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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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Natto for Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Those with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension face a difficult decision when it comes to healthy living tips. Should they succumb to the side effects associated with prescriptions drugs, or should they follow healthy living tips and try to reduce their blood pressure naturally through diet? 

Following healthy living tips can lower blood pressure naturally

If you have high blood pressure, and about 75 million Americans do, you have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure is also likely to shorten your life. Statistics show that people with normal blood pressure readings, no higher than 120/80mm/Hg, have an expected life span of five years longer than those with hypertension. The good news is that by making some lifestyle changes and adopting some healthy living tips can quickly lower blood pressure and improve your health significantly.

Healthy Habits Include Eating Nattokinese

Studies on nattokinase (natto for short) found that this fermented food can be effective in preventing and lowering hypertension. Natto is a common food in Japan and is thought to be the main reason for their long and healthy lives.

Natto is made from soybeans soaked and then fermented with a bacterium (bacillus subtilis) for at least 24 hours. Although popular in Eastern cultures, natto does not appeal to westernized tastes as it has a powerful cheesy smell, a slimy texture and a strong flavor. However, it is high in protein and the taste can be disguised with soy sauce or karashi mustard and eaten with rice.

Related:  Six Tips to Lower High Blood Pressure Naturally

Studies on Natto

A joint clinical study by NIS Labs, Oregon and Machaon Diagnostics in Oakland, CA was performed on 79 people with elevated blood pressure of at least 130/90 mmHg. They ate natto daily throughout the eight-week study, or a placebo, and their blood pressure was measured.

The average diastolic reading was three points lower overall (from 87 mmHg to 84 mmHg) in those taking nattokinase compared to the placebo group which remained the same. The results were more pronounced in men than women. In males the average drop was five points, from 87mmHg to 81 mmHg, a remarkable reduction in just eight weeks.

Other studies found that eating 30 grams natto extract resulted in a 10% drop in blood pressure. This shows that healthy living tips such as eating natto can play an important role in controlling hypertension. It suggests that healthy habits such as including natto in your diet can significantly improve health by lowering blood pressure. For men, such healthy living tips are even more beneficial.

As with all healthy habits, those who are already taking medications to lower blood pressure should consult with their doctor before making any changes. However, increasing your exercise and adopting a heart-healthy diet are two healthy living tips that everyone can start right now!

 

 

 

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Seven Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, or hypertension.  This is a condition where the force of blood pushing against arterial walls is too high.  Labelled "the silent killer" because of an absence of symptoms, hypertension causes a wide range of health problems including blood vessel weakness and scarring, greater risks for blood clots, more arterial plaque, and tissue and organ damage due to blocked arteries.  While research shows family history can increase the risks for hypertension, there are also a number of lifestyle factors that boost the chances for its development.

A high-sodium diet is just one of the risk factors for high blood pressure.

 

  1. Excessive Bodyweight and BMI:  People are considered overweight when body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 30, and BMI measuring over 30 indicates obesity.  Research shows that excessive bodyweight raises risks for developing high blood pressure.  Monitoring bodyweight and BMI can help people keep blood pressure in check.  For successful weight loss, most people can lose from 1-2 pounds per week by subtracting 500 calories per day from their diet and adding daily exercise. 

 

  1. Inactivity:  In addition to raising risks for high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle increases chances for blood vessel disease, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.  Engage in regular exercise to help ensure healthy blood pressure.  Whether walking or biking, tennis or martial arts, finding a physical activity you love ensures regular participation.

 

  1. A High-Sodium Diet:  Salt retains fluid in the body, which can put extra pressure on the heart and contribute to high blood pressure.  Keeping track of sodium consumption helps.  While people with normal blood pressure should limit daily sodium to 2,300 mg, people with hypertension should consume 1,500 mg a day or less.

 

Related:  Seven Tips to Lowering High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

  1. Tobacco Use:  Every cigarette raises blood pressure temporarily and can contribute to damaged arteries and heart disease.  Smokers, especially those already at risk for hypertension, should make a plan to quit.  Hypnosis, acupuncture, guided imagery, patches, gum and certain medications can help.

 

  1. Heavy Alcohol Use:  Daily alcohol use or binge drinking can contribute to high blood pressure.  At highest risk are people who consume more than three drinks per day (12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of liquor).  To prevent the development of hypertension men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks daily, and women should limit consumption to one daily drink.

 

  1. Stress:  Research hasn't proven that stress causes hypertension, but stressful situations can spike blood pressure temporarily.  In addition, some people smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or consume too many unhealthy foods in an effort to deal with stress, all of which are risk factors for high blood pressure.  Effective stress management techniques include meditation, yoga or guided imagery. 

