LOS ANGELES — Many brands of multivitamins for pregnant women may not contain all the iodine they claim, potentially putting babies at risk of poor brain development, a new study suggests.
Tests on 60 brands that listed iodine as an ingredient on their labels found many fell short of the stated amount. The risk of too little iodine appears greater with “natural” vitamins that get their iodine from kelp rather than a salt form, the study found.
“If these numbers are all real, then they’re not meeting their label claim and that’s a problem,” said William Obermeyer, a former Food and Drug Administration scientist who co-founded ConsumerLab.com, a private testing service. Obermeyer was not part of the research.
The study was done by scientists at the Boston University Iodine Research Laboratory. Results were reported in a letter published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine. No brands were named in the analysis.
Iodine is commonly added to table salt and can be found in seafood, dairy products and bread. Iodine deficiency affects more than 2 billion people worldwide and is the leading cause of mental retardation.
Pregnant and nursing women need 220 to 290 micrograms of iodine a day, according to the Institute of Medicine. Expecting mothers who don’t get enough can put their babies at greater risk of mental retardation and growth, hearing and speech problems.
The American Thyroid Association recommends that pregnant women take a daily dose of prenatal multivitamins containing 150 micrograms of iodine, which is needed for proper thyroid function. During pregnancy, having enough thyroid hormones is important for fetal brain development.
There is no law requiring vitamin makers to add iodine to prenatal multivitamins, which are available by prescription or bought over-the-counter as dietary supplements.
Boston University scientists last year looked at 223 prenatal multivitamins available by prescription or sold over-the-counter in the United States. About half of them — 114 — listed iodine on their labels.
Prescription prenatal vitamins face more stringent government scrutiny than their supplement counterparts, which do not have to be proven safe before they are sold.
However, researchers found problems with both types when they tested iodine levels in 60 prescription and over-the-counter prenatal multivitamins. The iodine was in the form of kelp or potassium iodide.
Among vitamins with potassium iodide, tests found the average iodine level was 119 micrograms per daily dose — less than the recommended amount.
Among kelp-containing vitamins, the iodine levels ranged from 33 to 610 micrograms per daily dose. Experts say taking too much iodine can lead to problems, especially for women who already have a thyroid problem.
In 10 brands, iodine levels were less than half than what was listed on their labels. Three brands contained iodine levels 50 percent or more higher than advertised. Variations were greater among kelp-containing vitamins.
Based on the study’s findings, pregnant women should take prenatal multivitamins that contain potassium iodide instead of kelp, said Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, one of the researchers.
Dr. Alex Stagnaro-Green, who specializes in pregnancy thyroid problems at the Touro University College of Medicine in New Jersey, said the findings point out a problem in vitamin marketing and urged the Food and Drug Administration to make iodine a mandatory ingredient in all prenatal multivitamins.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington-based trade group for vitamin makers, said it supports putting iodine in all prenatal vitamins. The council’s John Hathcock said iodine is difficult to measure and can degrade over time, which can affect its concentration.
Some independent groups such as the United States Pharmacopeia test dietary supplements to verify their contents. Consumers can buy brands with a seal of approval from USP.
For over a decade, claims have been made that vitamin and mineral supplements may improve the symptoms of autism in a natural way. While not all researchers agree about whether these therapies are scientifically proven, many parents and an increasing number of physicians report improvement in people with ASD when using individual or combined nutritional supplements. Malabsorption problems and nutritional deficiencies have been addressed in several as-of-yet unreplicated studies. A few studies suggest that intestinal disorders and chronic gastrointestinal inflammation may reduce the absorption of essential nutrients and cause disruptions in immune and general metabolic functions that are dependent upon these essential vitamins. Other studies have shown that some children on the autism spectrum may have low levels of vitamins A, B1, B3, and B5, as well as biotin, selenium, zinc, and magnesium; while others may have an elevated serum copper to plasma zinc ratio, suggesting that they may benefit by avoiding copper and taking extra zinc to boost their immune system. Other studies have indicated a need for more calcium. There are several laboratories that test for nutritional deficiencies, but many insurance companies will not pay for these tests. Perhaps the most common vitamin supplement used for individuals with ASD is vitamin B, which plays an important role in creating enzymes needed by the brain. In several studies on the use of vitamin B and magnesium (which is needed to make vitamin B effective), almost half of the individuals with autism showed improvement. The benefits include decreased behavioral problems, improved eye contact, better attention span, and improvements in learning. Other research studies have shown that other supplements may help symptoms as well. Cod liver oil supplements (rich in vitamins A and D) have resulted in improved eye contact and behavior of children with autism. Vitamin C helps in brain function and deficiency symptoms like depression and confusion. Increasing vitamin C has been shown in a clinical trial to improve symptom severity in children with ASD. If you are considering the addition of vitamins or minerals to your child’s diet, a laboratory and clinical assessment of nutritional status is highly recommended. The most accurate method for measuring vitamin and mineral levels is through a blood test. It is also important to work with someone knowledgeable in nutritional therapy. While large doses of some vitamins and minerals may not be harmful, others can be toxic. Once supplements are chosen, they should be phased in slowly (over several weeks) and then the effects should be observed for one to two months.
