Consuming Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids May Lower the Incidence of Gum Disease

22 October 2010 Elsevier

New Study in Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Periodontitis and tooth loss. Although traditional treatments concentrate on the, a common inflammatory disease in which gum tissue separates from teeth, leads to accumulation of bacteria and potential bone bacterial infection, more recent strategies target the inflammatory response. In an article in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association , researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like fish oil, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, shows promise for the effective treatment and prevention of periodontitis.

“We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population,” commented Asghar Z. Naqvi, MPH, MNS, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stoke as well.”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative survey with a complex multistage, stratified probability sample, investigators found that dietary intake of the PUFAs DHA and (EPA) were associated with a decreased prevalence of periodontitis, although linolenic acid (LNA) did not show this association.


The study involved over 9,000 adults who participated in NHANES between 1999 and 2004 who had received dental examinations. Dietary DHA, EPA and LNA intake were estimated from 24-hour food recall interviews and data regarding supplementary use of PUFAs were captured as well. The NHANES study also collected extensive demographic, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic data, allowing the researchers to take other factors into consideration that might obscure the results.

The prevalence of periodontitis in the study sample was 8.2%. There was an approximately 20% reduction in periodontitis prevalence in those subjects who consumed the highest amount of dietary DHA. The reduction correlated with EPA was smaller, while the correlation to LNA was not statistically significant.

In an accompanying commentary, Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD, Professor, Boston University Henry M. Goldman

Peanut Butter

School of Dental Medicine, notes that three interesting results emerged from this study. One was that significantly reduced odds of periodontal disease were observed at relatively modest intakes of DHA and EPA. Another result of note was the suggestion of a threshold dose; that is, there seemed to be no further reduction in odds or periodontal disease conferred by intakes at the highest levels. Third, the results were no different when dietary plus supplemental intakes were examined. These findings are encouraging in that they suggest it may be possible to attain clinically meaningful benefits for periodontal disease at modest levels of n-3 fatty acid intakes from foods.


Foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include fatty fish like salmon, peanut butter, and nuts.

  • Full bibliographic informationArticle: “n-3 Fatty Acids and Periodontitis in US Adults” by Asghar Z.


    Naqvi, MPH, MNS; Catherine Buettner, MD, MPH; Russell S. Phillips, MD; Roger B. Davis, ScD; and Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, MPH, MA.
    Commentary: “n-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Periodontal Disease” by Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD
    Both appear in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110, Issue 11 (November 2010) published by Elsevier.

Better Cereal Choices For Kids?

Some child-focused products are 50 percent sugar

Courtesy of Consumer Reports

Are you one of those adults who keep a box of Frosted Flakes or Froot Loops hidden in the cupboard? Such sugary cereals are heavily marketed to children, to the tune of about $229 million advertising dollars per year. But an estimated 58 percent of “children’s” cereals are consumed by the over-18 crowd.

Whether you’re shopping for actual or overgrown kids, we found four cereals with kid-focused marketing that scored Very Good in our new nutrition rating system, based on product label information. Cheerios, Kix, Honey Nut Cheerios (all General Mills), and Life (Quaker Oats) earned points for relatively lower sugar and higher dietary fiber, the two categories we weighed as most important. Cheerios topped the list with only 1 gram of sugar and a healthful 3 grams of fiber per serving.

The bad news is that 23 of the top 27 cereals marketed to children rated only Good or Fair for nutrition. There is at least as much sugar in a serving of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and 10 other rated cereals as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin’ Donuts. Two cereals, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Post Golden Crisp, are more than 50 percent sugar (by weight) and nine are at least 40 percent sugar. And that’s not the only issue. Although Kellogg’s Rice Krispies has only 4 grams of sugar per serving, it got only a Fair rating, largely because it is higher in sodium and has zero dietary fiber. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size earned a healthful cereal score of Good; it has 12 grams of sugar per serving but is also very low in sodium and has a hefty 6 grams of fiber.

Six cereals bowls with different cereals in each

SWEET CHECK  Our new nutrition Ratings can help you decide which cereals to consider and which to skip.

If you’re going to buy one of these kids’ cereals, we recommend you pick one that is rated Very Good. See our oatmeal Ratings for more breakfast choices.

