Vitamin News Updates Post 2

FDA Food Fortification – In March, 1996, the Food and Drug Adminstration ruled that companies which produced certain grain products, such as bread, flour, cornmeal, pasta, and rice are now required to fortify these products with folic acid. This decision was based on concern that pregnant women were not receiving an adequate amount of folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.The amount of fortification, which will range from 0.43 milligrams to 1.4 miligrams per pound, was calculated to meet the minimum required to prevent birth defects (0.4), but is not high enough to mask symptoms of pernicious anemia, which is common in the elderly.

Prevention of heart disease – Much of the recent news surrounding folate focuses on its role in the prevention of heart disease. Researchers have found that folate, as well as other B vitamins, help to lower homocysteine, an amino acid that contributes to the risk of heart disease. When homocysteine levels rise, they stimulate the growth of smooth muscle cells and encourage clot formation, both of which contribute to artery blockages. Several research studies have been published which confirm that elevated homocysteine levels are a marker for heart disease, and possibly stroke and thrombotic events in patients with lupus. Increased intake of B vitamins, particularly folate, has been shown to be effective in lowering homocysteine.

Prevention of colon cancer – At a recent meeting of the American Dietetic Association, it was announced that folate may be a promising preventive for colon cancer. Doctor, assistant professor of medicine and nutrition at Tufts University, noted that people who eat foods rich in folate, such as fruits and vegetables, have a lower rate of colon cancer. When folate stores in the body are depleted, a gene which is instrumental in fighting cancer is adversely affected.

Vitamin B12 Low B12 and vaccine response in elderlyOlder people who have low levels of vitamin B12 may not be responding as well to vaccines for pneumonia. That’s the finding of a recent study which found that older people who had low levels of vitamin B12 had impaired antibody response to a pneumonia vaccine, compared to those with normal vitamin B12 levels.
Gastric surgery may cause deficiency – Patients who have recently undergone gastric surgery should be monitored carefully by their physicians for vitamin B12 deficiency. Although it is well known that the absorption of vitamin B12 is disrupted when gastric surgery, particularly gastrectomies, are performed, physicians tend to look for certain obvious symptoms, such as certain types of anemia or neurologic symptoms. Researchers suggest that current testing for a vitamin B12 deficiency “may not give a true picture of status.”

Thiamin Link to Alzheimer’s – Is there a connection between thiamin and Alzheimer’s disease? A study published last year suggests that thiamin may play a role as an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. Doctor and colleagues found that patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (SDAT) had significantly lower levels of thiamin in their blood than patients with other types of dementia.