We are what we eat.

The cattle are as good as the pasture in which they graze.
-Ethiopian proverb
We can build better bodies and better babies with normal healthy food. Tweaking ratios in our supplements and formulas would make it easier to get what we need but in the mean time moderate use of typical foods can feed us well. Babies would benefit from more human milk use whether from individual mothers or donated milk banks. It would help infant’s neuro-development and might help prevent some colic and sleepless nights. If infant formula is necessary than an occasional quarter teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia might prevent problems from the slightly high calcium/magnesium ratio (cow’s milk is quite a bit higher in calcium and protein than the modified formula product and is not suitable for use with young infants).
The levels of a  few nutrients in breast milk can be adversely affected by diet or health and magnesium is one of them. The average is around 30 mg/liter but the level can drop to the low 20’s and does in malnourished populations and teen moms and it can be elevated around 45 mg/liter in diabetic moms.
Young women, aka teen moms, are also more at risk for preeclampsia, as are mothers of twins. Both of these groups have increased nutrient needs – they are eating for baby plus more. These two sub-populations are linked with malnourished women in third world country studies by the unusually low magnesium levels in their breast milk. The high levels in the diabetic women suggests to me that the cell membranes are allowing too much out – that they have become leaky somehow.
We need more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans for magnesium but they also give us protein and fiber. The healthy starches are necessary for a strong protective intestinal lining. White blood cells patrol and pick off allergens, infection and other information and send it up to lymph nodes. At the lymph nodes more specialized work takes place to identify the foreign proteins and replicate defensive antibodies if needed. Nature provided us this natural oral vaccination method but healthy foods are necessary to build blood cells and make the glycocalyx jelly lining around the intestinal folds.

The United Kingdom recently released the nutrition recommendation to eat less red meat. Americans were told to eat less red meat a while ago . . . and we did, however we started eating more chicken, and cheese intake also increased — from a USDA report on 1909 to 2000 US nutrient intake. [2 -Table 32] Between 1970 and 2000 red meat use dropped fifteen percent! But chicken use increased 80 percent and cheese 150 percent. Chicken in the form of nuggets and other breaded and fried forms has become a staple that had been a special occasion food . The hidden added oil of fried chickend and the saturated fats of the cheese made “eat less red meat” a nutrition recommendation that worked and failed. We are eating less red meat than we used to in America but we are eating more cheese and chicken .

I would like to encourage a positive spin of less red meat and more beans, nuts and seeds for a protein source that also provides healthy fiber and many other trace nutrients. Having a variety of types of foods daily or throughout the week will generally provide more trace nutrients. We need hundreds of types of chemical compounds, not just ten or twenty vitamins and minerals. A few trace nutrients are considered essential for our health because our bodies can not create them out of other simpler chemicals. However other trace chemicals may become more important to consume in the diet or take as supplements if a person has a problem with some of the conversion steps necessary to make important enzymes or proteins or other more complex molecules. Eating liver and onions once a month may provide a boost to our health because it provides fully formed enzymes that can be more easily reassembled by the body after they are broken down and absorbed during digestion.

Using a variety of protein sources throughout the week or mixed in the meal may provide more variety of some of the more unusual types of essential sugars. A rich beef stock made from marrow rich bones will yield glucosamine, one of the essential sugars or glyco-nutrients. Many people use it as a supplement for arthritis pain. It can have a positive effect after taking it for a few weeks. Glucosamine is found in the synovial fluid that cushions the area between the bones of the knee and other joints in the body. A supplement recommendation is 1500 mg/day. [Synovial and plasma glucosamine concentrations in osteoarthritic patients following oral crystalline glucosamine sulphate at therapeutic dose, S. Persiani, Ph.D, et. al., Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 15, Issue 7, July 2007, Pages 764–772]
Supplements may be from a shellfish source as it is frequently derived from crustacean shells so people with shellfish allergies should look for a vegetarian source.
Glucosamine is also found in the chitin of insects. The use of insects in the diet may have helped prevent kwashiokor in young children in tropical regions. The intestinal lining in some individuals, possibly those who had a recent infection, seems to malfunction in the ability to convert other sugars into glucosamine. The use of a rich broth from a bone stock might suit more people’s taste than insects. Although there are chefs presenting some appetizing dishes. . . . citations to follow when I am more awake.
Moderate use of dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and other calcium rich foods would benefit bone health without sacrificing magnsium absorption. Two to three dairy servings per day would provide adequate calcium. Supplements are not generally needed.
The food pyramid and http://www.mypyramid.gov is a nice start but I tend to recommend:
    • a bit less grains – swap some starchy root vegetables for the carbohydrate calories,
    • and a bit more vegetables -AICR – recommends 5-9 veg and fruit per day as anticancer medicine.
    • Juice is concentrated and limiting to 4-6 oz/day is healthy – especially for small bodies.
    • A bit less meat and dairy groups and use the calories for nuts, beans, and seeds.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

