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Simple Guide to Optimal Health and Fitness

by IVL Products

While we may know a lot about optimal health in theory, in reality, does our lifestyle measure up?  A truly healthy life consists of many different aspects, including diet, supplements and exercise. 

Optimal health includes eating plenty of fresh fruit

Health and fitness go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to choose regular exercise activities that you actually enjoy as part of your simple healthy lifestyle, to avoid it becoming a dreaded chore. 

Optimal Health and Fitness

Exercise should not be all about burning calories or how much time you spend at the gym. In order for fitness to be a part of your life naturally, exercise in a way that is intuitive and natural.

As humans, our bodies were never intended for life as a couch potato or sat at a desk all day; they were designed for daily activity. It helps to understand by thinking about the exercise our ancestors did: walking, sprinting, climbing, swimming, crawling and lifting heavy things. By replicating those activities on a daily basis, we will be giving our body a natural all-round workout as nature intended.

Related:  Exercise Your Right to Brain Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published an excellent Complete Guide to Fitness and Health which gives plenty of tips, instructions and illustrations on how to achieve optimal health through nutrition and exercise.

Health and Diet

Exercise is just one part of optimal health and it has to be done in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Once again, it pays to think simply and eat like our ancestors did. Their diet as hunter-gatherers would have included meat, fish, fowl, fruit, nuts, raw vegetables and plants. They would have drunk plenty of water rather than sugary, soda and drinks heavy in caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

Genetically engineered foods such as soy, corn, canola oil and varieties of vegetables and fruits would not have been part of our diet historically, and neither would pesticides and fertilizers. It’s a good reason to go organic and try to get back to the optimally healthy lifestyle nature intended.

Sleep and Stress

In the days before electricity brought TV entertainment, our ancestors would have risen and slept according to the hours of daylight and nightfall. They would have enjoyed plenty of sleep. Stress would have been limited to key moments during a hunt, when the “fight or flight” hormones of adrenalin and cortisol would have kicked in momentarily, not all the time as in our modern-day lives.

Although we may pride ourselves on our civilized and developed society, when it comes to optimal health and fitness, it can be good to look back and try to emulate the simple, natural lifestyle that our bodies are designed for. 

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How to Reduce Food Cravings by Killing Candida

by Health News

As each year draws to a close, people begin to think about healthy resolutions for the year to come.  Eating a more nutritious diet often tops the list, but resisting cravings for sweets and other high-carbohydrate foods is easier said than done.  In people with candida overgrowth, cravings for sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar are persistent and intense.  Learning about candida teaches people how to reduce food cravings once and for all.   

When considering how to reduce food cravings, people should start with dietary changes.

What is candida?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast found in the digestive tracts of most humans.  Amounts in the body largely depend on a person's diet.  Yeasts thrive on sugar, so people who don't eat a lot of sugar usually have a healthy balance of candida in the gut.  People with diets high in sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar often have a surplus of candida in the gut.

How does candida influence food cravings?

Eating more sugar causes candida numbers to grow, and more candida results in more cravings for sugar and foods that convert to sugar. 

What are some dietary changes for reducing food cravings?

When considering how to reduce food cravings, eliminating sugar and other sweeteners makes the obvious first step.  In addition to white and brown sugar, people should avoid honey, molasses, corn syrup, and agave nectar.  Pure, organic stevia makes a good natural alternative sweetener because it doesn't spike blood sugar levels.

People should steer clear of refined carbohydrates like baked treats, French fries, pizza, bread, or pasta that convert to sugar quickly.  Because fruit has a lot of natural sugar (fructose), servings should be limited to two per day.  Raspberries, strawberries, and green apples offer lower amounts of fructose, while grapes, mangoes, cherries, and bananas contain higher amounts.  Wine, beer, and other types of alcohol also convert to sugar quickly and should be eliminated from the diet.

Dairy products like milk and cheese have high levels of sugar and should be avoided.  Almond milk and some brands of plain, Greek yogurt make good alternatives.  Look for yogurt with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving, and flavor with lemon juice and a little stevia for a dairy product high in healthy probiotics.

Include non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught fish in the diet.  Take a probiotic supplement containing at least 5 individual strains to restore beneficial bacteria to the intestinal tract, and try a chromium supplement to help reduce cravings.

Related:  Probiotic Supplements: Not Just for Intestinal Health

What are some other symptoms of candida overgrowth?

Food cravings are not the only symptom of candida overgrowth.  Additional symptoms include:

  • Chemical and food sensitivities
  • Chronic vaginal yeast infections
  • Depression
  • Digestive issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Headache
  • Poor sleep
  • Sinus congestion

Cravings for sugary and high-carbohydrate foods lead to a catch 22 for many people.  Satisfying cravings results in more candida in the digestive tract, and more candida causes more food cravings.  People discover how to reduce food cravings and generate better overall health by learning about candida, nutrition, and sugar levels in food.

 

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Three Cellulite Home Remedies for Tighter, Smoother Skin

by IVL Products

When it comes to physical appearance, few things frustrate women more than cellulite, and it is an equal-opportunity annoyance.  From teenagers to seniors, cellulite affects up to 90% of women at some point in life.  While connective tissue in men forms in a crisscross pattern, female connective tissue takes on a honeycomb shape.  Any extra fat tends to bulge out and create a dimpled effect on the skin, particularly on the stomach, hips, and thighs.  Women are always searching for ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite, and three cellulite home remedies show promise according to anecdotal and scientific evidence.

When it comes to cellulite home remedies, many women use coffee.  Instead of drinking it, they rub the grounds on their skin.

1. Coffee Grounds and Olive Oil

Women looking to reduce cellulite should try this easy recipe:  add 2 T of olive oil to 1/2 cup caffeinated coffee grounds, and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds.  Massage the mixture into the affected areas and wrap with plastic wrap.  Remove after 20 minutes.  For the best results, repeat the process two or three times per week for six weeks.

