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Three Strikes for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Although female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is much less common than male pattern baldness, it can be extremely distressing and socially inhibiting for anyone who suffers from it. We look at some healthy living tips to counter the cause of hair loss in women.

Healthy habits can help counter hair loss

The main cause of FPHL is acute telogen effluvium which is commonly caused by medication, metabolic or hormonal stress.  A study on 210 women suffering from alopecia and hair loss found that they typically had three medical conditions in common which were easily treatable:

  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Some hair loss is normal, but female pattern hair loss is often increased at menopause. The risk is higher is older women and those with a genetic history of hair loss.

Boosting vitamin D

Healthy living tips such as taking daily supplements including vitamin D are a sensible way to start to treat hair loss, particularly in those with a family history of androgenetic alopecia. Vitamin D can also be produced naturally in the body with regular exposure of the skin to sunshine for around 15 minutes per day. Another way to boost vitamin D levels is by eating more oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna. Dairy products, egg yolks, liver and fortified cereals are another easy way to boost vitamin D as part of your new healthy habits to reduce hair loss.

Related:  Vitamins:  Natural Health Benefits of Vitamin D

 

Treating Hypothyroidism

Studies published in 2008 by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that hair follicles are directly affected by thyroid hormones, particularly T4 and T3. If you are shedding hair and are worried about FPHL, you should get your thyroid tested by your doctor to check for an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Eating healthily can help support a healthy thyroid but severe hypothyroidism can only be countered with medication.

Controlling Hypertension

Both vitamin D deficiency and poor thyroid function can put stress in the body, causing high blood pressure. However, other causes of hypertension include obesity, lack of aerobic exercise and eating a diet high in unsaturated fats. Adopting healthy habits such as losing excess weight, eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising daily can all help lower blood pressure and counter your hair loss problem.

Healthy living tips such as optimizing vitamin D levels, having your thyroid checked with a blood test and lowering blood pressure can all help counter alopecia and FPHL. You’ll soon feel the benefits of a healthier in-balance lifestyle and over time your hair loss will gradually be reduced.   

 

 

 

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Decreased Vitamin D Means Increased Pain

by Institute for Vibrant Living

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a painful and debilitating condition that affects 13.9% of adults over the age of 25 and 33.6% of those over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies of osteoarthritis patients showed a positive correlation between low levels of vitamin D3 and pain.  Those with higher serum levels of IL-17A and IL-23 had lower D3 and increased osteoarthritis pain.

Healthy living tips include plenty of sunshine for generating vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 Deficiency and Pain

Further studies support the relationship between low levels of vitamin D3 and increased pain. A study published by the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal found that breast cancer patients who took aromatase inhibitors significantly lacked vitamin D3. The patients reported severe bone and muscle pain, fractured bones and had difficulty standing and walking. However, when treated with a supplement of high levels of D3 (50,000 IU per week) their muscle and joint pain was significantly reduced.

A group of Korean researchers found that injecting vitamin D3 into fibromyalgia patients every four weeks reduced pain and decreased the symptoms of fatigue and tiredness.

Perhaps most relevant is a four-year study on 418 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee. They found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to find their osteoarthritis worsening over the period of the study compared to those with higher vitamin D levels. The study recommended that increased dietary supplements of D3were beneficial to counter the pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Related:  How to the Improve Immune System Naturally

Healthy Habits Regarding Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency causes many easily preventable health issues including rickets, soft bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. Following healthy living tips to avoid vitamin D deficiency includes consuming fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolks and fortified milk in your diet, although this can be a problem for those following a strictly vegan diet.

The body is also able to make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight for as little as 15 minutes a day. This can be difficult for those living in northern states and work indoors during daylight hours in winter. Those with dark skin also are at risk of vitamin D deficiency as the pigment reduces the effectiveness of the skin to absorb the sun’s rays.

People who are obese, with a body mass index of 30 or higher may also have low levels of vitamin D as fat cells absorb the vitamin, leaving less for the body to use to support healthy bones and muscle.

Why not adopt healthy habits by including vitamin D3 supplements in your daily diet and including daily exercise in the outdoors for some healthy sun exposure? These natural healthy living tips can only do you good, particularly if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain.

 

 

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Amino Acids for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Diet plays a key role in keeping a healthy head of hair. There are four essential amino acids that are crucial to preventing hair loss and stimulating growth. If you are experiencing hair loss, you may be lacking in these amino acids, which will inhibit keratin production, the main component in hair.

What is Keratin?

Keratin is found in skin, fingernails, toenails, teeth and hair. Keratin is formed by amino acids, the protein-building blocks that play a critical role in many of the body’s biological processes, including hair growth.  Keratin is unique because—depending on the amino acids that form it in different parts of the body—keratin can be hard like fingernails or soft and flexible like hair.

Keratin can counteract hair loss.

The A Team

The four most important amino acids that make up the “A team” of the hair are:  cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine.  These are the amino acids necessary for the body to produce adequate keratin.

Cysteine – is a not an essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce it, rather than having to rely on getting enough of it only through dietary consumption.  Keratin is made up of about a quarter of cysteine and it also assists with protecting hair follicles from oxidative stress.  Food sources of this amino acid are: poultry, pork, dairy, broccoli, legumes and whole grains.

