Edition 41/1 Summer 2007
2. Editorial: Celebration of 40 years - An Extraordinary Week for the
McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health
14. Skilled Nurturing or IVF? Choice of a Way For Would-Be Parents.
Simon H House
16. Scientists for a GM Free Europe
ISIS/Green Network/TWN International briefing
18. Conference Report: Food and Behaviour Research - Expert Research
Simon H House
22. Nutrition and Health Claims for Omega-3
23. Apples, Fish, Asthma in Babies
24. Autism and Vitamin D
25. Books: The Vitamin Murders
When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
- Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb
(Sanskrit. Ayur-veda - Longlife-knowledge)
CELEBRATION OF 40 YEARS
An Extraordinary Week for the McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health
The McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health had an extraordinary week 26 - 30 March 2007, worthy of its recent 40-year anniversary, which saw a joint conference with Food and Behaviour Research (FABresearch.org) on 27 March, of which more below. Also on 27, the Fabian Society published a major tome on low birth weight babies (Born Unequal - Why we need a pre-birth agenda); which our chairman Michael Crawford has been encouraging governments to do something about since 1977 (he and his colleagues will be found in the references of this publication).
FOOD AND BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH - EXPERT RESEARCH WORKSHOP
THE MCCARRISON SOCIETY
27 March 2007 at London Metropolitan University
This brainchild of Dr Alex Richardson, from Oxford University's Department of Physiology (no mean feat for a psychologist who has published many papers and six books on children's behavioural problems spanning some 1.5 decades: report, see below), this workshop explored the relation between food and behaviour in children.
The workshop was held at the new premises of the Mother and Baby Clinic, under the wing of the Mother and Child Foundation, whose director is our Chairman Professor Michael Crawford, and whose principle patron is the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Situated within the impressive new science block recently opened at London Metropolitan University, North Campus, Holloway Road, London.
The venue itself is worthy news. Whereas many universities countrywide have been running down their science departments, London Metropolitan University have done the opposite, raising some £40M and creating a science department which when wandering around it, reminds one a little of the Starship Enterprise.
Situated a stone's throw from the recently opened Emirates Stadium, Arsenal's new home, this little area is a verdant arena of new and exciting ideas, major investment and senior brains.
The workshop itself was no ordinary workshop: it billed a star cast including Dr Joseph Hibbeln MD in Chief of Outpatient Clinic, Laboratory of Membrane Biophysics and Biochemistry, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, United States Public Health Service Commander.
He honoured us with his presence and gave an intriguing paper describing his (et al) recently Lancet-published research findings of a cohort study of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children study (ALSPAC, see below).
Before Dr Hibbeln, we were treated to a remarkable paper by Michael Crawford. He vividly described an emerging train of thought that whilst the key molecule in animal and human evolution, the long chain essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has remained unchanged for between 500 and 600 million years (DHA builds eyes, brains, nervous and vascular tissue etc) the thing that has changed consistently is the varying qualities of 'the conditions of existence', to quote Charles Darwin's memorable phrase. For as life forms have evolved they have done so within an environment which is itself evolving.
Professor Crawford argued that DHA, or more generally membrane lipids, can be seen as the masters of DNA. Despite the similarity of many closely related molecules, DHA has been rigidly entrenched in vision, neural transmission and cellular organisation. We now know it is also a regulator of gene expression.
This selection of DHA has held true despite changes in DNA in other aspects of the cephalopods, fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds, mammals, primates and humans. The rigid 600 million year track record of DHA in the face of many changes in DNA, implies that it is the selfish DHA not the selfish gene that has been the most powerful!
This, he explained, is the meaning of the term epigenetics - the power of environmental pressures to change the behaviour (or expression) of DNA, effecting the structurally unchanged genome's production of more, or less, of this protein or that, thus causing generational change in different tissues and organs; in effect operating powerfully side by side with natural selection (more technical descriptions of these papers appear in the conference report below).
From 1991, this Bristol team under Jean Golding has followed some 8,000 pregnant mums and their children, recording w-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid from fish.
Should one cast back one's mind to the early 1990s, one is reminded of those dark days of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) and foot and mouth disease. There had been outbreaks in Canada and North America. The market for meat went into decline. The cattle ranchers saw their investments nosedive.
