Tag Archives: vitamins and minerals

What You Need to Know about Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia has been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibro myositis, and fibrositis. It is a recently named syndrome that affects 3% to 5% of the general population. It occurs in people of all ages and consists of several different and debilitating symptoms that affect a persons’ physical, mental, and social life. Men are affected but more women are diagnosed. Those with severe symptoms find it difficult or impossible to do even the most basic everyday tasks and up to ¼ of those diagnosed are work disabled. The first drug treatment for fibromyalgia was approved in 2007 and more is being learned every day.

 Symptoms for fibromyalgia include deep excruciating pain all over the body especially in the muscles, insomnia, sleeplessness and sleep disorders, fatigue, brain fog, memory and concentration problems, irritable bowel syndrome, abnormal pain processing, headaches and migraines, jaw pain, nerve pain and weakness, depression, and anxiety. People also experience tender spots and muscle knots which radiate pain and can severely restrict movement.

To diagnose fibromyalgia can be a tricky since the patient looks healthy and tests came back normal. Diagnosis has also been controversial because there is no one thing that points to, nor is there one test that can be performed to come to a simple diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

It was once thought that the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia were all in the person’s head and was not fully accepted as a diagnosis until the 1990’s. Some symptoms can be very similar to other syndromes and diseases so doctors will use a process of eliminating other causes and following certain diagnostic criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990. This criteria includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body, meaning above and below your waist and on both sides of your body, for a minimum of 3 months and pain in 11 out of the 18 specially chosen tender points when a specific amount of pressure is applied.

There is no specific known cause although some theories indicate physical and emotional trauma in childhood, stress, disruption of normal dopamine-related neurotransmission, abnormal serotonin metabolism, abnormal levels of tryptophan and a protein involved in transmitting pain signals from the nerves to the brain called substance P, deficiencies in growth hormone secretion, vitamin deficiencies such as B and D, and genetic predisposition among others.

 Relief from fibromyalgia comes from treating the symptoms individually rather than the syndrome as a whole. Some drugs are helpful in relieving symptoms but lose their effectiveness over time and have uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. The best way to get relief is by combining the many options out there such as dietary changes, pain medications, high-quality nutritional supplements, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, stretching, counseling, support groups, and for a time if necessary the dangerous ones, anti-depressants and sleep drugs.

The best and most fundamental way to find relief is through nutrition. There is documented evidence and scientific proof that nutrition is the way to heal our bodies. The problem is pharmaceutical companies and government make big money off all these drugs that come with a laundry list of side effects worse than the malady they mask.

Fibromyalgia and diet go hand-in-hand. The first thing to do is to stay away from processed foods and food preservatives, caffeine, coffee, caffeinated tea, soda, a lot of red meat (your body needs some), chocolate/cocoa, alcohol, fried foods, white flour, sugar, gluten, wheat, yeast, high fat dairy products, salt, nutra-sweet and saccharine, and smoking.

The next thing to do is add nutrition; take into account the food you eat along with supplements. Eat 5 to 6 smaller meals through the day that include more raw and steamed vegetables, fatty fish and seafood (be careful of contaminants), yogurt, soups, beans, legumes, simple proteins like chicken, fresh garlic, and nuts such as almonds. Drink lots of water and get a juicer to make your own fresh juice. Reduce your fat intake but do not go to the extreme with a diet too low in fat; fat is needed for muscles to work properly and provides energy.

Nutritional supplements are important because they provide your body with specific nutrients too difficult to get through diet alone especially when you are deficient to begin with. Because there are so many parts of the body affected by fibromyalgia, there are many different supplements that your body will benefit form. Here is a list of important supplements that could help control symptoms of fibromyalgia.