Lysine – is an essential amino acid, meaning your body does not produce it so it must be consumed.  It is required for hair follicles to function properly and stimulates collagen production, another component in hair similar to keratin.  Dietary sources of lysine are, fish (especially salmon and sardines), chicken, beef, pork, spirulina, nuts and legumes. Those who suffer from cold sores and various forms of herpes tend to be lysine-deficient; therefore, a lysine supplement can offer help for more than hair loss.

Related:  Three Vitamins for Thinning Hair

Arginine – is needed to produce keratin and has many other health benefits. Arginine helps to boost immunity, as well as prevent hair loss.  It can also actually help mitigate the damage done to hair through coloring and bleaching. Arginine is essential for proper blood circulation to supply vital nutrients to hair follicles for more robust growth.  Arginine is produced by the body but production levels can drop sharply due to illness or prolonged stress, necessitating a supplement and eating arginine-rich foods such as dairy products, oatmeal, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soybeans, nuts, fish, chicken and beef.

Methionine – an antioxidant and the second major component of keratin, it also helps hair follicles resist oxidative stress. Methionine has been shown in studies to slow the graying of hair and hair loss. It is an essential amino acid.  Methionine supplements along with foods like eggs, seeds, fish, squash and nuts can help stop hair from thinning as rapidly.

Hair loss is usually a result of a genetic alopecia, but a healthy diet rich in foods with these important amino acids and supplements can help slow hair loss and make the remaining hair fuller, stronger and healthier overall.

 

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Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Hair loss is a major concern for many people. While not recognized as a serious medical problem, whatever the reason, hair loss can be very traumatic and it takes a toll on one’s self esteem.

Here are some common reasons for hair loss:

  • Male pattern baldness (also affects women) which is genetic
  • Drugs such as those used in chemotherapy
  • Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
  • High blood pressure

Whatever the reason, people suffering from significant hair loss are usually on the look-out for a way to slow and reverse the loss, and find something to encourage new hair growth. Laser technology is now being studied for its effectiveness in re-growing hair

Low Level Laser Therapy for Hair Loss

Isn’t Laser Technology Used for Hair Removal?

It’s true that laser technology has been found to be effective for permanent hair removal, so how could it possibly stimulate hair growth? The therapy used in studies to regrow hair is called low laser light therapy or LLLT. According to researchers featured on the television news show “Dateline,” the laser light is absorbed by the cells, which in turn repairs them and encourages hair regrowth.  The New York Times published an article saying the lasers “cannot bring dead hair follicles back to life, but will stimulate follicles in a state of decline and make existing hair thicker and fuller.”

Does It Really Work?

There is still debate within the medical industry about the effectiveness of low level laser therapy for hair loss.  A study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that LLLT could in fact stimulate some hair growth without serious side effects. However, dermatologists and doctors remain skeptical.  The general consensus is that nothing will reverse balding due to genetics. It is felt that while laser therapy might help slow down hair loss and even encourage some hair growth for a small percentage of the balding public, it will not, however, work for everyone.  Research has shown there are other methods that yield better results.

Related:  Stress and Hair Loss

What Can You Do To Slow Hair Loss Or Regrow Hair?

If you are genetically pre-disposed to hair loss, drugs like Minoxidil or hair transplants will probably offer you some positive results.  Laser therapy could compliment that kind of treatment by slowing hair loss and making existing hair fuller.

Diet is an important way to prevent hair loss or re-stimulate hair growth if balding is a result of drugs, nutritional deficiencies and or high blood pressure. Once the drugs are stopped, like in the case of chemotherapy for cancer patients, hair usually starts to grow back.  An antioxidant-rich diet has been shown to help with hair growth and encourages stronger, healthier-looking strands.

Adopting a high blood pressure preventative diet not only helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, but it can help slow hair loss and encourage hair regrowth. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oily fish such as salmon and trout, are rich in omega-3 antioxidants, with a history of improving hair and skin health.  Some supplements can also help with lowering blood pressure and slowing hair loss; and even encourage new growth. Supplements you may want to consider adding to your diet are fish oil, blackcurrant seed oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, and lycopene.

It’s always wise to check with your trusted health care practitioner before starting any new supplements; and inquire if LLLT might be right for you to stimulate hair growth.

 

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13 Medications that Can Cause Hair Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you noticing more strands than normal in your hairbrush?  Many people assume that hair loss is a problem only experienced by men, but 40 percent of women across the country also deal with this unpleasant conundrum.  It's normal to shed from 50 to 100 strands of hair each day, but more than this may be cause for concern.  While there are a number of possible reasons for hair loss, a new medication just might be the culprit.

The Cycle of Hair Growth

Each strand of hair goes through its own growth cycle. The hair growth cycle begins with the anagen phase in which hair grows for two to six years.  In the catagen phase, which lasts approximately two weeks, the follicle shrinks.  This cuts off blood supply to the follicle and stops hair growth.  During the telogen phase, follicles rest for a period of one to four months. Finally, hair falls out, new hair emerges, and the cycle begins anew. 

Related:  Fight Hair Loss with these Vitamins and Supplements

How Medications Create Hair Loss

Certain medications interfere with the hair growth cycle, which can result in two types of hair loss called anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium.  Anagen effluvium occurs during the growth phase and affects the normal division of cells that produce new hair.  This type of hair loss often occurs shortly after beginning a medication.  It can be extreme and result in the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and other hair on the body.  Chemotherapy medications are examples of medicines that can cause anagen effluvium.

