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Green Superfoods You Should Be Eating

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Want to make your daily diet as nutritious as possible?  Try incorporating a few green superfoods into breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Asparagus, barley grass, kale and spirulina help keep bodies in tip-top health due to an abundance of vitamins, minerals and other disease-fighting ingredients. 

Green superfoods like asparagus are packed full of healthy nutrients.

1. Asparagus

People looking for tasty green superfoods should start at the beginning of the alphabet with asparagus.  It contains important nutrients like beta-carotene, folate, iron, manganese, selenium, and vitamins A, B6 and C.  Asparagus is also a rich source of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps flush toxins and free radicals from the body.  High in fiber but low in calories, asparagus makes a great food for weight loss.

2. Barley grass

The soft green shoots of the barley plant offer a host of health benefits.  With more calcium than dairy milk, more iron than spinach, and more vitamin C than orange juice, barley grass rates high on the list for healthful green superfoods.  Nutrients in barley grass include beta-carotene, chlorophyll, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K.  Barley grass helps neutralize heavy metals in the bloodstream, stimulates friendly bacteria in the gut, and helps maintain pH balance in the body.

3. Kale

With only 36 calories per cup and high in fiber, kale makes sense for weight loss.  In addition to containing carotenoids, flavonoids, calcium, copper, manganese, and vitamins A, C and K, kale contains isothiocyanates, chemicals that help prevent cancer by removing potential carcinogens from the body and triggering the production of tumor-suppressing proteins.

Related:  Kale and Spinach Help Prevent Vision Problems

4. Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is cultivated worldwide and used as both a dietary supplement and a food.  Valuable nutrients in spirulina include amino acids, beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).

Research shows that spirulina can help curb cravings and maintain blood sugar levels, making it a good food for people with diabetes.  Test tube and animal studies indicate spirulina may have allergy-fighting and immune-boosting properties as well as antiviral compounds that help fight herpes, influenza and HIV.  Further studies are needed to determine if these results transfer to humans.

People looking for a little extra nutrition can never go wrong with green superfoods.  Adding asparagus, barley grass, kale and spirulina to the grocery cart ensures a bevy of beneficial nutrients.  Asparagus and kale taste delicious sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper, and barley grass and spirulina add a powerful nutritional punch to fruity or green smoothies.

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Do Free Radicals Cause Skin Changes?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The skin is the body's largest organ, so it is important to take good care of it.  Knowing about free radicals and how to eliminate them can help.  A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule that is missing an electron.  In the hunt for the absent electron, free radicals destroy healthy molecules and create more free radicals. A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to the production of free radicals including exposure to the sun, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, a poor diet, and air pollution.  Over time, excessive free radicals can cause oxidative damage leading to skin changes like acne, wrinkles and even skin cancer. 

Lifestyle choices like smoking can promote free radical production and cause skin changes.

Young skin contains an abundance of antioxidants that protect it from free radicals.  However, aging skin produces fewer antioxidants and becomes more susceptible to damage. Fortunately, as people age, they can prevent the production of free radicals by engaging in a number of healthy lifestyle strategies.

1.  Use Sunscreen

Prolonged exposure to the sun encourages the production of free radicals. According to a study examining the effects of oxidative stress on skin cells, the use of sunscreen offers the best protection for preventing these free radicals from forming.  Natural, mineral-based sunscreens provide safe, broad-spectrum protection without harsh chemicals.  Remember to wear a wide-brimmed hat when out in direct sunlight.  Other protection methods are long-sleeved clothes and even using an umbrella for sun protection.

2.  Eat Foods High in Antioxidants

In the same study, the Slovenian research team from the University of Ljubljana also concluded "Foods rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals such as fruits, vegetables, wine and green tea help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack."  Specific fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants include leafy greens, red grapes, citrus fruits, melons, papaya, berries, and pomegranate.

Related:  Internal Sun Protection With ALA

3.  Take Dietary Supplements

A number of vitamin and mineral supplements block the development of free radicals.  These include vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10, lutein, lycopene, and zinc.  Protective herbal supplements include bilberry, gingko biloba, grape seed extract, and turmeric.

4.  Try Skincare Products with Vitamin C or Copper

It's hard to sift through the multitude of skincare products for one that actually works, but a few added ingredients have been shown to truly benefit the skin. Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue. Research shows that topical application of vitamin C promotes the production of collagen and diminishes the effects of free radicals. Copper is an ingredient added to many products for aging skin. Copper peptides can help improve skin elasticity, enhance skin tone and reduce symptoms of skin conditions like rashes, eczema, and rosacea.

While environment and lifestyle can affect the skin, certain healthy strategies help keep skin changes to a minimum. People looking to enhance skin health should use sunscreen when spending more than twenty minutes outdoors. Other ways to benefit the skin include eating foods high in antioxidants, taking certain dietary supplements, and using topical skin products with vitamin C or copper.

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Can Too Many Multivitamins Be Dangerous?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

While Mae West famously joked, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”, when it comes to multivitamins a slightly more responsible attitude should be adopted. Two new studies into multivitamin dangers have shown why the National Institutes of Health and Office of Dietary Supplements publish carefully researched Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for most dietary supplements.

