The Importance of Trace Minerals Part I (Boron)

Boron is a little known yet essential trace mineral found in food and the environment.  A trace mineral is any mineral that the body requires in small amounts to support numerous functions. It is also available in supplemental form for treatment of specific conditions.  It can be found in abundance in many foods like apples, oranges, red grapes, pears, plums, kiwis, dates, avocado, soybeans and nuts.  Chickpeas, hazel nuts, currants, peanut butter, red kidney beans, tomato, lentils, olive, onion, potato wine, and beer are also notable sources of Boron.  It is required for proper growth and functioning of our body.  Deficiencies are rare because it is found in an abundance of foods.

Boron is helpful in the prevention of arthritis as well as a very effective treatment.  In fact, it gives significant improvement to more than 90 percent of the patients who are given treatments that include ingestion of boron. This is brought about by the effective calcium instillation in the bones and cartilage. Bones weaken and become porous as people age. Boron can help inhibit bone deterioration efficiently.  It can also reduce the allergic reactions caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Boron has also been found to be effective in cancer therapy since it can capture the agents used for this type of therapy and develop powerful enzyme inhibitors.  It can also be used as an antibody that can identify useful saccharides in the body.  It also helps in estrogen production which is especially helpful to women in the menopausal stage.  It brings back an intense sex drive by increasing levels of natural body hormones, prevents postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and postmenopausal related osteoporosis.  It can even substitute for hormone replacement therapy.

Studies have shown that boron has a positive effect on important brain functions such as enhancing various cognitive skills including visual perception, concentration, short memory, eye to hand coordination, fine motor skills and logic.  It helps maintain proper cell membrane functions and stabilizes hormone reception as well.  If you suffer from depression, mental fatigue or memory loss, boron may be beneficial.  While there are many causes of these symptoms, adequate levels of boron are required for healthy mental function.

It has been found to be significantly useful in alleviating symptoms brought on by congestive heart failure as well.  CHF that is typically marked by poor functioning of the heart causes breathing problems, fluid retention in the legs, weight gain and decrease in appetite. Intake of boron through diet or in supplemental form can play a crucial role to improve these symptoms.

It is also important for maintaining healthy bones.  The bone building capacities of boron are often overshadowed by calcium.   Boron works in unison with calcium to strengthen the bones and plays a very important role in minimizing the risks of osteoporosis and arthritis.  Boron helps in the metabolism of minerals that are involved in bone development such as calcium, magnesium and copper

It can also improve circulation of the blood and aids in the removal of toxins and cholesterol from the body.  While it doesn’t get the attention of other mineral’s because it’s needed in small amounts, it’s still essential for healthy body function.

Exploring Probiotics

Probiotics are generally considered safe mainly because they’re already present in a normal digestive system. Theoretically, there’s a risk for people with impaired immune function. While they are found in yogurt, in the United States, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they’re safe before they’re marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. But there’s no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you’re taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options. Discuss them with your doctor before taking them to be sure they are safe and which ones would be most beneficial for your needs.

In order to be an effective probiotic, the strains must be live at the time of consumption and must survive the stomach acidity and biliary salts in order to reach the intestines. It is also important that the probiotic strains are capable of adhering to the gut wall lining, so that they can in turn multiply and colonize the gut with good bacteria. It is important to know that most probiotic supplements lose potency. There are many strains of beneficial probiotic bacteria that will boost your digestive health and overall health. When you are looking for a good probiotic supplement, you should choose one that contains a mix of a number of different probiotic strains in order to reap the most benefits from it. Some of the exceptionally powerful strains of probiotic bacteria that will specifically enhance digestion include are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri , Bifidobacteria bifidum and Bifidobacteria longum.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is the most widely used strain that is important for maintaining the integrity of your intestinal walls so you can enjoy maximum absorption of nutrients, and it supports a healthy immune system. It also helps prevent vaginal infections, replaces “friendly” intestinal bacteria destroyed by antibiotics, treats chronic constipation, lowers your risk of pollen allergies, treats high cholesterol, prevents childhood eczema, improves digestion, suppresses disease causing bacteria, improves lactose tolerance for those that are lactose intolerant, treats irritable bowel syndrome and treats inflammatory bowel disease.

