Whey protein may cut metabolic risk of high-fat diet: Mouse study

Whey protein may cut metabolic risk of high-fat diet: Mouse study

Post a commentBy Stephen Daniells, 23-Mar-2011

Related topics: Research, Dairy-based ingredients, Proteins, peptides, amino acids, Cardiovascular health, Diabetes, Weight management

Whey protein isolate may slow weight gain and the accumulation of body fat when added to a high fat, suggest new findings from a study with mice.

Animals consuming a high fat diet supplemented with whey protein isolate (WPI) gained 42 percent less weight, and had 32 percent lower body weight than animals fed only the high fat diet, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.

“In mice and humans, high fat diets contribute to the development of insulin resistance and hepatosteatosis, biomarkers and major risk factors for type-2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),” wrote researchers from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky.

“In this study, WPI supplementation in mice reduced the severity of several biomarkers, including gain in body weight and adiposity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver,” they added. “[…] whey protein may have therapeutic potential to reduce the incidence of diabetes and fatty liver diseases, especially in at-risk individuals who consume excess energy and fat and lead a sedentary lifestyle.”

The whey forward

For a long time whey was viewed as a secondary product within the dairy industry, used simply as a means of feed for animals and not as an added-value ingredient. That, however, is changing, particularly with the impact of high milk costs on the industry.

Such a change has seen whey proteins become an important nutritional and functional food ingredient, with extensive use in food applications such as sport beverages, meat replacement products, baked products, salad dressings, ice creams, artificial coffee creams, soups and dairy products.

In addition to its extensive use in sports nutrition products, the new study suggests that whey protein may also reduce the risk of metabolic disease associated with a high fat diet.

Study details

Led by Howard Shertzer from the University of Cincinnati, the researchers fed mice a high fat diet for 11 weeks. The high fat diet was defined as providing 40 percent of calories from fat. Animals were subsequently randomly assigned to one of two groups: One groups received normal drinking water, while the other received drinking water containing 100 grams of whey protein isolate (Natural Pure WPI, Bioplex Nutrition) per liter.

In addition to the improvements in body weight and body fat levels in whey protein supplemented animals, compared with non-supplemented animals, the researchers also report that whey-fed animals also had 7.4 percent more lean body mass.

Benefits were also observed in analyses of the animals’ liver showed that whey protein supplementation was associated with 50 percent of the lipid droplet and tissue lipid content of the high-fat only animals,

Dr Shertzer and his co-workers also report that the insulin concentrations of whey protein-fed animals were 29 percent of those recorded in the control animals.

“The protective effect of whey protein was consistent with higher basal metabolic rates and mitochondrial oxygen consumption and lower metabolic utilization of dietary lipid, leading to an overall lower feeding efficiency,” wrote the researchers.

“Because the diets utilized in this study were not isonitrogenous, it is possible that supplementation with any protein would have been effective. Certainly, the active component(s) of whey responsible for these results have yet to be identified,” they concluded.

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Volume 141, Pages 582-587, doi: 10.3945/​jn.110.133736
“Dietary whey protein lowers the risk for metabolic disease in mice fed a high-fat diet”
Authors: H.G. Shertzer, S.E. Woods, M. Krishan, M.B. Genter, K.J. Pearson

Scientists Find a Key to Maintaining Our DNA: Provides New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging

Scientists Find a Key to Maintaining Our DNA: Provides New Clues in Quest to Slow Aging

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — DNA contains all of the genetic instructions that make us who we are, and maintaining the integrity of our DNA over the course of a lifetime is a critical, yet complex part of the aging process. In an important, albeit early step forward, scientists have discovered how DNA maintenance is regulated, opening the door to interventions that may enhance the body’s natural preservation of genetic information.

 The new findings may help researchers delay the onset of aging and aging-related diseases by curbing the loss or damage of our genetic makeup, which makes us more susceptible to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Keeping our DNA intact longer into our later years could help eliminate the sickness and suffering that often goes hand-in-hand with old age.

“Our research is in the very early stages, but there is great potential here, with the capacity to change the human experience,” said Robert Bambara, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and leader of the research. “Just the very notion is inspiring.”

In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Bambara and colleagues report that a process called acetylation regulates the maintenance of our DNA. The team has discovered that acetylation determines the degree of fidelity of both DNA replication and repair.

The finding builds on past research, which established that as humans evolved, we created two routes for DNA replication and repair — a standard route that eliminates some damage and a moderate amount of errors, and an elite route that eliminates the large majority of damage and errors from our DNA.

Only the small portion of our DNA that directs the creation of all the proteins we are made of — proteins in blood cells, heart cells, liver cells and so on — takes the elite route, which uses much more energy and so “costs” the body more. The remaining majority of our DNA, which is not responsible for creating proteins, takes the standard route, which requires fewer resources.

But, scientists have never understood what controls which pathway a given piece of DNA would go down. Study authors found, that like a policeman directing traffic at a busy intersection, acetylation directs which proteins take which route, favoring the protection of DNA that creates proteins by shuttling them down the elite, more accurate course.

