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The bran and particularly the aleurone fraction of wheat are high in betaine and other physiological methyl donors, which may exert beneficial physiological effects. We conducted two randomised, controlled, cross-over postprandial studies to assess and compare plasma betaine and other methyl donor-related responses following the consumption of minimally processed bran and aleurone fractions (study A) and aleurone bread (study B). For both studies, standard pharmacokinetic parameters were derived for betaine, choline, folate, dimethylglycine (DMG), total homocysteine and methionine from plasma samples taken at 0, 0·5, 1, 2 and 3 h. In study A (n 14), plasma betaine concentrations were significantly and substantially elevated from 0·5 to 3 h following the consumption of both bran and aleurone compared with the control; however, aleurone gave significantly higher responses than bran. Small, but significant, increases were also observed in DMG measures; however, no significant responses were observed in other analytes. In study B (n 13), plasma betaine concentrations were significantly and substantially higher following consumption of the aleurone bread compared with the control bread; small, but significant, increases were also observed in DMG and folate measures in response to consumption of the aleurone bread; however, no significant responses were observed in other analytes. Peak plasma betaine concentrations, which were 1·7–1·8 times the baseline levels, were attained earlier following the consumption of minimally processed aleurone compared with the aleurone bread (time taken to reach peak concentration 1·2 v. 2·1 h). These results showed that the consumption of minimally processed wheat bran, and particularly the aleurone fraction, yielded substantial postprandial increases in plasma betaine concentrations. Furthermore, these effects appear to be maintained when aleurone was incorporated into bread.
Choline is an essential nutrient that is found in many food sources and plays a critical role in the development of the central nervous system. Animal studies have shown that choline status pre- and postnatally can have long-lasting effects on attention and memory; however, effects in human subjects have not been well studied. The aim of the present study was to examine the association between plasma concentrations of free choline and its related metabolites in children and their neurodevelopment in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study, an ongoing longitudinal study assessing the development of children born to mothers with high fish consumption during pregnancy. Plasma concentrations of free choline, betaine, dimethylglycine (DMG), methionine and homocysteine and specific measures of neurodevelopment were measured in 210 children aged 5 years. The children's plasma free choline concentration (9·17 (sd 2·09) μmol/l) was moderately, but significantly, correlated with betaine (r 0·24; P= 0·0006), DMG (r 0·15; P= 0·03), methionine (r 0·24; P= 0·0005) and homocysteine (r 0·19; P= 0·006) concentrations. Adjusted multiple linear regression revealed that betaine concentrations were positively associated with Preschool Language Scale – total language scores (β = 0·066; P= 0·04), but no other associations were evident. We found no indication that free choline concentration or its metabolites, within the normal physiological range, are associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in children at 5 years of age. As there is considerable animal evidence suggesting that choline status during development is associated with cognitive outcome, the issue deserves further study in other cohorts.
To assess the nutritional adequacy of Seychellois children in relation to nutrients reported to be important for cognitive development.
Dietary intakes were assessed by 4 d weighed food diaries and analysed using dietary analysis software (WISP version 3·0; Tinuviel Software, UK). Individual nutrient intakes were adjusted to usual intakes and, in order to investigate adequacy, were compared with the UK Estimated Average Requirements for children aged 4–6 years.
Children 5 years old were followed up as part of the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study (SCDNS), located in the high-fish-consuming population of Mahé, Republic of Seychelles.
Analysis was carried out on a sample of 229 children (118 boys, 111 girls).
Children consumed a diet of which fortified cereal and milk products contributed the most to nutrient intakes. The majority (≥80 %) of children met requirements for several nutrients important for child development including Fe, folate and Se. Adjusted dietary intakes of Cu, Zn, iodine, niacin and vitamin A were below the Estimated Average Requirement or Recommended Nutrient Intake. Mean adjusted energy intakes (boys 4769 kJ/d (1139·84 kcal/d), girls 4759 kJ/d (1137·43 kcal/d)) were lower than the estimated energy requirement (boys 5104 kJ/d (1220 kcal/d), girls 5042 kJ/d (1205 kcal/d)) for 88 % of boys and 86 % of girls.
Nutrition was adequate for most children within the SCDNS cohort. Low intakes of some nutrients (including Zn, niacin and vitamin A) could reflect nutritional database inaccuracies, but may require further investigation. The study provides valuable information on the adequacy of intakes of nutrients which could affect the growth and development of Seychellois children.