 

  1. Gender and Age:  Up until 45 years of age, men are more prone to hypertension than women.  From 45 to 65 years of age, risks are roughly equal between men and women, and after the age of 65, more women are likely to get high blood pressure than men.

The healthy strategies listed above can help in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, but some people may need medication to keep it in check.  Because of the absence of symptoms, people should have regular checkups in order to know and monitor their blood pressure numbers.   

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Six Heart Heath Tips For High Blood Pressure

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Six Heart Savers

Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death.  Here are several important heart health tips and advice. Fortunately many everyday supplements for high blood pressure support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Top heart health tips include taking daily fish oil supplements

 

 

 

Here are six common supplements to help keep your heart in tip-top condition. Do you take them every day?

1.     Fish Oil

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is the natural way to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat oily fish such as salmon and mackerel on a regular basis, but help is at hand with fish oil supplements. For high blood pressure they provide an effective treatment, reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death from heart disease.

2.     CoQ10

CoQ10 is a natural enzyme which the body produces in decreasing amounts as we age. It is a natural antioxidant which provides a wealth of heart-health benefits. It prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, maintains circulatory health, supports healthy arterial wall linings, lowers hypertension and ensures the optimal functioning of the heart by lowering cholesterol levels.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol should be on every list of heart health tips as it is full of antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. It increases good HDL cholesterol, prevents blood clots and protects arterial walls from damage. Found in red wine, the only sensible way to obtain sufficient resveratrol is by taking it as a daily supplement. Studies found that taking resveratrol in conjunction with statins reduced cardiovascular risk by reducing inflammation and clotting markers.

Natto

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme produced from fermented soybeans (natto) that prevents abnormal thickening of blood vessels. It has been used for centuries by the Japanese as a natural supplement for high blood pressure, lowering the risk of stroke, angina, deep vein thrombosis and heart disease.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another everyday supplement that makes it onto the list of heart heath tips.  Researchers have found that it can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by around 20%. This lowers the levels of homocysteine that contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clots. It also supports normal cholesterol levels as well as being essential for the production of red blood cells.

Acetyl L-carnitine

A series of controlled trials on acetyl L-carnitine supplements found that it was associated with a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia and a 40% reduction in the symptoms of angina. Found naturally in red meat, L-carnitine helps increase HDL cholesterol by metabolizing fatty acids.

By taking these supplements for high blood pressure and following our sensible heart health tips regarding diet and exercise, you can ensure you have the healthiest heart possible to carry you into a long and healthy old age.

 

 

 

 

 

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Stress and Allergies – The Surprising Stress Allergy Link

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Did you know that your nervous system and your immune system are closely linked? This means that causes of stress can increase allergy symptoms, and these in turn create more stress. That doesn’t mean that chronic stress actually causes allergies, but for those with existing sensitivity it can trigger the symptoms or make them worse, according to a study in The Journal of Investigative Allergology and Clinical Immunology.

Scientific trials on allergy sufferers showed a definite relationship between stress and allergies, which were measured using allergy skin tests. Participants were placed in a stressful position, such as having to calculate a math problem in their head in front of a panel of judges. The skin tests showed that the effects of stress raised allergy levels immediately after the stressful situation, and even more severely the day after.

Understanding Allergies

Allergies are increasingly common in children and evidence suggests that allergies may be caused by environmental factors such as stress. Allergies are a hypersensitivity to harmless environmental or food substances such as pollen, dust mites and mold. The body detects the presence of these “dangers” and produces a hormone response. This causes side effects such as a runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, skin reactions and asthma which themselves put the body under stress.

Related:  Five Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Effects of Stress on Allergies

Stress does not cause an allergy, but it can play a role in worsening the allergy symptoms. Doctors specializing in psychoneuroimmunology understand that when the body is under stress, it feels threatened and that triggers the chemicals and hormones in the brain that are responsible for that “fight or flight” response. The heart rate will increase and blood pressure will be raised as the effects of stress take their toll. This is known to trigger asthma, eczema or skin rashes (hives).

Suffering itchy skin and labored breathing understandably causes stress, overwhelming the immune system and setting up a viscous circle of stress = allergies = more stress.

Like many enigmas, it’s a matter of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case, should you treat the causes of stress to reduce the allergies, or manage the allergies to lower stress?

Treating Allergies by Lowering the Causes of Stress

Advice from Dr. James Sublett of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises allergy sufferers to work with a board-certified allergist to help avoid allergy triggers and lower the effects of stress caused by the symptoms.

