Top Essential Vitamins And Minerals (Part 2 )

Welcome to part two of our series on essential vitamins and nutrients. We all know that a healthy, balanced diet gives your body all the resources it needs to grow, to fight infection and function at peak efficiency. Our two part series is here to help you understand more about these essential vitamins – what they do and where do you get them.

Here’s part 2 on the top 20 essential nutrients, again in alphabetical order, for your information.

11. Flavonoids

This group of nutrients adds to the power of vitamin C, and act as anti-inflammatories. Together they’re believed to protect against some very serious disease. They’re found most especially in berries and other fruits, dried beans and grains.

12. Folic Acid

This much discussed nutrient promotes the development of red blood cells and it’s also important for the healthy development of unborn babies in the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. This is why doctors want women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to take a 400mg supplement until the end of that first three months. Dietary sources include fortified breakfast cereals, dark leafy green veggies, pulses and liver (except in pregnancy).

13. Iodine

An unexpected addition, this nutrient supports the workings of the thyroid gland that keeps cells and the body’s metabolic rate in the healthy range. You find it in shellfish, sea fish and in the cow’s milk of grass-fed cows.

14. Iron

A nutrient that’s key for the healthy production of the hemoglobin that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Found in red meat, particularly liver, those dark leafy veggies, beans, nuts, dried fruit, soybean flour, tofu, whole grains and some fortified breads/cereals. If you ingest vitamin C at the same time, this helps the body absorb iron better.

15. Vitamin K

This key nutrient naturally helps blood clot properly and is a part of leafy green veggies, cereals and vegetable oils.

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Top Essential Vitamins And Minerals (Part 2 ) Continued…

16. Magnesium

A mineral that’s key to bone health, good circulation and muscle relaxation. It’s a part of nuts, seeds, soybeans, baked beans, pulses, dark leafy green veggies, breakfast cereals, fish, meat, whole meal bread, milk and dried apricots.

17. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Not only do these nutrients improve your heart health, they also bring down triglycerides in the blood, lowering those overall cholesterol numbers. They are a part of oily fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon) as well as mussels, cod, swordfish and shark, flaxseeds and walnuts.

18. Potassium

This is an often overlooked nutrient that’s vital for muscle and nerve function, for keeping the chemical balance in the body, regulating body fluids and blood pressure. It’s naturally a part of sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, kidney beans, bread, shellfish, nuts, seeds, raw fruit and veggies, dried herbs, jacket potatoes, yeast extract, clams, whelks and dark chocolate.

19. Selenium

This essential mineral helps to guard against the damage caused by free radicals, while also promoting the healthy growth of tissues and cells, and strengthening the immune system. You find it in Brazil nuts, chicken, oily fish and eggs.

20. Zinc

The last of the nutrients has a key job, promoting a healthy immune system, making new cells and enzymes, encouraging the digestive system to break down foods. It is a part of shellfish, red meat, turkey, seeds, milk, bread and cereals.

There you have it – the basics on all the essential vitamins and minerals that should be a part of your healthy diet.

To your good health,

Top Essential Vitamins (Part 1)

You know that a healthy, balanced diet is one of the keys to good health as it gives your body all the resources it needs to grow, to fight infection and function at peak efficiency. But do you know which vitamins and minerals are the most important? And where to get them?

We’ve collected details on the top 20 essential nutrients and present them here, in alphabetical order even), for your information.

1. Vitamin A

Though it sounds like one thing, vitamin A is the term used for a whole group of nutrients, some from animal products (retinoids) and others from plants (carotenoids). These substances bring a lot of different benefits but are most known for good vision. Retinoids also play a part in helping the workings of the immune system, promoting the development of bones, growth and reproduction including creating sperm and red blood cells.

Retinoids are naturally part of cheese, shrimp, salmon, halibut, cows’ and goats’ milk. Carotenoids are found in sweet potatoes, carrots, greens, squash, peppers, tomatoes, leeks, watermelon and other brightly colored fruits and veggies.

2. Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

This nutrient assists the body in converting food to energy and also coordinates the nerves and muscles and is good for your heart. It’s found in whole grains, flax seeds, spinach, tuna, beans, lentils, asparagus and some fortified cereals.

3. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Needed especially for cell protection and the healthy working of the nervous system, skin and eyes, while also helping the body keep the supply up of other B vitamins. A rich source of B2 is venison, while others include soybeans, yogurt, milk, almonds, mushrooms, spinach, fortified cereals and eggs.

4. Vitamin B3 (niacin)

A vital nutrient that’s key to blood/glucose control and bringing down cholesterol levels, while also helping your body produce energy from what you eat and keeping both the nervous and digestive systems healthy and going strong. Get this nutrient in salmon, sardines, chicken, tuna, turkey, venison, lamb, spelt, breakfast cereals, whole meal bread, grass fed beef and milk.

5. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

This is a key nutrient that helps the body naturally cope with stress by supporting the adrenal glands, while also assisting in the conversion of carbs and fats into energy. You find it in peas, beans, lentils, nuts, tomatoes, eggs, whole grains, bananas, avocados, yogurt, shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, porridge and sweet potatoes.

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Top Essential Vitamins (Part 1) Continued…

6. Vitamin B6

Supports the nervous system while also helping sugars/starches to break down during the digestive process. It also assists with the formation of hemoglobin that’s needed to carry oxygen through the body. It’s naturally part of tuna, pork, poultry, venison, cod and halibut, and also bananas, milk, potatoes, sunflower seeds, soya beans, peanuts, mangoes and wheat germ.

7. Vitamin C

This nutrient is critical for the efficient operation of the immune system and for your body’s ability to absorb iron, as well as the maintenance of healthy connective tissue. It’s also known to give you healthy skin, bones and teeth and is found most in kiwis and citrus fruits, but also in peppers, potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple and many other brightly colored fruits and veggies.

8. Calcium

You know this one, important for bone health/structure and for balancing your metabolism as well as helping blood to clot, regulating the heartbeat and contractions of other muscles. You find it in milk, cheese and other dairy items as well as green, leafy veggies, fruits, soya beans, tofu, sardines and other canned fish with bones.

9. Vitamin D

The “sunshine” vitamin promotes a wide range of healthy functions in the body, including bone health. The trouble is, most of us don’t get enough from dietary sources, and the body doesn’t keep extra around, so you need to get outside (even on a cloudy day) for 20 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight. The few dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs, dairy, fortified breakfast cereals and oily fish.

10. Vitamin E

This most beneficial of nutrients offers natural protection to the skin from UV rays while helping prevent cell damage. It’s a part of nuts, seeds, olive oil, wheat germ, butter and margarine, spinach, avocados and asparagus.

You’ll learn about additional essential nutrients in part 2 ofo ur series on vitamins and minerals.

To your good health,

Kids School Performance Tips

It’s the time of year when every parent starts thinking (dreading?) back to school. You want your child to do well, they want to make friends and enjoy themselves. And homework – a battleground for generations – continues to frustrate parents and children alike. Research as recently as 2009 appearing in the journal Science has found that writing out self-affirmations (not like Saturday Night Lives’ Stuart Smalley) helps students (particularly minorities) ease stress, a key to helping them improve that grade point average. It seems that making affirmations about your core values can translate into improvements in performance.

The work involved 7th grade student subjects writing out affirmations of their values or statements about what was important to them personally. The participants finished one of the three writing assignments right at the start of the school year. The lead researcher on the project, Geoffrey Cohen, PhD reports that such an intervention reduced stress tied to school and helped the minority kids up their GPA by a nice 0.25 points. The group of poorest performing minority students had the biggest improvement, with a GPA rising 0.4 points.

It might help kids to handle stress by giving them strategies, up front, to handle it. One good one is to remind kids to take a moment to switch focus when feeling over-stressed. Think about family, friends or other loved ones, imagine doing something you enjoy in your favorite place or something else positive. This serves as an active reminder that even if you stumble, all is not lost. There are still good things in your life, and people who care.

Another great technique is to suggest kids imagine if this stressor will matter to them one year, five years from today. Often the perspective of time, of realizing that this too shall pass, is an easy way for kids to ease the tension.

It’s also a good idea, if your kids are showing signs of stress, to have them do as the study subjects did. Write down all the things that are really important to them and why. Value affirmations have been shown by a lot of research to be very effective buffers against stress. Writing is better than speaking in this circumstance and the list does not have to be shared to be effective. Just the act of writing and thinking things through has power for your child.