Avoid multivitamin dangers by buying a trusted quality product

Dangers of Multivitamin Excess

We all know the health problems caused by deficiencies of calcium, iron and vitamins, but in some instances too high doses can be equally unhealthy. A study in Iowa found that older women taking iron supplements actually had a slightly higher risk of dying than those who did not. This is because post-menopausal women no longer need iron supplements to offset the loss in monthly menstruation. Excess iron can cause a build-up of oxidants, the opposite of healthy antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables. The tragedy of this study result is that the women were doing everything they could to stay fit and healthy. They simply did not heed the recommended dosage.

Related:  Five Myths About Vitamins

Just like medications, while one aspirin may help reduce the risk of heart disease, 100 aspirins will kill you. When it comes to multivitamin dangers, the message is exactly the same. Read the label and take the recommended dose – no more and no less.

Another study found that men who took excessive amounts of vitamin E had a 17% higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Once again, the recommended international units (IU) of vitamin E supplements are just 22 IU per day. The participants had been taking over 400 IU per day for several years.

Although the results of both these studies are isolated and need deeper investigation, they still sound a wise note of caution about taking supplements responsibly in order to avoid multivitamin dangers.

How to Avoid Multivitamin Dangers

If you are taking a multivitamin supplement, check the label on the back for the RDA or International Units (IU) of each ingredient. In most cases you will find that the supplement provides a large proportion of your daily needs, with the balance being made up from a healthy balanced diet. Healthy people do not generally need more of each vitamin and mineral contained than that contained in a daily multivitamin.

It’s worth paying out a little more for quality multivitamins from a reputable company that specializes in health supplements. Many over-the-counter multivitamins skimp or omit some essential vitamins in order to cut costs, but this is false economy. Taking a multivitamin that is poorly balanced or lacking in certain essentials elements deceives you into thinking that you are getting your daily needs. To avoid multivitamin dangers, choose quality over price, so that you don’t need to top up with additional supplements and make sure you are staying within recommended guidelines.

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Three Supplements for a Gluten Free Diet

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people today adopt a gluten free diet due to gluten sensitivity or an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease. Until recently, celiac disease was relatively rare, but now an estimated one percent of all Americans suffer from this digestive reaction. A further one percent may have a gluten allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Following a gluten-free diet excludes most of these foods

A simple Alcat test on a blood sample can detect an allergy to over 450 substances. However, most people who develop gluten intolerance are already aware of the problem as they develop digestive discomfort, abdominal bloating or diarrhea after eating wheat, barley or rye grains.

Adopting a gluten free diet can quickly solve these issues, but it does create another problem – vitamin B deficiency. By avoiding bread, beer, cereals, cakes, cookies, pastas and sauces containing gluten, you can be lacking certain essential nutrients. Celiac disease also inhibits the body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients, so it is particularly important for sufferers to top up their gluten free diet with the following supplements.

Related:  Boost the Immune System with Infection-Fighting Foods

Folic Acid (Folate) 

Usually found in enriched grain products, folate is a B vitamin that is essential for producing red blood cells and new cell growth. It is particularly important for pregnant women to ensure the baby develops correctly. Those on gluten free diets can find it in spinach, kale, liver and citrus fruits as well as in supplements.

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps make serotonin and norepinephrine which transmit signals in the brain. Vitamin B6 is also needed to make myelin, a protein in nerve cells. Deficiency of vitamin B6 in gluten free diets can cause problems with the skin, heart, nervous and circulatory system. Mainly found in cereals, B6 is also present in smaller quantities in carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, milk, eggs, fish and meat.

Vitamin B12 

This water-soluble vitamin is stored in the liver but deficiencies due to gluten free diets can cause pernicious anemia and excessive sweating. Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis and can be found naturally in protein in fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products.

B-Complex Supplements for Gluten-Free Diets

If you prefer, look for a B-complex supplement containing at least 800 mcg folic acid, 3 mg vitamin B6 and 500 mcg B12.  A study of patients on gluten free diets gave them a similar B-supplement for six months. They found their homocysteine levels dropped 34%, suggesting a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The participants also reported feeling healthier, less anxious and less moody.

You’ll find plenty more information about gluten-free diets on the gluten.org website.

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The Best Five Natural Alternatives to Fluoride

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many people are aware of the dangers of fluoridation, but are reluctant to forego the protection that fluoride gives against cavities and tooth decay. We explore a range of natural alternatives to fluoride that will not only protect your teeth but will also safeguard your overall health from the side effects caused by fluoride.

Neem leaves are one of the best natural alternatives to fluoride

 

1. Coconut Oil

The most effective protection against tooth decay is regular brushing and flossing twice daily. This removes traces of food that may be broken down by bacteria in the mouth, creating the acid that rots enamel and causes cavities. If you want to do more, include regular daily use of a tongue scraper—a tool used in Ayurvedic healing medicine for years.  Also try using coconut oil as a fluoride alternative to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Use it as toothpaste or swish through the teeth like a mouthwash to reduce plaque. Its antibacterial properties detour the presence of bacteria which cause tooth decay. (Oil pulling is the traditional name for this technique, again, and Ayurvedic method of oral hygiene.)

2. Neem

Neem is another amazing natural alternative to fluoride. Look for a neem-based mouthwash to help reduce plaque buildup and counter gingivitis (gum disease). Another good way to use neem is with fluoride-free toothpaste which includes neem extract.

3. Vitamin D

Taking a supplement of vitamin D is good for your general health, promoting strong bones and teeth. It’s a safe and natural alternative to fluoride.