A vitamin/mineral supplement is important to start with. For immune support antioxidants are essential; up to 10,000 mg daily of vitamin C, 400 IU to 800 IU daily of vitamin E (if you have high blood pressure, limit E to 400 IU daily or if you are taking a blood thinner consult your doctor before supplementing with E), 200 micrograms selenium, some suggest up to 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily of beta-carotene daily (if you are pregnant or have liver disease ask your doctor before taking a lot of beta-carotene which is pre-vitamin A), quercetin, and grape seed extracts such as those in VIVIX, to start with.

For improved muscle and nerve function, as well as relaxation and to control anxiety and pain, just 500 mg of magnesium inhibits nerve receptors linked to the trigger point pain and regulates the release of neuro-hormones, which relieves muscle tension and spasms, as well as restlessness, tics and twitches (if you have heart or kidney problems double check with your doctor what amount of magnesium you should supplement with, if any).

In today’s world, we are almost all of us magnesium deficient because of the way industrial farming has stripped our soil of nutrients including and most importantly magnesium. One of the best ways to alleviate this deficiency without supplements is: 2 Cups Epsom Salts, 1 Cup baking soda in a hot bathtub. The Epsom salts deliver magnesium to the body while the baking soda is used to neutralize the chemicals in the water if you don’t have filtered water throughout the house. You can even put in a few drops of lavender oil for relaxation. This will help get magnesium into the system as well as detoxify the body. Make sure to rinse off in a luke-warn shower while draining the tub. Relax afterward and drink water that is not too cold.

For energy, mood management and nerve function B complex helps bring oxygen to cells, works closely with folic acid to make red blood cells, improve energy, and prevent anemia, memory loss, nerve damage, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Folic acid is usually deficient in fibromyalgia patients, this leads to depression and makes Prozac treatment less effective; which is a common antidepressant given to fibromyalgia patients. Coenzyme Q10 helps deliver oxygen to cells. To help with joint aches, anti-inflammatory, and pain alfalfa, EPA, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and quercetin. As well as fiber, protein, zinc, pro and pre-biotics, GLA essential fatty acid, calcium, vitamin D, bioflavonoids, and lecithin for cognitive function.

Eat small nutritious meals, take supplements, allow yourself many breaks, stretch often, apply hot and/or cold packs, do relaxation exercises, massage therapy, seek out a group who knows what you’re going through. While there is no single cure or treatment for fibromyalgia, treatment of the symptoms can go a long way in finding relief. Not too long ago fibromyalgia was thought of as something in people’s heads, now there is a path to treatment. More studies are being done and soon maybe a single cause can be found and treated.

How to lower Cholesterol naturally?

Our heart is an amazing muscle. It supplies nutrients and oxygen to all our vital organs and body parts. It beats on average 100,000 times a day and pumps the equivalent of 2,000 gallons of blood each day. With all the work our hearts do it seems only logical we should take care of it as well as it takes care of us. Yet in most of the country, the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death is coronary heart disease also known as coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs when a substance made up of cholesterol deposits called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, pretty much the same as what happens to our home plumbing pipes. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time, this is called atherosclerosis. A heart attack occurs when plaque totally blocks an artery carrying blood to the heart.

We eat foods high in saturated fats, like fast food instead of natural home cooked meals. We drink soft drinks or sports drinks instead of water. We pass over the veggies for starchy foods or end up slathering them in high fat dip. We eat until our stomachs feel like they are going to burst or continue to eat 3 or more helpings in the buffet line. We even choose candy bars and other sweets instead of reaching for fruits to satisfy our cravings. In moderation and with limitations these “treats” are not necessarily bad for us; but the amounts we consume on a normal basis are usually larger portions than we need. It is also contributing to one of the unhealthiest societies where teenage obesity is up along with childhood diabetes.

We can change how and what we eat; we can choose the healthier foods and smaller portions sizes. We can cut back on alcohol and get reasonable amounts of exercise. Quitting smoking and eating a diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fish, non-fat or low-fat dairy products and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can also make a significant difference. Some things we cannot change; such as, older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD (cardiovascular disease) but we may be able to impact these areas in beneficial ways.