Our nutrition Ratings (available to subscribers) are based on the serving size recommended on the label, but is that what people actually eat? We studied how 91 youngsters, ages 6 to 16, poured their cereal and found that, on average, they served themselves about 50 to 65 percent more than the suggested serving size for three of the four tested cereals. If the kids ate the entire average amount of Frosted Flakes they poured for themselves, they would get about 18 grams of sugar per serving. With Kix, the kids poured portions closer to the recommended serving size. The puffed corn balls are big and light, so the serving size (1¼ cup) is larger than for most other cereals.

Fiber Rich Diet Link To Longevity



Fiber can be found in whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and fruits.

Daily Requirements

Recommended fiber intake for different ages and genders:


Age Average Daily Calories Fiber Intake (grams)
1-3 1,404 19
4-8 1,789 25


Age Average Daily Calories Fiber Intake (grams)
9-13 2,265 31
14-18 2,840 38
19-30 2,818 38
31-50 2,554 38
51-70 2,162 30
70+ 1,821 30


Age Average Daily Calories Fiber Intake (grams)
9-13 1.910 26
14-18 1,901 26
19-30 1,791 25
31-50 1,694 25
51-70 1,536 21
70+ 1,381 21

People who consumed higher amounts of fiber, particularly from grains, had a significantly lower risk of dying over a nine-year period compared to those who consumed lower amounts of fiber, according to a new National Institutes of Health study released online Monday.

Fiber, found in whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and fruits aids the body with bowel movements, lowers blood-cholesterol levels and improves blood glucose levels.

Other studies have suggested that fiber may lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, but there’s been conflicting evidence on whether there’s any mortality benefit from consuming fiber.

The study involved about 388,000 people who are part of a larger NIH-AARP diet and health study who were between ages 50 and 71 years old when the study began.

The findings will appear in the June 14 print issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers, led by the National Cancer Institute, concluded that “a diet rich in dietary fiber from whole plant foods may provide significant health benefits.”

Specifically, researchers analyzed data from 219,123 men and 168,999 women who had completed a detailed food questionnaire in 1995 and 1996 to figure out the amount of fiber consumed on a daily basis.

Special Effects

A diet rich in whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts and vegetables improves overall health. As Michael Pollan says, “eat food, mostly plants, not too much”.

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Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber per cup.

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Broccoli: 5.1 grams of fiber per cup.


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Lentils: 15.6 grams of fiber per cup


People with diabetes, heart disease and most cancers were excluded at the study start. Researchers also excluded those who reported “extreme” intakes of fiber.

Participants’ fiber intake ranged from 12.6 to 29.4 grams per day in men and from 10.8 to 25.8 grams per day in women. Current U.S. dietary guidelines recommended people consume 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed per day—or about 28 grams a day for a typical adult diet of 2,000 calories.

Over an average of nine years of follow-up, 20,126 men and 11,330 women died. More than half of the deaths were attributed to cardiovascular disease and cancer, based on an analysis of Social Security data and other sources.

Researchers divided study participants into five groups ranging from the lowest to highest dietary intake of fiber. Those who consumed the highest amount of fiber were 22% less likely to die over a nine-year period compared to people who consumed the least amount of fiber.

By gender, men with the highest fiber intakes had a 23% reduction in the risk of dying, while women had a 19% reduction compared to those eating the least amount of fiber.

There were significant reductions in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, infectious and respiratory diseases among both men and women, with the greatest benefit seen among those who consumed the largest amount of fiber. There was also a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer among men, but not in women.

That may be because men have higher mortality rates of cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, bladder and kidney—types in which the risk is lowered by eating a diet rich in fiber, says Dr. Yikyung Park, one of the researchers and a staff scientist at the cancer institute.

The study also looked at the type of fiber consumed and found that the most significant health benefits in both men and women came from whole grains, as well as beans, although the benefits of beans was stronger for women than for men. There also appeared to be a benefit from eating vegetables, but improvements didn’t result in statistically significant increases in lifespan. Fiber from fruit had no impact on longevity.

Researchers controlled for other factors that impact health such as smoking, exercise and body weight.

