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1.  Effect of Supplementation with Zinc and Other Micronutrients on Malaria in Tanzanian Children: A Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001125.
Hans Verhoef and colleagues report findings from a randomized trial conducted among Tanzanian children at high risk for malaria. Children in the trial received either daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. The investigators did not find evidence from this study that zinc or multi-nutrients protected against malaria episodes.
It is uncertain to what extent oral supplementation with zinc can reduce episodes of malaria in endemic areas. Protection may depend on other nutrients. We measured the effect of supplementation with zinc and other nutrients on malaria rates.
Methods and Findings
In a 2×2 factorial trial, 612 rural Tanzanian children aged 6–60 months in an area with intense malaria transmission and with height-for-age z-score≤−1.5 SD were randomized to receive daily oral supplementation with either zinc alone (10 mg), multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or placebo. Intervention group was indicated by colour code, but neither participants, researchers, nor field staff knew who received what intervention. Those with Plasmodium infection at baseline were treated with artemether-lumefantrine. The primary outcome, an episode of malaria, was assessed among children reported sick at a primary care clinic, and pre-defined as current Plasmodium infection with an inflammatory response, shown by axillary temperature ≥37.5°C or whole blood C-reactive protein concentration ≥8 mg/L. Nutritional indicators were assessed at baseline and at 251 days (median; 95% reference range: 191–296 days). In the primary intention-to-treat analysis, we adjusted for pre-specified baseline factors, using Cox regression models that accounted for multiple episodes per child. 592 children completed the study. The primary analysis included 1,572 malaria episodes during 526 child-years of observation (median follow-up: 331 days). Malaria incidence in groups receiving zinc, multi-nutrients without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc and placebo was 2.89/child-year, 2.95/child-year, 3.26/child-year, and 2.87/child-year, respectively. There was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Neither zinc nor multi-nutrients influenced malaria rates (marginal analysis; adjusted HR, 95% CI: 1.04, 0.93–1.18 and 1.10, 0.97–1.24 respectively). The prevalence of zinc deficiency (plasma zinc concentration <9.9 µmol/L) was high at baseline (67% overall; 60% in those without inflammation) and strongly reduced by zinc supplementation.
We found no evidence from this trial that zinc supplementation protected against malaria.
Trial Registration NCT00623857
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Malaria is a serious global public-health problem. Half of the world's population is at risk of this parasitic disease, which kills a million people (mainly children living in sub-Saharan Africa) every year. Malaria is transmitted to people through the bites of infected night-flying mosquitoes. Soon after entering the human body, the parasite begins to replicate in red blood cells, bursting out every 2–3 days and infecting more red blood cells. The presence of the parasite in the blood stream (parasitemia) causes malaria's characteristic recurring fever and can cause life-threatening organ damage and anemia (insufficient quantity of red blood cells). Malaria transmission can be reduced by using insecticide sprays to control the mosquitoes that spread the parasite and by avoiding mosquito bites by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. Effective treatment with antimalarial drugs can also reduce malaria transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
One reason why malaria kills so many children in Africa is poverty. Many children in Africa are malnourished, and malnutrition—in particular, insufficient micronutrients in the diet—impairs the immune system, which increases the frequency and severity of many childhood diseases. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that everyone needs in small quantities for good health. Zinc is one of the micronutrients that helps to maintain a healthy immune system, but zinc deficiency is very common among African children. Zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce the burden of diarrhea in developing countries, so might it also reduce the burden of malaria? Unfortunately, the existing evidence is confusing—some trials show that zinc supplementation protects against malaria but others show no evidence of protection. One possibility for these conflicting results could be that zinc supplementation alone is not sufficient—supplementation with other micronutrients might be needed for zinc to have an effect. In this randomized trial (a study that compares the effects of different interventions in groups that initially are similar in all characteristics except for intervention), the researchers investigate the effect of supplementation with zinc alone and in combination with other micronutrients on the rate of uncomplicated (mild) malaria among children living in Tanzania.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 612 children aged 6–60 months who were living in a rural area of Tanzania with intense malaria transmission and randomly assigned them to receive daily oral supplements containing zinc alone, multi-nutrients (including iron) without zinc, multi-nutrients with zinc, or a placebo (no micronutrients). Nutritional indicators (including zinc concentrations in blood plasma) were assessed at baseline and 6–10 months after starting the intervention. During the study period, there were 1,572 malaria episodes. The incidence of malaria in all four intervention groups was very similar (about three episodes per child-year), and there was no evidence that multi-nutrients influenced the effect of zinc (or vice versa). Moreover, none of the supplements had any effect on malaria rates when compared to the placebo, even though the occurrence of zinc deficiency was strongly reduced by zinc supplementation. In a secondary analysis in which they analyzed their data by iron status at baseline, the researchers found that multi-nutrient supplementation increased the overall number of malaria episodes in children with iron deficiency by 41%, whereas multi-nutrient supplementation had no effect on the number of malaria episodes among children who were iron-replete at baseline.
What Do These Findings Mean?
In this study, the researchers found no evidence that zinc supplementation protected against malaria among young children living in Tanzania when given alone or in combination with other multi-nutrients. However, the researchers did find some evidence that multi-nutrient supplementation may increase the risk of malaria in children with iron deficiency. Because this finding came out of a secondary analysis of the data, it needs to be confirmed in a trial specifically designed to assess the effect of multi-nutrient supplements on malaria risk in iron-deficient children. Nevertheless, it is a potentially worrying result because, on the basis of evidence from a single study, the World Health Organization currently recommends that regular iron supplements be given to iron-deficient children in settings where there is adequate access to anti-malarial treatment. This recommendation should be reconsidered, suggest the researchers, and the safety of multi-nutrient mixes that contain iron and that are dispensed in countries affected by malaria should also be carefully evaluated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages), on micronutrients, and on zinc deficiency; the 2010 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including a selection of personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria and on malaria in Africa
The Malaria Centre at the UK London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine develops tools, techniques, and knowledge about malaria, and has a strong emphasis on teaching, training, and translating research outcomes into practice
The Micronutrient Initiative, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and the Flour Fortification Initiative are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to ensuring that people in developing countries get the minerals and vitamins they need to survive and thrive
The International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group (iZiNCG) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote and assist efforts to reduce zinc deficiency worldwide, through advocacy efforts, education, and technical assistance
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3222646  PMID: 22131908
2.  Effect of a Nutrition Supplement and Physical Activity Program on Pneumonia and Walking Capacity in Chilean Older People: A Factorial Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001023.
Alan Dangour and colleagues report results from the CENEX (Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people) trial, which evaluates a nutritional and exercise program aiming to prevent pneumonia and physical decline in Chilean people.
Ageing is associated with increased risk of poor health and functional decline. Uncertainties about the health-related benefits of nutrition and physical activity for older people have precluded their widespread implementation. We investigated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a national nutritional supplementation program and/or a physical activity intervention among older people in Chile.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster randomized factorial trial among low to middle socioeconomic status adults aged 65–67.9 years living in Santiago, Chile. We randomized 28 clusters (health centers) into the study and recruited 2,799 individuals in 2005 (∼100 per cluster). The interventions were a daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions, or neither, for 24 months. The primary outcomes, assessed blind to allocation, were incidence of pneumonia over 24 months, and physical function assessed by walking capacity 24 months after enrolment. Adherence was good for the nutritional supplement (∼75%), and moderate for the physical activity intervention (∼43%). Over 24 months the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control clusters (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years respectively; risk ratio = 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.61–1.63; p = 0.99). In intention-to-treat analysis, after 24 months there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters; 95% confidence interval 13.9–53.8; p = 0.001). The overall cost of the physical activity intervention over 24 months was US$164/participant; equivalent to US$4.84/extra meter walked. The number of falls and fractures was balanced across physical activity intervention arms and no serious adverse events were reported for either intervention.
