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Study finds folic acid treatment is associated with decreased risk of suicide attempts

The common, inexpensive supplement was linked with a 44% reduction in suicide attempts and self-harm.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the US, with more than 45,000 people dying by suicide in 2020. Experts recommend many strategies and treatments to decrease the risk of suicide, including psychotherapy, peer support, economic support, and medications like antidepressants. Few if any would be likely to put folic acid supplements on that list, but a recent study done at the University of Chicago may change that.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on September 28th, used data from the health insurance claims of 866,586 patients and looked at the relationship between folic acid treatment and suicide attempts over a two-year period. They found that patients who filled prescriptions for folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, experienced a 44% reduction in suicidal events (suicide attempts and intentional self-harm). Robert Gibbons, PhD, the Blum-Riese Professor of Biostatistics and Medicine at the University of Chicago, the lead author of the study, is hopeful that these findings could improve suicide prevention efforts, especially because of how accessible folic acid is.

“There are no real side effects, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, you can get it without a prescription,” Gibbons said. “This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.”

Gibbons initially became interested in folic acid in the context of suicide because of a previous study in which his group looked for relationships between risk of attempting suicide and 922 different prescribed drugs. The study simultaneously screened each drug for associations with increases and decreases in suicide attempts. Surprisingly, folic acid was associated with a decreased risk of suicide attempt, along with drugs expected to be associated with risk of suicide, like antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics.

This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives.

Robert Gibbons, PhD

One of the challenges of this earlier study was to analyze the effects of many drugs in a large-scale data set, which is difficult. Many people take more than one drug, and drugs can have different effects when taken together than when taken alone. It can also be difficult to get meaningful results from studies like these that look for relationships in large data sets because of confounding factors, which can cause two variables in a study, like suicide and a drug, to seem to have a direct causal relationship with each other. Sometimes, these are actually both related to a confounding factor, such as socioeconomic status or health-conscious attitudes, or because they are prescribed for a condition that is associated with suicide (e.g. depression). But Gibbons and his group were able to partially eliminate these complications by comparing subjects to themselves before and after being prescribed a drug, instead of comparing subjects who did and did not take the drug to one another.

In fact, they initially thought folic acid had only shown up in their study because of a simple explanation, but that turned out not to be the case. “When we first saw this result, we thought it was pregnancy. Pregnant women take folic acid, and pregnant women tend to have a low suicide rate, so it’s just a false association. So, we just did a quick analysis to restrict it to men. But we saw exactly the same effect in men,” Gibbons said.

To investigate and further confirm the relationship between folic acid and suicide risk, Gibbons and his co-authors did this new study and focused specifically on folic acid, and accounted for many possible confounding factors, including age, sex, mental health diagnoses, other central nervous system drugs, conditions that affect folic acid metabolism, and more. Even after adjusting for all these factors, filling a prescription for folic acid was still associated with a decreased risk of attempting suicide.

They even found that the longer a person took folic acid, the lower their risk of suicide attempt tended to be. Each month of being prescribed folic acid was associated with an additional 5% decrease in risk of suicide attempt during the 24-month follow-up period of their study.

It also occurred to the authors that maybe people who take vitamin supplements in general want to improve their health and would thus be less likely to attempt suicide. To address this possibility, they did a similar analysis with another supplement, vitamin B12, as a negative control. But unlike folic acid, there didn’t seem to be any relationship between vitamin B12 and risk of suicide.

Although Gibbons and his co-authors were careful to adjust for confounding factors, they cannot yet say for sure whether the relationship between folic acid and suicidal events is causal; that is, they don’t yet know if taking folic acid will directly cause a person’s risk of suicide to become lower. To know for sure, the authors are following up this study with a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) to test whether folic acid directly lowers the risk of suicidal events, including ideation, attempts and completion. This will involve randomly splitting subjects into two groups, giving a placebo to one group and folic acid to the other and comparing the rate of suicidal events over time.

If their findings are confirmed in the new research, folic acid would be a safe, inexpensive, and widely available suicide prevention strategy, and potentially help save thousands of lives.

September 28, 2022

By Lily Burton
PhD candidate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

source: https://biologicalsciences.uchicago.edu

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foods-high-in-folate-vitamin-B9


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The World’s Most Nutritious Foods

After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises.

Many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of our most popular nutrition stories from our archive.

Imagine the ideal food. One that contains all the nutrients necessary to meet, but not exceed, our daily nutrient demands. If such a food existed, consuming it, without eating any other, would provide the optimal nutritional balance for our body.

Such a food does not exist. But we can do the next best thing.

The key is to eat a balance of highly nutritional foods, that when consumed together, do not contain too much of any one nutrient, to avoid exceeding daily recommended amounts.

Scientists studied more than 1,000 foods, assigning each a nutritional score. The higher the score, the more likely each food would meet, but not exceed your daily nutritional needs, when eaten in combination with others.

Calculated and ranked by scientists, these are the 100 most nutritious foods:

A short guide to the 100 most nutritious foods

Please note: a few of the foods listed are endangered species, which we would not recommend. We would advise researching the provenance of all ingredients if buying them yourself.

100. SWEET POTATO (v)

86kcal, $0.21, per 100g

A bright orange tuber, sweet potatoes are only distantly related to potatoes. They are rich in beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

99. FIGS (v)

249kcal, $0.81, per 100g

Figs have been cultivated since ancient times. Eaten fresh or dried, they are rich in the mineral manganese.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

98. GINGER (v)

80kcal, $0.85, per 100g

Ginger contains high levels of antioxidants. In medicine, it is used as a digestive stimulant and to treat colds.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 49

97. PUMPKIN (v)

26kcal, $0.20, per 100g

Pumpkins are rich in yellow and orange pigments. Especially xanthophyll esters and beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

96. BURDOCK ROOT (v)

72kcal, $1.98, per 100g

Used in folk medicine and as a vegetable, studies suggest burdock can aid fat loss and limit inflammation.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

95. BRUSSELS SPROUTS (v)

43kcal, $0.35, per 100g

A type of cabbage. Brussels sprouts originated in Brussels in the 1500s. They are rich in calcium and vitamin C.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

94. BROCCOLI (v)

34kcal, $0.42, per 100g

Broccoli heads consist of immature flower buds and stems. US consumption has risen five-fold in 50 years.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

93. CAULIFLOWER (v)

31kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Unlike broccoli, cauliflower heads are degenerate shoot tips that are frequently white, lacking green chlorophyll.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

92. WATER CHESTNUTS (v)

97kcal, $1.50, per 100g

The water chestnut is not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in mud underwater within marshes.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

91. CANTALOUPE MELONS (v)

34kcal, $0.27, per 100g

One of the foods richest in glutathione, an antioxidant that protects cells from toxins including free radicals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

90. PRUNES (v)

240kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Dried plums are very rich in health-promoting nutrients such as antioxidants and anthocyanins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

89. COMMON OCTOPUS

82kcal, $1.50, per 100g

Though nutritious, recent evidence suggests octopus can carry harmful shellfish toxins and allergens.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 50