Other specialists suggest that allergy sufferers should alleviate stress levels using breathing exercises, meditation and adopting a healthy lifestyle. They should also quit smoking and avoid caffeine, which can contribute to stress. By reducing the causes of stress, allergy flares will be less severe and less frequent. It seems that managing stress lowers allergies and controlling allergies reduces stress, so it’s a win-win situation.

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Three Spicy Solutions to Heart Health

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, about 75 million Americans have high blood pressure and only half of them are taking steps to control it. Left untreated, high blood pressure, or hypertension as it is sometimes known, can seriously damage health and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Spices can be a natural way to treat high blood pressure

 

 

Many sufferers resort to prescription medications and beta blockers, but those wondering how to lower blood pressure naturally may find help in the spice rack. If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 you are at risk of hypertension, so try spicing up your life with these three heart-healthy ingredients.

Reduce High Blood Pressure with Curry

One of the main ingredients in curry is curcumin, which gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It is a natural antioxidant found in turmeric and has shown positive results in studies on natural treatments for high blood pressure. One notable study on curcumin at Japan’s Kyoto Medical Center showed that curcumin supported healthy blood pressure levels. It also helped prevent cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle and reduction in ventricle size caused by high blood pressure). The study concluded that curcumin could provide “novel therapeutic strategy for heart failure in humans.”

Ginger Improves Hypertension

Ginger is a root spice used by the Romans and ancient Chinese to cure a wide range of medical conditions. Studies now show that ginger is a potent blood thinner, helping to prevent or treat high blood pressure and heart disease. In tests, ginger was used to dissolve blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. It prevents thromboxane synthesis which causes blood clotting and platelets in the blood to clump together.

Tests on rats showed that ginger is also an anti-inflammatory agent. It works in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen and naproxen, but without the side effects.  

Adding ginger to savory and sweet dishes is an easy way to add this cholesterol-lowering anti-inflammatory blood thinner to your diet and lower blood pressure naturally.

Related:  Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels with Ginger

How to Lower Blood Pressure with Garlic

Another natural blood thinning agent is garlic. Thinner blood is easier for the heart to pump around, reducing high blood pressure, and it is less likely to form clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.

An Australian study compared garlic with commonly prescribed drugs used to lower blood pressure and found that it was equally effective. The studies found that eating four cloves of garlic a day had a noticeable positive effect on those with high blood pressure, lowering it by an average 8.4 systolic points and 7.3 diastolic points.

If you are wondering how to lower blood pressure without resorting to expensive drugs, try adding these three spices to your daily diet and watch your high blood pressure fall.

 

 

 

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De-Stress with Biofeedback Technology – Stress Management

by Institute for Vibrant Living

If only there was an app for stress management!  Actually there is, in the form of the latest biofeedback technology.  Founded on the basics of quantum science, biofeedback measures the body’s stress levels and helps you recognize and counter the effects naturally and holistically. Using sophisticated technology, biofeedback relies on specialized software and sensors to scan the electromagnetic fields of your body. In minutes, this new stress management technology can provide feedback and vital information about the energetic stresses that your body is undergoing at that moment in time. Once users see their elevated blood pressure or symptoms of rising stress, they can implement mental techniques to lower stress levels without the need for medications or other treatment. 

Stress management is the key to good health and longevity

Rather than allowing tension and negativity to build up for months or even years, biofeedback is the key to healthy stress management, reversing the harmful effects that stress can have on your life and health.

Health issues that biofeedback is used to treat include:

  • Stress Management        
  • Anxiety ​
  • Depression
  • Pain Management
  • Headaches                                                                                                               
  • Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Raynaud's Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback uses sensors to collect data about the body. The information makes the patient aware of the physiological functions and can help control them as part of their stress management. The latest biofeedback developments include putting the sensors into portable wearable devices that are no more intrusive than a wrist watch.

Developed in the 1960s and 70s, biofeedback has been used by psychologists to treat health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hypertension, headaches and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Initially patients had to be hooked up to a device in a laboratory setting, but microtechnology now allows sensors and Galvanic Skin Resistance (GSR) monitors to track electro-dermal activity (EDA). The information can be used for stress management, monitoring mood and depression or even predicting seizures. 

Related:  Train Your Digestive System

How can Biofeedback Aid Stress Management?

Far from being a novelty gadget, biofeedback is the stress management tool of the future. There are over 900 studies published on PubMed alone about biofeedback and stress, and it has far-reaching medical relevance.

