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Blog posts tagged with 'folic acid'

Going Beyond the Numbers: Learn How You Can Support Good Cholesterol

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Going Beyond the Numbers: Learn How You Can Support Good CholesterolCholesterol has been a major focus of daily health for many years, especially when it comes to the heart. For a long time doctors and experts focused on a certain set of numbers based on LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels to assess heart health. But recent studies have shown that cholesterol management is more than just a numbers game.

A Change in Approach

Almost everyone who watches their cholesterol knows there are two different types: LDL, otherwise known as "bad cholesterol", and HDL, known as the "good cholesterol". According to the Mayo Clinic, acceptable ranges for LDL cholesterol consist of anything below 70 mg/dl while anything between 130 mg/dl and 159 mg/dl is borderline high. For the good HDL, the higher the number the better. Healthy ranges consist of anything between 40 mg/dl up to 60 mg/dl.

A recent report released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, however, gave updated insight into how other potential risk factors—not just cholesterol numbers—play a role in determining your cholesterol health. Cholesterol numbers by themselves sometimes don't always tell the full tale as the same numerical values can bear different meanings for different people.

In order to give a more accurate evaluation, doctors and health experts looked at other factors such as genetics, age, physical activity levels, diet, and blood sugar levels to assess what type of daily support an individual may need. Any one of these factors can raise your risk of heart concerns, which is why it's important not to focus on a single aspect, but rather the big picture of your well-being.

Ways You Can Influence Your Cholesterol Numbers

There are several controllable factors that you can engage in to support not just your cholesterol number readings, but other aspects that go into your health. Diet, for instance, can play a crucial role. Studies have shown that legumes can positively influence your cholesterol numbers. Foods like beans, nuts, peas, and lentils can cut cholesterol by 5%, which, in turn, can cut your risk factors for other heart health concerns by 5%, making a world of difference.

There are also supplementation options for a more natural approach to supporting cholesterol. The clinically tested Bergamot fruit continues to show promise for cholesterol health as well as balancing blood sugar levels. Other ingredients such as folic acid, omega-3 fish oil, and flaxseed have also shown the ability to provide positive daily support when it comes to managing cholesterol.

Depending on your personal variables, exercise is another often-cited factor in influencing cholesterol health. You don't have to dedicate yourself to workouts to see a difference, but adding 30–40 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts three-to-four times a week can support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure ranges according to the American Heart Association.

Other lifestyle components include resisting more obvious bad habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol, as well as not monitoring stress levels as they can impact blood pressure and your overall heart health.

It's More Than Just About the Numbers

While many people measure their cholesterol strictly by the numbers, there's much more to it than figures on a piece of paper. Your overall lifestyle—depending on how healthy or unhealthy it is—indirectly affects your heart. However, no matter your age, weight, gender, or family history, it's never too late to enact positive changes starting today that can bear great health rewards tomorrow.

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Changing Needs: A Focus on Age and Proper Nutrition

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Changing Needs: A Focus on Age and Proper NutritionMany people can recite the names of the most popular vitamins and prominent minerals such as vitamin A, D, calcium, and potassium. But are you getting enough each day? Many people are, in fact, missing some of the main nutrients needed to sustain healthy living—especially older adults. As diets change, the number of calories older adults absorb can drop. This can lead to a deficiency in some of the more vital nutrients that are needed for good health and increased longevity. To help you sustain ongoing health, here are some of the top nutrients you should look out for to help ensure that you’re getting the proper amounts.

Bones, Cells and Heart Health

Calcium is essential to supporting healthy bones and teeth. Bone development continues throughout adulthood, which is why your body needs a steady supply of calcium. Not getting enough calcium can lessen your bone density over time, leaving them brittle and making you more susceptible to falling and incurring injuries. Besides dairy products, broccoli and kale are also rich sources of calcium. You can also turn calcium supplementing into a treat by making a smoothie out of yogurt, fruit, and vegetables.

Along with helping maintain healthy nerve function, vitamin B12 helps in the formation of DNA, RNA, and red blood cells. B12 is especially important for older adults because they can’t absorb it as easily as younger people can. To get enough B12, eat plenty of fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and milk.

Folate, or folic acid, is another B vitamin (vitamin B9). Folic acid supplementation is recommended in pregnant women because adequate folate levels during pregnancy may help reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in babies. It has also been connected to protecting heart health and reducing risks of heart concerns later on in life. As one of the eight B-complex vitamins, folic acid helps convert the body’s food into fuel and is a crucial part of overall wellness.

Essential Nutrients for Internal Conditioning

Much has been written and debated about vitamin D. At its core it helps the body absorb calcium and is important to bone density, skin health, immune function, and many other processes in the body. While your skin is capable of producing some vitamin D when you’re exposed to the sun, many people do not spend enough time outdoors to satisfy the recommended daily value. Vitamin D amounts can vary by gender and age, but adults ages 19–70 should get, on average, at least 600 IU each day by remembering to step out in the sun or eating cereals, milk, and juices fortified with vitamin D.

Potassium is an electrolyte that helps your cells, tissues, and organs function properly. It is also connected to the electrical activity of the heart, and aids healthy blood pressure and kidney function. The daily requirement for potassium is 4,700 mg, which can be obtained from bananas, prunes, potatoes, dairy products, soy, and some fish.

While the body doesn’t need much magnesium, it still plays a crucial role in some 300 different processes in your body. Often associated with heart health, magnesium is also pertinent to a high-functioning immune system and bone health as 66% of the magnesium your body needs is stored in the bones. Although magnesium is found in many common foods such as grains and nuts, it is still estimated that people only get 66% of the necessary daily value. You can help make up for this deficit by eating more unprocessed foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, and seeds.

