Today’s Headlines: Organic Milk, Heartburn Drugs and Vitamin D

Organic whole milk provides best heart-health benefits, study says: “Scientists who looked at hundreds of samples found that organic whole milk offered more of the fatty acids good for the heart than conventional milk.” The study found that organic milk contains 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Organic milk comes from cows that eat at least 30% of their dry food from grass and pasture for at least 120 days out of the year. Conventional farms give cows more grains such as corn. The study, which was published in the journal PLOS One also suggested that whole milk (which contains about 4% fat) has a more heart-healthy balance of fatty acids compared to reduced-fat milk. Skim milk contains no fatty acids. (Los Angeles Times)

Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency: Patients who take common heartburn medications known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers) are “more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them,” according to a new study. People who took PPIs for two years or longer were 65% more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if they were taking a higher dose. “The risk of deficiency was not has high in patients who used H2 blockers long-term: 4.2%, compared with 3.2% of nonusers.” Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to anemia, dementia and neurologic damage. Experts said that people should not stop their heartburn medications, but encouraged patients to discuss appropriate dosing with their physicians. (CNN)

Limits of vitamin D supplements: A recent review of 290 prospective observational studies and 172 randomized clinical trials examining the effects of vitamin D on health found that “vitamin D supplements have little or no benefit beyond the low levels required for bone health.” Most of the trials used doses of 800 units of vitamin D or more. While the observational studies often observed an “association” between low vitamin D and increased cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, glucose levels, weight gain, infectious disease and mood problems, the random trials showed “little or no effect of vitamin D supplements on any of these problems.” The authors of the study concluded that “low vitamin D levels are almost surely an effect of these diseases, and not a cause.” (The New York Times)