4. Myrrh

Myrrh extract is great for promoting healthy teeth and combating bad breath; the best way to include myrrh in your dental health routine.  There are several products available that are fluoride-free formulas containing herbs such as eucalyptus and peppermint which support oral health and reduce cavities.

5. Chocolate!

Clinical trials on a chocolate extract have shown it is more effective than fluoride for treating hypersensitivity due to thinning dental enamel or periodontal disease. The cacao extract was able to restore and repair enamel and dental occlusions in just seven days. This natural fluoride alternative re-mineralizes the tooth better than fluoride and without the toxic side effects.

With so many natural alternatives to fluoride, you can banish fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes and get natural tooth protection without the risk of dangerous side effects.

 

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Facial Care Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Naturally Beautiful Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Your skin reflects your lifestyle and health so natural beauty tips for face care are important. Too much sun, too little water, too much alcohol and too little sleep all take their toll on your skin.  However, plying your pores with more chemicals and oily lotions can simply make the problem worse. Here are our top beauty tips for face care naturally.

Top beauty tips for face care include using edible products

 

Cleanse and Exfoliate

If you wear makeup, always cleanse your face at night. It allows your pores to breathe and prevents clogged pores from turning into blackheads or zits. You don’t need expensive cleansers and tonics; just pour a drop of olive oil onto a cotton pad and gently massage into the skin to loosen and remove makeup, dirt and pollution.

You should exfoliate your skin once a week to remove the dead skin cells that accumulate. Mix powdered walnut with yogurt and apply to the face in gentle circular motions. The paste will loosen and lift layers of dead skin and the antioxidants will help promote a glowing complexion that feels smooth and soft.

Related:  Royal Jelly for Skin: Your Skin's Best Friend

 

Watch What You Eat

You are what you eat when it comes to skincare, so healthy food means a healthier complexion. One of the best beauty tips for face care is eating fresh green vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Salmon oil supplements are excellent for moisturizing the skin from the inside out. Things to avoid are sugary and fatty foods, salt and spicy foods.

Sun Protection Always!

Even on dull days the sun’s harmful UV rays are evident, so you should always wear a moisturizer with sunscreen to avoid wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Choose a quality product that is labelled “noncomedogenic” so that it does not block pores and cause acne. Don’t forget the chemical-free alternatives to sunscreen:  a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirts, an umbrella—or sunbrella, and an all-natural moisturizer.

Hydrate Naturally

Your skin quickly shows if you are dehydrated, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydrate your skin with a spritz of rose water to maintain pH balance and reduce puffy eyes in the morning.  Drink a shot or two a day of organic aloe vera juice to help hydrate your skin from the inside out.

Beauty Sleep is the Best

At the end of the day, you can’t beat a restful night’s sleep, one of nature’s basic beauty tips for face care. Pale, tired skin, dark circles and baggy eyes never look attractive so ensure that you wind down each evening with a calming routine that will ensure eight hours’ undisturbed sleep every night.

By following these top beauty tips for face, eyes and skin you really can look as healthy and energetic as you feel!

 

 

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Why the Food Pyramid Isn’t Enough

by Health News

More and more research is showing that the USDA food pyramid and recommended daily allowances of various vitamins and minerals is woefully inadequate.  Considering this fact, and compounded by the fact that the majority of Americans are not even coming close to the recommended daily allowances, it’s no wonder Americans—both young and old—are becoming increasingly overweight and unwell.

 Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables for weight control and good health.

But what if you are one of the few that eat organically grown fruits and vegetables, watch your sugar and salt intake, avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated oils, and choose free-range meats and poultry? You are doing pretty well, right?  Wrong.

In an ideal world, this type of diet would meet all of your nutritional needs. Unfortunately, the harsh light of reality tells us that this is not so. Even whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and grains, are often grown in nutrient-depleted soils, and don't have enough of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Related:  How Supplements Help to Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

You could increase your produce intake even more…or you could augment your already healthy diet with a supplement product that gives you a plethora of fruits and vegetables in supplement or powder form.  We should all probably do both! 

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27 Nutrients & 28,000 Calories!

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You eat well.  You have a fruit and vegetable (maybe even two!) at every meal. You forgo saturated fat and haven’t had sugar in a year. And everything in your home is organic…even your shampoo!

The RDA of key nutrients—is it possible to get them from food alone?

But, believe it or not, that is likely not enough. According to a study published in a 2010 issue of The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, in order to get the RDA levels (let alone higher) of 27 vitamins and minerals, you’d have to eat an average of 28,000 calories a day! What?

Related:  Three Protein-Packed Breakfasts

Obviously getting your RDA of key nutrients from food alone is NOT the way to go. Instead, supplement your already clean diet (and even more so with a not so clean one) with a high-quality fruit and vegetable food-based product to ensure you get all the nutrition you need—without all the calories.

 

 

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Enough Fruits & Veggies: What We May Know, But Don’t Do

by IVL Products
Fruits & Veggies, How Much is Enough?

There is no question that eating fruits and vegetables is at the heart of an optimum diet. However, most (if not nearly all) of us aren’t getting anywhere near the optimum quantity of fruits and vegetables.

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than one-third of Americans eat two or more fruits per day; and a mere 27 percent eat vegetables three or more times a day. That is grossly insufficient to meet our vitamin and mineral needs.