It wasn't long afterwards that ominous warnings began to emerge about the degree of pollution in fish. Fish we were led to believe was dangerously laden with methyl mercury, PCBs and other horrors. The once-meat-eating populations of the first world, now eating more fish than meat, were pulled up in their tracks.
Warnings were flashed across the media. Pregnant mums were warned not to eat more than 2 portions of fish a week or risk foetal damage. This advice, coming initially from the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) in US, was soon copied by our own Food Standards Agency (FSA).
February 17 2007 saw the publication of Dr. Hibbeln's analysis of
maternal diet with the children's learning and behavioural
characteristics which were investigated when they were about 8 years of age. The results were extraordinary (Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC STUDY): an observational cohort study. Lancet 2007; 369; 578 - 585).
In 1991 the Bristol team recruited over 14,000 pregnant women into their study. Details of health, education, socio economic status, past pregnancies and diet were scrupulously recorded. The children born to more than 8,000 of these pregnancies have been followed up and are providing a wealth of information on health, school performance, behaviour etc. The details of the mothers' diet enabled Dr. Hibbeln to relate maternal diet to subsequent school performance at 8 years of age.
Those mothers who adhered to the advice from the FDA and FSA, consuming little or no fish, had babies who scored lowest with problems scattered across the board. These included verbal IQ, fine motor skills, prosocial and social development. Mothers who ignored the advice had children who scored highest.
This remarkable research showed that the official advice would cause more harm, especially with regard to the characteristics of child brain development, than the advisories were intended to prevent.
As we have seen, the advisories were based on increasing fish intake leading towards increasing intakes of methyl mercury. Yet there was no attempt to balance the increase in methyl mercury with benefit.
In fact, the evidence of harm comes from the use of mercury as a fungicide for seeds. After a crop failure and famine in Iraq several years ago, sacks of such seeds were flown in to Iraq for planting. The people being hungry ate the mercury-laden seeds.
So there is evidence of serious harm at grossly high levels, which could never be reached by eating fish: moreover there is no dose response data.
There is some evidence of mild harm from people in the Faroes eating pilot whale. This animal has high levels of methyl mercury but little selenium. Selenium is intrinsically needed to protect against peroxidation through selenium glutathione peroxidase, and also protects against mercury toxicity. Selenium binds with mercury, thus making it unavailable.
A similar study in the Seychelles where people eat a lot of fish did not confirm such damage, but then fish are different to pilot whales which may contain several other confounders apart from selenium deficiency. Yet again, the Japanese eat fish and seafood almost every day and often more than once a day.
Moreover, if a woman is advised not to eat more than two portions of fish a week when pregnant, she will immediately suspect that there is something bad about fish and it could well put her off eating any fish. According to the World Health Organisation the Japanese and Icelanders are the two nations with the best birthweights and longevities.
In conclusion: forgotten in the equation is the marine fixation of carbon dioxide through phytoplancton and algae. The oceans cover more than 2/3rds of the earth's surface and have been the richest source of food on the planet. The real answer is for regional Government and the UN to arrest the pollution of the oceans by cleaning the coastlines, rivers and estuaries where the marine chain should take off in earnest. Sadly it no longer does because of the pollution.
It is highly likely that the demise of stocks is not just a matter of over fishing but of destruction of the marine food chain. In the 1980s Bob Ackman told us that the Canadian Fisheries were finding PCBs in cod in the mid-Atlantic. An intelligent clean-up of the rivers and coasts would also aid in combating global warming. They deserve better.
The UK has one of the highest rates of low birthweight, particularly compared to Western Europe.
Conspiracy theorists could have a field day in dreaming up the
reasons why the FSA and FDA brought out these advisories without considering the benefits and the full evidence.
Following Joe Hibbeln came John Stein (Brother of Rick of the fish www.rickstein.com) Professor of Anatomy, head of Oxford University's Dept of Physiology who gave a beautifully clear paper on cranial pathways, describing how the theories of the first 2 speakers were translated into action via different areas of the brain.
Following a coffee break came the mastermind of the workshop, Dr Alexandra Richardson, founder of FAB research who has over the last decade and a half taken the world by storm. Many parents of troubled babies and children with behavioural problems have by now become acquainted with Dr Richardson's work.