“If we found a way to improve the protection of DNA that guides protein production, basically boosting what our body already does to eliminate errors, it could help us live longer,” said Lata Balakrishnan, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate at the Medical Center, who helped lead the work. “A medication that would cause a small alteration in this acetylation-based regulatory mechanism might change the average onset of cancers or neurological diseases to well beyond the current human lifespan.”

“Clearly, a simple preventative approach would be a key, not to immortality, but to longer, disease-free lives,” added Bambara.

DNA replication is an intricate, error-prone process, which takes place when our cells divide and our DNA is duplicated. Duplicate copies of DNA are first made in separate pieces, that later must be joined to create a new, full strand of DNA. The first half of each separate DNA segment usually contains the most errors, while mistakes are less likely to appear in the latter half.

For DNA that travels down the standard route, the first 20 percent of each separate DNA segment is tagged, cut off and removed. This empty space is then backfilled with the latter part — which is the more accurate section — of the adjoining piece of DNA as the two segments come together to form a full strand.

In contrast, DNA that travels down the elite route gets special treatment: the first 30 to 40 percent of each separate DNA segment is tagged, removed and backfilled, meaning more mistakes and errors are eliminated before the segments are joined. The end result is a more accurate copy of DNA.

The same situation occurs with the DNA repair process, as the body works to remove damaged pieces of DNA.

Unlike the current work, the majority of aging-related research zeroes in on specific agents that damage our DNA, called reactive oxygen species, and how to reduce them. The new research represents a small piece of the pie, but has the potential to be a very important one.

Bambara’s team is investigating the newly identified acetylation regulatory process further to figure out how they might be able to intervene to augment the body’s natural safeguarding of important genetic information. They are studying human and yeast cell systems to determine how proteins in cells work together to trigger acetylation, which adds a specific chemical to the proteins involved in DNA replication and repair. Researchers are manipulating cells in various ways, through damage or genetic alterations, to see if these changes activate or influence acetylation in any way.

Though they are far from identifying compounds or existing drugs to test, they do see this research having an impact in the future.

“The translational rate is becoming better and better. Today, the course between initial discovery and drug development is intrinsically faster. I could see having some sort of therapeutic that helps us live longer and healthier lives in 25 years,” said Bambara.

The work was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the researchers at Rochester, Ulrich Hübscher, D.V.M., from the University of Zurich and Judith Campbell, Ph.D., from the California Institute of Technology contributed to the research.

Plant Oil May Hold Key to Reducing Obesity-Related Medical Issues, Researcher Finds

Plant Oil May Hold Key to Reducing Obesity-Related Medical Issues, Researcher Finds

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2011) — Scientists have known for years that belly fat leads to serious medical problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found a plant oil that may be able to reduce belly fat in humans.

In his latest study, James Perfield, assistant professor of food science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), found that a specific plant oil, known as sterculic oil, may be a key in the fight against obesity. Sterculic oil is extracted from seeds of the Sterculia foetida tree. The oil contains unique fatty acids known to suppress a bodily enzyme associated with insulin resistance, which could indirectly help with reducing belly fat. Previous studies show that reducing the enzyme in rodents improves their metabolic profile, improving insulin sensitivity and reducing chances for later chronic diseases.

“This research paves the way for potential use in humans,” Perfield said. “Reducing belly fat is a key to reducing the incidence of serious disease, and this oil could have a future as a nutritional supplement.”

To study the compound, Perfield added sterculic oil to the feed of rats that are genetically disposed to have a high amount of abdominal fat. He tested the rats over the course of 13 weeks and found that rats given a diet supplemented with sterulic oil had less abdominal fat and a decreased likelihood of developing diabetes. Perfield gave the rats a relatively small dose of oil each day, comparable to giving three grams to a 250-pound human.

Belly fat, clinically known as intra-abdominal fat, is between internal organs and the torso. Intra-abdominal fat is composed of “adipose” deposits. Unusually high adipose levels trigger health problems that may induce insulin resistance, which causes the body to have difficulty maintaining blood sugar levels. Initially, the body is able to compensate by producing more insulin, but eventually the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, thus increasing excess sugar in the bloodstream and setting the stage for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other obesity-associated health disorders.

Perfield plans to conduct further studies of sterulic oil in hopes of developing a natural nutritional supplement. He says future research will focus on the effectiveness of the oil in humans, as well as any side effects.

“The oil from this seed is very similar to other vegetable oils,” Perfield said. “It shares many of the same chemical properties, which could allow it to be easily substituted with other oils. While eating the seed directly may be possible, it’s easier to control the amount of oil if you extract it directly.”

Perfield presented the research at the Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Dysfunction Symposium in Keystone, Colo. The research was funded by the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation, MU Food for the 21st Century, and CAFNR.

