Eggs Across The Lifespan

Eggs contain a number of nutrients that are essential throughout the lifespan:

  • High-quality protein contains building blocks needed to support healthy bones and muscles. Research suggests that exercise, along with optimal protein intake, can slow the effects of sarcopenia or chronic age-related muscle loss.
  • Choline is essential for normal liver function and brain health. It is especially important during pregnancy to support normal fetal growth and development, and most pregnant women do not consume adequate amounts of choline. Consuming eggs during pregnancy is one solution to choline consumption issues.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

The Rome Declaration Aims to Eradicate Malnutrition

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WHO
Two weeks ago, I attended the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome. The conference, which was jointly sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), culminated in the acceptance of the Rome Declaration by most of the countries in the world. The Rome Declaration is designed as a blue print for countries to help eradicate malnutrition (both undernutrition and overweight/obesity) worldwide. A lofty goal, to say the least, but one to which all health professionals, as well as governments, should be paying attention.

Health ministers from many countries, as well as dignitaries including the Pope, spoke at the conference, lending gravitas to the proceedings. As a representative of the egg industry, I was proud to be a part of the rather large livestock/agriculture contingent in attendance. In private discussions, I spoke about the research that the American Egg Board is currently supporting to feed high-quality protein to orphaned children in Third World countries and the success we have had in pilot studies enhancing the growth rate, as well as markers of cognitive performance, in children who generally receive very little protein as a part of their normal diets. These are the sorts of efforts that, as folks attending the Conference agreed, can go a long way in eradicating hunger and malnutrition around the world.

If you’re not familiar with the ICN2 conference or the Rome Declaration I’d encourage you to view the Rome Declaration document at http://www.fao.org/3/a-ml542e.pdf. As health professionals, this certainly seems like an effort and an agenda to get behind in any way possible. The impact that this document ultimately has on issues related to world hunger and malnutrition remains to be seen, but the impact that health professionals can have in their local communities and beyond certainly seems more attainable. If nothing else, it is both interesting and beneficial to learn more about the goals and outputs of the ICN2 conference.

Choline, B-vitamins and Neural Tube Defects

lab-scientist-stock-photoToday’s post has been authored by Julia Bird, MPH, Associate Scientist, Nutrition Science and Advocacy, at DSM Nutritional Products. The post was originally posted on Monday Aug 18, 2014 on TalkingNutrition.dsm.com

 

While the nutrient choline is not considered a vitamin in the strictest sense, as it can be synthesized by the body in limited amounts, it has nonetheless garnered research interest as it participates in the same group of biochemical reactions as B-vitamins such as folate and vitamin B12. In particular, as Zeisel explains, it may be especially important for expecting mothers and their infants. Choline is required for normal fetal development and the proper functioning of the liver and placenta. Additionally, there appears to be a strong biological need for choline in the developing fetus and infant, as large quantities are transferred via the placenta during pregnancy, and breast milk has a high choline concentration. Some researchers, such as Shaw and colleagues, have found low intakes of choline around the peri-conceptual period are linked with neural tube defects. The recent publication from Mills and co-workers looks at the relationship between choline status, genetic polymorphisms and neural tube defects (NTD).

The researchers looked at data from two separate groups of Irish women in case-control studies: in one group were 71 women carrying a child affected by an NTD and 214 pregnant women serving as controls, and in the other were 98 women who had previously carried a pregnancy affected by NTD and 386 control women. Concentrations of choline and related metabolites betaine and homocysteine were compared between the cases and controls. In addition, the effects that common genetic variants that affect choline and B-vitamin levels have on risk of NTD were examined.

The researchers did not find any statistically significant difference in choline levels between women who had had an NTD diagnosis, and those with no history of NTD and carrying an unaffected fetus. There also did not appear to be an effect whereby women with low folate levels and low choline levels were at greater risk of an NTD-affected pregnancy. Levels of homocysteine, which increase in response to B-vitamin deficiency, were however increased in women affected by NTD pregnancy.

When looking at genetic polymorphisms, one variant of the phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PEMT) gene was found at higher levels in women with a (history of) pregnancy affected by NTD. The enzyme that is produced by this gene is responsible for synthesis of choline in the body, and it is possible that small variations may affect choline status.

Although this study did not show an effect of choline levels on risk of NTDs, as yet there is no functional marker of choline deficiency. The population studied was well-nourished. Lower levels do not indicate that body systems that rely on choline are malfunctioning as long as intakes meet a certain minimum level to sustain health. The study confirms that elevated homocysteine levels, and certain genes that control these levels, are related to risk of NTD, as discussed previously by van der Put and colleagues.

Given that pregnant and lactating women have a higher requirement for choline, it seems prudent for this risk group to ensure an adequate supply. Aside from NTDs, choline may be important in other areas of infant health, as summarized by Jiang, West and Caudill. The USDA choline databaseprovides a very comprehensive list of the choline content in many foods. Women planning a family, pregnant and lactating women should make sure that their choline intakes meet minimum recommendations.