The primary purpose of the present review was to determine if the scientific evidence available for potential human health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is sufficient to support health claims on foods based on milk naturally enriched with cis-9, trans-11-CLA (c9, t11-CLA). A search of the scientific literature was conducted and showed that almost all the promising research results that have emerged in relation to cancer, heart health, obesity, diabetes and bone health have been in animal models or in vitro. Most human intervention studies have utilised synthetic CLA supplements, usually a 50:50 blend of c9, t11-CLA and trans-10, cis-12-CLA (t10, c12-CLA). Of these studies, the only evidence that is broadly consistent is an effect on body fat and weight reduction. A previous review of the relevant studies found that 3.2 g CLA/d resulted in a modest body fat loss in human subjects of about 0.09 kg/week, but this effect was attributed to the t10, c12-CLA isomer. There is no evidence of a consistent benefit of c9, t11-CLA on any health conditions; and in fact both synthetic isomers, particularly t10, c12-CLA, have been suspected of having pro-diabetic effects in individuals who are already at risk of developing diabetes. Four published intervention studies using naturally enriched CLA products were identified; however, the results were inconclusive. This may be partly due to the differences in the concentration of CLA administered in animal and human studies. In conclusion, further substantiation of the scientific evidence relating to CLA and human health benefits are required before health claims can be confirmed.
Observational data show an inverse association between the consumption of wholegrain foods, and inflammation and related diseases. Although the underlying mechanisms are unclear, wholegrains, and in particular the aleurone layer, contain a wide range of components with putative antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. We evaluated the effects of a diet high in wheat aleurone on plasma antioxidants status, markers of inflammation and endothelial function. In this parallel, participant-blinded intervention, seventy-nine healthy, older, overweight participants (45–65 years, BMI>25 kg/m2) incorporated either aleurone-rich cereal products (27 g aleurone/d), or control products balanced for fibre and macronutrients, into their habitual diets for 4 weeks. Fasting blood samples were taken at baseline and on day 29. Results showed that, compared to control, consumption of aleurone-rich products provided substantial amounts of micronutrients and phytochemicals which may function as antioxidants. Additionally, incorporating these products into a habitual diet resulted in significantly lower plasma concentrations of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (P = 0·035), which is an independent risk factor for CVD. However, no changes were observed in other markers of inflammation, antioxidant status or endothelial function. These results provide a possible mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of longer-term wholegrain intake. However, it is unclear whether this effect is owing to a specific component, or a combination of components in wheat aleurone.
Choline is an essential nutrient and can also be obtained by de novo synthesis via an oestrogen responsive pathway. Choline can be oxidised to the methyl donor betaine, with short-term supplementation reported to lower plasma total homocysteine (tHcy); however, the effects of longer-term choline supplementation are less clear. We investigated the effect of choline supplementation on plasma concentrations of free choline, betaine and tHcy and B-vitamin status in postmenopausal women, a group more susceptible to low choline status. We also assessed whether supplementation altered plasma lipid profiles. In this randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, forty-two healthy postmenopausal women received 1 g choline per d (as choline bitartrate), or an identical placebo supplement with their habitual diet. Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline, week 6 and week 12. Administration of choline increased median choline and betaine concentrations in plasma, with significant effects evident after 6 weeks of supplementation (P < 0·001) and remaining significant at 12 weeks (P < 0·001); no effect was observed on folate status or on plasma lipids. Choline supplementation induced a median (25th, 75th percentile) change in plasma tHcy concentration at week 6 of − 0·9 ( − 1·6, 0·2) μmol, a change which, when compared to that observed in the placebo group 0·6 ( − 0·4, 1·9) μmol, approached statistical significance (P = 0·058). Choline supplementation at a dose of 1 g/d significantly increases the circulating concentration of free choline, and can also significantly increase the concentration of the methyl donor, betaine, thereby potentially enhancing the betaine–homocysteine methyltransferase-mediated remethylation of tHcy. This trial was registered at http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN82708510.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system inflammatory disease where genetic susceptibility coupled with largely undefined environmental factors is reported to underlie the aetiology of the disease. One such factor is low vitamin D status. The primary source of vitamin D is endogenous synthesis following exposure of the skin to UVB light. Photosensitivity, sunlight avoidance and the use of sun protection factor in combination with medications prescribed to treat the symptoms of the disease, puts SLE patients at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. Decreased conversion of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to the metabolically active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, is possible, due to renal impairment common in SLE putting additional stress on vitamin D metabolism. The majority of studies have identified low 25-hydroxyvitamin D in SLE patients, albeit using varying cut-offs (<25 to <80 nmol/l). Of these studies, fifteen have investigated a link between status and disease activity with conflicting results. Variation with disease activity index measures used alongside methodological limitations within the study design may partially explain these findings. This review discusses the importance of optimal vitamin D status in SLE, critically evaluates research carried out to date that has investigated vitamin D in SLE, and highlights the need for a well-designed observational study that controls for diet, medication use, dietary supplements, UV exposure and seasonality, that uses sensitive methods for measuring vitamin D status and disease activity in SLE to conclusively establish the role of vitamin D in SLE.