88. CARROTS (v)

36kcal, $0.40, per 100g

Carrots first appeared in Afghanistan 1,100 years ago. Orange carrots were grown in Europe in the 1500s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

87. WINTER SQUASH (v)

34kcal, $0.24, per 100g

Unlike summer squashes, winter squashes are eaten in the mature fruit stage. The hard rind is usually not eaten.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

86. JALAPENO PEPPERS (v)

29kcal, $0.66, per 100g

The same species as other peppers. Carotenoid levels are 35 times higher in red jalapenos that have ripened.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

85. RHUBARB (v)

21kcal, $1.47, per 100g

Rhubarb is rich in minerals, vitamins, fibre and natural phytochemicals that have a role in maintaining health.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

84. POMEGRANATES (v)

83kcal, $1.31, per 100g

Their red and purple colour is produced by anthocyanins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

83. RED CURRANTS (v)

56kcal, $0.44, per 100g

Red currants are also rich in anthocyanins. White currants are the same species as red, whereas black currants differ.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

82. ORANGES (v)

46kcal, $0.37, per 100g

Most citrus fruits grown worldwide are oranges. In many varieties, acidity declines with fruit ripeness.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

81. CARP

127kcal, $1.40, per 100g

A high proportion of carp is protein, around 18%. Just under 6% is fat, and the fish contains zero sugar.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 51

80. HUBBARD SQUASH (v)

40kcal, $8.77, per 100g

A variety of the species Cucurbita maxim. Tear-drop shaped, they are often cooked in lieu of pumpkins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

79. KUMQUATS (v)

71kcal, $0.69, per 100g

An unusual citrus fruit, kumquats lack a pith inside and their tender rind is not separate like an orange peel.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

78. POMPANO

164kcal, $1.44, per 100g

Often called jacks, Florida pompanos are frequently-caught western Atlantic fish usually weighing under 2kg.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

77. PINK SALMON

127kcal, $1.19, per 100g

These fish are rich in long-chain fatty acids, such as omega-3s, that improve blood cholesterol levels.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 52

76. SOUR CHERRIES (v)

50kcal, $0.58, per 100g

Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are a different species to sweet cherries (P. avium). Usually processed or frozen.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

75. RAINBOW TROUT

141kcal, $3.08, per 100g

Closely related to salmon, rainbow trout are medium-sized Pacific fish also rich in omega-3s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

74. PERCH

91kcal, $1.54, per 100g

Pregnant and lactating women are advised not to eat perch. Though nutritious, it may contain traces of mercury.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 53

73. GREEN BEANS (v)

31kcal, $0.28, per 100g

Green beans, known as string, snap or French beans, are rich in saponins, thought to reduce cholesterol levels.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

72. RED LEAF LETTUCE (v)

16kcal, $1.55, per 100g

Evidence suggests lettuce was cultivated before 4500 BC. It contains almost no fat or sugar and is high in calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

71. LEEKS (v)

61kcal, $1.83, per 100g

Leeks are closely related to onions, shallots, chives and garlic. Their wild ancestor grows around the Mediterranean basin.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

70. CAYENNE PEPPER (v)

318kcal, $22.19, per 100g

Powdered cayenne pepper is produced from a unique cultivar of the pepper species Capsicum annuum.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

69. GREEN KIWIFRUIT (v)

61kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Kiwifruit are native to China. Missionaries took them to New Zealand in the early 1900s, where they were domesticated.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

68. GOLDEN KIWIFRUIT (v)

63kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Kiwifruits are edible berries rich in potassium and magnesium. Some golden kiwifruits have a red centre.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

67. GRAPEFRUIT (v)

32kcal, $0.27, per 100g

Grapefruits (Citrus paradisi) originated in the West Indies as a hybrid of the larger pomelo fruit.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

66. MACKEREL

139kcal, $2.94, per 100g

An oily fish, one serving can provide over 10 times more beneficial fatty acids than a serving of a lean fish such as cod.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

65. SOCKEYE SALMON

131kcal, $3.51, per 100g

Another oily fish, rich in cholesterol-lowering fatty acids. Canned salmon with bones is a source of calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 54

64. ARUGULA (v)

25kcal, $0.48, per 100g

A salad leaf, known as rocket. High levels of glucosinolates protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

63. CHIVES (v)

25kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Though low in energy, chives are high in vitamins A and K. The green leaves contain a range of beneficial antioxidants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

62. PAPRIKA (v)

282kcal, $1.54, per 100g

Also extracted from the pepper species Capsicum annuum. A spice rich in ascorbic acid, an antioxidant.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 55

61. RED TOMATOES (v)

18kcal, $0.15, per 100g

A low-energy, nutrient-dense food that are an excellent source of folate, potassium and vitamins A, C and E.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

60. GREEN TOMATOES (v)

23kcal, $0.33, per 100g

Fruit that has not yet ripened or turned red. Consumption of tomatoes is associated with a decreased cancer risk.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

59. GREEN LETTUCE (v)

15kcal, $1.55, per 100g

The cultivated lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is related to wild lettuce (L. serriola), a common weed in the US.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

58. TARO LEAVES (v)

42kcal, $2.19, per 100g

Young taro leaves are relatively high in protein, containing more than the commonly eaten taro root.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

57. LIMA BEANS (v)

106kcal, $0.50, per 100g

Also known as butter beans, lima beans are high in carbohydrate, protein and manganese, while low in fat.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

56. EEL

184kcal, $2.43, per 100g

A good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), though the skin mucus of eels can contain harmful marine toxins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

55. BLUEFIN TUNA

144kcal, $2.13, per 100g

A large fish, rich in omega-3s. Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake, due to mercury contamination.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

54. COHO SALMON

146kcal, $0.86, per 100g

A Pacific species also known as silver salmon. Relatively high levels of fat, as well as long-chain fatty acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 56

53. SUMMER SQUASH (v)

17kcal, $0.22, per 100g

Harvested when immature, while the rind is still tender and edible. Its name refers to its short storage life.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

52. NAVY BEANS (v)

337kcal, $0.49, per 100g

Also known as haricot or pea beans. The fibre in navy beans has been correlated with the reduction of colon cancer.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

51. PLANTAIN (v)

122kcal, $0.38, per 100g

Banana fruits with a variety of antioxidant, antimicrobial, hypoglycaemic and anti-diabetic properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 57

fruit vegetables

50. PODDED PEAS (v)

42kcal, $0.62, per 100g

Peas are an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fibre, minerals and water-soluble vitamins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

49. COWPEAS (v)

44kcal, $0.68, per 100g

Also called black-eyed peas. As with many legumes, high in carbohydrate, containing more protein than cereals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

48. BUTTER LETTUCE (v)

13kcal, $0.39, per 100g

Also known as butterhead lettuce, and including Boston and bib varieties. Few calories. Popular in Europe.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

47. RED CHERRIES (v)

50kcal, $0.33, per 100g

A raw, unprocessed and unfrozen variety of sour cherries (Prunus cerasus). Native to Europe and Asia.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

