Archive for March 2015

Vitamin D- NICE advice to take supplements

People should be given vitamin D supplements according to the UK’s official health watchdog NICE.

People should be given vitamin D supplements according to the UK's official health watchdog NICE.The NHS advisory body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), says 10 million people across England could be deficient, and many are unaware.

Its report says children should get free supplements and calls for supermarkets to sell low cost tablets.

NICE focused on groups most at risk of having low levels of the vitamin.

The chief medical officer in England has already urged doctors to prescribe tablets to these populations, and similar advice has been issued in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

But experts are concerned many are still not getting the Vitamin D they need. Official estimates suggest one in five adults and one in six children in England may have low levels.

People get most of their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on their skin. But the amount in food is small, unlike many other vitamins.

The low level of sunlight during winter months means people in the UK must rely on stores built up during the summer.

Professor Mike Kelly, who was involved in producing the NICE guidelines, said: “Around 10 million people in England may have low vitamin D status and so could be at risk of health problems – and they may not know it.

“People with darker skin are particularly at risk – during winter months nearly 75% of adults from Asian or African and Caribbean backgrounds may have low vitamin D levels.”

People at risk include of Vitamin D deficiencies:
  • Children and babies
  • Pregnant women
  • People with darker skin, including many people from African, Caribbean and Asian backgrounds
  • Over-65s
  • People who don’t get much exposure to the sun, such as those who cover up their skin for most of the year
  • People who are housebound.

The NICE report sets out a number of measures, including encouraging local authorities to provide tablets free of charge to children.

The advisory body also urges manufacturers to ensure supplements are sold at the recommended dose – 10 micrograms a day for adults.

And NICE recommends supermarkets stock low-cost vitamin D tablets and promote them to those at risk.

Doctors and other health workers are encouraged to take every opportunity to discuss and record vitamin D intake with any patients who are at risk.

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Coffee is good for your heart

Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries – a heart disease risk factor.

Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries - a heart disease risk factor.Researchers studied more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace.

Employees who drank a moderate amount of coffee – three to five cups a day – were less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans.

The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the effect of coffee on heart health- as some studies have linked consumption to heart risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or blood pressure, while others suggest the beverage may offer some heart protection.

But there is no conclusive evidence either way, and the latest research from South Korea, which is published in the journal Heart, only adds to the discussion.

In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health. Specifically, they were looking for any disease of the arteries supplying the heart – the coronary arteries.

In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.

The scan the researchers used looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring.

None of the employees included in the Korean study had outward signs of heart disease, but more than one in 10 of them were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans.

The researchers then compared the scan results with the employees’ self-reported daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as smoking, exercise and family history of heart problems.

People who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than people who drank more than this or no coffee at all.

The study authors say more research is needed to confirm and explain the link.

Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, as well as numerous other compounds, but it’s not clear if these might cause good or harm to the body.

So how much caffiene should one drink?

In the US, experts say up to 400mg a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. There is no recommended daily upper limit for caffeine consumption in the UK, except for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, you should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200mg a day – equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee.

Caffiene per serving:
  • one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • one mug of tea: 75mg
  • one can of cola: 40mg
  • an espresso contains about 50mg of caffeine However, please note- coffee shop caffeine levels can vary widely.
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