‘Knowing It in Your Gut': Cross-Talk Between Human Gut Bacteria and Brain

‘Knowing It in Your Gut': Cross-Talk Between Human Gut Bacteria and Brain

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2011) — A lot of chatter goes on inside each one of us and not all of it happens between our ears. Researchers at McMaster University discovered that the “cross-talk” between bacteria in our gut and our brain plays an important role in the development of psychiatric illness, intestinal diseases and probably other health problems as well including obesity.

“The wave of the future is full of opportunity as we think about how microbiota or bacteria influence the brain and how the bi-directional communication of the body and the brain influence metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes,” says Jane Foster, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

Using germ-free mice, Foster’s research shows gut bacteria influences how the brain is wired for learning and memory. The research paper has been published in the March issue of the science journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility.

The study’s results show that genes linked to learning and memory are altered in germ-free mice and, in particular, they are altered in one of the key brain regions for learning and memory — the hippocampus.

“The take-home message is that gut bacteria influences anxiety-like behavior through alterations in the way the brain is wired,” said Foster.

Foster’s laboratory is located in the Brain-Body Institute, a joint research initiative of McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. The institute was created to advance understanding of the relationship between the brain, nervous system and bodily disorders.

“We have a hypothesis in my lab that the state of your immune system and your gut bacteria — which are in constant communication — influences your personality,” Foster said.

She said psychiatrists, in particular, are interested in her research because of the problems of side effects with current drug therapy.

“The idea behind this research is to see if it’s possible to develop new therapies which could target the body, free of complications related to getting into the brain,” Foster said. “We need novel targets that take a different approach than what is currently on the market for psychiatric illness. Those targets could be the immune system, your gut function…we could even use the body to screen patients to say what drugs might work better in their brain.”

Safflower extract may boost metabolic measures for obese women

Safflower extract may boost metabolic measures for obese women

By Stephen Daniells, 22-Mar-2011

Related topics: Research, Nutritional lipids and oils, Cardiovascular health, Diabetes, Weight management

A daily dose of omega-6 linoleic acid-rich safflower may improve health parameters like cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation in obese and diabetic postmenopausal women, says a new study.

Researchers from Ohio State University report that 1.66 teaspoons of safflower oil for 16 weeks were associated with a reduction in fasting blood sugar levels by between 11 and 19 points, and increases in HDL cholesterol of about 14 percent.

Writing in Clinical Nutrition, Prof Martha Belury are her co-workers noted that the levels of safflower oil intakes are consistent with recent dietary reference recommendations.

“Women in our study reported an average linoleic acid intake of 6.8 percent of total energy,” wrote the authors. “Adding linoleic acid consumed from the supplements, average intake increased to 9.8 percent of energy.

“The Dietary Reference Intake Report has set the acceptable macronutrient distribution range at 5 to 10 percent of energy from n-6 PUFA. Accordingly, subjects in our study were not consuming a sub-optimal amount of linoleic acid before supplementation, nor did supplementation increase linoleic acid consumption beyond what is recommended for a healthy diet,” they added.

Building on earlier data

The new paper builds on previous findings from a clinical trial with 55 obese and menopausal female diabetics, 35 of whom completed the study. The women received either safflower oil or CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) for 16 weeks, followed by a four-week washout period, and then a cross-over to the next 16-week supplementation period began.

Findings published in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.27371) indicated that CLA supplementation reduced body weight, BMI and total adipose mass without altering lean mass, while no changes to markers of inflammation and insulin resistance were observed.

On the other hand, the safflower oil phase did not affect total body fat readings, but improvements in the weight of trunk fat tissue were observed, as was an increase in muscle tissue, wrote the researchers in AJCN. Moreover, the safflower oil was associated with reduced fasting blood sugar levels.

The new findings, a result of secondary analysis of data collected from that clinical trial, indicated that, while safflower oil did not affect body fat or weight measures, it was associated with an increase in insulin sensitivity of about 2.7 percent, which represents an improvement. Insulin resistance, or lowered insulin sensitivity, is the hallmark of type-2 diabetes.

In addition, Belury are her co-workers recorded a 0.64 percent decrease in levels of a protein called HbA1C, a marker of long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood. C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, also decreased in the safflower oil group, with a 17.5 percent average decrease recorded.

Make room for omega-6?

“The health benefits of omega-3 PUFAs seem convincing,” said Belury, “but I think there’s also a place for omega-6 PUFAs.

“We’ve known for a long time that polyunsaturated oils are very beneficial for cardiovascular disease prevention, and these data we are adding now show that these oils can also help with other aspects of metabolic syndrome, including even glycemic control,” she added. “We suspect it could be through a mechanism that is not yet identified.”

Belury added that the long-term effects of safflower oil from this study alone are unknown, before adding that she thought it possible to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems by continuing supplementation.

