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Category Archives: Food Supplements

Ora Organic on ‘Shark Tank’: A Look Inside the Plant-Based Supplements – Heavy.com

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Ora Organic entered the Shark Tank in Season 8 with their fruit-flavored organic, plant-based supplements.

We interviewed CEO Will Smelko, a former strategy and operations consultant for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, who launched the company with his college friend Ronald Chang, who serves as their chef and COO. The duo spent two years on research and development, consulting with doctors, scientific researchers, nutritionists, health coaches, naturopaths and fitness experts to create the optimal supplement.

When asked about their bestselling products, Smelko responded, Our bestsellers are our Omega-3 Nothing Fishy Here Spray, derived from microalgae and flavored with a special pineapple and citrus blend, and our Way Better Than Whey protein powders, flavored with Chai spices and vanilla.

Heres what else he told us about

We were taking supplements for personal health and wellness reasons, but struggled to find products that met the same standards we hold for our food: organic, non-GMO, plant-based and sustainably sourced. We felt impassioned to create an honest supplement line for our people and planet. We also wanted our customers to feel excited about taking supplements, which inspired us to create culinary-flavored formula blends through aesthetically-pleasing packaging and interesting delivery methods. As a team of individuals who adheres to conscious food and lifestyle choices, we wanted to ensure our supplements demonstrated these values. Ora Organics supplements are kind to our bodies, our environment, and our taste palettes!

Ora Organics supplements differentiate from those in the mainstream, as weve developed 100 percent plant-based nutritional formulas. Our vegan-friendly supplement line sources its ingredients from organic farms to ensure the cleanest and most sustainable products possible. Ora Organics omega-3 supplement, for example, is derived from microalgae instead of fish (the primary source of the majority of omega-3 supplements on the market) and formulated into a spray. Likewise, all of Ora Organics products are carefully crafted to be as delicious as they are healthy. Our chef, Ronald Chang, uses vibrant flavors like pineapple, raspberry, and chai, in many of our recipe blends.

As a team, we were ready for the next step in growing the Ora Organic brand. We have felt that one of the biggest issues in the supplement space has been the lack of transparency between companies and consumers, especially when it comes to the ingredients used in their supplement formulas.After seeing so many people being mislead in grocery stores and daily conversation, we realized the urgent need to raise awareness about the current state of the supplement industry-after all, these products are often consumed daily. We have received immense support in our companys endeavors, and have reached a point at which we feel confident to expand our distribution and reach. Having known other company founders who were featured on Shark Tank and seeing the value-add that the Sharks provide, we wanted to go on the show to experience these benefits firsthand. We needed money to scale our business, and thought the Sharks would be amazing candidates to help us accomplish our goals and gain exposure.

Peaceful Fruits, organic snacks made from acai from the Amazon rainforest, entered the Shark Tank in Season 8. We interviewed its founder.

Dollop Gourmet entered the Shark Tank with its frosting that’s vegan and gluten free. Heavy interviewed its owner about her dessert business.

Although Parker’s Real Maple did not get a deal on Shark Tank, they did gain many customers. We interviewed owner Joshua Parker about their staggering growth.

Bee Fee Honee, a vegan alternative to honey, won a deal with Barbara, Chris and Mark on Shark Tank. Heavy asked their owners about the company’s growth.

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Masquelier’s Grape Seed Extract as a Supplement for Vascular Health – Medical News Bulletin

Posted: at 3:18 pm

The characterization and careful research of a nutraceutical is necessary to claim it has positive health benefits. A review published in Nutrition Journal follows Masqueliers grape seed extract from its isolation in 1947 to its use as a nutraceutical.

In the case of plant-derived food supplements, it is essential for the supplement to be well researched and have significant health benefits. Importantly, three major rules must be followed: 1) the product must be well characterized, 2) the claimed effect should be well-defined and pose a physiological benefit, and 3) there must be a cause and effect relationship between the intake of the food product and the claim on human health.