Amongst the many achievements of her team, which includes Bernard Gesch (who conducted the seminal work at Aylesbury young offenders unit - which work is hopefully to soon be repeated in other penal institutions) is the Oxford - Durham Study, recently much talked about over the airways, which showed highly promising results. In the above projects, young-offenders and schoolchildren respectively were given nutritional supplements of vitamins, minerals and EFAs and their behaviour recorded during the duration of the studies.
Dr Richardson had a clear message for us: forget the 'names' given to the various behavioural difficulties of young children. These are only labels for overlapping conditions or maybe different expressions of developmental disorders. Such erroneous development she explained comes largely (but not always) from nutritional insult. The architect's blueprint is there in full, but the builders' materials have been in short supply.
All four speakers were in agreement of the main reason for these discrepancies. Specifically this is imbalance in the ratio of EFAs, ideally a ratio of 2:1 or even 1:1 (w-6:w-3). In North America and Europe this ratio is commonly wildly out at 10:1 or even 20:1 (often accompanied by deficiencies of minerals, trace minerals and vitamins).
So why is this of the utmost importance? Because every cell in our bodies (some 30 trillion) have cell walls comprised of a 'bilipid' layer. This can be seen as a super sophisticated mesh. Built in three dimensions, its composition speaks a new language to the cell. The DNA, hence the proteins, do not change in response to diet. The lipid does. Hence through the influence of its language on proteins, and directly on nuclear receptors, it is the element that responds to diet and so influences function, epigenetics and gene behaviour. They are the masters of DNA Professor Crawford suggests.
The outer cell membrane and the membranes surrounding inner cell organelles are bilipid layers. In a real cell the membrane phospholipid molecules create a spherical three dimensional lipid bilayer shell around the cell. However, they are often represented two-dimensionally thus:
Each represents a phospholipid. The circle, or head, is the negatively charged phosphate group and the two tails are the two highly hydrophobic fatty acid chains of the phospholipid. Due to their thermodynamic properties they spontaneously form a double layer in an aqueous (watery) environment. In the human body all cells are surrounded by a thin layer of extracellular fluid which is mostly water. Basically what the molecules want to do in water is to point their heads to the water and their tails away from the water.
The outer walls are constructed from phospholipids, the wider inner part from other long chain essential lipids arachadonic acid (ArA) from the w-6 family, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from the w-3 family.
Each cell wall is so intricately constructed that they allow specific chemicals into and out of the main different miniscule factory departments of each cell. These super 'biological meshes' are central to our health. Should they loose their integrity - the efficiency of their working ability - from lacking the various materials that build them, ill health ensues. This is now regarded by frontline researchers as a given indicator of an individual's health status.
All the above speakers agreed there is an imbalance in the supply of w-3 eicosahexaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA with an over-supply of w-6 from seeds, leading to deficiencies of w-3 which come from green leaves, edible algae, fish and shell fish.
From the beginning of the agricultural revolution some 10-11,000 years ago consumption of fish - the main provider of EPA and DHA - has declined. The industrialisation of agriculture during the 20th century accentuated this decline. The increasing acreage of seed crops (providers of the parent w-6 linoleic acid - essential for mammalian reproduction) went into the upswing of a parabolic curve.
During the last 50 years with prairie farming of huge areas of arable lands, seed crops such as wheat, maize (corn in US) soya and sunflower have been the source of many of the so called 'healthy' seed oils. Also increased consumption of meat - provider of w-6 ArA - has with the seed oils led to the disastrous results we see in US and Europe today. The accompanying increase in consumption of alcohol has partnered this rise; for alcohol (and smoking) destroy EFAs.
Ratios of 10:1 and even 20:1 w-6:w-3 lead to potentially disastrous cell wall construction. Nor is it only the cancers and heart disease of bodily ill-health that ensue: William Shakespeare himself could not have been more accurate: "this way madness lies".
Michael Crawford pointed out to us that in his 1977 book "the Food We Eat Today (Crawford and Crawford, 1977) that the rise in coronary heart disease during the 20th century would, if nothing were done about it, be followed in the 21st century by a similar increase in brain and mental disorders. Although some things have been done to slightly improve the CHD figures, the Crawfords' predictions have now come about.
The collective cost of brain disorders amongst the 25 member states of the EU countries now heads the list of 'burdens of ill-health'. At 2004 costings the collective bill was estimated at 386 billion euros (this is widely conceived as a conservative estimate).