http://www.autism-society.org By Autism Society of America – February 20, 2009
If you’re interested in improving the quality of your diet, adding small amounts of flaxseed to your favorite foods is a quick and tasty way to accomplish your goal.
The flax plant is the source of fiber from which linen is woven, and it also yields edible seeds and oil. Flax has been part of the human diet for thousands of years, and for just as long, it has been valued for its health-promoting properties.
Flaxseed is a rich source of a number of beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and protein. With about 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon, flaxseed is a good source of roughage.
Adding more fiber to your diet can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. The combination of oil and fiber in flaxseed make it an excellent laxative and an effective remedy for sluggish bowels and chronic constipation.
Flaxseed contains plant estrogens called lignans. These natural compounds have been found to possess anti-tumor properties and appear to be especially beneficial in reducing the risk of breast and colon cancer.
In the body, lignans act as weak estrogens. Because their chemical structure is similar to the structure of the hormone estrogen produced by the female body, they’re capable of binding to the same cellular receptors.
When hormone-sensitive cells, including those of the breast and uterus, are occupied by the weak plant estrogens in flaxseed, they appear to be less susceptible to the cancer-causing effects of human estrogen.
While consumption of flaxseed is believed to help prevent breast cancer, researchers from the University of Toronto found that it also may be useful in the treatment of the disease. For their study, the Canadian scientists asked postmenopausal women who had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer to eat either a plain muffin or a muffin containing 25 grams of flaxseed every day for four weeks.
Women who ate the flaxseed muffins showed a significant reduction in the rate of tumor growth, as well as an increase in the death of cancerous cells. Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that dietary flaxseed has the potential to reduce tumor growth in women with breast cancer.
As plant estrogens, the lignans in flaxseed can help alleviate some symptoms of menopause.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic found that postmenopausal women who consumed 40 grams of crushed flaxseed daily for six weeks experienced a welcome 57 percent reduction in the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
The women also reported noticeable improvements in mood, as well as reductions in joint and muscle pain. Combined, the benefits of consuming flaxseed significantly improved their health-related quality of life.
Flaxseed is an important source of an essential omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid. Because essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the human body, they must be obtained from the diet.
Hundreds of scientific studies performed over the last decade suggest that most Americans don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids for good health. Increased consumption of these beneficial fats has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and decreasing the clotting potential of the blood.
The essential fatty acids in flaxseed have been credited with improving symptoms of dry eyes, psoriasis and eczema. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, making flax a popular remedy for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Flax is available at many supermarkets and most health food stores. Whole flaxseed can be eaten alone or added to other foods, but because the seeds may not be fully digested, other forms may be more beneficial.
Ground flaxseed is easier to digest and simple to use: You can add a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to hot or cold cereals or to a cup of yogurt. Adding a quarter-cup of ground flaxseed to recipes can boost the flavor and nutritional quality of baked goods, including muffins and breads, as well as meatloaf, chili and casseroles.
Flaxseed oil is best used as an ingredient in cold preparations, such as salad dressings and smoothies. While the oil is a good source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, it doesn’t contain the protein, fiber or lignans found in the seeds of the flax plant.
Adding a sprinkle of ground flaxseed or a dash of flaxseed oil to your favorite foods is a simple way to improve the quality of your diet. It’s also a smart strategy to enhance your overall health.
Rallie McAllister is a board-certified family physician, speaker and the author of several books, including “Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom’s Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim.” Her website is http://www.rallieonhealth.com. To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com.
by Hilary Butler
Avid readers of dramatic novels from yesteryear will recall stories from the days when fevered patients were watched over by family, and the oldies in the group just “knew” that a proper fever would “break” with a sweat. When that happened, they knew that the prognosis would be good. Of course, such sentiments today would be greeted with alarm, or scepticism, by those who consider illness should never be endured.
