Tuesday, April 29, 2014

7 Signs You May Have A Vitamin D Deficiency

Posted on the Huffington Post, by Sarah Klein. Not where you expect to find good nutritional information, but this is a good article none the less. Especially when the article states that we need much higher doses of Vitamin D that the 800 IU's recommended by the FDA.

With the Polar Vortex now firmly in our past, we're ready to shed some layers and soak up some springtime sun.

About time, too, considering it's our greatest source of vitamin D, a nutrient crucial to bone, skin and mental health. In fact, about 80 to 90 percent of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure, says Dr. Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University Medical Center who has studied and published on vitamin D for decades. "The problem is [many of us] assume if you have a healthy diet that you're getting enough of every nutrient," he says. Even the best dietary sources of vitamin D aren't loaded with the nutrient: a serving of salmon is a good bet, with around 450 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per three ounces, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. But there are just 137 IUs per serving of fortified OJ and around 120 in fortified milk.

The Institutes of Medicine recommend most children and adults under age 70 get 600 IUs of vitamin D daily, and those over 70 should aim for 800. But Holick, working with an Endocrine Society committee, found that up to 1,000 IUs a day for children and 1,500 to 2,000 IUs a day for adults was safe and effective, he says. (These recommendations are also well within the safe upper limits set by the IOM).

Without enough sunlight and dietary D, children may be at greater risk for rickets, a softening of the bones, and adults may be at greater risk for osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency may also up risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, says Holick.

So what should you watch for if you're concerned you might not get enough? Here are a few signs you might need more vitamin D.

Your bones ache.

"Especially in winter, [vitamin D deficient] adults feel more achiness in bones and muscles," says Holick, "and joints are a little more stiff when they get up in the morning."

MyAchingKnees comment:  Vitamin D is a key component to my bone and joint health.  It has other applications, such a heart health as well, but Vitamin D supplementation is so cheap it doesn't make sense not to take advantage of it. 

You've got the blues.

Vitamin D seems to improve levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, says Holick, which in turn could lift your spirits. In a small 1998 study, healthy people given vitamin D supplements during the winter reported greater positive feelings than people given no D. However, a larger study in women over 70 found no significant mental health benefit.

You're 50 or older.

The skin simply doesn't make as much vitamin D as you get older, and the kidneys start to grow a little less productive when it comes to converting that D into the form the body puts to good use, according to the American Cancer Society. Older adults may also spend more time indoors, according to the NIH.

You're overweight or obese.

There's no change in vitamin D production in people carrying excess weight, but the higher concentration of body fat affects the levels of vitamin D in the blood. That's because vitamin D is fat soluble, says Holick, meaning the more body fat you have, the more it gets "diluted," he says. People who are overweight or obese may require more daily vitamin D to make up for this effect.

You have darker skin.

Studies have shown distinct demographic differences in rates of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency. "Your skin pigment is natural sunscreen," says Holick. A sunscreen with 30 SPF reduces the skin's ability to make vitamin D by a whopping 97 percent, he says. Someone with very dark skin needs up to 10 times the amount of sun exposure than someone with a very pale complexion to make the same amount of vitamin D, he says.

You're a big-time head sweater.

Travel back in time a century or so and you'd find visiting doctors asking new mothers about how sweaty they found their heads. No joke, says Holick. "It's one of the first, classic signs of vitamin D deficiency."

You have gut trouble.

People with Crohn's, celiac or inflammatory bowel disease may be a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency because of the way these gastrointestinal conditions affect fat absorption. With these and other stomach issues, fat absorption can be lower, but that in turn lowers absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like D, according to the NIH.

So how can you get your D safely?

Holick says "sensible sun exposure" is key, since D production only occurs on unprotected skin. If you know you're likely to get a mild sunburn after 30 minutes outside without sunscreen, venture out for about 10 to 15 minutes and then put your sun protection on, he says. Expose arms, legs, abdomen and back if you can, for max vitamin D production. And keep in mind depending on where you live, you may only make vitamin D for part of the year due to the angle of the sun, he says, and likely only from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the same reasons.

If that all sounds a little confusing -- and it certainly can be -- check out Holick's handy app, D Minder, which can help you pinpoint how long you need to be outside depending on your location and your skin type to get your optimal vitamin D.