WHO predictions indicate that should this rise in incidence in brain and mental disorder remain unchecked, by the year 2020, 30% of our UK population will be suffering. This is only 12 ½ years away. One sadly sees enough tragic cases of brain or mental disorders currently roaming the streets or on our public transport. Should the WHO predictions come to pass (which please God they won't!) we 'ain't seen nothin' yet'!
Following a Q and A session, during which John Stein was asked where he got the figures for his statement that only 5% of UK population ate fish more than once a week: and Joe Hibbeln was asked whether his results showed any damage caused by fish pollution in the offspring, he stated that a further two year study of 8,000 umbilical cord blood samples were currently being worked on, 'but he could answer this now'.
The study, he said, "proved beyond doubt that the problems caused by the advisory's warnings caused more harm than any hypothetical damage caused by the methyl mercury's or PCB's warnings so widely broadcast amongst the US and UK".
For those of us who are not so well versed in the science, the solution is simple. Eat the small fish at the lower end of the food chain - and indeed eat blue green algae (DHA is now being produced in capsules available from the chemist from various edible BG's).
Small fish like whitebait and sild, sardine, herring and mackerel. Shell fish: shrimp, prawn etc. (from clean waters). Seaweeds even. These waterborne foods not only contain the highly prized EPA and DHA, but also a wide spectrum of minerals and trace elements necessary for the enzymic reactions that convert the parent EFA's to their long chain derivatives, as well as for countless other functions in the body - and brain. They are collectively termed 'brain-specific nutrients'.
The point about the bigger fish is that they eat smaller fish who have eaten smaller fish, etc. The big fish therefore collect with compound-interest the pollution of all the smaller ones. So the advice is not to eat big fish too often - tuna, etc. - and try to avoid too much pilot whale.
The workshop ended with a vote of thanks from the floor by Simon House begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting (whose recent book with the late Roy Ridgway, The Unborn Child (Karnac, 2007). Reverend House is widely acknowledged to have written 'the definitve work' on the effects or preconceptional and perinatal nutrition and also, in his most recent book, the effects of emotions, positive and negative, on the life of that person's becoming.
Wednesday 28 saw Drs Michael Crawford, Joe Hibbeln and Alex Richardson presenting their research and recommendations before a Select Committee at the House of Lords under the chairmanship of Lord Rea. Heavily grilled by some of the sharpest minds the Lords possess they fielded difficult questions from the likes of Lord Baldwin, the Countess of Mar and Dr Ian Gibson, MP for Norwich with admirable ease.
Thursday 29 saw Drs Hibbeln and Crawford face the grilling of a Select Committee at the House of Commons.
In reporting the activities of the McCarrison Society in this remarkable week, it will give members of our Society a sense of pride that our small educational scientific / medical society is doing its utmost to improve the lot of children and generations yet to come.
Nor let it pass unnoticed that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the first occasion that Michael Crawford and colleagues first issued warnings to the then government regarding low birth weight babies which has since been ignored. Let us hope that the Fabian Society's report will at last get things moving.
An updated version of that urgent message to government(s) is as follows:
Permanent brain injury in very low birthweight & preterm infants
At birthweights below 1.5Kg, the rate rises to over 200/1000.
The cost to the nation is put at £4 billion by the Little Foundation.
The European Cerebral Palsy Study of the Little Foundation and the Castang Trust has established from Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain damage that it occurs around or before 40 weeks gestation.
The consequences of low birthweight, brain damage, and mental impairment have become global.
However, cerebral palsy is the tip of an iceberg. In the UK 54,000 children are born at low birthweights (
The work sponsored by the Mother and Child Foundation has produced a good biochemical explanation for the brain damage and chronic ill health. There are modifiable nutritional factors of special relevance to the brain that offer a hope of being able to help
protect and treat such damage in the early stages.
Low Birth weight - Health Marker
In June 2004, Lord Morris asked the Government "in view of the high incidence of impaired neurodevelopment and chronic ill health amongst low birthweight babies, would the Government tell Parliament of the progress in reducing the incidence since the 1950s". The Government statistician furnished the reply that:
In 1953, the incidence was 6.6% in England.
In 1973, the new national statistics put the incidence nationwide at 6.6%.
In 2000, it was 7.6% nationwide.
