Study Throws Cold Water on Vitamin D Hype

Despite several years of hype, studies continue to temper that enthusiasm surrounding vitamin D supplements. The latest indicates

Low levels of vitamin D don’t put older women at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, a large study of U.S. women suggests.

Vitamins can be harmful?

A study reported, with significant controversy, that some vitamins can actually increase the risk of death:

Some vitamin supplements could do you more harm than good, according to research published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
“Beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase the risk of death,” said the researchers, operating under the umbrella of the internationally-respected Cochrane Collaboration.
To do this, they analysed data from 47 clinical trials conducted since October 2005 comparing beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium.
Those trials involved over 180 000 participants, some of whom were completely healthy, and some of whom already had a specific disease.
“Our systematic review contains a number of findings,” said the researchers, who were led by Dr Goran Bjelakovic of the Copenhagen University Hospital.
“Beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E given singly or combined with other antioxidant supplements significantly increase mortality.
“There is no evidence that vitamin C may increase longevity. We lack evidence to refute a potential negative effect of vitamin C on survival.”
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Nutritionalists immediately rejected the findings and some experts said it’s too early to toss out all vitamin pills — or the possibility that they have some health benefits. Others said the study supports the theory that antioxidants work best when consumed in food rather than pills.
Notably, Donald Berry, chairman of the department of biostatistics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said the analysis persuades him antioxidants have no measurable health benefits, but he disagrees with the researchers’ finding of an increase risk of dying.
Finally, here’s a great message:

Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University who was not involved with the research, said the study’s main message is: “Rely on food to get your nutrients.”

Curing the Common Cold

Through-out history, the common cold has been treated in a number of ways.  Ancient Romans drank onion broth to relieve symptoms. Twefth century Egyptian physicians recommended chicken soup (reportedly learned from the ancient Greeks). Colonial Americans drank tea or herbal concoctions of sage, hyssop, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh and buckthorn (among others). This eventually evolved into honey and lemon. In a last ditch effort to relieve symptoms, a hot toddy laced with rum has also been served.

While some of these remedies may relieve suffering, none actually comes remotely close to curing or preventing a cold.

However, for some colds, namely those originating in a Rhinoviruses infection, there is a treatment that has been show to be effective.  You see, the Rhinovirus entry point is through the upper respiratory tract where it is transported to the back of the throat. Once there, the virus attaches to cell surface receptors known as Intercellular Adhesion Molecule- 1 (ICAM-1), and infection begins.  

The binding site for the ICAM-1receptor is actually in a small crevice on the outside of the virus known as a binding pocket.  As it turns out, zinc is also able to bind in this pocket and once bound, the zinc physically blocks access to the binding pocket. 

Here, then, is the conclusion:

While zinc treatment is not recommended for daily use to prevent colds, if used at any point during a rhinoviral infection, it will prevent the propagation of infection. The zinc does so by blocking the binding pockets of virus shed following initial infection. There are drawbacks to this treatment. For instance, zinc is only effective in preventing rhinoviral infection and therefore will not shorten the length of those colds caused by other viruses (half of all colds). Also, an oral dose of zinc is ineffective. This is because the zinc must come into contact with rhinoviruses to inactivate them, and that will not happen if the zinc is in the bloodstream and the rhinovirus is in the nasal passages. Despite the limitations, the zinc treatment may represent a major step forward in the fight against the common cold.


Fiber Supplements Reduce Cholesterol and Risk

Researchers have found that fiber supplements lower levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in people with this type of diabetes.
Participants in the reported study — 78 people with type 2 diabetes, who averaged 59 years of age — took 10 grams to 15 grams daily of a fiber supplement. Their total blood cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL were measured at the start of the study and again after 90 days.
By the end of the study, total cholesterol had fallen from 215 mg/dL to 184 mg/dL, a 14.4 percent decrease. Triglycerides decreased from 299 mg/dL to 257 mg/dL (14 percent). LDL decreased from 129 mg/dL to 92 mg/dL (28.7 percent). HDL increased from 43 mg/dL to 55 mg/dL, up 21.8 percent.
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