, exactly how zinc produces its anti-diarrheal effects.

A pooled analysis of data from 22 relevant studies, which looked at the effects of zinc on more than 18,000 children total, found that zinc cut the average duration of both acute and persistent diarrhea, and zinc therapy reduced the average stool frequency by almost 19 percent for acute diarrhea, and more than 12 percent for persistent diarrhea.

However, zinc was more likely than a placebo to cause vomiting.


* Reuters February 19, 2008

Vitamin D in Your Skin

Researchers have found that the production of previtamin D3 in your skin varies depending on several factors, which include skin type, weather conditions, and sunscreen use.

During the winter at altitudes above 35 degrees, there is minimal previtamin D3 production in the skin. Darker skin pigmentation, application of sunscreen, aging and clothing can also have a dramatic effect on previtamin D3 production.

However, at the other end of the scale, excessive exposure to sunlight does not result in vitamin D overdoes, because previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 are photolyzed to biologically inert chemicals before they can build up to dangerous levels.


* Eurekalert February 20, 2008

FDA Panel Approves Rotarix Vaccine Despite Infant Deaths

A FDA panel backed GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix vaccine, designed to help protect infants from a gastrointestinal illness. But one member dissented when it came to the question of the drug’s safety.

There was a higher rate of pneumonia-related deaths and convulsions among vaccinated infants in one of the main studies. Vicky Debold, a nurse and the panel's consumer representative, said she was concerned about both the pneumonia-related deaths and the overall death rate.

Rotavirus infections cause about 50,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S. The agency isn't required to follow the advice of the panel.


* Morningstar February 20, 2008

Male Fertility Harmed By Mix of Endocrine Disrupters

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, even if they are harmless individually in small doses, can together form a dangerous chemical cocktail. Simultaneous exposure to several different endocrine-disrupting substances may, among other things, result in malformed sexual organs.

Many young men currently have a low sperm count, and more and more boys are born with malformed sexual organs. About five percent of Danish boys are born with hypospadias, where the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis.

A series of comprehensive studies in which pregnant rats were exposed to a cocktail consisting of three testosterone-inhibiting chemicals (the drug flutamide and the pesticides vinclozolin and procymidone). They were administered in doses which were harmless individually. But when all three were applied at once, the male offspring developed female characteristics in the form of retained nipples and severely malformed external sexual organs.

Sixty percent of the male rats were born with hypospadias.

Risk assessments for chemicals are currently performed for only one substance at a time, although people are exposed to many different chemical substances every day.


* Science Daily February 21, 2008

Strokes Triple Among Middle-Aged Women

In recent years, the incidence of strokes has tripled among middle-aged women in the U.S. Doctors blame this alarming trend on the obesity epidemic.

The rise came even though more women are taking medicines to control their cholesterol and blood pressure.

According to researchers, women’s waistlines are nearly two inches bigger than they were a decade earlier, an increase that corresponds with the increase in strokes. Women's average body mass index, a commonly used measure of obesity, rose from 27 to 29 over the same period, and they also had higher blood sugar levels.


* USA Today February 21, 2008