Tag Archives: Dietary Reference Intake

Vitamin C

Alternative  Names: Ascorbic acid

Definition:-Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development.

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a continuous supply of such vitamins in your diet.

Function:-
Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Vitamin E and beta-carotene are two other well-known antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy.

The build up of these by-products over time is largely responsible for the aging process and can contribute to the development of various health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and a host of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Antioxidants also help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.

Even many of those who generally do not take nutritional supplements on a regular basis will still take the odd Vitamin C tablet when feeling a cold coming on, compliments of Linus Pauling‘s best-seller “Vitamin C and  the Common Cold,” which rocketed the immune-enhancing effects of ascorbic acid to fame, and thanks to the many articles and books which since followed.  While the recommended daily or dietary allowance (RDA) stands now at 75 – 90 mg per day for adults (see bottom of page), a higher dietary reference intake (DRI) is  again in review.  However, many of those who regularly supplement Vitamin C, take in the vicinity of 250 mg to 1,000+mg per day, and there are those who take up to, and beyond 10,000 mg daily.

Headlines about oxidative damage (DNA mutations) attributed to taking Vitamin C in excess of 500 mg per day had many people step back and reconsider their supplemental routines.  In addition, similar studies had come to light just prior to the Vitamin C revelation about the potential problems of regularly supplementing
Beta Carotene.  This however, as it turned out later, only applied to smokers who had used higher doses of synthetic, but not natural sources of beta carotene, which made the use of natural-source, mixed carotenoids  the preferred choice and more popular.

Once the headlines on the possible DNA-damaging potential from taking higher doses of Vitamin C faded, most people continued where they left off and resumed their previous regimen again, especially following  publications to the contrary which indicated that the original studies on Vitamin C were flawed, and that epi-demiological data showed no evidence at all that higher amounts of ascorbic acid caused cancer. (see also Acu-Cell Disorders “Cancer”).

Food Sources;-
All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C. Foods that tend to be the highest sources of vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe.

Other excellent sources include papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapples.

Side Effects:-
Vitamin C toxicity is very rare, because the body cannot store the vitamin. However, amounts greater than 2,000 mg/day are not recommended because such high doses can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea.Sometimes   increases the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

For adults, the recommended upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day. Although too much dietary vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, megadoses of vitamin C supplements can cause:

*Diarrhea
*Nausea
*Vomiting
*Heartburn
*Abdominal cramps
*Headache
*Insomnia
*Kidney stones

But always remember, for most people, a healthy diet provides an adequate amount of vitamin C.

Headlines about oxidative damage (DNA mutations) attributed to taking Vitamin C in excess of 500 mg per day had many people step back and reconsider their supplemental routines.  In addition, similar studies had come to light just prior to the Vitamin C revelation about the potential problems of regularly supplementing
Beta Carotene.  This however, as it turned out later, only applied to smokers who had used higher doses of synthetic, but not natural sources of beta carotene, which made the use of natural-source, mixed carotenoids  the preferred choice and more popular.

Once the headlines on the possible DNA-damaging potential from taking higher doses of Vitamin C faded, most people continued where they left off and resumed their previous regimen again, especially following  publications to the contrary which indicated that the original studies on Vitamin C were flawed, and that epi-demiological data showed no evidence at all that higher amounts of ascorbic acid caused cancer. (see also Acu-Cell Disorders “Cancer”).

However, questions on what daily amounts of Vitamin C could be considered to be an “overdose” still come up on a regular basis, to which unfortunately, there is no universal answer applicable to everyone, because overdosing on Vitamin C – just like overdosing on any other nutrient  –  is RELATIVE to the level of those elements that interact with Vitamin C.  In other words, it all depends on the combined intake of all  synergistic and antagonistic nutrients, and their ratio to Vitamin C.

