Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says
May 2nd, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says

People who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may significantly lower their risk of developing memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found.

Researchers recruited 1,219 people over age 65, and followed their dietary habits for more than a year.  Then they tested the subjects' blood for a protein called beta-amyloid, a protein is associated with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, plaques and tangles which are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are actually clumps of this substance.


The animal products in your medicine cabinet
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

The animal products in your medicine cabinet

Most of us put a good deal of thought into the food we put in our bodies. But do we ever consider the food in our medicine?

That's right, the food in our medicine.

While television and print ads alike are loaded with messages about potential serious side effects, prescription drug disclaimers are issued to warn against possible unintended consequences resulting from a drug’s active ingredient(s).

But what you may not know is that the bulk of your prescription pill is made up of inactive ingredients, known as “excipients," and that your drugs couldn’t be made without them. Quite simply, excipients are what encapsulates your capsule or forms your pill into a solid as opposed to a powder.

Here’s the rub: One of the most common excipients used is gelatin, which is almost universally of animal origin. This presents a problem, as you might imagine, to those living within religious or dietary restrictions.


August 5th, 2011
05:04 PM ET

Help me balance career, new baby, weight loss

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Lisa T. of Los Gatos, California

Since I had a baby at 44 after several years of fertility treatment, I personally have been struggling with addressing all that with the "no time" problem of new motherhood, career balance, etc, and yes, an extra 20 pounds gained pre-pregnancy due to fertility treatments. I bet there are LOTS of women out there who could benefit from some of your no-nonsense information and guidance on this issue, regardless of what point and circumstances they became new mothers. Any tips?


Adding folic acid to Latin American foods can help reduce birth defects
June 17th, 2011
10:37 AM ET

Adding folic acid to Latin American foods can help reduce birth defects

Alexandra Dixon was born with a hole in her lower back, exposing her spinal cord, a condition called spina bifida. Within 48 hours, she had two surgeries to begin correcting her birth defect: One to close the hole and another to insert a cerebral shunt – a tube moving excess fluid from her head to prevent excessive pressure on the brain.  In her 29 years, Dixon has had 18 surgeries to correct this birth defect – a type of neural tube defect (NTD), which can kill many infants and put others in wheelchairs for life.

Each year about 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects in the United States, including the one Dixon had, and the highest rates are found among Hispanics compared to other racial or ethnic groups.

So the March of Dimes is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow food producers to fortify corn masa flour with the B vitamin folic acid, which "could prevent more serious birth defects of the brain and spine in the Hispanic community," according to a March of Dimes commentary published in the American Journal of Public Health.


February 25th, 2011
08:24 AM ET

What vitamins, supplements should I take after weight-loss surgery?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Asked by Paulina Thomas of Jacksonville

What vitamins and supplements are recommended for people who have had weight loss surgery? And how much?

Zinc may curb cold symptoms
February 15th, 2011
07:37 PM ET

Zinc may curb cold symptoms

As everyone knows, there's no cure for the common cold. So most people simply suffer through two or more colds a year, often missing days of work or school in the process.

Scientists still haven't found a cure, but a new expert review suggests that taking zinc supplements may help ease cold symptoms—and may even prevent the viral infections altogether.


January 13th, 2011
11:35 AM ET

Do vitamins help against type 2 diabetes?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Melissa Dashensa of San Diego, California

Are vitamin D, calcium and magnesium effective in preventing type 2 diabetes? If so, how much should one take?


Lack of vitamin D at birth may increase respiratory infection risk
December 27th, 2010
03:54 PM ET

Lack of vitamin D at birth may increase respiratory infection risk

Here's more evidence to add to research from earlier this year that pregnant women need more vitamin D:

A study led by Dr. Carlos Camargo, Jr., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, finds that newborns with low levels of cord-blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a measure of overall vitamin D status) had a greater risk of respiratory infection than those who had higher levels. The researchers did not find an association with asthma, but respiratory infection exacerbates that condition, Camargo said.


FDA cracks down on tainted dietary supplements
December 15th, 2010
05:45 PM ET

FDA cracks down on tainted dietary supplements

Manufacturers who put tainted or undeclared ingredients into dietary supplements were warned Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration that they can no longer market them as such. The FDA has received reports on well over 100 products over the last few years, a number of them detailed serious injuries, even deaths. In fact, since 2007 the agency has sent out consumer alerts about 300 adulterated products.

"These tainted products can cause serious adverse effects, including strokes, organ failure and death," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. "The manufacturers selling these tainted products are operating outside the law."

Concern over the growing problem has led the agency to send a letter to five major trade associations - the Counil for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Assocation, United Natural Produdcts Alliance, Consumer Healthcare Products Association and American Herbal Products Association - whose member companies make dietary supplements, warning them of the problem and of "their legal obligations and their responsibility to prevent tainted products from reaching the US market."


December 3rd, 2010
08:28 AM ET

What are the best supplements for a diabetic?

Question asked by Michelle of Tallahassee, Florida:

My husband has adult-onset diabetes. He is 43, but was diagnosed about five years ago. His mother is diabetic as well. Both are very small-framed people who are not overweight nor very muscular. There is no doubt the disease is genetic for them.

My husband takes Glucovance to help control his blood sugar. He also strives to stay physically active despite a sedentary desk job. What advice can you offer for type 2 diabetics who struggle to maintain their weight?

Are there supplements that he would benefit from? He does his best to emphasize protein and fruits/veggies in his diet, but carbs are still a weakness. Seems like all advice is geared toward obese diabetics or insulin-dependent type 1.

Filed under: Diabetes • Expert Q&A • Vitamins and supplements

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.