Posts Tagged ‘Vitamin Supplements’

Herbal food supplement labels may be misleading

Some herbal food supplements do not contain what they claim on the label according to new research.

Herbal food supplement labels may be misleadingThe BBC health series ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ teamed up with experts from University College London to test a selection of products bought from high street shops or online retailers.

Of 30 ginkgo products tested, eight contained little or no ginkgo extract.  In one case of milk thistle, unidentified substances were present in place of milk thistle.

The UCL team tested around 70 products overall, using two methods – nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and high performance thin layer chromatography – to study their composition.

Herbal products can be sold either as food supplements, or as Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) remedies.

In every THR tested, the product contained what was claimed on the label- however the food supplements showed a wide range of quality.

Whilst many food supplements contained high amounts of the herbal ingredient as claimed, several had none at all.

The manufacture of THRs falls under regulation by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), but herbal food supplements come under the remit of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Trading Standards at local authority level. Their manufacture is not regulated.

Head of the UCL research team Professor Michael Heinrich said: “I think some of the suppliers of food supplements are lying. In other cases I think they don’t know what they’re doing. Many of the botanical drugs come from rare or increasingly rare species, so it makes perfect sense to get something cheaper…which helps to you get a better price at a lower cost.”

He warned consumers that a high price tag was no guarantee of quality.

A spokesman for the Food standards Agency said: “The FSA champions the rights of consumers and misleading them in this way is unacceptable.”

He said a herbal food supplement would be investigated if a complaint was made about a specific product, if members of the public were to fall ill as a result of taking these products, or if evidence of mislabelling were provided.

The results of the BBC/UCL tests have been passed on to the FSA’s Food Crimes Unit.

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Food allergies may be linked to chemicals in tap water

New research suggests that chemicals in tap water are linked to the huge rise in food allergies.Food allergies may be linked to chemicals in tap waterFood allergies have risen sharply over the past 20 years, with 1-2 per cent of adults and 4-6 per cent of children thought to be affected. The number of children admitted to hospital for food-related anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) has risen seven-fold since 1990 – but no one quite knows why.

The latest theory Food Allergies? Pesticides in Tap Water Might be to Blame, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, suggests that chemicals called dichlorophenols could be to blame.

US researchers who looked at food allergies in more than 2,000 people found that those with the highest levels of dichlorophenols in their urine had an 80 per cent higher risk of having a food allergy.

Their theory is that dichlorophenols, which they say are found in purified tap water and in pesticides and disinfectants, have anti-bacterial properties that could affect the microflora in the gut that are thought to protect against food allergies.

Dichlorophenols are also by-products of a common antibacterial and antifungal agent called triclosan (used in many consumer products, including toothpaste) and in the UK are more likely to be found in household cleaning products, kitchen utensils and containers and pesticide residues than in water.

Although little research has been done on UK exposure levels, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate says dichlorophenols “have not been identified as a cause of concern”.

The reason behind the rise in food and other allergies remains a mystery.

One well-known theory is the hygiene hypothesis – that as we become increasingly obsessed with cleanliness, our children are not exposed to the bugs that help the immune system develop properly. Another unproven theory is that the rise in allergies may be due to basic changes in Western diets, with processed foods becoming more common and fresh fruit and veg less so.

Some experts now think that government guidelines introduced in the Nineties may have contributed to the explosion in food allergies. “Parents were advised to avoid giving peanuts to young infants on the grounds that early consumption of potential allergens could affect underdeveloped immune systems, resulting in allergy – when the opposite seems to be the case,” says Prof Brostoff.

The guidelines were quietly withdrawn in 2009 after a large study the previous year showed that Jewish children living in the UK were almost 10 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy than those living in Israel, where peanut protein – often in the form of Bamba, a popular snack – is commonly given to infants in the first year of life.

Prof Brostoff says the best thing parents can do to reduce the risk of food allergy in their children is to gradually introduce potential allergens – not just peanuts, but cow’s milk, eggs and fish – at an early age.

“The lining of the gut membrane is the most powerful immune organ in the body,” he says. “The advice I always give is that it is better to introduce foods when the gut is more plastic and able to adapt. Giving a food early in a baby’s life can help make the gut more tolerant, and numerically this effect is more important than the presence in the environment of any chemicals.”