Eating real food is a healthy habit to get into.

Write to Jennifer Corbett Dooren at

Vitamin D3 More Potent than Vitamin D2

Related Monographs: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that was isolated in 1930 and named calciferol. Since then more metabolites have been found, and the two major forms of this vitamin are now known to be vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D is actually a hormone precursor, which can be manufactured by the body. Therefore, in a classical sense, it is not actually an essential nutrient. However, since the disease rickets is related to vitamin D deficiency, it has been traditionally classified as a vitamin.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin. It is formed in the body by the action of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on the skin, converting the biological precursor 7-dehydroergosterol (found in animals and humans) into vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is converted in the liver to 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25-HCC) which is five times more active than vitamin D3. 25-HCC is then converted in the kidneys to 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25-HCC) which is 10 times more potent than vitamin D3. The active 1,25-HCC form of vitamin D is also called calcitrol. Since calcitrol is produced in the kidney and functions elsewhere in the body, it is considered a hormone, with the intestines and bone as its target.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism sought to determine whether vitamins D2 and D3 are biologically equivalent. The single-blind, randomized study included 33 healthy adults who were supplemented with 50,000 IU of either vitamin D2 or D3 per week for a total of 12 weeks.

The results revealed that after 12 weeks of supplementation, serum vitamin D levels increased significantly more in the D3 group than in the D2 group. The results were vitamin D3  was 56 to 87 percent more potent than D2 in raising serum vitamin D levels. It was also revealed that vitamin D3 produced a 2- to 3-fold increase in the storage of serum vitamin D, compared with vitamin D2. These findings suggest that vitamin D3 should be the preferred treatment for vitamin D deficiency due to its greater potency and lower cost.1

1 Heaney RP, Recker RR, Grote J, et al. Vitamin D3 Is More Potent Than Vitamin D2 in Humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Dec2010.

Fatty, Sugary Foods Lower Children’s IQ

Parents already know giving children too much junk food can make them obese, but a new study says all that greasy, processed food may have a negative impact on their brains as well as their bodies.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and Canada found an association between foods high in fat and sugar and slightly reduced IQ. Using questionnaires that asked how often parents fed their children junk food, the researchers found that children whose dietary patterns consisted of fatty, sugary foods at age 3 had a lower IQ at age 8-1/2 than their peers who ate a lot more nutritious foods.

“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects relating to eating habits early in childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes (including improvements) to dietary intake,” the authors wrote. The work was led by Kate Northstone, a research fellow at the University of Bristol in England.

But that doesn’t mean that feeding kids a lot of pizza, hot dogs and potato chips will cause a lower IQ. The authors found an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

The researchers also say there could have been other factors, such as parenting style, that led to some children’s lower IQs.

Additionally, IQ was only lowered by a little more than one point — statistically significant but still small. There were nearly 4,000 children assessed, which is a large number and can lead to statistical significance.

“With a large enough sample size, you can show statistical significance with a small increment, but it may not mean anything clinically,” said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

Diet Affects Us ‘From Head to Toe’

Despite the study’s limitations, nutritionists say the study reinforces the need to get children started on a proper diet early.

The authors said they took numerous factors into account that could have contributed to their findings, including stressful events the child experienced, parental education level and social class.

“I want to see more about parenting styles,” said Ayoob. “Do the parents interact with the children, do they eat dinner together — these are things that can also influence IQ.”

The authors found that dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 did not have an impact on IQ.

“A possible explanation for this is that the brain grows at its fastest rate during the first three years of life. Studies have shown that head growth during this time is associated with cognitive outcome, and it is possible that good nutrition during this early period may encourage optimal brain growth,” the researchers wrote.

Junk Food and IQ

This study isn’t the first to look at the relationship between nutrition and IQ. A recent study found that children breastfed for six months did better on tests in school than their classmates who were formula-fed. The current research, however, is one of very few studies that look at the effects of overall diet on IQ development, the authors say.

Dieticians say the new study combines with others to send a very important message.

“It’s a reminder that our whole body, from head to toe, is impacted by what we eat,” said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s a real eye-opener that the foods we feed our children lays the impact for not only their physical health, but also their mental health in terms of intelligence as well.”

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