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Study: Seniors with low vitamin D levels run greater risk of death

BY Michael Johnsen

CORVALLIS, Ore. — A study released Thursday found that low levels of vitamin D can mean a much greater risk of death among older adults.

The randomized, nationally representative study found that older adults with low vitamin D levels had a 30% greater risk of death than people who had higher levels. And people defined as frail had more than double the risk of death than those who were not frail. Frail adults with low levels of vitamin D tripled their risk of death over people who were not frail and who had higher levels of vitamin D.

“What this really means is that it is important to assess vitamin D levels in older adults, and especially among people who are frail,” stated lead author Ellen Smit of Oregon State University.

Smit said past studies have separately associated frailty and low vitamin D with a greater mortality risk, but this is the first to look at the combined effect. This study, published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined more than 4,300 adults older than 60 years using data from the "Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey."

“As you age, there is an increased risk of melanoma, but older adults should try and get more activity in the sunshine,” she said. “Our study suggests that there is an opportunity for intervention with those who are in the pre-frail group, but could live longer, more independent lives if they get proper nutrition and exercise.”

Frailty is when a person experiences a decrease in physical functioning characterized by at least three of the following five criteria: muscle weakness, slow walking, exhaustion, low physical activity and unintentional weight loss. People are considered “pre-frail” when they have one or two of the five criteria.

Because of the cross-sectional nature of the survey, researchers could not determine if low vitamin D contributed to frailty, or whether frail people became vitamin D deficient because of health problems. However, Smit said the longitudinal analysis on death showed it may not matter which came first.

“If you have both, it may not really matter which came first because you are worse off and at greater risk of dying than other older people who are frail and who don’t have low vitamin D,” she said. “This is an important finding because we already know there is a biological basis for this. Vitamin D impacts muscle function and bones, so it makes sense that it plays a big role in frailty.”

“A balanced diet — including good sources of vitamin D like milk and fish — and being physically active outdoors, will go a long way in helping older adults to stay independent and healthy for longer," Smit concluded.

Researchers from Portland State University, Drexel University of Philadelphia, University of Puerto Rico and McGill University in Montreal contributed to this study. It was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and a grant from OSU. 


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SymphonyIRI report analyzes unique pricing dynamics of four beauty, personal care categories

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO — SymphonyIRI has unveiled a new report that takes an up-close look at beauty pricing dynamics and how savvy marketers can take advantage of an opportunity to provide consumers with meaningful mid-tier product options.

SymphonyIRI said its analysis, "In the eye of the beholder: High-low pricing strategies are not always suitable for beauty," found that while high-low portfolio pricing strategy works in the consumer packaged goods market, it is not an optimal strategy in the beauty and personal care industry, which is known for being innovative and destination-driven. Because of this, SymphonyIRI outlined what factors that manufacturers and retailers should consider when looking to tap into the underserved mid-tier beauty market. These include:

  • Pricing: Price is not the primary driver in most beauty segments and thus brand trumps price on most occasions, creating a unique opportunity for beauty manufacturers to better weather the storm caused by economic flux. Something as simple as smaller unit sizes, thus slightly lower prices, speaks to value- and brand-driven consumers, giving them the opportunity to stick with their brand, but buy smaller units or channel surf for the best deal;

  • Brand loyalty: Consumers have shown a commitment to finding — and spending on — the right brand, the right product and the best performance for their needs, and wear their strong brand loyalty as a badge of honor. These highly personal consumables demand more thoughtful choices for consumers, who expect these products to contribute to their physical appearance and provide usage experiences that contribute to their emotional well-being. Further, consumers often feel their brands of choice represent them and their own philosophies, making these personal product brands a part of their identity;

  • New product development and innovation: Consumers have shown time and time again that they will pay for high-performance products. By fostering innovation within brand portfolios, manufacturers can avoid price wars. Since brand trumps price in beauty, money spent on building brands and loyalty as defense against competitive brands and private label will be well-spent; and

  • Retail experience: The experience at retail also builds dimension to the entire beauty shopping experience, setting it apart from other less essential, less personal categories where consumers don’t have an emotional connection. Not only do beauty products create destination shopping, but an up-to-date, modern retail environment delivers a pleasant experience that will build loyalty and incremental sales. [Manufacturers and retailers should] consider reconfiguring stores to make the experience less typical, more boutique-like and more contemporary.

"Even though the middle class has lost 7% of its buying power in the past 25 years, they still represent a substantial part of the population that wants to purchase mid-tier products," said Victoria Gustafson, author of the "Point of View" and principal and team lead of strategic insights at SymphonyIRI. "Companies that disregard this still large and powerful section of the market, especially in beauty, are poised to miss a great portion of sales and broad opportunity today and into the future. This analysis points to certain beauty markets where high-low portfolio pricing strategy holds, but also highlights segments that are neglecting the middle market, which means losing overall."

To download the full report, click here.

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APhA names president-elect

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association has a new president-elect, the group said Thursday.

The APhA announced the election of Matthew Osterhaus, who will succeed Steven Simenson at the conclusion of the 2014 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, Fla., on March 31, 2014. Osterhaus is the co-owner of Osterhaus Pharmacy in Maquoketa, Iowa, and an APhA trustee.

The group also elected to three-year terms on the APhA board of trustees Nancy Alvarez, of Oxford, Pa., the director of medical information at Endo Pharmaceuticals; and Ronald Small of Advance, N.C., a medication management consultant at Joint Commission Resources. Alvarez and Small will begin their terms in March 2013. The group also elected as its honorary president Norman Campbell, a professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy. All will be installed at the APhA’s 160th annual meeting in Los Angeles next March.


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