Comment

Harry Rice, PhD, VP regulatory and scientific affairs at the omega-3 trade association Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED), told NutraIngredients-USA that, while he found the research “interesting” he considered the conclusion that ‘Inclusion of a small amount of readily available and inexpensive safflower oil into the diet may have meaningful effects on clinically important risk factors in the management of diabetes and prevention of diabetes-related complications’ to be a “stretch, not to mention a concern”.

“First, this publication is based upon secondary analyses; therefore, the findings should be used to design future experiments, not draw conclusions,” said Dr Rice.

“Second, given the ongoing, credible debate about the displacement of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from the diet by omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. linoleic acid), the authors’ conclusion could send the wrong message and have the unintended consequence of reducing long-chain omega-3 stores in a select group of people,” he added.

Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.01.001
“Time-dependent effects of safflower oil to improve glycemia, inflammation and blood lipids in obese, post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-masked, crossover study “
Authors: M.L. Asp, A.L. Collene, L.E. Norris, R.M. Cole, M.B. Stout, S-Y. Tang

Potassium Iodide and Nuclear Emergency

Potassium Iodide and Nuclear Emergency

Article for LEF – http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/Potassium-Iodide-Nuclear-Emergency.htm

When a nuclear reactor melts down, an explosion can occur that spreads radioactive iodine and other carcinogens into the atmosphere. Once released in the air, radioactive iodine can then be inhaled into the lungs. Radioactive iodine can also penetrate the food and water supply, leading to further contamination and potential exposure. Any of these pathways into the body can lead to what is called internal contamination. Once internal contamination with radioactive iodine occurs, the body immediately begins to absorb this compound. Nearly all of the absorption of radioactive iodine occurs in the thyroid gland, leading to thyroid damage and a dramatic increase in cancer risk, particularly for young children.2

Is there a real threat?

People are very concerned now, but the reality is that there is unlikely to be a problem that reaches the United States. People are imagining a nuclear explosion like an atomic bomb which is unlikely at the Japanese plants. The current explosions are not related to nuclear types of explosion. They are caused by certain gases (mostly hydrogen) that can build up and ignite, but it is not a nuclear/atomic bomb type of explosion. Also, the nuclear event at Chernobyl cannot be compared to what is going on in Japan. Chernobyl reactors used more dangerous graphite materials in their reactors and were built without a containment building. The Japanese plants use a different reactor technology and are encased with a containment building that the reactor at Chernobyl didn’t have.

The Thyroid Gland: Essential to Health

Preventing damage to the thyroid gland is critical to the short-term and long-term health of those exposed to radioactive iodine. Positioned at the base of the neck, the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which has effects on every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. These effects relate to energy levels, heart rate, muscle strength, skin health, menstrual cycles, cognition, and cholesterol metabolism.

The thyroid gland is especially important to growing children. Not surprisingly, children are believed to be more vulnerable to the effects of radiation. Studies suggest that exposure to radioactive iodine during childhood is associated with a greatly increased risk of thyroid cancer in later life.3 Children not only have greater susceptibility to radiation-induced cancer, they also have longer life expectancies compared with adults, giving latent cancer a longer time frame to develop.

Potassium Iodide Offers Protection

Many experts believe that the compound potassium iodide can protect individuals from some of the harmful effects of radiation exposure. This protective effect occurs because potassium iodide blocks radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland.4 The thyroid cannot distinguish between radioactive iodine and potassium iodide. Once the potassium iodide is taken and the thyroid gland becomes saturated with the compound, no more radioactive iodine or potassium iodide can be absorbed for the next 24 hours.

What is potassium iodide? Potassium iodide is a salt of the stable form of iodine. Stable iodine is a naturally occurring chemical element that is used in the body to make thyroid hormones. Potassium iodide is also a stable form of iodide that is used for medicinal purposes. The source of most of the iodine used in the body is from food. Potassium iodide is often added to table salt, and this is known as “iodized” salt.

What about iodized table salt? Iodized table salt contains sufficient iodine to keep most people healthy in most situations, but it does not contain enough iodine to prevent radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland. Iodized table salt is not a replacement for potassium iodide.

Potassium iodide cannot provide a protective effect once the thyroid gland has been damaged or destroyed by radioactive iodine.4 In addition, potassium iodide cannot protect other parts of the body from exposure to radioactive iodine. Furthermore, potassium iodide has no protective effects against radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine.4 It is highly effective in protecting against radioactive iodine.5

The rate at which the potassium iodide is absorbed into the blood helps determine how effective it will be in protecting against the effects of radioactive iodine exposure. It is very important how much time elapses between exposure and contamination with radioactive iodine and the use of potassium iodide. Obviously, the most rapid use of potassium iodide possible allows for the maximum protection against radioactive iodine. Its efficacy is greatest when administered immediately before the exposure, and it has greatly diminished clinical value when administered 12 hours or more afterradiation exposure.

Using Potassium Iodide

What dose of potassium iodide is available? Potassium iodide is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is available as an over-the-counter drug in liquid and tablet forms. The recommended doses usually range from 65 to 130 milligrams (mg), and potassium iodide tablets are available in 65 mg and 130 mg tablets. The liquid form provides 65 mg of potassium iodide in each milliliter (mL) of liquid.

