Natural Foods Merchandiser

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Heart-Healthy Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency could contribute to heart disease, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers found that healthy people had Vitamin D levels up to 50 percent higher than individuals with chronic heart failure. The vitamin appears to decrease levels of the hormone ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide), which is present in high amounts in heart patients because of fluid accumulation. Also discovered was a correlation between disease severity and vitamin D levels. The researchers do not recommend stepping up sun exposure—the best way to get vitamin D—but rather to obtain more of the vitamin from eating high amounts of fish, which is not always an option for vegetarians.

Uncle Sam Endorses SAMe
The government recently gave SAMe the nod as an effective treatment for depression and osteoarthritis. In a 198-page report, the U.S. Health and Human Services department says SAMe is more effective than placebo and equivalent to standard therapy for relief of symptoms of depression and osteoarthritis pain. The HHS report was prepared by a 16-member team of medical professionals over three years and included the review of more than 102 clinical trials on SAMe. SAMe is a natural compound made from the amino acid methionine. It has been used widely in Europe for many years, but was only made available in the United States in 1996.

Poison Center Review Targets Supplements
Dietary supplements are potentially hazardous and require more surveillance, according to a report published in the Jan. 11 issue of The Lancet. The U.S. study reports that of the 2,300 calls received by 11 national poison control centers in 1998, 500 were from callers suffering from symptoms most likely caused by a supplement. The supplements reported to cause the most side effects included ephedra, guarana, ginseng and St. John's wort. Complications from the supplements included seizure, heart rhythm disturbances and chest pain. According to Wayne Silverman at the American Botanical Association, of the 500,000 or so calls each of the centers received that year, the 500 possibly relating to supplements is a small percentage of the total. Also not mentioned in the report is how many of the calls were related to pharmaceutical drugs.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 3/p. 90

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