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In an ageing society, the preservation of health and function is becoming increasingly important. The present paper acknowledges that ageing is malleable and focuses on diets and key nutritional concerns later in life. It presents evidence for the importance of healthful dietary patterns and points towards specific nutritional concerns later in life and conveys three main messages: (1) considering health maintenance and malnutrition risk, both dietary quality in terms of healthful dietary patterns and dietary quantity are important later in life, (2) ageing-related changes in nutrient physiology and metabolism contribute to the risk of inadequacies or deficiencies for specific nutrients, e.g. vitamin D, vitamin B12 and protein and (3) that current food-based dietary guidelines propagate a shift into the direction of Mediterranean type of diets including more plant-based foods. Limited scientific evidence on nutritional requirements of older adults, along with envisaged shifts towards diets rich in plant foods, are challenges that need to be addressed in order to develop tailored nutritional recommendations and dietary guidance for older adults.
Radiocarbon (14C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.
This study aimed to evaluate the effects of an intervention including nutritional telemonitoring, nutrition education, and follow-up by a nurse on nutritional status, diet quality, appetite, physical functioning and quality of life of Dutch community-dwelling elderly. We used a parallel arm pre-test post-test design with 214 older adults (average age 80 years) who were allocated to the intervention group (n 97) or control group (n 107), based on the municipality. The intervention group received a 6-month intervention including telemonitoring measurements, nutrition education and follow-up by a nurse. Effect measurements took place at baseline, after 4·5 months, and at the end of the study. The intervention improved nutritional status of participants at risk of undernutrition (β (T1)=2·55; 95 % CI 1·41, 3·68; β (T2)=1·77; 95 % CI 0·60, 2·94) and scores for compliance with Dutch guidelines for the intake of vegetables (β=1·27; 95 % CI 0·49, 2·05), fruit (β=1·24; 95 % CI 0·60, 1·88), dietary fibre (β=1·13; 95 % CI 0·70, 1·57), protein (β=1·20; 95 % CI 0·15, 2·24) and physical activity (β=2·13; 95 % CI 0·98, 3·29). The intervention did not have an effect on body weight, appetite, physical functioning and quality of life. In conclusion, this intervention leads to improved nutritional status in older adults at risk of undernutrition, and to improved diet quality and physical activity levels of community-dwelling elderly. Future studies with a longer duration should focus on older adults at higher risk of undernutrition than this study population to investigate whether the impact of the intervention on nutritional and functional outcomes can be improved.
Lower prenatal exposure to n-3 PUFA relative to n-6 PUFA has been hypothesised to influence allergy development, but evidence remains largely inconsistent. In the Dutch Maastricht Essential Fatty Acid Birth (MEFAB) (n 293) and Greek RHEA Mother–Child (n 213) cohorts, we investigated whether cord blood phospholipid PUFA concentrations are associated with symptoms of wheeze, asthma, rhinitis and eczema at the age of 6–7 years. Information on allergy-related phenotypes was collected using validated questionnaires. We estimated relative risks (RR) and 95 % CI for associations of PUFA with child outcomes using multivariable generalised linear regression models. In pooled analyses, higher concentration of the n-3 long-chain EPA and DHA and a higher total n-3:n-6 PUFA ratio were associated with lower risk of current wheeze (RR 0·61; 95 % CI 0·45, 0·82 per sd increase in EPA+DHA and 0·54; 95 % CI 0·39, 0·75 per unit increase in the n-3:n-6 ratio) and reduced asthma risk (RR 0·50; 95 % CI 0·31, 0·79 for EPA+DHA and 0·43; 95 % CI 0·26, 0·70 for the n-3:n-6 ratio). No associations were observed for other allergy-related phenotypes. The results were similar across cohorts. In conclusion, higher EPA and DHA concentrations and a higher n-3:n-6 fatty acid ratio at birth were associated with lower risk of child wheeze and asthma. Our findings suggest that dietary interventions resulting in a marked increase in the n-3:n-6 PUFA ratio, and mainly in n-3 long-chain PUFA intake in late gestation, may reduce the risk of asthma symptoms in mid-childhood.