46. WALNUTS (v)

619kcal, $3.08, per 100g

Walnuts contain sizeable proportions of a-linolenic acid, the healthy omega-3 fatty acid made by plants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 58

45. FRESH SPINACH (v)

23kcal, $0.52, per 100g

Contains more minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and iron) than many salad crops. Spinach appears twice in the list (45 and 24) because the way it is prepared affects its nutritional value. Fresh spinach can lose nutritional value if stored at room temperature, and ranks lower than eating spinach that has been frozen, for instance.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

44. PARSLEY (v)

36kcal, $0.26, per 100g

A relative of celery, parsley was popular in Greek and Roman times. High levels of a range of beneficial minerals.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

43. HERRING

158kcal, $0.65, per 100g

An Atlantic fish, among the top five most caught of all species. Rich in omega-3s, long-chain fatty acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

42. SEA BASS

97kcal, $1.98, per 100g

A generic name for a number of related medium-sized oily fish species. Popular in the Mediterranean area.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 59

41. CHINESE CABBAGE (v)

13kcal, $0.11, per 100g

Variants of the cabbage species Brassica rapa, often called pak-choi or Chinese mustard. Low calorie.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

40. CRESS (v)

32kcal, $4.49, per 100g

The brassica Lepidium sativum, not to be confused with watercress Nasturtium officinale. High in iron.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

39. APRICOTS (v)

48kcal, $0.36, per 100g

A ’stone’ fruit relatively high in sugar, phytoestrogens and antioxidants, including the carotenoid beta-carotene.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

38. FISH ROE

134kcal, $0.17, per 100g

Fish eggs (roe) contain high levels of vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Caviar often refers to sturgeon roe.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

37. WHITEFISH

134kcal, $3.67, per 100g

Species of oily freshwater fish related to salmon. Common in the northern hemisphere. Rich in omega-3s.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 60

36. CORIANDER (v)

23kcal, $7.63, per 100g

A herb rich in carotenoids, used to treat ills including digestive complaints, coughs, chest pains and fever.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

35. ROMAINE LETTUCE (v)

17kcal, $1.55, per 100g

Also known as cos lettuce, another variety of Lactuca sativa. The fresher the leaves, the more nutritious they are.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

34. MUSTARD LEAVES (v)

27kcal, $0.29, per 100g

One of the oldest recorded spices. Contains sinigrin, a chemical thought to protect against inflammation.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

33. ATLANTIC COD

82kcal, $3.18, per 100g

A large white, low fat, protein-rich fish. Cod livers are a source of fish oil rich in fatty acids and vitamin D.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

32. WHITING

90kcal, $0.60, per 100g

Various species, but often referring to the North Atlantic fish Merlangius merlangus that is related to cod.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 61

31. KALE (v)

49kcal, $0.62, per 100g

A leafy salad plant, rich in the minerals phosphorous, iron and calcium, and vitamins such as A and C.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

30. BROCCOLI RAAB (v)

22kcal, $0.66, per 100g

Not to be confused with broccoli. It has thinner stems and smaller flowers, and is related to turnips.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

29. CHILI PEPPERS (v)

324kcal, $1.20, per 100g

The pungent fruits of the Capsicum plant. Rich in capsaicinoid, carotenoid and ascorbic acid antioxidants.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

28. CLAMS

86kcal, $1.78, per 100g

Lean, protein-rich shellfish. Often eaten lightly cooked, though care must be taken to avoid food poisoning.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 62

27. COLLARDS (v)

32kcal, $0.74, per 100g

Another salad leaf belonging to the Brassica genus of plants. A headless cabbage closely related to kale.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

26. BASIL (v)

23kcal, $2.31, per 100g

A spicy, sweet herb traditionally used to protect the heart. Thought to be an antifungal and antibacterial.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

25. CHILI POWDER (v)

282kcal, $5.63, per 100g

A source of phytochemicals such as vitamin C, E and A, as well as phenolic compounds and carotenoids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 63

24. FROZEN SPINACH (v)

29kcal, $1.35, per 100g

A salad crop especially high in magnesium, folate, vitamin A and the carotenoids beta carotene and zeazanthin. Freezing spinach helps prevent the nutrients within from degrading, which is why frozen spinach ranks higher than fresh spinach (no 45).

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

23. DANDELION GREENS (v)

45kcal, $0.27, per 100g

The word dandelion means lion’s tooth. The leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

22. PINK GRAPEFRUIT (v)

42kcal, $0.27, per 100g

The red flesh of pink varieties is due to the accumulation of carotenoid and lycopene pigments.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

21. SCALLOPS

69kcal, $4.19, per 100g

A shellfish low in fat, high in protein, fatty acids, potassium and sodium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

20. PACIFIC COD

72kcal, $3.18, per 100g

Closely related to Atlantic cod. Its livers are a significant source of fish oil rich in fatty acids and vitamin D.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 64

19. RED CABBAGE (v)

31kcal, $0.12, per 100g

Rich in vitamins. Its wild cabbage ancestor was a seaside plant of European or Mediterranean origin.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

18. GREEN ONION (v)

27kcal, $0.51, per 100g

Known as spring onions. High in copper, phosphorous and magnesium. One of the richest sources of vitamin K.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

17. ALASKA POLLOCK

92kcal, $3.67, per 100g

Also called walleye pollock, the species Gadus chalcogrammus is usually caught in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. A low fat content of less than 1%.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

16. PIKE

88kcal, $3.67, per 100g

A fast freshwater predatory fish. Nutritious but pregnant women must avoid, due to mercury contamination.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 65

15. GREEN PEAS (v)

77kcal, $1.39, per 100g

Individual green peas contain high levels of phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and dietary fibre.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 67

14. TANGERINES (v)

53kcal, $0.29, per 100g

An oblate orange citrus fruit. High in sugar and the carotenoid cryptoxanthin, a precursor to vitamin A.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 67

13. WATERCRESS (v)

11kcal, $3.47, per 100g

Unique among vegetables, it grows in flowing water as a wild plant. Traditionally eaten to treat mineral deficiency.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 68

12. CELERY FLAKES (v)

319kcal, $6.10, per 100g

Celery that is dried and flaked to use as a condiment. An important source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 68

11. DRIED PARSLEY (v)

292kcal, $12.46, per 100g

Parsley that is dried and ground to use as a spice. High in boron, fluoride and calcium for healthy bones and teeth.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 69

10. SNAPPER

100kcal, $3.75, per 100g

A family of mainly marine fish, with red snapper the best known. Nutritious but can carry dangerous toxins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 69

9. BEET GREENS (v)

22kcal, $0.48, per 100g

The leaves of beetroot vegetables. High in calcium, iron, vitamin K and B group vitamins (especially riboflavin).