Too little vitamin C can lead to signs and symptoms of deficiency, including:

*Dry and splitting hair
*Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
*Bleeding gums
*Rough, dry, scaly skin
*Decreased wound-healing rate
*Easy bruising
*Nosebleeds
*Weakened tooth enamel
*Swollen and painful joints
*Anemia
*Decreased ability to fight infection
*Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism

A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy, which mainly affects older, malnourished adults.

Recommendations:-

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins, including vitamin C, is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

Vitamin C should be consumed every day because it is not fat-soluble and, therefore, cannot be stored for later use.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following amounts of vitamin C:

Infants and Children
*0 – 6 months: 40 milligrams/day (mg/day)
*7 – 12 months: 50 mg/day
*1 – 3 years: 15 mg/day
*4 – 8 years: 25 mg/day
*9 – 13 years: 45 mg/day

Adolescents
*Girls 14 – 18 years: 65 mg/day
*Boys 14 – 18 years: 75 mg/day

Adults
*Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
*Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day
*Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those who smoke need higher amounts. Ask your doctor what is best for you.

Resources:
http://www.righthealth.com/topic/Vitamin_C/overview/adam20?fdid=Adamv2_002404
http://www.acu-cell.com/vitc.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-c/AN01801

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How Much Sunshine is needed to Make Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and a growing list of diseases and conditions are being linked with it. Regular sun exposure, without sunscreen, causes your skin to produce vitamin D naturally. But how much sun do you need?

CLICK & SEE
You’ve probably seen some vague guidelines, recommending “a few minutes every day.” But these recommendations are far too general to be useful. The amount of sun you need to meet your vitamin D requirements varies hugely, depending on your location, your skin type, the time of year, the time of day, and even the atmospheric conditions.

The Vitamin D/UV Calculator
Scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research have devised a calculator that will take all those factors into consideration and estimate how many minutes of exposure you need for your skin to produce 25 mcg (the equivalent of 1,000 International Units) of vitamin D.

It’s not the most user-friendly interface and it is very easy to enter the wrong information. But once you get past the technicalities, it’s very interesting to see how much the answers change when you vary the input.

It is also not written for US cities so you can go to this page to find out latitude and longitude of many cites and enter the numbers manually. The easiest way may be to simply google “altitude of [your town]”. Remember to convert it to kilometers. One kilometer is about 3300 feet.

If your latitude is 39 S, enter -39. If your longitude is 76 W, enter -76.
You’ll also need to enter the time of day you are going out in the sun, expressed as UTC (Greenwich Mean Time). Here is a converter that will convert local time into UTC. The calculator uses a 24 hour clock, so hours from 1 PM to midnight are expressed as 13 to 24.

The calculator also wants to know the thickness of the ozone layer. I suggest just setting this one to medium.

Be sure to click the radio button next to the entries. They are often not automatically selected when you fill in the values.

Keep in mind that the exposure times given are considered enough to maintain healthy vitamin D status. If you are starting out with a vitamin D deficiency, you might need more.

Resources:

Nutrition Data August 10, 2009

CNN October 4, 2009

Times Online October 10, 2009

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Noni

Wild noni growing in Kuliouou Valley'', Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

 

Botanical Name:Morinda citrifolia
Family: Rubiaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales
Genus: Morinda
Species: M. citrifolia
Common Names:commonly known as great morinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, Tahitian noni, cheese fruit or noni (from Hawaiian) is a tree in the family Rubiaceae.
Habitat: Morinda citrifolia is native to Southeast Asia but has been extensively spread throughout the Indian subcontinent, Pacific islands, French Polynesia, and recently the Dominican Republic. Tahiti remains the most prominent growing location.

Description:

It grows to a height of up to 10 feet high, and the leaves are dark green and oval shaped. The flower heads grow to become mature yellow fruit that have a strong odor.

You may click to see the picture

Click to see the picture
Noni grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months and then yields between 4-8 kg of fruit every month throughout the year. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops. It can grow up to 9 m tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves.

The plant flowers and fruits all year round and produces a small white flower. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit. It is oval and reaches 4-7 cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. It is sometimes called starvation fruit. Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted.