During and after hospitalisation, older adults are recommended to consume 1·2–1·5 g of protein/kg body weight per d (g/kg per d) to improve recovery. This randomised controlled trial studied the effectiveness of a 12-week intervention with protein-enriched foods and drinks by following-up seventy-five older patients (mean age: 76·8 (sd 6·9) years) during their first 6 months after hospital discharge. Primary outcomes were protein intake and physical performance (measured with Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB)). Secondary outcomes for physical recovery were gait speed, chair-rise time, leg-extension strength, hand-grip strength, body weight, nutritional status (Mini Nutritional Assessment), independence in activities of daily living (ADL) and physical activity. The intervention group consumed more protein during the 12-week intervention period compared with the control group (P<0·01): 112 (sd 34) g/d (1·5 (sd 0·6) g/kg per d) v. 78 (sd 18) g/d (1·0 (sd 0·4) g/kg per d). SPPB total score, gait speed, chair-rise time, body weight and nutritional status improved at week 12 compared with baseline (time effect P<0·05), but were not different between groups. Leg-extension strength, hand-grip strength and independence in ADL did not change. In conclusion, protein-enriched products enabled older adults to increase their protein intake to levels that are higher than their required intake. In these older adults with already adequate protein intakes and limited physical activity, protein enrichment did not enhance physical recovery in the first 6 months after hospital discharge.
Randomised studies examining the effect on patients of training
professionals in adherence to suicide guidelines are scarce.
To assess whether patients benefited from the training of professionals
in adherence to suicide guidelines.
In total 45 psychiatric departments were randomised (Dutch trial
register: NTR3092). In the intervention condition, all staff in the
departments were trained with an e-learning supported train-the-trainer
programme. After the intervention, patients were assessed at admission
and at 3-month follow-up. Primary outcome was change in suicide ideation,
assessed with the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation.
For the total group of 566 patients with a positive score on the Beck
Scale for Suicide Ideation at baseline, intention-to-treat analysis
showed no effects of the intervention on patient outcomes at 3-month
follow-up. Patients who were suicidal with a DSM-IV diagnosis of
depression (n = 154) showed a significant decrease in
suicide ideation when treated in the intervention group. Patients in the
intervention group more often reported that suicidality was discussed
Overall, no effect of our intervention on patients was found. However, we
did find a beneficial effect of the training of professionals on patients
The ageing process is influenced by a variety of factors, including extrinsic, malleable lifestyle variables. The present paper deals with the epidemiological evidence for the role of dietary patterns and key nutritional concerns in relation to survival and ageing-related disorders that present themselves in later life. Healthful dietary patterns appear to be most relevant in old age. Specific nutritional concerns are related to vitamin D, vitamin B12 and protein malnutrition. An important challenge to further expand the knowledge base is currently addressed by the NuAge project, acknowledging the complexity of the ageing process and integrating different dimensions of research into human healthy ageing. In the meantime, reversing poor adherence to existing guidelines for a healthy diet remains a first challenge in public health nutritional practices.
A significant proportion of Q fever patients from the first Dutch Q fever outbreak in 2007 showed impairment in health status up to 1 year after infection. Interested in whether this decrease in health status persisted, we set out to determine the health status in the same cohort of patients, 4 years after primary infection and to compare health status scores at the individual patient level between 1 and 4 years follow-up. Health status was assessed with the Nijmegen Clinical Screening Instrument (NCSI). Patients were serologically tested to exclude patients with possible, probable or proven chronic Q fever. Results on the NCSI sub-domains at group level [2008 (n = 54) and 2011 (n = 46)] showed a persistent significant percentage of patients exhibiting clinically relevant (‘severe’) scores for all NCSI sub-domains. After 4 years, undue fatigue was present in 46% and exactly half of all patients experienced a severely impaired general quality of life. Patients with NCSI scores available in both 2008 and 2011 (n = 37) showed no difference in all sub-domain scores, except for a small decrease in dyspnoea emotions in 2011. In this group, a significant proportion of patients either improved or worsened in one or more sub-domains of health status. We conclude that at the group level, health status of Q fever patients remained impaired 4 years after primary infection. At the individual patient level, health status may change.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that traditionally has been linked to bone health. Recently, its involvement has been extended to other (extra-skeletal) disease areas, such as cancer, CVD, energy metabolism and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem, and several recommendation-setting bodies have published guidelines for adequate vitamin D intake and status. However, recommendations from, for example, the Health Council of the Netherlands do not provide advice on how to treat vitamin D deficiency, a condition that is often encountered in the clinic. In addition, these recommendations provide guidelines for the maintenance of ‘minimum levels’, and do not advise on ‘optimum levels’ of vitamin D intake/status to further improve health. The NutriProfiel project, a collaboration between the Gelderse Vallei Hospital (Ede, the Netherlands) and the Division of Human Nutrition of Wageningen University (Wageningen, the Netherlands), was initiated to formulate a protocol for the treatment of vitamin deficiency and for the maintenance of optimal vitamin D status. To discuss the controversies around treatment of deficiency and optimal vitamin D status and intakes, a workshop meeting was organised with clinicians, scientists and dietitians. In addition, a literature review was conducted to collect recent information on optimal intake of vitamins, their optimal circulating concentrations, and effective dosing regimens to treat deficiency. This information has been translated into the NutriProfiel advice, which is outlined in this article.