What are the typical doses of potassium iodide? The FDA recommends the following doses following exposure and contamination with radioactive iodine:6

  • Newborns up to one month of age: 16 mg of potassium iodide, which would be one-fourth of a 65 mg tablet or a one-fourth dose of liquid
  • Infants between the age of one month and three years: 32 mg, which would be one-half of a 65 mg tablet or a one-half dose of liquid
  • Children between the ages of 3 and 18 years: one 65 mg tablet or one mL solution
  • Adults: 130 mg, which could be one 130 mg tablet, two 65 mg tablets, or two mL of liquid
  • Breastfeeding mothers: 130 mg
  • Children who weigh more than 150 pounds: 130 mg.

The doses described here protect the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose will likely be sufficient in most situations. If high levels of radioactivity persist in the environment or food supply, public health officials may recommend daily dosing as outlined above. Newborn infants, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women should be evacuated if radioactivity persists in the environment, and should not receive additional doses of potassium iodide unless other protective measures (such as evacuation, sheltering, and control of the food supply) are unavailable.

Potassium iodide has generally been found to be safe when administered in recommended doses. Higher doses of potassium iodide do not increase protection against radioactive iodine. In adults and children at risk for exposure to radioactive iodine, the overall benefits of potassium iodide far exceed the risks of overdosing. Closely monitoring dose in infants is particularly important, however.6 Administration of potassium iodide to newborns has been associated with changes in thyroid hormone levels, so newborns who receive potassium iodide should have their thyroid function monitored.6 Individuals who are allergic to iodine and those who have certain skin, kidney, or thyroid conditions should consult a physician before using potassium iodide.7

Chernobyl Incident Demonstrates Safety

One of the best evaluations of the safety of potassium iodide use occurred following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986. Some 16 million persons living in nearby Poland were given single doses of potassium iodide as a preventive measure following the accident.8 Researchers investigating the accident found that potassium iodide supplementation reduced the amount of radiation in the thyroid by at least 40%. Furthermore, they found only rare instances of side effects in this population. In general, the side effects associated with the proper use of potassium iodide included mild gastrointestinal symptoms and rashes.

Emergency Preparation with Potassium Iodide

What role does potassium iodide play in radiological emergency planning? Whether radioactive release is from a nuclear power plant accident, a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant, or from the detonation of a nuclear bomb, potassium iodide plays an important role in emergency preparedness. Please note that potassium iodide is ineffective for other radionuclide exposures such as strontium-90 and cesium-137.

Rapid evacuation is the best way to prevent whole-body exposure to radiation from these sources. Evacuation protects the entire body rather than specific areas of the body. However, when radioactive emergencies occur, rapid evacuation or protective sheltering is not always possible, and this is when access to potassium iodide supplementation becomes so important. In these circumstances, potassium iodide supplementation is an inexpensive, safe, and logical preventive measure.

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has developed a policy that ensures adequate stockpiles of potassium iodide for populations within a 10-mile radius of every nuclear power plant in the United States. In general, government distribution of potassium iodide and emergency preparedness involving its use has been less than ideal. A recent study found that potassium iodide distribution was poor in an area near two nuclear power plants.9 These researchers also found that the New Jersey community in question had highly variable knowledge about how to use potassium iodide prophylactically following a nuclear accident.

The FDA approval of over-the-counter potassium iodide opens the door for individuals and communities to acquire this agent to provide for their own emergency planning. This planning should include knowledge of the proper prophylactic use of potassium iodide among all those concerned with emergency preparedness, including local public health authorities, physicians, emergency personnel, and individuals.

Hopefully you won’t need it any time soon, but it is critical that you stock up a personal supply for future emergency use.

Protecting Yourself in a Nuclear Emergency: What You Need to Know

  • There is a small threat of nuclear fallout occurring in the United States because of recent events in Japan. A long-term effect of radiation exposure is thyroid cancer.
  • One dangerous contaminant released by a nuclear event is radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine can enter the body through food, water, or air. Once in the body, radioactive iodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, where it contributes to harmful processes such as thyroid cancer.
  • You can protect yourself against radioactive iodine using a salt called potassium iodide. By saturating the thyroid gland, potassium iodide prevents the gland’s uptake of dangerous radioactive iodine.
  • Potassium iodide is most effective when used before or immediately after exposure to radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide does not protect against other radioactive agents.
  • Potassium iodide is FDA-approved and may be used by children and adults. Maintaining a supply of potassium iodide is an essential component of a radiological emergency plan.

6. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/guidance/4825fnl.htm. Accessed July 3, 2007. 

IAEA tracks radiation leaks at Japan’s crippled plant

TOKYO, Mar. 22, 2011 (Reuters) — Japan’s earthquake-stricken nuclear complex is still emitting radiation but the source is unclear, a senior U.N. atomic agency official said, as workers made progress restoring electric power to the site.