– Julia Bird, MPH

Main citation:

James L Mills, Ruzong Fan, Lawrence C Brody, Aiyi Liu, Per M Ueland, Yifan Wang, Peadar N Kirke, Barry Shane, and Anne M Molloy. Maternal choline concentrations during pregnancy and choline-related genetic variants as risk factors for neural tube defects. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ajcn.079319; First published online August 13, 2014. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.079319

Supporting citations:

Jiang X, West AA, Caudill MA. Maternal choline supplementation: a nutritional approach for improving offspring health? Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2014 May;25(5):263-73. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Mar 26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24680198

Pangilinan F, Molloy AM, Mills JL, Troendle JF, Parle-McDermott A, Signore C, O’Leary VB, Chines P, Seay JM, Geiler-Samerotte K, Mitchell A, VanderMeer JE, Krebs KM, Sanchez A, Cornman-Homonoff J, Stone N, Conley M, Kirke PN, Shane B, Scott JM, Brody LC. Evaluation of common genetic variants in 82 candidate genes as risk factors for neural tube defects. BMC Med Genet. 2012 Aug 2;13:62.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22856873

Shaw GM, Carmichael SL, Yang W, Selvin S, Schaffer DM. Periconceptional dietary intake of choline and betaine and neural tube defects in offspring. Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Jul 15;160(2):102-9.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15234930/

van der Put NM, van Straaten HW, Trijbels FJ, Blom HJ. Folate, homocysteine and neural tube defects: an overview. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2001 Apr;226(4):243-70.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11368417

Zeisel SH. Nutrition in pregnancy: the argument for including a source of choline. Int J Womens Health. 2013 Apr 22;5:193-9. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S36610.

Nutrition Close-Up, Summer 2014

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Nutrition Close-Up, Summer 2014 (pdf, 1.5 MB)

Articles in this Issue…

The role of the brain, ‘food cues,’ in overeating

By Kerri Boutelle, PhD

Obesity is a serious and refractory problem that is associated with multiple medical and psychological comorbities and risks. Recent data suggest that in the United States, two out of every three adults are overweight or obese, and one out of three children is overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, psychological impairment, poor quality of life, and all-cause mortality.
Read More >>

Vitamin D: a stronger link to health

By Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN

Getting adequate vitamin D and calcium is essential for children, who need to grow strong bones, and for adults, who need to maintain strong bones and prevent bone loss. New findings
from the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial of >36,000 postmenopausal women, confirm the safety and synergistic benefits of these two nutrients, showing a 35-38 % reduction
in hip fracture incidence 1. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you are less likely to efficiently absorb calcium in the gut and may lose bone as you age. The development of low bone density
and/or osteoporosis later in life, which affects approximately 54 million Americans over the age of 50 years 2, is highly linked to suboptimal nutrition and physical activity patterns during young adulthood. After the age of 20-25 years, when bone growth reaches its full genetic potential, bone “withdrawals” can begin to exceed “deposits” (except in the skull, which increases in mass throughout the lifespan).
Read More >>

Complexity of individual variability in nutrition

By Tia M. Rains, PhD

One size does not fit all when it comes to health. Be it diet, exercise, or prescription medications, what works wonderfully for one person may produce little effect or even the opposite
effect in others. This is not surprising given metabolic differences between individuals. I remember observing this first-hand as an undergraduate student in a clinical chemistry course. Each
student underwent some basic blood tests and we compared results across the class. For some tests (e.g., liver enzymes), there was little variability among the students. But in others, there was quite a bit of diversity in results. For example, the blood glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose tolerance test varied dramatically student to student.
Read More >>

New research in fight against childhood obesity

By Jamie I. Baum, PhD

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has more than doubled in adults and more than tripled in children and adolescents since the 1970s. Roughly one in three children ages 2-19 years is overweight or obese. Obese individuals have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, and dyslipidemia. Once restricted to adults, these metabolic diseases are now being diagnosed in children. Increasing protein in the diet has been linked to improvements in glucose and insulin control, blood cholesterol, body composition, energy metabolism, as well as increased weight loss in adults. However, very little research has been focused on determining if increasing protein in the diet of school-aged children has comparable health benefits.
Read More >>

Low-carb training getting mileage with endurance athletes

By Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS

Training low” has nothing to do with altitude and everything to do with intentionally training with low glycogen stores to enhance fat metabolism. It is the latest craze for endurance athletes who seek to preserve glycogen stores by optimizing utilization of fat stores through an adaptive process during their training. This is typically accomplished by lowering carb feed rates to <3 g / kg / d for five days or more 1. Fat intake is increased to compensate for lower carb calories with the idea that intramuscular triglyceride stores go up along with enzymes necessary for fat oxidation.
Read More >>

CPE Webinar Opportunity – Building an “Optimal Diet”: Putting Protein into Practice

Stu-Phillips-Headshot

ENC has partnered with Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition) Dietary Practice Group to offer a continuing education webinar titled Building an “Optimal Diet”: Putting Protein into Practice, presented by Dr. Stuart Phillips.