A new review published in Nutrition Journal followed a botanical preparation of monomeric and oligomeric flavan-3-ols from grape seeds from its creation in 1947 to a commonly used nutraceutical with proven health benefits. Nutraceuticals are any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to their nutritional value in food, and are generally standardized similar to pharmaceutical-grade nutrients.

Various food supplements contain Masqueliers Original OPCs (Anthogenol), the commercial herbal remedies of monomeric and oligomeric flavan-3-ols which are extracted from grape seeds. These flavonoids, or plant pigment molecules, are bioactive components which were first isolated in the early 20th century. Flavonoids are found ubiquitously in plants.

Flavanols are the most abundant flavonoids and are found in a wide variety of vegetables and plant-derived food such as wine, cocoa beans, and legumes. Among fruits, berries have the highest amounts of flavanols. Since the daily dietary intake of flavanols fluctuates between individuals, a flavanol supplement such as Masqueliers Original OPCs is a possible option since it can provide the health benefits of flavanols in a regulated concentration.

The first requirement to substantiate the health benefit of a food product is the characterization of the product. In contrast to many commercially available herbal remedies, Masqueliers grape seed preparation is rigorously standardized by HPLC and H-NMR/PCA fingerprinting. These methods are optimal for monitoring the quality of plant extracts.

The second requirement is that there is a physiological benefit to the nutraceutical. Through a number of studies, the grape seed extract has been shown to benefit human vascular health through the maintenance of vascular homeostasis. This has been shown through the flavanols effects on protecting collagen and elastin fibers, serving antioxidant properties and having anti-inflammatory effects.

Lastly, the third requirement for advocating the health benefit of a nutraceutical is demonstrating a cause and effect relationship between the supplement and the health effect. Studies on the Masqueliers grape seed extract have shown that the mode of action of flavanols in the commercial preparation parallels that of the specific monomeric and oligomeric flavanols originally isolated in the 1940s.

In conclusion, Masqueliers Original OPCs or grape seed extract is an interesting example of how specific research can isolate, identify and evolve a botanical ingredient to a nutritional supplement. The in-depth characterization and research on flavanols in this context explain how it can be applied as a herbal remedy and nutraceutical for vascular health.

Written By: Neeti Vashi, BSc

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Vitamins have unique job within the body – The Oshkosh Northwestern

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Molly Yatso Butz, For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Published 10:13 a.m. CT Feb. 24, 2017 | Updated 7 hours ago

Molly Yatso Butz(Photo: file)

It wasnt until the mid-1930s that vitamin supplement tablets were sold. Up until then, vitamins were only obtained through food intake. Since the middle of the 20th century, vitamins have become inexpensive semisynthetic and synthetic-source dietary and food supplements and are easily available.A vitamin is defined as an organic substance essential to nutrition.Currently, 13 vitamins are universally recognized and are classified by their biological and chemical activity.

Vitamins are essential for normal growth and development and healthy maintenance of cells, tissues and organs.They are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble.The four fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamin A, D, E and K.Water-soluble vitamins are the eight B vitamins and Vitamin C.Water-soluble means the vitamins dissolve easily in water and are generally excreted from the body, which means consistent intake of these vitamins is important because they are not readily stored in the body.The fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with help from lipids or fats.Fat-soluble vitamins are more likely than water-soluble vitamins to accumulate in the body

Every vitamin has a unique job within the human body.Vitamin A, otherwise known as beta-carotene, helps with treatment of some eye disorders, promotes bone growth, teeth development and reproduction. It also helps maintain healthy skin and hair. It is found in foods such as asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, eggs, kale, liver, milk and spinach.Vitamin K works in your body by regulating normal blood clotting, promoting growth and development and is essential for kidney function.Good sources of Vitamin K are dark leafy greens, oils from green plants and some dairy products.Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin. It is used to absorb calcium and phosphorus to create bone.Vitamin D sources include fortified milk, liver, eggs and tuna.Vitamin E is required for proper function of many organs in the body, and it also is an antioxidant, which means it assists in slowing down the process that damages cells.