For example, a study on 41 soldiers found that those who used biofeedback-assisted stress management training on a regular basis had lower stress biomarkers than their colleagues.

Even in sports, biofeedback has invaluable health advantages. A study showed that advanced basketball players who trialed biofeedback for 20 minutes a day over a 10-day period as part of their personal stress management showed significant improvement in heart rate and anxiety levels.

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Are You Squirreling Stress: Causes and Effects of Stress

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you a “squirreller?” Do you hide money, tuck away sweet treats and keep a few things in reserve, “just in case?” While these may be positive attributes, storing up the effects of stress, harboring negative thoughts and increasing physical tension can be extremely damaging for your health, according to experts.

In the fall, squirrels are particularly active as they search for nuts, seeds, acorns and pine cones which are a source of food. These furry creatures are known for their habit of burying caches of food in a favorite place, which will allow them to survive the winter. In the same way, you probably have a favorite place on your body where all the effects of stress and tension hang out.

Physical pain and hypertension are often the effects of stress

Physical Effects of Stress

Causes of stress in modern-day life can range from worrying about bills, lack of sleep and working long hours to frustrating traffic congestion on your morning commute. Stop and analyze your body for a moment, and find out where those effects of stress tend to linger. Common places that succumb to stress and tension include:

  • Tense, hunched shoulders
  • Unnatural neck and throat positions
  • A “tight” head causing headaches and migraine
  • Upper and lower back tension
  • Stiff arms
  • Queasy, acid-filled stomach

Harboring stress can lead to serious health conditions including stomach ulcers, back pain, migraine clusters and poor digestion. However, being aware of the tell-tale signs of stress in your personal “storage area” can be the first step to releasing that tension and dealing with the causes of stress.

Related:  Lose Stress to Gain Joy

How to Counter the Effects of Stress

Wherever you find yourself – at your desk, in the kitchen, driving the kids to school or lying awake at night – you can begin to de-stress by deep breathing. Become conscious of each breath and make each one slower and deeper than the last. This simple exercise is often enough to alleviate the pressure before the causes of stress take hold and find their way to your stress storage point.

Research into the brain shows that social engagement is an effective tool in the fight against the effects of stress. Making eye contact with a smiling face, talking to a friend and feeling understood, or even listening to someone else’s joys and sorrows can halt the natural “fight-or-flight” reactions to stress. As you respond to the causes of stress with social engagement you will begin to calm down, think more rationally and your heartbeat and blood pressure will return to normal.

Defusing stress also allows your digestive system to return to normal, and will stop the brain flooding the body with cortisol and other “emergency” hormones.

In the long-term, allowing the causes of stress to “get under your skin” can cause immeasurable harm to your heart, digestive and immune systems. By learning to let go of the harmful effects of stress you can lower hypertension, slow down the aging process and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

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Can Melatonin Help During Menopause?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Many women dealing with menopausal symptoms experience disruptions in their sleep cycles. This can exacerbate some of the other side effects such as increased anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, memory lapses, hot flashes and a decreased libido, just to name a few. The good news is that increasing shows that melatonin supplements can be an effective menopause treatment to help you get more rest and relief.  

Can melatonin treatment relieve symptoms of menopause?

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone our bodies produce naturally in the pineal gland of the brain. It assists in the smooth operation of several bodily functions such as:

  • Regulating the release of the female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, effecting the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles
  • Promoting the quality and duration of sleep
  • It is a naturally produced antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties to help the body repair itself. It has a protective effect on your heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels

Low levels of melatonin have been linked to an increased risk for developing breast and prostate cancer, and have more recently linked to ADHD symptoms in children. 

At optimum levels, melatonin can help improve conditions like:

  • Sunburn
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Pain regulation
  • Digestion
  • Epilepsy 

Melatonin as a Menopause Treatment

Trouble focusing, memory lapses, increased anxiety and feelings of depression, all common symptoms of menopause, are made worse by a lack of quality sleep.  Many women going through menopause have trouble falling asleep, and even after they do, they often wake up because of a hot flash. They may fall asleep, but rouse frequently during the night and have trouble going back to sleep.

As we age our production of the sleep hormone begins to decline, along with estrogen and progesterone. Children have high levels of melatonin, whereas adults in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and beyond have much lower levels. Melatonin supplements can increase levels to promote drowsiness and keep you asleep for longer stretches.  It can also help you fall back to sleep when a hot flash wakes you up.  In addition, the increased shut-eye can help you deal with stress more effectively, decrease anxiety and give you greater mental clarity.