Chile's nutritional supplementation program for older people is not effective in reducing the incidence of pneumonia. This trial suggests that the provision of locally accessible physical activity classes in a transition economy population can be a cost-effective means of enhancing physical function in later life.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 48153354
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
By 2050, about a quarter of the world's population will be aged 60 years or over, with Asia and Latin America experiencing the most dramatic increases in the proportion of older people. For example, in Chile, which has recently undergone rapid demographic transition, the proportion of the population aged 60 years or over has increased from 8% to 12% over the past 25 years.
Current global policy initiatives that promote healthy ageing include an emphasis on adequate nutrient intakes, as longitudinal studies (conducted in high-income countries) suggest that achieving nutritional sufficiency and maintaining moderate levels of physical activity both decrease risk of mortality by preserving immune function and lean body mass and so reduce the numerous risk factors for disability and chronic disease in later life. Such interventions may also decrease the risk of infection, particularly pneumonia, a common cause of death in older people. However, older people in low- and middle-income countries frequently have diets with insufficient calories (energy) and/or micronutrients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, there is no high-quality evidence to support the benefits of improved nutrition and increased physical activity levels from low-income or transition economies, where the ongoing demographic trends suggest that the needs are greatest. National policies aimed at preserving health and function in older people with interventions such as cash-transfers and provision of “food baskets” are often used in Latin American countries, such as Chile, but are rarely formally evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study (the Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people—CENEX) was to evaluate Chile's national nutritional supplementation program and/or physical exercise, to investigate whether this program prevented pneumonia and physical functional decline in older people in Santiago, and also to investigate whether these interventions were cost-effective.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly allocated 28 participating health centers in Santiago, Chile, into one of four arms: (1) nutritional supplementation; (2) nutritional supplementation+physical activity; (3) physical activity alone; (4) control. From May to December 2005, 2,799 eligible adults aged 65–67.9 years and living in low to middle socioeconomic circumstances, who attended each health center, were recruited into the study and received the allocated intervention—daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions or neither—for 24 months. The researchers did not know the allocation arm of each patient and over the course of the study assessed the incidence of pneumonia (viral and bacterial as based on diagnosis at the health center or hospital) and physical function was measured by walking capacity (meters walked in 6 minutes). The researchers used administrative records and interviews with staff and patients to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Participant retention in the study was 84%, although only three-quarters of patients receiving the nutritional intervention and less than half (43%) of patients in the physical activity intervention arm adhered to their respective programs. Over 24 months, the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control groups (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years, respectively), but at the end of the study period, there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters). The number of falls and fractures in the study arms were similar. The overall costs over 24 months were US$91.00 and US$163.70 per participant for the nutritional supplement and physical activity interventions, respectively. The cost of the physical activity intervention per extra meter walked at 24 months was US$4.84.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this trial suggest that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of Chile's national nutritional supplementation program in reducing the incidence of pneumonia for 65.0–67.9 year olds. Therefore, given Chile's high burden of infectious and nutrition-related chronic diseases and the associated high health costs, this program should not be considered as a priority preventive public health intervention. However, the provision of locally available physical activity classes to older people could be of clinical benefit, especially in urban settings such as Santiago, although future challenges include increasing the uptake of, and retention to, such programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about the state of health in Chile
Wikipedia also provides information about health and health care in Chile (please note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3079648  PMID: 21526229
3.  Effect of a mixture of micronutrients, but not of bovine colostrum concentrate, on immune function parameters in healthy volunteers: a randomized placebo-controlled study 
Nutrition Journal  2006;5:28.
Supplementation of nutritional deficiencies helps to improve immune function and resistance to infections in malnourished subjects. However, the suggested benefits of dietary supplementation for immune function in healthy well nourished subjects is less clear. Among the food constituents frequently associated with beneficial effects on immune function are micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, β-carotene and zinc, and colostrum. This study was designed to investigate the effects these ingredients on immune function markers in healthy volunteers.
In a double-blind, randomized, parallel, 2*2, placebo-controlled intervention study one hundred thirty-eight healthy volunteers aged 40–80 y (average 57 ± 10 y) received one of the following treatments: (1) bovine colostrum concentrate 1.2 g/d (equivalent to ~500 mg/d immunoglobulins), (2) micronutrient mix of 288 mg vitamin E, 375 mg vitamin C, 12 mg β-carotene and 15 mg zinc/day, (3) combination of colostrum and micronutrient mix, or (4) placebo. Several immune function parameters were assessed after 6 and 10 weeks. Data were analyzed by analysis of variance. Groups were combined to test micronutrient treatment versus no micronutrient treatment, and colostrum treatment versus no colostrum treatment.
Overall, consumption of the micronutrient mix significantly enhanced delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses (p < 0.05). Adjusted covariance analysis showed a positive association between DTH and age. Separate analysis of younger and older age groups indicated that it was the older population that benefited from micronutrient consumption. The other immune function parameters including responses to systemic tetanus and oral typhoid vaccination, phagocytosis, oxidative burst, lymphocyte proliferation and lymphocyte subset distribution were neither affected by the consumption of micronutrients nor by the consumption of bovine colostrum concentrate.
Consumption of bovine colostrum had no effect on any of the immune parameters assessed. The micronutrient mix enhanced cellular immunity as measured by DTH, with an increased effect by incremental age, but did not affect any of the other immune parameters measured. Although correlations between decreased DTH and enhanced risk of certain infection have been reported, it remains unclear whether and enhanced DTH response actually improves immune defense. The present data suggests that improvement of immune parameters in a population with a generally good immune and nutritional status is limited and that improvement of immune function in this population may be difficult.
PMCID: PMC1676011  PMID: 17118191
4.  Mineral Malnutrition Following Bariatric Surgery12 
Advances in Nutrition  2013;4(5):506-517.