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Britain’s bad summer will see epidemic of vitamin D deficiency

Britain faces an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency which can cause rickets and is linked to cancer and other diseases because of the poor summer, a leading expert has warned.Britain's bad summer will see epidemic of vitamin D deficiencyProf Norman Ratcliffe, from Swansea University, said the dull summer will lead to high levels of deficiency in the sunshine vitamin.

Other experts said vitamin D deficiency was a ‘major public health concern’ and Britain was heading back to the 1920s when large numbers of children suffered bone pain and bowed legs from the effects of rickets.

The combination of a 21st Century childhood of not playing outside, being driven to school and constantly wearing high factor sunscreen will be compounded by the poor weather this summer, they said.

Most doctors have yet to ‘wake-up’ to the problem, it was argued.

Prof Ratcliffe said that because 2012 was one of the dullest summers on record, vitamin D stores have not been replenished in time for winter, when light levels in most of the UK are insufficient to make vitamin D.

Figures from the Met Office show that hours of sunshine in the summer of 2012 were 18 per cent lower than the average over the last 30 years and lower than at least any of the last ten summers.

Prof Ratcliffe said parts of northern England recorded sunshine hours in summer similar to late winter.

He said: “Unfortunately, the dull summer of 2012 will probably result in a record number of people with vitamin D deficiency.

“The situation in 2012 is probably much more serious than normal with the dull summer leading to even more people with vitamin D deficiency.

“This deficiency may be present almost continuously throughout 2012, commencing during the summer months rather than, as in previous years, in the winter and spring.

“Thus, vitamin D inadequacy may stretch over much of the period from June 2012 until the spring/summer of 2013.

“The effects of low vitamin D levels in the body are very serious as adequate levels may be necessary to prevent common cancers, heart and autoimmune diseases, rickets, osteomalacia (bone pain and muscle weakness), diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and depression.”

He said widespread fortification of foods with vitamin D and use of supplements was the only way to combat the problem, however pregnant women are not routinely informed that they should be taking vitamin D and vitamins for children under the Healthy Start programme are not promoted, Prof Clarke said.

Pregnant women, children under five, over 65s and people with dark skin are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency.

The vitamin is present in some foods but most is made by the body when exposed to sunlight and stored.

Prof Clarke said Kellogg’s have now added vitamin D to cornflakes and some other food manufacturers are beginning to talk about it.

Earlier this year Prof Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, highlighted the problem and said up to one in four people have low levels of vitamin D.

She said: “A significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.

“People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements.

“Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children.”

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Low vitamin D levels need preventative action

There is growing awareness about the importance of the “sunshine vitamin” – vitamin D – for you health.Low vitamin D levels need preventative actionBut Professor Mitch Blair, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, says more action is needed – potentially including fortifying more foods and even cutting the cost of the vitamin to make it more easily available,

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that contributes to healthy, strong bones and helps to control the amount of calcium in the blood.

Unlike many other vitamins, getting your recommended daily amount of vitamin D is not that easy.

The main source is sunlight; but with short days, long nights and limited sunlight even during the summer, it’s not easy to get your fix that way.

Vitamin D can be found in some foods such as oily fish, eggs and mushrooms – but only 10% of a person’s recommended daily amount is found naturally in food.

Put bluntly, eating more fish and getting out in the sun a bit more won’t make much of a difference to your vitamin D levels.

Unfortunately, there is limited national research on the true extent of vitamin D deficiency in the UK population.

But we do know that there has been a four-fold increase in admissions to hospital with rickets in the last 15 years and that some groups are more ‘at risk’ than others – namely children, pregnant women and certain ethnic minority groups.

Pilot studies and regional monitoring suggests that vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK’s white population, up to 90% of the multi-ethnic population and a quarter of all children living in Britain.

A recent study in Australia revealed that a third of under-25% are vitamin D deficient – perhaps surprising in a country blessed with plenty of sunshine.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of debilitating diseases in children and adults – including diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets, a bone disease associated with poor children in Victorian England.

Lack of vitamin D is often cited as a contributory factor in broken bones and fractures, with obvious implications for some child protection cases.

