Nutritional biochemistry

Nutritional biochemistry

171 chemical toxicology. The final chapter consists of 150 MCQ questions (answers are supplied) and 20 short answer questions. A series of short case ...

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171 chemical toxicology. The final chapter consists of 150 MCQ questions (answers are supplied) and 20 short answer questions. A series of short case histories, selected as examples where difficulty in interpretation is frequently encountered, are a feature new to this edition. I counted about two dozen, distributed (1 to 4 per chapter) among 13 chapters. About two hundred references, organized by chapter, are listed at the end of the book. Some 40% of them are to publications that appeared in 1990 and up to 1993. All four authors hold senior positions in Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Their presentation is direct, authoritative and clear. Much material is presented in tabulated form, while the line drawings that are present are informative and effective. I found very few typographical errors or points that I would query. Although the major users of this book are likely to be those above mentioned. Teachers of physiology and biochemistry in the integrated and problem-based medical curricula that have become so popular in the last two decades will also find it of value. Where courses in Clinical Biochemistry are offered in more traditionally organized curricula this would make a very effective text. F Vella

Nutritional Biochemistry b y T B r o d y . p p 658. A c a d e m i c Press, San D i e g o . 1994. $75 ISBN 0-12-134835-0 Overlaps between Human Nutrition and Human Biochemistry are many and varied. They include not only the structure and properties of the many constituents of materials ingested as food, the gastrointestinal processes of digestion (or release) and absorption of nutrients (be they organic - - carbohydrate, lipid, amino acid or vitamin - - or inorganic), the roles of nutrients in energy transactions within the body and as providers of materials (or other requirements) for synthesis of biological components, but also the genetic and hormonal aspects of all these processes, and their numerous interactions. Besides, abnormalities (qualitative or quantitative) in nutrition may lead to severe changes in body chemistry, structure and function and may produce seriously debilitating or even fatal illness. It is these topics that form the major content of Nutritional Biochemistry, a subject that is taught as such in university or college courses leading to degrees in Nutrition, or separately - - and as part of Biochemistry or Physiology - - in medical and dental curricula and in a variety of other human life science degree programs. A book of this size and scope represents a formidable effort for a single author, especially one who apparently had no assistance from prepublication reviewers (none are listed as such under Acknowledgments). Brody, who is at the University of California at Berkeley, has organized his material into nine chapters. Basic chemical principles, biological macromolecules, solubility and proteins (in particular synthesis, maturation, destination, enzymes and membrane-bound proteins) are presented in chapter 1 (39 pages). The next two chapters (about 84 pages in all) deal with digestion and absorption. Of these chapter 2 (the longest) focuses on proteins, lipids and carbohydrates, and includes various anatomical and physiological aspects of the digestive tract, digestive materials, and hormonal molecules important to digestion and absorption. Chapter 3 (17 pages) is dedicated to nutrients that resist or escape digestion. It provides a concise but useful discussion of maternal milk antibodies, lactose and sucrose intolerance, dietary fibers and the gut microflora. Chapters 4 and 5 (95 and 38 pages, respectively) are concerned with the regulation and processes of energy metabolism and with the determination of energy requirements. Chapter 6 (44 pages) concentrates on lipids and


especially phospholipids, sphingolipids, cholesterol and plasma lipoproteins (these last get about two-thirds of the space). Chapter 7 (60 pages) deals with amino acid metabolism and protein catabolism. The last two chapters are by far the longest in the book. Chapter 8 (130 pages) describes the thirteen vitamins and the essential fatty acids. The material here is organized very sensibly by the function of the vitamins. This groups folate, vitamin B12 , vitamin K, biotin and vitamin B 6 - in that sequence - - because of their function in metabolic transfer of small chemical groups; vitamins A and D, since both function as hormones; niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and pantothenic acid, because of their involvement in energy metabolism; and ascorbic acid and vitamin E, because of their antioxidant properties. Chapter 9 (about 140 pages) deals with more than a dozen inorganic nutrients and topics related to them. Finally, there are two appendices, one on nutrition methodology, the other on cloning and dot blots. Each chapter opens with an overview which also supplies the reason for the sequence of what follows, and ends with a summary, references and bibliographies which are quite extensive and list publications up to and including 1992. Questions are presented in the form of exercises within the text. There is a profusion of tabulated material and of metabolic reactions and pathways. Brody's book has two very strong characteristics. First is the provision of clinical and research data to illustrate aspects of problems related to many specific topics in most chapters. Presentation of primary research data provides problems in the form of case studies in research to be solved by the reader. They stimulate the analysis and reasoning that lead to the conclusions presented in the text and provide insight into research methods and reasoning. Although the case studies are especially important for the younger and less experienced readers of the book, they are appreciated by the more experienced. Second is the way the author has integrated nutritional and biochemical (and especially a large amount of metabolic information) with the aspects of physiology, anatomy, clinical medicine, therapeutics and public health relevant to the topic being presented. I had difficulty with bile acids and bile salts (p 43 and elsewhere), creatine and creatinine (p 161 and elsewhere) and folyl and pteroyl (p 358 and elsewhere) being used synonymously (and therefore confusingly, especially for the inexperienced reader), as also cytosol (and cytosolic) and cytoplasm (and cytoplasmic) in many parts of the book. Similarly, I had difficulty with some sentences that did not make sense because of a missing word or because small errors or misspelling robbed them of meaning. Also, glutamine and asparagine are described as basic amino acids (p 18) and depicted as having charged carboxamide groups (p 36), thiolase is mentioned when thiokinase is meant (pages 178 and 179), angiotensin II is described as a peptidase (p 497), and 5'iodinase rather than 5'deiodinase (p 597) and glutamate carboxylase rather than decarboxylase (p 396) are mentioned. These and similar slips do not detract from the overall presentation but suggest some lack of prepublication editorial discipline. Any further edition should remove these, consider reorganization of the material into more and shorter chapters and provide a more detailed (and therefore more effective) index. The book can be recommended for medical, dental and other health science students, for those in nutrition programs in which the biochemistry and metabolic component is emphasized, and for graduate students in nutrition programs. Teachers of biochemistry, especially in the human biological sciences, will find much of value here and can adapt some of the case studies to a problem-based style of teaching and learning without too much difficulty. At least one copy should be available in libraries that cater for biological and health science students. F Vella