Owada Yuna carries her three-year-old sister Yumeka as she searches for names of her 20 missing high school friends at a shelter for those evacuated from the disaster zone in Rikuzentakai, March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj


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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also raised concerns about a lack of information from Japanese authorities, as workers battling to cool the nuclear reactors faced rising temperatures around the core of one reactor.

“We continue to see radiation coming from the site … and the question is where exactly is that coming from?” James Lyons, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a news conference in Vienna on Tuesday.

Despite hopes of progress in the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that left at least 21,000 people dead or missing, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it needed more time before it could say the reactors were stabilized.

Senior IAEA official Graham Andrew said that the overall situation remained “very serious” and that the U.N. atomic watchdog was concerned it had not received some information from Japan about the Fukushima nuclear plant.

“We have not received validated information for some time related to the containment integrity of unit 1. So we are concerned that we do not know its exact status,” he said.

The IAEA also lacks data on the temperatures of the spent fuel pools of reactors 1, 3 and 4, he said, though Japan was supplying other updates.

Technicians working inside an evacuation zone around the plant on Japan’s northeast Pacific coast, 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, have attached power cables to all six reactors and started a pump at one to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods.

Local media reported late on Tuesday that lighting had been restored at one of the control rooms, bringing the operators a step closer to reviving the plant’s cooling systems.

Earlier smoke and steam were seen rising from two of the most threatening reactors, No.2 and No.3, threatening to dash hopes of progress in bringing them under control.

There have been several blasts of steam from the reactors during the crisis, which experts say probably released a small amount of radioactive particles.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, the deputy-director general of Japan’s nuclear safety agency, later said the smoke at reactor No.3 had stopped and there was only a small amount at No.2.

He gave no more details, but a TEPCO executive vice president, Sakae Muto, said the core of reactor No.1 was now a worry with its temperature at 380-390 Celsius (715-735 Fahrenheit).

“We need to strive to bring that down a bit,” Muto told a news conference, adding that the reactor was built to run at a temperature of 302 C (575 F).

Asked if the situation at the problem reactors was getting worse, he said: “We need more time. It’s too early to say that they are sufficiently stable.”

Reuters earlier reported that the Fukushima plant was storing more uranium than it was originally designed to hold, and that it had repeatedly missed mandatory safety checks over the past decade, according to company documents and outside experts.

Questions have also been raised about whether TEPCO officials waited too long to pump sea water into the reactors and abandon hope of saving the equipment in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

But one expert said the smoke or steam seen over the reactors did not seem to be linked to rises in radiation levels.

“Overall there is progress compared to a few days ago when everything seemed hopeless. But we still judge the situation to be critical,” said Per Bystedt, an analyst at the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority.

“The positive thing is that electric power is more or less connected to all the plants.”

RADIATION FEARS

Away from the plant, mounting evidence of radiation in vegetables, water and milk stirred concerns in Japan and abroad despite officials’ assurances that the levels were not dangerous.

TEPCO said radiation was found in the Pacific Ocean nearby, not surprising given rain and the hosing of reactors with sea-water. TEPCO officials have said some of the water from the hosing was spilling into the sea.

Radioactive iodine in the sea samples was 126.7 times the allowed limit, while caesium was 24.8 times over, the Kyodo news agency said. That still posed no immediate danger, TEPCO said.

“It would have to be drunk for a whole year in order to accumulate to 1 millisievert,” a TEPCO official said, referring to the standard radiation measurement unit.

People are generally exposed to 1-10 millisieverts a year from background radiation caused by substances in the air and soil.

The Health Ministry said residents of five municipalities in Fukushima should not use tap water for baby powder milk after the water was found to have more than the standard level of radioactive iodine allowed for babies. Authorities have also stopped shipments of milk and some vegetables from the area.

Despite the warnings, experts say readings are much lower than around Chernobyl after the 1986 accident in Ukraine.

Japan is a net importer of food, but also exports fruit, vegetables, dairy products and seafood, with its biggest markets in Hong Kong, China and the United States.

Japan’s neighbors including China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, are monitoring Japanese food imports. Australia’s food regulator said the risk was negligible and no extra restrictions on Japanese food were in place.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday he was concerned about radioactive fallout affecting the 55,000 troops in and around Japan, many involved in a massive relief operation for Washington’s close ally.

“We’re watching it very carefully. We’re very concerned about the health of our men and women in uniform,” he said.

“But we’re also deeply concerned about the well being of our Japanese allies. So we will do what’s best both for our men and women in uniform and our alliance,” Gates told reporters in Moscow.

Miniscule numbers of radioactive particles believed to have come from the crippled nuclear power plant have been detected as far away as Iceland, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

They stressed the tiny traces, measured by a network of international monitoring stations as they spread eastwards from Japan across the Pacific, North America, the Atlantic and to Europe, were far too low to cause any harm to humans.