The UNICEF report in 2005 put the UK at 8% on a par with Rumania and Kazakhstan and worse than Cuba (5.7%).
A most promising research assistant is currently studying 372 pregnancies in relation to nutrition as one of the modifiable factors determining pregnancy outcome and the risk of chronic ill health and mental impairment to the new born. Evidence on ADHD points to a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids which we are seeing in infants born at very low birthweights. One of the trustees has given £10,000 to help continue this important work the outcome of which will lead to better guidance for all women planning and entering pregnancy.
The concern of the foundation is that in the 1970s the Neuberger report for the Medical Research Council advised that research should be done on the reasons for the reduction of low birthweight and its associated handicaps. The 1989 House of Commons Select Committee on Children and the 1991 Committee on Maternity services all echoed the same recommendation. To date no concerted action has been taken although several independent research groups have recognised the problem and are active in research and action programmes.
In celebration of our 40th anniversary we are launching a major fund raising programme to promote such work detailed as above donations small and large to continue the work of the Mother and Child Foundation, which currently supports work in the East end of London where there is the highest incidence of low birthweight and chronic ill health. It also has been sponsoring work in China, Korea Bangladesh, Norway, the Sudan, Israel and Mexico.
The McCarrison Society, closely allied to both the Mother and Child Foundation and the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition aims, through our publications and conferences to disseminate this crucial scientific knowledge. We remain one of the few independent nutrition societies not aligned to any political or industrial pressures.
Further, it is the only nutritional society devoted to evolutionary, cranial and generational health.
Our learned journal Nutrition and Health is read around the world, and quoted on Medline.
All contributions will be warmly welcomed, in the collective spirit of improving the lives both of those extant, and those yet to be born.
Professor Michael A. Crawford,
Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition
London Metropolitan University, North London Campus
166-222 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB.
SKILLED NURTURING or IVF: Choice of a way for would-be parents.
Many of us have seen Panorama's1 program on IVF or read an article such as Madeleine Bunting's in The Guardian - 'Desperation, babies and money make for an uncontrollable combination - IVF is big business, and doctors can get very rich - But there are problems, and its regulation can create huge conflicts.' 15 Jan 2007).2,3
No one should be seeking IVF without due time being given to skilled attention on nutritional and emotional nurture. If sound nurture is not available in the couple's home it is no home for a baby. They also need clearance of any disease or toxins. When all these are available under skilled guidance, some 80% of couples within a reasonable age are likely to conceive and bear a full-term, full-weight baby, without a raised incidence of problems or multiple births. Programs that improve possibilities of natural conception and gestation should be attracting NHS funding in strong preference to IVF.
Remarkably progressive, Foresight Preconception Care4 supplements a wide range of vitamins and minerals and some essential oils, or 'fatty acids'. I believe further gains still could be made with a wider coverage from before conception of omega3s, particularly docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acids, so important generally but especially to the retina and the brain. Most importantly Foresight allows time for the couple to achieve sound health status, and time to conceive, before contemplating further methods.
Further to this formidable support for fecundity, I should like to see the inclusion of skilled guidance on emotional nurture and bonding, with counselling if needed - for example in bereavement or conflict. Enlightened guidance on choice of appropriate birthing method will sustain the mother-child bond through its colossal transition at birth. These measures will protect and enhance the child's development.5,6,7,8 Evidence accumulated so far points to a conceivable success rate, even for those with setbacks, of above 80% of healthy babies. Then, too, perhaps people without childbearing difficulties will also recognise the value of adopting these guidelines for themselves.
Simon H House
Panorama (2006) IVF Undercover Investigators http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6225951.stm
Bunting M (2007) The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1990385,00.html
Kennedy R, Kingsland C, Rutherford A, Hamilton M, Ledger W (2006) British Fertility Society. Implementation of the NICE guideline - recommendations for national criteria for NHS funding of assisted conception. Human Fertility (Camb) 3:181-9.
Glenville M, (2006) Health Professionals' Guide to Preconception Care.
http://www.foresight-preconception.org.uk/booklet_healthproguide.htm (see also Home Page)
House S. (2000) Generating Healthy People, Nutrition & Health, 14.3 AB Academic www.healthierbabies.org / Healthy People.
Odent M (1986) Primal Health, Century, London.
