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  • A Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency May Cause Fatigue

    Friday, September 20, 2019
    A Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency May Cause Fatigue

    Feeling fatigued? An article in U.S. News & World Report suggests that you should get to the bottom of your sleepy state, as it may be an indication of other health issues. While there are many reasons why you may be fighting fatigue—maybe you slept poorly or didn’t go for your morning run—a vitamin or mineral deficiency is among one of the most common culprits. A deficiency in iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12, or folic acid can lead to fatigue as well as to a variety of other symptoms, for example:

    • an iron deficiency may lead to anemia;
    • a vitamin B12 deficiency may leave you feeling foggy or mentally exhausted; and
    • a magnesium or potassium deficiency may lead to muscle cramps.

    In addition to these symptoms, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can also have long-term health consequences such as restricted movement, heart disease, brittle bones, or impaired brain function. Dietitians and nutritionists warn that poor and restrictive diets can contribute to these deficiencies and subsequent fatigue. Specifically:

    • Diets that include lots of fast foods and processed foods tend to be high in calories but low in nutrients. Filling up on chips, sodas, and candy can leave you overweight but undernourished.
    • Some popular diets advise cutting out entire food groups, such as grains, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Whole grains and fortified grain products, for example, are sources of B vitamins like folic acid (B9), thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), and pyridoxine (B6), and cutting them out completely could contribute to B vitamin deficiencies.
    • Calorie cutting and skipping meals can also contribute to deficiencies and fatigue as your body may not have the fuel or nutrients it needs throughout the day.
    • Vegetarian and vegan diets are frequently low in vitamin B12. As a result, vegetarians and particularly vegans have a higher risk of B12 deficiency than meat eaters.

    A diet packed with a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and fish may minimize the risk of deficiencies. A multivitamin-multimineral supplement may also be a good addition, especially if your diet is restricted for any reason.

    Source: U.S. News & World Report

  • Handwashing: Your Secret Weapon Against the Cold and Flu

    Wednesday, September 18, 2019
    Handwashing: Your Secret Weapon Against the Cold and Flu

    Cold and flu season will be here soon. Do you want to proactively avoid getting sick? It’s simple: wash your hands! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that handwashing could reduce your risk of catching respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, by 16 to 21%, and diarrhea-related illnesses by 31%. Think you know all there is to know about handwashing? Think again: here’s the why, when, and how of proper handwashing:

    • Why wash your hands? Like it or not, your hands are germ magnets. Using the restroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, and handling raw meat all put you in contact with germs. And those germs are transferrable to anything you touch, be it a handrail, food, or your mouth or nose, which can lead to you or someone else becoming sick. Handwashing helps stop these germs in their tracks.
    • When to wash your hands? Wash your hands before, during, and after preparing human and pet food and before you eat. You should also wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, tending to a wound or to someone who is sick, and after touching garbage or other germ-filled situations.
    • How to wash your hands? The CDC recommends a specific process: First, wet your hands with clean, running, warm or cold water. Then, lather your hands with soap, making sure to get the backs of hands, in between fingers, and under fingernails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds; if it helps, hum the full tune to “Happy Birthday” twice. Rinse your hands under clean, running water and dry with a fresh towel or air dry. If you don't have soap or running water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

    Source: CDC

  • Connecting the Dots: Atopic Dermatitis and Vitamin D

    Friday, September 13, 2019
    New Science
    Connecting the Dots: Atopic Dermatitis and Vitamin D

    Dry, red, and itchy skin patches and rashes are typical symptoms of atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema. Research has suggested vitamin D plays a protective role, but, depending on your location, diet, and the season, your vitamin D levels may fluctuate and could change the importance of vitamin D supplementation. To explore the possible relationship between vitamin D and atopic dermatitis, researchers conducted a review of the literature on this subject and reported that:

    • People living in higher latitudes, who produce less vitamin D due to lower sun exposure, have been found to have a higher risk of developing atopic dermatitis.
    • The majority of the evidence suggests insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels are a risk factor for atopic dermatitis in adults and children, and lower vitamin D levels have been correlated with more severe symptoms.
    • Clinical trials have shown vitamin D supplementation can improve the severity of symptoms in people with atopic dermatitis.
    • Treatment with vitamin D has led to improvements in certain markers of inflammation in the blood and skin of people with atopic dermatitis.