Studies have shown the maintaining of normal cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and including vitamin D, CoQ10, garlic, magnesium, fiber and Omega fatty acids in our diets promote cardiovascular health. Important helpers are magnesium and vitamin D. Why are these supplements important?

  • CoQ10 – Helps produce energy in each cell, particularly those in the heart and other major organs. Since it has powerful antioxidant properties, it helps prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation. Although the human body can synthesize CoQ10, in some situations the body’s capacity to produce CoQ10 isn’t sufficient to meet its needs. CoQ10 levels reach their peak in the human body by age 20 and fall slowly thereafter.

 

  • Garlic – Studies show that garlic promotes cardiovascular health by helping to retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally when used as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has been shown to be  responsible for many beneficial actions, including the support for the maintenance of healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms.

Source of fiber

  • Fiber – There are two types of fiber in foods and we need both. Insoluble fiber, found in the outer layer of grains such as wheat bran, promote a healthy digestive system and colon health. Heart health benefits come from soluble fiber, the type of fiber found in oats and apples. Increasing soluble fiber intake helps naturally lower blood cholesterol and blood-sugar levels.

 

  • Omega fatty acids – Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Research also shows that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health and help retain normal blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Omega-3s also support healthy brain, vision, and joint function.

  

  • Magnesium – A major helper in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular activity, temperature regulation, detoxification reactions, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Magnesium also increases oxygenation of the heart muscle by improving how it contracts and moves and is involved in energy production and the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

 

  • Vitamin D – Researchers have linked low vitamin D intakes to osteoporosis or brittle bones, high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. As such, the scientific community is advocating higher intake of vitamin D to address the suboptimal vitamin D blood levels found in many Americans.

 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends adding 2,000mg of PHYTOSTEROLS to your diet each day to lower cholesterol levels naturally. Plant phytosterols have been clinically proven by more than 80 studies to lower LDL cholesterol.  Phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines, leaving cholesterol behind. This means the more Phytosterols you have; the less cholesterol is absorbed by the body and the better your chances for lowering your LDL cholesterol.

Shaklee PHYTOCOL-ST is a proprietary formulation with clinically proven ingredients that help block the absorption of cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol. It made with a powerful blend of phytosterols, which are found naturally in plants, fruits, vegetables, and grains. It delivers 2,000 mg of plant phytosterols daily or 100% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendation for phytosterols.  It has no added preservatives, colors, flavors or sweeteners.

Being healthy isn’t something that just happens; we have to work at it. Finding the right kind of help can make all the difference in how we live and feel. Reducing cholesterol naturally by watching what we put into our bodies will go a long way in our overall level of health.

Why Take a Vitamin E Supplement?

Vitamin E is our number one fat soluble antioxidant and the first defence against lipid peroxidation. Vitamin E protects against the damage and breakdown of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which we will call PUFA for short, that are predominant in our cell membranes. E is also essential in cancer prevention by protecting cell DNA from free radical attack. It is also of note that the type of E is very important; there is a natural form and a synthetic form of E.

The natural form of E is called d-alpha-tocopherol and the synthetic is called dl-alpha-tocopherol. In a study of men taking the natural form of E compared with men taking the synthetic form; the blood level results showed that the level of E was higher in men taking the natural form. Why is this the case? Availability, plain and simple.

The body uses the d or natural form much more efficiently than the dl or synthetic form. The letters d, “dextro” means right and l, “levo” means left and they have to do with the direction a beam of polarized light rotates when it passes through a natural and synthetic solution of vitamin E. Polarized light is light that is reflected or transmitted through certain media so that all vibrations are restricted to a single plane and not at random. The body prefers the natural d form. Using a synthetic form of E is like putting a right handed glove on a left hand. It will work but not as well.