Dr. Phillips is a professor at McMaster University and one of the leading investigators in the field of exercise metabolism. His work focuses on the impact of nutrition and exercise on human skeletal muscle protein turnover. During the webinar, he discusses protein needs and timing of intake for maximum muscle growth and maintenance for athletes and the aging population. Additionally, he elaborates on how protein quality plays a major role in muscle anabolism. To close his talk, Dr. Phillips shares suggestions for practical applications of the latest protein research, including recommending natural protein sources with high biological value, such as eggs and milk, to help health professionals to make up-to-date diet recommendations to their clients and patients.

The webinar is approved by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) for 1 CPEU and is free of charge throughout the month of July. To receive the CPEU, SCAN members and non-members must log into the SCAN website to order and view the webinar.

Observations from Experimental Biology 2014

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Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Apeksha Gulvady, PhD. Apeksha holds an MA and PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Texas in Austin, where her research focused on the role of aging and diet-induced obesity on immune cell function. Apeksha previously worked with PepsiCo R&D, where she supported core nutrition business activities and priorities in both global foods and beverages, and has recently joined Edelman Public Relations to pursue her passion for nutrition communications.

For years, a single nutrient paradigm laid the foundation for the efforts of nutrition science to target nutrient deficiencies. As associations between lifestyle factors and chronic diseases became more evident, the focus of research fittingly transitioned from individual nutrients to foods as carriers of these nutrients, and finally to dietary patterns of food intake that can potentially impact health. Studies on protein advanced similarly and earned their way onto the dais at the 2014 Experimental Biology (EB) conference – the world’s largest life sciences annual meeting, comprised of 24,000+ scientific researchers, federal regulators, consumer groups and industry representatives.

After four exciting days at the conference in San Diego this year, attendees’ brains were brimming with information about the power of protein in the diet, among other key topics. Protein sessions were some of the best attended sessions overall, suggesting that protein research remains of prime interest to the nutrition science community. Protein studies, several of which were supported in part or full by the ENC research grant program, pointed to how adjustment of both quality and quantity of this macronutrient can bring about small but meaningful changes in metabolism and body composition.

In one study presented at EB 2014, egg protein, when consumed for breakfast, was shown to affect postprandial energy metabolism and provide increased satiety in overweight children.1 Protein, therefore, may play a key role in weight management. Another study demonstrated that consumption of one egg per day did not influence blood lipid levels in diabetic patients. Egg protein was thus concluded to not increase risk for cardiovascular disease in the study population.2

Beyond protein, evidence from a meta-analysis of dietary cholesterol and heart health suggested that previously declared correlations between dietary cholesterol consumption and heart disease may be unfounded.3 Researchers also investigated the effects of differential macronutrient distribution in the diet and found that lowering carbohydrate intake had the potential to decrease insulin resistance4 and accelerate fat oxidation.5 Exploring the link between diet, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, an animal study found whole egg protein increased blood vitamin D concentrations and favorably affected physiologic diabetic dysfunctions.6 And in another study of nutrient adequacy, eggs were found to potentially positively impact serum levels of certain carotenoids.7

As presented at the 2014 EB conference, current evidence thus suggests that consuming eggs as a source of high-quality protein may assist in weight loss, improve disease risk factors and promote intakes of certain nutrients. However, whether the aforementioned effects can be sustained over time warrants additional investigation.

References:

  1. Binns A, Gray M, Seo H-S, Zhang B, Luckett C, Smith K, Baum JI. Consumption of an egg-based breakfast reduces hunger and increases postprandial energy metabolism in normal weight (NW) and overweight (OW) school-aged children. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):381.4.
  2. Ballesteros MN, Valenzuela F, Robles A, Artalejo E, Valdez H, Fernandez ML. One egg a day does not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):381.5
  3. Berger SE, Raman G, Vishwanathan R, Jacques P, Johnson EJ. Dietary cholesterol and heart health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):267.6.
  4. Watkins BA, Pappan KL, Kim J, Freidenreich D, Kunces L, Volk B, Saenz C, Volek J. Carbohydrate feeding and impact on global metabolomics in relation to insulin sensitivity in men with metabolic syndrome. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):248.8.
  5. Kunces LJ, Volk B, Freidenreich D, Saenz C, Fernandez ML, Maresh C, Kraemer W, Phinney S, Volek J. Effect of a very low carbohydrate diet followed by incremental increases in carbohydrate on respiratory exchange ratio. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):LB444.
  6. Van Wyk K, Schalinske K. Whole egg protein markedly increases blood vitamin D concentrations in male Sprague-Dawley rats. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):1041.9.
  7. Aljohi H, Dopler-Nelson M, Wilson TA. Consumption of 12 eggs per week for 1 year increases serum zeaxanthin concentrations but not other major carotenoids, tocopherols, and retinol in humans. FASEB J. 2014;28(1S):645.25.