Even the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends supplements for pregnant or breastfeeding women and their children from six months to four years.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends supplements for children up to the age of five and the government’s Healthy Start programme provides vitamins free for people on income support.

Currently, many brands of cereal and orange juice contain added vitamin D which helps boost daily intake.

In the USA most milk is supplemented with vitamin D, which has helped reduce deficiency, particularly in children. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is currently looking into this.

We also need to make sure healthcare professionals – including GPs, paediatricians, doctors and nurses – know the signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, but more importantly give appropriate advice to patients who are ‘at risk’ to prevent problems developing.

And it’s important that the public are aware of the implications of vitamin D deficiency, where they can get supplements and how they can boost their intake.

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Green tea extract eradicates cancer tumours

New anti cancer drugs based on green tea could soon be developed after scientists found an extract could make almost half of tumours vanish.Green tea extract eradicates cancer tumoursThe University of Strathclyde team made 40 per cent of human skin cancer tumours disappear using the compound, in a laboratory study.

Green tea has long been suspected of having anti-cancer properties and the extract, called epigallocatechin gallate, has been investigated before. However, this is the first time researchers have managed to make it effective at shrinking tumours.

Previous attempts to capitalise on its cancer fighting properties have failed because scientists used intravenous drips, which failed to deliver enough of the extract to the tumours themselves.

So, the Strathclyde team devised a “targeted delivery system”, piggy-backing the extract on proteins that carry iron molecules, which cancer tumours vacuum up.

The lab test on one type of human skin cancer showed 40 per cent of tumours disappeared after a month of treatment, while an additional 30 per cent shrank.

Dr Christine Dufès, a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who led the research, said: “These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments.

“When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumours every day, in some cases removing them altogether.

“By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumours continued to grow.  This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries.”

She added: “I was expecting good results, but not as strong as these.”

Dr Dufès said population studies had previously indicated that green tea had anti cancer properties, and scientists had since identified the active compound as epigallocatechin gallate.

But the Strathclyde researchers were the first to delivery it in high enough doses to tumours to have an effect.

She explained: “The problems with this extract is that when it’s administered intravenously, it goes everywhere in the body, so when it gets to the tumours it’s too diluted.

“With the targeted delivery system, it’s taken straight to the tumours without any effect on normal tissue.”

Cancer scientists are increasingly using targeted delivery to improve results, relying on the many different ‘receptors’ that tumours have for different biological substances.

In this instance, the scientists used the fact that tumours have receptors for transferrin, a plasma protein which transports iron through the blood.

The results have been published in the journal Nanomedicine.

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Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer risk

Eating a diet rich in fish, nuts and vegetables could reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to two thirds new research finds.Diet high in fish and nuts could cut pancreatic cancer riskResearchers from the University of East Anglia found that people who ate large amounts of vitamins C and E and the mineral Selenium were 67 per cent less likely to develop the condition than people who consumed lower quantities.

If further studies prove that the antioxidants were causing the added protection, the finding could prevent one in 12 cases of pancreatic cancer, the researchers suggested.

The disease is diagnosed in 7,500 people each year and has the worst prognosis of any cancer, with only three per cent of patients surviving for more than five years after diagnosis.

The study, published in the Gut journal- the International Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, used data on almost 24,000 men and women aged 40 to 74, taking into account all the food they ate during a week and how it was prepared.

Results showed that the 25 per cent of people who took in the most selenium – a mineral found in nuts, fish and cereals, had half the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with those whose intake was in the bottom 25 per cent.

Those who were in the top quartile for consumption of vitamins C, E and selenium together were at 67 per cent lower risk of the disease compared to the bottom quartile.

However, in the cases of vitamins C and E, the people consuming the highest amounts were taking in as much as 16 times the recommended daily allowance stipulated by the NHS.

Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables, while vitamin E is in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, margarines and egg yolk.

The authors wrote: “If a causal association is confirmed by reporting consistent findings from other epidemiological studies, then population based dietary recommendations may help to prevent pancreatic cancer.”

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Alzheimer’s- diet can stop brain shrinking

A diet rich in vitamins and fish may protect the brain from Alzheimers and ageing while junk food has the opposite effect new research suggests.Alzheimer's- diet can stop brain shrinkingElderly people with high blood levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids had less brain shrinkage and better mental performance, a Neurology study found.