Given this, it is not only practical but critical that people use a fruit and/or vegetable supplement to fill in the nutritional gaps left by a poor diet, high stress, malabsorption issues, and other deficiency-related concerns.

Related:  Are Green Leafy Vegetables Good for Your Bones

In today’s day and age, augmenting with a supplement that fills in these gaps is not an option—it’s a necessity. By choosing a product with care and aiming for optimal levels of key nutrients, you can begin to create a habit that will support you for the rest of your life!

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Even Healthy Eating and Supplements Aren’t Enough

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, large national surveys show that even healthy eating habits combined with some supplements, Americans are still not getting the average daily requirements of many key nutrients. In fact, nearly everyone falls short on two critical vitamins—vitamin D and vitamin A.

Healthy eating habits combined with supplementation is the best routine.

More than one third of us are low in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A, which are critical for bone, heart, and eye health. Plus, nearly half of us are short of our vitamin C intake. 

One of the surveys (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2003-2006 found, “Without enrichment and/or fortification and supplementation, many Americans did not achieve the recommended micronutrient intake levels set forth in the Dietary Reference Intakes.”

Related:  Are Supplements Regulated by the FDA?

They go on to say that not everyone uses supplements, so the ability to boost nutrient levels above and beyond food (even fortified food) is limited to those people who actually use supplements.

The takeaway? Be sure that you aren’t going the food-only route. The best way to get all the nutrients you need for optimum health is to eat a healthy diet of organic fruits and vegetables AND use a high-quality, food-based supplement to get the additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need.

 

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Essential Fatty Acids: Benefits and Sources

by Cindy Gray

With an enthusiasm for better health on the rise in America, many people are making quality nutrition a top priority.  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a key role.  They are called "essential" because they are not made naturally by the body, but must be obtained through food or supplements.  Learning more about these important nutrients can help to ensure a nutritious diet and a healthy body.

The only way to obtain essential fatty acids is through foods or supplements.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Essential omega 3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The body converts ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two more essential fatty acids; however, the process isn't very efficient.  Therefore, EPA and DHA are considered "conditionally essential."

Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, melons, and cherries which contain ALA.  Omega 3 sources of EPA and DHA include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and other marine life, such as algae and krill.  Flax oil (ALA) and fish oil (EPA and DHA) supplements also make good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid (LA) is an essential fatty acid present in many leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains.  Oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, and canola oil also offer linoleic acid.  LA breaks down to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) within the body or arachidonic acid (AA), two other essential fatty acids.  Natural sources of GLA include oils like black currant, borage, evening primrose, and hemp oils.  You can also obtain AA through consumption of eggs, fish and meat.

Related:  Three Surprising Seafood Sources of EFA’s

Health Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids help promote a variety of functions in the human body including:

  • Cell development
  • Absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Nourishment of skin, hair, and nails
  • Proper nerve function
  • Hormone production

EFAs and Disease

EFA deficiency has been linked to a number of diseases and disorders including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Hypertension
  • Certain mental disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Learning disorders
  • PMS
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Studies show the consumption of EFAs can help improve these conditions.  For instance, it has been found that diets high in ALA, EPA and DHA can help protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and providing anticoagulant properties.  Research shows that supplementation with GLA can relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and subjects with eczema are able to reduce their use of antibiotics and steroids for treatment of the disease.

People can consume large amounts of essential fatty acids with few side effects.  Occasionally some experience stomach upset, gas, or diarrhea, but these effects typically diminish over time.  Individuals on anticoagulant or blood thinning medications should check with their doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they can thin the blood.

While scientists continue to study how EFAs affect the health, it is clear they offer many benefits.  Whether consumed through a meal or taken as a supplement, EFAs are safe and well tolerated by the body. 

 

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Could You Be Vitamin Deficient?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may be surprised to know that even if you eat a healthy diet, you might be deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients. There are several reasons why.

First, conventional agriculture has depleted our soil of nutrients, and therefore so is the food that’s grown in it. Selenium is a good example of a mineral that is no longer found in high quantities in soil. Selenium is essential for your body to make glutathione—a powerful antioxidant—and for the repair of your DNA—both are very important to reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that the incidence of cancer in various regions is directly linked to the amount of selenium in the soil. Areas with the highest selenium have up to a 50 percent lower incidence of certain cancers.

Next, your body can’t absorb nutrients from certain food sources as well as they can from others. For example, your body can’t absorb the calcium in dairy as well as it can from plant sources, such as spinach and kale. So if you rely on dairy rather than plants for all your calcium needs, you may be getting far less than actually you think.

Related Five Natural Anti-aging Solutions

Vitamin D is another great example of a nutrient dangerously low in most Americans. You can manufacture your own vitamin D by a reaction between your skin and sunlight, but most people can’t regularly get enough sun exposure to make enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is needed for thousands of reactions in your body. When your Vitamin D levels are low, your risk of many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers is significantly increased.

For these and many other reasons, you may not be getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, so taking supplements can be important. I recommend seeing a holistic physician to have your levels of nutrients checked. Your physician can then precisely prescribe the nutritional supplements that are best for your unique physiology.  

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The Facts about Vitamin Deficiency Hair Loss

by Cindy Gray

Extra hair in the shower drain can cause some people undue stress and anxiety.  While there are a number of reasons for hair loss, sometimes vitamin deficiency is to blame.  Hair follicles need a steady supply of certain nutrients for optimal health, and a less-than-adequate diet can lead to excessive shedding.  Fortunately, vitamin deficiency hair loss is easily corrected with better nutrition and/or supplements.  