There is increasing epidemiological evidence linking sub-optimal vitamin D status with overweight and obesity. Although increasing BMI and adiposity have also been negatively associated with the change in vitamin D status following supplementation, results have been equivocal. The aim of this randomised, placebo-controlled study was to investigate the associations between anthropometric measures of adiposity and the wintertime serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D) response to 15 μg cholecalciferol per d in healthy young and older Irish adults. A total of 110 young adults (20–40 years) and 102 older adults ( ≥ 64 years) completed the 22-week intervention with >85 % compliance. The change in 25(OH)D from baseline was calculated. Anthropometric measures of adiposity taken at baseline included height, weight and waist circumference (WC), along with skinfold thickness measurements to estimate fat mass (FM). FM was subsequently expressed as FM (kg), FM (%), FM index (FMI (FM kg/height m2)) and as a percentage ratio to fat-free mass (FFM). In older adults, vitamin D status was inversely associated with BMI (kg/m2), WC (cm), FM (kg and %), FMI (kg/m2) and FM:FFM (%) at baseline (r − 0·33, − 0·36, − 0·33, − 0·30, − 0·33 and − 0·27, respectively, all P values < 0·01). BMI in older adults was also negatively associated with the change in 25(OH)D following supplementation (β − 1·27, CI − 2·37, − 0·16, P = 0·026); however, no such associations were apparent in younger adults. Results suggest that adiposity may need to be taken into account when determining an adequate wintertime dietary vitamin D intake for healthy older adults residing at higher latitudes.
To characterise the diets of pregnant women in the Republic of Seychelles and to determine the contribution of fish to intakes of nutrients important for fetal and neonatal development.
Observational, prospective study.
Seychelles Child Development Centre, Mahé, Republic of Seychelles.
Subjects and methods
Pregnant women (n 300) were recruited at their first visit to an antenatal clinic. At 28 weeks’ gestation subjects completed a 4 d diet diary (n 273) and intakes were analysed using dietary analysis software.
Mean (sd) energy intake was 9·0 (2·5) MJ/d and fat intakes were higher than UK recommendations for almost two-thirds of the cohort. Fish consumption was lower than in previous surveys, suggesting a move towards a more Westernised diet. Low intakes of a number of nutrients important during pregnancy for fetal development (Fe, Zn, Se and iodine) were observed. However, women who met the current recommendations for these nutrients consumed significantly more fish than those who did not (97 v. 73 g/d).
The present study highlights the importance of fish in the diet of pregnant Seychellois women for ensuring adequate intakes of micronutrients important in fetal development. Dietary patterns in Seychelles, however, are in a state of transition, with a move towards a Western-style diet as evidenced by higher fat and lower fish intakes. If these dietary trends continue and fish consumption declines further, micronutrient status may be compromised. These findings suggest caution in establishing public health policies that promote limitation of fish intake during pregnancy.
To establish the Fe status of pregnant women and their neonates in the Republic of Seychelles.
A prospective study.
Republic of Seychelles.
Pregnant women were recruited and blood samples taken at enrolment and post-delivery along with cord blood samples. Ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) were measured in maternal (n 220) and cord blood (n 123) samples.
Maternal Fe deficiency (ferritin < 15 ng/ml, sTfR > 28 nmol/l) was present in 6 % of subjects at enrolment and in 20 % at delivery. There was no significant decrease in maternal ferritin. A significant increase in sTfR was observed between enrolment and delivery (P < 0·001). Maternal BMI and use of Fe supplements at 28 weeks’ gestation were associated with improved maternal Fe status at delivery, whereas parity had a negative effect on sTfR and ferritin at delivery.
Fe status of pregnant Seychellois women was, on average, within normal ranges. The incidence of Fe deficiency throughout pregnancy in this population was similar to that in a Westernised population. Increased awareness of the importance of adequate Fe intake during pregnancy, particularly in multiparous women, is warranted.
