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Parents are advised to make sure their children drink milk and eat other calcium-rich foods to build strong bones. Soon, they also may be urged to make sure their kids eat salmon, almonds and other foods high in magnesium — another nutrient that may play an important role in bone health, according to a study to be presented Sunday, May 5, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.
“Lots of nutrients are key for children to have healthy bones. One of these appears to be magnesium,” said lead author Steven A. Abrams MD, FAAP, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Calcium is important, but, except for those children and adolescents with very low intakes, may not be more important than magnesium.”
While it is known that magnesium is important for bone health in adults, few studies have looked at whether magnesium intake and absorption are related to bone mineral content in young children. This study aimed to fill that gap.
Researchers recruited 63 healthy children ages 4 to 8 years old who were not taking any multivitamins or minerals to participate in the study. Children were hospitalized overnight twice so their calcium and magnesium levels could be measured.
Participants filled out food diaries prior to hospitalization. All foods and beverages served during their hospital stay contained the same amount of calcium and magnesium they consumed in a typical day based on the diaries. Foods and beverages were weighed before and after each meal to determine how much calcium and magnesium the subjects actually consumed. In addition, parents were given scales to weigh their child’s food for three days at home after the first inpatient stay and for three days at home prior to the second inpatient stay so that dietary intake of calcium and magnesium could be calculated accurately.
While hospitalized, children’s levels of calcium and magnesium were measured using a technique that involved giving them non-radioactive forms of magnesium and calcium, called stable isotopes, intravenously and orally. Urine was collected for 72 hours. By measuring the stable isotopes in the urine, the researchers could determine how much calcium and magnesium were absorbed into the body. Bone mineral content and density were measured using total body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Results showed that the amounts of magnesium consumed and absorbed were key predictors of how much bone children had. Dietary calcium intake, however, was not significantly associated with total bone mineral content or density.
“We believe it is important for children to have a balanced, healthy diet with good sources of minerals, including both calcium and magnesium,” Dr. Abrams concluded.
More than 25 percent of American adults chow down on fast food two or more times each week. Known for menu items containing high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, fast-food restaurants have contributed to America’s poor diets and increased risk of diet-related
chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. A new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research program and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine presents results from a 14-year study indicating that fast food restaurant menus have only modestly increased nutritious offerings, and much improvement is still needed.
“Despite qualitative evidence that the fast-food industry is making improvements to the nutritional quality of at least some of their menu items, a quantitative evaluation of trends in the nutritional quality of fast food available in the marketplace was lacking,” says lead investigator Mary Hearst, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Public Health at St. Catherine University in St.
Paul, Minnesota. “This is the first study to quantitatively evaluate whether fast-food restaurant chains have improved the nutritional quality of their U.S. menu offerings over a period of time during which they have been encouraged to do so by governmental and nongovernmental agencies.”
Hearst and the study team set out to examine trends at eight fast-food restaurants using data from 1997/1998 to 2009/2010 culled from the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database, which houses menus from 22 fast-food restaurants. The investigators selected eight restaurants:
- Burger King
- Taco Bell
- Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
- Jack in the Box
- Dairy Queen
Three criteria determined restaurant selection: Inclusion in the database since 1997; offering a defined set of menu items (i.e., not offering a kind of “create your own meal”); and inclusion of all standard menu items in the database.
To evaluate nutritional quality, researchers relied on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2005, a metric developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and used for quantifying nutritional quality. The team expected index scores would fall below the score for the American food supply – 60 points of 100 – due to high fat and sugar and low fruit and vegetable content. It also expected to find an increase in HEI-2005 scores among these restaurants over the 14-year period.
Across the eight restaurants, the HEI-2005 score increased over the 14-year period. However, the increase was modest, from 45 in 1997/1998 to 48 in 2009/2010. KFC showed the greatest improvement with a nine-point increase and Jack in the Box, the second greatest with a seven-point increase.
Over the study period, scores did not change for fruit, whole fruit, total vegetables, dark green and orange vegetables, legumes, total grains, whole grains, and oils. However, scores improved for meat, saturated fat, and calories from solid fats and added sugars. Scores worsened for milk/dairy and sodium.
Six of the eight restaurants improved nutritional quality consistent with public health recommendations, an important observation for reversing the rising rates of diet-related chronic disease in the U.S. KFC led the restaurants in increasing vegetables and total grains and decreasing saturated fats and solid fats and added sugars.
The overall nutritional quality score associated with these eight restaurants, 48, fell below that of the average American diet in general, 55, which the USDA considers far from optimal.
“Given the role of fast food in Americans’ diets, restaurants are in a unique position to help improve the diet quality in the U.S. by improving the nutritional quality of menu offerings,” concludes Dr. Hearst. “Modest improvements in average nutritional quality of menu offerings across eight-fast-food restaurant chains were observed, which is consistent with both legislative efforts (e.g., banning trans fat) and the industry’s own statements about creating healthier menu options. However, considering that fast food is ubiquitous in the U.S. diet, there is much room for improvement.”
Research from the Regenstrief Institute, the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Wishard-Eskenazi Health on medications commonly taken by older adults has found that drugs with strong anticholinergic effects cause cognitive impairment when taken continuously for as few as 60 days. A similar impact can be seen with 90 days of continuous use when taking multiple drugs with weak anticholinergic effect.
The study of 3,690 older adults is among the first to explore how length of use of this group of drugs affects the brain. The study is available online in advance of publication in a print issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The research was funded by a grant (R24MH080827) from the National Institute on Aging.
Anticholinergic drugs block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. Drugs with anticholinergic effects are sold over the counter and by prescription. Older adults commonly use over-the-counter drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage. Drugs with anticholinergic effects are frequently prescribed for many chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A list of drugs noting their anticholinergic burden can be found on the Aging Brain Care website.
The Regenstrief Institute, IU Center for Aging Research and Wishard-Eskenazi Health researchers reported that continuously taking strong anticholinergics, like many sleeping pills or antihistamines, for only 60 days caused memory problems and other indicators of mild cognitive impairment. Taking multiple drugs with weaker anticholinergic effects, such as many common over-the-counter digestive aids, had a negative impact on cognition in 90 days.
“We found that a high anticholinergic burden — either from one or multiple drugs — plus two to three months of continuous exposure to that high burden approximately doubled the risk of developing cognitive impairment,” said Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., study co-author and Regenstrief Institute investigator. “Millions of older adults are taking sleeping pills or prescription drugs year after year that may be impacting their organizational abilities and memory.”
While avoiding all anticholinergics is not always clinically possible, increasing awareness of the most problematic medications is.
Widely prescribed drugs with strong negative side effects for the aging brain include:
- the over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl
- the antidepressant Paxil
- the overactive bladder medication oxybutynin
- the anti-schizophrenic clozapine
Some of the commonly used and potentially problematic medications include:
- the heart drug digoxin
- the blood thinner warfarin
- the painkiller codeine
- the steroid prednisone
Source: Aging Brain Care
8 cups cubed white or whole grain bread (about 1 lb/500 g)
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1½ cups 10% half-and-half or 18% table cream
1/4 cup liquid honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Spread bread cubes in a buttered 13 x 9-inch or 10-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle berries over bread.
- In a large measuring cup with a spout or a bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in cream, honey, vanilla and cinnamon; pour evenly over bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Pre-heat oven at 350 °F.
- Let pudding stand at room temperature while preheating oven. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden, puffed and a knife inserted in centre comes out clean. If top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Serve drizzled with more honey.
Source: Dairy Farms of Canada