Health Buzz: Vitamin D and Other Health News

Vitamin D deficiency may raise the risk of heart attack in men.

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Vitamin D Deficiency May Raise the Risk of Heart Attack in Men

Not getting enough vitamin D may increase the risk of heart attack in men, a new study suggests. Researchers studied the medical records and blood samples of 454 men ages 40 to 75 with a history of fatal heart disease or a nonfatal heart attack and compared them with those of 900 men who were free of cardiovascular disease. Those who were deficient in vitamin D had a higher risk of heart attack, according to the study, which was published yesterday in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Deborah Kotz has written that the benefits of vitamin D appear to include protection against cancer. Also, a recent study found that vitamin D deficiency may lead to leg artery blockages.

New Study Emphasizes Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Caring for your teeth and gums may help guard against heart valve infection, according to new research published yesterday in Circulation. The study looked at whether tooth brushing was as likely as tooth extraction to cause infective endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart valve or heart that happens when bacteria enters the bloodstream. Researchers analyzed the amount of bacteria released into the bloodstream during tooth brushing and tooth extraction for 290 dental patients. The likelihood of bacteria entering the blood was lower with brushing, and the results emphasize the importance of keeping up with good oral hygiene, the authors said.

Earlier this year, U.S. News presented its guide to a healthy smile, including four critical oral health habits, four steps to fresher breath, and other advice.

Is Spanking Better Than Ritalin?

U.S. News 's Nancy Shute talks with Lawrence Diller, a behavioral pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif., about how society deals with children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Diller says that he often prescribes Ritalin for children with ADHD, but he also thinks that Ritalin is prescribed too often.

Learn why Diller says that spanking may not be so bad. And get the latest in child-rearing news on Shute's On Parenting blog.

College Night Owls Get Lower Grades Than Early Risers

New research presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies says that a morning person is apt to get better grades in college than a late riser. Researchers surveyed 824 college students enrolled in psychology classes about their sleep habits and daily functioning. Result: The better performers were not the ones who stayed up until the wee hours and slept till afternoon.

U.S. News explains what you can do to become more of a morning person. Other studies presented at the same conference show that sleepy driving is prevalent among college students and that too much cellphone time takes a toll on teens' sleep.

—January W. Payne