The most common type of medication-related hair loss is telogen effluvium.  It typically occurs after an individual has taken a medication for two to four months.  The medication triggers hair follicles to enter the resting phase too early, which leads to loss of approximately 100 to 150 hairs strands per day.

Medications that Can Cause Hair Loss

In addition to chemotherapy medications, a number of other drugs can cause hair loss:

  • Acne medications that contain retinoids
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors
  • Antibiotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Birth control pills
  • Diuretics
  • Heart failure and hypertension medications
  • NSAIDs
  • Statins
  • Steroids
  • Thyroid medications

The type of medication, the amount taken and a person's level of sensitivity can all affect how much, if any, hair loss is experienced.  While many people re-grow hair as soon as a medication is stopped or the dosage is adjusted, others may experience permanent hair loss.  People taking a new medication who have concerns about hair loss should check with their pharmacist and health care provider.  Switching to a new medication may be all that is needed.

 

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Take Vitamin D to Prevent Falls

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to research, up to 41 percent of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.  Studies show that a lack of vitamin D raises risks for osteoporosis and may affect neuromuscular control and coordination.  This may explain the link between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk for falls, especially in elderly men.  In balance tests requiring stepping and leaning tasks, elderly men with low levels of vitamin D showed poor performance.  While elderly people have a harder time absorbing vitamin D, eating certain foods and other healthy habits can help stabilize vitamin D levels.

Healthy habits for boosting vitamin D include adding fatty fish to the diet.

 

Healthy Living Tips for Getting More Vitamin D

Soak up the sun for short periods.  When sunlight hits the skin, the body makes its own vitamin D.  Exposure to ultraviolet B rays triggers the skin to convert cholesterol to vitamin D3.  During warm parts of the year, roughly 20 minutes of daily sunshine (sans sunscreen) results in about 90 percent of the vitamin D needed for the day.  After 20 minutes, people should apply organic sunscreen to protect the skin from too much sunlight.

Enjoy salmon.  When it comes to healthy habits for boosting vitamin D, eating fatty fish is one of the best.  In fact, one salmon filet provides all the vitamin D needed for one day.  Enjoy fresh steaks or filets for dinner or salmon-salad sandwiches or wraps for lunch.  In addition to providing vitamin D, salmon is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and lean protein.

Related:  Are You Vitamin D Deficient?  Take this Quiz!

Drink milk.  Most brands of pasteurized milk in the United States deliver good quantities of vitamin D.  Whole milk contains the most vitamin D, but skim milk still offers about 20 percent of the recommended daily value.  Many plant-based milk products like soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk also offer significant amounts of vitamin D, some even more than cow's milk.

Choose products fortified with vitamin D.  Check labels on breakfast cereals, yogurt and orange juice at the grocery store.  Many are fortified with vitamin D and other important nutrients. 

Take vitamin D3 supplementsVitamin D3 supplements offer an easy remedy for getting adequate amounts of vitamin D during the fall or winter months.  To protect bones, adults should aim for 800-1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day unless otherwise specified by a health care provider.

Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is important for bone health and good balance.  Because aging affects the absorption of certain nutrients, sufficient vitamin D is especially essential to the elderly.  While many studies show a link between falls and insufficient vitamin D levels, others show a correlation between falls and high-dose vitamin D supplementation.   Therefore, elderly people should have vitamin D levels checked before beginning a supplementary regimen.

 

 

 

 

 

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19 Tips to Avoid Air Travel Illness & Germs While Traveling

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Getting ill while traveling is no fun, yet it happens all the time.  Following these travel sickness tips could help prevent illness so you can enjoy the journey.

Tips for Preventing Travel Illness.

Airplane Germs

Airports and airplanes are petri dishes of germs from millions of travelers.  Travel in the winter means more exposure to cold and flu viruses, bacteria abounds on handrails, elevator buttons and you will undoubtedly find yourself shoeless walking where many other feet have tread at the security area.  

Give your immune system a boost before travel by regularly taking probiotics for optimal gut health and a stronger immune system. It is also helpful to increase your intake of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that has shown to help lessen susceptibility to bacteria and viruses.  Also, consider vitamin D-3 supplements and zinc, known immunity boosters that can help fortified your immune system before you travel.

Wash your hands, a lot! Frequently washing your hands, especially before you eat or touch your face, is very important.  Many germs and types of bacteria can live on handrails, elevator buttons, doorknobs and handles for hours.  Use soap, wash for at least as long as it takes you to hum the happy birthday song under your breath; and when possible use a paper towel to open the bathroom door to exit.

If washing your hands is not an option, have a few antibacterial wipes in your carry-on to keep your hands clean.

Related:  Healthy Travel Begins with Immune-Boosting Supplements

Jet Lag Drag

Traveling across several time zones can leave you exhausted and cut into the enjoyment of your trip as you struggle to adjust.  You can avoid the worst of jet lag by following a few simple guidelines.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends you stay on your home sleep schedule for trips lasting two or less days, regardless of the difference in time zones. This will minimize disrupting your internal sleep, bathroom, and eating schedule.  

For longer trips, however, you should start slowly adjusting your schedule to the time zone you will be arriving at to start your trip or vacation. At least four days before your trip begins, shift your sleeping and eating times to match the time at your destination. Though it might be difficult, stay on the new time zone schedule as much as possible and try to go to bed when it gets dark there, not back at home.