How it works:  The olive oil helps bind the coffee grounds to the skin, and the caffeine within the coffee dilates blood vessels, which improves circulation.  This gives cellulite-ridden skin a firmer, more toned appearance.

Related: Drinking Coffee:  The Benefits

2. Gota Kola

Several studies verify that oral consumption of Gota kola supplements makes one of the better cellulite home remedies.  For optimal results, people should take 30 mg of Gota kola three times per day.  Use it for six weeks or less with at least two weeks in between re-use.  People with liver disease or diabetes, or people taking diuretics should not use Gota kola.  Check with your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.

How it works: 

Called triterpenoids, the active ingredients in Gota kola help minimize the appearance of cellulite by strengthening connective tissue which makes skin thicker and improves its elasticity. 

3. Grape Seed Extract

An herb used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, grape seed extract is best known for its benefits to memory and cognitive function.  However, it also possesses antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that help reduce the appearance of cellulite.  People taking anti-coagulants or Phenacetin should not take grape seed extract.  Always check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

How it works:

Active ingredients in grape seed extract enhance circulation by strengthening blood vessels and inhibiting elastase and collagenase, enzymes that can damage human connective tissue.  The recommended dosage for grape seed extract is 50 mg twice per day.

Factors that Contribute to Cellulite

In addition to cellulite home remedies, becoming aware of factors that contribute to cellulite can also help people reduce its appearance.  These factors include:

  • Dehydration
  • Excess body fat
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor nutrition or fad dieting
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Slow metabolism
  • Skin color and thickness

While many women spend a fortune on creams, teas, and other products for fighting cellulite, the truth is, most of them don't work.  Three cellulite home remedies that have shown success come at a reasonable price and offer minimal side effects.  Before purchasing the latest wonder cure for cellulite, women should try coffee grounds and olive oil, Gota kola, or grape seed extract. 

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Three Best Ways to Lose Weight Naturally

by Health News

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.  Consequently, over 100 million Americans are currently on diets, and revenue brought in by the U. S. weight loss industry tops $20 billion.  People continue to the hunt for a magic pill or potion for shedding extra pounds, but a few ingredients found in any grocery store offer some of the best ways to lose weight naturally.

Simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.

Probiotics

A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed encouraging results for women looking to lose weight.  Researchers asked 125 overweight men and women to follow a 12-week diet plan and an additional 12 weeks of maintenance.  Half of the participants also took daily probiotic supplements, and the other half took a placebo.

Results showed that women subjects who took probiotics lost almost twice as much weight as women who took a placebo.  During the maintenance period, women taking probiotics continued to lose weight, while women taking the placebo plateaued.  Surprisingly, the probiotics had no effect on the weight of the male subjects.

Fiber

A long-term study from the University of Massachusetts shows that simply adding fiber to the diet makes one of the easiest and best ways to lose weight.  Researchers asked 240 overweight people with metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol) to go on the American Heart Association (AHA) diet or to add at least 30 grams of fiber to their regular daily diet in the form of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

After one year, both groups lost similar amounts of weight, and the people in the fiber group showed similar reductions in blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels as the people in the AHA group.  This study shows that making one easy change (adding fiber to the diet) works as well as a strict eating plan for promoting weight loss and better overall health.

Related:  Green Tea: A- Promising Anti-Cancer Superfood

Green Tea

A number of studies show the fat and weight-reducing effects of green tea, especially when combined with exercise.  A study on mice at Penn State University showed that those who consumed decaffeinated green tea and exercised regularly showed significant reductions in body weight and better overall health. 

A group of mice on a high-fat diet ingested green tea extract and engaged in regular exercise for 16 weeks.  Following the research period, these mice showed an average reduction in body mass of 27.1% and an average reduction in abdominal fat of 36.6%.  Additional health benefits included reductions in blood glucose, plasma insulin levels, and insulin resistance, all factors which relate to diabetic health.

With a growing number of overweight people, weight loss has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  While special vitamins and costly exercise equipment boast big results, sometimes the best ways to lose weight are simple and inexpensive.  Find probiotics, fiber, or green tea at any grocery store or your favorite natural supplements website. 

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Seven Symptoms of Poor Nutrition

by Cindy Gray

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adequate nutrition is the foundation of good health.  What we eat affects our physical, emotional, and mental health.  Poor nutrition results from insufficient amounts of food, an overabundance of food, or foods with low nutritive value.  All three result in insufficient nutrients, which can lead to seven symptoms of poor nutrition. These include tooth decay, anemia, depression, beriberi, constipation, diabetes, and stroke.   

 Avoid symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most common symptoms of poor nutrition and one of the easiest to manage.  Avoiding foods like cake, candy, and dried fruits that stick to the teeth helps discourage tooth decay.  Dentists recommend replacing these foods with raw veggies, nuts, plain yogurt, cheese, and sugarless gum or candy.  Overeating also contributes to tooth decay because it creates more opportunities for oral bacteria to develop.  Cutting back on snacking helps prevent these opportunities.

2. Anemia

A diet low in iron, folate, and/or vitamin B12 can result in a reduced blood cell count or nutritional anemia.  Physical characteristics include pale skin, fatigue, and weakness.  Treatment includes vitamin supplements and foods rich in minerals like meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fortified cereals.

3. Beriberi

Eating a normal, healthy diet should provide the body plenty of thiamine.  Bodies that don't get enough thiamine can develop beriberi.  Because many foods in the U. S. are vitamin-enriched, beriberi is rare.  It does show up in people who abuse alcohol because excessive alcohol limits the absorption of certain nutrients in the body, including thiamine.

4. Constipation

A number of poor dietary choices can cause constipation including eating foods high in animal fats like dairy products, meats, and eggs, or those high in sugar and low in fiber.  Inadequate amounts of water and drinking too much caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body, which also leads to constipation.

