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Showing posts from July, 2013

Childhood IQ and maternal iodine status

About a year ago, I blogged on the subject of iodine and its increasing importance in public health nutrition in developed countries[1]. Of course, iodine deficiency is one of the three elements of global hidden hunger. According to a letter to the Lancet from the WHO “urinary iodine has been collected for 92% of the world's population and globally, more than 1·9 billion individuals have inadequate iodine nutrition (defined as urinary iodine excretion <100 (μg/L), of whom 285 million are school-aged children.”[2]In developing countries, iodine deficiency primarily affects energy metabolism and reduces the capacity for physical work. More recently, the spotlight has also been shone on the developed world where the role of iodine in brain development is the main concern. Iodine is a component of the thyroid hormones, which play a central role in the brain development of the fetal infant. In a recent Lancet paper[3], the offspring of 1040 women who had spot urine analysed for iodi…

A greedy man in a hungry world

“A greedy man in a hungry world” is the title of a new book by Jay Rayner, an award winning author, journalist and most notably, restaurant critic. Anybody seriously interested in the food chain should read this book. It is highly informative, funny and embraces a fair degree of autobiography. There are a number of key points made by the author.
The first is the folly of the polarization of views in any discussion on food. Thus if you think supermarkets are a good idea, then you are seen to be opposed to local, slow food. If you are not convinced by the environmental or economic arguments for local farmers markets, then you are a supporter of global food trade. And if you eat food out of season, you are betraying the natural order of things. Rayner makes the point that you can see the great value of supermarkets while at the same time seeing the shortcomings of this sector. You can support local food suppliers but not accept the case of “food miles”. Thus food warriors who can only se…

Vitamin D and breast fed infants

The diet of choice for infants during their first 6 months of life is exclusive breast milk. Not only is breast milk sterile and loaded with the exact nutrients an infant needs, but it also has an array of immune strengthening factors from maternal antibodies to complex carbohydrates, which promote a very health colonic microflora. Of late, however, breast milk has come under the spotlight of paediatric nutritionists because of concerns about vitamin D status in breast-fed infants. The level of exposure to sunlight largely determines vitamin D levels in blood. Thus vitamin D levels are highest as we enter winter following summer and autumn and are lowest as we enter summer following the darkness of winter and the emerging sunshine of spring. Given the high level of worry that people have about skin cancer, the use of sun blocks and possibly combined with poor dietary choices has led to quite a high frequency of low blood levels of vitamin D among adults. This has been linked to severa…