Other things that can help are:

  • Opt for an overnight flight
  • Cut back on caffeinated foods and beverages
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-sugary fluids
  • Avoid alcohol for a few days and on the plane, it is a sleep disruptor
  • Consider taking melatonin tablets to help you fall asleep once you reach your destination (1-2 mg daily)

Light can be your friend against a jet lag foe. Exposure to bright natural light can help you stay awake and regulate natural secretions of melatonin in the brain.  Exposure to light inhibits the brain from secreting melatonin, and when it becomes dark, it will trigger its release to help you fall asleep.  Seek out bright light in the evening hours when traveling west and in the morning when you are east bound. Get as much sunshine as you can when you arrive at your destination to help you stay awake and adjust to a new sleep time.

Don’t DVT

DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a vein deep within a muscle, usually your calf or thigh.  Prolonged sitting causes DVTs, like on a flight across the ocean, or several days on a train.  If the clot breaks off it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

Because of the danger in sitting too long, make sure you get up and move around whenever possible. Walk briskly to your gate, take the stairs, and on the plane or train be sure to get up frequently to walk to the bathroom and stretch.

Wearing compression garments can help.  There are socks and even full length compression suits that can be worn underneath your clothing. The gentle pressure helps keep blood flowing and reduces the chance of developing a blood clot.

Speaking of clothing, wear comfortable loose fitting clothing.  Avoid pants and belts that are constricting.  

Other things you can do to lessen your risk of a DVT is:

  • Avoid caffeine
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Taking circulation supplements like natto (made from fermented soybeans) and fish oil can help

Following these few travel tips can make for a much more pleasant journey.

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Seven Common Causes of Balance Issues

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Even the healthiest adults may encounter balance issues, particularly as they grow older. While some imbalance issues may require medication, other balance problems can be cured by understanding the cause and adopting healthy habits to prevent them.

Healthy living tips for the inner ear support balance

Here are some healthy living tips and advice about how to deal with seven common causes of imbalance, so you can feel a bit steadier on your feet.

1.     Migraine

Some people suffer visual disturbances, flashing images, partial blindness in one eye or dizziness as part of what is known as a migraine aura. Take preventative headache medication at the first signs of a migraine to avoid it developing into a cluster migraine and try to avoid any trigger foods such as chocolate, strawberries and red wine.

2.     Inflammation of the Inner Ear

The inner ear is made up of several semi-circular canals lined with hairs and nerves to sense when we turn our head or move. This is the balance control center of the body. Unfortunately the quantity of nerve cells steadily decline after the age of 55. If healthy habits are ignored, it can result in a loss of balance, vertigo, BPPV or acoustic neuroma. A knock on the head, low blood pressure or an ear infection can also affect the balance in the inner ear. Get a regular checkup with a health professional to ensure that your whole body is healthy as part of balance support.

Related:  Can I Stop Hearing Loss with Vitamin Supplements?

3.     Heart arrhythmia

An irregular heartbeat can cause momentary loss of balance or co-ordination. Any irregular heartbeat, such as racing, throbbing or a rapid pulse should be checked out by a medical professional to avoid more serious health issues.

4.     Peripheral neuropathy

The brain relies on peripheral nerves to transmit sensory information which helps the different systems in the body to control balance. Physical injury, diabetes, repetitive stress and metabolic disorders can disrupt the nerve messages to the brain, resulting in balance problems.

5.     Depression and anxiety

Lightheadedness can be brought on by panic attacks, feelings of anxiety, hyperventilation and other emotional stresses. Regular exercise and good social support can help negate these serious health issues, helping ease anxiety and reducing associated dizzy spells.

6.     Standing up too quickly

Another cause of imbalance is suddenly standing or sitting up, or getting out of bed too quickly. Rapid movement can cause a drop in blood pressure, a common cause of unsteadiness. Healthy living tips for better balance include getting into the habit of rising slowly and steadily from a chair or bed.

7.     Muscle weakness

Regular exercise may help improve muscle weakness. In rare instances, loss of balance and weakness may be due to medical problems such as MS, Alzheimer’s, lupus and brain tumors.

If you are suffering from momentary balance issues it makes sense to get your overall fitness checked out by a doctor regularly as one of the healthy habits to ensure your whole body is functioning well.  Other commonsense healthy living tips include adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise suitable for your age and ability. Not only will this diagnose any health issues, it may also prevent balance issues in later life.

 

 

 

 

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Stop Stress-Related Insomnia with GABA

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you have difficulty getting off to sleep, or wake up and cannot return to sleep, you may find it comforting to know that one in three people have some degree of insomnia, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. Much of the problem is due to a stressful lifestyle, but effective stress management using natural herbs and supplements can help.

Nutritionist Patrick Holford states in his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind that every week Brits pop 10 million tranquillizers, smoke a similar number of cannabis joints and drink 120 million alcoholic drinks, often as a socially accepted form of stress management. This disturbing trio of alcohol, cannabis and tranquilizers all has one common ingredient – GABA – which is known to have a calming, soporific effect. Taking it in supplemental form has none of the alarming side effects that drugs and alcohol cause, but what is GABA, is it safe and how does it work?

