Do this for a shorter hospital stay

SupplementsA growing body of evidence suggests that malnutrition is a serious and often unrecognized problem among hospitalized patients. Malnourished patients are more likely to experience an increased length of stay, higher health care costs, more complications, and a greater chance of readmission and death.

In a  study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers looked to determine whether oral nutritional supplements, delivering both macronutrients and micronutrients in addition to normal food intake, would improve outcomes in hospitalized patients.

They used data gathered between 2000 and 2010 to examine the effect of oral nutritional supplements on hospital  outcomes by comparing hospital stays where nutritional supplements were provided with similar hospital stays that did not provide supplements. A total of 1,160,088 total patients were analyzed (580,044 given oral supplements matched with 580,044 not given supplements). The length of hospital stay and cost of treatment  were measured in addition to the probability of hospital readmission within 30 days.

The researchers found that patients that were provided with nutritional supplements had a 21% (2.3 days) reduction in the length of hospital stay which also resulted in a cost savings of $4,734. Supplementation also reduced the probability of patient readmission by 6.7%.

Consistent with results from previous randomized controlled trials, this study indicates that the use of oral nutritional supplements may lead to a significant reduction in the length of hospital stays, cost, and chances of readmission. And, given the prevalence of malnutrition among this population, nutritional supplementation would be a cost effective method of improving health outcomes while also reducing health care spending.

As a personal example my 85 year old mother fell and broke her leg. Since she still lived alone she stayed in the hospital’s long term nursing facility.  After five weeks they did an x-ray of the break and found no bone growth.  In my visits there when she ate her meals were nutritionally void. Breakfast may be oatmeal, coffee, maybe a little fruit. Lunch might be a bowl of soup, small salad, and a sandwich, dinner wasn’t much better than lunch.  She had few nutrient dense foods, and very few that had high calcium levels.  I went against the doctors orders and snuck in a calcium supplement which also contained all the other nutrients necessary for bone health (magnesium, D, K, silicon, and boron). In the next 5 weeks her diet was unchanged, but upon the next xray she was fully healed and released back home.  Had she received supplemental calcium and other nutrients upon admission, she would have cut her hospital stay in half.

Source: Tomas J Phillipson et al.  Impact of Oral Nutritional Supplementation on Hospital Outcomes. Am J Manag Care. 2013;19(2):121-128

Dirt Has All The Minerals You Need.

iStock_000016764141_ExtraSmallDid you know that plain old garden dirt has all the minerals your body needs? So why do we need to spend money on expensive vitamins? Why not just go out and eat some dirt? Remember the dirt pies we made as kids?

This is really a great idea, but why can’t we just eat dirt? Well it is because the minerals in dirt are found as oxides and salts. We can eat these, but our body can’t readily absorb them in these forms. They dissolve just fine in our gastric juices, but the free mineral ions by themselves readily bind to something else – usually fiber. Where does fiber go? Yep, straight out the back door and very little is absorbed.

So how do we get our minerals then? Well we need to enlist plants. Plants will pick up those minerals from the soil and chelate them. That means they bind the minerals into organic molecules. When we eat vegetables and fruits the minerals stay bound to the organic molecules like amino acids, which our body wants, and the minerals are absorbed along with the organic molecules.

So does that mean that we can only get minerals from fruits and vegetables. Yes and no.  Yes you can, if they are in the soil, but many soils are depleted. In New Zealand for example the soil is almost completely void of selenium, so the produce grown there doesn’t have selenium. Many firms tout that their supplement are from dehydrated fruits and vegetables. In theory this is good, but you are hoping that they have all the minerals (and vitamins) in them in the right forms and ratios.  I’ve pressed a couple of manufactures to give me the nutritional breakdown of their plant based supplements and they can’t/won’t. What you do find when these are analyzed is that they are often very lacking in what you hope is in there.  double blind placebo controlled tests of the bioavailability, they often turn up low.

Ok, so what do we do?  The highest rated supplements use chelated minerals. These are minerals which are bound to organic molecules as they are found in nature, but they are produced, or extracted, in a controlled process so the quantities of minerals are precisely controlled so you know exactly what you are getting.  Do these have to be extracted from plants? No. They can be synthesized to obtain very pure highly bioavailable minerals, or they can be extracted from plants. The problem with plant extraction is that sometimes harsh chemicals are used to do the extraction and these sometimes can’t be eliminated from the final product, so you get a known quantity of minerals, but some undesirable chemicals come along for the ride.

You’d assume every company would use chelated minerals right? Nope, most use the very inexpensive salts and oxides, like you find in dirt. They know they are poorly absorbed, but they also know that most consumers don’t know what to look for, so they see 100% of the RDA and pick the cheapest brand there is – You’d be better off just to leave the bottle on the shelf. Assume that if it doesn’t specifically list chelated forms in the ingredient statement, that they used salts. You can spot these as they usually end in “die” like magnesium oxide, potassium iodide, etc.

I’ve also seen come companies making claims that only nutrients from living plants are absorbed because of a living resonance frequency, or some similar claim.  This makes great marketing material, but there isn’t a single scientific study which proves this – these companies will claim they have proof, but it is usually a thesis written by the founder or marketing department and nothing factual.

So what do you do? Simple:

  • Look for minerals in a supplement which are “Chelated” These will often end in the “ate” such as chromium picolinate, calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, zinc citrate, copper glutamate, etc.
  • The above must be listed in the supplement fact panel next to the weight or below in a section titled “Ingredients”. If they are listed in a section labeled “Other Ingredients” they they are being deceitful on the labeling and the product contains much cheaper salts.
  • Insure that the products are manufactured to pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) This is your assurance that if it says there is 100mg of an ingredient, that it is actually in there.
  • See how the product you use is ranked against other products by an independent research firm. The best is published in the “Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements” by NutriSearch.  There are three top rated nutritional supplements rated out of over 1,600. These three do use the forms with the highest bioavailability of both the vitamins and minerals. They also verified that what was on the label was in the tablet. They verified that they were manufactured to stringent pharmaceutical GMPs. This guide can be purchased on Amazon, or feel free to write me and I’ll let you know how your product in question was ranked. Click This Link and click the “Contact Me” link at the top of the page and you can write me.