MyAchingKnees comment:  They can say it all they want, recommending exposure to the Sun for Vitamin D, but you are not going to get adequate Vitamin D from Sun exposure.  You have to supplement, ...eat right, but supplement. 

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grape Seed Extract Outperforms Chemo in Killing Advanced Cancer Cells

Posted on April 4th on RealFarmacy this article discusses the potent anti-oxidant Grape Seed Extract. I take at least 90 mg daily and have for years. Not because of the researchers who believe it is a cancer inhibitor but because of what I believe are it's ability to combat oxidative stress......

Patients with colorectal cancer may benefit from the cancer-growth-inhibiting power of grape seed extract. Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center report that the more aggressive the cancer cells are, the more effective the grape extract works at targeting and stopping the growth. Grape seed extract is amazing in that it attacks the cancer cells but leaves the healthy cells untouched. This is a departure from conventional cancer treatments that destroy all of the cells in an attempt to stop the spread of cancer.

Actually, the power of grape seed extract seems quite remarkable in this research, which was published in the journal Cancer Letters. Molly Derry, a doctoral candidate in the lab of Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, and investigator at the CU Cancer Center and her team saw that while doses of chemotherapy only increase with more severe cancer cases, such as a stage IV instead of stage II, the amount of grape seed extract required actually decreased.

Derry explained:

“It required less than half the concentration of GSE to suppress cell growth and kill 50 percent of stage IV cells than it did to achieve similar results in the stage II cells.” “We’ve known for quite a while that the bioactive compounds in grape seed extract selectively target many types of cancer cells. This study shows that many of the same mutations that allow colorectal cancer cells to metastasize and survive traditional therapies make them especially sensitive to treatment with GSE.”

Amazing Grapes

One of many berry types, grapes were introduced to America over 300 years ago. There are over 8,000 grape varieties with the main types being American and European. With only 100 calories per cup, grapes are a great source of vitamins K and C and are loaded with antioxidants.

Grape seed extract is made from the seed of the grape and is beneficial for a number of cardiovascular conditions such as poor circulation and high cholesterol. The extract has also been found useful in the treatment of diabetes-related eye disease, loss of vision due to aging, and swelling associated with injury. Currently, GSE is being studied in the treatment of leukemia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly, past research also points to berries as a solution for colorectal cancer and many other cancers. In one study, the growth of new tumors in mice fed black raspberry decreased by 45 percent and the total number of tumors went down 60 percent. Other research found that foods rich in flavanols (berries, grapes, apples) also reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Advanced Cancer and Grape Seed Extract

The bioactive compounds in grape seed extract selectively target many types of cancer cells. With an increase in colorectal cancer, the findings of this study are timely. By the time most people are diagnosed with the disease, it is in the advanced stages. But thankfully, as mentioned, researchers found that it required less grape seed extract to kill advanced cancer cells than it did cells in the early stage. It is thought that the extract kills cancer cells by a process of oxidative stress.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Habits of Healthy and Fit People

From the on-line article "The 13 Habits of Fit and Lean People", by Kristin Kirkpatrick, U.S. News and World Report. Brigid Titgemeier, nutrition assistant at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, also contributed to this article............. I thought this was a very good article. While fit and lean is not necessarily healthy, the habits expressed below are all good things to do for a healthy lifestyle. I would only add taking a high quality daily supplement and reasonably avoiding toxins.

Many people assume there's some mystifying secret toweight loss. When looking at fit celebrities, and even neighbors or co-workers, men and women commonly ask: "What's their secret?" or "How can I look like that?" While searching for these "secrets," people often overlook the simplicity of adopting healthy lifestyle habits that support a slim waist and healthy weight. While different strategies work for different people, scientific evidence indicates that individuals who effectively maintain a lean shape over time stick to similar eating and activity habits.

Other than a few genetic variations, there aren't many physiological differences between you and your slim neighbor -- it all comes down to habits that promote a healthy weight. If you're attempting to lose weight, use your healthy counterparts as inspiration. If they can do it, so can you. Use these 13 healthy habits as a road map to achieving a healthy, lean figure.

1. Eat a smart breakfast. Individuals who start their day off with breakfast have a reduced risk of weight gain. In a study that included 20,000 middle-aged men, researchers found that breakfast consumption was inversely associated with weight gain over 10 years. That might explain why 78 percent of individuals from the National Weight Control Registry report eating breakfast every morning.