“It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere,” Andreas Stohl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, said. “Over Europe there would be no concern about human health.”

Nevertheless, Italy’s Industry Minister Paolo Romani said on Tuesday the government will announce a one-year moratorium on site selection and building of nuclear power plants.

A poll of 814 Americans conducted last week by ORC International for the Civil Society Institute think tank and released on Tuesday found 53 percent would support a moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction if the country was able to meet its energy demand through increased efficiency and renewable sources such as wind and solar.

COSTLIEST NATURAL DISASTER

The prospects of a nuclear meltdown in the world’s third-biggest economy — and its key position in global supply chains, especially for the automobile and technology sectors — rattled investors worldwide last week and prompted rare joint currency intervention by the G7 group of rich nations.

Investors in Tokyo stocks took heart from signs of progress at the plant, with the main index jumping more than 4 percent after a holiday on Monday.

The yen edged up, putting traders on heightened alert for more central bank intervention.

Damage from the earthquake and tsunami is estimated at $250 billion, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster.

The official death toll exceeded 9,000, but with 12,654 people reported missing, it is certain to rise. Police say more than 15,000 people probably died in Miyagi prefecture, one of four that took the brunt of the tsunami.

The quake and tsunami obliterated towns and left more than 350,000 people homeless.

Fuel shortages, icy rain and power outages have hampered efforts to help survivors but relief workers reported some progress as mangled roads reopened and new homes were built.

Still, 2.4 million people are without access to water and 221,000 households are without power, while many people are still searching for loved ones.

“They found my brother-in-law’s body yesterday but they can’t find my younger sister,” said Tomiko Oikawa, 77, who was camped out at a sports arena-turned-evacuation center in Minamisanriku town.

“Her house was washed away. She may be gone but I want to at least find her body. I think, should I give up, but I keep looking for her.”

(Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Paul Eckert and Raju Gopalakrishnan in Tokyo, Jon Herskovitz and Chisa Fujioka in Kamaishi, Frederik Dahl and Sylvia Westall in Vienna,; Alister Doyle in Oslo, Phil Stewart in Moscow and Christopher Doering in Washington; Writing by Paul Eckert and Robert Birsel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

BPA ban may see some canned foods disappear from shelves – NAMPA

BPA ban may see some canned foods disappear from shelves – NAMPA

Post a commentBy Rory Harrington, 22-Mar-2011

Related topics: BPA, Packaging, Cleaning / Safety / Hygiene, Packaging Materials

Some canned foods could vanish from supermarket shelves if any future deadline by lawmakers to ban bisphenol A (BPA) outstripped the pace of research to find replacements, said the North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA).

Trade body chairman Dr John Rost issued the warning as he declared the only way to ensure public confidence in new materials was through the lengthy route of testing and research followed by regulatory approval. He urged that any legislative deadlines must take this into account.

In an exclusive interview with FoodProductionDaily.com earlier this month, he said a large number of initiatives had been launched to find BPA substitutes in metal packaging but that bringing alternatives to market remained “years away”.

“Legislative changes that fail to take that process into account may lead to some canned foods for which alternatives are not yet approved no longer being available,” said the NAMPA chief. “That unintended consequence would result from an arbitrary legislative mandate that is not justified by the science and fails to recognize the manufacturing realities of today’s market.”

Fear tactics?

However, campaigners calling for a BPA ban have previously dismissed such warnings as scare tactics. A proposal to ban the chemical in baby bottles in California in 2009 spawned a fierce campaign which saw industry-sponsored newspaper advertisements and mail-shots showing pictures of empty shopping carts saying ‘Your favourite products may soon disappear’.

There was no suggestion of any involvement by NAMPA in this. However, Dr Rost’s warning echoes the sentiment behind these adverts and he has criticised moves by some politicians to outlaw the substance despite what he said was “overwhelming scientific support for the safety of BPA in metal packaging”.

BPA legislation

So far bans on use of the chemical in food packaging have been confined to polycarbonate baby bottles and sippy cups for children – with Canada, the European Union and a number of US states all passing laws prohibiting its use for these applications.

But there is concern among food packaging players that the ban on the chemical could spread to other materials – particularly as a bill that would bar its use is currently being reviewed by US Congress. This would veto BPA in food and beverage containers that are composed, “in whole or in part,” of the substance or can release it into food contents. The ban would be effective for reusable containers 180 days after enactment, with 180 days or more for other food containers.

The legislation stipulates that waivers may be granted where no technologically feasible alternative to replace BPA in a certain product or package exists, or if an alternative package cannot be used for the product. The waiver will not last for more than one year and requires that all packages be clearly labelled as containing BPA, said the body. The legislation remains in the Republican-controlled Energy Committee but Dr Rost told NAMPA members earlier this year “the food fight continues”.

No food safety compromise

Summing up the frustrations of many in the metal packaging sector, he told FoodProductionDaily.com that despite the backing of regulatory bodies across the globe that BPA was safe, “elected officials in many jurisdictions have chosen to pursue a legislative solution to allay consumer concern”

Such consumer concern was the spur behind industry efforts to develop substitutes, said Dr Rost – but he stressed it was vital that BPA alternatives provide the same level of safety and performance.