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is necessary for normal function of the nervous system and metabolism.The best sources of Vitamin B1 are meat, whole grains, fish and nuts.Vitamin B2also is known as riboflavin and assists in energy generation, nerve development, blood cell development and hormone regulation.It maybe found in bananas, dairy products, eggs, fortified cereals and mixed vegetables.Vitamin B3, niacin, is like other B vitamins in which it is essential for metabolic cell activity, hormonesand nervous system function.Good sources are meat, fish and whole grains.Folic acid, or Vitamin B9, is very important for the growth and reproduction of all body cells, including red blood cells.The best source of folic acid is liver and dark green leafy vegetables.Vitamin B12 serves as a coenzyme for creation of DNA material and promotes growth and cell development.Vitamin B12 is not found in plants, but good sources are meats, fish, eggs and dairy.This vitamin also is important for fat, carbohydrates and protein to be metabolized in the body.Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins in your body because it is vital for a healthy immune and nervous system. Vitamin C helps connective tissue, otherwise known as collagen, to remain the defense mechanism against disease and infection.Vitamin C produces antibodies during seasonal colds or when the body is being overworked.It maybe found in fruits, tomatoes, vegetables, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, spinach and kale.

The best way to ensure your body is getting the vitamins it needs is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, with a variety of color, whole grains and low-fat protein.If you believe you dont get enough vitamins through food, and feel vitamin supplementation would be beneficial, talk with your healthcare provider.For recommended daily intakes, visit the Food and Drug Administration website at fda.gov.

Molly Yatso Butz is the community health and wellness director for the Oshkosh Community YMCA.

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Safely Navigating the Supplement World – USA Hockey

Posted: at 6:24 pm

Filling the gaps in our daily nutrition with tablets and powders isnt a new concept. The large demand for nutritional supplementation has made the industry an attractive one, leading to a congested and difficult marketplace for consumers to navigate.

While federal regulations do exist that dictate the type of claims that can be made on a supplement label, supplement manufacturers are not required to submit their products to a pre-market approval process at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to do.

As the supplement industry has grown, supplement quality has been derailed and customer confusion has risen.

In 2007, the FDA issued the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) regulatory program that dictate federal guidelines for the preparation, purity, and accuracy of labeling nutritional supplements. While these regulations are presented as minimum expectations, supplement companies are mostly left to police themselves.

Fortunately for consumers, there are companies that choose to hold themselves to high standards and fully comply with the regulations issued by the FDA.

Heres how you can be absolutely certain that you are choosing a supplement company that is making high quality, safe, and efficacious products:

Look for third-party testing. Nutritional supplement brands can, and should, retain outside, independent companies to audit their manufacturing processes and test their products to ensure the FDAs cGMPs are being complied with, thus ensuring that the companys products contain the ingredients listed on the label in the amounts listed and dont contain any harmful ingredients.

NSF International has created an advanced certification program for supplements geared toward elite athletes. NSF Internationals Certified for Sport program tests products for more than 200 substances that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (LINK). A supplement product that bears the Certified for Sport seal ensures that that the product contains exactly what the label claims it does, in the amounts listed, and nothing else.

Realize There is No Cure-All. Its illegal for a supplement company to claim that any of its products prevent, cure, or treat any medical condition. Supplements are intended to complement the diet and to support overall health and well-being. Any express or implied claims that a product will prevent, cure, or treat a medical condition is a red flag that the manufacturer isnt in compliance with the FDAs labeling regulations for nutritional supplements.Furthermore, if a supplements product label has a lot of buzz words that dont mean anything, such as white hot heat or blazing intensity the company is probably trying to distract you from a lack of evidence behind their product.

Companies often use phrases that imply theres science behind their product such as clinically proven but many of these claims are not backed by actual research. Be cautious of products claiming ancient formulas, cutting-edge science, miracle cures, or guarantees. A reputable and honest company will have contact information you can use to request further information for the research behind their claims. Lastly, if a product sounds too good to be true “Lose 10 pounds in one day” that’s probably because it is.

