Kevin M Connolly, PhD
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) result from elevated levels of bacteria colonizing the urogenital tract (including the bladder and urethra; the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body), and are one of the most commonly acquired bacterial infections in both non-hospitalized and hospitalized individuals. UTIs lead to about 8 million visits to doctor’s offices and emergency rooms each year in the U.S., and are a substantial burden to healthcare costs.1 Although UTIs are generally not serious if treated promptly, they can cause significant discomfort and difficulty with urination; complications of an untreated UTI include kidney infection with the possibility of permanent damage.
Depression is characterized by low mood, loss of pleasure, or changes in sleep or energy, that are not associated with recent grief or another underlying medical condition. At any time, it affects an estimated 9 percent of the U.S. population, and is projected to have the second greatest contribution to lifetime disability (behind cardiovascular disease) by the end of the decade.1,2 Part of the multimodal approach to management of chronic clinical depression can involve the biochemical balance of brain chemicals to alleviate symptoms; most first-line pharmaceutical treatments function by increasing the activity of one or more neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for many of the aspects of cognitive function), particularly serotonin. In the central nervous system (CNS), serotonin has been implicated in regulation of sleep, depression, anxiety, aggression, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. 3
The lipids are the third class of macronutrient. They are as ubiquitous in the diet as proteins and carbohydrates, where they occur predominantly as storage lipids called triglycerides (formed from fatty acids), and cholesterol, a lipid with roles in both cell structural and communication.
What Your Father Never Told You
Ask the average American man what his greatest health concerns will be as he ages, and his answer would likely be drawn from a familiar list: heart disease, prostatic hyperplasia, prostate cancer, osteoarthritis, erectile dysfunction. Few would list osteoporosis, the degenerative skeletal condition that is generally considered a “woman’s disease.” Most would be surprised to learn that the prevalence of male osteoporosis is close to that of prostate cancer; about 20 percent of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis are men. Men account for over a quarter of all osteoporotic fractures annually. It is estimated about 25 percent of men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime, more than the estimated 16 percent that will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Yet, male osteoporosis remains a relatively over looked condition that is poorly understood amongst men. For example, on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) only one percent of male survey takers over 65 reported they had osteoporosis; bone mineral density (BMD) testing revealed that four times as many actually had the disease. In this article, we will briefly discuss the progression of male osteoporosis, its specific risk factors, and potential treatments.
They are used to construct the cells and tissues that form our bodies, provide sources of energy to power metabolism (as well as provide a mechanism for storing energy between meals), and are used to form the countless enzymes that drive our metabolism. Unlike the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which are needed in small amounts and are generally reused, macronutrients undergo a constant flux in our body, necessitating a consistent intake to provide enough energy for our survival and enough building blocks for the growth, maintenance, and repair of our bodies.
Many medical organizations advise against routine supplementation of vitamins and minerals (citing “safety concerns,” lack of evidence of benefit,” or that they are simply “unnecessary”) and recommend a focus on acquiring nutrients from the diet. Which, for the most part, is a good suggestion: no combination of supplemental vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients could possibly emulate the diversity of known (and unknown) beneficial compounds found in the diet. However, general dismissals of dietary supplements often fail to acknowledge the significant portion of micronutrients in the average diet that may come from the fortification of foodstuffs. Food fortification (addition of nutrients to foodstuffs for commercial benefit or as a part of public health policy) has been credited for the eradication of several diseases of nutrient deficiency in the U.S.
Taking Supplementation Seriously Part I:
There is an ongoing debate on whether dietary supplements deserve to be part of a health-promoting strategy. Several medical organizations do not advise routine supplementation for people, without underlying deficiencies, citing safety concerns or lack of clear evidence of benefits, and suggest that an adequate diet should be sufficient in obtaining proper nutrition. Prophylactic use of supplemental vitamins or minerals, like iron, has sparked controversy. On the other hand, there is a wealth of published, peer-reviewed scientific data that present strong correlations between adequate nutrient intake and lowered disease risk/incidence, as well as studies in which nutrient interventions demonstrated significant health benefits. Hyperbolic media reports that “resveratrol may make you live longer” or “multivitamins may cause prostate cancer” further complicate the dialog.
Taking Supplementation Seriously Part II:
Last month, we started a dialogue on whether supplementation is the appropriate course for insuring a nutritionally complete diet. We examined a very simple case, the multivitamin: a supplement designed to provide the base set of essential nutrients that are requisite for normal human metabolism. In response to the case against multivitamin usage (“proper diet alone should be adequate in providing essential nutrients”), we considered how 1) widespread deficiency of several nutrients in the U.S. diet, 2) the demonstrated reduction in nutrient availability in the modern food supply, and 3) the subclinical deficiencies in several nutrients that can result from caloric restriction and exercise, suggest that supplementation of essential nutrients may be warranted in some individuals. Here we expand the list of observations to consider when making the decision whether to include a multivitamin in your daily health regimen.
Taking Supplementation Seriously Part III
There is little debate that a balanced diet is the most desirable method for obtaining essential nutrients, but there are cases when the use of supplemental nutrients may be requisite for insuring adequate nutrient intake. When negotiating the vast number of choices in dietary supplements, one criteria for deciding upon a product is whether it contains natural versus synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Taking Supplementation Seriously Part IV
In past articles, we presented the case for insuring nutritional sufficiency of the essential vitamins and minerals through supplementation. There is little debate that these micronutrients are requisite for human survival, and that their supplementation may be an apt course for some. A healthy diet also provides several other nutritionally-beneficial elements which, like the vitamins and minerals, are not always present at optimal levels and thus can potentially benefit from supplementation.
Taking Supplementation Seriously Part V
Choosing a quality dietary supplement can be an exercise in abstraction. As a class of product nestled somewhere in between food and drug, they lack many of the obvious quality measurements inherent to these two other categories (such as the sensory properties one uses to select quality produce, or the strict quality control procedures inherent to the manufacture of a government-regulated pharmaceutical). Until recently, the only way to assess the quality of a supplement (short of spending a personal fortune on lab testing), was from the synthesis of subjective data (brand reputation, marketing claims, and personal experience).