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Kids School Performance Tips Continued…

Even adults know that under stress we often choke, underperform when we want most to succeed. It’s natural, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Values affirmation helps assure a student of their own integrity and cuts stress, letting them perform where they really can… at their full potential.

To help school performance, nutrition is always important. Making the effort to be sure the kids have something (dare we suggest healthy?) in their stomach before they head out the door each day pays off. Studies show that kids who eat a good breakfast have higher test scores, concentrate better and solve problems more easily.

There’s also good research from an analysis of past work that finds kids who get more exercise do better in school. Playing on a team, or having time to run around at break is good for a child’s body and mind. The work suggests it’s most important to expose and encourage kids to be active on a regular basis.

Focus on a nutritious start to the day, help your kids get exercise and do what you can to address stress levels and it’s bound to be a good school year.

To your good health,

What BPA Does To Your Body?

Here’s a startling statistic… more than one million pounds of BPA (bisphenol A) are released into the environment every year. Science is finding that it may take a very small amount to trigger some unusual and perhaps long term health problems. The thing is, BPA is now part of so many everyday items (lining food cans, coating cash register receipts) that it’s already made its way into most of us.

It even turns up in amniotic fluid and placentas.

There are more and more studies that find BPA is toxic to the reproduction, development and systemic functions of the body. There’s been much discussion about the substance’s natural ability to interfere with estrogen levels. The effects appear to spread beyond hormonal systems and brining problems that are… well, downright bizarre.

We’ve collected the five of the most fascinating here for you.

1 Eroding teeth: A 2013 French study found that daily low dose BPA could damage
tooth enamel. What’s troubling here is that doctors know that the teeth form
in the first year of life, a time when a tiny, growing body is also far more
sensitive to exposure to chemicals.

2 Heart misfires: An animal study in 2011 finds BPA overrode the female’s natural
heartbeat signaling causing an arrhythmia, an erratic beat that could bring sudden
cardiac death. The work showed plainly how BPA might impact the human heart.

3 Low sex drive: A May 2013 project led by a Chinese research team found that
chronic exposure to BPA can bring lower testosterone levels in a man. BPA acts
like a synthetic form of estrogen and can disrupt a man’s sex hormone levels,
and this can impact sex drive. There’s also 2010 research, a 5 year study, that
found high levels of BPA in the urine were linked to low sperm counts or poor
sperm quality.

4 Love handles: Work in the lab finds that BPA has the ability to speed up fat
cell differentiation, disrupt the function of the pancreas and cause insulin
resistance. Chinese work appearing in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
saw that adults who had the highest levels of BPA were 50% likely to be heavier,
with BMIs in the overweight or obese range. The participants with high BPA also
were 28% more likely to have dangerous abdominal fat. The concern here is that
research is finding there is no “safe” population.

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What BPA Does To Your Body? Continued…

- 5 Damage over generations: In experiments on mice, mom’s who ate BPA laced
foods gave birth to less social, more isolated babies. Some of the symptoms the
saw here mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Genetically,
the BPA changed how estrogen receptors turned on and off.

Today BPA is out of baby bottles and canned formulas made in the U.S., though the substance is still part of polycarbonate water bottles, plastic utensils and other food containers. Only France has taken the step of banning BPA in food containers by July 2015.

To limit your own BPA exposure:

Avoid plastic food/drink containers – use food grade stainless or glass

Don’t take trivial receipts – keep the ones you need in envelopes not in your
wallet (or the bottom of your purse) where you’ll repeatedly come in contact
with them.

Choose fresh or frozen fruits and veggies instead of canned.

Be wary of BPA free claims as a 2013 study found that the BPA replacement, BPS
also has hormone-disrupting characteristics.

To your good health,

Detect Signs Of Nutrient Deficiency

Our bodies are amazing… they can sometimes tell us when something’s wrong before a doctor can confirm it with tests. If you start to see a change in your own body… in your hair, your nails, your skin or even your energy level… this could be a signal from your body that a vital nutrient is missing from your diet.

Some of the signs your body might give you…

Unhealthy looking nails

Healthy strong nails are a sign of good overall health and strong immunity. What you don’t want to see on nail surfaces are white spots (injury), raised ridges, an inward curve or nails that otherwise look less than healthy. Most often unhealthy looking nails are a sign you need iron (not zinc, that’s a popular myth) so try to include as many natural sources of iron (red meat, fish, poultry, lentils and beans) as you can in your diet.

Interesting that you’re not alone, according to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the leading nutritional disorder the world over.

Leg cramps at night

Cramps in your legs or calves at night are a sign that you’re lacking potassium, and essential nutrient. This can happen easily if you’re exercising hard during the day, losing both fluid and electrolytes and only replacing the fluid. Rehydrate with electrolyte rich drinks or try some potassium rich foods like bananas, spinach, broccoli or grapefruit.

And while healthy adults should get enough potassium from food sources, often we don’t. Your doctor may recommend a potassium supplement, or you might try upping natural sources for a time and see if this helps.

Numb hands or feet

If you feel like your hands (or feet) go numb or you get tingling or a prickling feeling in your limbs this can signal a low intake of B vitamins like B6 or B12 and folic acid. Deficiencies of B vitamins directly impact the peripheral nerve endings on the skin’s surface. You’ll want to eat lots of dark leafy greens like spinach and lean proteins like eggs, beans and poultry. Fortified whole grains are good too.

Again, deficiencies of this nutrient are surprisingly common, with about 15% of the general population affected by a deficiency.

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Small red or white acne like bumps on your skin (face, arms, even thighs) can signal a vitamin A deficiency. This nutrient helps to remove dead skin and unclogs pores to discourage the growth of acne bacteria. Veggies or other foods rich in beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) are key here.

Sadly vitamin A deficiency is a problem for more than half of all nations, especially in Africa and South-East Asia.

It’s important to realize that if you are deficient in one nutrient, based on your body signals, you are likely lacking others as well. It’s hard to believe that with the abundance of food in the developed world that nutrient deficiencies happen at all, but as you see, they are surprisingly common. Once you take steps to address them, you’ll be feeling and looking better than ever – a signal from your body that all is well.

To your good health,

What Trigger Depression (Part 2)

Depression is far more common than you might think, with an estimated 15 million U.S. adults dealing with these crippling symptoms right now. If you’re one of this number, you need to understand that you feel this way because of a recognized medical illness, not a character flaw or weakness of your generation or lifestyle. What’s even more important to depressed patients and their families is that this condition can be treated, and treated successfully. Things will get better; it will not be this way forever.

You can do something for yourself by thinking about the ten added depression triggers we’ve listed here. Some triggers are a lot harder to think about, to face, than others. Just know that so long as you’re facing facts and not hiding from problems you are on the road to getting better.

TRIGGER #1 Domestic violence. If you saw domestic violence as a kid this is an independent risk factor for depression in your early 20s according to research from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. It’s terribly traumatic to see someone you love be hurt. As a kid you feel unsafe, out of control and helpless, and all these same feelings are what predispose you to having depression.

TRIGGER #2 Alcohol. Binge drinking (4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women) is linked to a higher risk of depression over time according to research that included nearly 16,000 adults studied over a 5-year period. Alcohol is known to be a depressant, which means that it’s able to suppress brain chemicals that keep your mood even. It also impairs judgment, leading to bad choices and sadness due to a situation that was caused by drinking.

TRIGGER #3 Carrying too much weight. Being obese (a BMI over 30) was linked at a 55% higher risk of depression over time according to research from the Netherlands. Adults who were overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) had a 27% higher risk. Researchers speculate that obesity produces low-grade inflammation all over the body and inflammation is associated with higher risk of depression.

TRIGGER #4 A hostile husband. Not surprisingly a man’s hostility in marriage is tied to increases in a wife’s depressive symptoms according to a study from the University of Missouri. The worse the husband’s behavior, the more depressed the wife. It wears you down. Relationships are so central to our everyday lives that persistent negativity is going to be hard for most people to deal with on a daily basis.

TRIGGER #5 Underactive thyroid. The link between underactive thyroid gland and depression is documented. Hypothyroidism usually causes fatigue, sluggishness, unexplained weight gain, heavy periods, dry skin and a depressed mood. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor.

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What Trigger Depression, Part 2 Continued…

TRIGGER #6 Feeling lonely. It probably doesn’t take research (but there is, from
the University of Chicago) but two studies of middle aged to older people found
higher levels of loneliness are linked to more depression. The two can act as
a team to torpedo emotional well-being. The brains of lonely people are on high
alert for social threats, often implanting the expectation of bad outcomes to
social encounters and thus trying to avoid them.

TRIGGER #7 Not enough folic acid. Women with more depressive symptoms also tend to have lower blood levels of folate, found in leafy veggies. A study from Mass General Hospital found that those with low folate levels were taking an antidepressant were more apt to feel a delayed improvement in symptoms than those with normal folate levels. Folate is key to neurological function needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Daily intake should be from 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid.

TRIGGER #8 Financial difficulties. If you suffer a home foreclosure or another extreme financial setback, you’re hit especially hard in terms of mood, as you can well imagine. The process is lengthy and highly stressful and calls for lots of supportive, upbeat people to help you cope with the loss and make a fresh start.

TRIGGER #9 Smoking or second hand smoke. After looking at the smoking habits and mental health of over 1,000 adults, New Zealand researchers found a cause and effect relationship between smoking and depression. Cigarette smoking ups the risk of depression, most likely due to the effects of dependence on nicotine. It also could be the chemicals in cigarettes as a new study from University College London found that secondhand smoke is also linked to psychological distress and a higher rusk of future psychiatric illness.

TRIGGER #10 Being a perfectionist. A Yale study found that this trait was related to the emergence of symptoms of depression, while research at the University of Manitoba found that self-criticism that accompanies perfectionists is what ups the risk of depression. Even when you try your best, things won’t be perfect all the time, you need to accept this, focus on what you have, not what’s wrong.

To your good health,

What Trigger Depression (Part 1)

Everyone feels sad, low, down in the dumps once in a while… that’s part of life. But when these feelings linger two weeks or more it’s a sign of something bigger. Depression is considered a medical illness, not a character flaw or generational weakness. It affects an estimated 15 million adults in the U.S. alone. The best news is that depression is treatable, so while it has a hold on you today, it won’t rule forever.

It might be helpful to learn more about some of the triggers of depression. Once you know what’s behind your feelings, taking steps to treat your depression will be far easier.

TRIGGER #1 Genetics. If you have an immediate family member, that’s a parent or sibling, who has had depression in the past your risk for repeating that pattern is three times higher than for someone without that family history.

TRIGGER #2 Childhood favoritism. Kids who feel that their mother consistently favored one kid over another are more apt to have depression as adults, even if they were the favorite. The perception of unequal treatment can up depressive symptoms for all the siblings. If this is still going on today, or there is other pain from your past still hurting you, please speak to a professional about the issue and work though your feelings. That’s the only way to resolve things and move forward.

TRIGGER #3 Not enough sunlight. Regular exposure to the sun helps your natural inborn clock work the way it should, including the release of mood affecting hormones. Even brief bouts of exposure to bright light can help boost mood, a 15 to 20 minute walk outside will do the job just fine.

TRIGGER #4 Medication side effects. Some medications can cause feelings like sadness, fatigue and even despair, so you may need to talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if this could be the case for you. Some likely culprits are beta-blockers, Accutane, statins, some antibiotics and even oral contraceptives.

TRIGGER #5 Not enough omega-3s. If you don’t take in enough omega-3 fatty acids you are at higher risk of depression. This might be due to the fact that omega-3s help your brain produce neurotransmitters that are critical for proper chemical signaling both within and between the nerve cells. Try to get two servings per week of foods like salmon, sardines, tuna or walnuts.

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What Trigger Depression , Part 1 Continued…

TRIGGER #6 Too much time online. A recent study in the UK found that people who are hooked on the internet are more depressed, and spend more time on sites that mimic real life socializing.

TRIGGER #7 Being an approval junkie. Anyone who relies on others approval for their own self esteem is far more susceptible to depressed feelings according to researchers at the University of Houston. If your self esteem isn’t all that stable, and you rely on friends (or others) to feel worthy, then your mood is sure to slip when you get criticized or face disapproval. Try to build your self-esteem in ways that don’t rely on friendships or those around you.

TRIGGER #8 Being a worrier. The habit of mentally dwelling on problems can certainly lead to depression. Rumination like this makes you think about things in your life with increasing negativity, and this gets in the way of your very real ability to solve problems. The problems stick around, or get worse. Distract yourself with an upbeat book, then later try brainstorming a few steps that might help your situation get better.

TRIGGER #9 Not getting enough sleep. We know well how lack of sleep can impact mood, it’s more than feeling rested, research from the Netherlands finds that loss of sleep gradually desensitizes your brain to the effects of feel good neurotransmitters, and this can set the stage for depression.

TRIGGER #10 Too much time with sad people. Depression is actually contagious, as American research has shown when one spouse is depressed, the other is likely to feel similar symptoms. A study at the University of Texas found the same for college roommates, when one is depressed the other is more likely to be as well. Take a break from those in a bad mood and find some upbeat friends instead.

You’ll learn about more depression triggers in part 2, all designed to help you find out what’s behind your depression.

To your good health,

Tips To Help You Look Younger

Want to look younger (and who doesn’t)? Cut back on the sugar. A new study finds that sugar may helps crows feet to settle into the surface of your skin as blood sugar levels may be related to how old we look. The team studied 670 subjects between 50 and 70 years old, and saw that for every rise in blood sugar of 1 millimole per liter the subject looked nearly 5 months older.

So… that’s just one study… right? Wrong.

Another research project studied glycation, the process linked with visible signs of aging where blood sugars attach to proteins and form bad molecules known as Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs, for short). Collagen and elastin proteins, known for keeping skin supple and young looking, are most susceptible to the damage that can come from the glycation process. This is likely why those with diabetes look older; they often have early signs of skin aging.

To fight the signs of aging, stay away from refined sugars including high fructose corn syrup, and consume natural sugars in their natural form. Try getting your sugar from fruits and use stevia, xylitol and date sugar when you need something sweet.

Here are more practical anti aging tips for women…

Skip the powder, as older skin usually doesn’t produce the oil younger skin does
and powder can settle into fine lines, making them more visible.

Splash cold water on your face before your makeup, the coolness helps shrink
pores and lets makeup go on better.

Use shimmery makeup (sparingly) on one feature for daytime; no more than 2 at
night and you’ll have a lovely glow that’s very flattering.

If you’re battling acne, use a stick foundation (not a concealer) to cover blemishes
as the opaqueness gives the best coverage. Choose a color that’s the same as
your skin and spot apply with a small, pointed brush, pat with your index finger
to blend.

If you’ve recently gone gray, have a professional help update your makeup color

Properly plucked brows help you look more polished, bright eyed and vibrant.
Shape brows after a shower/bath as water plumps up hair and makes them easier
to pluck.

Continues below…

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Tips To Help You Look Younger Continued…

Put blush on the apple of your cheek only, don’t use dark blush in the cheek
hollows, as highlighting the apple area creates the illusion of fullness in the

Eat an orange (or another natural source of vitamin C) each day as women who
had higher levels of vitamin C in the diet were 11% less likely to have wrinkles.
Brazil nuts, naturally high sources of selenium may also help protect your skin
from UV damage that ages skin.

Big things happen to your skin at night, when you’re sleeping, so make sure you’re
getting enough quality sleep.

Use retinoids and any topical preparations of vitamin C or E at night as all
three can break down when out in the sunlight.

Use cleanser on damp, not dry, skin as the product is less likely to be irritating.
Be sure to wash your face for a full minute to allow breakdown of dirk and makeup.

Give moisturizer time (about 3 minutes) to settle into your skin to help foundation,
blush and shadow stay fresh looking all day.

Be sure you follow up on regular dental care, as your smile is one of the things
that keep you looking young and attractive.

To your good health,

No Connection Between Sleep And Feeling Tired.

It doesn’t seem possible, but recent Swedish research has found there’s little (or no) relation between how much sleep you get and how tired you feel. Length of sleep time is just not a reliable indicator of if you get enough sleep or not. The work was done at the Stress Research Institute of Stockholm University. And according to study lead Torbjoern Aakerstedt, our feelings of tiredness are genetically conditioned and depend on both our health and our age.

The team actually did three different studies, one that examined the sleep patterns of almost 6,000 people. The work makes the case that the number of hours you sleep is much less important in terms of how you function the next day. If you feel fine and full of energy during the day, you’ve probably slept enough, no matter how many hours you actually got.

The studies found the average amount of sleep during the workweek was six hours and 55 minutes. There was an extra hour on the holidays.

