Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural Products Supplement Briefs

Cucuburro may be switching trees

Known for its richly scented white blossoms, the magnolia tree (Magnolia officinalis) may also help keep teeth clean and bad breath at bay. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (Nov. 2007) found that when extracts from the tree's bark were introduced to bacteria that cause bad breath, after five minutes 99 percent of the bacteria were killed. The researchers also found that when human subjects were given mints containing the same bark extracts, they experienced a 62 percent reduction in salivary bacteria after 30 minutes and a 43 percent reduction after 40 minutes of chewing magnolia-spiked gum. The botanical extracts also were effective in killing germs that cause cavities. The study was funded by gum giant Wrigley Jr., which hopes to cash in on the growing functional chewing-gum market.

Vitamin press darlings

An article in the December 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association asked the question: Why are vitamin E and beta-carotene given such a good rap when the research on their benefits for treating chronic disease is clearly mixed? The study authors found that of the 172 articles they reviewed on vitamin E and cardiovascular health, including articles that discussed large, randomized trials that found no benefits, vitamin E was still portrayed favorably in more than half. Also, the majority of the 16 articles that looked at the effects of beta-carotene on cancer prevention did not consider contradictory evidence, the researchers said. They cited lack of dissemination of newer data, differential interpretation or purposeful omission as possible reasons. But other factors may be at play. Not all studies ask the same questions in the same populations, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition. For example, the studies with the negative results asked if the supplement could treat symptoms in unhealthy subjects while the positive studies started with healthier populations and asked if the supplement could prevent disease.

DHA does it again

You can tell your pregnant customers that there is another reason to take omega-3 fatty acids: The supplements may help their children develop better coordination. The study, published in December, 2007, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed more than 300 children for seven years whose mothers took docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, during pregnancy. The researchers found a positive correlation between the DHA children and motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Omega-3 taken during pregnancy has already been found to have a positive effect on children?s mental and visual developments, among other things.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 2/p. 30

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