Trans fats found in fast foods were linked to lower scores in tests and more shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s. They are common in processed foods, including cakes, biscuits and fried foods.

The best current advice is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not smoke, take regular exercise and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, said Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The research looked at nutrients in blood, rather than relying on questionnaires to assess a person’s diet.  US experts analysed blood samples from 104 healthy people with an average age of 87 who had few known risk factors for Alzheimer’s.

They found those who had more vitamin B, C, D and E in their blood performed better in tests of memory and thinking skills. People with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids – found mainly in fish – also had high scores. The poorest scores were found in people who had more trans fats in their blood.

The researchers, from Oregon Health and Science University, Portland; Portland VA Medical Center; and Oregon State University, Corvallis, then carried out brain scans on 42 of the participants.

They found individuals with high levels of vitamins and omega 3 in their blood were more likely to have a large brain volume; while those with high levels of trans fat had a smaller total brain volume.

Study author Gene Bowman of Oregon Health and Science University said: “These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet.”

Co-author Maret Traber of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University said: “The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers.

Commenting on the study, Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:  “One strength of this research is that it looked at nutrients in people’s blood, rather than relying on answers to a questionnaire.”

“It’s important to note that this study looked at a small group of people with few risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, and did not investigate whether they went on to develop Alzheimer’s at a later stage.”

“There is a clear need for conclusive evidence about the effect of diet on our risk of Alzheimer’s, which can only come from large-scale, long-term studies.”

From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16344228

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Vitamin D deficiencies linked to cot deaths (SIDS)

Two senior paediatric pathologists say they have discovered vitamin D deficiency in a significant number of children who have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome- cot deaths.Vitamin D deficiencies linked to cot deaths (SIDS)The two doctors, Dr Irene Scheimberg and Dr Marta Cohen, say that vitamin D deficiency and associated diseases such as the bone disease rickets could also explain deaths that are often thought to be suspicious.

Both doctors believe their findings merit further investigation and research.

The findings in children from London and Yorkshire followed the discovery by Dr Scheimberg in 2009 of congenital rickets in a four-month-old baby whose parents had been accused of shaking him to death.

Chana Al-Alas,19, and Rohan Wray, 22, were acquitted of murdering their son Jayden after the jury learned that his fractures, supposedly tell tale signs of abuse, could have been caused by his severe rickets. Dr Scheimberg also discovered rickets in Jayden’s mother.

Michael Turner QC, who defended Miss Al-Alas, told the BBC that he was shocked by the lack of knowledge about vitamin D deficiency of some of the expert witnesses at the trial, held at the Old Bailey.

In London, Dr Scheimberg discovered vitamin D deficiency in a further 30 cases. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be a cause of death in three cases. Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, was discovered in two small babies. A third died of hypocalcemic fits, a condition of low serum calcium levels in the blood caused by vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency was a co-existing finding in the sudden and unexpected deaths of eight children, so-called Sudden Infant Death or Sids; in five children with bronchial asthma and another five with combined bacteria-polyviral or polyviral infections. Two of the babies, including baby Jayden, also had rib fractures.

In Yorkshire, Dr Cohen found moderate to severe levels of vitamin D deficiency in 45 children, mostly infants aged less than 12 months, who died of natural causes. Of the 24 sudden infant deaths Dr Cohen investigated from this group, 18 – or 75% – were deficient in vitamin D.

Dr Scheimberg said severe vitamin D deficiency could make the bones of small babies very brittle and capable of fracture with little or no real force.

Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer was quoted as “We need to investigate the vitamin D levels of these children carefully and the circumstances in which the bones fracture,” she explained.

“Obviously if you have bones that fracture easily then they will fracture easily they will fracture with any normal movement like trying to put a baby grow on a baby you will twist their arm. In a normal child you won’t produce anything. But in a child whose bones are weakened and [who have] an abnormal cartilage growth area, then it’s easier for them to get these very tiny fractures or even big fractures.”

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and endocrinologists are experts in how the body is regulated by the hormone excreting glands – or endocrine organs.

Stephen Nussey is professor of endocrinology at St George’s Hospital at Tooting in south London. He believes that, despite repeated government recommendations on vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D deficiency is still not being taken sufficiently seriously by the authorities.

