Milk, exercise raise children’s vitamin D levels

London, Feb 6 (IANS) Sufficient intake of milk with vitamin D supplements and physical activity are significantly important for vitamin D levels in children, according to a new study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland.

According to the researchers, a sufficiently high vitamin D level is associated with better bone health and may also be related a lower risk of many chronic diseases.

The population-based study provides insights into the health and well-being of children and adolescents

The study, published online in British Journal of Nutrition, saw 512 children aged six to eight years participating in the baseline measurements in 2007-2009, constituting a representative sample of their age group.

The children whose blood samples were taken in the autumn had the highest vitamin D levels. In the northern latitudes, there is not enough exposure to the sun to maintain sufficient vitamin D levels in winter.

According to the study, more than 80 percent of the children had a lower intake of vitamin D from food and vitamin supplements than the recommended level.

The scientists recommended 2.5-3 glasses of dairy milk fortified with vitamin D per day and two-three servings of fish per week. The diet should also contain vegetable oil based spreads which are fortified with vitamin D along with sufficient outdoor exercise should be encouraged among children.

Malaria infects white-tailed deer too

While looking for malaria that might infect birds in a US zoo, researchers have accidentally discovered for the first time a malaria parasite that infects the white-tailed deer.

The malaria parasite Plasmodium odocoilei is the first of its kind known to live in a deer species and the only native malaria parasite found in any mammal in North or South America, the study said.

Though white-tailed deer diseases have been heavily studied–scientist hadn’t noticed that many have malaria parasites.

The researchers have estimated that the parasite infects up to 25 percent of white-tailed deer along the US East Coast.

Their results were published in the journal Science Advances.

“You never know what you are going to find when you are out in nature – and you look,” said Ellen Martinsen from University of Vermont in the US.

“It’s a parasite that has been hidden in the most iconic game animal in the United States. I just stumbled across it,” Martinsen noted.

The researchers noted that they anticipate little danger to people from this newly discovered deer malaria, it does underline the fact that many human health concerns are connected to wider ecological systems – and that understanding the biology of other species is a foundation to both conservation and public health management.

Malaria is a major problem for people in many parts of the world–and for many species of wildlife too.

“Malaria is a top parasitic disease in humans and wildlife,” Martinsen said.

“It is important that we gain a better understanding of its diversity and distribution not just across humans but across other species too,” Martinsen noted.

Declining weight during ageing linked to cognitive impairment

People having a greater weight loss during ageing are at an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which affects the memory, language, thinking and judging capacity of an individual, says a new study.

MCI, which is an early stage of dementia — a general term for a decline in mental ability — can be seen in people with increasing weight loss per decade as they age from midlife to old age, the study said, adding that about 5 percent to 15 percent of people suffering from MCI are progressing towards dementia each year.

The researchers noted that people who developed MCI had a greater average weight change per decade from midlife than those who remained cognitively normal.

A greater decline in weight per decade was associated with an increased risk of incident MCI, with a weight loss of 5 kilograms per decade corresponding to a 24 percent increased risk of MCI, the findings, published online in the journal JAMA Neurology, showed.

“In summary, our findings suggest that an increasing rate of weight loss from midlife to late life is a marker for MCI and may help identify persons at increased risk of MCI,” said Rosebud O. Roberts from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US.

The researchers studied participants 70 or older from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, which started in 2004. Height and weight in midlife (40 to 65 years old) were collected from medical records.

During an average of 4.4 years of follow-up, the authors identified 524 of 1,895 cognitively normal participants who developed MCI (about 50 percent were men and their average age was 78.5 years).

Those who developed MCI were older and more likely to have diabetes, hypertension, stroke or coronary artery disease compared with study participants who remained cognitively normal.

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