Moderate/severe obesity is on the rise in the United States. Weight management includes bariatric surgery, which is effective and can alleviate morbidity and mortality from obesity-associated diseases. However, many individuals are dealing with nutritional complications. Risk factors include: 1) preoperative malnutrition (e.g., vitamin D, iron); 2) decreased food intake (due to reduced hunger and increased satiety, food intolerances, frequent vomiting); 3) inadequate nutrient supplementation (due to poor compliance with multivitamin/multimineral regimen, insufficient amounts of vitamins and/or minerals in supplements); 4) nutrient malabsorption; and 5) inadequate nutritional support (due to lack of follow-up, insufficient monitoring, difficulty in recognizing symptoms of deficiency). For some nutrients (e.g., protein, vitamin B-12, vitamin D), malnutrition issues are reasonably addressed through patient education, routine monitoring, and effective treatment strategies. However, there is little attention paid to other nutrients (e.g., zinc, copper), which if left untreated may have devastating consequences (e.g., hair loss, poor immunity, anemia, defects in neuro-muscular function). This review focuses on malnutrition in essential minerals, including calcium (and vitamin D), iron, zinc, and copper, which commonly occur following popular bariatric procedures. There will be emphasis on the complexities, including confounding factors, related to screening, recognition of symptoms, and, when available, current recommendations for treatment. There is an exceptionally high risk of malnutrition in adolescents and pregnant women and their fetuses, who may be vulnerable to problems in growth and development. More research is required to inform evidence-based recommendations for improving nutritional status following bariatric surgery and optimizing weight loss, metabolic, and nutritional outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3771134  PMID: 24038242
5.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
6.  Leptin and zinc relation: In regulation of food intake and immunity 
Leptin is synthesized and released by the adipose tissue. Leptin, which carries the information about energy reserves of the body to the brain, controls food intake by acting on neuropeptide Y (NPY), which exercises a food-intake-increasing effect through relevant receptors in the hypothalamus. Zinc deficiency is claimed to result in anorexia, weight loss, poor food efficiency, and growth impairment. The fact that obese individuals have low zinc and high leptin levels suggests that there is a relation between zinc and nutrition, and consequently also between zinc and leptin. Leptin deficiency increases the predisposition to infections and this increase is associated with the impairments in the production of cytokines. Zinc has a key role in the sustenance of immune resistance against infections. Dietary zinc deficiency negatively affects CD+4 cells, Th functions, and consequently, cell-mediated immunity by causing a decrease in the production of IL-2, IF-γ, and TNF-α, which are Th1 products. The relation between zinc and the concerned cytokines in particular, and the fact that leptin has a part in the immune responses mediated by these cytokines demonstrate that an interaction among cellular immunity, leptin and zinc is inevitable. An overall evaluation of the information presented above suggests that there are complex relations among food intake, leptin and zinc on one hand and among cellular immunity, leptin and zinc on the other. The aim of the present review was to draw attention to the possible relation between zinc and leptin in dietary regulation and cellular immunity.
PMCID: PMC3602991  PMID: 23565497
Dietary regulation; cellular immunity; leptin and zinc
7.  Zinc deficiency in children with environmental enteropathy—development of new strategies: report from an expert workshop1234 
Zinc deficiency is a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality. The WHO/UNICEF strategy for zinc supplementation as adjunctive therapy for diarrhea is poorly implemented. A conference of experts in zinc nutrition and gastrointestinal disorders was convened to consider approaches that might complement the current recommendation and what research was needed to develop these approaches. Several key points were identified. The design of novel zinc interventions would be facilitated by a better understanding of how disturbed gut function, such as environmental (or tropical) enteropathy, affects zinc absorption, losses, and homeostasis. Because only 10% of zinc stores are able to be rapidly turned over, and appear to be rapidly depleted by acute intestinal illness, they are probably best maintained by complementary regular supplementation in a primary prevention strategy rather than secondary prevention triggered by acute diarrhea. The assessment of zinc status is challenging and complex without simple, validated measures to facilitate field testing of novel interventions. Zinc bioavailability may be a crucial factor in the success of primary prevention strategies, and a range of options, all still inadequately explored, might be valuable in improving zinc nutrition. Some therapeutic actions of zinc on diarrhea seem attributable to pharmacologic effects, whereas others are related to the reversal of deficiency (ie, nutritional). The distinction between these 2 mechanisms cannot be clarified given the insensitivity of serum zinc to identify subclinical deficiency states. Why zinc seems to be less effective than expected at all ages, and ineffective for secondary prevention of diarrhea in children <12 mo of age, remains unclear. It was concluded that a reframing of the current recommendation is warranted with consideration of how to better optimize and deliver zinc and whether to provide a complementary public health primary prevention zinc strategy. This requires careful consideration of the zinc product to be used as well as strategies for its delivery.
PMCID: PMC4163797  PMID: 25240082
8.  Zinc: dietary intake and impact of supplementation on immune function in elderly 
Age  2012;35(3):839-860.
The diet in the elderly does not provide a sufficient level of nutrients needed to maintain an adequate healthy status leading to micronutrient deficiencies and impaired immune response with subsequent development of degenerative diseases. Nutrient “zinc” is a relevant micronutrient involved in maintaining a good integrity of many body homeostatic mechanisms, including immune efficiency, owing to its requirement for the biological activity of many enzymes, proteins and for cellular proliferation and genomic stability. Old people aged 60–65 years and older have zinc intakes below 50% of the recommended daily allowance on a given day. Many causes can be involved: among them, altered intestinal absorption, inadequate mastication, psychosocial factors, drugs interactions, altered subcellular processes (zinc transporters (Zip and ZnT family), metallothioneins, divalent metal transporter-1). Zinc supplementation may remodel the immune alterations in elderly leading to healthy ageing. Several zinc trials have been carried out with contradictory data, perhaps due to incorrect choice of an effective zinc supplementation in old subjects showing subsequent zinc toxic effects on immunity. Old subjects with specific IL-6 polymorphism (GG allele carriers; named C−) are more prone for zinc supplementation than the entire old population, in whom correct dietary habits with foods containing zinc (Mediterranean diet) may be sufficient in restoring zinc deficiency and impaired immune response. We summarise the main causes of low zinc dietary intake in elderly reporting an update on the impact of zinc supplementation upon the immune response also on the basis of individual IL-6 polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC3636409  PMID: 22222917
Dietary zinc intake; Zinc intestinal absorption; Zinc supplementation; IL-6 polymorphism; Ageing; Immunosenescence
9.  Zinc deficiency increases organ damage and mortality in a murine model of polymicrobial sepsis 
Critical care medicine  2009;37(4):1380-1388.
Zinc deficiency is common among populations at high risk for sepsis mortality, including elderly, alcoholic, and hospitalized patients. Zinc deficiency causes exaggerated inflammatory responses to endotoxin but has not been evaluated during bacterial sepsis. We hypothesized that subacute zinc deficiency would amplify immune responses and oxidant stress during bacterial sepsis [i.e., cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)] resulting in increased mortality and that acute nutritional repletion of zinc would be beneficial.
Prospective, randomized, controlled animal study.
University medical center research laboratory.
Adult male C57BL/6 mice.
Ten-week-old, male, C57BL/6 mice were randomized into three dietary groups: 1) control diet, 2) zinc-deficient diet for 3 weeks, and 3) zinc-deficient diet for 3 weeks followed by oral zinc supplementation for 3 days (n = 35 per diet). Mice were then assigned to receive either CLP or sham operation (n = 15 each per diet). CLP and sham-operated treatment groups were further assigned to a 7-day survival study (n = 10 per treatment per diet) or were evaluated at 24 hours (n = 5 per treatment per diet) for signs of vital organ damage.
Measurements and Main Results
Sepsis mortality was significantly increased with zinc deficiency (90% vs. 30% on control diet). Zinc-deficient animals subject to CLP had higher plasma cytokines, more severe organ injury, including increased oxidative tissue damage and cell death, particularly in the lungs and spleen. None of the sham-operated animals died or developed signs of organ damage. Zinc supplementation normalized the inflammatory response, greatly diminished tissue damage, and significantly reduced mortality.
Subacute zinc deficiency significantly increases systemic inflammation, organ damage, and mortality in a murine polymicrobial sepsis model. Short-term zinc repletion provides significant, but incomplete protection despite normalization of inflammatory and organ damage indices.
PMCID: PMC2905048  PMID: 19242332
inflammation; cell injury; oxidants; multiple organ dysfunction score; cecal ligation and puncture
10.  Design of a randomised controlled trial on immune effects of acidic and neutral oligosaccharides in the nutrition of preterm infants: carrot study 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:46.