Requirements vary on the amounts of vitamin E needed based on exposure to free radicals and if there are high levels of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) in your diet. The Daily Value (DV) for E is a mere 30 IU. The minimal amount for optimal disease protection is 400 IU. A study by Dr. Lawrence Machlin and co-workers at the Cornell Medical School showed that healthy people could take up to 3,200 IU a day and not have any problems.

A summary of 15 excellent studies on vitamin E reported reduction in the incidence of cancers of the breast, intestines, stomach, lung, colon, pancreas, liver and oral cavity. Add to that the fact that low blood levels of both the co-factor selenium and E seems to increase breast cancer 10 times that of normal and two times as much if you have a low level of just E in your blood, and you have all kinds of reasons to look further into the benefits of E.

Studies have shown that those with the highest levels of vitamin E have lower rates of heart disease and certain cancers. For instance; two prominent teaching hospitals followed 87,000 women for eight years. Those who took the most antioxidants had the lowest rate of heart disease. In fact those with the highest levels of vitamin E had an astounding 41% protection from heart disease. This was published in the New England Journal of Medicine along with another study indicating that for the most part the results also applied to men.

The problem is the amount needed to prevent these diseases is practically impossible to attain from the diet alone. Food sources for vitamin E include: fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and other oils, turnip, collard, mustard and other greens, beets, collard, tomatoes, pine nuts, peanut butter, wheat germ, avocado, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes, broccoli, and asparagus to name a few. Most of these foods are eaten in small quantities at a time. Try to incorporate these foods into other dishes you normally prepare. Explore your grocery store’s seasonings aisle and buy spices and herbs to add flavour and a health boost to your food instead of just salt and pepper.

Supplementation is also a consistent way to add extra doses of this important antioxidant. Buy only the natural form of E noted by a d before the form of E listed.

Other vitamin E actions:

  • May slow aging of the cells
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Protects against some toxic pollutants in the environment
  • Needed to form red blood cells
  • Supports healthy skin and lung function

What Nutrition you should take to Protect Your Eyes?

Have you ever thought about your eyes? We rely on them every day, but do we really appreciate them and take care of them like we should? We know that eating fresh organic produce and natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids keep your body and skin healthy and slim. Is there any nutrition that can do the same for your eyes? The answer is YES!

Recent research was done on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts and what foods and supplements could affect the prevention and treatment of eye disease. To get some answers researchers looked at a couple of key studies: Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2. In the first study researchers noted the effect of 5 key nutrients on eye health.

The five key nutrients on eye health

  1. Vitamin C  (500 mg) – Vitamin C is highly concentrated in your eye’s lens and has many healing benefits
  2. Vitamin E (400 IU as alpha tocopherol) – Vitamin E protects against oxidation (oxidation as in rust) and free radical damage. Additionally, higher intakes of vitamin E have been found to increase concentrations within the retina.
  3. Beta-carotene (15 mg) – Beta-carotene also helps prevent oxidation
  4. Zinc (80 mg) – Zinc has been tied to many enzymatic metabolic functions within the retina. This likely explains its high concentrations within the retina itself
  5. Copper (2 mg) – Copper is needed to offset the copper depletion that can happen with increased zinc.

AREDS found that these nutrients lowered the risk for AMD in those patients at the greatest risk for developing the disease. Additionally, a study performed in the Netherlands found that people taking above average dietary intake of the AREDS nutrients had a 56% reduced risk of AMD, while those with below average intake had a 33% increased risk.