    These snapshots from the research are encouraging; however, it’s important to note that, while the vast majority of the evidence is consistent, there have been a few conflicting findings: at least one study found no connection between vitamin D levels and atopic dermatitis, and another found vitamin D intake during infancy increased atopic dermatitis risk. So, although it may be too soon to say whether vitamin D can benefit those with atopic dermatitis, we can say with certainty that vitamin D is important for overall health and is especially important for bone health. If atopic dermatitis is getting the best of you, speak with your healthcare practitioner to see if adding a vitamin D supplement to your health regimen is a good idea.

    Sourc: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology

  • Fall Comfort Foods: Add Beans for a Fiber Boost

    Wednesday, September 11, 2019
    Fall Comfort Foods: Add Beans for a Fiber Boost

    Cold weather brings on cravings for warming comfort foods—which can often be calorie-laden. However, beans, a superstar in cold-weather favorites like chili and soup, can help you feed those cravings without ruining your diet. In addition to being a source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, beans are full of fiber. That’s great news for your waistline, since research shows that upping your fiber intake can lead to bolstered weight loss. For example, one recent study found that people who focused solely on increasing their dietary fiber intake to 30 grams or more per day lost almost as much weight after one year as people who followed a more complicated set of guidelines that emphasized certain foods and limited others. So if you're ready to add some beans to your next meal, read on, Health.com has reported on ways to sneak this humble fruit into your diet:

    • Mock meat. Beans are quicker to prepare and less expensive than meat. Use black, white, or pinto beans in taco salads or “meatloaf.” Or mash them up and use in anything from burgers to lasagna. If you don’t want to totally cut meat out, just replace half of it with beans to give your meal a fiber boost.
    • Starch swap. Beans can be a terrific substitute for traditional starches like rice, corn, or potatoes. Add to soups instead of potatoes, or to salads instead of pasta. If you’re feeling adventurous, a stir-fry served over beans instead of rice can mix things up for a weeknight dinner.
    • Moo-ve over dairy. Replace cream and milk in sauces and soups with pureed beans or bean flours. They make good bases and thickeners and also help reduce extra calories. Mashed beans can also stand in for cheese: for example, mashed white beans, seasoned with garlic and Italian herbs, are a tasty substitute for ricotta in lasagna.
    • Quick bean bites. When it comes to snacks, bean dip and hummus are old favorites. But you can also roast beans on a baking sheet for a crunchy snack; black beans with chipotle seasoning or white beans with curry powder are just two yummy combinations. A salad made with beans and chopped veggies, marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, also makes a nutritious and quick bite.
    • Sweet treats. It may be hard to believe, but pureed beans can be added to puddings, smoothies, and popsicles. They add a nice, thick texture and their flavor is undetectable. You can also replace other flours with bean flours to make your treats gluten-free and fiber-filled. Now that’s an indulgence you can take comfort in!

    Source: Health.com

  • Specialized Antioxidant May Improve Vascular Function in Older Adults

    Friday, September 06, 2019
    New Science
    Specialized Antioxidant May Improve Vascular Function in Older Adults

    As we age, our blood vessels gradually lose their ability to stretch and rebound. This process, known as vascular aging, is partially due to oxidative damage and arterial stiffening, caused in part by genetics and lifestyle factors. Luckily, researchers are always looking for ways to help us stay healthy as we age, and recently found that targeting free radicals produced by mitochondria—small organelles inside cells—with specific antioxidants improved vascular function. The preliminary trial included 20 healthy adults, ages 60 to 79, with reduced blood vessel flexibility, a sign of impaired vascular function. Researchers randomly assigned the participants to take 20 mg of a mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant (MitoQ®, a commercial supplement made with a special form of coenzyme Q10), or a placebo, daily for six weeks. Throughout the trial, researchers tested the participants’ vascular elasticity by measuring flexibility in the brachial artery, and stiffness of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Following a two-week washout period, the trial was repeated with the participants who had previously taken the antioxidant now taking the placebo, and vice versa. At the end of the two trials, researchers found that:

    • Measurements of brachial artery elasticity were an average of 42% higher after taking the antioxidant than after taking the placebo.
    • Aortic stiffness was more improved after the antioxidant than after the placebo.

    This study suggests this form of coenzyme Q10 could help slow vascular aging. Similar effects have been seen in animals, but clinical trials in humans are just beginning to take place. Future research will help determine whether specialized antioxidants like MitoQ® can effectively slow vascular aging. While we wait for such studies, other research indicates adopting lifestyle habits that help us maintain a low BMI and avoid diabetes are critical for keeping our blood vessels healthy as we age.

    Source: Hypertension

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.