Verny TR., Weintraub P, (2001-2005) The Art and Science of Parenting from Conception through Infancy http://www.pregnancy.org/article.php?sid=403
House SH (2006) The Unborn Child. Karnac Books, London.
SCIENTISTS FOR A GM FREE EUROPE
They documented how national and international regulators have been ignoring the precautionary principle, misusing science, sidestepping the law, and helping to promote GM technology in the face of massive public opposition and damning evidence piling up against the safety of GM food and
The speakers explained to MEPs why a vote against GM in Europe is vital for a sustainable future for the world. Issues covered included the health and
environmental impacts of GM crops, demise of bees, no patents on life, biofuels, transgene contamination, the degradation of soils and rural economies.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski Vice Chairman of the European Parliament Committee onAgriculture and Rural Development
Speakers were Dr. Irina Ermakova (RAS,RUS), Dr. Mae-Wan Ho (ISIS, UK), Mr Nimmo Bassi (FOE, Africa), Dr. Caroline Lucas (Green MEP), Prof. Joe Cummins (ISIS, CAN), Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini (CriiGen, FR), Prof. Pietro Perrino (IT), Dr. Eva Novotny (SGR, UK), Mr Jeffrey Smith (IRT, USA), and Dr. Zbigniew Halat (ICPPC, POL).
For more on this meeting and references see:
The Institute of Science in Society, PO Box 51885, London
NW2 9DH telephone: [44 20 8452 2729 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 44 20 8452 2729 end_of_the_skype_highlighting] [44 20 7272 5636]
For email contacts, see
Food And Behaviour Research
Expert Research Workshop
The McCarrison Society
27 March 2007 at London Metropolitan University
1. Michael Crawford drew attention to evidence of early green fluorescent creatures involving lipids in biochemical generation of electricity and light. After the Big Bang there had been no biological activity for 3by, nothing till 2.5bya. Then algae emerged, using sunlight and generating oxygen which, 600mya, led to the generic explosion suddenly to 32 phyla.
The two reasons were:
1. Oxygen was 8 times as efficient for energy as the previous environment, but also
2. HUFAs were needed for efficient cell differentiation and organization.
As much as 500mya the eye of the octopus was well formed, so similar to that of today's octopus and squid and even the human eye. Conditions of existence dictated the Cambrian explosion.
Even more significant than photosynthesis was generation of electricity, which enabled creatures to recognise light, and thereby food. The neural path for recognition of light elaborated into a nervous system, from which evolved the brain. As complexity increased gestation had to lengthen, hence placentation. But whereas n-6s could be produced fast, such as ArA for endothelium, elongation of the n-3s for neural construction was slower. Even elongation from EPA to DHA is not direct, but by way of 24:5 and 24:6.
100mya giant ginkos and ferns were giving way to flowering plants whose seeds LA and ArA made possible mammalian reproduction. Cairns revealed how substrate had driven evolution, by processes we recognize today as epigenetic. Epigenetics explain how the Dutch hunger winter of 1944/5 damaged not only first generation children conceived subject to starvation, but also second generation children. By imprinting, agouti variable yellow mice can be bred from normally wild black mice, continuing over more than one generation, yet the young can be returned to black with a maternal methylation diet, silencing the gene.
Dolphins moved from land to sea a mere 7mya, compared to 40mya for the whale. To sustain a balance of n-6s:n-3s the gray whale journeys between the North Pole for n-3s and the Mexico lagoons for n-6s, where they have been watched feeding. An article since the meeting shows how the hump-back whale for its n-3s goes the opposite way from the lagoons to the South Pole! With enough ArA, phosphoglycerides and n-3s creatures evolved the retina, and articulated claws in preference to humbler hoofs. Today's human dietary degradation from HUFAs to saturates is even showing in our London sewers, now so clogged with fat that they have tackle it with the pickaxe.
2. Joe Hibbeln stressed how one food, soy, now provided 1/5 of US dietary calories. LNA had increased too, but the key n-3s, DHA & EPA, were down from 32% to 22%. The US Government's warning against the danger for childbearing women of methyl mercury from seafood had been specifically to prevent harming children's IQ. Government had made no reference to the benefits of seafood. The ratio of methyl mercury to n-3 in tuna, estimated at about 1:250,000, means a minute risk of poisoning compared with the risk of n-3 deficits, as indicated by the ALSPAC study.