Take a Lead from Sports. Be aware of ingredients banned in sports by agencies like the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency. While these ingredients arent always prohibited for general consumption, these organizations see a problem with the ingredients, which should be a red flag to you as a regular consumer. Do your research to see if you should ban these ingredients from your nutritional game plan.

Watch out for warnings. Be wary of supplements with a long list of warnings or contraindications listed on the product label. Any serious adverse effects reported to a supplement company must be reported to the FDA by the supplement company.

Be an Educated Consumer. Registered dietitians are trained to evaluate the need for, effectiveness of, and safety of nutritional supplements. Always consult your health-care practitioner before starting a supplement regimen. The National Institutes of Health and the United States Anti-Doping Agency offer resources to help educate you on supplement before you use them.Always be sure to do your homework on your supplement company before taking their products.

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Artefact – bespoke food supplements created by doctors and … – PR Web (press release)

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Artefact is a unique combination of adaptogens and vitamins to provide a strengthening, enriching complement to our modern lives.

(PRWEB UK) 23 February 2017

Artefact, one of the first British designer vitamin lines, makes its debut this spring. Formulated by medical experts and brought to life by a team of creative minds, the range blends natural ingredients and traditional know-how from across the world with cutting-edge science and contemporary design to produce a unique range of supplements tailored to modern living.

Over years working as doctors on humanitarian projects around the world, we saw first-hand how creative, life-changing ideas often came from the very people we had come to help, using adaptogenic and nutraceutical-like plants known to and trusted by them for centuries. These experiences gave us an understanding of how the forces of evolution and adaptation combined to shape these species, allowing them to survive, thrive, and become embedded in traditional medicine, where they were used both to combat deficiencies and to enrich the body and mind.

Artefacts Concept I [Maca Goji B12 D2] is a bespoke supplement formulated using a unique combination of adaptogens and vitamins to provide a strengthening, enriching complement to our modern lives. Maca root from the Peruvian Andes and goji berries from Northern China form the anchor ingredients. Gojis protective, stabilising nature forms the supplements baseline, whilst the potent and versatile maca improves lifestyle dynamics, cognitive capacity and resilience, and Vitamins D2 and B12 are included to supplement dietary deficiencies. Made in Britain, the line is vegan and vegetarian friendly.

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FTC cracks down on supplement maker that faked talk radio show – STAT

Posted: at 1:12 pm

F

ederal and stateofficials in Maine said Wednesday theyhad shutdown an elaborate scheme to deceptively market dietary supplements in which a company disguised 30-minute radio advertisements as a talk radio show and repeatedly promotedfake print newspapers ads.

In fact, according to officials, the promotions for the two products featured fictitious consumers and purported medical experts who endorsed the supplements without actually having endorsed them.

One supplement, CogniPrin, was touted as having been clinically proven to improve memory and possibly reverse mental decline. The other, FlexiPrin, was touted for its ability toreduce back and joint pain in as little as two hours.

article continues after advertisement

A complaintfrom the Federal Trade Commission and the Maine attorney general alleges that the supplements, froma company called Better Health Nutritionals, raked in at least $6.5 million in gross sales between 2012 and 2015.

A supplement maker tried to silence this Harvard doctor and put academic freedom on trial

As part of a court settlement, the company must cease all sales of the products at issue. The complaint says the marketers named in the complaint neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.

An owner of the firm behind the supplements, Jeffrey R. Powlowsky, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the Food and Drug Administration is barred from reviewing dietary supplements for safety before they hit the market. The agency can intervene only when supplements are flagged as possibly dangerous. The FTC, meanwhile, has the authority to step in when manufacturers make unsubstantiated claims about their products.

The agencyreceives a sea of complaintsabout the marketing of dietary supplements. But the FTC saidthe case against the makers of FlexiPrin and CogniPrin involved a wide range of marketing practices that have caused serious financial injury to consumers.