Related:  Dangers of Laxative Overuse For Chronic Constipation

5. Diabetes

When the body is unable to produce enough or any insulin it causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood, or diabetes.  Many experts attribute the development of type 2 diabetes to overeating and too little exercise.  In addition to engaging in more physical activity, people looking to avoid type 2 diabetes should add foods to the diet that help stabilize blood sugars like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits.

6. Stroke

Because it can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, an unhealthy diet elevates risks for stroke.  Experts typically recommend plenty of low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains.  Too much sodium raises blood pressure, so people should limit daily salt consumption to no more than 6 g (about one teaspoon).

7. Depression

In addition to physical symptoms, there are mental symptoms of poor nutrition.  Food patterns like poor appetite, skipping meals, and cravings for sweet foods can contribute to the onset, duration, and severity of depression.  Taking measures to eliminate these patterns may help offer relief.

Conclusion

When it comes to the health, nutrition plays a key role.  People can prevent symptoms of poor nutrition by eating proper amounts and proper types of food.  A nutritious, well-balanced diet contains:

  • Whole fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Healthy fats 

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Five Myths about Vitamins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Taking vitamins seems like a good way to stay healthy even when your diet isn’t. Or at least that’s what we would like to believe. Vitamin supplements can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they are not magic pills.  Let’s dispel the five most common myths about vitamins.

Myth #1:  Expensive Urine

You may have written off vitamin supplements because of claims by so-called experts that you can’t absorb extra vitamins and minerals unless it is from actual food; and they just end up being secreted from the body as “expensive urine.”

Fact or fiction? Fiction! If any dietary compounds like vitamin C are detected in your urine it means they were circulating in your blood stream at some point. If the vitamin was in your bloodstream, then you absorbed it and your body used it. 

Myth #2:  A Vitamin Pill Is the Same as Food

Why eat broccoli or salmon if you could just pop a pill, right?  While vitamins are a healthy supplement to your diet, they cannot replace actual food. Vitamins are called supplements because they are a good way to supplement your healthy diet of real foods.  Vitamins contain micronutrients, but we need both micro and macronutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrates to properly fuel our bodies.

It is difficult to get the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins and minerals through your diet, so taking supplements are a good way to cover those little nutrition gaps we all experience. The truth is that there are many compounds in food that are good for you, and many that cannot be duplicated in pill form.

Myth #3:  All Vitamins Are Pharmaceutical Strength

Here’s another one of the most common myths about vitamins. Not all vitamins are pharmaceutical grade just because you bought them in the vitamin shop at a pharmacy.  There are food grade (or store grade) and pharmaceutical grade vitamins.

Food grade vitamin capsules are allowed to have only 20% of the nutrients they say they contain. All the nutrients may have been in the batch but did not necessarily end up in each capsule.

Pharmaceutical grade supplements must meet the U.S. Pharmacopeia standards, which states that the capsule must contain more than 99% of the ingredients listed. They also must have a higher bioavailability than store grade vitamins. The best ones are whole food based and chelated.  Chelated means they are firmly attached to an amino acid or other organic compound so as to not disassociate in the digestive system.

Related:  Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Myth #4:  All Vitamin Are Safe

Generally this is true. Most of the supplements you purchase contain only trace amounts of the healthy compounds you take them for, making it hard to consume too many.  Water soluble vitamins dissolve in your bodily fluids while fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K, are stored in your fat cells. There is a chance of toxicity if you have too much of one vitamin build up in your system. They can lead to birth defects (vitamin A) or interfere with blood thinning drugs taken for cardiovascular or prevent normal blood clotting (vitamin K).

Some supplements can interfere with prescription drugs, so always consult your doctor before adding any supplement into your diet.

Myth #5:  It Doesn’t Matter Where You Store Your Vitamins

Wrong! Oxygen, light and water can render vitamins useless.  Many people store their vitamins in the bathroom medicine cabinet, which is the worse place for them. The humidity from the shower will seep into the container over time and start to break down the pills or capsules. 

Some vitamins like A and E are light sensitive, so sitting on the counter under the harsh glare of florescent lighting can cause photo-degradation.  Even exposure to oxygen can start to degrade the nutrients in vitamins.

The best place to store supplements with the cap screwed on tightly is in a cool dry place like a kitchen cabinet away from the stove or sink.   Always keep them out of reach of children. Look for those with childproof caps if you have curious little ones in the home.

Vitamins have an expiration date and overtime begin to degrade. Dispose of those over a year old or sooner if they look discolored, start to crumble or smell odd.

Myth Busters

Now that you know the myths about vitamins you can safely include them in your healthy eating plan and enjoy their many health benefits!

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The Many Ways Spirulina Benefits the Health

by Health News

With a shift toward health and wellness on the rise, many people are on the hunt for more nutritious foods.  It doesn't get much more nutritious than spirulina.  This blue-green algae is chock full of important nutrients.  Spirulina is sustainable and provides more nutrition per acre than any other type of food.  With 18 amino acids and 62 percent pure protein, it makes a good food choice for vegetarians and vegans.  Because the protein is 95 percent digestible, spirulina benefits people with gastrointestinal issues as well. 

Spirulina offers an abundance of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin B6, biotin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12 and important minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.  If that weren't enough, spirulina also delivers important enzymes, essential fatty acids, and carotenoids like beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein.  Packed with so many nutrients, it's not surprising this green superfood is often the subject of scientific research.

Allergy and Infection

By stopping the release of histamines, spirulina may offer a protective effect against allergy symptoms according to a number of preliminary test tube and animal studies.  Research in the laboratory also shows that spirulina boosts the production of antibodies that help ward off certain types of infection and chronic disease.  Studies continue to determine if spirulina helps prevent allergies and infection in people.  

Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

A study published in Lipids Health Digest showed that spirulina benefits cholesterol and blood pressure.  Without making any other changes to diet or lifestyle, 36 people consumed 4.5 grams of spirulina each day.  After six weeks, subjects showed lower readings for total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and body fat. 