The recent SATs test showed that 7-year-old children whose mothers in pregnancy had been on the lowest n-3 diets, well below 340g / 2 helpings a week, scored some 10% lower. Trials had shown that mothers on a low n-3 diet had suffered depletion in brain DHA of 21%. The combined problems of a depressed mother and infant with poor ability and behaviour would multiply each other. Recent scans show that low DHA correlates with hyperactivity of the anterior cingulate and amygdala, whereas low activity in these regions is associated with smiles. Joe expects to complete in 2 or 3 years his placental assessment of mercury levels related to maternal seafood intake.
We only learn when the symbols used are emotionally significant. Joe proceeded to amuse us with cartoons, of fish-fears that might arise from government warnings. They could induce the image of fish as 'nasty'. Very widely in religions, however, fish had achieved associations with health and peace. Any sense of 'nasty' induced by Government warnings must now, with the help of ALSPAC, be restored to 'good'.
See also Newsletter 401 (2006), Generating Healthy Brains Special, for Hibbeln's fuller presentation.
3. John Stein quoted Jared Diamond's description of the development from Palaeolithic to agricultural as humanity's 'worst mistake'. At the age of 28 Hugh Sinclair at Oxford, WW2 initiator of fish-oil and orange concentrate for children, established that n-3s constituted 30% of cell membrane of brain & heart. The increase of the n-6:n-3 ratio from as little as 1:1 to often 10:1 entailed serious loss of cell flexibility, which is due to DHA's 'kinkiness'.
Reduction of n-3s particularly affects the magnocellular neurones. In dyslexics, for instance, these cells are 30% smaller, affecting the eyes and their movement, significantly impeding direction of attention. Magnocellular neurones are especially vulnerable in ADHD, anti-social behaviour and so on.
As well as providing membrane flexibility, n-3s increase cell-genesis, and benefit by mildly decreasing apoptosis. Additionally they strengthen hemispheric lateralisation; are anti-inflammatory; and prevent an accumulation of amyloid precursor, which is prevalent in Alzeimers. The 'kinkiness' of n-3s protects against allergies. Infant feed tests show children's scores without DHA or EPA supplementation to be 2% below standard, with DHA 2% above, and with DHA + EPA 4% above.
4. Alex Richardson told us that 20% of UK children have special educational needs. 30-50% of the labels being used overlap; dyslexia, AD/HD and so on. 4 or 5 papers have been written on the value of n-3s in schizophrenia.
The Oxford-Durham double-blind controlled school-trial tested 6-800 mg/day of EPA + DHA on 117 children (5-12 years) with developmental coordination disorder (DCD)/dyspraxia. Significant improvements were in reading, 9months; spelling, 6m; and also in working memory and behaviour in terms of AD/HD type of problem.
5. Jack Winkler drew our attention to the lack of n-3s policy: how much to take, in what form; how to have populations consuming enough; and how to maintain supplies. Meanwhile commercial interests are playing havoc with them. Gimmick marketing put n-3w in yoghurt, induced Dupont to GM product-enrichment with n-3s, and Martec to turn algae into bio-fuel. Industry has been spinning into n-3s, one with a $45m project start-up. Fish consumption in the West is now less than 1/3 of a helping a week and needed multiplying by 5. In Peru and Chile 90% of fish-meal was fed to animals.
In a search for n-3s policy, when Jack had taken us down a tree of choices, Alex suggested taxing n-3s profits to pay for evaluations. Joe called for two parallel documents, from science and industry, followed by negotiation towards an integral policy.
Nutrition and Health Claims for Omega-3
After only 26 years, countless contradictory drafts, and a debate in the European Parliament that drew over 500 amendments, the European Union has finally agreed a Regulation for nutrition and health claims on food products. It was originally part of the "1992 Programme" to tidy up Euro food legislation. It will come into force on 1 July 2007.
Eventually, this will provide legal controls over the two types of claims that may be made about omega-3 fatty acids. "Nutrition claims", in Euro speak, relate to the content of products, how much O3 is in them. "Health claims" refer to the effect on eaters, whether it improves their cardiovascular or mental health, for example.
The final Regulation makes no explicit provision for claims of either sort about O3s. In both cases, there is a complex road ahead, to make sure they are permitted.