B vitamins, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin D are all important for correcting vitamin deficiency hair loss.

The Growth Process

Hair on the head sprouts from specialized follicles, forming strands of condensed cells.  Normal hair growth follows a cycle which includes an active phase, a transitional phase, a resting phase, and a new growth phase.  During the last phase, follicles push out the old hair, and it sheds.  A vitamin deficiency or other condition that disrupts any part of the growth cycle can cause more shedding than is normal. 

Vitamins Important to Hair Health

Due to busy lifestyles, many people eat on the run or skip meals.  Nutrient-poor fast food and not eating at all can add up, resulting in a vitamin deficiency.  Low levels of any of the following nutrients can affect hair health

B Vitamins

A number of B vitamins help guard against vitamin deficiency hair loss.  B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B7 (biotin), and B12 (cobalamin) all help promote stronger hair follicles.  In addition, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) makes hair more flexible and shiny, and B6 (pyridoxine) helps prevent dandruff.

Foods high in many B vitamins include dairy products, fortified whole grain cereals, leafy green vegetables, various meats, legumes, and nuts, but people can take a vitamin B-complex supplement to ensure adequate daily amounts of all of these nutrients and more.

Related:  The One Tactic that Can Stop Hair Thinning

Vitamin D

A study from Cairo University showed that women with Telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed lower levels of vitamin D than women in a control group.  People can get most of the vitamin D they need through the sun, but inhabitants of northern regions or those who don't spend much time outdoors can benefit from foods rich in vitamin D and/or vitamin D supplements.  Wild-caught salmon, mushrooms, beef liver, and fortified grains are good sources of vitamin D.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Many people are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, which help keep various parts of the body healthy, including the hair.  Good sources of these important fats include cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines; and plant sources like walnuts and flaxseed. 

Iron

In addition to vitamin D deficiency, the study from Cairo University also showed low levels of iron for women with TE and FPHL.  Because too much stored iron can also cause health problems, people should get this mineral from foods in lieu of supplements, unless otherwise specified by a medical professional.  Good food sources include clams, oysters, red meat, fortified cereals, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and spinach. 

Excessive hair loss can be distressing, but sometimes it's only a side effect of nutrient deficiency.  People can correct vitamin deficiency hair loss by simply changing their diet.  Because excessive shedding is a symptom of several conditions, people dealing with this problem should consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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Are You Suffering from Vitamin C Deficiency?

by IVL Products

Vitamins and minerals play a significant role when it comes to obtaining adequate nutrition and staying healthy.  Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, contributes to cell growth and repair, circulation, and iron absorption.  It is also important for the production of collagen, a protein found in blood vessels, skin, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.  In most parts of the world, serious vitamin C deficiency (or scurvy) is relatively uncommon because vitamin C is found naturally in many foods and is added to other food as well.  However, smoking, excessive alcohol use, a compromised diet, or certain medical conditions can result in lowered levels of vitamin C in the body.

Foods like citrus fruits, papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli help prevent vitamin C deficiency.

According to medical center experts at the University of Maryland, vitamin C deficiency has been linked to various medical problems like atherosclerosis, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, and high blood pressure.  Animal studies also indicate that low levels of vitamin C can lead to biochemical changes in the body which affect behavior. 

A study from Vanderbilt University found that mice deprived of vitamin C showed depressive-like behavior, reduced movement and strength, and greater preference for sugar.  Behaviors returned to normal with restoration of vitamin C, with the exception of depressive-like symptoms.  

Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency

People with scurvy often develop anemia and swollen, bleeding gums.  Additional signs and symptoms that may indicate a vitamin C deficiency include brittle hair, easily bruised skin, and nosebleeds.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency

Sources of Vitamin C

Because it is water soluble, vitamin C is not stored by the body.  This means people need to get it through food or supplements.  Some excellent food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, mangoes, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and kale.  Vitamin C supplements come in tablets, capsules, effervescent powders, and liquids.  People who depend on supplements for vitamin C should strive for 250-500 mg, twice a day. 

Vitamin C deficiency can result in a number of uncomfortable symptoms.  Fortunately, they can be prevented with the consumption of certain foods or supplements.  People who are concerned about a vitamin C deficiency should first consult with a health care professional to rule out other possibilities. 

30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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Six Little-Known Signs of Iron Deficiency

by Institute for Vibrant Living

To function properly, the human body relies on a variety of nutrients, and iron plays an important role.  This essential mineral is important to the production of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for the transport of oxygen to cells and tissues.  People who don't get enough iron in their diet may develop an iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia.  Iron-deficient anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and people who have it often experience extreme fatigue.  While anemia is a well-known symptom of too little iron, people may not be aware of six additional iron deficiency symptoms. 

Red meat is just one of the many foods that can help combat iron deficiency.

1.  Hair Loss

With iron deficiency, the body goes into survival mode, conserving oxygen for its most vital functions.  Unfortunately, protecting hair follicles falls low on the priority list.  Before getting too anxious about a few extra hairs in the brush however, people should be aware that a loss of about 100 hairs per day is normal.

2.  Swollen Tongue

In addition to affecting hemoglobin, iron deficiency lowers levels of myoglobin.  This protein impacts muscles in the body, including the tongue, which can become swollen and sore, a condition known as glossitis.