Prevention of serious infections in preterm infants is a challenge, since prematurity and low birth weight often requires many interventions and high utility of devices. Furthermore, the possibility to administer enteral nutrition is limited due to immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract in the presence of a developing immune system. In combination with delayed intestinal bacterial colonisation compared with term infants, this may increase the risk for serious infections. Acidic and neutral oligosaccharides play an important role in the development of the immune system, intestinal bacterial colonisation and functional integrity of the gut. This trial aims to determine the effect of enteral supplementation of acidic and neutral oligosaccharides on infectious morbidity (primary outcome), immune response to immunizations, feeding tolerance and short-term and long-term outcome in preterm infants. In addition, an attempt is made to elucidate the role of acidic and neutral oligosaccharides in postnatal modulation of the immune response and postnatal adaptation of the gut.
In a double-blind placebo controlled randomised trial, 120 preterm infants (gestational age <32 weeks and/or birth weight <1500 gram) are randomly allocated to receive enteral acidic and neutral oligosaccharides supplementation (20%/80%) or placebo supplementation (maltodextrin) between day 3 and 30 of life. Primary outcome is infectious morbidity (defined as the incidence of serious infections). The role of acidic and neutral oligosaccharides in modulation of the immune response is investigated by determining the immune response to DTaP-IPV-Hib(-HBV)+PCV7 immunizations, plasma cytokine concentrations, faecal Calprotectin and IL-8. The effect of enteral acidic and neutral oligosaccharides supplementation on postnatal adaptation of the gut is investigated by measuring feeding tolerance, intestinal permeability, intestinal viscosity, and determining intestinal microflora. Furthermore, short-term and long-term outcome are evaluated.
Especially preterm infants, who are at increased risk for serious infections, may benefit from supplementation of prebiotics. Most studies with prebiotics only focus on the colonisation of the intestinal microflora. However, the pathways how prebiotics may influence the immune system are not yet fully understood. Studying the immune modulatory effects is complex because of the multicausal risk of infections in preterm infants. The combination of neutral oligosaccharides with acidic oligosaccharides may have an increased beneficial effect on the immune system. Increased insight in the effects of prebiotics on the developing immune system may help to decrease the (infectious) morbidity and mortality in preterm infants.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN16211826.
PMCID: PMC2579424  PMID: 18947426
11.  Management of Chronic Pressure Ulcers 
Executive Summary
In April 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began an evidence-based review of the literature concerning pressure ulcers.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, to review these titles that are currently available within the Pressure Ulcers series.
Pressure ulcer prevention: an evidence based analysis
The cost-effectiveness of prevention strategies for pressure ulcers in long-term care homes in Ontario: projections of the Ontario Pressure Ulcer Model (field evaluation)
Management of chronic pressure ulcers: an evidence-based analysis
The Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) conducted a systematic review on interventions used to treat pressure ulcers in order to answer the following questions:
Do currently available interventions for the treatment of pressure ulcers increase the healing rate of pressure ulcers compared with standard care, a placebo, or other similar interventions?
Within each category of intervention, which one is most effective in promoting the healing of existing pressure ulcers?
A pressure ulcer is a localized injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in conjunction with shear and/or friction. Many areas of the body, especially the sacrum and the heel, are prone to the development of pressure ulcers. People with impaired mobility (e.g., stroke or spinal cord injury patients) are most vulnerable to pressure ulcers. Other factors that predispose people to pressure ulcer formation are poor nutrition, poor sensation, urinary and fecal incontinence, and poor overall physical and mental health.
The prevalence of pressure ulcers in Ontario has been estimated to range from a median of 22.1% in community settings to a median of 29.9% in nonacute care facilities. Pressure ulcers have been shown to increase the risk of mortality among geriatric patients by as much as 400%, to increase the frequency and duration of hospitalization, and to decrease the quality of life of affected patients. The cost of treating pressure ulcers has been estimated at approximately $9,000 (Cdn) per patient per month in the community setting. Considering the high prevalence of pressure ulcers in the Ontario health care system, the total cost of treating pressure ulcers is substantial.
Wounds normally heal in 3 phases (inflammatory phase, a proliferative phase of new tissue and matrix formation, and a remodelling phase). However, pressure ulcers often fail to progress past the inflammatory stage. Current practice for treating pressure ulcers includes treating the underlying causes, debridement to remove necrotic tissues and contaminated tissues, dressings to provide a moist wound environment and to manage exudates, devices and frequent turning of patients to provide pressure relief, topical applications of biologic agents, and nutritional support to correct nutritional deficiencies. A variety of adjunctive physical therapies are also in use.
Health technology assessment databases and medical databases were searched from 1996 (Medline), 1980 (EMBASE), and 1982 (CINAHL) systematically up to March 2008 to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the following treatments of pressure ulcers: cleansing, debridement, dressings, biological therapies, pressure-relieving devices, physical therapies, nutritional therapies, and multidisciplinary wound care teams. Full literature search strategies are reported in appendix 1. English-language studies in previous systematic reviews and studies published since the last systematic review were included if they had more than 10 subjects, were randomized, and provided objective outcome measures on the healing of pressure ulcers. In the absence of RCTs, studies of the highest level of evidence available were included. Studies on wounds other than pressure ulcers and on surgical treatment of pressure ulcers were excluded. A total of 18 systematic reviews, 104 RCTs, and 4 observational studies were included in this review.
Data were extracted from studies using standardized forms. The quality of individual studies was assessed based on adequacy of randomization, concealment of treatment allocation, comparability of groups, blinded assessment, and intention-to-treat analysis. Meta-analysis to estimate the relative risk (RR) or weighted mean difference (WMD) for measures of healing was performed when appropriate. A descriptive synthesis was provided where pooled analysis was not appropriate or not feasible. The quality of the overall evidence on each intervention was assessed using the grading of recommendations assessment, development, and evaluation (GRADE) criteria.
Findings from the analysis of the included studies are summarized below:
There is no good trial evidence to support the use of any particular wound cleansing solution or technique for pressure ulcers.
There was no evidence that debridement using collagenase, dextranomer, cadexomer iodine, or maggots significantly improved complete healing compared with placebo.
There were no statistically significant differences between enzymatic or mechanical debridement agents with the following exceptions:
Papain urea resulted in better debridement than collagenase.
Calcium alginate resulted in a greater reduction in ulcer size compared to dextranomer.
Adding streptokinase/streptodornase to hydrogel resulted in faster debridement.
Maggot debridement resulted in more complete debridement than conventional treatment.
There is limited evidence on the healing effects of debridement devices.
Hydrocolloid dressing was associated with almost three-times more complete healing compared with saline gauze.
There is evidence that hydrogel and hydropolymer may be associated with 50% to 70% more complete healing of pressure ulcers than hydrocolloid dressing.
No statistically significant differences in complete healing were detected among other modern dressings.
There is evidence that polyurethane foam dressings and hydrocellular dressings are more absorbent and easier to remove than hydrocolloid dressings in ulcers with moderate to high exudates.
In deeper ulcers (stage III and IV), the use of alginate with hydrocolloid resulted in significantly greater reduction in the size of the ulcers compared to hydrocolloid alone.
Studies on sustained silver-releasing dressing demonstrated a tendency for reducing the risk of infection and promoting faster healing, but the sample sizes were too small for statistical analysis or for drawing conclusions.
Biological Therapies
The efficacy of platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs), fibroblast growth factor, and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor in improving complete healing of chronic pressure ulcers has not been established.
Presently only Regranex, a recombinant PDGF, has been approved by Health Canada and only for treatment of diabetic ulcers in the lower extremities.