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 70

8. PORK FAT

632kcal, $0.95, per 100g

A good source of B vitamins and minerals. Pork fat is more unsaturated and healthier than lamb or beef fat.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 73

7. SWISS CHARD (v)

19kcal, $0.29, per 100g

A very rare dietary source of betalains, phytochemicals thought to have antioxidant and other health properties.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 78

6. PUMPKIN SEEDS (v)

559kcal, $1.60, per 100g

Including the seeds of other squashes. One of the richest plant-based sources of iron and manganese.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 84

5. CHIA SEEDS (v)

486kcal, $1.76, per 100g

Tiny black seeds that contain high amounts of dietary fibre, protein, a-linolenic acid, phenolic acid and vitamins.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 85

4. FLATFISH

70kcal, $1.15, per 100g

Sole and flounder species. Generally free from mercury and a good source of the essential nutrient vitamin B1.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 88

3. OCEAN PERCH

79kcal, $0.82, per 100g

The Atlantic species. A deep-water fish sometimes called rockfish. High in protein, low in saturated fats.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 89

2. CHERIMOYA (v)

75kcal, $1.84, per 100g

Cherimoya fruit is fleshy and sweet with a white pulp. Rich in sugar and vitamins A, C, B1, B2 and potassium.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 96

1. ALMONDS (v)

579kcal, $0.91, per 100g

Rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Promote cardiovascular health and may help with diabetes.

NUTRITIONAL SCORE: 97

SOURCES

Food selection, ranking and cost based on the scientific study “Uncovering the Nutritional Landscape of Food”, published in the journal PLoS ONE.   

Nutritional data based on The United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

Nutritional insights from The Encyclopaedia of Food and Health (2016), published by Elsevier Science.

Produced for BBC Future by Fact & Story.    This page was originally published as an infographic.

source: BBC.com


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The Vitamin Deficiency Linked To Autoimmune Disorders

A vitamin that reduces autoimmune disease risk by almost one-quarter.

Vitamin D supplementation over five years is linked to lower autoimmune disease risk of 22 percent, a study reveals.

Inflammatory disorders such as thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and polymyalgia rheumatica are examples of autoimmune diseases (AD).

AD can lead to life-threatening complications and death as currently there are no cures for AD and only a few treatments seem to be effective.

However, past research has highlighted that vitamin D and omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acid supplements may benefit many patients with these conditions.

A study called ‘VITAL’ assessed 25,871 participants to see whether supplementation of vitamin D or omega-3 or a combination of these two have any impact on reducing AD rates.

Participants were divided into different groups; receiving either 2,000 IU vitamin D3 or 1,000 mg of fish oil a day or a combination of both.

The fish oil capsule contained 460 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 380 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The research team found that those who received vitamin D with fish oil or vitamin D alone were less likely to develop AD.

omega3

Dr Karen Costenbader, the study’s senior author, said:

“This is the first direct evidence we have that daily supplementation may reduce AD incidence, and what looks like more pronounced effect after two years of supplementation for vitamin D.

Now, when my patients, colleagues, or friends ask me which vitamins or supplements I’d recommend they take to reduce risk of autoimmune disease, I have new evidence-based recommendations for women age 55 years and older and men 50 years and older.

I suggest vitamin D 2000 IU a day and marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), 1000 mg a day—the doses used in VITAL.”

The results show that 5 years vitamin D supplementation reduced autoimmune disease by 22 percent in patients with AD.

Whereas supplementation of fish oil with or without vitamin D reduced the AD rate by only 15 percent.

“Autoimmune diseases are common in older adults and negatively affect health and life expectancy.

Until now, we have had no proven way of preventing them, and now, for the first time, we do.

It would be exciting if we could go on to verify the same preventive effects in younger individuals.”

About the author

Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in BMJ (Hahn et al., 2021).

March 10, 2022    source: PsyBlog


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More Olive Oil May Bring Longer Life

Swapping out the butter or other artery-clogging fats in your diet for heart-healthy olive oil may add years to your life, researchers say.

Folks who consume more than 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil a day are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or lung disease when compared to people who consume less of this healthy fat, a new study finds.

It’s not just adding olive oil to your diet that staves off death from disease, said study author Marta Guasch-Ferre, a research scientist in the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “We need to pay attention to overall diet quality and lifestyle, and consistent with our results, the key would be to add olive oil into the diet as a substitution of other unhealthier fats.”

Olive oil is rich in healthful antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. “One may speculate that mechanisms related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive oil may have played a role in these findings,” Guasch-Ferre said.

Olive oil use could also be a marker for a healthier lifestyle. Folks in the study who consumed the most olive oil were more physically active, less likely to smoke and ate more fruits and vegetables than people who consumed less olive oil.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 90,000 people from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were free of heart disease and cancer when the study began in 1990. These folks were followed for 28 years. Every four years, they were asked how often they ate certain foods, including fats such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise, dairy fat and olive oil.

When compared with people who never consumed olive oil, those who consumed more than 1/2 a tablespoon a day had a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, a 17% lower risk of dying from cancer, a 29% lower risk of dying from a neurodegenerative disease, and an 18% lower risk of dying from lung disease.

The researchers also developed statistical models to simulate what would happen if a person swapped out 3/4 a tablespoon of margarine, butter, mayonnaise or other vegetable oils with olive oil. This switch reduced the chances of dying from all causes. Substituting olive oil for other vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower and soybean didn’t have the same effect, the study showed.

The findings are published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Many questions on the potential health benefits of olive oil need answering before broad recommendations on its use can be made, wrote Susanna Larsson in an accompanying editorial. She is an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

For example, Larsson asked, “What is the amount of olive oil required for a protective effect? Are the protective effects confined to polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil or are refined olive oil and other vegetable oils as beneficial?”

Nutritionists not involved in the new study point out that eating a healthy, balanced diet is more important than any one food.

Olive oil

It’s not just the olive oil that confers these health benefits, it’s likely what the olive oil travels with and/or adds flavor to, said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health emerita at New York University.

“Olive oil is part of the classic heart-healthy Mediterranean diet,” Nestle noted. This style of eating includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, and is low in processed foods. “It’s never about one food, it’s really about dietary patterns,” she said.

Olive oil has calories, and they can add up quickly, Nestle pointed out. There are about 120 calories in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

This isn’t a lot of olive oil either, said Meghan McLarney, a dietitian at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. “A typical salad at a restaurant has about 4 tablespoons of dressing.”

Replacing a fat is different from adding one to your diet, and there are easy ways to replace butter and other animal fats with olive oil, she said.

“If a recipe calls for butter, cut out half of the butter and replace it with olive oil,” McLarney said. “This blend is a great way of transitioning and introducing a healthier fat but keeping the flavor.”

Swapping out butter or margarine for olive oil or infused olive oil can make a great flavoring on whole grains, vegetables and proteins. “You can bake with olive oil, too,” she said.