Micronutrient deficiencies and low dietary intakes among community-dwelling older adults are associated with functional decline, frailty and difficulties with independent living. As such, studies that seek to understand the types and magnitude of potential dietary inadequacies might be beneficial for guiding future interventions. We carried out a systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. Observational cohort and longitudinal studies presenting the habitual dietary intakes of older adults ( ≥ 65 years) were included. Sex-specific mean (and standard deviation) habitual micronutrient intakes were extracted from each article to calculate the percentage of older people who were at risk for inadequate micronutrient intakes using the estimated average requirement (EAR) cut-point method. The percentage at risk for inadequate micronutrient intakes from habitual dietary intakes was calculated for twenty micronutrients. A total of thirty-seven articles were included in the pooled systematic analysis. Of the twenty nutrients analysed, six were considered a possible public health concern: vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, Ca, Mg and Se. The extent to which these apparent inadequacies are relevant depends on dynamic factors, including absorption and utilisation, vitamin and mineral supplement use, dietary assessment methods and the selection of the reference value. In light of these considerations, the present review provides insight into the type and magnitude of vitamin and mineral inadequacies.
A combination of high folate with low vitamin B12 plasma status has been associated with cognitive impairment in a population exposed to mandatory folic acid fortification. The objective of the present study was to examine the interactions between plasma concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 markers in relation to cognitive performance in Norwegian elderly who were unexposed to mandatory or voluntary folic acid fortification. Cognitive performance was assessed by six cognitive tests in 2203 individuals aged 72–74 years. A combined score was calculated using principal component analysis. The associations of folate concentrations, vitamin B12 markers (total vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin (holoTC) and methylmalonic acid (MMA)) and their interactions in relation to cognitive performance were evaluated by quantile regression and least-squares regression, adjusted for sex, education, apo-ɛ4 genotype, history of CVD/hypertension and creatinine. Cross-sectional analyses revealed an interaction (P= 0·009) between plasma concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 in relation to cognitive performance. Plasma vitamin B12 concentrations in the lowest quartile ( < 274 pmol/l) combined with plasma folate concentrations in the highest quartile (>18·5 nmol/l) were associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment compared with plasma concentrations in the middle quartiles of both vitamins (OR 0·22, 95 % CI 0·05, 0·92). The interaction between folate and holoTC or MMA in relation to cognitive performance was not significant. In conclusion, this large study population unexposed to mandatory folic acid fortification showed that plasma folate, but not plasma vitamin B12, was associated with cognitive performance. Among the elderly participants with vitamin B12 concentrations in the lower range, the association between plasma folate and cognitive performance was strongest.
The IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon calibration curves have been revised utilizing newly available and updated data sets from 14C measurements on tree rings, plant macrofossils, speleothems, corals, and foraminifera. The calibration curves were derived from the data using the random walk model (RWM) used to generate IntCal09 and Marine09, which has been revised to account for additional uncertainties and error structures. The new curves were ratified at the 21st International Radiocarbon conference in July 2012 and are available as Supplemental Material at www.radiocarbon.org. The database can be accessed at http://intcal.qub.ac.uk/intcal13/.
High-quality data from appropriate archives are needed for the continuing improvement of radiocarbon calibration curves. We discuss here the basic assumptions behind 14C dating that necessitate calibration and the relative strengths and weaknesses of archives from which calibration data are obtained. We also highlight the procedures, problems, and uncertainties involved in determining atmospheric and surface ocean 14C/12C in these archives, including a discussion of the various methods used to derive an independent absolute timescale and uncertainty. The types of data required for the current IntCal database and calibration curve model are tabulated with examples.
The metal-catalyst-free growth of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) using chemical vapor deposition and the application in field-effect transistors (FETs) is presented. The CNT growth process used a 3-nm-thick Ge layer on SiO2 that was subsequently annealed to produce Ge nanoparticles. Raman measurements show the presence of radial breathing mode (RBM) peaks and the absence of the disorder induced D-band, indicating single walled CNTs (SWNTs) with a low defect density. The synthesized CNTs are used to fabricate CNTFETs and the best device has a state-of-the-art on/off current ratio of 3×108 and a steep sub-threshold slope of 110 mV/decade.
