Nutraceuticals gain popularity, particularly with women

November 1, 2010

Probiotics are assuming popularity in nutraceuticals, especially for female health. They are found in yogurts and nutritional supplements, such as Align (Bifidobacterium infantis, Procter & Gamble).

Key Points

A. Probiotics are assuming popularity in nutraceuticals, especially for female health. They are found in yogurts and nutritional supplements, such as Align (Bifidobacterium infantis, Procter & Gamble). They are said to populate the intestine with beneficial bacteria that can improve problems such as constipation and diarrhea.

Bacteria may affect some of the transport of material through the gut, which in turn affects how nutrients and other substances are absorbed and metabolized. This has been part of the theory behind colon cleansing through high colonics practiced in some naturopathic medical clinics. Some hold that many skin conditions are related to intestinal health and that probiotics may improve the appearance of the skin and minimize acne, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Whether probiotics are of value in dermatology requires further investigation.

Q. Do the new facial cleansing devices offer superior results?

A. For many years, hands or a washcloth were the standard devices used to clean the face. Today, a plethora of battery-operated devices can be purchased, at a cost of $20 to $200, for facial cleansing. Is such a device necessary?

The currently marketed facial cleansing devices operate by some type of motion. This motion can be rotating, vibrating, reciprocating or sonicating.

Rotating devices are typically brushes that move in a circle over the face, which is covered with a low-foaming cleanser. The rotary motion of the brush scrubs the face and produces increased exfoliation.

Other devices contain a cleansing pad that vibrates to dislodge desquamating corneocytes. This same exfoliation can also be accomplished with a reciprocating motion, in which the head of the device moves back and forth.

Sonicating devices are also rotary devices, except that the head moves in one direction and then reverses to move in the other direction to provide bidirectional cleansing. In summary, cleansing devices offer a new twist to simple soap and water.

Q. What is the proper dose of vitamin D?

A. Vitamin D deficiency appears to be a common problem among 25 percent or more of the population, with a higher incidence occurring in older individuals. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 400 IU, but this amount was arrived at by consensus rather than evidenced-based inquiry.

It is true that 400 IU is sufficient to prevent rickets, but low levels of vitamin D have been associated with bone loss, depression, fatigue and muscle weakness in postmenopausal women. In fact, vitamin D is probably not a vitamin at all, but rather a sex steroid with homology to testosterone.

The proper dose of vitamin D varies from person to person, but the RDA is probably closer to 1,000 IU daily. In people who are prone to vitamin D deficiency, the RDA may be up to 2,000 IU daily.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a Dermatology Times editorial adviser and consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net