Learn more about healthy fats and how to include them in your diet at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

SOURCES: Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, senior research scientist, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Marion Nestle, PhD, Paulette Goddard professor, nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, New York University, New York City; Meghan McLarney, RD, dietitian, Nebraska Medicine, Omaha; Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan. 11, 2022

By Denise Mann       HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 11, 2022       HealthDay News

source: www.webmd.com


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3 Mental Problems Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 6, 2021        source: PsyBlog

vitamin

Vitamin D Reduces the Need for Opioids in Palliative Cancer

Patients with vitamin D deficiency who received vitamin D supplements had a reduced need for pain relief and lower levels of fatigue in palliative cancer treatment, a randomized and placebo-controlled study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet shows. The study is published in the scientific journal Cancers.

Among patients with cancer in the palliative phase, vitamin D deficiency is common. Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may be associated with pain, sensitivity to infection, fatigue, depression, and lower self-rated quality of life.

A previous smaller study, which was not randomized or placebo-controlled, suggested that vitamin D supplementation could reduce opioid doses, reduce antibiotic use, and improve the quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.

244 cancer patients with palliative cancer, enrolled in ASIH, (advanced medical home care), took part in the current study in Stockholm during the years 2017-2020.

All study participants had a vitamin D deficiency at the start of the study. They received either 12 weeks of treatment with vitamin D at a relatively high dose (4000 IE/day) or a placebo.

The researchers then measured the change in opioid doses (as a measurement of pain) at 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks after the start of the study.

“The results showed that vitamin D treatment was well tolerated and that the vitamin D-treated patients had a significantly slower increase in opioid doses than the placebo group during the study period. In addition, they experienced less cancer-related fatigue compared to the placebo group,” says Linda Björkhem-Bergman, senior physician at Stockholms Sjukhem and associate professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Sciences, and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

On the other hand, there was no difference between the groups in terms of self-rated quality of life or antibiotic use.

“The effects were quite small, but statistically significant and may have clinical significance for patients with vitamin D deficiency who have cancer in the palliative phase. This is the first time it has been shown that vitamin D treatment for palliative cancer patients can have an effect on both opioid-sensitive pain and fatigue,” says first author of the study Maria Helde Frankling, senior physician at ASIH and postdoc at the Department of Neurobiology, Healthcare Science and Society, Karolinska Institutet.

The study is one of the largest drug studies conducted within ASIH in Sweden. One weakness of the study is the large drop-out rate. Only 150 out of 244 patients were able to complete the 12-week study because many patients died of their cancer during the study.

The study was funded by Region Stockholm (ALF), the Swedish Cancer Society, Stockholms Sjukhems Foundation and was carried out with the support of ASIH Stockholm Södra and ASIH Stockholm Norr.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Maria Helde Frankling, Caritha Klasson, Carina Sandberg, Marie Nordström, Anna Warnqvist, Jenny Bergqvist, Peter Bergman, Linda Björkhem-Bergman. ‘Palliative-D’—Vitamin D Supplementation to Palliative Cancer Patients: A Double Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Multicenter Trial. Cancers, 2021; 13 (15): 3707 DOI: 10.3390/cancers13153707

source: ScienceDaily     August 5, 2021
 


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Feeding the Brain

Our body’s control centre needs a healthy diet

“You can’t wink your eye without nutrients being involved, never mind think, remember, learn, or sleep.” So says brain expert Aileen Burford-Mason, author of The Healthy Brain: Optimize Brain Power at Any Age. Find out more about how to feed your body’s command and control centre.

When people embark on the path to healthy eating, they’re often motivated by a desire to lose weight or to help fend off disease. It’s less common for people to embrace a wholesome diet to boost the well-being of their brain.

This is something that puzzles Toronto-based biochemist, immunologist, and cell biologist Aileen Burford-Mason. An expert in orthomolecular nutrition, she says the brain requires proper nutrition to function optimally. In fact, as the most metabolically active organ of the body, the brain uses nutrients at 10 times the rate of any other tissue or organ in the body.

Our body’s command and control centre

“Over the years, it has really astonished me how many times people have said, ‘Why would the brain need food?’” Burford-Mason says. “You can’t wink your eye without nutrients being involved, never mind think, remember, learn, or sleep. There are nutrients involved in every single function of the body. The purpose to eating is to get all the essential nutrients into us, without which we can’t function.

“Because it has such high needs for nutrition, the brain may be the first to warble when we’re short,” she adds. “It may be the first place to tell us, with anxiety, depression, not being able to sleep. There’s so much evidence now that nutrition is at the root of developing dementia. It’s a huge concern.”

Burford-Mason first became interested in the body’s nutrient needs while studying biochemistry at University College in her native Dublin, Ireland. She went on to complete a PhD in immunology in England. Having emigrated to Canada in 1988, she was formerly an assistant professor in the pathology department at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine and director of a cancer research laboratory at Toronto General Hospital. The orthomolecular nutrition consultant is now also the author of The Healthy Brain: Optimize Brain Power at Any Age (Patrick Crean Editions, 2017).

With her book, Burford-Mason wanted to distill complex, scientific information into practical steps people can take to improve the state of their grey matter. Also known as biochemical or functional nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition (which takes its name from the Greek word ortho, meaning correct) uses diet, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements to support the body’s health and healing mechanisms.

What is commonly overlooked by doctors and the public alike, she says, is that, for optimal physiological functioning, the body needs all the nutrients all the time; these compounds all interact with and affect each other.

For instance, it’s well established that people living in Canada are likely to be deficient in vitamin D. However, for the sunshine vitamin to be metabolized, the body needs magnesium.

A well-oiled machine

“It’s like the interactivity of all the components of your car,” Burford-Mason says. “It doesn’t matter whether there’s no gas in the tank or no spark plugs or a wheel is missing; with any of those, you’re going nowhere.

“Even if it’s something small, like a wheel nut missing, eventually something will go wrong; the same thing applies to nutrition. All of the nutrients are needed all the time, and the absence of one, no matter how obscure you might think it is, can compromise the way the others work.

“People have talked about exercise and brain games for brain health; all of this is important, but you can’t keep tweaking spark plugs and making sure there’s air in the tires if you’re forgetting the gas,” she says. “Nutrition has been overlooked.”

lovebrain

Food for thought

Broadly speaking, the best thing people can do to enhance brain health via nutrition is to load up on vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), and fruit. These foods are abundant in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytochemicals, which are plant-based chemicals that help reduce the risk of infections and many conditions, including cancer and heart disease. “Phytochemicals can build up in the brain and protect it from damage,” she says.

You can’t have too many vegetables, legumes, and fruit, though Burford-Mason encourages variety and cautions that people who are diabetic or trying to lose weight will want to limit their intake of fruit and starchy vegetables.

Avoid sugar. “If there is one thing that is damaging to the brain and should be left out of a diet, that is sugar,” she says. “Sugar is the new smoking. We have absolutely everything to be gained from cutting back on sugar or cutting it out. The sugar we get should come from vegetables and fruit.”

Rules for brain-healthy eating

  • Choose unprocessed foods.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods such as eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Lighten the glycemic load. Limit yourself to one serving of starchy food per day, such as bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta.
  • Eat good fats, such as avocado, seafood, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), and olive and coconut oils.
  • Have protein at each meal. Sources include chicken, turkey, tuna, shrimp, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, eggs, lentils, and tofu.