How Does GABA Work for Stress Management

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid which acts as a natural relaxant and calming neurotransmitter in the brain. Our bodies produce GABA from glutamine and it is vital for proper brain function. GABA influences mood, producing endorphins that make us relaxed and happy. GABA deficiency is linked to insomnia and epilepsy as well as feelings of anxiety, stress and tension, so it has an important part to play in stress management.

Research shows that GABA increases the production of alpha brain waves, similar to a state of meditation during yoga, for example. It also reduces beta waves which are associated with nervous tension and hyperactivity. These wave patterns can be measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG).  People who are stressed have high levels of beta waves, and GABA helps restore the balance. This natural calming effect makes GABA an excellent natural answer for stress management as well as for insomnia.

Related:  Sleep Deprivation: Is it Dangerous to Your Health?

Chronic Stress Lowers GABA

Low natural levels of GABA may be caused by a lack of glutamine, low levels of B vitamins, zinc, iron and manganese, or by chronic stress. A simple saliva or urine test can show whether you are producing sufficient GABA.

High amounts of caffeine, excessive exposure to electromagnetic radiation, low levels of progesterone and chronic pain can all reduce GABA levels in the body. Ironically, lack of sleep also lowers GABA levels, which in turn means you cannot sleep the following night. This sets up a vicious circle on insomnia. Taking GABA supplements can break the cycle, particularly for those suffering with stress-related insomnia.

How Much GABA to Take?

Taking 500 mg of GABA once or twice a day can significantly support stress management.  For stress-related insomnia, taking 100 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime will help you feel sleepy and relaxed. However, GABA should not be mixed with alcohol, drugs containing barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications or benzodiazepine tranquillizers, so check with your doctor if you are already taking other prescription drugs.

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Top Supplements to Erase Problems of Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

One of the common aging skin problems is light or dark brown spots called age spots. They are show up on the face, chest, shoulders and hands in both men and women; and they can affect younger people, too.  They are also called liver spots and are a result of dietary deficiencies and years of exposure to the harsh rays of the sun.

Topical creams and cover-ups will temporarily disguise the unsightly spots but in order to get rid of them, or at the very least lighten them so they are less noticeable, you will need to treat them from the inside out.

Supplements and lifestyle changes can help prevent age spots and aging skin.

Supplements

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a power antioxidant that will help damaged skin cells repair themselves and prevent new ones from popping up.  Antioxidants help your body combat cell damaging free radicals by neutralizing them. It also aids in circulation by extending the life cycle of red blood cells, important for transporting oxygen to cells for energy and keeping toxins from building up in the body. Research suggests vitamin E may also help slow down the aging process by protecting cellular membranes.

The recommended dosage for adults is 200 IU of vitamin E in d-alpha tocopherol form daily for maximum benefit.

Related:  Vitamin E Deficiency & Diseases of the Digestive System

Vitamin C

Everyone should get plenty of vitamin C in their diet, even if they don’t have age spots.  Found in abundance in citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), spinach and kale, it is a critical nutrient that supports good health and can help get rid of common aging skin problems like age spots, but also fine lines and wrinkles. 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant to rid your body of damaging free radicals. It also helps to combat the formation of new brown spots by offering protection against UVA and UVB rays. It’s like an internal broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

Results are not immediate, meaning, you will need to take the vitamin C and be patient for up to a year for the dark spots to fade. In the meantime slather lots of sunscreen on your face, hands and where ever else spots have formed.

The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C supplements for adults is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is responsible for the bright vibrant color in many healthy foods like carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe and winter squash.

When consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, cell mucous membranes and skin.  It is also an antioxidant to help damaged cells regenerate.

Prevention

Of course, the most effective way to treat age spots is to not let them form at all. You can help yourself avoid this common aging skin problem by adopting a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, adding these supplements to your diet and applying sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher to your exposed skin every day, year round.

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Natural Ways to Beat Fatigue Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

About one million Americans report feeling chronically fatigued.  Millions more report occasional but reoccurring tiredness as a health issue. Fortunately, there are natural, safe ways to relieve your fatigue symptoms and they don’t involve taking a new prescription in most cases. Simple lifestyle changes and the addition of some herbs and supplements can help naturally relieve your fatigue and give you a new lease on life.

Understanding fatigue symptoms and what we can do about them.

Too Tired

Occasional fatigue is normal. A hard workout, long day at the office, a fun-filled but activity packed vacation, are all reasons you may be tired. Unfortunately many people feel tired all the time and it takes an unfortunate toll on their health. Fatigued drivers account for 20% of all car accidents. Tired kids and adults show a decrease in cognitive function making school and jobs more difficult. 

You might think that being too tired all the time is a normal part of aging, but it’s not. If daily living has you dragging, it’s time to make some changes to your lifestyle.

Common Reasons for Fatigue

Sleep

It cannot be emphasized enough how important getting enough sleep is to maintaining your health, especially your energy levels. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get the minimum 6-8 hours needed every night to help the body restore itself after long, stressful days working, working out, caring for family, dealing with traffic, and the stuff of daily life.

Day after day, week after week of not getting enough shut-eye leads to fatigue and other unpleasant experiences like weight gain, cognitive decline and speeds up the aging process.  Experts recommend going to bed at a reasonable hour each night and rising at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations. Establishing a soothing nighttime ritual and sticking to it will do wonders for your fatigue symptoms.