Don't settle for a small granola bar to fill you up. Get in the habit of eating a smart breakfast, meaning one that is substantial enough to fuel your energy all morning. Smart breakfast choices include a good balance of healthy fat, lean protein and carbs, like an egg white omelet cooked with olive oil and sauteed spinach.

2. Listen to internal hunger cues. External cues such as social pressures or environments strongly influence when and how people eat. Whether it's a morning meeting with doughnuts, the candy bowl in the conference room or the popcorn in your lap at the movie theater, people don't think twice before indulging. Individuals who have a lean shape are generally able to ignore the convenience factor and base eating decisions on whether they're hungry or not hungry. Try tapping into your internal hunger cues and question whether you're even hungry before putting food in your mouth.

3. Avoid skipping meals. According to a study conducted by researchers at Cornell University, short-term food deprivation can lead people to make unhealthy food choices and increase the attraction of high calorie foods. The researchers found that "hungry" participants who did not eat five hours prior to grocery shopping were more likely to buy higher-calorie foods, compared to those who snacked on crackers before shopping. The results confirm the importance of eating before shopping, but also demonstrate that consuming regular meals can promote healthy food choices later in the day.

4. Eat most meals from home. Eating meals away from home decreases awareness of the calories and ingredients in the meal, as indicated by a 2013 study conducted in popular fast-food restaurants in America. Two-thirds of the 3,385 study participants who ate at a fast-food chain underestimated the calorie content of their meal, with one quarter underestimating by more than 500 calories.

Additional findings in children and adolescents were also published in 2013, demonstrating that eating out at fast food and full-service restaurants increases children and adolescents' daily energy consumption by 126 to 310 calories. That's in addition to increasing total fat, saturated fat, sugar and protein intake.

5. Load up on plant-based protein. Many individuals who maintain a healthy body weight long-term do so by removing meat from the center of their plate. Studies show that vegetarians tend to have a lower body fat percentage long-term, in addition to lower levels of oxidative stress and cholesterol, compared to their meat-eating counterparts.

Another study evaluated the link between weight change and daily servings of individual foods. Over the course of four years, daily servings of unprocessed red meat and processed meat were associated with respective weight gain of 0.95 and 0.93 pounds, while a daily serving of nuts was associated with 0.57-pound weight loss.

6. Avoid foods with added sugars. A diet low in added sugars translates to fewer empty calories and a lower risk of weight gain. A 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines added sugars as sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods such as breads, cakes, jam and ice cream. Some examples of added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses and honey. The CDC report stated that an increased intake of added sugars is associated with a decreased intake of essential micronutrients and an increase in body weight. Stick to naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and dairy products and minimize intake of added sugars.

7. Creatively add vegetables. Veggies provide a variety of nutrients for very few calories, which makes them a key component to achieving a healthy weight. Incorporating vegetables into snacks and meals leads to a boost in fiber intake, which is associated with increased satiety and weight loss. Creatively add vegetables wherever you can get them into your diet. For breakfast, add diced veggies to eggs and a few scoops of salsa. For lunch and dinner, try making a wrap with collard greens instead of tortillas, or add tomato sauce to a baked potato. Other ideas including seasoning and grilling an entire cauliflower "steak" or incorporating broccoli or kale into a rice dish.

8. Choose 100 percent over 50 percent whole grain. Science demonstrates that the proportion of grains consumed in the diet is not as important as type when predicting future weight gain. The study suggests that a high intake of refined grains and sweets may predict weight gain, while consumption of refined white bread is associated with larger increases in waist circumference. Obvious sources of refined grains are white bread and bagels, while less obvious sources are hidden in "whole grain" products that are not 100 percent whole grain. Get in the habit of avoiding all refined grains by choosing 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain products. The benefits of increased fiber intake will lead you to a weight-loss transformation.

9. Use smaller containers. Those who carefully control the quantity of food they consume generally eat from smaller serving dishes and containers. A 2012 study demonstrated that students consumed twice as much candy when they ate from two larger candy bowls, compared to the small bowl. The findings imply that eating with larger serving containers -- plates, bowls, spoons and packages -- stimulates food intake. To help curb overeating, switch to smaller containers.

