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4 Dec 13

**Low vitamin D levels may affect brain health – rat study
**Can a gene mutation cause alcoholism
**IFST new information statement - food authenticity testing using modern techniques
**Genetics and emotional wellbeing may cause overeating and promote obesity
**Caffeine may help treat cardiovascular disease
**FSA to run social science research supplier workshops
**Vitamin B12 and cancer risk
**Give infants a combination of breast milk and solids from 17 weeks may reduce food allergies
**Can eating nuts help you live longer?
**Enhanced herbal extracts found to improve learning and memory
**Exploring Google Earth's potential for quantifying fish catches in the Persian Gulf

**Low vitamin D levels may affect brain health – rat study
According to a rat study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine by researchers from the University of Kentucky, a diet low in vitamin D may affect brain health.  The scientists split 27 F344 rat into three groups and fed them isocaloric diets containing either low (100 IU/kg food), control (1000 IU/kg food), or high (10,000 IU/kg food) vitamin D, beginning at middle age (12 months) and continuing for a period of 4–5months. Compared to the control, rats fed a diet low in vitamin D developed free radical damage to the brain and had elevated levels of several brain proteins.  The rats were also tested for learning and memory and compared to the control those low in vitamin D had a significant decrease in cognitive performance. Butterfield et al states: “Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how, during aging from middle-age to old-age, low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain. Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in the brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for  Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Can a gene mutation cause alcoholism
A mouse study by UK researchers and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome Trust and the European Foundation for Alcohol Research (ERAB) has found that the gene, Gabrb1 is involved in the regulation of alcohol consumption. Mutation of this gene is reported to cause excessive drinking.  The study published in Nature Communications found that normal mice preferred water to diluted alcohol however mice with a mutation of the gene Gabrb1 preferred to consume alcohol over water, consuming around 85% of their daily fluid intake as drinks containing alcohol.   The scientists discovered this gene by introducing subtle mutations into the genetic code at random throughout the genome and tested mice for alcohol preference. The mice with the faulty gene also worked to get the alcohol by pushing a lever.   The scientists note that the brain region which regulates pleasure, the nucleus accumbens, was highly affected by these mutations.  The scientists are now trying to find whether the genetic mutation causes alcoholism in humans. (Science Daily)

**IFST new information statement - food authenticity testing using modern techniques
IFST have just published a new information statement which examines the latest technologies used to test authenticity of foods.   The information statement notes that the recent horsemeat scandal has highlighted the need to have the scientific means to check components of our foods. It says that as our population grows increasing amounts of food are produced in the UK and also imported from overseas. The authenticity and origin of these products and their ingredients must be labelled so that this information can be included on the food label of the final product, thus creating a 'paper trail' which follows ingredients as they are exported around the globe. However, as highlighted by the horsemeat scandal, there is room for error or intentional adulteration of ingredients during this process.

RSSL' s DNA and Protein Laboratory uses PCR techniques to identify DNA from over 20 meat species including chicken, pork and beef in protein extracts and other complex ingredients as well as foodstuffs.   Routine meat speciation is also performed using ELISA techniques to detect pork, beef, lamb, poultry and horse (UKAS accredited).  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Genetics and emotional wellbeing may cause overeating and promote obesity
A study by Dr. Patricia Silveira and Prof. Michael Meaney of McGill University and Dr. Robert Levitan of the University of Toronto and published in Appetite has indicated that a gene may be responsible for overeating and obesity in adults.  Meaney et al. indicate that obesity could be caused by genetic predispositions, environmental stress and emotional well-being, shedding light on why some children may be predisposed to the condition.  The team came to these findings after studying pregnant women and then their children from birth until the age of ten.  One hundred and fifty four year old children from mothers who suffered with depression or lived in poverty were investigated using a snack test, containing healthy and non healthy food choices.  The mothers reported on the child’s normal food consumption and preferences.  The study states: “We found that a variation in a gene that regulates the activity of dopamine, a major neurotransmitter that regulates the individual's response to tasty food, predicted the amount of 'comfort' foods -- highly palatable foods such as ice cream, candy or calorie-laden snacks -- selected and eaten by the children.  This effect was especially important for girls who we found carried the genetic allele that decreases dopamine function. Most importantly, the amount of comfort food eaten during the snack test in the four- year-olds predicted the body weight of the girls at six years of age.  Our research indicates that genetics and emotional well-being combine to drive consumption of foods that promote obesity. The next step is to identify vulnerable children, as there may be ways for prevention and counselling in early obesity stages.”

**Caffeine may help treat cardiovascular disease
A study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013, and cited on the American Heart Association Blog is reporting that caffeine in a cup of coffee might make small blood vessels function better.  The small study involving 27 healthy adults found that participants who drank a cup of caffeinated coffee had a 30 percent increase in blood flow over 75 minutes compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee. The lead author of the study, Masato Tsutui from the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan states: “This gives us a clue about how coffee may help improve cardiovascular health.” The researchers state they do not understand the mechanism of how caffeine works, but suggest that it opens blood vessels and reduces inflammation and indicate that the findings suggest that this strategy could be used to treat cardiovascular disease in the future.