3.  Frequent Sickness

When body cells don't receive enough oxygen, the entire immune system takes a hit.  This is why people who are iron deficient often experience frequent illness, especially affecting the respiratory tract.

4.  Pale Skin

Hemoglobin is responsible for blood's red color, so low levels result in less rosy skin.  For people with lighter skin, this is one of the most noticeable iron deficiency symptoms.  People with a darker complexion can check the skin on the inside of the lips, gums, and bottom eyelids, which is also affected.

5.  Restless Leg Syndrome

Research shows that some people develop restless leg syndrome (RLS) because of a dopamine abnormality, but a study published in Movement Disorders also found that RLS can be a symptom of iron deficiency.  According to experts at Johns Hopkins University, roughly 15 percent of people with RLS are deficient in iron.  

Related:   Some Facts about Restless Leg Syndrome

6.  Pica

Pica is the craving or consumption of unusual substances like chalk, clay, dirt, or paper, and medical experts have yet to understand exactly why it develops.  According to research published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, pica (also called pagophagia) "is frequently associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplementation is an effective therapy in most cases."

In addition to these symptoms, iron-deficient people may also experience shortness of breath, headache, and anxiety, and women may have heavier-than-normal menstruation.

People concerned about iron deficiency can try various food sources to see if symptoms subside.  Good options include red meat, chicken, blackstrap molasses, clams, spinach, lentils, nuts, sunflower seeds, and chick peas.  Before taking iron supplements people should see a medical professional for a ferritin test to establish iron levels.  Too much iron can increase risks for cancer, diabetes, and heart attack, particularly as one ages.

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Three Strange Signs You May Have a Vitamin Deficiency

by IVL Products

In a modern world, people are busier than ever, which can have an effect on daily nutrition.  An influx of fast or processed foods and high levels of stress make it easy to become deficient in certain key nutrients.  When levels of vitamins and minerals are low, the body reacts.  Common symptoms of deficiency include insomnia, fatigue, and irritability, but the body can also respond in more unusual ways.  Here are three strange signs that may indicate vitamin deficiency. 

People concerned about vitamin deficiency should visit a health care professional for blood tests.

1.  Muscle Cramps

People who experience muscle cramps in the legs, calves, feet, or toes may be deficient in magnesium, calcium, and/or potassium.  Adding some mineral rich foods to the shopping cart can help.  Load up on nuts and seeds like almonds, hazel nuts, and pumpkin seeds.  Try fruits like apples, bananas, cherries, and grapefruit and vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, kale, and spinach.

2.  Tingly Hands and Feet

Certain vitamins help ensure good nerve health like B6, B9 (folate), and B12.  When the hands and feet feel pins-and-needles tingly, a deficiency of these important B vitamins may be indicated.  Additional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, or fatigue.  For relief, stock up on asparagus, beets, clams, mussels, oysters, and poultry as well as pinto, black, kidney, or lima beans.

Related:  How to Improve Blood Circulation with Alternative Medicine

3.  Hair loss

Vitamin deficiency is responsible for hair loss in some people.  Those who are noticing more hair than usual in the shower drain may want to reevaluate their diet.  Low levels of iron or vitamin D may be to blame.  A study from Cairo University found that women suffering from telogen effluvium (TE) and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) showed low levels of these two nutrients, and the lower the levels, the more hair was lost. 

While the best way to get vitamin D is through the sun's rays, good food sources include wild-caught salmon and fortified milk and orange juice.  Foods high in iron include clams, eggs, liver, oysters, and spinach. People should always get their iron from foods first and consult with a medical professional before taking iron supplements.

The best way to avoid vitamin deficiency and resulting symptoms is to eat a well-balanced diet.  Taking a daily multivitamin helps fill in any nutritional gaps.  People concerned about deficiency of particular nutrients or absorption problems can speak to a medical professional for blood tests and proper treatment.

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Heart-Healthy Foods to Add To Your Diet

by IVL Products

Even though the number of American deaths attributed to heart disease has dropped, it is still the number one cause of death for adults in this country. Good dietary choices play a key role in preserving healthy cardiac function, but instead of focusing on what you should not eat, here’s a list of heart-healthy foods that are delicious, nutritious and good for your heart and your waistline. 

There is a direct correlation between the circumference of your waistline and your risk of heart disease. Belly fat is the most dangerous to your health and the hardest to remove.

Fishing for a Healthy Heart

The catch of the day keeps the cardiologist away. Fish should be a staple in your diet; and become a replacement for processed fatty meats like hamburger, sausage and bacon.  Not only are fish a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, they have the most abundant and most easily absorbed omega-3 fatty acids. The body does not produce this essential nutrient naturally, but it does a body good.  Eating fish two to three times a week will give you plenty of it. Salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are especially high in omega-3s, so be sure to put them on the menu.

Related:  Include Fish in Your Arthritis Prevention Diet

Go Nuts

Enjoying nuts regularly is a heart-healthy idea. Almonds and walnuts are heart-healthy foods to enjoy in moderation since they are high in calories.  Adding a handful to your cereal, salad or dipping your banana in some almond butter will give you a healthy dose of omega-3s, and the unsaturated fat and fiber will keep you satisfied longer. The healthiest nuts to eat are almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts and macadamias.