10. Read ingredients before anything else. Check to see that the claims made on the front of the package are justified by the ingredients that are in the actual food product. Focusing on the quality of food first and the numbers second will ensure consumption of nutrient-dense calories. While calorie content does determine weight loss, fueling your body with quality calories helps promote healthy choices long-term.

11. Don't drink calories. Sodas, fruit drinks, specialty coffee drinks, energy drinks -- the list of empty calories goes on and on. These popular beverages are exploding with sugar, meaning empty calories that provide no nutritional value. Regular consumption of sugary drinks adds inches to the waistline faster than you can finish a 20-ounce bottle of soda. According to results from 2005 to 2006 NHANES data, 35.7 percent of added sugar in the average U.S. diet comes from soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. An additional 10.5 percent of calories from added sugar are derived from fruit drinks. In total, almost 50 percent of sugar calories in the U.S. come from beverages that lack any nutritional benefits. Get in the habit of drinking water as often as possible, which will minimize your consumption of liquid sugar packets.

12. Get adequate sleep. Research has shown that sleep habits influence people's dietary habits. A study published in 2011 followed men and women for six years and found that every additional hour of sleep decreased the incidence of obesity by 30 percent. The underlying mechanism that explains the relationship is not known, but experts suspect it involves hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, along with other physiological factors. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal health.

13. Wear a pedometer. Individuals who have a lean shape are often active throughout the entire day, not just during their 30-minute date with the elliptical. In order to achieve optimal health and a slim physique, experts recommend taking at least 10,000 steps per day. Start tracking your steps each day with a pedometer or other devices that increase your awareness of your activity.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Higher Levels of Vitamin D Might Save Your Life

From an ABC on-line report titled "Higher Levels of Vitamin D Might Save Your Life"

For many people the start of spring and the warmer weather that follows means storing the heavy winter gear and getting re-acquitted with the sun by spending more time outdoors. And according to new research, spending at least ten minutes a day in the sun could help save your life by reducing the probability of developing several diseases.

Two new studies show people with low levels of vitamin D have a 35% increased risk of developing heart disease and also have a 14% increased risk in dying from cancer.

Vitamin D is credited with not only helping reduce the odds of developing several major illnesses, but it also boosts heart health and even strengthens your bones.

How exactly can you maximize your body’s production and consumption of vitamin D in order to reap its benefits?

For starters, vitamin D, also known as the sunshine nutrient is produced in the body when the sun comes into contact with the sun, so spending more time outdoors is the key. Doctors suggest spending at least one hour a week in the sun, but don’t forget the sunscreen.

You can also find Vitamin D in a variety of foods like fish, eggs, soy beans, mushrooms and kale. But according the experts the best thing you can do is get outside and soak up those rays.

MyAchingKnees Comments: I don't believe you can get the necessary levels of Vitamin D from the Sun alone. My wife and I both had Vitamin D deficiencies and both of us spend a lot of time outside in a city that receives 300+ days of direct Sun a year. Both my wife and I take 3,000 to 5,000 IU of Vitamin D each day. While my wife was undergoing seven weeks of radiation treatment for a head and neck cancer, she insured she took 5,000 IU each day.

Exercise can diminish the body's Vitamin D levels and new studies from The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) indicate that taking Vitamin D before a workout can help the body recover more quickly.

Some of the top scientists in the country believe that Vitamin D supports healthy bones, muscle strength, maintenance of healthy glucose levels, and heart and immune function.  The often quoted  daily level of Vitamin D of 400 to 800 IU is now thought to be pretty low.  Don't let this inexpensive nutritional supplement escape your grasp - ask your Doctor for a blood test to determine your levels of Vitamin D.  

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How I Solved My Insomnia by Getting Less Sleep

By Sarah McNaughton, Everyday Health

This is how I sleep: Covers pulled over my head, except for a small air hole so I can breathe. Silicone earplugs stuffed into my ears. Window fan whirring in the far corner for white noise. I used to wear a special mouth guard so I wouldn't grind my teeth, but I chewed through it about a year ago.

It was only when I got to college that I realized staring out of my air hole for three hours before falling asleep wasn't normal.