A March 2008 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communication reported increased deaths from cancers in people given three or more prescriptions for Regranex.
Limited low-quality evidence on skin matrix and engineered skin equivalent suggests a potential role for these products in healing refractory advanced chronic pressure ulcers, but the evidence is insufficient to draw a conclusion.
Adjunctive Physical Therapy
There is evidence that electrical stimulation may result in a significantly greater reduction in the surface area and more complete healing of stage II to IV ulcers compared with sham therapy. No conclusion on the efficacy of electrotherapy can be drawn because of significant statistical heterogeneity, small sample sizes, and methodological flaws.
The efficacy of other adjunctive physical therapies [electromagnetic therapy, low-level laser (LLL) therapy, ultrasound therapy, ultraviolet light therapy, and negative pressure therapy] in improving complete closure of pressure ulcers has not been established.
Nutrition Therapy
Supplementation with 15 grams of hydrolyzed protein 3 times daily did not affect complete healing but resulted in a 2-fold improvement in Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing (PUSH) score compared with placebo.
Supplementation with 200 mg of zinc three times per day did not have any significant impact on the healing of pressure ulcers compared with a placebo.
Supplementation of 500 mg ascorbic acid twice daily was associated with a significantly greater decrease in the size of the ulcer compared with a placebo but did not have any significant impact on healing when compared with supplementation of 10 mg ascorbic acid three times daily.
A very high protein tube feeding (25% of energy as protein) resulted in a greater reduction in ulcer area in institutionalized tube-fed patients compared with a high protein tube feeding (16% of energy as protein).
Multinutrient supplements that contain zinc, arginine, and vitamin C were associated with a greater reduction in the area of the ulcers compared with standard hospital diet or to a standard supplement without zinc, arginine, or vitamin C.
Firm conclusions cannot be drawn because of methodological flaws and small sample sizes.
Multidisciplinary Wound Care Teams
The only RCT suggests that multidisciplinary wound care teams may significantly improve healing in the acute care setting in 8 weeks and may significantly shorten the length of hospitalization. However, since only an abstract is available, study biases cannot be assessed and no conclusions can be drawn on the quality of this evidence.
PMCID: PMC3377577  PMID: 23074533
12.  Vaccinating to Protect a Vulnerable Subpopulation 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e174.
Epidemic influenza causes serious mortality and morbidity in temperate countries each winter. Research suggests that schoolchildren are critical in the spread of influenza virus, while the elderly and the very young are most vulnerable to the disease. Under these conditions, it is unclear how best to focus prevention efforts in order to protect the population. Here we investigate the question of how to protect a population against a disease when one group is particularly effective at spreading disease and another group is more vulnerable to the effects of the disease.
Methods and Findings
We developed a simple mathematical model of an epidemic that includes assortative mixing between groups of hosts. We evaluate the impact of different vaccine allocation strategies across a wide range of parameter values. With this model we demonstrate that the optimal vaccination strategy is extremely sensitive to the assortativity of population mixing, as well as to the reproductive number of the disease in each group. Small differences in parameter values can change the best vaccination strategy from one focused on the most vulnerable individuals to one focused on the most transmissive individuals.
Given the limited amount of information about relevant parameters, we suggest that changes in vaccination strategy, while potentially promising, should be approached with caution. In particular, we find that, while switching vaccine to more active groups may protect vulnerable groups in many cases, switching too much vaccine, or switching vaccine under slightly different conditions, may lead to large increases in disease in the vulnerable group. This outcome is more likely when vaccine limitation is stringent, when mixing is highly structured, or when transmission levels are high.
Jonathan Dushoff and colleagues model the benefits of different vaccination strategies and suggest that small differences in how populations mix can change the best vaccination strategy from one focused on the most vulnerable individuals to one focused on the most transmissive individuals.
Editors' Summary
Every winter, millions of people take to their beds with influenza—a viral infection of the nose, throat, and airways that is transmitted in airborne droplets released by coughing and sneezing. Most people who catch flu recover within a few days, but some develop serious complications such as pneumonia, and in the US alone, about 36,000 people—mainly infants, elderly, and chronically ill individuals—die every year. To minimize the morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) associated with seasonal (epidemic) influenza, the World Health Organization recommends that these vulnerable people be vaccinated against influenza every autumn. Annual vaccination is necessary because flu viruses continually make small changes to the viral proteins that the immune system recognizes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although infants and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to influenza, schoolchildren are more likely to spread the flu virus. Also, vaccination is more effective in schoolchildren than in elderly people. So could vaccination of schoolchildren be the best way to reduce influenza morbidity and mortality? Some Japanese and US data suggest that it might be, but policymakers need to know more about the likely effects of changing the current influenza vaccination strategy. They need to know in what circumstances the direct effects of vaccination (protection of vaccinated individuals from disease) outweigh its indirect effects (reduced infection in vulnerable individuals caused by the reduced spread of disease in the whole population) and when the opposite is true. In this study, the researchers have used mathematical modeling to investigate how vaccination affects the spread of diseases such as influenza for which a “core” group in the population spreads the disease and a distinct “vulnerable” group is sensitive to its effects.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a mathematical model in which members of each group mixed mainly with their own group (assortative mixing) and used it to predict how changing the proportion of a limited amount of vaccine given to each group might affect disease spread under different conditions. For example, they report that in a population in which the two groups were very unlikely to mix and viral transmission was low, switching vaccine from the vulnerable group to the core group initially increased infections in the vulnerable group because fewer individuals were directly protected but, as more vaccine was allocated to the core group, fewer vulnerable people became infected because the size of the epidemic decreased. When viral transmission was high, vaccination of the vulnerable group was always best. However, when viral transmission was moderate, shifting vaccine from the vulnerable group first increased, then decreased infections in this group before increasing them again. This last change occurred when vaccination in the vulnerable group was so low that viral transmission was sufficient to maintain the epidemic within this group.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical modeling, the researchers' findings depend on the assumptions included in the model, many of which are based on limited information. The model also considers a population that contains only two groups, an unlikely situation in real life. Nevertheless, these findings indicate that in a population in which one group of people is mainly responsible for the spread of a disease and another is most vulnerable to its effects, the best vaccination strategy is very sensitive to how the groups mix and how well the disease spreads in each group. Small changes in these poorly understood parameters can change the optimal vaccination strategy from one that vaccinates vulnerable individuals to one that mainly vaccinates the people who spread the disease. Importantly, a beneficial change in strategy can become deleterious if taken too far, so policy makers need to approach potentially promising changes in vaccination policy cautiously. Finally, for influenza, the model supports the idea that using some vaccine stocks in schoolchildren might decrease morbidity and mortality among elderly people but suggests that—even if this turns out to be correct—if all the vaccine were given to schoolchildren, more old people might die. Thus, the most prudent policy would be to supplement rather than replace vaccination of the elderly with vaccination of children.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information about influenza for patients and professionals, including key facts about the flu vaccine (in English and Spanish)
World Health Organization, fact sheet on influenza and information on vaccination (in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian)
UK Health Protection Agency, information on seasonal influenza
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entries on influenza and the influenza vaccine (in English and Spanish)
Public disease mortality and morbidity data at the International Infectious Disease Data Archive (IIDDA)
PMCID: PMC1872043  PMID: 17518515
13.  Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of Zinc Supplementation to Prevent Immunological Failure in HIV-Positive Adults1,2 
Adequate zinc is critical for immune function; however, zinc deficiency occurs in >50% of HIV-infected adults. We examined the safety and efficacy of long-term zinc supplementation on HIV disease progression.