Flaxseed belongs in your diet along with a variety of nuts. They are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, which is a fancy name for omega-3. These small but mighty seeds can be ground to replace some of the fat in baked items and sprinkled on top of salads or cereal to add a little crunch with significant benefits.

Be Fruitful and Thrive

Fruits high in vitamin C and fiber are also loaded with phytonutrients to help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation due to obesity, environmental pollution and poor diet are a leading contributor to heart muscle damage.  Berries are particularly heart-healthy foods because they are not only sweet, delicious and plentiful, but contain copious amount of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Orange-hued fruits like oranges, tangerines, peaches and cantaloupe offer plentiful amounts of potassium and magnesium.

Veg Out

Mom was right when she said, “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” They come in so many varieties and you can eat as much as you want.  Be sure to avoid heavy cream or butter-based sauces or oily condiments.  Add these all-stars to your grocery list:

  • Asparagus – beta-carotene, folate and fiber
  • Broccoli- vitamins C and E, calcium and fiber
  • Spinach – iron, vitamins A, B2, C and K along with folate calcium, magnesium and potassium, just to name a few.

So, grill up some asparagus to pair with a salmon fillet, steam some broccoli or add a handful of spinach to your salads and you will be helping your heart and your waistline.

Carbs Count

The body cannot run on protein and fats alone. Carbohydrates are the key for high, sustaining levels of energy.  Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal (toss a handful of nuts, seed and berries on top) is a great way to give your body the fuel it needs. The fiber in oatmeal will keep you feeling satisfied longer and keep cholesterol levels in check.  Steel cut is best and avoid instant varieties loaded with sugar.  

Enjoy Dessert

Yes, a heart-healthy diet includes dessert! It’s been called the fourth food group for good reason. Dark chocolate made from 70% cocoa is one of the healthiest treats you can eat. A one-ounce square daily offers soluble fiber, antioxidants, iron, magnesium and potassium, zinc and selenium. These are all nutrients that contribute to a healthy heart.  Like nuts, chocolate has a lot of calories, so a little goes a long way.

Here’s To Your Heart

Hopefully reading this has encouraged you to add these foods to your grocery list.  There are many other heart-healthy foods you can work into the mix, and consider supplements as an additional way to pump up your daily vitamin and mineral consumption.  

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How to Get Your Appetite Back on Track

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are not enjoying the food you eat, or if you’ve seemed to have simply lost your appetite, there could be a number of causes. Sometimes illness, depression, worry, poor nutrition or even medication can contribute to a loss of appetite. However, lack of nutrition can quickly create more serious medical issues, so it’s important to coax that appetite back. Here are some simple fixes for what to do for loss of appetite.

Our article is full of ideas for what to do for loss of appetite.

Supplements Can Help

It’s important to ensure you have the correct balance of vitamins and minerals every day, particularly when you are eating less. Take a daily multivitamin that offers complete nutritional support but also includes probiotics, antioxidants and enzymes. 

One of the signs of zinc deficiency is poor appetite so if you are wondering what to do for loss appetite, consider taking a zinc supplement. You can read more about zinc in this article by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.

Eat Little and Often

If you cannot face eating three full meals a day, try to overcome the problem by having six regular snacks, light meals or even liquid smoothies full of goodness. It’s a good way to recover your appetite without feeling bloated and too full.

Related:  Foods that Lower Blood Sugar:  Peanut Butter

Drink Water Between Meals

It’s always important to drink plenty of water, but having a drink at mealtimes can fill your stomach before you even start to eat. Instead drink plenty of fluids between meals.

Medications and Loss of Appetite

Some medications cause foods to taste “metallic” or strange. If meat tastes unpleasant, switch to other forms of protein. If water doesn’t taste right, add slices of fruit, lemon juice or herbs to improve the experience. Chewing gum, brushing your teeth or using an oral rinse before meals can help awaken taste buds.

Mental Issues

Sometimes appetite is all in the mind. It could be boredom with the same meals week in, week out, or that you simply “can’t be bothered” with mealtimes. In this case you need to give yourself a mental shake and break the negativity with some new recipes and eating experiences.

Eat with Friends

Eating alone can put a damper on food. The answer to the problem of what to do for loss of appetite may be a social one. Invite friends round for a light meal or BBQ and make the effort to dine with family at least once a week. Part of any pleasant social occasion is food. Once you begin to enjoy your food again, you will soon find your appetite is restored.

We hope we have given you plenty of new ideas for what to do for loss of appetite. Bon appetit!

 

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Five Diseases Caused by Poor Diet

by Health News

Our bodies are finely tuned and need a balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates and a range of 13 vitamins and 15 minerals to function. A lack of any one of these essential nutrients can result in serious diseases that can lead to incapacity and even death. 

Historic diseases caused by poor diet are once again in evidence in modern-day America

Here are five examples of diseases caused by poor diet, malnutrition and an imbalanced diet. Are you getting enough of these essential vitamins?

Anemia

Lacks of iron means the red blood cells are unable to transport oxygen around the body. This leads to tiredness, heachache, irregular heartbeat and sensitivity to cold. Iron deficiency may affect 1-2% of Americans today due to a poor diet. Iron is found in fortified cereals, liver, chicken, oysters, seafood, sardines, lean meat, peas, beans, broccoli, eggs and nuts.

Rickets

Rickets is a serious bone-softening condition historically found in children who lacked vitamin D. The body can make its own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, or it can be provided through meat and fish oils in the diet. Calcium needs to interact with vitamin D to produce strong bones.