Federal rules bar dietary supplement manufacturers from claiming their products can diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent a disease.They can, however, play with language like that a product boosts or promotes health to suggest those same benefits.

In the case ofFlexiPrin and CogniPrin,two experts, Ronald Jahner and Brazos Minshew, were taskedwith backing upCogniPrin and FlexiPrin with their medical expertise. But, the complaint alleges, neither examined the supplements before endorsing them.

[FlexiPrin] targets the tissue and its an amazing anti-inflammatory. But the best part is [that] it works fast. Within two hours, people are getting relief, Jahner claimed in the radio advertisement.

Nowhere in the advertisement didthe manufacturers disclose that Jahner a naturopath offered as an objective medical voice was receiving a share of the revenue from the supplement sales.

Minshew was introduced under the pseudonym as Samuel Brant, a brain scientist and past director of the Neurological Treatment Center for Tiena Health, according to the complaint.

Its unclear whether any such center exists. And, the FTC alleges, Minshew doesnt have a background in neurology or the brain.

The manufacturers also promised potential customers they could try the supplements risk-free for 90 days, no strings attached. But there were significant hurdles to getting a refund, such as having to shell out for hefty shipping fees and return used supplement containers.

Those practices all add up to violations of several federal and state laws. A court ordered that the defendants stop engaging in sneaky marketing practices, and also told the company to rein in its unsubstantiated health claims any benefits they want to promote will need to be backed up by actual scientific evidence, the FTC warned. The settlement came with a whopping$6.6 million judgment, though the defendants were ordered only to pay $556,000 because of their financial situation.

The settlement involved six of the nine defendants named in the case. There is still ongoing litigation against other parties involved in the supplement marketing.

Megan Thielking can be reached at megan.thielking@statnews.com Follow Megan on Twitter @meggophone

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Lafayette business accused of selling misbranded dietary … – The Daily Advertiser

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:19 am

A lawsuit about Caddo Parish commissioners’ participation in a retirement system will head to court in 2017.(Photo: Getty Images)

A Lafayette business has agreed to stop distributing several supplements when the U.S. Department of Justice filed an injunction alleging that the drugs were never approved by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration.

Theproposed consent decree, filed Thursday,permanently enjoins Pick and Pay Inc./Cili Minerals LLC and its owner and CEO, Anton S. Botha, to stop the distribution of what it calls “misbranded and unapproved new drugs, and misbranded and adulterated dietary supplements,” according to a press release from the DOJ.

The complaint alleges that the companies violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by manufacturing, promoting and distributing numerous dietary supplementsthat had been marketed as intended to “treat, cure or prevent a variety of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and other serious conditions.”

The marketing effortswere a violation of the FDCA because the products had never been submitted to the FDA for approval, and had never been found to be safe and effective for medicinal uses, as the marketing claimed, the press release says. The complaint also alleges that the defendants violated the FDCA by failing to manufacture its products in accordance with FDA regulations for dietary supplements.

The products in question included ADD-East, Bone Structure, CilZinCo, Calcium, Boron, Potassium, Cilver, Sulfure and Geranium.

In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the companies agreed to settle the litigation, and to cease all production and distribution of the supplements in question. The companies would be able to resume manufacturing the supplements with written approval from the FDA.

The complaint is currently awaiting judicial approval.

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Daily vitamin D dose would prevent millions of colds – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: at 1:19 am

Vitamin D is thought to protect against respiratory infections by boosting levels of antimicrobial peptides – natural antibiotic-like substances – in the lungs.

For many years, scientists have tried to establish a link between respiratory infections and vitamin D, prompted by observations that these illnesses are most common in winter, when levels of the vitamin are lowest due to poor sunlight.

The data from previous studies yielded contradictory results, but it is now clear that this was because many of the participants were being given their supplements in big monthly doses, a practice now understood to be ineffective.

Supplements are effective when given daily or weekly, rather than in more widely spaced doses, the BMJ study concluded.

