The Science of Acupuncture

Story at-a-glance 

Acupuncture is an ancient holistic health care system still widely practiced in China Continue reading

Important Vitamin Safety Information

No in-depth look at a nutrient is complete without considering proper dosage, safety and drug interactions.

For those who can’t absorb vitamin B12 from food, or who have pernicious anemia, doses that range from 300 to 2,000 micrograms (µg) a day have been used. To lower homocysteine levels, a vitamin B12 dose of 500 µg in combination with 0.5 to 5 mg (milligrams) of folic acid and 16.5 mg pyridoxine Continue reading

Pale Skin Signals Need for Vitamin D

While previous research suggested that individuals with dark skin are especially in need of vitamin D supplements due to the fact that skin pigment can hinder the body’s ability to synthesize the nutrient, a new study suggests that pale people have a similar deficiency issue.

Authors of the study, which was conducted at the University of Leeds in the U.K., theorized that this is because individuals with a light complexion tend to stay out of the sun because they burn easily.

The researchers defined a deficiency has having blood levels of the vitamin that were less than 60 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L). Previous studies determined that a measurement of 25 nmol/L may put an individual at significant risk of bone loss.

After examining the vitamin D levels Continue reading

The Inside Scoop on Vitamin K

This is an introduction to vitamin K, which is closely connected to blood’s capacity to clot.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin discovered in the early 1930s by a Danish biochemist, Henrik Dam, who won the Nobel Prize 13 years later. The letter “K” comes from the German word “koagulation,” which has to do with blood clotting.

The vitamin consists of many different but related chemicals. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone) are the two natural forms. Both are found in a variety of foods,

Vitamin K is essential for the key proteins in our bodies, including some that are critical Continue reading

Genome-Wide Study Identifies Factors That May Affect Vitamin D Levels

An international research consortium has identified four common gene variants that are associated with blood levels of vitamin D and with an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. The report from the SUNLIGHT consortium – involving investigators from six countries – will appear in The Lancet and is receiving early online release.

“We identified four common variants that contributed to the risk for vitamin D deficiency,” says Thomas Wang, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Heart Center, a co-corresponding author of the Lancet report. “Individuals inheriting several of these risk-associated variants had more than twice the risk of vitamin D deficiency as was seen in those without these variants.”

Vitamin D’s essential role in musculoskeletal health is well known, and in recent years epidemiologic evidence has suggested that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Naturally produced in the skin in response to sunlight, Vitamin D has been added to many types of food and is available in dietary supplements. But studies have shown that from one third to one half of healthy adults in developed countries have low levels of vitamin D. While reduced sun exposure is clearly associated with lower vitamin D levels, environmental and cultural factors – including dietary intake – cannot completely account for variations in vitamin levels. The fact that vitamin D status tends to cluster in families suggests a genetic contribution.

The SUNLIGHT (Study of Underlying Genetic Determinants of Vitamin D and Highly Related Traits) Consortium involved a research team from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Netherlands, Sweden and Finland who pooled data from 15 epidemiologic studies of almost 32,000 white individuals of European descent. Results of the comprehensive genetic screening were correlated with participants’ serum vitamin D levels. Statistically significant associations were found for four common variants, all in genes coding enzymes involved with the synthesis, breakdown or transport of vitamin D. The risk association was independent of geographic or other environmental factors; and the more variants an individual inherited, the greater the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

“It’s possible that these results could explain why some people respond well to vitamin D supplements and others don’t, but that needs to be studied further since we didn’t specifically examine response to supplementation,” Wang explains. “We also need to investigate how genetic background can modify response to sunlight, whether these associations are seen in other populations, and if these gene variants have an impact in the chronic diseases that appear to be associated with vitamin D deficiency.”