Long-term supplementation with folic acid may improve cognitive performance in older individuals. The relationship between folate status and cognitive performance might be mediated by changes in methylation capacity, as methylation reactions are important for normal functioning of the brain. Although aberrant DNA methylation has been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, the relationship between DNA methylation status and non-pathological cognitive functioning in human subjects has not yet been investigated. The present study investigated the associations between global DNA methylation and key domains of cognitive functioning in healthy older adults. Global DNA methylation, defined as the percentage of methylated cytosine to total cytosine, was measured in leucocytes by liquid chromatography–MS/MS, in 215 men and women, aged 50–70 years, who participated in the Folic Acid and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (FACIT) study (clinical trial registration number NCT00110604). Cognitive performance was assessed by means of the Visual Verbal Word Learning Task, the Stroop Colour-Word Interference Test, the Concept Shifting Test, the Letter–Digit Substitution Test and the Verbal Fluency Test. Using hierarchical linear regression analyses adjusted for age, sex, level of education, alcohol consumption, smoking status, physical activity, erythrocyte folate concentration and 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase 677 C → T genotype, we found that global DNA methylation was not related to cognitive performance on any of the domains measured. The present study results do not support the hypothesis that global DNA methylation, as measured in leucocytes, might be associated with cognitive functioning in healthy older individuals.
The Rank Forum on Vitamin D was held on 2nd and 3rd July 2009 at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. The workshop consisted of a series of scene-setting presentations to address the current issues and challenges concerning vitamin D and health, and included an open discussion focusing on the identification of the concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) (a marker of vitamin D status) that may be regarded as optimal, and the implications this process may have in the setting of future dietary reference values for vitamin D in the UK. The Forum was in agreement with the fact that it is desirable for all of the population to have a serum 25(OH)D concentration above 25 nmol/l, but it discussed some uncertainty about the strength of evidence for the need to aim for substantially higher concentrations (25(OH)D concentrations>75 nmol/l). Any discussion of ‘optimal’ concentration of serum 25(OH)D needs to define ‘optimal’ with care since it is important to consider the normal distribution of requirements and the vitamin D needs for a wide range of outcomes. Current UK reference values concentrate on the requirements of particular subgroups of the population; this differs from the approaches used in other European countries where a wider range of age groups tend to be covered. With the re-emergence of rickets and the public health burden of low vitamin D status being already apparent, there is a need for urgent action from policy makers and risk managers. The Forum highlighted concerns regarding the failure of implementation of existing strategies in the UK for achieving current vitamin D recommendations.
Bones that have undergone burning at high temperatures (i.e. cremation) no longer contain organic carbon. Lanting et al. (2001) proposed that some of the original structural carbonate, formed during bioapatite formation, survives. This view is based on paired radiocarbon dating of cremated bone apatite and contemporary charcoal. However, stable carbon isotope composition of carbonate in cremated bones is consistently light compared to the untreated material and is closer to the δ13C values seen in C3 plant material. This raises the question of the origin of carbonate carbon in cremated bone apatite. That is, does the isotope signal reflect an exchange of carbon with the local cremation atmosphere and thus with carbon from the burning fuel, or is it caused by isotopic fractionation during cremation?
To study the changes in carbon isotopes (14C, 13C) of bone apatite during burning up to 800 °, a modern bovine bone was exposed to a continuous flow of an artificial atmosphere (basically a high-purity O2/N2 gas mix) under defined conditions (temperature, gas composition). To simulate the influence of the fuel carbon available under real cremation conditions, fossil CO2 was added at different concentrations. To yield cremated bone apatite properties similar to archaeological cremated bones, in terms of crystallographic criteria, water vapor had to be added to the atmosphere in the oven. Infrared vibrational spectra reveal large increases in crystal size and loss of carbonate upon cremation. The isotope results indicate an effective carbon exchange between bone apatite carbonate and CO2 in the combustion gases depending on temperature and CO2 concentration. 14C dates on archaeological cremated bone apatite may thus suffer from an old-wood effect. Paired 13C and 14C values indicate that in addition to this exchange, isotope fractionation between CO2 and carbonate, and admixture of carbon from other sources such as possibly collagen or atmospheric CO2, may play a role in determining the final composition of the apatite carbonate.