The noni is especially attractive to weaver ants, which make nests out of the leaves of the tree. These ants protect the plant from some plant-parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit also attracts fruit bats, which aid in dispersing the seeds.

Propagation of Noni
Noni is propagated either from seed or stem cuttings. The primary disadvantage of seed propagation is that without seed treatment, germination takes 6-12 months or more, whereas stem cuttings can be rooted in approximately 1-2 months. The disadvantage of producing plants vegetatively from cuttings is that they may not be as strong and disease-resistant as seedlings, and the trunk and branches may split and break during the first years of fruit production.

Nutrients
Nutritional information for noni fruit is reported by the College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii at Manoa who published analyses of fruit powder and pure juice.

Macronutrients
Analyzed as a whole fruit powder, noni fruit has excellent levels of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, providing 55% and 100% of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), respectively, in a 100 g serving. A good source of protein (12% DRI), noni pulp is low in total fats (4% DRI]).

These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as noni juice has sparse amounts of macronutrients.

Micronutrients
The main micronutrient features of noni pulp powder include exceptional vitamin C content (10x DRI) and substantial amounts of niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium. Vitamin A, calcium and sodium are present in moderate amounts.

When noni juice alone is analyzed and compared to pulp powder, only vitamin C is retained at a high level, 42% of DRI.

Nutrient analyses for a major brand of noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice, TNJ) were published in 2002 by the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission on Health and Consumer Protection during a test for public safety of TNJ. TNJ ingredients include noni purée and juice concentrates from grapes and blueberries.

For antimicrobial purposes, TNJ must be subjected to the high temperatures of pasteurization which essentially nullifies most of the nutrient content of the natural purée.

Excepting vitamin C content at 31% of DRI in each 100g, TNJ has limited nutritional content. 100g of juice provides 8% of the DRI for carbohydrates, only traces of other macronutrients and low or trace levels of 10 essential vitamins, 7 essential dietary minerals and 18 amino acids.

Although the most significant nutrient feature of noni pulp powder or juice is its high vitamin C content, this level in TNJ provides only about half the vitamin C of a raw navel orange. Sodium levels in TNJ (about 3% of DRI) are multiples of those in an orange. Although the potassium content appears relatively high for noni, this total is only about 3% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance and so would not be considered excessive. TNJ is otherwise similar in micronutrient content to a raw orange.

Phytochemicals
The history of published medical research on noni phytochemicals numbers only around a total of 120 reports which began appearing in the 1950s. Just since 2000, over 100 publications on noni have been published in medical literature (reviewed in August 2007), defining a relatively young research field. Noni research is at a preliminary stage, as it is mainly still in the laboratory as in vitro or basic animal experiments.

Noni fruit contains phytochemicals for which there are no established DRI values. Examples:

lignans – a group of phytoestrogens having biological activities shown by in vitro experiments.
oligo- and polysaccharides – long-chain sugar molecules that serve a prebiotic function as dietary fiber fermentable by colonic bacteria, yielding short chain fatty acids with numerous potential health properties not yet defined by scientific research on noni

flavonoids – phenolic compounds such as rutin and asperulosidic acid, common in several Rubiaceae plants
iridoids – secondary metabolites found in many plants
trisaccharide fatty acid esters, “noniosides” – resulting from combination of an alcohol and an acid in noni fruit
free fatty acids –
most prominent in noni fruit are caprylic and hexanoic acids, responsible for unique pungent (cheese-like) aroma of ripe noni fruit.
scopoletin – may have antibiotic activities; research is preliminary
catechin and epicatechin.
beta-sitosterol – a plant sterol with potential for anti-cholesterol activity not yet proven in human research
damnacanthal – a potentially toxic anthraquinone, putatively an inhibitor of HIV viral proteins
alkaloids – naturally occurring amines from plants. Some internet references mention xeronine or proxeronine as important noni constituents. However, as no reports on either of these substances exist in published medical literature, the terms are scientifically unrecognized. Further, chemical analysis of commercially processed juice did not reveal presence of any alkaloids.

Although there is evidence from in vitro studies and laboratory models for bioactivity of each of the above phytochemicals, the research remains at best preliminary and too early to conclude anything about human health benefits provided by noni or its juice. Furthermore, these phytochemicals are not unique to noni, as nearly all exist in various plant foods.

Laboratory experiments demonstrated that dietary noni juice increased physical endurance in mice. A pilot study in distance runners showed increased endurance capacity following daily intake of noni juice over three weeks, an effect the authors attributed to increased antioxidant status.

Uses:

Although noni’s reputation for uses in folk medicine extends over centuries, no medical applications as those discussed below have been verified by modern science.

In China, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti, various parts of the tree (leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, roots) serve as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties. In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea, or colic.

The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago, and dysentery. As for external uses, unripe fruits can be pounded, then mixed with salt and applied to cut or broken bones. In Hawaii, ripe fruits are applied to draw out pus from an infected boil. The green fruit, leaves and the root/rhizome have traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps and irregularities, among other symptoms, while the root has also been used to treat urinary difficulties.

The bark of the great morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making; on the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for this purpose. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its root in order to dye cloth. The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice.

There have been recent applications also for the use of oil from noni seeds. Noni seed oil is abundant in linoleic acid that may have useful properties when applied topically on skin, e.g., anti-inflammation, acne reduction, moisture retention.

In Surinam and some other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade for coffee trees.

In traditional Polynesian medicine, noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit has been used for many health conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea, skin inflammation, infection, and mouth sores. It has an unpleasant odor and taste, so it is believed to be a last resort fruit by many cultures. Manufacturers today sweeten noni juice to improve the taste.

Traditionally, the leaves of the noni tree were used topically for healing wounds.

Noni juice, like the juice of many other fruits, is a source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidants may help to prevent certain diseases and help slow age-related changes in the body.

Animal studies evaluating the effects of noni suggest that it may have anti-cancer, pain-relieving, and immune system-enhancing effects. However, these studies mostly used extremely high doses that would be difficult to obtain from taking the juice. More importantly, there’s insufficient reliable evidence about the safety or effectiveness of noni for any health condition in humans.

Noni is heavily promoted for a very wide variety of conditions, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, bladder infections, boils, bowel conditions, burns, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulatory weakness, colds, cold sores, constipation, diabetes, drug addiction, eye inflammation, fever, fractures, gastric ulcers, gingivitis, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, improved digestion, immune weakness, indigestion, kidney disease, malaria, menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders, mouth sores, respiratory disorders, ringworm, sinusitis, skin inflammation, sprains, strokes, thrush, and wounds. There is no real evidence, however, that noni is effective for these conditions.

The Noni tree produces a tropical fruit that helps the body heal itself. For over 2000 years, Pacific Islanders have used the juice of the Noni fruit to improve their health in a multitude of ways. Western researchers have begun to confirm this ancient wisdom.

Safety:
There are no formally established side effects of noni juice. Due to the lack of evidence, noni should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with liver or kManageidney disease.

Noni juice is high in potassium, so it should be avoided by people with kidney disease or those taking ,potassium-sparing diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers, because it may result in hyperkalemia, the dangerous elevation of potassium levels.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noni
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsad/a/Noni.htm
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/noni/horticulture_production.asp
http://www.e-village.jp/opc/03evc/03tree00/40/index.html

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Biotin

Biotin (vitamin H)

CAS#: 58-85-5

Molecular Structure:.->

Molecular Formula: C10H16N2O3S

Molecular Weight:244.31

Quality Standard: USP30

Biotin contains not less than 97.5 percent and not more than percent of C10H16N2O3S.

