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LPI Newsletter, vitamin D debate Dec, 2010


There are two sections today - how much vitamin D is justified for people to consume based on recent research, and a summary of exciting research results from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

How much Vitamin D does the research literature justify taking as a supplement?

Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a statement that people need much less than 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily, though substantial evidence indicates that getting 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily is beneficial.   Below is a useful review that responds to the IOM statement.

Confused About Vitamin D? Why You Shouldn’t Be

December 3, 2010 By Josh Corn

As you may be aware, the Institute of Medicine recently released a report that increased the Daily Recommended Intake for vitamin D from 400 IU per day to a modest 600 IU per day, despite the fact that many members of the medical community now believe that much higher doses of vitamin D may be needed to ensure optimal health and longevity. The publication of the report stirred up controversy and confusion among consumers, due largely in part to alarmist, and in many cases, misleading headlines in the media.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked in hundreds of scientific studies to health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression, chronic pain and low immunity, to name just a few. Recent studies have also suggested that the number of Americans who are deficient in this essential nutrient is nearing epidemic proportions. In fact, the research has been so compelling, that it has ignited a vitamin D advocacy movement, led by such organizations as the Vitamin D Council and GrassrootsHealth, aimed at raising awareness of the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the risks it poses to health.

Linus Pauling Institute Research Newsletter-Fall/Winter 2010 []

***LPI Director Balz Frei's daily dietary supplement regimen consists of:

As you may know, vitamin E has taken a beating lately in both the scientific literature and popular press… A much better approach to evaluate the possible health benefits of vitamins is to look at the totality of evidence… This totality of evidence shows that vitamin E acts as an important, fat-soluble antioxidant in our bodies and is very likely to have benefits in reducing the risk of diseases that have oxidative stress as a contributing factor, such as heart disease, ischemic stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and, possibly, certain cancers and Lou Gehrig's disease. Therefore, I firmly stand behind LPI's recommendation to take a daily supplement of 200 IU (133 mg) of natural source alpha-tocopherol (d-alpha-tocopherol) with a meal.

Coenzyme Q, unlike vitamins, is not an essential nutrient because it is synthesized in our bodies. A major problem with coenzyme Q supplements is that they are poorly absorbed, although some formulations are available that have increased bioavailability. It is also unclear whether supplemental coenzyme Q reaches its target tissues in the body, such as muscles, heart, and brain, especially in healthy individuals.

It's also possible, but not proven, that heart disease patients taking cholesterol-lowering statins may benefit from coenzyme Q supplementation. Statins are known to inhibit coenzyme Q synthesis in the body because they target the same pathway as cholesterol synthesis. Because of the limited overall evidence for benefit in healthy individuals, its low bioavailability, and the relatively high cost, LPI does not recommend regular coenzyme Q supplementation for healthy individuals. Certain subpopulations with specific diseases, older people, and individuals taking statin drugs may derive some benefit from coenzyme Q supplements.

Finally, resveratrol has been one of the hottest topics among the health-conscious public,… there is intriguing evidence that resveratrol "can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in culture and in some animal models" and may mimic caloric restriction and extend "the lifespan of yeast, worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice fed a high-calorie diet." However, there is very little evidence for any health benefits of resveratrol supplements in humans,

***A New Twist on Vitamin C and Beer!

Xanthohumol is a flavonoid found in hops. it induces phase 2 enzymes—enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. That is good for cancer chemoprotection. We also found that xanthohumol inhibits phase 1 enzymes that activate pro-carcinogens. So the effect is two-fold…

Q. You studied another kind of flavonoid, proanthocyanidins. What foods contain these?

A. Virtually all plants make proanthocyanidins, also called condensed tannins. They are found in hops, grapes and their seeds, apples, cocoa, tea, and many fruits. Anything that has an astringent taste probably contains a lot of proanthocyanidins.

Q. How do proanthocyanidins affect the risk for colorectal cancer?

A. We found that proanthocyanidins kill cancer cells in vitro by producing hydrogen peroxide. Bioavailability, or absorption into the blood stream, is not an issue because the colorectal cells would be directly exposed to ingested proanthocyanidins.

(The article continues and comments on acrolein, a carcinogen formed during cooking or cigarette smoking.  Vitamin C reacts with acrolein and renders it harmless.


Childhood obesity has become epidemic in the United States. Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimate that 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese compared to only 5% in 1971. According to the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, obesity rates for 10- to 17-year-old children range from 9.6% in Oregon to 22% in Mississippi.

Vitamin D deficiency in American children is becoming a major concern. While parents and pediatricians may have assumed that children are getting enough vitamin D from sunshine, vitamin D-rich foods, and vitamin D-fortified milk, a study published in 2009 found that 70% of children have inadequate vitamin D levels and nearly 10% are deficient… the Linus Pauling Institute recommends that children supplement their daily diet with 1000 IU of vitamin D to achieve good health.

Several surveys indicate that many children do not obtain an adequate intake of many vitamins and minerals in their diet that are essential for good health and disease prevention. The Multivitamins & Public Health Workshop in 2003 suggested that "multivitamin/mineral supplementation to increase micronutrient intake to recommended levels is a prudent, inexpensive, and convenient way to improve the public’s health status."

ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE OXYGEN CLUB OF CALIFORNIA - The "triage theory" was advanced by Bruce Ames to explain how micronutrient deficiencies throughout evolution result in metabolic rebalancing to favor those substances required for short-term survival while starving those needed for long-term health. Chronic micronutrient deficiencies, which are prevalent even in apparently well-nourished societies, may contribute to the incidence of age-related disease.

Thanks for taking care of your mind and body!

*To review the disclaimer. *To ask Nutrition Investigator (Roc) a question.

"Modern science is advancing at an unprecedented rate, and the amount of scientific data is doubling every year." -Raddick et al, Science 3298:1028 (2010)

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