In one recent draft, there was explicit permission for two content claims about O3s - that the food was a "Source" or a "Good Source". Both were deleted following an expert report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2005, which raised some questions about the precise numbers.
The Food Standards Agency here believes that n3 content claims will eventually be reinserted. By September, it will compile a list of claims it wants included, based on suggestions from the food industry.
Effect claims are more complicated. EFSA is now compiling detailed rules on the dossier of evidence that will be required to substantiate a claim on "established science". That will be followed by internal reviews of see if the science justifies the claim.
For O3s, the fact that the Food & Drug Administration in the US has approved a claim about their benefits for cardiovascular disease will be a powerful point in favour. On other issues, like various forms of mental health, there will be a lot of debating ahead. Hopefully, it will not take another 26 years.
Professor J T Winkler
Director, Nutrition Policy Unit, London Metropolitan University
Apples, Fish, Asthma In Babies
The children of women who ate apples and fish during their pregnancies appear to have a lower risk of developing asthma and some allergic diseases, according to a new study.
The SEATON study, conducted at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, found that the children of mothers who ate the most apples during their pregnancies were less likely to wheeze or have doctor-confirmed asthma at the age of 5, compared to children of mothers who had the lowest apple consumption.
Children of mothers who ate fish once or more a week were less likely to have had eczema than children of mothers who never ate fish.
In addition to apples and fish, researchers looked at other foods including vegetables, fruit juice, citrus or kiwi fruit, whole grain products, and fat from dairy products, margarine or low-fat spreads, but found no evidence that these products protected against asthma or allergic diseases.
The study looked at 1,212 children born to women that had filled out food questionnaires during their pregnancies.
Researchers went back to the same mothers when the children were age 5 and asked them to fill out questionnaires about the children's respiratory symptoms and allergies, as well as a questionnaire about their children's food consumption. The children were also given lung function and allergy tests.
Previous studies in the same children have found evidence for protective effects of vitamin E and D and zinc during pregnancy in reducing the risk of children's wheeze and asthma.
Researcher Saskia Willers, M.Sc. of Utrecht University in the Netherlands said in a statement that the beneficial effect of the apples may come from its antioxidants, called flavonoids, and the protective effect from fish may come from its omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D and Autism
Autism is now epidemic in the industrialized world. If you know an affected family, you know the tragedy of autism.
No one knows what causes autism. Why has it increased so dramatically in the last 20 years? How could it increase if it is a genetic disease? Why is one identical twin severely affected and the other not? Why are boys so much more likely to get it than girls? Why is it more common in Blacks? Why do autistic children have larger heads? Why can't they excrete heavy metals? Why is autism less common closer to the equator? Why do symptoms first appear around the age of weaning? Why do certain drugs increase the risk? Why are seizures so common in autism? Why do autistic children have frequent infections? Why do mothers who consume seafood during their pregnancy have a reduced risk of having an autistic child? Why do a few autistic children seem to get better? Why do multivitamins seem to help? We don't know any of the answers to these questions. We don't know how to prevent autism, or how to treat it.
Now a single theory answers all these questions. Furthermore, the theory implies simple prevention and raises, at least the possibility, of treatment; if treatment is instituted in young autistic children, before the brain damage is permanent.
John Cannell, MD
To read more about the Vitamin D Theory of Autism, see www.vitamindcouncil.com/newsletter/2007-may.shtml
'Start the Week', BBC radio 4 (10/06/2007) featured James Fergusson's The Vitamin Murders, the story of the murder of Sir Jack Drummond, his wife and daughter in Southern France.
The Drummond murders - Sir Jack, his wife and daughter - known in France as 'the Dominici Affair' have remained a mystery ever since.
Drummond was a brilliant biochemist and a key player,
together with Sir Robert McCarrison and Professor Hugh Sinclair in Lord Woolton's Ministry of Food during WW2, was a stickler for quality in the British diet. That collectively through a massive propaganda effort to teach the nation how to eat nutritionally wisely during wartime shortages, they succeeded in improving the health of the nation compared to pre-war, is one of the great triumphs in the history of nutrition.
(James Fergusson The Vitamin Murders Portobello Books Ltd, June 2007).
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The McCarrison Society
Professor Michael A. Crawford, PhD, CBiol, FIBiol, FRCPath.
Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition
London Metropolitan University, North London Campus
166-222 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB