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Blog posts tagged with 'vitamins'

The Missing Part to a Balanced Diet

Fruits and VegetablesAre You Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies?

As adults, it’s time to take responsibility – and realize that our parents may have been onto something when they said to finish our greens. Unfortunately, too many have us haven’t taken that advice to heart. Recent studies have shown that only 1 in 10 Americans meet the federal fruit and vegetable recommendations. You usually need 1½ to 2 cups per day for fruit and 2 to 3 cups for vegetables. Yet only 9% of adults eat enough vegetables, and 12% even get enough fruit. If you’re one of those adults skipping past the salad bar, it’s time to take action.

The Missing Part to a Balanced Diet

There’s a reason you should care about fruits and vegetables. Many important vitamins and minerals are in these food types more than others. Potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate are just some of the more common nutrients that you can mainly get from plant-based food, and are beneficial to the body. For example, potassium can help maintain blood pressure. Folate builds up the red blood cells while helps stave off birth defects in pregnant women. Vitamin A promotes healthier eyes and skin, vitamin E protects from free-radicals, and vitamin C supports healthier gums and helps the body absorb iron. 

One other vital nutrient is fiber, and you get plenty of that from fruits and vegetables. Fiber is perfect for weight management, as it helps you feel full faster, while also lowering your blood cholesterol. It is also important for a healthy digestive system for regular bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables are also quite low in fat, sodium and calories, another great use for weight management.

But perhaps one of the most important aspects of this food group is their richness in phytonutrients – which are certain extracts that are only available in fruits and vegetables. 

Getting Your Share of PhytonutrientsFruits and Vegetables

Phytonutrients are known as the protective effects on fruits and vegetables, and many have shown their worth in helping ward off health complications in our own bodies. These phytonutrients are what gives fruits and vegetables their taste, scent and color. As many work like antioxidants, fruits and vegetables can very well protect your body from free-radicals and keep your cells healthy. Some examples of phytonutrients are:

Carotenoids: Present in carrots, broccoli and spinach, carotenoids are antioxidants that give these foods their bright colors. This phytonutrient is a boon to the immune system, while also showing positive impact for good eye health. 

Capsaicin: Peppers are rich in this nutrient and have shown benefits in reducing clotting for better heart health.

Curcumin: A phytonutrient that is rich in the turmeric spice. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as antioxidant, that is commonly used in joint health.



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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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Stay Up on Skin Health This Summer with These Super Foods

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Stay Up on Skin Health This Summer with These Super FoodsThe start of summer is upon us and with it comes the opportunity to enjoy trips to the beach, picnics, hikes, and other fun outdoor activities. If you plan on soaking in the sun and getting that tanned look or if you're outside for any other reason, remember to pay attention to skin health. Protection against UV rays is important and you should carry sunscreen with you at all times to avoid serious burns. There are, however, some super foods that can also help protect and support the health of your skin from the inside.

Add Some Antioxidants to the Mix

Fruits and summertime go together like wine and cheese. Besides being great for hydration, fruits can provide other nutrients that are beneficial to skin health. Watermelon, for instance, is made up of 90% water and great for those hot afternoons in the sun. But it also contains vitamin C, which is crucial for your body's continuous production of collagen—the main building block of skin cells. Vitamin C's antioxidant and immune support properties make it the perfect weapon against free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to skin and other organs. Berries can be another go-to source for preventing oxidative damage to your skin. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries…take your juicy pick. These antioxidant-rich summer soldiers can provide your body—and especially your skin—protection against free radicals. If citrus fruits are more along your line of taste, you can also get your fill of vitamin C from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Squeeze the latter two into your water to not only enjoy a refreshing drink, but an extra splash of vitamin C and its collagen-building benefits. Some of these citrus fruits also have other collagen-producing ingredients such as the amino acids proline and lysine that can promote firmer and more supple-looking skin. Not to be outdone, pineapples contain a compound called bromelain. Studies have found that bromelain helps ease inflammation, which may come in handy if you are experiencing any discomfort from sunburn.

Are They Fruits or Vegetables?

While there may be some debate whether tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits or vegetables (technically, they are fruits because they bear seeds) there is no debate about their health benefits, especially for your skin. Tomatoes contain lycopene which has been shown to help stave off unwanted lines and wrinkles. It, too, is another helper in the collagen-production area. The use of cucumber in facial treatments is no fluke either. Made vastly of water, cucumbers can hydrate and replenish skin, and reduce puffiness and inflammation, especially around the eyes. Cucumbers are another powerful ally in the fight against free radicals, which can bring on unwanted blemishes and other age-related skin damage.

Vegetables, Omegas, and the Power of the Coconut

Fruits aren't the only foods that can give you super skin. Vegetables such as dandelion greens contain a healthy amount of vitamin A, another powerful antioxidant agent in the free-radical battle that can help you avoid unwanted skin damage caused by oxidative stress. Spinach and oily fish such as salmon also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate your skin's oil production, giving it that natural, healthy-looking glow. Want to create a super skin-supporting meal? Whip up a salad of dandelion greens, berries, and cucumbers. For protein, add salmon. And don't forget to wash it down with coconut water, an amazing, hydrating drink containing powerful electrolytes and potassium which can help deliver more nutrients to your skin by supporting circulation. If you're going to be outdoors this summer, make sure you give your skin the proper support. With these super foods you can not only get the nutrients your body craves daily, but the valuable skin protection needed to keep your skin look healthy and youthful. Enjoy the summer season the right way today!

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The ABCs of Health: How Well Do You Know Your Vitamins?