We will continue to pursue that end, but we will not compromise food safety in the process, regardless of legislative mandate,” he said.

Chinese cooking oil success shows omega-3 fortification potential

Chinese cooking oil success shows omega-3 fortification potential

By Stephen Daniells, 22-Mar-2011

Related topics: Omega-3, Industry, Nutritional lipids and oils,Cardiovascular health

Booming sales of omega-3 fortified cooking oil in China may show how countries with nutritional deficiencies can boost the nutritional intakes of a population, said a leading omega-3 figure.

Since the launch of Wilmar International’s Arawana 3A+ premium cooking oil in China last July, sales have rocketed to 65,000 metric tons. “In terms of bottles, that’s more than 25 million bottles sold since its launch,” said Chen Bo, director of consumer goods business division for the Yihai Kerry Group, a subsidiary of Wilmar International.

The product was launched to address nutritional insufficiencies in the Chinese population, where the average daily intake of EPA/DHA of Chinese residents is reportedly only 37.6mg/day, according to the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China. That’s less than 25 percent levels accepted by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The cooking oil reportedly delivers an omega-3 dose equivalent to 450mg EPA/DHA per 100g serving. The product is the result of an exclusive deal, signed last year between Singapore-based Wilmar International and Ocean Nutrition Canada, and has over five years of R&D behind it.

Speaking exclusively with NutraIngredients-USA.com recently, Mr Chen said that, in addition to the R&D commitment, the company has spent about $100 million in education efforts, including television campaigns, and over 30,000 road shows.

“More than 3 million people in the Chinese population understand the benefits of this product,” he added.

Bridging the nutrition gap

Robert Orr, CEO of Ocean Nutrition Canada, supplier of the omega-3 ingredient used in oil, hailed the cooking oil as “unique”.

“We’ve seen one or two other cooking oils with omega-3s but nothing to this level, where they’re adding over 130 milligrams of EPA and DHA into a single [30 gram] serving of cooking oil,” said Orr. “That’s very, very significant loading targeted at bridging the nutrition gap: China has the lowest level of EPA and DHA intake in the developed world.

“Wilmar was extremely innovative in identifying this gap and their commitment was to look at the US IOM identification of a level of 160 mg per day, and they chose to do five year’s of formulation work to bridge that entire gap and put 130 mg of EPA and DHA in a single serving of cooking oil.

“There is nothing in the world that compares to this particular product,” he said.

“The R&D innovation was in the formulation of the various oils that Wilmar brings in from around the world to get a taste profile that is actually preferred by the consumer over their traditional cooking oils.

“In blind tasting, over 80 percent of consumers preferred the taste of this product,” he added.

A model

Adam Ismail, the executive director of omega-3 trade association GOED, said he hoped to see these types of products filtering around the world in the coming years.

“One of the most innovative things about this Wilmar product is that they are taking a product a staple, that is consumed by a massive part of the population, and fortifying it with a nutrient where there’s a severe insufficient intake,” said Ismail.

“We’ve certainly seen success in other cases with vitamins and minerals in similar types of products.

“I think it’s a model that a lot of other countries where the nutritional deficiencies is just as bad can be replicated,” added Ismail.

Chen Bo, Robert Orr, and Adam Ismail spoke with Stephen Daniells at Expo West in Anaheim, California.

China tightens raw materials laws for supplements makers

China tightens raw materials laws for supplements makers

Related topics: Health claims, Botanicals, Regulation

Dietary supplement manufacturers operating in China will have to do more to guarantee the quality of their supply chains, after Chinese authorities imposed new quality control regulations last week.

 

China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has set in place a range of measures to boost quality of end-products and avert contamination problems that have caused the local industry image problems at home and abroad.

The measures – including greater numbers of inspections and tighter guidelines on raw materials record keeping – would, further enhance the supervision on raw materials for health foods and ensure the quality and safety of health foods,” the SFDA said on its website.

The new rules would improve, “the supervision on health food raw materials in accordance with the Food Safety Law and its implementation regulations.

The SFDA was not available for further detail but reports in the Chinese press said supplement manufacturers would be subject to regular SFDA inspections which would demand to see detailed records of raw material purchases.

Local inspections will look out for those manufacturers that draw raw materials from, “expensive and rare extractions from animal and plants and imported raw materials” reported Xinhua.

The SFDA said it would also target manufacturers that use, “substandard raw materials”. Those found to do so would be, “severely punished” and transgressors would be publicised and distribution of products stopped.

The new rules come in a year the Chinese government has pledged to increase regulation of the dietary supplements industry as the use of dietary supplements increases among the Chinese population.

Along with quality control measures, the government is also targeting exaggerated marketing of products such as Traditional Chinese Medicines and other dietary supplements and functional foods.