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory can quantify caffeine in foods and beverages.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**FSA to run social science research supplier workshops
The Food Standards Agency is running a series of workshops for suppliers that are interested in working (usually as sub-contractors) with FSA contractors to deliver the FSA’s social science research. These workshops are designed to help improve the FSA’s commissioning of social science research in 2014 and beyond. (quoted direct)

**Vitamin B12 and cancer risk
According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, higher than normal levels of vitamin B12 (cobalimin (Cbl) reference range 200-600 pmol/L) is an indicator that a person is at risk from developing certain cancers. Arendt et al analysed records from 333667 patients, without cancer, who had been tested for Cbl levels between 1998 and 2010.  Patients were excluded if they had cancer diagnosed before the test.  They report in the JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute that the risk of cancer overall increased with higher Cbl levels, especially during the first year after measurement and for those with levels > 800pmol/L. They also found that after five years of follow-up, the risk for haematological and alcohol and smoking-related cancers remained high for those with levels > 800pmol/L.  They state that Cbl containing foods or supplements do not increase Cbl levels, but high Cbl may result from some unknown malignant process.

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Give infants a combination of breast milk and solids from 17 weeks may reduce food allergies
A study carried out by Grimshaw et al from the University of Southampton and funded by the Food Standards Agency is reporting that to reduce food allergies in babies, solid food with breast milk should be introduced after the 17th week after birth.  Giving breast milk and solid food together is noted by the researchers as helping to build a stronger immune system to fight food allergies. Grimshaw is quoted in a press release as saying “It appears the immune system becomes educated when there is an overlap of solids and breast milk because the milk promotes tolerogenic mechanisms against the solids. Additionally, our findings suggest 17 weeks is a crucial time point, with solid food introduction before this time appearing to promote allergic disease whereas solid food introduction after that time point seems to promote tolerance.” The study published in Paediatrics involved 1140 infants from the Hampshire area.  Of these children, 41 went on to develop a food allergy by two years of age.  Grimshaw et al compared the diet of these infants with the diet of 82 infants who did not develop food allergy by the time they were two.  The children who developed the food allergies were give solid food earlier than those who had no allergies.  The allergic children were more likely to not have been breastfed when the mother introduced cow’s milk protein, from any source.

RSSL carries out allergen testing using immunological, DNA and distillation techniques, depending on the allergen to be detected. Detection limits are in the range 1- 100 mg allergen/kg of sample for almond, Brazil nut, macadamia nut, peanut, walnut, hazelnut, cashew nut, pistachio nut, pecan nut, pine nut and chestnut.  Celery, celeriac, black mustard, lupin  and kiwi allergens can be detected by DNA methods, as can crustacean, fish and mollusc allergens.  The laboratory also uses a range of UKAS accredited immunological procedures for the detection of allergens including gluten, peanut, hazelnut, almonds, soya, egg, milk, sesame and histamine.  Distillation and titration methods are used for the determination of sulphur dioxide and sulphites.  For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com.

**Can eating nuts help you live longer?
The popular press is reporting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and funded by the by the US National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, which has indicates that eating 28g of nuts, seven or more times per week, was associated with a 20% reduced risk of death.   The study by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Richard M Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Indiana University, US followed 76,464 female and 42,498 male health professionals in the US for up to 30 years.  It investigated whether nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death from any cause or death from specific causes.  Nut consumption was assessed at baseline, and every two to four years, and death monitored using death certificates amongst others.  The study adjusted for a number of confounders of death risk including age, race and body mass index. The findings indicated that compared to those who ate none, eating nuts less than once per week was associated with a 7% reduced risk of death, eating nuts once per week was associated with 11% reduced risk of death, eating nuts two to four times per week was associated with a 13% reduced risk of death, eating nuts five or six times per week a 15% reduced risk of death and eating nuts seven or more times per week had a 20% reduced risk of death.  They also report that increased nut consumption was associated with reduced levels of risk of death from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.  The study did report however that those who consumed nuts frequently were leaner, less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and more likely to use multivitamin supplements. They also consumed more fruits and vegetables and drank more alcohol. These factors were adjusted for, but the possibility of residual confounders remains. (NHS Choices)

**Enhanced herbal extracts found to improve learning and memory
An animal model study by scientists from Saint Louis University is reporting that enhanced extracts made from antioxidants in spearmint and rosemary may reduce deficits cause by mild cognitive impairments.  The study presented at Neuroscience 2013 tested the antioxidant based ingredients on mice that had age-related cognitive decline.    Farr gave the mice three behaviour tests, and found that the higher dose rosemary extract compound was the most effective in improving memory and learning. The lower dose rosemary extract was found to improved memory in two of the behavioural tests, as did the compound made from spearmint extract.  She also discovered reduced signs of oxidative stress, which is considered a marker of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.

RSSL's Functional Ingredients Laboratory can analyse for marker components in dietary and herbal supplements. Analytical services for vitamins and minerals are also available. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

**Exploring Google Earth's potential for quantifying fish catches in the Persian Gulf
Using Google Earth images, University of British Columbia researchers have estimated the number of fishing weirs, semi-permanent fish traps, along the Persian Gulf coast.  The study published in ICES Journal of Marine Science reports that fish catches could be up to six times more than officially reported.  The imagery revealed that during 2005 there were around 1900 fishing weirs along the Persian Gulf coast catching around 31000 tonnes of fish that year.  However the official number, from 7 countries, reported to the United Nation’s Fish and Agriculture Organisation was 5260 tonnes.

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