“Lizards are quite like humans in their vitamin D. Their dietary intake is pretty low and they need to have sun exposure and you need to have a light in the enclosure in which you keep your lizard of the right wavelength.

“If you don’t have one of those lights your reptile will get osteomalacia [adult rickets] very similar to humans. I guess the RSPCA would quite rightly prosecute you if you didn’t give your reptile vitamin D.

“But there’s no action taken against you if you don’t give it to your daughter. So that rather illustrates the importance placed on vitamin D for your reptile rather than giving it to your daughter.”

Earlier this week, the chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, wrote to doctors, nurses and other health professionals advising them to consider vitamin D supplementation for certain at risk groups, including pregnant mothers.

“We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children,” she explained.BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now

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Vitamin D supplements recommended by NHS health experts

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is to contact medical staff about concerns young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.Vitamin D supplements recommended by NHS health expertsGovernment guidelines recommend some groups, including the under-fives, should take a daily supplement.

However, recent research found that many parents and health professionals were unaware of the advice.

There has been an increase in childhood rickets over the past 15 years.

According to Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, links to heart disease and some cancers are also being investigated.

The Feeding for Life Foundation report, published in October last year, suggested one in four toddlers in the UK is vitamin D deficient.

However, this may be an underestimate as only vitamin D from food was included, and not any vitamin D obtained through sun exposure.

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all people at risk of a deficiency, including all pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five years old, people aged over 65, and people at risk of not getting enough exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is mainly obtained from sunlight. However, too much sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.

According to one recent study, nearly three-quarters of parents and more than half of health professionals are unaware of the recommendations.

The Department of Health has asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D.

Dame Sally Davies: “We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Free supplements

“Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children.

“Many health professionals such as midwives, GPs and nurses give advice on supplements, and it is crucial they continue to offer this advice as part of routine consultations and ensure disadvantaged families have access to free vitamin supplements through our Healthy Start scheme.

“It is important to raise awareness of this issue, and I will be contacting health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups.”

It has long been known that vitamin D prevents rickets and children were once given food supplements like cod liver oil.

However, this practice was stopped in the 1950s because it was thought unnecessary.

In the last 10 years, doctors have been seeing more cases of vitamin D deficiency, leading to a debate over the use of food supplements and concern that many medical staff are unaware of the problem. BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now

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All pregnant women should take vitamin D coroner warns

A coroner has written to the Health Secretary calling for all pregnant women and those who breastfeed to take vitamin D.All pregnant women should take vitamin D coroner warnsNorth London coroner Andrew Walker said action should be taken to reduce the risk to others after he held an inquest last week into the death of a three month old boy.

In his letter to Andrew Lansley, Mr Walker said Milind Agarwal was taken to the doctor in July with symptoms of a probable viral infection.

He was sent home with saline nasal drops. A later telephone consultation with another doctor led to his parents being advised to give him paracetamol.

But his mother and father still had concerns and called an ambulance. Their son was taken to Northwick Park Hospital in north London ”where it was recognised he was seriously unwell”.

The baby died from septic inflammation of the heart against a background of an abnormal aortic heart valve.

A consultant paediatric pathologist told the coroner’s court that vitamin D deficiency played a role in progression of the infection and suggested all pregnant and breastfeeding women be prescribed vitamin D daily.

In his letter, Mr Walker told Mr Lansley that consideration should be given ”to increasing public awareness of vitamin D deficiency”, in particular that all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should receive 10mcg of Vitamin D every day.

Research has previously found that pregnant women and those trying to conceive are lacking vitamin D.

In 2009, experts warned that a lack of vitamin D in pregnancy can lead to a youngster suffering rickets and longer-term problems such as schizophrenia and Type 1 diabetes.

While many people can get vitamin D from sunshine, those living in cooler countries may not be getting enough.

As a result, the body often relies on its own stores of vitamin D in the winter months. Otherwise, dietary intake or multivitamins are needed.

Vitamin D is found in small quantities in a few foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver, and in fortified foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals and powdered milk.

But pregnant women are advised to avoid liver and liver products, raw or under-cooked eggs and to limit their intake of certain fish such as tuna.BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now.

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