Related:  Workout Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

Oral Cancer

People who chew tobacco sometimes develop white or gray precancerous lesions called leukoplakia.  One placebo-controlled study examined the effects of spirulina on these lesions in 77 tobacco chewers.  After taking spirulina supplements for one year, 45 percent of the subjects showed total regression of leukoplakia.  Several animal studies have also indicated that intervention with spirulina results in tumor regression.

Eye Disease

Due to nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, many experts believe spirulina benefits could extend to eye health, especially if combined with astaxanthin, another eye health nutrient.  More research is needed to verify these beliefs. 

Conclusion

Due to a wide range of wholesome nutrients and many proven health benefits, more people than ever are making spirulina part of their dietary plan.  Powdered spirulina makes a popular ingredient in green smoothies, or people can purchase dried spirulina in tablet form.  Before beginning any supplementary regimen, it is wise to consult with a health care provider, especially if on prescribed medication.

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Discover How a Powdered Supplement Benefits the Health

by IVL Products

While many people strive to consume a healthy diet, it is nearly impossible to obtain adequate nutrients every day through eating.  Filling in nutritional gaps with quick and easy supplements helps.  According to research, a powdered supplement benefits the body over pills, tablets, and capsules by offering up to 95 percent absorption when blended into a liquid.  This is because nutrients in liquid form go straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process.  When it comes to pills, tablets, and capsules, nutrient absorption rates fall to around 10 to 20 percent.  In addition to offering better nutrition, liquid nutrients are much easier to swallow.  Three types of powdered supplements in particular make popular choices for supplementary nutrition.  

A powdered supplement benefits the consumer with ease of use and high nutrient absorption

Green Superfood Powder

Green superfood powder creates a beverage packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients when mixed with water.  This powdered supplement benefits the body in many ways with a combination of healthful green ingredients like alfalfa, chlorella, spirulina, and wheat grass and many extras like fruits, vegetables, enzymes, and probiotics.

An animal-based study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed that one green ingredient ─ alfalfa ─ offered protective effects for the livers of rats when given in tandem with a known liver irritant.  Animal studies have also shown that alfalfa lowers blood glucose levels in diabetic mice, and this is just one of many healthful ingredients available in green powdered supplements.

Related:  Studies Confirm Benefits of Maca for Women During Menopause

Maca

Originating in Peru, the maca plant offers a host of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and protein through its roots.  Research shows that supplementation with dried maca root powder may increase energy levels in healthy people and those living with various health issues.  In one study, researchers timed a group of healthy cyclists who completed a 40 km bike ride before taking maca and completed the same ride after taking maca for two weeks.  Results showed significant improvements in the completion times of the cyclists, which researchers attributed to increased energy levels.

Protein Powder

People who exercise regularly or who have trouble swallowing often appreciate protein powder that can be blended into a beverage.  Available in a wide array of flavors like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana, protein powder comes with varying levels of carbohydrates dependent upon what is needed by the user.  Different types of protein may include soy, rice, whey, or casein protein.

Conclusion

A powdered supplement benefits the body in many ways.  Whether people need the nutritional punch provided by a green supplement powder or the occasional energy lift offered by maca powder, supplementary beverages make a delicious and easy way to obtain valuable nutrients.  Supplement powders can be found at local whole foods and nutrition stores or conveniently ordered online through natural supplement websites. 

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Battle Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with Two Red Superfoods

by IVL Products

Modern life comes with jam-packed schedules, making people more tired than ever.  While occasional fatigue is normal, chronic fatigue is not, especially when severe.  If people experience debilitating physical and mental fatigue that lasts for more than six consecutive months, they may have chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS.  Additional symptoms associated with CFS include poor memory, headaches, sore throat, and pain in the muscles or joints.   

Watermelon contains an array of nutrients that may benefit people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Cause and Treatment

Experts have yet to identify a lone cause, but some think chronic fatigue syndrome may develop from a number of triggers including immune disorder, infection, stress, trauma, or toxins.  While there is no known cure for CFS, treatment involves a number of strategies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, moderate exercise, sleep management techniques, and good nutrition.  A wholesome diet may help prevent or relieve symptoms of CFS.  Two red fruits in particular offer many benefits.

Red Apples

Red apple skins are a rich source of the antioxidant, quercetin.  This potent flavonoid helps fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and disease, and it raises energy levels by enhancing the immune system and increasing the number of mitochondria in cells. 

Studies on trained athletes show that treatment with quercetin supplements can boost endurance.  Another study from the University of South Carolina at Columbia tested the endurance of somewhat-active college students on an exercise bicycle.  After taking 500 mg of quercetin twice a day for one week, cycling endurance improved as well as lung function in all students.  The lead author of this study indicated the results might be good news for people suffering from energy-draining conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Related:  Magnesium Deficiency and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Watermelon

While tomatoes offer a rich source of lycopene, scientists at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (SCARL) in Lane, Oklahoma have shown that watermelon offers even more.  This powerful antioxidant and others in watermelon help fight harmful free radicals that contribute to disease.  Nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin B1, magnesium, potassium, and L-citrulline found in watermelon also help people with CFS by boosting energy levels by as much as 23 percent.

Conclusion

A nutritious diet helps prevent a wide range of health problems.  Additional red superfoods that may help prevent or relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries.  In addition to whole fruits and vegetables, people with CFS should add lean poultry, wild fatty fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds to the shopping cart.  It helps to eliminate processed foods and sodas and drink plenty of pure, clean water.  People with CFS shouldn't smoke, and they should limit consumption of alcohol.   

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Tell-Tale Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Everyone knows vitamins benefit the body, and good health starts at the beginning of the alphabet.  Vitamin A is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin important to the eyes, bones, gums, skin, reproductive system, and the respiratory and intestinal tracts.  Two different types of vitamin A are present in foods.  Preformed vitamin A (retinol) can be obtained through animal products, and pro-vitamin A (carotenoids) are found in certain fruits and vegetables.  When people don't get enough vitamin A in the diet, they may experience signs of vitamin A deficiency. 