A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted with 231 HIV+ adults with low plasma zinc levels (<0.75 μg/ml), randomly assigned into zinc (12 mg of elemental zinc for women and 15 mg for men) or placebo, for 18 months. The primary endpoint was immunological failure. HIV-viral load and CD4+ cell count were determined every 6 months. Questionnaires, pill-counts, plasma zinc and C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were used to monitor adherence with study supplements and ART. Intent-to-treat analysis utilized multiple-event analysis, treating CD4+ cell count <200 cells/mm3 as recurrent immunological failure event. Cox proportional-hazard models and the general-linear model were used to analyze morbidity and mortality data.
Zinc supplementation for 18 months reduced four-fold the likelihood of immunological failure, controlling for age, gender, lack of food, baseline CD4+ cell count, viral load, and antiretroviral therapy (RR=0.24[95%CI:0.10,0.56],p<0.002). Viral load indicated poor control with ART but was not affected by zinc supplementation. Zinc supplementation also reduced the rate of diarrhea by more than half (OR=0.4[95%CI:0.183-0.981],p=0.019) compared to placebo. There was no significant difference in mortality between the two groups.
This study demonstrated that long-term (18-month) zinc supplementation at nutritional levels delayed immunological failure and decreased diarrhea over time. This evidence supports the use of zinc supplementation as an adjunct therapy in HIV+ adult cohorts with poor viral control.
This study demonstrated that long-term (18-month) zinc supplementation at nutritional levels delayed immunological failure and decreased diarrhea over time. This evidence supports the use of zinc supplementation as an adjunct therapy in HIV+ adult cohorts with poor viral control.
PMCID: PMC2874106  PMID: 20455705
zinc supplementation; immunological failure; diarrhea; HIV disease progression
14.  Rationale and Design of the Pediatric Critical Illness Stress-Induced Immune Suppression (CRISIS) Prevention Trial 
Despite implementation of CDC recommendations and bundled interventions for preventing catheter-associated blood stream infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, or urinary catheter–associated infections, nosocomial infections and sepsis remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in critically ill children. Recent studies suggest that acquired critical illness stress-induced immune suppression (CRISIS) plays a role in the development of nosocomial infection and sepsis. This condition can be related to inadequate zinc, selenium, and glutamine levels, as well as hypoprolactinemia, leading to stress-induced lymphopenia, a predominant TH2 monocyte/macrophage state, and subsequent immune suppression. Prolonged immune dysfunction increases the likelihood of nosocomial infections associated with invasive devices. Although strategies to prevent common complications of critical illness are routinely employed (eg, prophylaxis for gastrointestinal bleeding, thrombophlebitis), no prophylactic strategy is used to prevent stress-induced immune suppression. This is the authors’ rationale for the pediatric CRISIS prevention trial (NCT00395161), designed as a randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical investigation to determine if daily enteral supplementation with zinc, selenium, and glutamine as well as parenteral metoclopramide (a dopamine 2 receptor antagonist that reverses hypoprolactinemia) prolongs the time until onset of nosocomial infection or sepsis in critically ill children compared to enteral supplementation with whey protein. If effective, this combined nutritional and pharmacologic approach may lessen the excess morbidity and mortality as well as resource utilization associated with nosocomial infections and sepsis in this population. The authors present the design and analytic plan for the CRISIS prevention trial.
PMCID: PMC2918276  PMID: 19380753
critical care; nosocomial infection; prolactin; zinc; selenium; lymphocyte function
15.  Impact of Zinc Metabolism on Innate Immune Function in the Setting of Sepsis 
Individuals at highest risk of zinc deficiency (children, elderly, pregnant and lactating women, morbidly ill, alcoholics) have a higher risk of infection. Whereas the essential role of zinc in maintaining adaptive immunity is well recognized, much less is known regarding the innate immune system. We recently reported that zinc deficiency significantly increases mortality in an animal model of sepsis. In particular, zinc-deficient mice had a decreased capacity to clear bacteria and a concomitant increase in NF-κB-mediated signaling across multiple vital organs. This occurred in tandem with exaggeration of the acute phase and innate immune response. Strikingly, sepsis patients revealed similar findings in that lower plasma zinc levels were associated with more inflammation and increased severity of illness. Through these investigations we have consistently observed that SLC39 A8 (Zip8) is unique, relative to other zinc transporters, in that its expression is significantly induced at the onset of infection. Moreover, induction of Zip8-mediated zinc transport into innate immune cells is vital for proper immune function. Whether Zip8 functions beyond the conventional role of a zinc transporter remains a work in progress, although new evidence has revealed that Zip8 expression itself is regulated by NF-κB. Taken together, these findings indicate that zinc is vital for proper innate immune function and that hZip8 is intricately involved in maintaining innate immune defense.
PMCID: PMC3279174  PMID: 21462110
zinc; zinc transporter; innate immunity; infection; sepsis
16.  Uptake epithelia behave in a cell-centric and not systems homeostatic manner in response to zinc depletion and supplementation† †Electronic supplementary information (ESI) available. See DOI: 10.1039/c3mt00212h Click here for additional data file.  
Metallomics  2013;6(1):154-165.
Global transcriptomic analysis, non-invasive real-time flux, nutritional profiling and metallomics reveal cell-centric response to zinc supplementation/depletion in zebrafish uptake epithelia.
Much remains to be understood about systemic regulation of zinc uptake in vertebrates, and adequate zinc status is far from always achieved in animals or human. In addition to absorbing zinc from the diet, fish are able to take up zinc directly from the water with the gills. This provides an elegant system to study zinc uptake, how it relates to zinc status, and the expression of genes for proteins involved in zinc acquisition. A 21-day experiment was conducted in which zebrafish were acclimated to deficient, control or excess zinc concentrations in the water and feed. Deficient provision of zinc reduced whole body zinc, potassium, sodium and calcium levels whilst zinc concentrations in the uptake epithelia (gills and gut) remained unchanged. Excess levels of zinc caused accumulation of zinc in the gills, intestine and carcass, but impaired whole body iron, sodium and calcium concentrations. Fish subjected to zinc deficiency had, surprisingly, a reduced zinc influx across the gill epithelium, even when tested at a high concentration of zinc in the water. Zinc influx in the excess group was indistinct from the control. Expression of genes for metallothionein-2 (Mt2) and zinc transporters-1, -2, and -8 (Znt1, Znt2, Znt8) in uptake epithelia showed in general a direct relationship with zinc supply, while mRNA for Zip4 was inversely related to zinc supply. Transcripts for the epithelial calcium channel (Ecac/Trpv6) showed time-dependent increased expression in the gills of the deficiency group, and a transient decrease of expression during zinc excess. Transcriptome profiling by microarrays showed that in both gills and intestine, the most markedly affected biological functions were those related to cell growth, proliferation and cancer, closely followed by processes of gene transcription and protein synthesis in general. Whilst changes in zinc supply had profound effects in the intestine on genes associated with uptake and metabolism of macronutrients, many of the unique categories of genes preferentially regulated in the gill could be mapped onto signalling pathways. This included pathways for PPAR/RXR, LXR/RXR, ATM, chemokine, and BMP signalling. Overall, the responses of epithelial tissue to zinc deficiency and excess are best explained by local epithelial homeostasis with no evidence of systemic control.