*2015, edit, I’m not sure why I included this chart in 2011 but I’m leaving it here for now.

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/             nutrient data base

Vit D IU
Vit A IU
Whole milk no added A or D
1 cup
7.67 gr
7.98 gr
276 mg
24 mg
5 IU
395 IU
Human milk, mature
1 cup
2.53 gr
10.77 gr
79 mg
7 mg
7 IU
522 IU
Infant Formula, similac
100 gr x 2.43 = 1 cup
3.3 gr
8.62 gr
124 mg
10 mg
95 IU
479 IU

**Note that the example infant formula is fortified with vitamin D at 13.6 times the amount of human milk and 19 times the amount in cow’s milk. There are more nutrients but the blog is narrow.

1.      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576106072340020728.html  Marcel Dicke, Arnold Van Huis are professors of entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.  (2-19-11, The Wall Street Journal, pC3)  The Six-Legged Meat of the Future, Insects are nutritious and easy to raise without harming the environment. They also have a nice nutty taste

2. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/foodsupply/foodsupply1909-2000.pdf Gerrior, S., Bente, L., & Hiza, H. (2004). Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food
Supply, 1909-2000. (Home Economics Research Report No. 56). U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
 Effect of Diabetes Mellitus on Protein–Energy Wasting and Protein Wasting in End-Stage Renal Disease, Nazanin Noori1, Joel D. Kopple1,2Article first  published online:13 APR 2010DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00705.x

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121473  Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):39-49. Causes and prevention of protein-energy wasting in chronic kidney failure. Dukkipati R, Kopple JD. Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Los Angeles Biomedical  Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90509, USA.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121477 Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):75-84. Nutrition support for the chronically wasted or acutely catabolic chronic kidney disease patient.
Ikizler  TA.Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Vanderbilt University School of  Medicine,Nashville, TN 37232-2372, USA.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16129200Am J Kidney Dis. 2005 Sep;46(3):387-405. Multinutrient oral  supplements and tube feeding in maintenance dialysis: a systematic review and meta-  analysis. StrattonRJ, Bircher G, Fouque D, Stenvinkel P, de Mutsert R, Engfer M, Elia  M.Instituteof Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, UK.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891019/?tool=pubmed New Insights into the Role of Anabolic Interventions in Dialysis Patients with Protein Energy Wasting Jie Dong and T. Alp Ikizler1 Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2009 November; 18(6): 469–475.doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e3283 31489d.
 “Economic Implications of Nutritional interventions It is also important to assess the impact of nutritional supplements not only in terms of changes in nutritional parameters, but to extrapolate these observations to potential improvements in hospitalization, mortality, and cost-effectiveness. In a recent study, Lacson et al showed that a hypothetical increase in serum albumin concentration in the order of 2 g/L in 50%  of the United States dialysis population would be associated with  projections of approximately 1400 lives saved, approximately 6000 hospitalizations  averted, and approximately $36 million in Medicare cost savings resulting  from a reduction of approximately 20,000 hospital days over one year[68]. This is a reasonable estimation since 2 g/L increase in serum albumin is the average improvement reported in most nutritional intervention studies.”

***The above paper is suggesting that giving them growth hormones  and other anabolic steroids along with protein will help them to stop catabolizing. They have had success with the strategy, but wouldn’t magnesium plus protein (ideally magnesium foods) be cheaper than hormones and protein.