With AREDS2, researchers created a five-year, multicenter, randomized trial of nearly 4,000 participants between the ages of 50 and 85. The study began in 2008 and focuses on four key nutrients:

  1. Lutein (10 mg) – Lutein is a carotenoid found in colorful fruits and vegetables, namely yellow and orange foods, as well as leafy green veggies. Has long been known to help prevent AMD, especially when those nutrients are consumed in the form of foods such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Other additional studies have shown that lutein in particular helps to improve macular pigment density, as well as significantly improve visual acuity and retinal function. It also helped to slow the progression of AMD.
  2. Zeaxanthin (2 mg) – Zeaxanthin is also a carotenoid found in colorful fruits and vegetables, namely yellow and orange foods, as well as leafy green veggies. It has also long been known to help prevent AMD, especially when those nutrients are consumed in the form of foods such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
  3. DHA (350 mg) – DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in cold-water fish.help to reduce inflammation and regulate the genetic expression of retinal cells. Of the omega 3-fatty acids, DHA seems to play the bigger role in eye health. There is significant concentration of DHA is both the brain and retina cells’ membranes. If fact, it is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the macula (the center part of the retina), as well as the periphery of the retina.
  4. EPA (650mg) – EPA is also an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in cold-water fish. It helps to reduce inflammation and regulate the genetic expression of retinal cells.

Other Nutrients for Eye Health:

  1. B vitamins – With B vitamins, long-term, daily use of 2.5 mg of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6, and 1 mg of vitamin B12 reduced the risk of mild AMD by 40%.
  2. Vitamin D3  – 604 IU of vitamin D (from both food and supplements) reduced risk of early AMD.

When it comes to omega-3s overall, studies have shown that these polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce the risk of AMD by up to 38% when taken in high amounts, either as supplements or fish. Other studies have shown that eating fish at least once a week was associated with a 40% reduction in age-related maculopathy.

What’s really interesting is that a fairly recent study found that DHA supplementation alone increased the density of central macular pigment, while lutein alone increased macular pigment density around the fovea (the center of the macula). When taken in combination, increases were seen in both areas.

Cataracts and Antioxidants

It has long been established that a primary factor in the development of cataracts is oxidative damage to the lens. For this reason, much of the research surrounding nutrition and cataracts includes the use of antioxidants.

In the Nurses’ Health and Beaver Dam Eye Studies, researchers found that women/people who:

  • Took a vitamin C supplement for 10 years or more had significantly lower incidence of cataracts.
  • Used vitamin E supplements for five years also enjoyed reduced progression of cataracts.
  • Used a multivitamin that contained vitamins C or E for more than 10 years had a 60 percent lower likelihood of developing cataracts.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin also seem to play a role in protecting against cataracts. One study found that a higher intake of foods containing these two nutrients was associated with a reduced likelihood of developing cataracts.
  • Similarly, the Nurses’ Health Study found that women who had high daily intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin (11.7 mg) had a 22 percent reduction in cataract risk.

Here are some things you can do for your diet:

  • Eat the rainbow. Focus on yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
  • Dig into eggs. The yolks are rich in lutein.
  • Think seafood. Aim for at least two to three servings of wild-caught, cold-water fish per week.
  • Enjoy citrus fruits and berries. These are great sources of vitamin C.
  • Go Nuts. Nuts and seeds are good sources of Vitamin E.

On the supplement front:

  • Folate (up to 2.5 mg)
  • Vitamin B6 (up to 2.2 mg)
  • Vitamin B12 (up to 1 mg)
  • Vitamin C (360 to 500 mg)
  • Vitamin E (400 IU)
  • Vitamin D3 (600 IU)
  • Beta-carotene (up to 15 mg)
  • Lutein (10 to 15 mg)
  • Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
  • DHA and EPA (1,000 mg combined)

What supplements to take for stress?

Stress comes in many forms and is something we all must deal with. Positive stress gets us moving and doing something, negative stress breaks down our bodies. Unfortunately, negative stress is what we deal with the most. Whether it is from our environments, sickness, our thoughts, or actions, stress puts such a strain on us that we start to feel the effects physically.

When the body is under stress, more free radicals are produced. Free radicals are incomplete and unstable molecules that seek to balance themselves by taking what it needs from other cells. The only thing to stop them is to give them what they need by making sure there is a balance of antioxidants to free radicals. When stress hits, more free radicals are produced by the body, so extra antioxidants can be of great value in stress relief management.