Night blindness is one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency

What is the first sign of vitamin A deficiency?

Because vitamin A plays a key role in eye health, people who are deficient in vitamin A first experience symptoms of night blindness.  While people with night blindness see normally during the day, they have problems adjusting when light fades.  A study published in The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consumption of a daily vitamin A supplement protects against the development of night blindness.  If not treated, vitamin A deficiency can progress to dry eye syndrome and other serious vision problems.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Continued vitamin A deficiency can affect the conjunctiva (or the covering on the whites of the eyes) that keep eyes moist and lubricated.  The conjunctiva dry out and ulcers appear on the cornea.  If left untreated, vitamin A deficiency can lead to vision loss.

What are some other signs of vitamin A deficiency?

Vitamin A triggers inflammatory response and boosts production of collagen, which helps with repair and healing of wounds.  People who don't get enough vitamin A may experience slower healing and greater risks for infection.  In studies, vitamin A supplementation has been shown to be particularly helpful for people who take steroid medications because steroids impair collagen synthesis.  In addition to the skin, vitamin A also contributes to tooth and gum health.

Related:   The ABCs of Eye Floaters

How does vitamin A promote healthy teeth and gums?

In addition to promoting healthy skin (outer body lining) vitamin A helps maintain mucous membranes (inner body linings) like those of the gums, and healthy gums help anchor teeth. When gums become inflamed, adequate levels of vitamin A help to speed the healing process, but vitamin A deficiency impedes the healing process.  People with chronic gum problems may want to check with a medical professional for testing of vitamin A levels.

People can prevent signs of vitamin A deficiency by eating plenty of sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits or by taking a daily vitamin A supplement.  As of this writing, for men over the age of 18, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 900 micrograms (mcg).  For women over the age of 18, the RDA for vitamin A is 700 mcg.  Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume 770 mcg and 1,200 mcg respectively.  People who suspect a vitamin A deficiency should consult with a health care professional for confirmation before starting a supplementary regimen.

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Why Plant-Based Powder Supplements are the Best

by Institute for Vibrant Living

All supplements are not the same. Synthetic extracts and "green" supplements may sound healthy and full of goodness,  but the truth is you need to take plant based vitamins and supplements made from whole-food plant-based powders to get the nutritional benefits you are searching for. 

plant-based vitamins and supplements

Here's why plant based vitamins and supplements are just what you’ve been searching for:

Plant Based Vitamins and Supplements Work Synergistically

Some health supplements and vitamins sound full of highly concentrated health-giving benefits, but they are made from extractions, which mean they isolate the particular nutrient from the rest of the plant to provide concentrated vitamin and mineral supplements. However, using the extracted nutrient in isolation from the plant from which it was derived means that they do not perform as nature intended, to their full capacity.

The way many plant based vitamins and supplements work is by their interaction with other micronutrients and metabolites found in the whole plant. The nutrients often work synergistically with the rest of the plant to maximum their efficacy. In order to get the full power of these secondary metabolites, you need to look for whole-food, plant-based powders to get the best possible health benefits.

For example, you may drink a healthy smoothie for vitamin C, but think how much more you would benefit if that supplement was made from whole plants, not just a vitamin C extract. The same shake could deliver fiber, antioxidants, immune-boosting phyto-nutrients, probiotics and enzymes as well as the desired vitamin C boost if it was made from whole foods.

Related:  7 Tips for Becoming a Plant Eater

Plant Based Vitamins and Supplements are Naturally Absorbed

Those people taking plant based vitamins and supplements generally understand the benefits of nature and want a natural safe approach to health and weight loss, not a laboratory-created pill. When you choose whole-food plant-based supplements, you know that your body is absorbing and utilizing the nutrients to maximum effect, as it was designed to do.

One big difference between synthetic and natural plant-based supplements is that plant based vitamins and supplements include enzymes. They play an important role is making those nutrients available, helping the body to absorb and utilize the accompanying minerals and vitamins. Absorption takes place at cell level and the enzymes and amino acids present in plant based supplements ensure that the supplement absorption is natural and efficient. By giving your body the tools it needs to stay fit and healthy, you are allowing your body to self-correct, protecting the longevity of your health.

If you want to boost your dietary intake of vitamins and minerals, it makes sense to deliver plant based vitamins and supplements in the same form that nature already provides. 

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

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Are You Malnourished?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Malnutrition is unfortunately all too familiar in developing countries where people do not get sufficient nutrients in their diet. Signs of malnutrition may be all too obvious in underweight children and adults, but there are other causes of malnutrition which are evident in the U.S. and other developed nations today.

Are you showing signs of malnutrition?

Here are some common signs of malnutrition:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Dry  or unhealthy skin
  • Wasted muscles
  • Stunted growth in children

Weight Loss Causes Signs of Malnutrition

A common modern-day cause of malnutrition is dieting. Skipping meals, eating unhealthily and starving in the name of weight loss, fashion, or peer pressure can all result in a lack of essential protein, minerals and vitamins that our bodies need to survive healthily. An obsession with size can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Other causes of malnutrition can be drug addiction, elderly people living alone, or families and students struggling to make ends meet.

Poor Soil Causes Signs of Malnutrition

The University of Texas compared the content of calcium, iron, proteins, phosphorous and vitamin C in fruit and vegetables in 1950 and again in 1999. Although crop size and rate of growth has improved, the nutritional content of the crops has significantly declined.

According to the Kushi Institute, levels of calcium are 27% lower, iron is 37% lower and vitamin C levels are 30% lower in fruits and vegetables produced in 1997 compared to 1975. Intensive farming and lack of crop rotation is blamed for the lower nutritional content of our fruit and vegetables. This clearly indicates the importance of taking multivitamin or daily supplements to provide the essential nutrients our body needs to avoid signs of malnutrition.