Maternal vitamin D insufficiency is associated with childhood rickets and longer-term problems including schizophrenia and type 1 diabetes. Whilst maternal vitamin D insufficiency is common in mothers with highly pigmented skin, little is known about vitamin D status of Caucasian pregnant women. The aim was to investigate vitamin D status in healthy Caucasian pregnant women and a group of age-matched non-pregnant controls living at 54–55°N. In a longitudinal study, plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was assessed in ninety-nine pregnant women at 12, 20 and 35 weeks of gestation, and in thirty-eight non-pregnant women sampled concurrently. Plasma 25(OH)D concentrations were lower in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women (P < 0·0001). Of the pregnant women, 35, 44 and 16 % were classified as vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l), and 96, 96 and 75 % were classified as vitamin D insufficient (25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l) at 12, 20 and 35 weeks gestation, respectively. Vitamin D status was higher in pregnant women who reported taking multivitamin supplements at 12 (P < 0·0001), 20 (P = 0·001) and 35 (P = 0·001) weeks gestation than in non-supplement users. Vitamin D insufficiency is evident in pregnant women living at 54–55°N. Women reporting use of vitamin D-containing supplements had higher vitamin D status, however, vitamin D insufficiency was still evident even in the face of supplement use. Given the potential consequences of hypovitaminosis D on health outcomes, vitamin D supplementation, perhaps at higher doses than currently available, is needed to improve maternal vitamin D nutriture.
Large food portions may be facilitating excess energy intake (EI) and adiposity among adults. The present study aimed to assess the extent to which EI and amounts of foods consumed are influenced by the availability of different-sized food portions. A randomised within-subject cross-over, fully residential design was used, where forty-three (twenty-one men and twenty-two women) normal-weight and overweight adults were randomly allocated to two separate 4 d periods where they were presented with either ‘standard’ or ‘large’ food portions of the same foods and beverages. The main outcome measures were the amount of food (g) and EI (MJ) consumed throughout each study period. Mean EI over 4 d was significantly higher on the large portion condition compared with the standard condition in the total group (59·1 (sd 6·6) v. 52·2 (sd 14·3) MJ; P = 0·020); men and women increased their EI by 17 % (10 (sd 6·5) MJ; P < 0·001) and 10 % (4 (sd 6·5) MJ; P = 0·005) respectively when served the large food portions relative to the standard food portions. The increased intakes were sustained over the 4 d in the large portion condition with little evidence of down-regulation of EI and food intake being made by subjects. Increased food portion size resulted in significant and sustained increases in EI in men and women over 4 d under fully residential conditions. The availability and consumption of larger portions of food may be a significant factor contributing to excess EI and adiposity.
Following the discovery of TNF-α and leptin as secretory products of adipocytes in the early 1990s, subsequent obesity research focused on the new functional role of adipose tissue, as an active endocrine organ. Many more inflammatory peptides have been linked to adiposity, which ultimately characterised obesity as a state of low-grade systemic inflammation, or ‘metaflammation’ which may link obesity to its co-morbidities. The aim of the present review is to examine the effects of weight loss on inflammation in overweight and obese, but otherwise healthy, populations. Studies were broadly classified into four types (diet, physical activity, diet and physical activity combined, and surgical interventions) and discussed according to the method used to induce weight loss. All studies measured at least one obesity-related inflammatory marker (ORIM). The overall finding from the present review is that weight loss does improve inflammation in terms of both the inflammatory (C-reactive protein, TNF-α, IL-6 and leptin) and anti-inflammatory (adiponectin) ORIM. Within this, the greatest improvements in ORIM are observed in studies achieving a weight loss of at least 10 %. However, a number of methodological issues have been identified as potential limitations within the literature including the sex and age of subjects, sample size, study duration and the assessment of body composition. In conclusion, although a period of weight loss per se is capable of reversing the unfavourable inflammatory profile evident in the obese state, further studies are required to determine the time needed, in which a reduced weight is maintained, in order to benefit from improved inflammatory status long term.
