Growing case for vitamin D

Researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital have found a new link between low vitamin D levels and immune functioning in infants. These latest findings add to the now rapidly growing body of evidence suggesting that extra amounts of this vitamin, naturally obtained principally through sun exposure, may be needed by many of us to promote optimal health. Other studies have highlighted the importance of vitamin D in a number of critical health areas, including bone health, weight management, immune functioning, brain health, and even cancer and multiple sclerosis prevention. Read more about the new study at Vitamin D & Infants.

Our rich human legacy

Through new genetic analysis, scientists have now confirmed interbreeding between early east-migrating Homo sapiens and Denisovans, an offshoot of Neanderthals and descendents of Homo erectus people. Through similar analysis, researchers had previously confirmed interbreeding between Neanderthals and later north and west migrating Homo sapiens. Learn more about the new findings at Siberian Fossils.

Supplements questioned

A 14-member expert committee convened by the U.S. Institute of Medicine has concluded that vitamin D and calcium supplementation are not needed for bone health in most people. Proposed vitamin D benefits in other areas were not considered by the panel, with some members citing insufficient evidence to substantiate newer claims. Learn more about the panel’s conclusions at IOM Calcium & Vitamin D Report.

Gains in Aging Research

Scientists at the Belfer Institute at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have achieved a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the aging process – by manipulating the enzyme telomerase in mice. In the new experiment, scientists genetically altered the mice so that their production of telomerase, a key component of chromosome health in animals, could be quickly turned on or off. Since chromosome health is hypothesized to strongly influence physiological aging, inhibition of the enzyme led to near immediate and rapidly accelerated aging as expected.  Researchers were surprised, however, when restoration of natural telomerase levels quickly and significantly reversed these aging effects, suggesting the potential for anti-aging therapies within this line of investigation. Learn more about the new research and a likely source of future anti-aging strategies at Belfer Aging Study.