Supporting your body’s defences by getting as many different nutrients as you can from your food is very important in dealing with stress. Many times during stress we have a tendency to over-eat, under-eat, take medication, drink or any number of destructive behaviours. This taxes an already overly worked system and more problems may arise. Binging on healthy foods is okay, but bewares of over processed and heavily preserved junk that contains a lot of sugar.

Getting the basic nutrition we need is difficult today because of the way we eat. Most of the time we eat for taste, not nutrition. It has to be fast and taste the same every time. If we do eat healthy, we have to understand that the nutritional content of our foods is less than what it were 50 or even 30 years ago. Because of this, “basic nutrition” is not what it used to be; we simply cannot get it all from our food. Taking a high quality multivitamin is a good and healthy place to start but by no means the only place.

Stress can be helped by giving our bodies extra support where it needs it most. This means targeting certain areas and using supplements to fill in our dietary holes. Vitamins such as B-Complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin-A, vitamin D3, Calcium, Zinc and others support the areas stress depletes. This article is a comprehensive list of vitamins and supplements you can take to help your body fight stress. You may need them all; or you may only need to add one or two to your daily routine.

If you choose not to supplement, make sure you are getting as much nutrition as possible from what you eat, but realize you may still be deficient. And never underestimate what a consistent good night sleep can do for you. You need to allow your body time to rest and repair itself. The power of a positive attitude can go a long way to reducing stress. Sometimes you need to change the way you see things in order to live longer and healthier.

Supplements for Stress

“Stress” Fighter

B-Complex

One of the most important groups of stress fighters are the B vitamins. These water soluble vitamins help regulate metabolic function and are essential in making sure the nervous and immune systems are able to work productively. One important factor in the B vitamins is, they are depleted by stress and since our bodies cannot produce B vitamins, we must get it from our food or another source.

There are eight members of the B family all of which work together. Each helps the other do a better job. If one or another B vitamin is producing an effect you want, do not increase that single B vitamin. For best results you need increase the whole group of B vitamins. The problem is, stress depletes B vitamins, so more is needed during those times.

B vitamins are essential in the synthesis of DNA and new cells. The B vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12) promote a healthy cardiovascular system by helping to lower homocysteine levels in the blood. B vitamins work to help metabolize energy from carbohydrates, fat, and protein, it aids in the synthesis of DNA and new cells and is essential to initiate nerve transmission.

There are other things Bs are critical for like being essential for growth and development, releasing energy from our foods, regulating hormones, helping to form red blood cells, help form neurotransmitters and steroid hormones, greatly aids the immune system, is involved in cell reproduction, helps depression, and it is vital to mental health.

Symptoms of low B vitamins include increased fatigue, heightened anxiety, being overly irritable, and sickness. You can get some of your B vitamins from fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, whole grains, lentils, potatoes, chili peppers, bananas, leafy green vegetables, and fish. If you choose to supplement choose a high quality supplement like Shaklee’s B-Complex.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an immune system booster and powerful antioxidant. It is important in helping our bodies deal with stress because all the functions it is vital for takes a beating when stress is involved. C is used by the body to regulate the function of the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and other stress hormones such as epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, which is a neurotransmitter. The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. Therefore it is important to include plenty of vitamin C containing foods in your daily diet.

Vitamin C is also required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

C detoxifies harmful chemicals, is essential for tissue growth, development and repair, has lowered cholesterol, aids in bone formation by helping to absorb calcium, reduces inflammation, promotes tissue repair, can lower the risk of stroke, is necessary for the formation of cartilage and collagen (the glue that holds cells together), keeps hair, skin and nails healthy, helps aid in the absorption of iron, “recharges” the fat-soluble vitamin E so it can fight another day, and helps restore stress hormones.