The objective of the present study was to examine the associations between the portion sizes of food groups consumed with measures of adiposity using data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of British adults. Seven-day weighed dietary records, physical activity diaries and anthropometric measurements were used. Foods eaten were assigned to thirty different food groups and analyses were undertaken separately for men and women. The median daily portion size of each food group consumed was calculated. The potential misreporting of dietary energy intake (EI) was identified using the following equation: EI − estimated energy requirements × 100 = percentage of under-reporting (UR) of energy needs. Multinomial logistic regression (adjusted for age, social class, physical activity level and UR) was used to determine the portion sizes of food groups most strongly associated with obesity status. Few positive associations between the portion sizes of food groups consumed and obesity status were found. However, UR was prevalent, with a median UR of predicted energy needs of 34 and 33 % in men and women, respectively. After the adjustment was made for UR, more associations between the food groups and obesity status became apparent in both sexes. The present study suggests that the true effect of increased portion size of foods on obesity status may be masked by high levels of UR. Alternatively, these data may indicate that an increased risk of obesity is not associated with specific foods/food groups but rather with an overall increase in the range of foods and food groups being consumed.
Despite the potential link between snack food intake and obesity and the reportedly high prevalence of snacking among adolescents, adolescent snack food patterns (types of foods consumed, frequency and portion size) have not been extensively examined. This study examines these issues using data on the snacking patterns of adolescents aged 13–16 years who took part in the 1997 National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) and that from a Northern Irish (NI) cohort of adolescents collected 8 years later, in 2005. Overall energy intake was significantly higher in the NI adolescents in 2005 compared with the NDNS adolescents in 1997 (P < 0·01). Consequently, energy intake from snacks was significantly higher in the NI cohort (P < 0·01) and a trend for a higher % energy intake from snacks compared with the NDNS group was observed (median 32·5 % v. 29·8 %, respectively). Sugar-sweetened carbonated and soft drinks remained the most popular choice of snack over this 8-year period; however, both the portion size consumed and frequency of consumption were significantly higher among the adolescents in 2005 compared with those in 1997 (P = 0·022 and P = 0·014, respectively). Despite the lower popularity, and correspondingly lower frequency of milks and beverages, the portion size of both food groups was significantly higher among the adolescents in 2005 compared with those in 1997 (P < 0·001 and P = 0·007, respectively). These findings may provide scope for policy interventions to place particular emphasis on reducing typical portion sizes consumed of popular snack choices, in particular high-energy carbonated and soft drinks, among UK adolescents.
Despite recent concerns about the high prevalence of sub-clinical vitamin D deficiency in adolescents, relatively few studies have investigated the underlying reasons. The objective of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and predictors of vitamin D inadequacy among a large representative sample of adolescents living in Northern Ireland (54–55°N). Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) were analysed by enzyme-immunoassay in a subgroup of 1015 of the Northern Ireland Young Hearts 2000 cohort; a cross-sectional study of 12 and 15 year-old boys and girls. Overall mean 25(OH)D concentration throughout the year was 64·3 (range 5–174) nmol/l; 56·7 and 78·1 nmol/l during winter and summer, respectively. Reported intakes of vitamin D were very low (median 1·7 μg/d). Of those adolescents studied, 3 % and 36 % were vitamin D deficient and inadequate respectively, as defined by serum 25(OH)D concentrations < 25 and < 50 nmol/l. Of the subjects, 46 % and 17 % had vitamin D inadequacy during winter and summer respectively. Gender differences were also evident with 38 % and 55 % of boys and girls respectively classified as vitamin D inadequate during winter (P < 0·001). Predictors of vitamin D inadequacy during winter were vitamin D intake and gender. In conclusion, there is a high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy in white-skinned adolescents in Northern Ireland, particularly during wintertime and most evident in girls. There is a clear need for dietary recommendations for vitamin D in this age group and for creative strategies to increase overall vitamin D status in the population.
The objective of the present study was to evaluate the oxidative susceptibility of LDL in human volunteers following supplementation with various low doses (<1 g/d) of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Sixty-two healthy volunteers (thirty-seven males and twenty-five females, aged 19–63 years) were recruited to take part in a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Volunteers were required to take 0.9, 0.6 or 0.3 g n–3 PUFA as fish oil or placebo capsules daily for 16 weeks. Susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification was assessed by measuring the production of conjugated dienes and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances in LDL oxidised by Cu2+ (15 μM) OR 2,2″-AZOBIS(2-AMIDINOPROPANE) DIHYDROCHLORIDE (1 Mm) for 5 h. Plasma fatty acid and LDL-fatty acid composition, cholesterol levels and antioxidant concentrations were also measured. While post-treatment n–3 PUFA compositions of plasma and LDL reflected the capsule contents, no meaningful differences in antioxidant concentrations or cholesterol levels were observed between the groups. Supplementation with low doses of n–3 PUFA as fish oil did not influence the oxidative susceptibility of LDL. The results of the present study suggest that moderate dietary intakes of n–3 PUFA do not significantly influence the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification in vitro.
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