Hormones

Hormones out of balance are a leading cause of fatigue.  A trip to the doctor might be in order if your fatigue symptoms came on suddenly.  This could indicate a malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal gland malfunction. Women going through menopause may have fluctuating and declining hormones, which cause sleep disturbances and fatigue.  Ruling out hormonal imbalances is key to banishing fatigue.

Related:  Understanding the Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Nutrition

Our bodies run on carbohydrates, but not the kind found in a doughnut. Highly refined white flour and sugar-laden foods will cause a surge in blood sugar giving you a short burst of energy, only to send you crashing and feeling tired.  You know what to do: eat more complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grains and vegetables while consuming a lot less white flour products loaded with sugar.

You may also not be eating enough fat. Yes, fat. It is as essential to a healthy diet as carbohydrates and protein. You need to eat the right kind of fat in moderation to optimize energy levels.  Nuts, avocados, olive, coconut and canola oils, eggs and organic, grass fed-beef are all great sources of healthy fats that will help relieve your fatigue symptoms.

You may be dehydrated. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for a candy bar to shake off that tired feeling, try drinking an eight ounce glass of good old fashioned water and see if you don’t feel better in about 10 minutes. Get in the habit of carrying around a bottle of H2O and drinking it a couple times a day.

Supplements

You could find relief from your fatigue symptoms by supplementing your diet with missing nutrients.

Magnesium – start with the lowest dosage (600 mg or less)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – a fish oil supplement can help you get enough of this essential nutrient every day

Vitamin B12 – you can get this crucial nutrient in pill form or through injections

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Antioxidants: Your Immune System’s Secret Weapon

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Our immune system is a complex army of warriors with different “weapons” patrolling the body to hunt down and kill invading bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, as we age, it does too, and becomes weaker along with muscles, eyes, and everything else. Fortunately, there are immune boosters in your refrigerator called antioxidants that can keep your disease fighting warriors stronger for longer.

Fruits and vegetables are powerful immune boosters.

Antioxidants to the Rescue

What exactly is an antioxidant? Our bodies naturally produce free radicals as a result of exposure to environmental toxins like too much sunlight, cigarette smoke, radiation and even some prescription drugs.  You also produce free radicals along with inflammation in the body when you exercise, become overly stressed, and as you age. Because free radical molecules are missing an electron, they seek out and capture electrons from other molecules turning them into free radicals, a process known as oxidation. 

 

Antioxidants generously lend molecules missing an electron one of theirs without becoming free radicals themselves, thus halting the destructive chain reaction in the body. Left unchecked free radicals disrupt DNA and cause your cells to become weaker and weaker until they die.  They are tiny superhero defenders of youth and vitality.

Antioxidants for What Ails You

Our immune system cells are as susceptible to free radical damage as any other kind of cell, and we need a steady supply to stay healthy. Incorporating antioxidants into your diet helps as an immune booster and assists your immune system to produce strong B and T lymphocytes, phagocytes and neutrophils.

Several of our organs play a key role in the immune system and also need to be constantly generating strong healthy cells to replace those lost to free radicals. Make sure you ingest plenty of antioxidants to boost your immune system to help stave off disease, and even slow down the aging process.

Related:  Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant

Essential Antioxidants

Fortunately, it’s easy to fill up on antioxidants. They are found in many of the healthiest and delicious foods available to us in abundance.  Certain antioxidants are not being produced by the body, so you need to get them from you diet. They are:

Resveratrol – found in grapes, many vegetables, dark chocolate (cocoa) and wine. It also helps lower blood pressure, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation in the body.

Carotenoids- give certain foods their bright color like tomatoes (lycopene) and carrots (beta-carotene). They are converted to vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, in the body.

Xanthophyll – found in kiwis, maize (a kind of corn), grapes, squash and oranges.

Astaxanthin – a marine carotenoid that offers protection from ultraviolet radiation. It also has been found to slow down macular degeneration, reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, several types of cancer and is a powerful immune booster.

Vitamins C and E – are generous electron donors and offer a host of other health benefits.

Best Sources of Antioxidants

Healthy and delicious foods can supply most of your antioxidant needs. You might also benefit from an antioxidant supplement to make sure you get adequate amounts daily. Be sure to add to your diet:

  • Nuts
  • Herbs and spices
  • Green tea
  • Fruits and vegetables

Fresh, organic produce and tea are your healthiest options, but even frozen foods offer some beneficial immune booster antioxidants.

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Why Vitamin D is Important for Healthy Aging

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Originally introduced to the world as a fat-soluble vitamin and later as a steroid hormone, vitamin D offers myriad health benefits to the body.  Because it plays a role in over 1,000 physiological processes, it is easy to understand why vitamin D is so important as people get older.  According to results from a variety of scientific studies, this potent vitamin/hormone helps encourage healthy aging in many ways.

:  People can get vitamin D benefits through foods like milk, eggs and fish.

A British study conducted in 2007 showed that vitamin D may help slow the aging process and protect the body from age-related disease.  Researchers followed more than 2,000 women with ages ranging from 18 to 79 and examined their white blood cells.  Measuring the length of telomeres (the capped ends of DNA strands) is a reliable way to determine if a person is aging.  As people get older, telomeres become shorter and DNA becomes more unstable. 