Tips for picking a multivitamin

If you take nothing else on a daily basis, a multivitamin should be your first choice. “They’re the core of the nutrient regimen, because it’s a little bit of everything,” says Aileen Burford-Mason. “You’re plugging gaps. They’re a jumping-off point, not a total solution.”

  • Choose a type tailored to your gender and age group.
  • Look for the widest spectrum of trace minerals; molybdenum is a good indicator of completeness.
  • Select a multi with at least 25 mg of most of the B vitamins and 400 mcg of folic acid. An imbalance of these two (too much folic acid, not enough Bs) has been linked with memory problems in the elderly.
  • You may need to supplement magnesium and vitamin C, as their levels will likely be low in a multi.

Must-have supplements

  • vitamins C, D, E, and K
  • omega-3 fats (fish oil)
  • magnesium
  • vitamin B12

The brain’s need for B vitamins likely exceeds the recommended daily intakes, especially if you exercise vigorously or work your brain hard. Although multis contain ample folic acid, it’s rare to find one that has sufficient B12. Low levels of B12 are linked to age-related cognitive decline, and prolonged B12 deficiency has similar symptoms as vascular dementia.

Additional supplements to consider

  • L-tyrosine, for stress, anxiety, and memory improvement (recommended for adults only)
  • L-theanine, for stress, anxiety, “busy brain syndrome,” insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • melatonin, for insomnia

WRITTEN BY Gail Johnson  @YVRFitFoodie

Gail Johnson is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast journalist based in Vancouver.

www.alive.com


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These Vitamins Help Fight COVID-19

These vitamins could reduce respiratory conditions and COVID-19 infections.

Vitamin A, D, and E could help people ward off respiratory illnesses and viral infections like COVID-19.

The effect of nutrition on improving the immune system due to the human body’s complexity is not wholly clear.

However, we know for sure that some nutrients play a key part in the reduction of different infections and diseases.

Past studies show that vitamin C is effective in treating or preventing pneumonia as well as supporting white blood cells to overcome viral infections such as flu and the common cold.

Data from an eight-year survey on 6,115 UK adult patients has now found that vitamin A, D and E intake were linked to a reduction in respiratory complaints, in particular viral infections.

However, this study didn’t find any effect from vitamin C supplements or food intake on respiratory diseases.

Vitamin A and vitamin E from supplements and food intake, vitamin D supplements (but not from the diet) showed significant reductions in respiratory conditions such as colds and lung diseases including asthma.

Food such as cheese, full-fat milk, liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and carrots are high in vitamin A while wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, and olive oil are sources of vitamin E.

olive oil

Dr Suzana Almoosawi and Dr Luigi Palla, the authors of this study, wrote:

“It is estimated that around a fifth of the general population in the UK have low vitamin D, and over 30% of older adults aged 65 years and above do not achieve the recommended nutrient intake.

Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that supplementation is critical to ensuring adequate vitamin D status is maintained and potentially indicate that intake of vitamin D from diet alone cannot help maintain adequate vitamin D status.”

Professor Sumantra Ray from NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health, said:

“Nationally representative data continue to remind us that micronutrient deficiencies are far from a thing of the past, even in higher income nations like the UK, and this trend is mirrored by comparable global data sources from lesser resourced countries to those with advanced health systems.

Despite this, micronutrient deficiencies are often overlooked as a key contributor to the burden of malnutrition and poor health, presenting an additional layer of challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health (Almoosawi & Palla., 2020).

November 15, 2020         source: PsyBlog


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The Vitamin That Reduces COVID-19 Risk By 50%

A sufficient level of this vitamin could halve the risk of catching coronavirus and protect COVID-19 patients from the worst of the disease.

Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection and the severity of the disease, if it is caught, research finds.

Professor Michael Holick, study co-author, said:

“Because vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is so widespread in children and adults in the United States and worldwide, especially in the winter months, it is prudent for everyone to take a vitamin D supplement to reduce risk of being infected and having complications from COVID-19.”

A blood level of 30 nanogram per millilitre of vitamin D has been shown to protect patients with COVID-19 against complications and death, as well as reducing the risk of getting ill by a large amount.

According to a new study, COVID-19 patients with adequate levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are less likely to have severe clinical problems from the illness.

These outcomes include hypoxia — poor oxygen supply to the body — being unconscious, and death.

25-hydroxyvitamin D is produced in the liver and it is a major form of vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.

Also, patients with a sufficient amount of vitamin D have higher levels of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell which fights infection, and their blood shows a lower level of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory indicator.

Professor Holick said:

“This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19.”

The study examined 235 hospitalized coronavirus patients to see if serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels can change the severe clinical outcomes from the disease.

Vitamin D status, numbers of lymphocytes, and C-reactive protein were analysed from patient’s blood samples.

The patients were also checked for severity of the infection, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness and hypoxia.

The analysis showed that patients with a blood level of at least 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had a 52 percent higher chance of surviving the infection than those with lower levels of vitamin D.

Professor Holick, in a recent study, revealed that an adequate amount of vitamin D can lower the odds of becoming infected with COVID-19 by 54 percent.

Vitamin D sufficiency helps to overcome the coronavirus disease and other types of upper respiratory infections such as influenza.

Professor Holick pointed out:

“There is great concern that the combination of an influenza infection and a coronal viral infection could substantially increase hospitalizations and death due to complications from these viral infections.”

Vitamin D is a cheap but effective way to boost people’s immune system against the virus and can decrease health-related issues such as needing ventilatory support and immune system overactivity resulting in cytokine storm.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE  (Maghbooli et al., 2020).

About the author
Mina Dean
is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

October 7, 2020

Source: PsyBlog

 

“The sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D from October to May,
especially for those living north of Atlanta,”       Althea Zanecosky, RD

 

15 Foods That Are High in Vitamin D

Eating plenty of vitamin D foods strengthens your bones, regulates your immune system, and more—but chances are, you’re not getting enough.

Vitamin D may be known as the sunshine vitamin, but too few of us think to look for it in the fridge—and that’s a big mistake. “The sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D from October to May, especially for those living north of Atlanta,” says Althea Zanecosky, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That’s probably why nearly half of people tested at winter’s end had a vitamin D deficiency, according to a University of Maine study. Compounding the problem is our vigilant use of sunscreen; SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, the type our bodies use to make D. Skin also has a harder time producing vitamin D with age.

Back up: What is vitamin D, and why is it so important?

Your body creates vitamin D on its own after being exposed to sunlight. It helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks of bones. If you’re low on D, then you’re at increased risk for bone diseases like osteoporosis.

Evidence continues to mount that vitamin D also helps to regulate the immune system, lower blood pressure, protect against depression, and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and several kinds of cancer. A 2014 study from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine also found that people with low vitamin D levels were twice as likely to die prematurely.

So, are you getting enough vitamin D?