Keeping Well Fed and Watered

Your digestive tract has a lot of responsibilities that include nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and immune health. Fiber, which is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested by the body, aids the digestive system. It is also known for supporting heart health. The national recommendation for fiber is 30–38 grams a day for men and 25 grams a day for women ages 18–50.

The last area of nutrition that is often overlooked is hydration. Fluids are an important part of your diet; water being the most crucial. As you get older your sense of thirst can decline, but no matter what age you are, hydration is important for every process mentioned in the above paragraphs. It is often said that if food is your body’s fuel, then fluid is the coolant. Nutritionists recommend drinking 3–5 large glasses of water each day, or 8 glasses if you’re physically active.

Covering Your Bases of Nutrients

Sometimes keeping track of what your body needs can seem overwhelming. However, if you’ve already made the decision to eat healthier by managing your food groups and portions, you can easily figure out what vitamins and minerals you are getting enough of, and what areas you may need to focus on. Supplementation for many vitamins and minerals is always a viable option due to the various nature of different diets. Getting a wide variety of what you need, at each point in the aging process, however, is crucial to continued healthy living, and it starts with what you know.

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BPA Linked to Thyroid Hormone Changes

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BPA Linked to Thyroid Hormone ChangesBisphenol A, or BPA, the chemical compound that has gathered a lot of negative attention over the years due to its effects on neural health, has now been linked to changes in thyroid level hormones. The UC Berkeley study is one of the first to analyze the effects of BPA on pregnant women and newborn boys, and the results were alarming, to say the least.

BPA Affects Neural Health

Previous studies have linked BPA to blocking the conversion of folic acid into its active form called 5-MTHF, which is essential to neural health and supporting a healthier mood, concentration, and memory. For this reason, folic acid supplementation is highly encouraged in pregnant women to support the health of developing children. This latest study shows that increased BPA levels in pregnant women correspond to a decrease in their levels of thyroid hormone T4. Incidentally, the higher the BPA levels in the mothers, the more active were the thyroids in newborn boys. Thyroid hormones are crucial to brain development in young children as well as other aspects of growth such as metabolism, which is why it’s important for thyroid function to be neither overactive nor underactive to support proper growth and development.

More Manufacturers Cutting Back on BPA Use

The use of BPA in plastics manufacturing is so commonplace that up to 90% of American women have traces of BPA in their system. Up till recently BPA was used in everything from microwavable plastic containers to water bottles to sales receipts. Even dental sealants and the preservative lining of canned foods have BPA. In July, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the use of BPA in manufacturing plastic baby bottles and cups. Some states, such as California, are also enforcing tougher restrictions on how much BPA can be used in manufacturing plastics. These tougher restrictions have led to certain manufacturers, such as Campbell’s soup, to completely ban the use of BPA in their products. With increasing awareness on the dangers of BPA to health, and more manufacturers stepping up and admitting the potential dangers of this chemical, younger generations can hopefully look towards a future where BPA will no longer be used in any items associated with food or drink.

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Effects of BPA May Stick Around Long After You’re Gone

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Effects of BPA May Stick Around Long After You’re GoneIf you own a lot of plastic products, you may have heard a lot of negative buzz about a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. BPA is popular in the plastics industry for manufacturing transparent bottles, food containers, receipt paper, gardening tools, and lining the inside of canned goods. The plastic industry loves BPA because of its diverse number of uses. Unfortunately, BPA isn’t so good for your health, and it’s estimated that almost 93% of Americans have traces of it in their systems. BPA is able to enter your body because it’s sensitive to extreme temperature variations: Extreme cold (such as freezing) or extreme heat (heating a container in a microwave or leaving a water bottle out in the sun) can cause BPA to become unstable, allowing small amounts to seep into whatever food or drink you have stored in that plastic container. You can also absorb BPA through handling store receipts or plastic tools that have been heated in the sun all day.

How Does BPA Affect You?

Every day your body absorbs trace amounts of toxins that your immune and digestive systems help filter out. The problem with BPA, however, is that it isn’t just any old chemical—BPA is a type of compound that’s known as an endocrine disruptor. In layman’s terms, this means that BPA is able to fool your body into thinking that it’s a hormone (such as estrogen) and it can have disruptive consequences. Worse still, prolonged BPA absorption can mutate your genes and this mutation can be passed on to your children and your children’s children. Several studies have shown that the main consequence of BPA contamination is a mutation which affects how you absorb folic acid. This B vitamin is essential to developmental health and can usually be obtained from leafy greens, which is why pregnant women are often advised to load up on folic acid to support proper growth and development of their unborn babies. Before folic acid can be used by your body, an enzyme called 5-MTHFR needs to break it down to a usable form called 5-MTHF. This is relatively simple process, if your genes are normal and able to produce 5-MTHFR. Mutated genes, however, aren’t able to break down folic acid into 5-MTHF, so even if you’re taking double or triple the required daily amounts, you may not be absorbing any of it.

Low Folic Acid Linked to a Number of Health Challenges

So one less vitamin in your diet doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Wrong. Numerous studies have linked low folic acid levels to low moods, anxiety, sleeplessness, trouble focusing, weight gain, and even behavioral problems in some infants. In fact, the health challenges associated with low folic acid levels are so numerous that BPA is already banned in Europe and Canada. Some U.S. states are following suit by initiating statewide bans on BPA bottles and baby goods, too. The good news is that many manufacturers are becoming more conscientious of the concerns that the public has over BPA in plastics and many non-BPA-containing plastic products are also available. As a consumer, it’s your right to be picky about what you consume, so insist on all your plastics to be BPA free for the sake of your health and future generations.

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