According to their vitamin D levels, the female subjects were assigned to three groups.  Results showed that women with the highest vitamin D levels had longer telomeres than women with the lowest levels.  Researchers concluded that by keeping telomeres longer, vitamin D may slow the aging process, and this may explain the protective effect vitamin D appears to provide from conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Related:  Absorption is Key When it Comes to Calcium Supplements

Another important Dutch study examining people 55 years of age and older found that low vitamin D levels were linked with an inability to perform daily tasks.  Subjects were divided into two age groups and tested for activities like walking stairs, dressing and undressing, standing from a seated position, and self-care.  While results showed a link between lower vitamin D levels and reduced ability to perform the activities, more research is needed to determine if low vitamin D levels actually cause disability in performance.

Additional Vitamin D Benefits

Most people know that vitamin D plays a role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, but it offers many more benefits to the health.  Vitamin D boosts immunity and helps prevent colds, flus and other types of infection.  Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D may also offer a preventative effect against Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, lymphatic system, ovaries and prostate. 

With all of the health benefits mentioned, it makes sense to get vitamin D on a daily basis, especially for people over 50.  The best source of vitamin D is the sun, and spending 10 minutes in sunshine before applying sunscreen usually provides a sufficient daily amount.  People can also find vitamin D in foods like fish, eggs, dairy and nut milk, cod liver oil, and fortified cereals and juices.  Vitamin D supplements work well during periods of colder weather, and health professionals recommend from 400 to 1,100 mg per day depending on age.

 

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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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Inflammation and Aging Skin

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to good health as we age, inflammation plays both good and bad roles.  In response to injury, acute or short-term inflammation helps promote healing, but chronic or long-term inflammation can harm just about every area of the body including the skin.  Conditions linked to chronic inflammation include acne, dermatitis, rosacea, rash, hives, and wrinkles.  Fortunately, following a few healthy tips can help prevent the development of inflammation and protect aging skin.

A number of environmental and lifestyle factors contribute to inflammation including tobacco, alcohol, stress, sun exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, and a high-sugar diet.  Engaging in healthy habits helps reduce levels of inflammation in the body and keeps aging skin looking and feeling as youthful as possible. 

Healthy changes involve quitting tobacco products, cutting down on alcohol consumption, wearing sunscreen, or getting regular moderate exercise.  Beneficial dietary steps include drinking plenty of water throughout the day, reducing the amount of sugar in the diet, and getting inflammation-fighting nutrients through food or dietary supplements.

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

Best Dietary Supplements for Inflammation

Research shows that a number of nutrients help battle the effects of chronic inflammation.  Many of these are available in the form of dietary supplements.  They include:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Coenzyme Q-10
  • Curcumin
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Topical Ingredients that Combat Inflammation

Certain creams and lotions feature beneficial ingredients for aging skin.  Topical nutrients that offer anti-inflammatory properties include aloe, ceramides, grape seed extract, green tea extract, and pomegranate.

Food Sensitivities and Skin Changes

Food sensitivities can also cause chronic inflammation in the body, and symptoms can include congestion, irritability, stomach pain, headache, and skin changes like hives or rash.  People concerned about possible food sensitivities should consult with a health care professional for testing.

Additional Health Problems Caused by Inflammation

In addition to affecting aging skin, chronic inflammation can lead to the development of a number of other health problems as people get older.  These include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Hay fever
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Periodontitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Getting older does not mean people have to settle for premature wrinkles and age spots caused by inflammation.  A number of lifestyle changes, nutrients, topical products, and dietary testing can help promote healthy skin and encourage good overall health. 

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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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Which Herbs Can Help with Kidney Health?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Do you need a kidney flush? If you are suffering from a lack of appetite, nausea, dry skin, poor concentration, lack of sleep or puffy eyes you may be in need of some kidney health benefits.

Five natural herbs deliver a host of kidney health benefits

The kidneys are fist-sized bean-shaped organs that regulate blood pressure, synthesize vitamin D, produce hormones and remove waste and toxins from the body. As we age, kidney function starts to diminish, so why not give them a boost with these five kidney-cleansing herbs?

  1. Uva Ursi

This evergreen shrub, also known as bearberry, is native to Europe and grows as far north as the Arctic. The leaves are harvested with the berries to produce a supplement that has exceptional kidney health benefits. Uva Ursi is a natural urinary antiseptic which has been used in herbal medicines for almost 2,000 years. It has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and is excellent for promoting kidney health. However, it should not be taken by pregnant women for more than seven days and should not be used to treat existing kidney infections.

Related:  Ten Ways to Naturally Protect Your Kidneys Against Stones. Malfunction and Failure

  1. Rehmannia

Known for its diuretic properties, Rehmannia is widely used in Chinese medicine for supporting kidney and adrenal health. It contains phytosterols, antioxidants and glycosides which make it powerful as a kidney tonic or liver detox.

  1. Java Tea

Also known as kidney tea, the leaves of this plant have excellent properties for the medicinal treatment of kidney stones, renal function and kidney infections. It contains flavones, glycoside and large amounts of potassium and is officially listed as a remedy for kidney ailments in official French, Indonesian, Dutch and Swiss pharmacopoeias.

  1. Couch Grass

Couch grass may be the scourge of gardeners across the globe, but this invasive weed has excellent antibacterial and diuretic properties. It relieves and helps dissolve painful kidney stones and lowers inflammation. Couch grass has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for cystitis and urethritis, delivering many kidney health benefits.