I know that sleep is critical for my health. I've lived with clinical depression and anxiety disorders since grade school. The amount and quality of sleep I get directly affects my brain's serotonin and norepinephrine levels, both of which are crucial for managing depression and anxiety. But knowing the side effects of poor sleep and avoiding them are entirely different, especially when you're in the middle of a cruel cycle: The anxiety keeps me awake, which makes me worry about not getting enough sleep, which increases my anxiety.

Short of prescription sleep medication, I've tried nearly everything - acupressure, therapy, aromatherapy, yoga poses, breathing techniques, exercise in the morning, exercise in the evening, warm milk, chamomile tea, melatonin tablets, baths, sleep apps, boring books, boring games, boring conversations. I've even taken nighttime cold medicine when I wasn't sick. Some approaches helped, but none solved the problem.

It was 9 a.m. when our sleep editor asked who had sleep problems. I'd gotten four hours the night before, so I hardly realized that my hand shot up at the word "sleep." My overtired brain was just reacting to basic nouns. Sleep - yes, I'd like some.

I had volunteered myself for a sleep experiment. For 33 nights, I went to bed with an elastic heart rate band around my waist that recorded my pulse and transmitted data via Bluetooth to the SleepRate app on a smartphone. Unlike sleep apps that attempt to monitor movement in bed to track a person's sleep patterns, the heart rate band is better able to assess when and how deeply I was sleeping. The app developers told me that while the data wasn't exactly what you'd get from a sleep lab, it was about 80 percent as accurate.

Each night, I put on the heart rate band and answered a few questions about my day - Had I napped? Was I stressed? Did I feel drowsy? Had I fallen asleep involuntarily at work? - and then watched my pulse go up and down on the app screen until I fell asleep. The process was divided into two parts: First the app would take a week to evaluate my sleep problems, then it would try to help me solve them.

My assessment was disappointing: I was a night owl who likes to stay up late and sleep in, and I have moderate insomnia. No kidding. I was surprised to see I got an average of about seven hours of sleep per night, but I also woke up 32 times on average, which added up to an hour and a half of lost sleep each night.

Then the treatment portion began. The first step sounded simple but was quite difficult: go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Even though I struggle to get enough sleep during the week, I oversleep on weekends. I often pack more than 24 hours of sleep into Friday and Saturday alone. So forcing myself to go to sleep and wake up on weekends at the same times I would have on a weekday was ugly - at first. Then, one Saturday, I woke up on my own at 7 a.m. and went to the gym. It was one of the strangest and most fulfilling days of my life.

After I mastered my weekend sleep schedule, I moved on to step two. The app determined that my biological clock needed to be "retuned." Years of insomnia had left me with a really messed up sleep schedule - wide awake at bedtime and half asleep at breakfast. So my second task was, counterintuitively, to get as exhausted as possible. To do this, the app determined that I shouldn't go to bed any earlier than 1:30 but still wake up at 7 a.m.

The app told me not to go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. For the first time in my life, I found myself wishing it was bedtime. I hated this exercise more than I had hated being an anxious insomniac, but by the second week I realized something - I was tired! I was falling asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, rather than climbing into bed at a normal time only to lie awake for hours. I was only getting about five hours of sleep each night, but something had started to shift.

The app didn't tell me much that I didn't already know about myself, but it did help me look at my quest for better sleep in a different way: Instead of obsessing over getting the doctor-approved 8 hours, I need to focus on sleeping when I'm truly tired. For now, it's better for me to be getting fewer hours of higher quality sleep.

Eventually, I may be able to train my body to crave sleep earlier, solving the night owl issue. I've already made progress: Now I get drowsy around 1 a.m., rather than 2 or 3 a.m., and I'm actually feeling better during the day than I did when I got more, albeit fitful, sleep.

Maybe someday my biological clock will insist on lights out at 11 p.m. Maybe someday I'll have the perfect eight-hour night and no longer horrify my mom or my doctor. But a few nights ago, I fell asleep before I could pull the covers over my head and make my air hole or even put in my earplugs, and, for now, that's progress enough.

MyAchingKnees Comment:  One word "Melatonin".  Providing you get a good quality supplement.  My wife uses for maybe two days in a row to get herself to sleep, then she gets into that routine and doesn't need it for weeks, if not months.  But the important issue here is that sleep is necessary for true health.  Your body (and brain) needs the rest to repair itself.  Don't scrimp on sleep.....and you can't make up for lost sleep through short term naps.    

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