Greater access to cheap vitamin D supplements would improve the health of at-risk groups, experts say.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says up to 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, leading to a rise in rickets cases.
In the BBC’s Scrubbing Up column, the college’s Prof Mitch Blair called for concerted action to tackle the problem.
The government said those with the greatest need already received free supplements.
The RCPCH said other options to increase vitamin D levels, such as fortifying a wider range of foods, should be considered.
Half of the UK’s white population, and up to 90% of the black and Asian people in the country are thought to be affected by vitamin D deficiency.
The first signs of deficiency include muscle and bone pain as well as swelling around the wrists and ribs.
A lack of the nutrient is linked to a higher incidence of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis as well as rickets – a disease that causes bones to become soft and deformed.
The number of cases of rickets has been rising, from 183 in 1996 to 762 in 2011. Continue reading Cheap vitamin D ‘would boost health’
Children with autism appear to have a characteristic chemical signature in their urine which might form the basis of an early diagnostic test for the condition.
The finding also adds weight the hypothesis that substances released by gut bacteria are contributing to the onset of the condition.
Autism has previously been linked to metabolic abnormalities and gastrointestinal problems such as gut pain and diarrhoea. Several studies have also hinted at changes in gut bacteria in the faeces of children with autism.
To investigate whether signs of these metabolic changes might be detectable in children’s urine, Jeremy Nicholson and colleagues at Imperial College London investigated 39 children with autism, 28 of their non-autistic siblings and 34 unrelated children. Continue reading Autism & Gut Bacteria
A new University of Illinois study shows that human milk oligosaccharides, or HMO, produce short-chain fatty acids that feed a beneficial microbial population in the infant gut. Not only that, the bacterial composition adjusts as the baby grows older and its needs change.
Even though HMO are a major component of human milk, present in higher concentration than protein, many of their actions in the infant are not well understood. Furthermore, they’re virtually absent from infant formula. The scientists wanted to find out what formula-fed babies were missing.
“We refer to HMO as the fibre of human milk because we don’t have the enzymes to break down these compounds. They pass into the large intestine where the bacteria digest them. Continue reading Breast feeding develops Babies gut flora
How to look after your Gut Flora:
1. Eat a varied diet and your gut flora will thrive.
2. Be careful with antibiotics, because they knock out good bacteria as well as bad ones:
The lumen of the gastrointestinal tract is home to at least a kilo of bacteria of more than a thousand different species. There are ten times more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in the entire body. This is known as our normal gut flora.
It seems that a well-balanced gut flora can protect us against invasion by harmful bacteria. Imbalances in the gut flora arise when some species are favoured at the expense of others.
External factors such as diet, lifestyle and antibiotics can affect the composition of the gut flora. A single course of antibiotics can affect the gut flora for a period of several years.
3. Don’t eat too much fibre. Some people’s gut flora turns excess fibre into wind – listen to your gut.
4. Don’t be obsessively hygienic or scared of the germs around us. Don’t disinfect your kitchen.
5. Avoid colonic irrigations. They can endanger the whole balance of your gut flora.
What better way to engineer the perfect immune system than to start from scratch?
While you can’t do that for yourself, you can with your children. In the womb, babies automatically share their mother’s antibodies, which cross the placenta. This antibody donation can continue after birth through breastfeeding.
Breast milk is chock-full of immune-boosting ingredients. There is lactoferrin, for instance – a protein that inhibits the growth of bacteria – and sugars that block bacteria from binding to the body’s cells. Breastfeeding reduces infection rates, particularly in the developing world. Continue reading Start strengthening Immunity while Young