While certain foods such as oily fish contain vitamin D, most of it is obtained through sunlight on the skin, and Government advice currently states that everyone should consider taking supplements during the autumn and winter months to protect musculoskeletal health.

By demonstrating this new benefit of vitamin D, our study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common, said Prof Martineau.

Unlike countries such as Finland, the UK does not currently fortify food with vitamin D as a matter of course. Prof Martineau said that to do so would only cost a few pence per adult per year.

He added that the same preventative benefits could be derived from daily or weekly supplements.

A linked editorial in the BMJ claimed the new data only amounted to a hypothesis…requiring confirmation.

However, Dr Benjamin Jacobs, a consultant paediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, said: The case for universal vitamin D supplements, or food fortification, is now undeniable.

“Governments and health professionals need to take Martineaus study into account when setting vitamin D policy now.

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Daily vitamin D dose would prevent millions of colds – Telegraph.co.uk

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Dietary supplement could improve heart health – Medical Xpress – Medical Xpress

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:21 am

February 14, 2017

Dietary intervention could benefit heart health in those with muscular dystrophy. That’s according to new research published in Experimental Physiology. If these findings are confirmed in humans, it could mean that off the shelf supplements could improve health and life expectancy.

Scientists from Iowa State University, Auburn University and the University of Montana in the United States found that supplementing the mice’s food with quercetin (a flavonol found in many fruits, vegetables, leaves, and grains) improved biomedical outcomes, providing an inflammatory and antioxidant effect. To the groups’ surprise, they also found that the quercetin-fed mice were more active than the control group

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a severe type of muscular dystrophy that causes a decline in cardiac health resulting in premature death, at an average age of 26 years. Duchenne’s predominantly affects males.

The researchers used several mouse models for muscular dystrophy, carrying out experiments in parallel. By doing this they were able to replicate muscular dystrophy in humans as closely as possible.

Dr John C. Quindry, the corresponding author, said: “A currently available dietary intervention could benefit those with muscular dystrophy. We gave the mice a quercetin dose that was proportional to those that could be given to humans. This allows the scientists to make the best possible connections between animal and human research findings.”

Explore further: New target may slow disease progression in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

More information: Christopher Ballmann et al, Long term dietary quercetin enrichment as a cardioprotective countermeasure in mdx mice, Experimental Physiology (2017). DOI: 10.1113/EP086091

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a chronic disease causing severe muscle degeneration that is ultimately fatal. As the disease progresses, muscle precursor cells lose the ability to create new musclar tissue, leading to faster …

(HealthDay) Emflaza (deflazacort) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy in people five years and older, the agency said Thursday in a news release.

A new paper, co-written by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York, increases the understanding of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)one of the most common lethal genetic disordersand points to …

A drug commonly used to treat leukaemia is showing potential as a treatment that could slow the progression of the muscle-wasting condition, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

A researcher in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta improved Duchenne muscular dystrophy symptoms in non-human lab models, using a new drug cocktail. The drug combination targets the hot …

A potential way to treat muscular dystrophy directly targets muscle repair instead of the underlying genetic defect that usually leads to the disease.

New research from the University of Queensland has revealed the way human muscles recover after fatigue.

The acid test for a vaccine is: “Does it protect people from infection?” Emory Vaccine Center researchers have analyzed this issue for a leading malaria vaccine called RTS,S, and their results have identified candidate signatures, …

People with hemophilia require regular infusions of clotting factor to prevent them from experiencing uncontrolled bleeding. But a significant fraction develop antibodies against the clotting factor, essentially experiencing …

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to see dramatic shifts in the make-up of the community of microbes in their gut than healthy people, according to the results of a study published online Feb. 13 in …

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have used advanced cellular, bioinformatics and imaging technology to reveal a long-lived type of stem cell in the breast that is responsible for the growth of the mammary glands …

Research led by scientists at UC San Francisco and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has used brain “organoids”tiny 3-D models of human organs that scientists grow in a dish to study diseaseto identify …

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Lawmakers propose cutting state food benefit program – New Mexico Political Report

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:17 am

7 hours ago 2017 Legislative Session By Justin Horwath | The New Mexican | 7 hours ago

Clyde Mueller//The New Mexican

Debbie Pace, 59, sits on the front steps of her Albuquerque home last week. Pace is on a fixed income and receives $33 per month in food assistance.