Isn’t that why acetaminophen (in all their different brand names) is reached for, at the first sign of a fever?
In 2001, a headline
1 made me look twice. “Sweat has the power to fight off disease.” We were told that sweat contains a versatile antibiotic that may be on the front line against disease-causing bacteria and that: “The researchers said dermcidin probably plays a key role in the innate immune responses of the skin”. A news roundup from the British Medical Journal told us2 that dermcidin killed escherichia coli, enterococcus faecalis, staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It was active at high salt concentrations and the acidity range of human sweat. In concentrations of 1–10 μg/ml, it killed all of the staph aureus colonies in only four hours. Unsurprisingly, the scientists didn’t know how dermcidin worked.
Up until the late 1990s the skin was simply thought to be a “barrier” with no active participation in the immune system. The original 2001 paper
3 said that during some inflammatory skin disorders and wound healing, skin cells functioning within a salty sweat with a pH of 4–6.8, produced many effective pharmacologically active substances, such as immunoglobulin A, interleukin 1, 6 and 8, tumour necrosis factor, transforming growth factor β receptor, epidermal growth factor, and a prolactin-inducible protein.
As time has gone on, other researchers have taken a closer look at skin, and have found that the neutrophil,
4 which is the professional phagocyte of fundamental importance for defence against micro-organisms, provides instant help, not only in microbial infection,5 but to the growth factors when the skin is broken and there is a risk of infection. Another article6 says that mast cells, macrophages and skin cells produce antimicrobial peptides. These are called cathelicidin, which disrupts bacterial cell walls, modifies the host cells inflammation, and provides additional immune defence. At the heart of this all, is our friendly neutrophil:
“These studies clearly illuminate the importance of neutrophil recruitment in cutaneous defense against bacterial infection. … Recent advances in understanding of innate immune defense systems have suggested that these ancient evolutionary immune mechanisms may be important to human disease yet previously underappreciated.” (Underlining mine)
The article looked at whether just skin and mast cells were involved, or whether neutrophils were also important. Using mice, they found that mice with few neutrophils developed much worse tissue death (necrosis) and had 3,000 times the amount of bacteria on the skin than mice with active neutrophils. The skin cells worked hard and could produce some cathelicidin on their own, but didn’t have the killing power of the skin cells plus neutrophils. The article’s conclusion said that life-threatening necrotizing skin and soft-tissue infections can develop in patients with depressed neutrophils, but that numerous examples exist of patients with increased frequency of skin infections who have no
“demonstrable defect 7 in leukocyte recruitment or function.”
Properly fed, healthy children, whose parents know what to do, and what not to do, will rarely get any complications to chickenpox. As was the case for our children, well-managed chickenpox should not even lead to any scarring. So let’s ask some questions here, with chickenpox in mind. What is the function of fever?
Here’s a really simple statement11 from twenty years ago: “… elevated body temperature enhances the infl ammatory response and function of the immune system at the same time that it reduces the replication of microbes and tumor cells.”
Not so simple is this sentence.
“Fever also appears to be a prominent component of cytokine therapy and attends the use of several biologic response modifiers.”
Fever switches on the chemical messengers and processes which call on the body immune system to respond and “modify” or deal with the infection.
If fever is a key to an immune-system process, without a fever, how effective is the body going to be in fi ghting viruses, or bacteria? With viruses like chickenpox, which are known to have an affinity with
group A streptococcus,
which can infect the pox rash and so have access to the body, what do we want the immune system to do? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?
to allow the body temperature to rise to the level it needs so that all the on-switches can be thrown.
the body to send out all those little chemical messengers which get the antiviral side of things going.
want the messengers to call the neutrophils to join the skin cells in producing cathelicidin, and to work with the whole array of anti-viral and antibacterial components12 in “sweat” to stop group A streptococcus
in its tracks.
As a 1991 article13 says: “… temperature elevation … enhances the processes involved in initial antigen recognition and support for immunological specifi c response to challenge.”
We want the body to recognize the virus, ring the bell and sound the red alert (fever) to fight, don’t we? Why, then, turn the fever off with acetaminophen products? Doesn’t that defy logic?
Another article14 of that era said: “There is considerable in-vitro evidence that a variety of human immunological defences function better at febrile temperatures than at normal ones … Studies have clearly shown that fever helps laboratory animals to survive an infection whereas antipyresis15 increases mortality.”
A 1998 article16 said: “The elevation of body temperature by a few degrees may improve the efficiency of macrophages in killing invading bacteria, whereas it impairs the replication of many microorganisms, giving the immune system an adaptive advantage. There is a simultaneous switch from the burning of glucose, an excellent substrate for bacterial growth, to metabolism based on proteolysis and lipolysis. The host organism is anorectic (doesn’t want to eat) minimizing the availability of glucose, and somnolent, reducing the demand by muscles for energy substrate. During the febrile response, the liver produced proteins known as acute phase reactants … the net effect … is to give the host organism an adaptive advantage over the invader.” (Underlining mine.)
Treating fevers is dicing with more severe infection, and a greater likelihood of death, because fever is a key immune response to get the immune system working properly.
You mess with fever, and you mess with lots of things. It stands to reason. Do you need to know what the medical profession does not yet know about fever in its totality, to see that?
Back to chickenpox. Tucked away in a small co
rner of the New Zealand Herald in 2001 was a warning:17 “GPs warned over chickenpox drug.” Doctors were warned about treating chickenpox with ibuprofen to reduce fever because of a higher rate of necrotizing fasciitis18. There was no mention of paracetamol in the warning, yet, since both perform the same function, there is reason to argue that paracetamol might do the same as ibuprofen. In USA, the link between the use of non-steroidal anti-infl ammatories and chickenpox reached the ears of doctors,19,20
but not, it seems, the public.
There was a flurry of articles suggesting it was dangerous to use anti-febrile drugs with chickenpox; there was also an article by a group of doctors, who in defiance of all logic and known immunological impacts of drugs used to reduce fever, decided that there was no association. They
decreed that when parents used drugs to “treat high fever and severe illness”, drug use was merely the identifying factor of who was at high risk for secondary bacterial infection! That interesting little word “coincidental” again.
… I see the increase in these infections as evidence of a total lack of common sense about how to prevent complications. I see the association between nonsteroidal anti-febrile drugs and GAS as a predictable outcome of the loss of home nursing skills and handed-down generational wisdom. I see the increase in secondary bacterial infections as something which can stem from parental lack of understanding that messing around with fever, and using symptom-suppressing/immune-suppressing drugs can restrict the ability of the immune system to fi ght the virus. It also reduces the ability of the leucocyte system of neutrophils, macrophages and phagocytes to fight bacterial toxins from secondary bacterial infections.
As pointed out in Chapter 70, if you don’t have enough vitamin C in your system, then the neutrophils won’t be recognized by the macrophages, and you might be in big trouble, because if that happens, the result could be toxic shock/sepsis taking hold very quickly. Even if you have enough vitamin C, if the amount of GAS toxin is such that the glucose transporters (which are part of the vitamin C shuttle service which takes ascorbate from A to B) are blocked, that can result in a GAS infection which threatens to run out of control. The quickest way to restore the immune function in a case of sepsis is by giving vitamin C intravenously. The body can fight sepsis by itself, but it’s a bit more of a lottery as to whether it will succeed if it doesn’t have the tools to do the job.
Chicken Pox/Shingles Treatment
Vitamins A and C are the vitamin treatment of choice. Chickenpox can require large doses, but Shingles requires much larger doses. Selenium and Zinc are also beneficial.
Avoid sugar and undiluted fruit juices.
Keep the skin clean and cool with frequent baths using 1 cup baking soda or 5 drops lavender essential oil in the bath water. Rubbing the juice from the fresh stems of aloe vera can also help the itching. Cider vinegar neat, used as compresses, changes the skin PH and when held against the pox spots can kill surface virus particularly where the blister is broken. No pox virus can survive a ph of 3.
An oil mix, for adults, is bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon and tea tree oil… as above, or dilute them by adding 5 drops each to a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and apply them directly to rash if painful.
Epsom salts baths with oat straw/oatmeal-one cup per bath in a bag, hung under the hot water tap, and then float it, for children who are tense and itchy.
Echinacea and goldenseal combination helps prevent bacterial infections of the sores. So can Calendula (1 tsp tincture – 4 tsp water)
For severe, Lysine (an essential amino acid) inhibits replication of both chickenpox and shingles. Use 2,000 mg a day as a supplement (or smaller doses in children). Lysine works by blocking the virus’s ability to absorb arginine.