C could be considered our major antioxidant because it is involved in so many conditions believed to be caused by free radicals. Vitamin C helps to counter the effects of these cell-damaging molecules. Free radical toxins are formed by our bodies and are present in everyday situations. They cause deterioration of our immune system, leading to many common ailments and afflictions. In many cases, Vitamin C is made more effective when taken with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, flavonoids, and carotenoids.

Eating fresh fruits and veggies are a great way to get this vitamin, just plan on eating a lot throughout the day. Common sources include papaya, red bell peppers, tomatoes, hot green chilies, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges and all citrus fruits, strawberries, parsley, kale, mustard greens, spinach, cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelon, winter squash, onions, oregano, garlic and certain raw organ meats such as liver and heart. Incorporating as much of these foods as you can into your diet in fresh and interesting ways will keep you in better health. Taking a high-quality vitamin C supplement is a sure way to keep up on your vitamin C.

For the most benefit take at least 500mg a day, but 10,000mg and more has been suggested and tried with no adverse side effects. Of course if you are going to take a lot of C you should spread it out through the day, too much at once can cause diarrhea and stomach upset. If you are already taking nitrate medications for heart disease, you will want to talk to your doctor about taking a lot of vitamin C, a large amount can make them less effective.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is not only an amazingly diverse and important vitamin but also a hormone. Recent research shows that vitamin D—the “sunshine vitamin”—offers a multitude of benefits including supporting healthy heart function, immune and bone health. Vitamin D is responsible for the regulation of over 2,000 genes in your body.

But, most of the people nowadays may have insufficient levels of this essential nutrient. The older you are, the more vitamin D you need. With age, your body becomes less efficient in converting vitamin D to a form it can use. People with darker skin are more susceptible to having insufficient vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is present in certain fish and fortified foods such as cow’s milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. However, it is difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamin D through diet alone.

The absolute best way to get vitamin D is through direct sunlight on your skin. It’s the most natural way to acquire your D, and your body self-regulates the amount you receive. But due to insufficient exposure to sunlight, people who live farther from the equator have a greater risk of having insufficient vitamin D levels than those who live near it. Even weak sunscreens (SPF 8) can inhibit vitamin D production by up to 95%.

Vitamin A

Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble antioxidant, important when dealing with stress because of the vital functions it performs also being vital for immune systems because it keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist. Membranes that are healthy stay moist and resistant to cell damage. it helps the body to build up resistance to respiratory and other infections, making it a key nutrient to have during times of increased stress.

It is a member of over 380 compounds called carotenoids. Carotenoids help give the distinctive deep-colour vegetables their colours. Beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A (which is retinol) in the body as the body needs it; so beta-carotene is pre-vitamin A. Another bonus with beta-carotene is that it’s not toxic even at high levels like vitamin A can be.

Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant by helping to protect our cells by supporting skin-cell turnover; the process that keeps cell growth and development running efficiently. As a free radical fighter beta-carotene goes after a couple of free radicals for which no enzyme system exists. It is also unique in that it is not destroyed or made inactive when it quenches a free radical. It is also very effective at interrupting oxidant chain reactions spreading from one molecule to another

Some natural sources of vitamin A or beta-carotene are pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, winter squash, broccoli, apricots, spinach, collard greens, red peppers and blueberries. Kale is another green that cannot be ignored, along with spinach, broccoli and collard greens. If these do not look appetizing, try a beta-carotene supplement. The carotenoids in CarotoMax® are powerful, fat-soluble antioxidants that have been implicated in the long-term health of the eyes, prostate, cervix, lungs, and heart, and provides potent antioxidant protection for lipid-rich areas of cells.

Calcium

When stress hits, it can cause your body to deplete calcium. Your body uses calcium up and can’t absorb it properly. Proper calcium absorption is vital to help retain normal blood pressure, assist in muscle contraction and nerve transmission, help reduce PMS symptoms such as bloating, cramps, water retention, irritability, and moodiness, support healthy heart function, immune health, healthy cell development, along with supporting colon, breast and prostate health, and maintaining of strong bones and teeth.