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

Along with melatonin supplements try these tips to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily:

  • Do not eat within two hours of going to bed
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants as much as possible
  • Try natural fiver sheets and pajamas to help whisk away sweat from hot flashes
  • Drop the temperature in your bedroom to about 68 degrees
  • Turn off the TV, put away your tablet and smart phone since the backlight on these electronic devices interferes with the natural release of melatonin
  • Make it as dark as possible in your bedroom with light-blocking blinds or curtains and turn the digital clock face away from the bed or cover it
  • Try a few relaxing yoga poses followed by a cool shower

Dosage

As with all supplements, you should first consult your doctor before deciding on your melatonin treatment.  Taking the lowest dose possible to achieve optimal sleep is the best way to go. In general adults should take 3-5 milligrams about one hour before bedtime.

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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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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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Health Dangers of Excess Weight | Weight Loss

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you at higher risk than others of suffering from over 50 different health problems including cancer, diabetes and heart disease? If you are clinically overweight and struggle with weight loss, then unfortunately you are at this higher risk.

Discover the sobering facts about weight effect on aging

Excess pounds do more than just increase your weight; they actually increase your risk of mortality. It has been clinically proven that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from a stroke, heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression than those who maintain a normal healthy weight.

Weight effect on aging is another problem for many, and a Harvard study shows the risk of developing type-2 diabetes is 20 times more likely in those who are overweight. The good news is that you can do something to reverse this risk by seriously committing to a weight loss program.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Tips

Benefits of Managing Weight Loss

There are many benefits to losing weight. You will feel more energetic and are statistically likely to enjoy a longer, better quality life. It can be daunting to face having to lose weight, but start with a manageable target that will immediately make you feel better, both physically and emotionally. Commit to achieving an initial weight loss of 5-10% of your body weight. When you feel your determination is faltering, remind yourself of these facts about the weight effect on aging and general health.

  • Losing 10 pounds can lower your systolic blood pressure by 2.8mm/Hg and your diastolic blood pressure by 2.5 mm/Hg. This is equal to the expected reduction when someone starts taking blood pressure medication
  • Losing 7% of your weight and exercising for 30 minutes a day lowers your risk of diabetes by nearly 60%
  • A study on 1.5 million adults published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of death increased by 44% in people who are mildly obese and by 250% in those with a BMI of 40 to 50

By achieving a normal weight for your height you can significantly reduce your risk of mortality and have a healthier, higher quality of life. You can use the NIH calculator to work out your BMI by entering your height and weight right now. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25-29.9 and obese is 30 and above. If you are overweight or obese, now is a good time to commit to reducing that detrimental weight effect on aging by adopting a healthy diet that does not exceed 1,200 calories per day, and by engaging in 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, dancing, swimming or other exercise to burn off those excess pounds.

Weight loss is never easy, but it is definitely worth it! 

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Are Statins Killing You? The Top 6 Dangers of Statins

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Are you part of the one in four Americans over the age of 45 who take statins? Statin drugs are prescribed to help lower cholesterol, but the dangers of statins and the truth about its efficacy are now being questioned. One of the hurdles in reversing the policy on statins is the fact that Big Pharma makes huge profits from the sales of statin drugs, with a reported turnover of $29 billion in 2013.

Studies are showing there may be hidden dangers to statins

The Dangers of Statins

Several surveys have reported results that show statins may be doing more harm than good when it comes to our health. Their results show:

  • Statins interfere with the natural production of Coenzyme Q10, which helps maintain blood pressure, supports the cardiovascular system and is essential for the immune and nervous systems
  • Studies have found a link between statin use and memory loss, possibly because cholesterol is essential to brain function. Some patients find they are unable to remember words while others develop serious neurological problems such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Statins appear to weaken the immune system, so users are more prone to bacterial infections
  • Statin drugs promote inflammation due to the increased production of cytokines
  • Statin users are at higher risk of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), according to Dr. David Williams
  • In animals studies, statins caused 226% more muscle damage in animals when they exercised, compared to animals that were not on statins

And the list goes on and on. It’s a cause for reflection for those who take statins and are so far unaware of the dangers of statins.

Related:  Knock Down Bad Cholesterol with these Four Foods

When to Stop Taking Statins

Although studies have shown that statins help reduce cholesterol, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, it may not apply to those over the age of 50. A Japanese study found that high cholesterol is not necessarily associated to coronary heart disease in those over the age of 50. This study suggests that older people would actually be healthier if they stopped taking statins at middle age.

Harlan Krumholz at the Cardiovascular Medicine Department at Yale discovered that elderly people with low cholesterol were twice as likely to die from heart attack as those with high cholesterol, which contradicts popular beliefs about the need for statins into old age.

