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Study calculates optimal upper limit of vitamin D

BY Michael Johnsen

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — Researchers claim to have calculated for the first time the upper safe limit of vitamin D levels of 36 nanograms per milliliter, above which the associated risk for cardiovascular events or death raises significantly, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“The unpredictable results from previous studies may be due to the misconception that ‘the higher [supplementation with vitamin D] the better,’” stated Yosef Dror of Hebrew University in Rehovot, Israel, and lead author of the study. “Although our study did not directly test the impact of vitamin D supplementation, we believe our results suggest it may be possible that only moderate supplementation within a narrow range of serum calcidiol (the main vitamin D fraction in the blood) will be associated with the most positive results.”

Researchers conducted a study of 422,000 people aged 45 years or older, who underwent vitamin D blood assays. They found for the first time that the safe range of vitamin D levels with respect to coronary morbidity lies between 20 to 36 ng/mL. Vitamin D levels below and above this range adjusted rates of increased mortality and morbidity significantly.

More than 60% of the tested population had insufficient blood levels of vitamin D. Half of these subjects had severely low vitamin D levels which was associated with a 1.5 times increased risk of acute coronary morbidity or mortality. And 3% of those tested had elevated vitamin D levels above 36 ng/mL, which was associated with a 1.13 times elevated risk of coronary morbidity or death.


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Energizer posts $7 million increase in profit in second quarter 2013

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Energizer Holdings had sales of $1.095 billion in second quarter 2013, a 0.5% decrease from second quarter 2012, and $2.28 billion for the first six months of the fiscal year, which ended March 31, also a 0.5% decrease from the same period last year, the company said.

Profits for the quarter were $85 million, compared with $78 million last year.

"We are pleased with second quarter earnings and the progress we have made on our cost-reduction initiatives, which are tracking ahead of plan," Energizer CEO Ward Klein said. "We experienced flat organic sales in the quarter as a modest top-line growth in personal care was offset by declines in household products. The growth in personal care was negatively impacted by extraordinary competitive promotional activity, which we believe contributed to overall category deflation."

The company’s personal care segment, which includes shaving and skin care products, increased by 0.2% over second quarter 2012, to $652.6 million, while the household products segments, which includes batteries, decreased by 1.6%, from $450.3 million in second quarter 2012 to $443.3 million.


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Nutrisystem adjusts retail offering with weight-loss kit exclusive at Walmart

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — Nutrisystem executives on Wednesday told analysts they were bullish around expanding their weight-loss meal delivery service into mass retail through its partnership with Walmart. Initially beginning with 500 Walmart doors in January, the company recently expanded the offering to 2,000 stores and climbing

"Because of our initial success, we’ve now expanded … and expect to continue to expand throughout 2013," Dawn Zier, president and CEO, told analysts during the company’s 2013 first-quarter conference call. 

But this isn’t the first time Nutrisystem has tried to crack the retail code with its weight loss offering — the company launched a retail product across more than 2,000 Kroger shelves last year that generated somewhat less fanfare. 

However, Nutrisystem is taking a different approach to its retail offering this time around with a trial offering emphasizing weight loss as opposed to a maintenance program designed to sustain pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. 

"Kroger itself was not a bad channel for us to be in," Zier said. "The issue is that we won some market in Kroger with the wrong product, doing the maintenance and within weight management products where we’re obviously finding our strength in the weight loss kit [at Walmart]." 

Nutrisystem launched its 5-Day Jumpstart Your Weight Loss Kit exclusively at Walmart on April 22. "[This] represents a significant departure from our traditional 28-day program," Zier said. "We are experiencing very positive results from our Walmart retail lines that expanded our footprint in their stores," she added. "In addition to our core 5-Day Kit, our ‘D’ kit targeted to individuals with or without Type 2 diabetes is also performing well."

Nutrisystem’s retail offering is now trial friendly, which may lead to more dieters signing on for Nutrisystem’s more comprehensive maintenance program. "We’re seeing repeat business at Walmart as well as multiple kit purchases indicating that customers are seeing good results and listing other family members to diet with them. This is an early win for us in 2013," Zier said. "We are actively developing our retail product line and we expect to have additional product and kit to launch in retail for the 2014 diet season."


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