Probably not. The Institute of Medicine has set the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D at 600 international units (IU) for everyone under the age of 70. (It’s 800 IU for adults 70+.) But many experts believe that’s too low. “There is talk that the RDA may be increased,” says Zanecosky. “Many physicians are now advising 2,000 milligrams daily for those with low blood levels.”

The Top Vitamin D Foods

In a recent nutrient survey, many respondents were rightfully concerned they weren’t getting enough D, with 22% actively looking for it in foods. But just 9% knew that salmon is a good natural source of the vitamin, and only 5% recognized fortified tofu as one, too. Here are some other ways to get more foods with vitamin D in your diet:

Wild-caught fish   (425 IU in 3 oz salmon, 547 IU
in 3 oz mackerel)

Beef or calf liver   (42 IU in 3 oz)

Egg yolks   (41 IU per egg)

Canned fish   (154 IU in 3 oz tuna, 270 IU in 3.5 oz sardines)

Shiitake mushrooms   (40 IU in 1 cup)

Milk: whole, nonfat or reduced fat   (100 IU in 8 oz)

Yogurt   (80–100 IUs in 6 oz)

Almond milk   (100 IU in 8 oz)

Pudding made with milk   (49-60 IUs in ½ cup)

Orange juice   (137 IU in 1 cup)

Breakfast cereals   (50–100 IUs in 0.75–1 cup)

Fortified tofu   (80 IU in 3 oz)

Oatmeal   (150 IU in 1 packet)

Cheese   (40 IU in 1 slice)

Eggnog   (123 IU in 8 oz)

 

By Aviva Patz    Jun 10, 2018

source: www.prevention.com


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Social Connection May Be Strongest Protection Against Depression

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found that social connection may be the strongest protective factor against depression, and suggest that reducing sedentary activities such as TV watching and daytime napping could also help reduce the risk of depression.

The team identified a set of modifiable factors from a field of more than 100 that could represent valuable targets for preventing depression in adults.

The findings are published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, but until now researchers have focused on only a handful of risk and protective factors, often in just one or two domains,” says Karmel Choi, Ph.D., investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper. “Our study provides the most comprehensive picture to date of modifiable factors that could impact depression risk.”

The researchers took a two-stage approach. The first stage drew on a database of more than 100,000 participants in the UK Biobank to systematically scan a wide range of modifiable factors that might be linked to the risk of developing depression, including social interaction, media use, sleep patterns, diet, physical activity, and environmental exposures.

This method, known as an exposure-wide association scan (ExWAS), is comparable to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have been widely used to identify genetic risk factors for disease.

The second stage took the strongest modifiable candidates from ExWAS and applied a technique called Mendelian randomization (MR) to investigate which factors may have a causal relationship to depression risk.

MR is a statistical method that treats genetic variation between people as a kind of natural experiment to determine whether an association is likely to reflect causation rather than just correlation.

This two-stage approach allowed the MGH researchers to narrow the field to a smaller set of promising and potentially causal targets for depression.

“Far and away the most prominent of these factors was frequency of confiding in others, but also visits with family and friends, all of which highlighted the important protective effect of social connection and social cohesion,” said senior author Jordan Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., associate chief for research in the MGH Department of Psychiatry.

“These factors are more relevant now than ever at a time of social distancing and separation from friends and family.”

The protective effects of social connection were found even among individuals who were at greater risk for depression as a result of genetic vulnerability or early life trauma.

On the other hand, factors linked to depression risk included time spent watching TV, though the authors note that more studies are needed to determine if that risk was due to media exposure or whether time in front of the TV was representative of being sedentary.

Perhaps more surprising, the tendency for daytime napping and regular use of multivitamins appeared to be tied to depression risk, though more research is needed to determine how these might be linked.

The study demonstrates an important new approach for evaluating a wide range of modifiable factors, and using this evidence to prioritize targets for preventive interventions for depression.

“Depression takes an enormous toll on individuals, families, and society, yet we still know very little about how to prevent it,” says Smoller.

“We’ve shown that it’s now possible to address these questions of broad public health significance through a large-scale, data-based approach that wasn’t available even a few years ago. We hope this work will motivate further efforts to develop actionable strategies for preventing depression.”

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor      15 Aug 2020

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital   psychcentral.com

elder friends

3 Mental Problems
Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 20, 2020

source: PsyBlog


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This Popular Vitamin Is Linked To Weight Loss

High levels of this vitamin are associated with 20 pounds more weight loss.

Higher levels of vitamin D are linked to more weight loss, research finds.

People who are dieting have been shown to lose 20 pounds more when they have high vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D at higher levels in the body is also associated with burning belly fat.

The conclusions come from a study of 4,421 people whose total body fat and belly fat was measured.

Across men and women, higher vitamin D levels were linked to less belly fat, the results showed.

However, women with higher vitamin D levels also had less total body fat.

One reason for the beneficial effect of vitamin D may be its connection with the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Serotonin can affect everything from sleep to mood.

High levels of vitamin D may suppress the storage of fat.

Over half the people in the world may be deficient in vitamin D.

Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.

That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.

Dr Rachida Rafiq, the study’s first author, said:

“Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked.”

The study does not prove causation, though, Dr Rafiq explained:

“Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels. However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (Rafiq et al., 2018).

 

source: PsyBlog

 

vitamin D

Netflix and Eat? Here’s How To Stop Overindulging During Pandemic Isolation

Spending way too many hours in front of the TV?

Indulging in way too many salty snacks?

You’re not alone.

A recent Bloomberg report cited data showing sales were up — way up — for all types of comfort foods, including popcorn (48 per cent), pretzels (47 per cent) and potato chips (30 per cent) compared to a year ago.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to Kira Lynne, a life coach and counsellor in Vancouver. During stressful or anxious times, such as what we’re experiencing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, people will reach out for things that bring them comfort, whether it be certain junk foods, TV shows or video games.

“It’s a scary time.”

Lynne said its important you don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself giving in to these temptations.

“Be gentle with yourself on that.”

That said, there are some practical things you can do if you’re worried about overindulging. She suggests, for instance, delaying the snacking and the Netflix-watching to the end of the day as sort of a “reward” to yourself.

Another piece of advice: eating “mindfully.” Get rid of distractions, such as the TV. You’ll enjoy the food more and won’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied.

Amy Bondar, a nutritional therapist and certified eating psychology coach in Calgary, agrees.

To slow down the binge eating, she recommends that her clients “see, taste, smell and hear each bite of food,” they take in. In other words, “experience the experience of eating.”

“Unwanted eating behaviours only happen in the stress response and the more heightened your stress and anxiety, the more likely you are to eat unconsciously and stand in front of the pantry or fridge gnawing on your worries,” she wrote in a recent blog post.

With so much uncertainty in the world right now and things that are beyond our control, experts recommend focusing on finding things that you can control. That includes building a daily routine for yourself so you have some predictability and structure to your day.

Lynne says in the first part of her day, she takes her dog for a walk, comes home and meditates, makes breakfast, devotes a couple hours to work and then takes a lunch break.

Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s former governor general, even weighed in this week on the importance of establishing a routine, tweeting: “It is so good for the morale to dress every day as though going to the office, or a meeting. For heaven’s sake wash your hair and don’t wear pyjamas or a sweat suit all day! And, guys, SHAVE!”

On the question of whether it’s OK to keep the PJs on throughout the day, Lynne prefers not to make a blanket rule. Instead, she might ask her clients, “how do you feel different if you are in PJs?” or “are you glad you got out of PJs?” and then letting their answers guide their clothing choices.

With many people no longer having to deal with commutes and appointments, both experts suggest taking advantage of this free time to try new hobbies or to set new goals.

Go online and find a home workout routine that you like. Start an online business. Catch up with old friends over the phone or video chat. Do some spring cleaning around the house.

“Use this time as an opportunity to redefine your health, not decline your health,” Bondar said.

Lynne also suggests limiting your intake of coronavirus news each day.

“I check it once a day. Just as much as I need to stay healthy — nothing additional,” she said, adding that she’s “asked people in my life not to send me gloom and doom.”

“I need to keep my mental health in a good place.”

Experts say another way to lessen anxiety is to find ways to help others. Make an online donation to a charity, Lynne said. Or help deliver food to people who can’t get out of the house.

“It gives a sense of purpose.”

By Douglas Quan       Vancouver Bureau       Thu., March 26, 2020

 

snack

How To Combat Weight Gain During The Pandemic
(beyond Diet And Exercise)

Quarantine life is challenging, to say the least, and all of us are struggling mentally, emotionally and physically. And no one would blame you for being tempted to abandon your diet and exercise plan and reach for the tub of ice cream while binge-watching that tiger show that everyone is talking about.But health experts strongly recommend you do your best to prevent excess weight gain during this historic and scary time.

Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital, is seeing that a large percentage of the patients battling Covid-19 in the medical center’s intensive care unit are obese. Patients who are obese are especially challenging to care for, he said, as treatment involves rolling them from their back to their front regularly to optimize lung function. In addition, a recent study found that in patients under the age of 60, obesity doubled the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization.

I’m not suggesting starting a strict diet or intense exercise program while sheltering in place, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent weight gain and protect yourself not only from Covid-19-related complications, but also from diseases such as diabetes and heart disease that will remain two of the top causes of death after we get through this pandemic.

Shop smart

When it comes to quarantine shopping, it’s important to be organized, especially when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables (aim for five servings per day if you can). Buy a combination of fresh, frozen and canned to last you at least a week or more.

Consume fresh products first and then move on to frozen and canned. Rinse canned vegetables to reduce sodium, and be sure to consume fresh or frozen fruit daily as the vitamin C content of canned fruits and vegetables, which is important for immunity health, is lower than fresh or frozen.

Chef Devin Alexander, who has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for decades, has some terrific tips for shopping on a budget and managing quarantine cravings. When buying produce, for example, unlike most other items, she suggested looking for the items on sale.

Watermelon and berries go on sale in the summer because they’re in season and thus very plentiful. That’s also when they taste the best, so you can make amazing desserts without the need for a ton of added sugar.

Alexander also recommended having coleslaw on hand for when the salty cravings hit. Her recipe for Orange Cilantro Cole Slaw, available on her website, satisfies that salty, crunchy hankering in a way that’s actually good for you. It helps get in a serving or two of vegetables, and just might keep you from “needing” to eat a bag of chips. In addition, cabbage and carrots are budget-friendly, last for weeks and are loaded with immune-supporting nutrients.

When you come home from the store, make sure to put the healthier foods in more easily seen locations in your kitchen. Food cravings and hunger can be triggered by just seeing food, so keep more indulgent foods out of sight – and hopefully out of mind – on upper shelves in your cupboard, in the back of the fridge or the bottom of the freezer.

Manage stress

During this global crisis it’s even more important than ever to find ways to conquer stress and manage anxiety.

I know, it isn’t easy. Balancing homeschooling, financial challenges, cabin fever, social isolation and illness is stressful, but stress can contribute to poor eating choices and increase fat deep in your belly (underneath the muscle) that can contribute to heart disease and diabetes even more than the pinchable fat that lies directly underneath your skin.

Practice mindfulness, meaning doing your best trying to live in the present versus worrying too much about the future. That’s the advice from Joanne Koegl, a licensed marriage and family therapist who tells clients to take time out of their day to focus on simple things such as the warmth of the sun, the beauty of a flower, the taste of a bite of chocolate or the laugh of a child.

Koegl recommended apps and websites such as Headspace, Calm, The Tapping Solution (a self-administered therapy based on Chinese acupressure that can help calm the nervous system) and Breathe by anxiety expert Dr. Jud Brewer. These resources and others are offering free services focused on managing Covid-19-related anxiety and stress.

You can also practice basic self-care to manage anxiety and relieve stress. Take a hot bath, find a quiet place in your house and sip a cup of tea, exercise, call an old friend or consider volunteering if it’s safe. Helping others also gives you a sense of purpose and joy.

If you are really struggling with anxiety, there are mental health telemedicine options such as Doctor on Demand and crisis hotlines available in major cities across the country. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out for professional help.

Sleep right

Both excess sleep and inadequate sleep have been linked to weight gain, increased appetite and worsening blood sugar control, so try your best not to completely abandon your sleep schedule by staying up late, sleeping until noon or staying up all night watching television.

Try to stay on a relatively normal sleep schedule, experts recommend. This is much easier to do if you follow basic sleep principles including avoiding excess alcohol before bed, keeping your room as dark as possible and at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and exercising regularly. And turn off the news (and put down your phones) in the hours before bed.

Move more

Spending so much time at home has another unforeseen consequence. You are burning far fewer calories going about your daily life than you were pre-quarantine, regardless of whether you exercise daily.

Sitting at the computer for hours, whether doing Zoom work calls or socializing, and staying inside on evenings and weekends binge-watching television, along with shopping and socializing online, easily all add up to several hundred fewer calories burned per day through non-exercise activity, which is often higher than intentional exercise for most people. It’s essential to incorporate more movement and less sitting every day.

Buchin tells his patients to commit to a certain amount of exercise to “earn” their television viewing. For example, for each movie they watch they should incorporate 20 minutes of some form of activity which could be cleaning, playing with your family, gardening or even simply standing while talking on the phone or participating in a Zoom call.

I have been using my Apple Watch more than ever lately. I appreciate the reminder to stand up every hour for at least one minute and the ability to track my general daily activity in addition to exercise.
If you don’t have a fitness device, set a timer on your phone or even your microwave to remind you to get up every hour and walk around the house, up and down the stairs a few times or just do some stretching in place before sitting down again.

As we hear repeatedly on the news, we are all in this together, and my hope is that with these tips, you and your loved ones can maintain your weight and stay fit, healthy and maybe even a little less stressed during this global pandemic.

Dr. Melina Jampolis is an internist and board-certified physician nutrition specialist and author of several books, including “Spice Up, Slim Down.”

By Dr. Melina Jampolis, CNN                Thu April 30, 2020
 
source: www.cnn.com