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The ABCs of Health: How Well Do You Know Your Vitamins?Essential vitamins and minerals are vital to everyday health. Interestingly, the uses of many essential vitamins were discovered only when people observed the effects that their deficiencies caused. The more we understand about our health the more we realize our minds and bodies need proper daily support to function properly. How much do you know about the essential vitamins and minerals you need each day?

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Vitamin A (as known as retinol or beta-carotene) is said to help build good vision and promote bone development. It has antioxidant properties to support immune and cellular health. Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for building connective tissues (such as joint cartilage and collagen), bones, and teeth. It assists in metabolizing other vitamins and is vital to proper immune system function. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy cells and may help promote cognitive function. Like vitamins A and C, it also functions as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that combinations of vitamin A, C, and E help protect the macula, the region of the eye that is integral for detailed vision. All three nutrients can be found in many different foods, so you aren't limited for choice:

  • Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, beef liver, fruits and eggs.
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, peppers, and greens like broccoli.
  • Vitamin E – Whole grains, nuts, and spinach.

Being Healthy Doesn't Need to "B" Complex

The B-complex vitamins are mostly concerned with energy production in your body. Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 all help metabolize or produce energy. Vitamin B1 helps metabolize carbohydrates, while B3 releases energy from carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B2 assists in energy production and red blood cell formation, while B6 supports nervous system function. Red blood cells are vital in transporting fresh oxygen to every part of your body and taking carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Another important B vitamin is B9 (folic acid). Folic acid is known to support a healthy brain and heart, and it also synthesizes proteins and DNA. Folic acid can be found in green, leafy vegetables and whole grains. A study done at the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, on B vitamins as biomarkers showed favorable results for supporting cognitive health and brain function with folic acid.

D + Calcium = Healthy Bones

Vitamin D and calcium are two of the most important vitamins and minerals for the integrity of your bones and teeth. Even though vitamin D is quite well known, recent reports say many people still aren't getting enough. Research shows that, worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups. Vital to healthy bones and immune function, vitamin D can be produced in skin cells whenever you're exposed to UV rays from sunlight. Despite this fact, people may still not be getting enough sun exposure due to location and skin being concealed by clothing. Vitamin D also aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Together, all three nutrients keep your internal structure strong and healthy.

"Zinc" Hard About Other Nutrients

Once you've checked off all the letter-vitamins on your nutrition list, don't forget to include minerals in your diet, too. Trace minerals such as iron and selenium are all important to your daily health, albeit in small doses. Iron is necessary to produce the hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of iron in brain development, showing it is needed for the mind as well. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage. Zinc is an essential mineral to many different bodily processes. Most notably it supports immune function. A recent study looked at the role that both vitamin C and zinc play in boosting immune health. Results showed that supplementation with a combination of zinc and vitamin C "was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities."

Multitask Your Nutrition with a Multivitamin

Keeping track of all the amounts and types of vitamins you need to take each day can be exhausting, but it's worth the effort because of all the ways they can positively influence your health. Luckily there are multivitamin supplements out there that can help you reach the recommended daily value of all these essentials. Multivitamins are often called a daily insurance policy on nutrition. By understanding the basics and where to get them, you can stay one step ahead in fortifying good, daily nutrition for healthy living.


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Folate for a Healthy Thought? How This B Vitamin Can Support Your Mood

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Folate for a Healthy Thought? How This B Vitamin Can Support Your MoodBalanced nutrition is important no matter what your age or health focus. The proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are not only pertinent to physical health, but your mental state and mood, too. Low moods can have an equally negative impact on your health as high cholesterol and joint discomfort. But out of the long list of recommended daily nutrients, which ones benefit your mind the most? Thanks to a recent investigation on how diets influence moods, the answer to that question may be folate.

The Case for Folate

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland analyzed the diet and health of 2,000 middle-aged or older men. Using food records and food frequency questionnaires to gauge diets, and after studying information about low moods from the National Hospital Discharge Register, the researchers followed up with participants for an average of 13–20 years.

The results of the analyzed studies and information revealed that healthy amounts of folate (or vitamin B9) were associated with a decreased risk in low moods and symptoms that are associated with lower emotional well-being. According to the university release, "A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of lower-mood symptoms and a smaller risk of low moods during the follow-up period." It also remarked that a diet high in sugars, processed meats, sugary drinks, and manufactured foods was associated with having a higher risk in lower-mood symptoms and issues.

You Can't Escape Your Greens

The health advantages of folate aren't exactly groundbreaking discoveries. Expecting mothers are advised to add more folate to their diets because healthful diets with adequate amounts of folate may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in unborn children. Folate is available in many of today's healthy foods like arugula, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, asparagus, garbanzo and pinto beans, peanuts, and sprouts. It's easy to see how lacking a balanced diet can deprive you of this crucial vitamin, but other factors such as BPA contamination may also affect your ability to get the required amounts of folate you need. BPA, or bisphenol-A, is an organic compound found in clear plastic water bottles and microwavable containers that can seep into your food or drinks. Initial studies have shown that BPA may affect the brain and nervous system, which can have repercussions on your mood, memory, and concentration.

Sometimes Food Isn't Enough

Because sometimes it's just as hard to get all of your nutritious needs from meals, there are many supplements complete with the proper vitamins and minerals, including folate, which can help fill out your daily intake with what you need to live healthy and feel happy. In fact, in order for the body to utilize folate properly, it first needs to convert it into the active form known as 5-MTHF, so taking a 5-MTHF supplement may be even more beneficial. Positive moods can give you greater motivation to exercise, socialize, and revolutionize your way of life. If your mood is in a funk, start by improving the quality of your diet to improve your quality of life.


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