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Eating habits of lactating women can influence the nutrient composition of human milk, which in turn influences nutrient intake of breastfed infants. The aim of the present study was to identify food patterns and nutritional adequacy among lactating women in Europe. Data from a multicentre European longitudinal cohort (ATLAS study) were analysed to identify dietary patterns using cluster analysis. Dietary information from 180 lactating women was obtained using 3-d food diaries over the first 4 months of lactation. Four dietary patterns were identified: ‘vege-oils’, ‘fish-poultry’, ‘confectionery-salads’ and ‘mixed dishes’. Nutrition adequacy was not significantly different between clusters, but the ‘vege-oils’ cluster tended to yield the highest nutrition adequacy measured by Mean Adequacy Ratio. Compared with European dietary reference values (DRVs) for lactating women, women in all clusters had inadequate intakes of energy, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, iodine, potassium and linoleic acid. Adequate intake for fibre and α-linolenic acid was only achieved in the ‘vege-oils’ cluster. Overall, fat intake was above DRVs. The present study showed that various dietary patterns do not adequately supply all nutrients, indicating a need to promote overall healthy dietary habits for European lactating women.
We conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCT) of increased intake of arachidonic acid (ARA) on fatty acid status and health outcomes in humans. We identified twenty-two articles from fourteen RCT. Most studies were conducted in adults. These used between 80 and 2000 mg ARA per d and were of 1–12 weeks duration. Supplementation with ARA doses as low as 80 mg/d increased the content of ARA in different blood fractions. Overall there seem to be few marked benefits for adults of increasing ARA intake from the typical usual intake of 100–200 mg/d to as much as 1000 mg/d; the few studies using higher doses (1500 or 2000 mg/d) also report little benefit. However, there may be an impact of ARA on cognitive and muscle function which could be particularly relevant in the ageing population. The studies reviewed here suggest no adverse effects in adults of increased ARA intake up to at least 1000–1500 mg/d on blood lipids, platelet aggregation and blood clotting, immune function, inflammation or urinary excretion of ARA metabolites. However, in many areas there are insufficient studies to make firm conclusions, and higher intakes of ARA are deserving of further study. Based on the RCT reviewed, there are not enough data to make any recommendations for specific health effects of ARA intake.
Research into the analysis, physical properties and health effects of dietary fibre has continued steadily over the last 40–50 years. From the knowledge gained, countries have developed guidelines for their populations on the optimal amount of fibre to be consumed each day. Food composition tables from many countries now contain values for the dietary fibre content of foods, and, from these, combined with dietary surveys, population intakes have been determined. The present review assessed the uniformity of the analytical methods used, health claims permitted, recommendations and intakes, particularly from national surveys across Europe and around the world. It also assessed current knowledge on health effects of dietary fibre and related the impact of different fibre types on health. The overall intent was to be able to provide more detailed guidance on the types of fibre which should be consumed for good health, rather than simply a total intake figure, the current situation. Analysis of data indicated a fair degree of uniformity in the definition of dietary fibre, the method used for analysis, the recommended amount to be consumed and a growing literature on effects on digestive health and disease risk. However, national dietary survey data showed that intakes do not reach recommendations and very few countries provide guidance on the types of fibre that are preferable to achieve recommended intakes. Research gaps were identified and ideas suggested to provide information for more detailed advice to the public about specific food sources that should be consumed to achieve health benefits.
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