In Defense of Coffee

In Defense of Coffee

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A beloved beverage throughout the USA and the world at large, coffee is often blamed for various health woes. While coffee is not appropriate for everyone, and there is such a thing as “too much” for even the most tolerant of sippers, research has shown a vast array of health benefits.

The abundant phytochemicals found in coffee beans are responsible for the various benefits, including potential prevention of diseases such as Diabetes mellitus type II, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer. Of course, we cannot overlook the well-loved stimulant effect of coffee that reliably provides us with increased stamina during exercise, and temporarily improves our cognitive function. Moreover, coffee simply makes mornings tastier.

Following is a brief overview discussing a few of the benefits to coffee consumption. These are presented in defense of coffee and as a thank you to its many active phytochemicals, including caffeine, caffeic acid, hydroxyhydroquine, chlorogenic acid, cafestol and kahweol.

 

Coffee consumption has been linked with a lower risk for Diabetes Type II.
The leading theory is that active compounds from the roasted coffee bean, including caffeine and caffeic acid, help to decrease the low-level inflammation associated with diabetes mellitus through anti-oxidant action. Coffee may not directly alter how your body metabolizes blood sugar throughout the day, but it does decrease your risk by lowering inflammation!

Coffee may increase total cholesterol, but it improves the LDL to HDL ratio.
A 2010 study found that regular coffee consumption increased total cholesterol, but much of this rise in blood lipids was due to an increase in the “good” cholesterol, HDL. The LDL (“bad” cholesterol) to HDL ratio actually improved. This suggests that coffee intake may offer cardiovascular protection in those with low to normal total cholesterol, and low HDL. Cafestol and kahweol, the coffee compounds believed to cause these effects, are highest in unfiltered coffee.

Six cups a days may prevent colorectal cancer.
A study published 2012 suggested that 4 daily cups of coffee can decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 15%, while 6 daily cups may decrease your risk by as much as 40%. The study looked at nearly 500,000 middle-aged Americans, comparing their reported coffee intake to cancer outcomes over a 10 year period. Sadly, 3 cups or less per day did not significantly decrease risks of colorectal cancer.

Coffee can lift your mood, thanks to caffeine and possibly chlorogenic acid.
Caffeine is already established as a reliable, short term enhancer for cognitive function and mood. Recent findings suggest that chlorogenic acid, a component found in both regular and decaf coffee, may be involved in the mood-lifting effects of coffee. Caffeine or no caffeine, coffee may brighten your day.

 

Stamina, mood enhancement, and cholesterol aside, there are individuals who should limit or avoid coffee. This includes:
1. Individuals with hypertension, especially uncontrolled hypertension
2. Women who are pregnant, suffering from infertility, or symptoms of menopause
3. Individuals with high cholesterol
4. Children and adolescents
5. Individuals with known coffee allergy or food sensitivity

For those limiting their intake, most studies suggest health-altering side effects (both negative and positive) are not experienced with 3 or fewer cups of caffeinated coffee per day.

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

 

References:
1. Butts, MS, et al. “Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 51.4 (2011): 363-73. Print.
2. Cropley, V. “Does coffee enriched with chlorogenic acids improve mood and cognition after acute administration in healthy elderly? A pilot study.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 219.3 (2012): 737-49. Print.
3. Higdon, JF, et al. “Coffee and health: a review of recent human research.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 46.2 (2006): 101-23. Print.
4. Johnson-Kozlow, M, et al. “Coffee consumption and cognitive function among older adults.” Am J Epidemiol. 156.9 (2002): 842-50. Print.
5. Kempf, K, et al. “Effects of coffee consumption on subclinical inflammation and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a clinical trial.” Am J Clin Nutr. 91.4 (2009): 950-7. Print.
6. Sinha R, et al. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea intakes and risk of colorectal cancer in a large prospective study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online June 13 2012

Vitamin D3 – Starting Supplementation in Childhood

For those of us living relatively far North of the equator, vitamin D deficiency is a common finding, and the health consequences are a popular topic in adult healthcare. Adequate levels of the active form of the vitamin (Cholecalciferol) are necessary for proper immune function, maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing osteoporosis, cancer prevention, healthy pregnancies and more.

When considering vitamin D supplements as a therapy, one group that may be commonly overlooked is children. Although children receive vitamin D supplementation through fortified milk, fortified non-dairy beverages, and healthy food choices, new research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and St. Michael’s Foundation conveys that current diets may not provide enough.

Dietary records of Canadian infants suggest they are consuming only 11% of their recommended daily allowance of vitamin D at one year of age. Vitamin D deficiency in children can disrupt proper growth and development, and predispose them to asthma, allergies and more. Doctor Jonathan Maguire’s most recent study looked at serum levels of the vitamin in 1,898 children, and compared it to their variable intakes of vitamin D supplements and fortified milk. The researchers discovered that children under 6 years of age were most likely to maintain higher blood levels if they were given both a vitamin D supplement and 2 glasses of cow’s milk daily.

Many children do not receive daily vitamin D supplements, and for some, cow’s milk is an allergen that must be avoided. For these children, vitamin D supplementation is especially important.

Here in the NW, where sun is rare and families often avoid intake of dairy for reasons of allergy or conscience, I recommend considering vitamin D supplementation for your little ones. Below are some suggestions and general information.

 

 Safe Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) Dosing for Children:

~For infants, children & adolescents, 400 IU daily is a safe dosage

~400 IU is safe in addition to breastfeeding, infant formula, or cow’s milk

~Do not exceed 1,000 IU daily in infants under 12 months of age

~Consider 600-1,000 IU daily for children >12 months old who do not drink cow’s milk

 

Recommended Sources:

Chewable – Natural Factors, Vitamin D3 for Kids

Liquid Drops – Nordic Naturals, DHA Infant (contains omega-3 fatty acids & vitamin D3)

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

References:
Jonathon L. Maguire et al. Modifiable Determinants of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status in Early ChildhoodOpportunities for PreventionDeterminants of Early Childhood Vitamin D Status. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.226
St. Michael’s Hospital. “Supplements and cow’s milk play biggest roles in determining vitamin D levels in children.” ScienceDaily, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2013.
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements – National Institutes of Health. 24 June, 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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