Related:  Are Gut Microbes Responsible for Severe Malnutrition?

Malabsorption

Malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals can cause signs of malnutrition even in those who eat a healthy balanced diet. Such cases may be a caused by digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Those suffering from persistent vomiting or diarrhea will also not be benefitting from their food intake. Some medications can also prevent the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients, leading to malnutrition and poor health.

Treatment for Signs of Malnutrition

Any evidence of malnutrition needs to be swiftly addressed with a proper diet, and possibly with the help of a professional dietician or advisor. Less serious cases of malnutrition can be remedied with regular daily supplements of multivitamins and minerals.

With our busy highly stressed lifestyle, poor eating habits, denuded soil quality, malabsorption and medication issues, everyone needs to take a multivitamin daily to ensure that the minimum amounts of calcium, vitamins and minerals are part of our daily diet.

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Feeling Down? Try These Natural Remedies for Depression

by Cindy Gray

Everybody feels a little sad or depressed occasionally and often it is a normal reaction to loss or life’s inevitable struggles. For most people, the blues go away after situations are resolved. Others however, are not so lucky.  

According to the National Institute for Mental Health more than 14.8 million adults suffer from major depression which affects their health, relationships and ability to function.  Although there are many prescription medications that claim to help, most people prefer to seek out national remedies for depression.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sad, anxious feelings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Digestive problems

People who are clinically depressed may look at external reasons for their sadness.  But in true clinical depression, outside factors are not often the primary reasons for depression.  Depression is influenced by the balance of brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.  The often-prescribed medications that are supposed to regulate neurotransmitters tend to be very expensive and most have side effects that range from unpleasant to dangerous.

Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided us with safe, effective natural remedies for depression. Recent studies have found a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is present in eggs and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Your body can make its own vitamin D after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, but that can be difficult depending on the time of year and where you live.

RelatedNatural Supplements and Vitamins--Why They are Important

Vitamin D has also been associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and it also contributes to bone health, immune function and muscle maintenance. Because it is so important, millions of Americans take vitamin D supplements to help ensure they are getting sufficient amounts. Vitamin D is available in tablet, capsule, powdered, and in liquid forms. The needed amount varies from person to person so ask your holistic health practitioner to determine the dosage that best suits your individual needs.

Consider adding nutritional supplements to your natural remedies for depression. It’s also important to adopt an overall healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, moderate exercise, adequate rest, social interaction and stress reduction techniques.

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Natural Remedies for Depression Include Three Healthy Foods

by IVL Products

Depression affects nearly 19 million people across the United States.  While a number of factors contribute to depression, many people fail to consider daily nutrition.  What we put in our mouths plays a big role in mood as well as mental focus and energy levels.  According to experts, some foods that reduce depression include garbanzo beans, turkey, and yogurt.  Each of these nutritional foods contains mood-enhancing properties and a few extra health benefits, making them must-haves for the shopping cart.  

Add foods that reduce depression like garbanzo beans, yogurt, and turkey to the shopping cart.

Garbanzo Beans

According to a 2004 study published in "Human Psychopharmacology," people with depression show high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can hinder recovery and endanger the heart.  Folic acid helps keep homocysteine levels in check, and garbanzo beans make a rich source of this valuable nutrient.  Studies also show that folic acid may enhance the effectiveness of prescribed antidepressants, but people should consult with their doctor before using folic acid supplements.  Garbanzo beans also provide a rich source of fiber for better digestive health.

Turkey

People looking for natural remedies for depression should consider foods rich in protein, particularly turkey.  Many lean sources of protein provide amino acids that help improve mood as well as support the immune system, repair body tissues, and boost energy.  Turkey goes one step further with high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that stimulates the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing and sleep-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain.  This might explain why people feel so drowsy and content following Thanksgiving dinner.  Other dietary sources of tryptophan include cottage cheese, milk, brown rice, peanuts, beef, and soy products.

RelatedWays to Lower Risk of Depression

Yogurt

Low-fat dairy products like yogurt contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein as well as specific peptides that support wellbeing.  In addition to these healthy ingredients, yogurt offers a rich source of probiotics ─ microorganisms that help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.  Some depressed people have an overgrowth of 'bad' intestinal bacteria, which can cause problems with the absorption of micronutrients.  These compounds are directly involved in the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.  To get the most health benefits, people should purchase plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or lemon juice and stevia.

In light of all their healthy properties, it makes sense to add these three foods that reduce depression to a dietary plan.  People who don't like the texture of garbanzo beans might try a smooth and creamy hummus spread with fresh veggies, crackers, or chips.  Natural turkey lunch meat makes a good alternative to a big roasted bird, and probiotic supplements make a good replacement for plain yogurt.

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Vitamins for Skin: ACE Your Skin Care with A, C and E

by IVL Products

Whether taken by mouth or slathered on the skin, the right combination of vitamins can be your complexion’s best friend. Your skin is a reflection of your overall health and vitamins provide the support that keeps your body at peak performance. 

ACE Your Skin Care with Vitamins A, C and E

Studies show that three of the most effective vitamins for skin are A, C and E.    Here’s why:

VITAMIN A:  This vitamin improves the overall health of the skin and is especially helpful for fighting acne.  As an added bonus, it rebuilds skin tissue and also mitigates the skin changes associated with aging. Add vitamin A supplements to your daily routine and seek out natural topical skin products that list it as an ingredient. Great dietary sources of vitamin A include leafy greens, carrots, eggs and pumpkins.

VITAMIN C:  An antioxidant powerhouse, Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen and elastin, both of which allow your skin to grow thicker, stronger and suppler. Vitamin C increases the effectiveness of sunscreens, reduces cell damage and encourages healing. Make sure you get plenty of vitamin C through your diet or nutritional supplements. Look for natural skin care products that contain at least a 10 percent concentration of L-ascorbic acid. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and kiwi. 

