The UN General Assembly named 2016 the International Year of the Pulse.
The UN General Assembly named 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Credit: Cookbookman17 // Flickr

When Gerd Bobe, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, makes lentils he serves them with a dash of lemon vinegar and sugar. “It’s the traditional German style,” he says, “and it makes this delicious sweet/tart flavor.” His favorite dish is lentil soup, with a bit of chopped Polish sausage, carrots, onions, and potatoes thrown in.

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bacteriaTrillions of microorganisms – mainly bacteria and yeast – inhabit your intestines and make up your microbiome. These microbes help us obtain nutrients from food we normally can’t digest, and they also help protect us from opportunistic infections caused by pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. We are only beginning to understand the importance of the microbiome in maintaining our health.

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Reports from clinical trials involving vitamin E supplementation have been mixed.  Many of these studies focused on heart disease, with some showing benefits, while others did not. Some trials have reported adverse health outcomes associated with vitamin E supplements. Perhaps most concerning were the results of SELECT clinical trial – a cancer prevention study that found high-dose (400 IU/day) vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.vitamin E

Often these clinical trials, as with the SELECT trial, provided vitamin E in dosages far exceeding dietary intake recommendations (15 mg/day or 22.5 IU/day of α-tocopherol). Thus, based on the totality of the evidence to date, the Linus Pauling Institute no longer recommends high-dose vitamin E supplements. However, this should not be interpreted to mean that vitamin E itself is something to be avoided.

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Supplement Questions clean
Do you know what’s in your supplement?

A trip to a grocery or health food store shows that there are many different kinds of supplements out there. It can be difficult for consumers to choose a particular supplement given the large number of options available and the wide variety of health claims. There is a dizzying array of options, doses, and formulations that can often leave consumers baffled.

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“Don’t waste clean thinking on dirty data.”

For decades we have been trying to understand the effects of vitamin C on the immune system, especially since Linus Pauling wrote Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970, with only limited success. Our best and most comprehensive analysis of the data at hand, collected from decades of research studies, shows that vitamin C has very limited effects on the frequency and duration of the common cold in the general population. This has led many to conclude that taking vitamin C to ward off a cold just isn’t worth it.

Common Cold Vitamin C miniDoes this mean we can now close the book on vitamin C and colds? Far from it.

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A surprising number of Americans fall short of micronutrient intake recommendations, as we have discussed in previous blog posts. While most of us are not suffering from rickets or pellagra (vitamin D and niacin deficiency diseases, respectively), many people may experience micronutrient ‘inadequacy’—insufficient intakes for optimum health.Maret Traber with molecular model.

It is hard to know if you have an inadequate diet. Often there is no telltale sign of an existing micronutrient inadequacy, as many have non-specific symptoms or no symptoms at all. Yet, the evidence suggests that these inadequacies may have very real and long-term consequences on our health and well-being.

As an example, we turn to Dr. Maret Traber’s new review on vitamin E inadequacy. Marginal vitamin E status is difficult to define, and its effects on neurological function are often subtle, in contrast to frank or severe vitamin E deficiency.

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