In addition to this, the University of Minnesota Epidemiology Department studied 68,000 deaths and found that low cholesterol was associated with an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal or respiratory disease. This ties in with the above findings about the dangers of statins weakening the immune system.

While the debate continues about the dangers of statins, one message remains clear. By eating a healthy balanced diet based on meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, such as the Paleo diet recommended by Dr. Mercola, your body may balance its own levels of cholesterol, leading to a longer life, safely and naturally.

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Ten Relaxing Ways to Disconnect from Digital Technology

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to research, more people in North America use the internet than people in Africa, Asia and Latin America combined.  While computers, cellphones and other electronic gadgets offer numerous benefits, it’s important to unplug from technology from time to time.  Taking a break from the digital world allows people to unwind and better connect with themselves and others.  Here are ten relaxing ways to disconnect from digital technology. 

A myriad of methods help people disconnect from digital technology.

1.  Practice yoga.  Considered a mind-body practice, yoga blends mental and physical disciplines to create a sense of peace and tranquility.  In addition, yoga helps tone the body, promotes better balance and improves sleep.

2.  Introduce a weekly game night.  Spending time playing cards or board games allows family members and/or friends to connect in meaningful ways and enjoy relaxing conversation.

3.  Spend time in nature.  There is nothing like a warm breeze, a bird's song, and the beauty of nature to disconnect from digital technology.  What's more, sunlight helps boost the mood and encourages good bone health by providing the body with a daily dose of natural vitamin D.

4.  Purchase an adult coloring book.  Using colored pencils or markers to fill in intricate designs allows adults to channel their inner child.  Coloring keeps people focused on the present moment and promotes a sense of calm.

5.  Get a massage. Studies on emergency room staff show that a 15-minute massage can lower job-related anxiety from 65 percent in winter and 54 percent in summer to just 8 percent no matter the season.  Adding essential aromatic oils like chamomile and lavender make massage even more relaxing.

Related:  Discover the Benefits of Hatha Yoga for Stress Relief

6.  Enjoy a hot bath.  Sinking into a tub of hot water soothes the mind as well as the body.  People can use products like bath salts, bath pillows, and candles to make a home bathroom spa-like and tranquil.

7.  Take the dog for a walk.  A 20-minute walk can help reduce stress by boosting endorphins, the 'feel-good' neurotransmitters in the brain.  In addition, walking offers owners and dogs an opportunity for quality bonding.

8.  Meditate.  Studies show that meditation helps lower heart rate and blood pressure, and it doesn't cost anything to practice.  To experience calming effects, people just need a quiet, comfortable space from which to focus on breathing for ten minutes or more.

9.  Keep a journal.  Writing about daily problems allows many people to let go of them.  Others prefer to jot down things for which they are grateful.  Both techniques are therapeutic and calming.

10. Take a catnap.  Short periods of rest can reduce help reduce stress.  Naps of 20 minutes or less encourage relaxation without affecting nighttime sleep.  

While some people can't imagine taking a break from their electronic devices, unplugging is important for peace of mind and human connection.  Any of the methods mentioned above allow people to disconnect from digital technology in minutes at very little or no expense, and many offer benefits that go well beyond stress relief.

 

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The Best Seeds for Health: Super Seeds to Boost Your Salads

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Everyone knows having a salad on a regular basis is good for you. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetables for the average adult is three to five servings, after all.  If you are going to eat your greens why not add a little something extra to them now and then to boost their flavor and your health? Seeds make a great addition to many dishes especially salads. Read on to learn about the best seeds for your health.

The five best seeds for great health!

The Fantastic Five

1. Chia Seeds

There’s a whole lot of goodness packed into these tiny seeds that are native to South America.  The ancient Aztecs and Mayans relied on them as an important food source providing hydration and sustained energy.  Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength.  Despite being small chia seeds are mighty with:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus
  • Vitamins B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine) and B2
  • The ability to hold twice their weight in liquid

Chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, from developing Type 2 Diabetes, promote bone strength and even aid in your weight loss efforts.

2. Hemp Seeds

While hemp seeds are from the same species of the much more famous and notorious cannabis family (aka marijuana) but they only contain trace amounts of THC, the compound that has a drug-like effect.  They have been a part of Chinese diets and medicine for the past 3,000 years, so their health benefits have stood the test of time.