Related:  Top 5  Foods for Beautiful Skin

VITAMIN E: One of the best vitamins for skin, E has long been used in supplement and topical forms. It reduces UV damage and wrinkles, improves skin texture and promotes healing. It is an effective antioxidant that fights free radicals related to smoking, pollution and sun exposure. Natural topical skin care products containing vitamin E can reduce the appearance of age spots, wrinkles, stretch marks and fine lines. Good food sources of vitamin E include tofu, spinach, avocados, salmon, olive oil, broccoli and squash.

Nutritional supplements and topical products containing vitamins A, C and E are available online and at natural health stores. Talk to your dermatologist or your holistic health practitioner about supplements and skin care products containing these vitamins. Develop a vitamin-rich skin care regimen that will ensure healthy, supple skin throughout all of the phases of your life. 

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Seeing Green for Anti-Aging

by Cindy Gray

An anti-aging diet must contain a lot of greens.  Immediately you might think about broccoli, lettuce, peas, green beans, etc. Well, these are all great green foods to have in your diet, but there are a few others you might be interested in that are nutritional powerhouses and should also be a part of your regular diet.

Alfalfa

Called the King of Grains, alfalfa’s not just for cows anymore. This remarkable plant shoots its roots 20 to 30 feet down to draw out minerals from the soil not available near the surface.  It is a rich source of vitamins, A, B1, B6, C, E and K, which are critical to maintaining a health immune system.

Alfalfa also helps prevent heart disease, the number one killer in this country, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.  That makes it a good green to toss into your next salad.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It also has long been known for its skin healing and softening effects as a treatment for sun burns, eczema and psoriasis, just to name a few.

Recent clinical evidence suggests that this gel-filled plant is highly effective at fighting tumors that can cause colorectal cancer.  Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lower cholesterol and relieve constipation make it a good green to add to your diet. Since aloe vera does not occur naturally in foods, you will need to enjoy it juice or gel form, or take it in supplement form.

Spinach

Spinach is a unique plant; chock full of iron and vitamin C.  Iron is more readily absorbed into the body when accompanied by vitamin C, so it is perfectly packaged to deliver maximum anti-aging compounds.  Research shows that in addition to the powerful antioxidants it contains, spinach also helps protect the lining of the intestinal tract. This makes for a healthier immune system to help fight off colds and quickly rid the body of toxic bacteria.

Men, take note: Spinach also helps reduce the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer, so add this dark leafy green cancer fighter to your anti-aging diet.

Related:  Seven Green Super Foods with Cancer Fighting & Heart-Healthy Benefits

Astragalus

Astragalus is known as an adaptogen.  An adaptogen is something that helps the body “adapt” to the damage of physical, mental and emotional stress more quickly, before it can harm your cells and overall health.  Astragalus contains antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compounds to help you avoid getting frequent colds, bladder infections and it helps to stimulate the immune system.

As a powerful antioxidant, astragalus also lowers cholesterol, improves heart function and protects the kidneys from disease.  Look for supplements made from the root of the plant, where all the medicinal properties are contained.

Seaweed

Compounds in seaweed so closely resemble human plasma that it is a great blood purifier. It also has chelating properties, meaning it converts heavy metal pollutants in our bodies to harmless salt that we can easily excrete.  Compounds found in seaweed called lignans have been shown to help treat and prevent certain types of cancers.

Seaweed is high in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid to help keep your metabolism humming along, making it a good weight loss green. The minerals in seaweed act as electrolytes to break the chemical bonds sealing fat cells, allowing excess fluids and waste trapped there to escape and be excreted from the body.

Since seaweed can be hard to find in standard grocery stores, here is a quick list of the types you should be adding to your anti-aging diet:

  • Nori
  • Kelp
  • Dulse
  • Arame
  • Kombu

Seeing green is a smart way to take charge of your health and add variety to your diet and lifestyle!

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The 411 on Menopause and Hair Thinning

by Cindy Gray

Due to a number of uncomfortable symptoms, women don't typically welcome menopause with open arms.  Although most expect hot flashes and mood swings, many are unprepared for perhaps the most distressing symptom of all:  hair loss.  Statistically, hair loss in women during and after menopause occurs in about 40 percent of women.  

Most hair loss in women during or after menopause can be blamed on hormonal changes.

Reasons for Menopause Hair Loss

Most experts attribute hair loss in women during or after menopause to hormonal changes. Reduced estrogen levels result in hair that is thinner and drier in texture.  What's more, pre-menopause stores of estrogen block the hair-thinning effects of testosterone in the female body.  When estrogen drops, so does the blocking benefit.  In some women, the hair that comes back grows in progressively weaker.

Symptoms of Hair Loss

Unlike male pattern hair loss, female hair loss occurs over a broad scalp area.  At first, women may notice a smaller ponytail, a wider part, and higher-than-usual shedding in the hair brush and in the shower.  In some women, a whopping 50 percent loss can occur before the problem is visually noticeable.

Other Factors that Contribute to Hair Loss in Women

While hormonal levels offer the most common explanation for women experiencing menopause and hair thinning, other factors should be considered.  For instance, some women have genetic predisposition to hair loss.  Other causes include high levels of stress, crash dieting, nutritional deficiencies, and thyroid issues.

Related:  Black Cohosh Provides Safe & Natural Relief for Hot Flashes

Effects and Treatments

In addition to physical affects, hair loss in women causes psychological distress, from loss of confidence and reduced self-esteem to anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.  Fortunately, a wide range of treatments can help, including prescription medicines, platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP), low-level laser therapy, and nutritional supplements.

Women concerned about hair loss should consult with a health care professional to determine the cause and to choose a treatment that is right for them.  It is important for women to give a therapy time to work and track results before abandoning it in frustration for a new one. Regrowth of hair can take time and subtle changes aren't always noticeable at first.

