Veganism is on the rise, and experts have different views on whether or not plant-diets are suited for children. A team of Polish scientists has now discovered that children on vegan diets have low stature and lower bone density than children who eat meat and dairy products. Children on vegan diets also are also more likely to lack amino acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, selenium, iodine, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). It is particularly important for growing children to get enough nutrients to support their muscles, bones, brain, and a variety of enzyme processes. Also, children on vegan diets should be given relevant supplements to compensate for their shortcomings.
Vitamin D plays a major role in our health. The main focus, however, is on vitamin D’s importance for bones, while many health professionals are totally unaware of the nutrient’s other essential functions. According to a review article published in Nutrients, half the global population has low vitamin D levels in the blood, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory infections like COVID-19, and early death. The authors also mention that vitamin D science is often inadequate or misleading because studies focus on supplementation rather than looking at blood levels of 25(OH)D. Consequently, trials are often made with far too small vitamin D doses or with too a short a trial period. In either case, blood levels of vitamin D fail to reach their optimum. What is more, levels of 25(OH)D in the blood should ideally be above 75 nmol/L in order to protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death. Because this threshold level is higher than the official threshold levels, the scientists recommend high-dosed vitamin D levels as a way to reach an optimal nutrient status.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a liver disease that is spreading like a bushfire. NAFLD is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is an early stage of type 2 diabetes. What you eat plays a major role, and a large Chinese study has actually demonstrated that higher dietary intake of vitamin C can improve blood sugar levels and the liver function. It is also wise to lower your intake of carbohydrates, especially fructose that can put a huge strain on the liver and turn it into a virtual “fat factory”.
Brain cells (neurons) contain comparatively large concentrations of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps us maintain a healthy nervous system in a number of different ways. Scientists have discovered that lack of vitamin C can affect the brain’s neural signaling. Consequently, a vitamin C deficiency can impair memory and other cognitive skills in seniors. This was demonstrated in a study from Flinders University in Australia. Mild cognitive impairment is widespread among older people and represents an early stage of dementia so it is important to get plenty of vitamin C every day throughout life.
- and what else does it do?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased the fear of nuclear warfare or radioactive leaks from local nuclear power plants. For that reason, many people have purchased iodine tablets to protect themselves from radioactive contamination. Being relatively close to a radioactive leak creates a sudden need for very large intake of iodine. It is important to realize, however, that the thyroid gland can only store iodine for a limited period of time and it can be dangerous to take extreme doses of iodine. Therefore, it makes no sense to take mega-doses as a preventive measure. On the other hand, it looks as if iodine deficiencies are rather common. Furthermore, we do need a certain amount of iodine to support the thyroid function, estrogen balance, and a number of other things. The question is how much iodine do we need on a day-to-day basis and how much do we need in the case of being exposed to radioactive radiation?
Minerals are involved in countless functions of vital importance to the immune defense. That is why lack of one or several minerals can increase your risk of infections or perhaps trigger unwanted inflammation that can damage healthy tissue. In a new review article that is published in Nutrients, a group of scientists look at magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and copper and their role in the immune system. They also look at the fact that vegans, older people, chronically ill, pregnant women, and elite athletes often have nutrient deficiencies that call for supplementation. The agricultural soil in Europe and many other parts of the world is selenium-depleted, which makes it challenging to get enough selenium from our diets. But it is also important not to overdose on minerals. In this article, you can read more about how to optimize your nutrient intake for your immune health.