PMCID: PMC4157650  PMID: 24301558
17.  Neutrophils are immune cells preferentially targeted by retinoic acid in elderly subjects 
The immune system gradually deteriorates with age and nutritional status is a major factor in immunosenescence. Of the many nutritional factors implicated in age-related immune dysfunction, vitamin A may be a good candidate, since vitamin A concentrations classically decrease during aging whereas it may possess important immunomodulatory properties via its active metabolites, the retinoic acids. This prompted us to investigate the immune response induced by retinoids in adults and elderly healthy subjects. Before and after oral supplementation with 13cis retinoic acid (0.5 mg/kg/day during 28 days), whole blood cells were phenotyped, and functions of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) were investigated by flow cytometry and ELISA tests.
In both young adults (n = 20, 25 ± 4 years) and older subjects (n = 20, 65 ± 4 years), retinoic acid supplementation had no effect on the distribution of leukocyte subpopulations or on the functions of PBMC (Il-2 and sIl-2R production, membrane expression of CD25). Concerning PMN, retinoic acid induced an increase in both spontaneous migration and cell surface expression of CD11b in the two different age populations, whereas bactericidal activity and phagocytosis remained unchanged.
We demonstrated that retinoic acid induces the same intensity of immune response between adult and older subjects, and more specifically affects PMN functions, i.e. adhesion and migration, than PBMC functions.
PMCID: PMC2940875  PMID: 20727130
18.  A trial assessing N-3 as treatment for injury-induced cachexia (ATLANTIC trial): does a moderate dose fish oil intervention improve outcomes in older adults recovering from hip fracture? 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:76.
Proximal femoral fractures are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Pre-existing malnutrition and weight loss amongst this patient group is of primary concern, with conventional nutrition support being largely ineffective. The inflammatory response post proximal femoral fracture surgery and the subsequent risk of cachexia may explain the inability of conventional high energy high protein management to produce an anabolic response amongst these patients. Omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils have been extensively studied for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, the benefit of fish oil combined with individualized nutrition support amongst proximal femoral fracture patients post surgery is an attractive potential therapeutic strategy. The aim of the ATLANTIC trial is to assess the potential benefits of an anti-inflammatory dose of fish oil within the context of a 12 week individualised nutrition program, commencing seven days post proximal femoral fracture surgery.
This randomized controlled, double blinded trial, will recruit 150 community dwelling elderly patients aged ≥65 years, within seven days of surgery for proximal femoral fracture. Participants will be randomly allocated to receive either a 12 week individualized nutrition support program complemented with 20 ml/day anti-inflammatory dose fish oil (~3.6 g eicosapentaenoic acid, ~2.4 g docosahexanoic acid; intervention), or, a 12 week individualized nutrition support program complemented with 20 ml/day low dose fish oil (~0.36 g eicosapentaenoic acid, ~0.24 g docosahexanoic acid; control).
The ATLANTIC trial is the first of its kind to provide fish oil combined with individualized nutrition therapy as an intervention to address the inflammatory response experienced post proximal femoral fracture surgery amongst elderly patients. The final outcomes of this trial will assist clinicians in the development of effective and alternative treatment methods post proximal femoral fracture surgery which may ultimately result in a reduction in systemic inflammation, loss of weight and lean muscle and improvements in nutritional status, mobility, independence and quality of life among elderly patients.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2984449  PMID: 20964865
19.  Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(5-6):353-357.
Although the essentiality of zinc for plants and animals has been known for many decades, the essentiality of zinc for humans was recognized only 40 years ago in the Middle East. The zinc-deficient patients had severe immune dysfunctions, inasmuch as they died of intercurrent infections by the time they were 25 years of age. In our studies in an experimental human model of zinc deficiency, we documented decreased serum testosterone level, oligospermia, severe immune dysfunctions mainly affecting T helper cells, hyperammonemia, neurosensory disorders, and decreased lean body mass. It appears that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the developing world and as many as two billion subjects may be growth retarded due to zinc deficiency. Besides growth retardation and immune dysfunctions, cognitive impairment due to zinc deficiency also has been reported recently. Our studies in the cell culture models showed that the activation of many zinc-dependent enzymes and transcription factors were adversely affected due to zinc deficiency. In HUT-78 (T helper 0 [Th0] cell line), we showed that a decrease in gene expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-2 receptor α(IL-2Rα) were due to decreased activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in zinc deficient cells. Decreased NF-κB activation in HUT-78 due to zinc deficiency was due to decreased binding of NF-κB to DNA, decreased level of NF-κB p105 (the precursor of NF-κB p50) mRNA, decreased κB inhibitory protein (IκB) phosphorylation, and decreased Iκ κ. These effects of zinc were cell specific. Zinc also is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory actions. The therapeutic roles of zinc in acute infantile diarrhea, acrodermatitis enteropathica, prevention of blindness in patients with age-related macular degeneration, and treatment of common cold with zinc have been reported. In HL-60 cells (promyelocytic leukemia cell line), zinc enhances the up-regulation of A20 mRNA, which, via TRAF pathway, decreases NF-κB activation, leading to decreased gene expression and generation of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-1β, and IL-8. We have reported recently that in both young adults and elderly subjects, zinc supplementation decreased oxidative stress markers and generation of inflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC2277319  PMID: 18385818
20.  Zinc for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Pilot Trial Alone and Combined with Amphetamine 
To explore effects of zinc supplementation in American children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mideastern trials reported significant benefit from 13–40 mg elemental zinc as the sulfate.
We randomly assigned 52 children aged 6–14 with DSM-IV ADHD to zinc supplementation (15 mg every morning [qAM] or two times per day [b.i.d.] as glycinate, n = 28) or matched placebo (n = 24) for 13 weeks: 8 weeks monotherapy and then 5 weeks with added d-amphetamine (AMPH). AMPH dose was weight-standardized for 2 weeks and then clinically optimized by week 13. Zinc glycinate was chosen as having less gastrointestinal discomfort than sulfate. Hypotheses were that zinc would improve inattention more than placebo by effect size of d > 0.25 at 8 weeks; zinc+AMPH would improve ADHD symptoms more than placebo+AMPH by d > 0.25, and optimal dose of AMPH with zinc would be 20% lower than with placebo. An interim analysis requested by the National Institute of Mental Health resulted in an increased dosage, so that 20 received 15 mg/day qAM and 8 received 30 mg/day (15 mg b.i.d.)
Only the third hypothesis was upheld: Optimal mg/kg AMPH dose with b.i.d. zinc was 37% lower than with placebo. Other clinical outcomes were equivocal, sometimes favoring zinc, sometimes placebo, but objective neuropsychological measures mostly favored b.i.d. zinc (d = 0.36–0.7). Safety tests and adverse events were not different between groups. Copper and iron blood indices were not impaired by 8 weeks of 30 mg/day zinc.
Doses up to 30 mg/day of zinc were safe for at least 8 weeks, but clinical effect was equivocal except for 37% reduction in amphetamine optimal dose with 30 mg/day zinc (not with 15 mg). Possible reasons for difference from mideastern reports include endemic diets, population genetics, relative rate of zinc deficiency, difference in background nutrition, insufficient dosage or absorption, or wrong anion (sulfate may be necessary for reported benefit). Dose may be especially important: All visually impressive advantages over placebo appeared only with 15 mg b.i.d. rather than once a day. Future research should use larger doses than 15 mg/day, provide a basic recommended daily allowance/intake multivitamin/mineral supplement for all to standardize background nutrition, select participants for low zinc, and consider the issue of anion interaction.