Vitamin H redirects here. In medical slang, Vitamin H may also refer to haloperidol. In gamer slang Vitamin H may also refer to the Halo (series)
Biotin, also known as vitamin H or B7, has the chemical formula C10H16N2O3S (Biotin; Coenzyme R, Biopeiderm), is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin which is composed of an ureido (tetrahydroimidizalone) ring fused with a tetrahydrothiophene ring. A valeric acid substituent is attached to one of the carbon atoms of the tetrahydrothiophene ring. Biotin is a cofactor in the metabolism of fatty acids and leucine, and in gluconeogenesis.

Biotin is a B vitamin that’s needed for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are essential for the production of energy. It also helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. It plays a role in the Citric acid cycle, which is the process by which biochemical energy is generated during aerobic respiration. Biotin not only assists in various metabolic reactions, but also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin is also helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Consequently, it is found in many cosmetic and health products for the hair and skin.

Deficiency is extremely rare, as intestinal bacteria generally produce an excess of the body’s daily requirement. For that reason, statutory agencies in many countries (e.g., the Australian Department of Health and Aging) do not prescribe a recommended daily intake.

Biotin deficiency isn’t common, unless you frequently eat a lot of raw egg white, which contains a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin. Genetic disorder of biotin deficiency, infant seborrheic dermatitis, surgical removal of the stomach, and excessive alcohol consumption may increase a person’s requirement for biotin.

Biotin deficiency may lead to skin rash, hair loss, high cholesterol and heart problems.

Sources:
Dietary
Biotin is widely distributed in a variety of foods, but most often at low concentrations. Estimates are that the typical U.S. diet provides roughly 40 mcg/day. There are only a couple of foods which contain biotin in large amounts, including royal jelly and brewer’s yeast. The most important natural sources of biotin in human nutrition are milk, liver, egg (egg yolk), and some vegetables.Biotin is found naturally in food. Good dietary sources of biotin include brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots,  sardines, legumes and mushrooms.

The most important natural sources in feeding nonruminant animals are oilseed meals, alfalfa, and dried yeasts. It is important to note that the biotin content of food varies and can be influenced by factors such as plant variety, season, and yield (endosperm-to-pericarp ratio).

Adequate intake are determined for nutrients when there is insufficient scientific evidence to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). These values are set as goals for individuals to support adequate nutritional status. NOTE: U.S. Food and supplement labels show 30 mcg of biotin as providing only 10% DV (Daily Value) because DVs are based on older and in some instances outdated RDAs for nutrients. Thus, the DV for biotin is 300 mcg even though there is now consensus that 30 mcg is adequate. There is no current Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) set for biotin as research has indicated that high levels of intake by humans has no detrimental effects.

Bioavailability
Studies on the bioavailability of biotin have been conducted in rats and in chicks. From these studies, it was concluded that biotin bioavailability may be low or variable depending on the type of food being consumed, but in general, approximately half of the biotin in most foods is considered to be biologically available. The biotin present in corn is readily available; however, most grain have about a 20-40% bioavailability of biotin .

A possible explanation for the wide variability in biotin bioavailability is that it is due to ability of an organism to break various biotin-protein bonds from food. Whether an organism has an enzyme with the ability to break that bond will determine the bioavailability of biotin from the foodstuff.

Factors that Affect Biotin Requirements
The frequency of marginal biotin status is not known, but the incidence of low circulating biotin levels in alcoholics has been found to be much greater than in the general population. Also, relatively low levels of biotin have been reported in the urine or plasma of patients who have had partial gastrectomy or who have other causes of achlorhydria, burn patients, epileptics, elderly individuals, and athletes. Pregnancy and lactation may be associated with an increased demand for biotin. In pregnancy, this may be due to a possible acceleration of biotin catabolism, whereas in lactation, the higher demand has yet to be elucidated. Recent studies have shown that marginal biotin deficiency can be present in human gestation, as evidenced by increased urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid, decreased urinary excretion of biotin and bisnorbiotin, and decreased plasma concentration of biotin. Additionally, smoking may further accelerate biotin catabolism in women.