For pain in both children and adults, often the person is vitamin B deficient. For shingles in older adults, if nerve pain is severe B12 injections along with some of the others orally can relieve the pain, and shorten the course of illness.
If a bacterial infection looks like its setting in, a capsule of Transfer Factor may help. Breast milk, if available, may do the same.
Shingles is triggered by stress, and stress pulls out huge amounts of B-vitamins from the body. People with shingles need B supplementation.
For both chickenpox and shingles in adults, Hydrogen Peroxide gel, every 2 – 3 hours helps dry and heal blisters.
Alpha Lipoic acid is another some doctors prescribe for shingles in adults. It’s an antioxidant, and helps keep the scarring of both chickenpox and shingles to a minimum. It may affect blood sugar levels, so use with care with diabetics.
Pharmaceutical treatment for shingles is dependent upon symptom alleviation using drugs like prednisone and acyclovir.
Mint tea made with lemon balm or other mints may be beneficial: hyssop, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, self-heal, spearmint or thyme. These are antiviral, anti-herpetic compounds. If there are spots in the throat, you can add licorice root. You could mix it with pear juice which is rich in antiviral caffeic acid.
Although milk and dairy products are important components of a healthy diet, if consumed unpasteurized, they also can present a health hazard due to possible contamination with pathogenic bacteria. These bacteria can originate even from clinically healthy animals from which milk is derived or from environmental contamination occurring during collection and storage of milk. The decreased frequency of bovine carriage of certain zoonotic pathogens and improved milking hygiene have contributed considerably to decreased contamination of milk but have not, and cannot, fully eliminate the risk of milkborne disease. Pasteurization is the most effective method of enhancing the microbiological safety of milk. The consumption of milk that is not pasteurized increases the risk of contracting disease from a foodstuff that is otherwise very nutritious and healthy. Despite concerns to the contrary, pasteurization does not change the nutritional value of milk. Understanding the science behind this controversial and highly debated topic will provide public health care workers the information needed to discern fact from fiction and will provide a tool to enhance communication with clients in an effort to reduce the incidence of infections associated with the consumption of unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
Continued (fulll article)
Having grown up on raw milk, eggs, vegetables we grew ourselves, and eating meat from the animals we raised ourselves, and venison, I strongly disagree. There are children who can not drink pasteurized milk but do fine on raw milk from cow, goat, or other.
I have to wonder if cows today, receiving vaccines and or antibiotics, are still milked as usual and its being sold and pasteurized that way. Anyone know the current laws on that? When I was a child, a cow’s milk while on antibiotics could not be added to the milk tank and sold. We drank it as a family anyways and obviously did not get sick.
…Elderberry is primarily recognized as providing natural support for the immune system. Elderberry contains concentrated amounts of vitamin C, flavinoids, fruit acids, and anthocyanic pigments. It is also an excellent source for vitamins A and B and may also have antiviral properties.
…There is new evidence concluding that Elderberries have great value in fighting flu and other similar viruses. Elderberry has an ability to help break fevers because it promotes profuse sweating.
The list of attributes that Elderberry boasts is impressive. Elderberry works as a simple cleanser and also as an antioxidant. It is also a diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, an anti-catarrhal, and can act as a mild laxative. This useful herb can be used for bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, sore throats, fevers, influenza, neuralgia, rheumatism, sciatica, skin disorders, and even hay fever.
Elderberry’s use as a flu remedy dates back to ancient Roman times. Typically, Elderberry consumption will improve flu symptoms within three days. Elderberry has been proven effective against eight different strains of influenza. This fact alone gives it a stronger record than any synthetic vaccine being offered at a clinic this winter. In addition, laboratory studies on Elderberry concerning HIV, herpes, and Epstein-Barr viruses have all had positive results.
To effectively utilize Elderberry, make a tea with 3 to 5 grams of the dried flowers steeped in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. This may be taken three times a day. Liquid Elderberry extract can be taken twice a day. The dosages are 5 ml (for children) and 10 ml (for adults). Between 20 and 60 drops of a tincture may be taken two or three times a day.
One caution – the leaves and stems of Elderberry are considered slightly toxic if they are ingested in raw form. There are no other known adverse reactions, however. There is also no evidence of other drug interactions with Elderberry.