Rickets causes muscle weakness, stunted growth, a curved spine, projected breastbone and bow legs although the availability of milk, fish and meat has led to a decline. However those on a vegetarian or vegan diet should be aware of the importance of vitamin D for bone health.  

Related:  Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

Scurvy

A lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, one of the common skin diseases caused by poor diet among sailors in the past when their diet lacked fresh fruit and vegetables. Known as the "grey death", scurvy causes tooth loss, painful joints and weakness, halitosis (bad breath) and blood spots beneath the skin. The body is unable to make vitamin C, so make sure your diet includes citrus fruits, vegetables or vitamin C supplements to avoid even the slightest suggestion of this painful disease.

Pellagra

A lack of niacin (vitamin B3) can cause blistering skin, bleeding from the mouth, aggressive behavior and insanity. Prevalent in Northern Europe and the Middle East when fresh meat was not available, it was also common in the Southern U.S. in the 1940s in those who lived on a corn-based diet. It can be simply prevented by eating fortified cornmeal.  

Beriberi

The word "beriberi" means "I cannot" in Sinhalese, graphically epitomizing the inability of sufferers to perform a physical task. Caused by a lack of thiamin (vitamin B1) in the Asian diet of boiled rice, the disease was common in the past when "polished" white rice was introduced in the 20th century in place of brown rice.

Today beriberi is one of the diseases caused by poor diet that can still be found, particularly in alcoholics. Their poor diet and inability to absorb thiamine can lead to weakness, difficulty walking and even death. Sources of vitamin B1 include fortified cereals, marmite and wheat germ in bread.

This history lesson of diseases caused by poor diet superbly illustrates the importance of a healthy balanced diet including those all-important vitamins and minerals found in multivitamin supplements. 

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Foods for Weight Loss: The Science Behind the Grapefruit Diet

by Health News

It’s time to give the grapefruit diet another look. It may be more effective than you might think.  Grapefruit to help you lose weight is not a new idea, but more research is giving real weight to the anecdotal evidence that it is one of the best foods for weight loss.  Research shows that you can consume grapefruit regularly with few side effects, and lots of health benefits beyond weight control.

The infamous grapefruit diet has actually been around since the 1930s. Since anecdotal evidence has persisted for decades about the effectiveness of grapefruit as a food for weigh loss more research has been conducted to see if it really can have a positive effect on the body.

Effective foods for weight loss include the grapefruit.

The Bad News First

Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, nor grapefruit supplements are going to magically melt fat off your body without changing your eating habits or exercising.  No food or pill will do that. If there was such a thing out there we would all be lean and long-lived.

The reality that there is no one miracle food for weight loss is not a reason for dismay.  Certain foods can have a positive impact on your efforts to shed a few pounds and grapefruit is one of them.

The Good News

Besides weight loss there are many other good reasons to eat grapefruit.  It is a rich source of:

  • Vitamins C and A - both are powerful antioxidants
  • Potassium – a mineral that helps nerves and muscles communicate
  • Biotin – a B complex vitamin that helps the body synthesize fatty acids and glucose
  • Vitamin B1 –aka, thiamine, it helps the body convert food to fuel
  • Copper – necessary to aid the body in metabolizing iron and to form red blood cells
  • Pantothenic acid - aka vitamin B5, to help break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates and convert them energy

Grapefruit (not juice or supplements) also has lots of water and fiber to keep the body hydrated and the GI tract humming along normally.  Even if you don’t need to lose weight, you should be eating grapefruit.

Related:  Five Foods that Support Your Weight Loss Efforts

The Grapefruit Weight Loss Connection

The original grapefruit diet was pretty restrictive and thus doomed to fail.  In the various early versions of it the diet called for drinking the juice and eating grapefruit for every meal. Most of the diets also called for cutting out all sweets, most carbohydrates like vegetables, grains and cereals, which is not a healthy or sustainable eating plan.

The diet has evolved over the decades with different names like the Hollywood Diet and the 10 Days, 10 Pounds Off Diet. As with any temporary diet fad, it was ineffective over the long-term. 

Why the notion that grapefruit can aid in weight loss persists is studies like the one published in 2006 by the Journal of Medicinal Food.  The study was conducted with 91 obese participants divided into four groups.  Group one got a grapefruit capsule before every meal. Group two drank grapefruit juice daily. Group four ate a half of a grapefruit daily and the last group was given a placebo.

The results at the end of the study led researchers to conclude that grapefruit, the juice and the capsule did indeed aid in weight loss with the group that ate the actual fruit losing the most, an average of 1.5 pounds. Coming in at a close second and third was the grapefruit juice group who lost an average of 1.3 pounds and, finally, the capsule group who lost about 1.1 pounds.  The study participants who received the placebo lost a negligent 1/3-pound on average.

Also significant is the fact that all participants who received grapefruit in some fashion also had lower glucose insulin levels making it a potentially great choice for diabetics and anyone at risk for developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Based on the results of this study several more were conducted.  One study showed grapefruit to be highly beneficial in slowing weight gain when consumed with fatty foods.

More research is needed but the current studies support grapefruit as a one of the best foods for weight loss when consumed regularly.  With lots of nutrients, filling fiber and water, adding a half or whole grapefruit to your daily diet makes good sense whether you are trying to lose weight or not.