Debbie Pace says she cries when she goes to the Smiths grocery store because she cant afford anything.

Pace, 59, of Albuquerque, says she receives just over $730 a month in Supplemental Security Income from the federal program for the disabled and others with little income. She also receives $33 in monthly food stamps.

The $33 in food stamps goes quick, she says. So, she goes to a local church for free food.

Now, Pace, like thousands of other New Mexicans who live on fixed incomes, is faced with having her food stamp benefits cut.

Thats because of the state budget crunch and a proposal to kill a $1.2 million annual state program that supplements federally funded food stamp benefits.

Pace is among some 12,800 New Mexico residents who receive what is known as minimum assistance under the food stamp program, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Unlike other individuals and families living in poverty, who can receive anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,100 each month in food stamps, Pace and others on fixed incomes who are disabled or who are 60 or older qualify for the minimum of $16 per month in federally funded food assistance.

Nearly a decade ago, the state began supplementing that assistance, bringing the minimum benefits to between $25 and $30 a month. But with the state grappling with a budget crisis, the Legislative Finance Committee, made up of Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, has recommended doing away with the state supplement.

While the cut may not seem like much, to people living on slim margins, every dollar counts.

Pace says its appalling that some state officials would even think of cutting the food stamp program for those who cannot work because of disabilities.

She says the state told her she qualifies for only $25 per month in benefits but continues to pay her $33 per month.

The proposal to slash the state supplement to federal food stamp benefits underscores the difficult choices lawmakers face trying to find solutions for the states fiscal crisis, which has been exacerbated in recent years by declining oil and gas revenues.

Over the past decade, New Mexico has been dipping into its general fund to increase the minimum food stamp benefit for residents on fixed incomes, said Ruth Hoffman, director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, who helped state officials develop the program in 2007.

Gov. Susana Martinez opposes the LFC proposal. A competing budget proposal by the governor would keep the funding in place.

She championed it, Hoffman said of the governors advocacy for the program since she took office in 2011.

Kyler Nerison, a spokesman for the state Human Services Department, said the program provides important benefits and that the governors budget proposal calls for state government to live within its means not force the most vulnerable New Mexicans to tighten their belts.

Hoffman said many seniors receiving monthly Social Security benefits didnt believe applying for food assistance was worth the trouble if they would receive only $16 per month. But applications for food assistance by those on fixed incomes increased after the state hiked the minimum benefit to $25 per month, according to Hoffman, who said the extra money may not seem like much but can buy eggs, meat and other items.

Sovereign Hager, staff attorney with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, said the proposal to cut the program is a direct result of the state not raising adequate revenue to fund government while giving tax breaks to corporations.

Food insecurity among New Mexicos elderly, which is among the worst in the nation, has decreased in the past decade with the states funding of the program, she said.

We do not want this to backslide, Hager said.

Christine Boerner, senior fiscal analyst at the Legislative Finance Committee, said the state was able to use federal stimulus money to launch the program in 2008 during the recession.

Boerner told the Senate Finance Committee this month that the Legislative Finance Committee recommended cutting the program because the state budget crisis makes it difficult for us to supplement that for the general fund when its a federal program, and the federal government has decided what the minimum SNAP benefit would be for these folks who have relatively higher incomes.

Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said the $1.2 million the state pays for the program is really not a large amount considering the number of seniors it serves across the state.

You know, with $25 a month, I think we could do better, Rodriguez said. Cutting them with that respect doesnt seem like the right thing to do. There are priorities here.

Contact Justin Horwath at 505-986-3017 or jhorwath@sfnewmexican.com.

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