Category: Nutrition

Is Vitamin D a panacea? The evidence says otherwise.

The rise and inevitable fall of Vitamin D

It’s been difficult to avoid the buzz about vitamin D over the past few years. While it has a  long history of use in the medical treatment of osteoporosis, a large number of observational studies have linked low vitamin D levels to a range of illnesses. The hypothesis that there is widespread deficiency in the population has led to interest in measuring...

/ June 23, 2016

Health and Wellness Coaching: cautious optimism and some concerns

The National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches (NCCHWC) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) signed an agreement last month for the launch of a national certification for individual health and wellness coaches in the U.S. According to a joint press release, the agreement is a landmark in the efforts of a dedicated group of individuals who have...

/ June 9, 2016

Supplements, Lies, and a Lengthy Transcript

On October 21, 1993, there was a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee for Labor and Human Resources, with the long-winded title: Examining How the Federal Government Should Regulate the Marketing and Use of Dietary Supplements and Related Measures, Including S. 784, To Strengthen Federal Standards with Respect To Dietary Supplements. S. 784, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, would eventually be enacted...

/ May 26, 2016

Vaginal Seeding. Ew. That’s nuts. Hmmm, interesting.

Sometimes a headline will cause me to run through a series of reactions in rapid sequence. For example “Mothers facing C-sections look to vaginal ‘seeding’ to boost their babies’ health”: Early studies show that swabbing a mother’s vagina and transferring it to her baby’s mouth, eyes and skin may stimulate microbiome development similarly to babies born naturally – and protect it from...

/ May 13, 2016

What (if anything) does “natural” mean?

What does the term “natural” mean on a label? Does it mean anything? Should it mean anything? Good questions. And complicated ones, judging from the list of questions the FDA needs your help in answering. The FDA has resisted defining “natural” in food product labeling, including whether foods that are genetically engineered, or contain genetically engineered ingredients, can use the term. Back...

/ April 28, 2016

Questioning the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Six years ago I wrote about the evidence for breastfeeding. I questioned an article that claimed 900 babies’ lives could be saved every year in the US if 90% of mothers breastfed for at least 6 months. I didn’t think that was true, but I did think the evidence supported the claim that breastfeeding was clearly better for babies. Now I’m not...

/ April 19, 2016
cows

Organic vs Conventional Meat and Milk

Two recently published meta-analyses, one on meat and another on milk, conclude that levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and omega-3 fatty acids are higher in the organic versions of both. This is being widely reported as evidence that organic meat and milk is healthier, but a closer look at these two studies shows a different picture. The organic false dichotomy I...

/ February 17, 2016

Prenatal Multivitamins and Iron: Not Evidence-Based

When I was pregnant, I obediently took the iron pills and prenatal vitamins prescribed by my obstetrician. And I prescribed them for every pregnant patient I took care of as a family physician. I never questioned the practice. It seemed intuitively obvious that it was a good thing; we know pregnancy makes extra nutritional demands and depletes iron stores. It never occurred...

/ February 2, 2016

More Trouble for Antioxidants

Antioxidants are now an iconic example of premature hype making its way into marketing and the public consciousness long before the science is adequately understood. There are multiple lessons to be learned in this story, and a new study just emphasizes those lessons further. A brief history of antioxidants One of the unavoidable consequences of metabolism (burning food for energy) is the...

/ January 27, 2016