  1. Golden Rod

Used by Native American Indians to promote urinary tract health, research into this common herb found that it helps tone the urinary tract and is useful for cleansing the kidneys. Golden rod kills the drug-resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTI) even more effectively than antibiotics. It is particularly useful for preventing further infection in those who suffer from recurring UTIs and kidney infection. 

Don’t wait until you have contracted a painful kidney infection; start to reap kidney health benefits by using these natural herbs regularly as a kidney tonic for preventative health.

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How Vitamin E Can Help Menopause Symptoms

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If you are a woman between the ages of 45 and 55, you are likely going through the menopause. While outwardly nothing has changed, mentally and emotionally your body is dealing with a profusion of menopause symptoms. Fortunately, you don’t have to grit your teeth and put up with it. Vitamin E is the natural way to counter hot flashes and other major symptoms of menopause as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Vitamin E contains estrogen which helps relieve menopause symptoms

Research shows that vitamin E is effective for up to 75% of menopausal women. This natural substance can help reduce hot flashes and can also lower the effects of insomnia, nervousness, mood swings, fatigue, heart palpitations and thinning hair. Vitamin E actually contains small amounts of estrogen to help counteract the decline in hormone levels which are typical during menopause. 

Studies on Vitamin E and Menopause Symptoms

A study on the effect or vitamin E in menopausal women looked at the effect of vitamin E supplements on hot flashes. Led by Dr. Saeideh Ziaei at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Tehran, the study was on 51 menopausal women.

Each participant received a placebo softgel daily for four weeks followed by a one week cleansing period to eliminate all traces of the softgel. The women then received an identical-looking vitamin E softgel of 400 IU daily for the next four weeks. The women recorded the frequency and severity of their hot flashes in a daily diary. The results showed that when vitamin E softgels were taken, the hot flashes reduced in severity and in frequency. The study concluded that vitamin E is recommended for the effective treatment of hot flashes.

Vitamin E also relieves vaginal dryness and stimulates immunity against cancer of the cervix, breasts, lungs and digestive tract. Other studies show that vitamin E can reduce heart disease by up to 66%, making it a beneficial health supplement for all ages.

Related:  Vitamin E:  Tricking Father Time

How Much Vitamin E to Take

The most potent form of vitamin E is the natural d-alpha-tocopherol type, rather than synthetic E. according to Dr. Leslie Packer at University of California, synthetic E contains only one eight of the amount of alpha-tocopherol compared to natural vitamin E.

Following the study guidelines, 400 IU vitamin E can reduce menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes. However, it is important not to take vitamin E in excessive amounts as it may cause problems with blood clotting and hemorrhaging. The recommended upper limit for vitamin E intake is 1,000 mg per day, which is equal to 1,500 IU, so the 400 IU is well within these safety guidelines. It may take up to six weeks to notice a significant improvement in symptoms, but it is worth persevering to lower menopause symptoms safely and naturally.

You should consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements if you are taking medications, aspirin or anticoagulant drugs as these may cause complications such as excessive bleeding.  

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Five Tips to Improve Brain Function | Memory Improvement Tips

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You may not be able to make yourself taller, or alter your shoe size, but there are ways to improve brain function. As you age, maintaining mental acuity is increasingly important to stave off the symptoms of mental decline. Here are our top five memory improvement tips to help you keep your brain healthy!

1.     Exercise

Exercise is not just good for the heart and joints; it is also essential for brain function. A study published in Neuroscience reported that regular exercise helped monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as the non-exercising control group. The study was performed on middle-aged and mature monkeys who were trained on treadmills for five weeks and then underwent cognitive tests using the Wisconsin General Testing Apparatus. Scientists believe that exercise can improve brain function in humans in the same way.

Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and causes nerve cells in the brain to multiply. These cells release proteins and chemicals during exercise which boost cognitive function and improve neural health.

2.     Omega-3 to Improve Brain Function

Almost 60% of the brain is made up of fats including DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid which is known to support the central nervous system. DHA deficiency can cause nerve cells to become rigid and inflamed leading to reduced neurotransmission between cells. Low levels of DHA have also been associated with memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.  Taking omega-3 supplements can be one of the easiest memory improvement tips to adopt. 

Related:  The Ultimate Food Guide to Omega 3s

3.     Sleep Well

Sleep allows the brain to rest and reset, so improving your sleep can improve brain function and improve mental insight.  A Harvard study on sleep showed that people are 33% more likely to recall facts from memory after a good night’s sleep. Study leader Dr. Ellen Bogen concluded that “sleep does not just passively protect memories, but rather, plays an active role in memory consolidation.”

Too little sleep can also upset the circadian rhythm and may cause the brain to stop producing new cells. It seems that sleep is vital if you want to maintain and improve brain function.

4.     Take Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for increasing nerve growth in the brain. It is present in the hippocampus and cerebellum areas of the brain which are responsible for tasks such as planning, processing of new information and retaining memories. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to poor brain function, so getting plenty of vitamin D from food, sunshine or supplements is another easy memory improvement tip.

5.     Use It or Lose It

It is a well known fact that an active brain in later life can significantly improve brain function. Doing puzzles, learning a skill, mastering a new language, or stimulating the mind with mnemonic techniques can all keep your brain alert and healthy as we age.