Hemp seeds are a great source of two very important nutrients, the fatty acids omega-6 and omega 3. They are also a very good source of protein, vitamin E and minerals like phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.  Another nutrient from hemp seeds, amino acid arginine, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. These bland looking little seeds have also shown in other studies to decrease inflammation in the body, help reduce blood pressure and decrease your risk of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

This year at Halloween when you and the kids carve your Jack-O-Lanterns don’t toss the seeds you scrape out of the pumpkin!  They are one of the best seeds for health and wellness.

Indigenous to the Americas (North, South and Central) ancient cultures called the flat green seeds pepitas. In Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and much of India and Asia pumpkin seeds is a dietary staple.

Pumpkin seeds are recommended by the World Health Organization and for good reason.  They are a plentiful source of diverse antioxidants like vitamin E, phenolic acids and lignans, compounds linked to helping women reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.  Pumpkin seeds also contain a healthy dose of zinc, a mineral essential for healthy red blood cells.

Once you remove the seeds from your pumpkin clean them off and let them dry overnight, then roast them for about 20 minutes at a very low temperature like 160 to 190 degrees for the most flavor.

Related:  Here’s a Quick Way to Get Soy-Free Protein

4. Flax Seeds

If you are looking for one of the best seeds for health, here’s the flax you need to know. 

Ancient Babylonians in the 8th century cultivated flaxseed for King Charlemagne who believed strongly in their health benefits.  Modern day research has shown consumption of flaxseeds is a good way to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, according to health authority WebMD.

Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called ALA, which are abundant in flaxseeds, have been shown to inhibit tumor growth.  Like pumpkin seeds they contain lignans that have been linked to decreasing the risk of breast cancer and are potent against reducing inflammation in the body.  Eating flaxseeds regularly may also help you keep your cholesterol levels in check and blood sugar levels steady to ward off diabetes.

5. Sunflower Seeds

A sunflower is a tall herbaceous annual plant native to Middle America but has since spread across the globe as a commercial crop in countries like Russian, China, Argentina and the United States. 

Sunflower seeds are delicious and crunchy little powerhouses of healthy goodness. Packed with essential fatty acids, high quality amino acids, natural antioxidants like vitamin E and folic acid, just a handful a day will help keep the doctor away.  They help lower your LDL levels of cholesterol, and provide essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and copper to keep your bones and red blood cell production strong.

Next time you whip up a salad be sure to sprinkle one of the fantastic five best seeds for health on top and enjoy!

 

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Omega 3 Fish Oil for Weight Loss

by Cindy Gray

We are conditioned to think that all fat is bad, especially if we are trying to lose weight. Low-fat diets have been promoted for decades as the only way to shed body fat, but now it seems that is not entirely true. A recent study by the University of South Australian found that there are definite benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when taken in conjunction with regular exercise.

Studies show the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss

Study on the Weight Loss Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

The Australian study focused on 75 participants who were diagnosed as overweight (>25 BMI) or obese (>30 BMI) with other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These increased risk factors included high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, hypertension and/or heightened insulin levels.

The group was divided into four different categories and each group was given either:

  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with no exercise
  • Tuna fish oil supplements (omega-3) with exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with no exercise
  • Sunflower oil supplements (no omega-3) with exercise

The supplements were 6 x 100 mg capsules of omega-3 fish oil or sunflower oil. The participants who included exercise in their program also completed three 45-minute runs each week at 75% of their maximum heart rate. No dietary changes were made to any of the participants’ routine.

After three weeks, members of three of the groups remained the same weight.  However, the group taking tuna fish oil supplements combined with exercise showed an average weight loss of 4.5 pounds, and a marked decrease in percentage body fat. This clearly showed the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for weight loss when combined with regular exercise.

The study concluded that if the fish oil supplements and exercise regimen were adopted by someone who was also on a calorie-controlled diet, the weight loss could be even more substantial.

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Supplement Resveratrol

How Does Omega-3 Fish Oil Benefit Weight Loss?

Omega-3 is known to improve blood flow to the muscles during exercise. It also helps trigger enzymes involved in burning or oxidizing fat when the metabolic rate increases during exercise. The combination of omega-3 and exercise prompts the body to carry fat to where the muscles can burn it as energy, thereby lowering body fat stores.

The study participants also underwent DEXA body scans which distinguish between fat, muscle and bone. Although three groups of participants remained unchanged, the group taking omega-3 with exercise showed a significant reduction of belly fat.

Those who took omega-3 fish oil without exercise still benefitted, as their blood pressure decreased during the study and there was a beneficial effect on their heart rate and triglyceride levels.