Combining vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, boron, zinc, copper, manganese and other trace minerals with calcium gives it the support it needs to build bone density when you are young and minimize bone loss as you age. Too much calcium running unabsorbed through the bloodstream can cause kidney stones, inflammation and arthritis, and hardening of the arteries. This is why just taking a Tums for calcium can be dangerous if you are not getting enough trace minerals from other sources.

Eating foods such as non-fat yogurt, cheeses like Romano, Swiss, part-skim Ricotta, cottage, cheddar and Parmesan, fortified cereal, soy milk, milk, fish like sardines or salmon, tofu, soybeans, leafy green veggies like broccoli, kale, collard greens, and spinach, nuts like peanuts and almonds, blackstrap molasses, oranges, black beans, baked beans, black eyed peas, green peas and corn tortillas as a part of your normal diet will go a long way to improving your calcium intake.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an extremely powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, which supports heart, brain, and prostate health and promotes lung, colon, and immune function. Antioxidants are nutrients which block the damage of free radicals in the body. Vitamin E is also essential for normal fertility and reproductive systems, as well as contributing to increased energy levels.

The following are just some foods are rich in vitamin E: Wheat germ oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Nuts and nut oils, like almonds and hazelnuts Green leafy vegetables, like lettuce, spinach, turnip, beet, collard, and dandelion greens Tomato products, Mangoes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Papayas and Avocados  Fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, and garlic are all good sources of selenium.

The amount of selenium in vegetables is dependent on the selenium content of the soil. Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ, both considered “health foods,” are also good sources of selenium.

Zinc

Nature’s metabolic workhorse Zinc is present in all cells in the body. As part of enzyme reactions, zinc is involved in such diverse biochemical activities as protein digestion, amino acid metabolism, energy production, bone metabolism, vitamin A utilization, and insulin production. Zinc is necessary for growth and development, and to maintain normal immune function. It is also important for the synthesis of protein and the genetic material DNA.

Adding supplemental zinc to the diets of students led to improvements in both memory and attention span, according to preliminary research conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Centre in North Dakota. In the study, kids given 20 mg of zinc five days a week for 10 to 12 weeks performed better on memory tasks and had longer attention spans than those who did not receive zinc supplements.

Zinc plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body. It is required for the enzyme activities necessary for cell division, cell growth, and wound healing. It plays a role in the acuity of the senses of smell and taste. Zinc is also involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates.

High-protein foods contain high amounts of zinc. Beef, pork, and lamb contain more zinc than fish. The dark meat of a chicken has more zinc than the light meat. Other good sources of zinc are peanuts, peanut butter, and legumes.

Fruits and vegetables are not good sources, because zinc in plant proteins is not as available for use by the body as the zinc from animal proteins. Therefore, low-protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in zinc.

Bottom Line

When stress hits, it effects many aspects of health. Over taxed adrenal glands and constantly high cortisol levels create free radicals that attack without mercy. Have you ever experienced a stress related melt-down? You know, grabbing your hair and screaming wildly while you vent your frustrations? Or are you more the type who keeps stress in? You know, never getting outwardly upset but inside screaming your head off?

Many of us need to find better ways to deal with the stresses of life before getting to the raving lunatic stage. I would love to have a spotless house all the time. I used to get upset that the house did not look the way I wanted it too. I had the extra stress and melt downs, etc. But, thankfully, I realized, it’s just a house; other things more important, like the kids making memories.

When I changed my attitude and perception about the house, my stress level went way down. What am I saying? Not only does nutrition play a crucial role in our health, our minds and thoughts do, too. Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from situations, places or people to be able to relax and get a proper perspective.

Dealing with stress can take many roads, but the foundational one we all need to be on is the one called Nutrition. Try the natural approach first; you will be surprised at how good you feel.

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