In terms of age, sleep needs do change as the years pass. Most 20 year olds need a full 8 hours. By the 60s, most people may really only need 6 hours of sleep to feel restored. There’s no “one size fits all” sleep number, some people naturally need more rest than others. And while more sleep won’t give you more energy and too much has its own set of problems, too little sleep can hurt you, both performance wise and health wise.

It’s well documented that a lack of sleep puts people at risk for health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, incidents at work and accidents on the road. In terms of performance, lack of sleep saps energy, positive attitude, productivity and memory.

If you’re concerned about your own feelings of tiredness, one thing to do is be sure you’re sleeping long and deeply enough. Experts suggest moving your bedtime around a bit so that you naturally wake just before your morning alarm. And yes, there are apps to help you figure out the best time to fall asleep based on your individual sleep pattern. The thinking behind this approach is that if you naturally wake in between the deeper cycles of sleep (instead of right in the midst of one) you’ll feel more rested and alert.

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No Connection Between Sleep And Feeling Tired. Continued…

You’ll want to assess how well you sleep too. If you’re waking, tossing and turning, up to use the bathroom during the night your sleep is hurt, no matter how many hours you end up getting. People with sleep apnea get poor sleep because of breathing problems, but many who have this condition don’t know it – they just never really feel rested. If this is you, talk with your doctor and get a referral to a sleep specialist to see what’s happening.

Eating also impact sleep, so be sure that your diet isn’t causing sleeping problems. This is especially true if you’re feeling tired at specific times (later afternoon) of day rather than all day long. Recent studies have blamed diets high in fat for daytime tiredness. If you plan snacks and meals to be healthier you can sustain your energy level all day long.

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to drink enough water during the day as we also dehydrate ourselves with caffeine and alcohol. If your feelings of tiredness persist after two weeks, talk with your doctor. Feelings of fatigue can be signs of certain medical conditions (anemia, thyroid problems, diabetes, heart disease) or due to a vitamin D deficiency, allergies or a medication you’re taking.

To your good health,

Being Inactive Is As Bad As Smoking!

Astonishing that both smoking and inactivity account for the deaths of 5.3 million people the world over according to a 2012 report in the journal The Lancet. Even more startling is that those who sit on the couch have just as much of a disadvantage to their health as a current smoker. Numbers from the World Heart Federation demonstrate that inactivity may be as dangerous for the heart as smoking a full pack of cigarettes a day.

Well-known inactivity researcher Marc Hamilton of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center explains that too much sitting causes the levels of enzymes responsible for breaking down fats in the blood to drop. This causes levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, to fall, and without this protection the risk of heart disease is increased. Being inactive after recovering from cancer puts you at great risk of having the cancer return, while regular exercise of any kind can offer some protection.

Researchers have sounded the alarm, inactivity is so serious it should be treated as a pandemic – we need to get the word out about the impact of staying inactive. Figures from the study have one in 10 deaths tied to inactivity. What’s more, the World Health Organization has numbers that suggest physical inactivity is the major cause in 21-25% of cancers of the breast or colon, 27% of cases of type 2 diabetes, and as many as 30% of those with ischemic heart disease. Those are some serious numbers.

Another danger to your health, stress (and potential high blood pressure) is harder to manage when you’re sitting… and thinking about your stressors. Being active is known to help ease stress and do wonders for your heart as well. High blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer” because it rarely has any signs or symptoms, which is why you need to know your numbers no matter what your age or health status.

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Being Inactive Is As Bad As Smoking! Continued…

Watching TV is a pleasant, but particularly troubling pastime. Australian research found that those who sat and watched TV for over 4 hours a day were 80% more likely to die for reasons related to heart and artery disease than those who watched less television. For each added hour of watching TV per day, the risk of death rose by 11%.

Research at Harvard University also sounded a warning about TV watching – this time it was a link between too much time sitting in front of the TV and the chances of suffering from depression. Active women who regularly exercised were about 20% less likely to have depression as women who didn’t exercise on a regular basis. Experts think that because exercise triggers the release of beneficial endorphins, the more often you workout, the more you benefit from those feelings of well being.

When it comes to being active, anything that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes each day, five days per week is right. It can be playing with the kids, working at a physically demanding job, housework and any fun activity that calls for lots of movement. A brisk walk is great, and you can break this into 3 ten-minute walks if short bursts of activity fit better with your schedule.

To your good health,