These encouraging results showing the benefits of omega 3 fish oil weight loss will now be followed up with other studies by Professor Howe, Director of the Australian Technology Network for Metabolic Fitness. In the meantime, dieters have nothing to lose but fat if they add 600 mg omega-3 fish oil and regular exercise to their weight loss plan. 

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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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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. 

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency

by Health News

When it comes to good health, people depend on vitamins.  Dubbed the "sunshine vitamin" because it is made by the body when exposed to the sun, vitamin D is important to the health in many ways.  It aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, it helps maintain healthy bones and teeth, and it offers protection against the development of certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Despite the many benefits of vitamin D, roughly 75 percent of American teens and adults have deficient levels.  Five signs and symptoms can help determine whether you may have a vitamin D deficiency.

1.  Darker Skin

According to research, vitamin D deficiency is more widespread among people with darker skin because pigmentation in the skin works like a natural sunscreen.  Therefore, people with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun than people with lighter skin to maintain healthy levels.

2.  Age of 50 Years or Greater

People age 50 and over tend to spend less time outdoors than younger people, which contributes to vitamin D deficiency in this age group.  In addition, aging skin makes less vitamin D when exposed to the sun, and the kidneys aren't as efficient in converting vitamin D into a usable form.

3.  Depressed Mood

A study in 2006 examined how vitamin D levels affected the mood of 80 elderly patients.  Those with the worst vitamin D deficiency were 11 times more likely to be depressed than patients with normal vitamin D levels.  Experts believe this effect may have to do with serotonin, a hormone in the brain associated with mood.  Research shows that serotonin levels rise with greater exposure to sunlight and fall when exposure lessens.

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

4.  Excessive Body Weight

Studies have found that body fat collects vitamin D and keeps it from entering the bloodstream.  Research published in the International Journal of Obesity also showed that excessive body fat may inhibit the body's ability to use vitamin D effectively.

5.  Gastrointestinal Issues

Gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity can affect the body's absorption of fat.  Because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, people with these conditions often have lower vitamin D levels. 

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for good health.  While sunlight offers the best source, people can also obtain this valuable nutrient through certain foods or vitamin D supplements.  Good food sources include wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, or vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, cereal, or juice.  When it comes to daily supplements, many experts suggest 600 to 800 IU for children and adults, but others recommend 1000 IU.

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5 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

by Cindy Gray

Vitamin B12 is one of the B-complex vitamins that are essential for good health.  The body uses it to manufacture red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA, and vitamin B12 is important to metabolism and cardiovascular health.  Like many other vitamins, B12 is not manufactured by the body, which means people must get it from food or supplements.  Consuming inadequate amounts of this important vitamin, or problems with its absorption, can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency, a condition that is somewhat common, especially among older people.  Read on to learn about five signs and symptoms of deficiency

Clams are just one of the many food sources that help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency.

1.  Weakness

One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is body weakness, a natural consequence of reduced levels of red blood cells.  Because weakness is a symptom of a variety of physical conditions, people should consult with a medical professional to rule out possibilities.

2.  Gastrointestinal Disorders

Certain gastrointestinal disorders like colitis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and leaky gut syndrome can affect absorption of vitamin B-12.  Supplements and B-12 shots can help prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in people with these conditions.

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3.  Vision Loss  

Low levels of vitamin B12 can have a negative effect on the optic nerve, but supplements can help.  A study from Japan examining 28 patients with glaucoma showed improvements with a daily dose of 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 over five years.  The participants receiving B12 experienced reduced peripheral vision loss, more stable visual acuity, and better control over eye fluid pressure than participants that did not receive vitamin B12.

4.  Shortness of Breath

Failure to absorb vitamin B12 can result in a reduction of red blood cells that can lead to a condition called pernicious anemia.  Symptoms of this condition include shortness of breath and fatigue.

5.  Memory Loss

Vitamin B12 deficiency can impact brain function, causing symptoms like disorientation, difficulty thinking, and memory loss.  Research shows supplements can help. 

A study from Australian National University found that older adults who received supplements containing vitamin B12 and folic acid over two years experienced better results on tests for short-term and long-term memory than participants who did not receive the supplements. Researchers speculated that results might be due to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to poor cognitive function.

Sources of Vitamin B12

Natural food sources of B12 all come from animal products and good options include clams, beef, turkey, oysters, chicken, trout, and salmon.  People who are vegan, vegetarian, or those with absorption issues can benefit from foods fortified with synthetic B12 or B12 supplements. 

People need vitamin B12 to stay healthy, but according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 23 percent of adults above the age of 49 have some level of deficiency.  People who are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency should visit a medical professional for a blood test and treatment options.

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