Medicinal Uses:

Hair Problems
Biotin supplements are often recommended as a natural product to counteract the problem of hair loss in both children and adults. There are, however, no studies that show any benefit in any case where the subject is not actually biotin deficient. The signs and symptoms of biotin deficiency include hair loss which progresses in severity to include loss of eye lashes and eye brows in severely deficient subjects. Some shampoos are available that contain biotin, but it is doubtful whether they would have any useful effect, as biotin is not absorbed well through the skin.

Cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis)
Children with a rare inherited metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU; in which one is unable to break down the amino acid phenylalanine) often develop skin conditions such as eczema and seborrheic dermatitis in areas of the body other than the scalp. The scaly skin changes that occur in people with PKU may be related to poor ability to use biotin. Increasing dietary biotin has been known to improve seborrheic dermatitis[citation needed] in these cases.

Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes often have low levels of biotin. Biotin may be involved in the synthesis and release of insulin. Preliminary studies in both animals and people suggest that biotin may help improve blood glucose control in those with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Specifically, biotin doses in excess of nutritional requirements lower postprandial glucose and improve glucose tolerance.

Deficiency:-
Biotin deficiency is relatively rare and mild, and can be addressed with supplementation. Such deficiency can be caused by the excessive consumption of raw egg whites, which contain high levels of the protein avidin, which binds biotin strongly. Avidin is deactivated by cooking, while the biotin remains intact.

Biotinidase deficiency is not due to inadequate biotin, but rather to a deficiency in the enzymes which process it.

Signs of Biotin Deficiency: In general, appetite and growth are decreased. Dermatologic symptoms include dermatitis, alopecia, and achromotrichia (absence or loss of pigment in the hair). Perosis (a shortening and thickening of bones) is seen in the skeleton. FLKS (fatty liver and kidney syndrome) and hepatic steatosis also can occur.

Toxicity
Animal studies have indicated few, if any, effects due to toxic doses of biotin. This may provide evidence that both animals and humans may tolerate doses of at least an order of magnitude greater than each of their nutritional requirements. There are no reported cases of adverse effects from receiving high doses of the vitamin, particularly when used in the treatment of metabolic disorders causing sebhorrheic dermatitis in infants.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns:-
The safety of biotin supplements in pregnant or nursing women, children or people with liver or kidney disease isn’t known.

People with a history of seizures shouldn’t use biotin unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner

Resources:
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsa1/a/Biotin.htm#
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotin.
http://www.sciphar.com/Vitamin%20Series%20&%20derivative/Biotin%20(vitamin%20H).asp

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Beauty of the Beetroot

Scientists have discovered that beetroot has a remarkable effect on lowering blood pressure. Maria Fitzpatrick tries a medically approved new juice...

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Have you ever considered swapping your morning glass of fresh orange for freshly squeezed beetroot? Thought not – but in light of a remarkable discovery, it may be worth downing the inky, purple-red stuff with your cornflakes. And, thanks to the launch this month of a scrumptious new juice, getting your daily dose won’t require a pinch of the nose or scrubbing stubborn, deep purple stains off your chopping board.

Earlier this year, scientists at Barts and the London School of Medicine found that beetroot juice can have as great an effect on blood pressure as conventional drugs.

Led by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute – the renowned pharmacology centre that discovered how aspirin can prevent heart attacks and strokes – the research team found that just three hours after drinking 500ml of the juice (the equivalent of eating five medium-sized beetroots) there was a significant decrease in volunteers’ blood pressure. The remarkable effects were still noticeable 24 hours later.

That such an inexpensive and bounteous vegetable may lower blood pressure makes beetroot worthy of its new-found status as the first “super-root”. However, the woody consistency, off-putting earthy aroma and overly sweet taste (delete as applicable), of its raw juice have long prevented more of us taking a glug – which is a shame, given that one in three adults in the UK now suffers from hypertension and could benefit from a regular 250ml dose, the equivalent of an average glass.