PMCID: PMC3037197  PMID: 21309695
21.  Nutrition support to patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery 
Nutrition Journal  2003;2:18.
Nutritional depletion has been demonstrated to be a major determinant of the development of post-operative complications. Gastrointestinal surgery patients are at risk of nutritional depletion from inadequate nutritional intake, surgical stress and the subsequent increase in metabolic rate.
Fears of postoperative ileus and the integrity of the newly constructed anastomosis have led to treatment typically entailing starvation with administration of intravenous fluids until the passage of flatus. However, it has since been shown that prompt postoperative enteral feeding is both effective and well tolerated. Enteral feeding is also associated with specific clinical benefits such as reduced incidence of postoperative infectious complications and an improved wound healing response. Further research is required to determine whether enteral nutrition is also associated with modulation of gut function.
Studies have indicated that significant reductions in morbidity and mortality associated with perioperative Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) are limited to severely malnourished patients with gastrointestinal malignancy. Meta-analyses have shown that enteral nutrition is associated with fewer septic complications compared with parenteral feeding, reduced costs and a shorter hospital stay, so should be the preferred option whenever possible.
Evidence to support pre-operative nutrition support is limited, but suggests that if malnourished individuals are adequately fed for at least 7–10 days preoperatively then surgical outcome can be improved.
Ongoing research continues to explore the potential benefits of the action of glutamine on the gut and immune system for gastrointestinal surgery patients. To date it has been demonstrated that glutamine-enriched parenteral nutrition results in reduced length of stay and reduced costs in elective abdominal surgery patients. Further research is required to determine whether the routine supplementation of glutamine is warranted.
A limitation for targeted nutritional support is the lack of a standardised, validated definition of nutritional depletion. This would enable nutrition support to be more readily targeted to those surgical patients most likely to derive significant clinical benefit in terms of improved post-operative outcome.
PMCID: PMC293477  PMID: 14641921
22.  Nutrition in Pelvic Radiation Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Similarities and Differences 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:716579.
Due to the intestinal inflammation, tissue damage, and painful abdominal symptoms restricting dietary intake associated with both diseases, patients with intestinal pelvic radiation disease (PRD) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at increased risk to develop protein calorie malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. In the current paper, we review the nutritional management of both diseases, listing the similar approaches of nutritional management and the nutritional implications of intestinal dysfunction of both diseases. Malnutrition is prevalent in patients with either disease and nutritional risk screening and assessment of nutritional status are required for designing the proper nutritional intervention plan. This plan may include dietary management, oral nutritional supplementation, and enteral and/or parenteral nutrition. In addition to managing malnutrition, nutrients exert immune modulating effects during periods of intestinal inflammation and can play a role in mitigating the risks associated with the disease activity. Consistently, exclusive enteral feeding is recommended for inducing remission in pediatric patients with active Crohn's disease, with less clear guidelines on use in patients with ulcerative colitis. The field of immune modulating nutrition is an evolving science that takes into consideration the specific mechanism of action of nutrients, nutrient-nutrient interaction, and preexisting nutritional status of the patients.
PMCID: PMC4058479  PMID: 24982906
23.  Effects of functional feeds on the lipid composition, transcriptomic responses and pathology in heart of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) before and after experimental challenge with Piscine Myocarditis Virus (PMCV) 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):462.
Cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS) is a severe cardiac disease of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) recently associated with a double-stranded RNA virus, Piscine Myocarditis Virus (PMCV). The disease has been diagnosed in 75-85 farms in Norway each year over the last decade resulting in annual economic losses estimated at up to €9 million. Recently, we demonstrated that functional feeds led to a milder inflammatory response and reduced severity of heart lesions in salmon experimentally infected with Atlantic salmon reovirus, the causal agent of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI). In the present study we employed a similar strategy to investigate the effects of functional feeds, with reduced lipid content and increased eicosapentaenoic acid levels, in controlling CMS in salmon after experimental infection with PMCV.
Hepatic steatosis associated with CMS was significantly reduced over the time course of the infection in fish fed the functional feeds. Significant differences in immune and inflammatory responses and pathology in heart tissue were found in fish fed the different dietary treatments over the course of the infection. Specifically, fish fed the functional feeds showed a milder and delayed inflammatory response and, consequently, less severity of heart lesions at earlier and later stages after infection with PMCV. Decreasing levels of phosphatidylinositol in cell membranes combined with the increased expression of genes related with T-cell signalling pathways revealed new interactions between dietary lipid composition and the immune response in fish during viral infection. Dietary histidine supplementation did not significantly affect immune responses or levels of heart lesions.
Combined with the previous findings on HSMI, the results of the present study highlight the potential role of clinical nutrition in controlling inflammatory diseases in Atlantic salmon. In particular, dietary lipid content and fatty acid composition may have important immune-modulatory effects in Atlantic salmon that could be potentially beneficial in fish balancing the immune and tissue responses to viral infections.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-462) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4079957  PMID: 24919788
24.  Zinc: a new risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly? 
Nutrition reviews  2010;68(1):30-37.
Zinc may be a new risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly. In this special article, we reviewed the magnitude of the problem of pneumonia (its prevalence, morbidity and mortality) in the elderly, its etiology, and the dysregulation of the immune system associated with increasing age. In addition, we presented evidence from the literature, including work we did recently, that low zinc status (commonly reported in the elderly) impairs immune function, decreases resistance to pathogens, and is associated not only with increased incidence and duration of pneumonia, increased use and duration of antimicrobial treatment, but also with increased overall mortality in the elderly. Inadequate stores of zinc might therefore be a risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly. Randomized, double blind, controlled studies are needed to determine the efficacy of zinc supplementation as a potential low cost intervention to reduce morbidity and mortality due to pneumonia in this vulnerable population.
PMCID: PMC2854541  PMID: 20041998
Please provide between three and five key words or phrases; zinc; pneumonia; elderly; nursing home
25.  Enteral nutrition after bone marrow transplantation 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1997;77(2):131-136.
Accepted 16 April 1997

Nutritional insult after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is complex and its nutritional management challenging. Enteral nutrition is cheaper and easier to provide than parenteral nutrition, but its tolerance and effectiveness in reversing nutritional depletion after BMT is poorly defined. Nutritional status, wellbeing, and nutritional biochemistry were prospectively assessed in 21 children (mean age 7.5 years; 14 boys) who received nasogastric feeding after BMT (mean duration 17 days) and in eight children (mean age 8 years, four boys) who refused enteral nutrition and who received dietetic advice only.
 Enteral nutrition was stopped prematurely in eight patients. Greater changes in weight and mid upper arm circumference were observed in the enteral nutrition group, while positive correlations were found between the duration of feeds and increase in weight and in mid upper arm circumference. Vomiting and diarrhoea had a similar incidence in the two groups, while fever and positive blood cultures occurred more frequently in the dietetic advice group. Diarrhoea occurring during enteral nutrition was not associated with fat malabsorption, while carbohydrate malabsorption was associated with rotavirus infection only. Enteral feeding did not, however, affect bone marrow recovery, hospital stay, general wellbeing, or serum albumin concentrations. Hypomagnesaemia, hypophosphataemia, zinc and selenium deficiency were common in both groups. In conclusion, enteral nutrition, when tolerated, is effective in limiting nutritional insult after BMT. With existing regimens nutritional biochemistry should be closely monitored in order to provide supplements when required.

PMCID: PMC1717280  PMID: 9301351

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