Trends to Watch: Artificial Sweeteners, B12 Deficiency, Benefits of Supplements, Vitamin D Benefit
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Not So Sweet
Six artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-K) were shown to turn healthy bacteria in the digestive system toxic, say researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Concentrations as small as one mg/ml altered gut bacteria negatively.
Hidden Deficiency Symptoms of B12
Vitamin B12 plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and is important for the functioning of our brain and nervous system. However, estimates suggest between 1.5 and 15 percent of the U.S. population are deficient in B12, although the signs may not be readily obvious. One of the warning signals of a deficiency is bad breath, revealed Craig Maxwell, DO, medical director with the Integrative Medical Center in Metamora, Indiana. Symptoms like dizziness, prickling in the feet or hands, changes in coordination, or a swollen or inflamed tongue are some of the other sneaky signs. The best way to get vitamin B12 is through diet. Harvard Health recommends eating foods like salmon, tuna, beef, and Greek yogurt. While the RDA of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, you can safely take higher doses. Your body absorbs only as much as it needs, and any excess passes through your urine. The active form of B12 is methylcobalamin, which is easier to absorb than cobalamin, especially if you are over age 40.
The Lasting Benefits of Supplements
Selenium and CoQ10 supplements may provide long-lasting heart-health benefits, according to a Swedish study published in PLOS One. During a follow-up to a 2003 double-blind study that followed 443 healthy elderly people for four years, researchers found that those who supplemented with a combination of selenium and CoQ10 in the original trial experienced significantly reduced cardiovascular (CV) mortality—years after they stopped taking the supplements.
“Our results show a continual and significant reduction in CV mortality during the whole follow-up period of 12 years, which also included an eight-year period after termination of the intervention,” the researchers wrote. “The follow-up revealed a reduced CV mortality risk of more than 40%, and a significant risk reduction in those with hypertension, ischemic heart disease, impaired cardiac function, and diabetes.”
While the exact mechanism that produces these lasting benefits isn’t yet understood, the researchers noted that previous studies have shown that selenium and CoQ10 have positive effects on cardiac function, oxidative stress, fibrosis, and inflammation.
Scientists followed more than 600 Brazilian women and found that those with the highest concentrations of vitamin D had a 50% lower death rate from breast cancer than those with the lowest concentrations. The study was published in the October issue of Menopause, the Journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).