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How Omega 3's Could Save Your Hair

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Man or woman ─ everyone wants a full head of hair.  While salon treatments and expensive hair products help, the key to healthy locks is to start from the inside out.  Good nutrition plays a key role, and healthy nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids keep hair in top condition.  These are essential fatty acids (EFAs) that the body needs but does not produce on its own.  People obtain plenty of omega 3s for hair health through certain foods and dietary supplements.

Wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut provide omega 3 for hair and other health benefits.

Omega 3 Foods

Feeding hair follicles with EFAs helps keep the scalp and hair in healthy condition.  Foods high in omega 3 for hair health include wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, or halibut, and three servings per week ensures adequate fatty acid consumption.  Other great sources of essential fatty acids include ground flaxseed or walnuts.

Omega 3 Supplements

Fish oil supplements offer a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  Most experts recommend at least 1,200 mg of supplemental fish oil per day.  Make sure to find a pure product free of mercury and other harmful substances.

How Omega 3 Benefits Hair Health

Omega 3 fatty acids provide nourishment to hair follicles and help maintain shine.  Research published in the January 2013 issue of Dermatologic Clinics determined that fatty acid deficiency can lead to hair loss and changes in hair color.  Although many topical shampoos and other hair products contain omega 3 fatty acids, the body extracts the most nutrients when EFAs are taken internally.

Related:  Omega 3 Fats: Best Defense Against Premature Aging

Additional Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

In addition to taking omega 3 for hair, people may enjoy a few more benefits like a healthier heart. Thousands of clinical studies have determined that greater consumption of EPA and DHA boosts cardiovascular function.  Essential fatty acids also play a key role in skin health by ensuring a robust skin cell membrane.  The membrane allows nutrients to pass through and keeps harmful substances out.  It also affects the ability of skin cells to hold water, which keeps them plump, soft, and wrinkle-free.

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Vitamins for Menopause Offer Safe Alternatives To Hormone Replacement Therapy

by Health News

Millions of women experience hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, vaginal dryness, irritability and insomnia when they are menopausal. In many cases the symptoms are so severe that they ask their doctors for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which can have serious side effects including an increased risk for cancer. Recent studies have confirmed using vitamins for menopausal symptoms as a safe, natural way that women can find relief without putting potentially dangerous hormones into their bodies. 

Safely Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy with Vitamins for Menopause

Although there are several vitamins that help provide relief, vitamin E is at the top of the list. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects cells against free radicals. A study from the British Medical Journal found that vitamin E reduced hot flashes in 64 percent of the women tested and that it also helped reduce the symptoms of vaginal aging. Fifty percent of the women in the study reported healing of vaginal atrophy as well as a decrease in pain during sex.

Most holistic practitioners also recommend a B-complex supplement for menopausal women. B-6 helps balance out the hormone-related mood swings and B-12 fights the fatigue that many women experience as their estrogen levels drop. 

RelatedFour Common Myths About Calcium

In addition to vitamins for menopause calcium supplements are also recommended because this important mineral helps fight age-related loss of bone density. Studies show that calcium supplements are more effective when taken in conjunction with vitamin D. 

While vitamins have an important role to play in relieving menopause symptoms, an overall healthy lifestyle will support vibrant health at all stages of life. A healthy lifestyle includes:

A Nutritious Diet: A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you look and feel your best. Make sure you purchase organic, locally grown produce because it has the highest nutritional value.

Exercise: Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and also aids in coping with the stress that is associated with menopausal symptoms. Make regular workouts part of your daily regimen.

Sleep: Insomnia is a common problem for menopausal women and night sweats exacerbate the problem. Take melatonin supplements to help you sleep and make sure you keep a glass of cold water on your nightstand. There are cooling pillows on the market that can help you be more comfortable at night so you can get the rest you need.

Stress Management: Meditation, yoga, deep-breathing exercises, massages and soothing music are great stress reducers. Spend time with supportive friends and make time for your favorite hobbies. It’s easier maintaining a rich quality of life during menopause if you minimize your stressors. 

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The Estrogen, Serotonin, and Melatonin Connection: Balance is Essential

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Menopause management is a balancing act that can be very confusing for women who are suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms. Understanding the causes for menopausal symptoms can be difficult because there are physical, psychological and emotional components associated with the change of life. Recent studies have found a link between estrogen, serotonin and melatonin that might shed some light on the causes for certain symptoms. 

For a smoother transition into menopause, learn about how balanced estrogen levels lead to healthier serotonin and melatonin levels.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries nerve impulses from your brain to your body. It is often called the “happy hormone” because of its positive effects on mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and sleep disorders. Because estrogen is needed to produce serotonin, the declining levels of estrogen associated with menopause result in lower serotonin levels.

To further complicate matters, low serotonin levels lead to low melatonin levels. Serotonin is synthesized in the body to make melatonin, the hormone that is essential to restful sleep. Melatonin controls the body’s circadian rhythms to regulate sleep cycles.

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People with low melatonin levels are prone to sleep disorders that leave them in a perpetual state of fatigue. Chronic insomnia has adverse effects on all aspects of health and it can be especially troublesome for menopausal women.

Simply put, the estrogen, serotonin and melatonin imbalances can (and often do) create the perfect storm for menopausal symptoms mood swings and sleep disorders. The symptoms can become so troublesome that women seek help from their doctors who often prescribe hormone replace therapy (HRT) and sleeping pills. Both HRT and prescription sleep aids have unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. 

Fortunately both serotonin and melatonin levels can be boosted through dietary changes and nutritional supplements. Studies show that tryptophan supplements help to increase serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain. Food sources of tryptophan include soy, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peas, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Serotonin and melatonin supplements area available online and in natural heath stores. They come in pill, capsule or powdered forms. These supplements are a safe, natural alternative to prescription medications. Add them to your daily regimen to boost your mood, help you sleep and keep you healthy.