According to the Blood Pressure Association, a third of sufferers don’t even realise they have the condition, which results in an estimated 350 “preventable” strokes or heart attacks every day.
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So how does beetroot work in the body? Like other superfoods, it has antioxidants in abundance, and is rich in iron, boron and folic acid. Betanene, which gives it its deep colour, is even more potent an antioxidant than polyphenols, the plant chemicals thought to be a key reason for people whose diets are rich in leafy vegetables having lower blood pressure.

But, says Professor Ben Benjamin, a consultant in Acute Medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth and member of the research team, it is beetroot’s capacity to absorb and store exceptionally high levels of nitrate that earns it the super-root title. Nitrates are nutrients found in soil which all plants need to build protein, and which the body harnesses in its battle against blood pressure.

“When nitrate is present in high concentration in saliva, bacteria on the tongue converts it into a more reactive chemical, nitrite,” Prof Benjamin explains. “When the nitrite is swallowed, it is easily converted into nitric oxide, a chemical which is continually produced by our blood vessels to make them relax and hence keep blood pressure low. So dramatically increasing the levels of nitrate with beetroot juice increases this effect.”

Along with its anti-hypertensive effects, the study also found that the high levels of nitrates in beetroot juice work like aspirin does to prevent blood clots, and help to protect the lining of the blood vessels.

So encouraged were researchers by the magnitude of the blood pressure effect that they approached a Suffolk-based natural drinks company to produce a bottled beetroot juice that would make it easy for people to introduce the root into their diet.

The resulting juice, HeartBeet, is certainly palatable, and definitely good for you. A “no bits” blend of crushed organic roots, with a touch of apple juice (10 per cent) to balance out the taste, it is now on sale in selected Holland & Barrett stores. Unlike other juices already available, seven per cent of its proceeds will go directly back into funding cardiovascular research.

It’s rare for the medical community to put its weight so boldly behind the power of nature over pharmacology. According to Prof Benjamin, it is testament to the importance of the findings, which he believes could lead the way to proving that high blood pressure can be treated by altering diet alone, and with fewer – if any – conventional drugs.

“Currently, treatment for high blood pressure involves a cocktail of aspirin, statins, beta blockers, and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Many people really don’t like taking all the tablets, especially since they often don’t feel unwell, and the treatment is essentially lifelong.”

One patient with high blood pressure, 60-year-old David Kelsall from Stoke-on-Trent, is already reaping the rewards of drinking a glass of beetroot juice a day. “I discovered that my blood pressure was higher than normal when my doctor was testing for something else,” he says. “It was 165/90mmHg – not life-threateningly serious, but none the less I was anxious to do something about it.”

Before committing to medication, he decided to give beetroot juice a try. “I drank three bottles of liquidised beetroot a week. Less than four weeks after the first test, I had my blood pressure taken again, and it had already levelled out to 150/90mmHg.” (A normal blood pressure reading would be in the range of 120/80mmHg.) “Now, a few months later, it is under control and normal. I am still drinking the juice, and I’m going to continue doing so. It may not help everyone, but it’s helped me.”

A growing body of research around the world suggests that the crucial nitrates in beetroot may also contribute to protecting us against other diseases, including infections and stomach ulcers – yet more reason to drink up. Having established a connection with blood pressure, scientists are now assessing just how much – or, rather, how little – of the juice is required for it to be effective.

If nothing else, beetroot’s health credentials give us all a reason to be smug: for once, the British country garden has come up with a foodstuff that trumps those in the Mediterranean “wonder diet”. And right now is the perfect time to grow your own. Beetroot seeds won’t germinate in temperatures below 7°C, or when there’s any inkling of ground frost, so early- to mid-summer is ideal to start planting. It can take as little as 10 weeks for a crop to mature, so you could be serving beetroot juice at your final summer barbecue of the year. We should all drink to that!
# HeartBeet organic beetroot juice (£1.49 for 25cl) is available from major Holland & Barrett stores (0870 606 6605, www.hollandandbarrett.com). For more details, call 01473 890111 or visit www.heartbeet.info

Sources: Telegraph.co.uk

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