Lactobacillus fermentum is a strain that has been found to be antimicrobial and antioxidative. It helps neutralize toxic products made during digestion and promotes a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. It can also reduce cholesterol as well as treat urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, Lyme disease, inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, IBS, urinary tract infections, fever blisters, canker sores, acne, eczema and hives.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is able to survive the acid and bile of the stomach and intestine and is claimed to colonize the digestive tract and to balance intestinal microflora. It is used to treat diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, anxiety and weight loss.

Lactobacillus reuteri is used in the treatment of digestive problems and colic in infants, promotes dental health, boosts the immune system, helps build a resistance to pathogens like Salmonella and some strains of E. Coli.

Bifidobacteria bifidum is widely known for its ability to build up the immune system, lower cholesterol levels, lessens the chance of allergies, aid in digestion and helps to prevent the effects of tumors in colon cancer. It has also been very effective as a remedy for vaginitis, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and yeast infections.

Bifidobacteria longum is used for many conditions affecting the intestines, including preventing diarrhea in infants and children; as well as traveler’s diarrhea in adults. Some people take bifidobacteria to restore “good bacteria” in the gut that have been killed or removed by diarrhea, radiation, chemotherapy, antibiotics, or other causes.

While there are many more strains of probiotics and some benefits are shared-there are some that hold specific benefits for certain ailments, which is why it is best to do your research and consult your doctor prior to taking any probiotic to ensure you are taking the right strain for your needs.

Benefits And Risks Of Sushi

Sushi is a popular Japanese dish that offers a variety of raw fish wrapped or rolled in rice with vegetables or sauces added. Some sushi rolls consisted of cooked seafood such as (unagi) eel and (ebi)shrimp while others like the California roll don’t contain any seafood at all. Sashimi is a dish consisting of raw fish without the rice. While it is a “ love it or hate it” dish, many that avoid it do so because they feel it is unsafe to eat while others just don’t find the idea of raw fish appealing. So let’s take a look at the health benefits and risks of sushi.

It should be mentioned that the fish used at a reputable sushi establishment is of the highest quality. A reputable sushi restaurant will follow the highest of food safety standards to ensure that their diners do not fall ill from their food. Industrial freezers, proper fish freezing and storage, and the use of sushi-grade seafood are important factors for protecting patrons against foodborne illness. So, rest easy if it’s a trusted establishment with reputable safety standards. While you can’t be sure-if your first impression of any restaurant is that it is not clean-you should avoid eating there.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), seafood should be cooked thoroughly to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. Possible health complications you may face if you ingest a parasite found inside the raw fish you’re eating are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, symptoms of food poisoning and tapeworm (roundworm, flatworm, etc.). Parasites, like roundworms, can burrow in your stomach lining and cause further discomfort, pain and inflammation. They only grow to about an inch in length, and within 12 hours of contracting one you would have terrible stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. They eventually move to the intestine and sets up house. Survival in the human digestive tract is rare as most will die within 24 hours, but resistant ones can last longer and actually burrow into the digestive tract before they are finally overcome by the digestive process. If you experience severe symptoms after eating raw fish, like sushi or sashimi, you should seek medical assistance immediately.

Another risk factor is that due to the levels of mercury found in some seafood, the FDA recommends that certain people should avoid the consumption of raw fish. Those that should avoid it are pregnant women, women who are still nursing, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, anyone with low stomach acidity and those who may suffer an allergic reaction to certain seafood, like shellfish.

Now let’s discuss the benefits aside from the euphoric feeling every sushi lover feels with that first bite. Many of the wide variety of fish used in sushi are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s offer many health benefits like reducing the risk of cancer, an improved cardiovascular system, lower cholesterol levels, lowered risk of heart disease, reduces inflammation associated with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and it reduces symptoms of ADHD, depression and bipolar disorder. Foods high Omega 3’s are often referred to as brain food because it is so important for brain growth and function as well as having an impact on cognitive and behavioral function.

Another health benefit of sushi is that it is rich in protein. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It also helps with weight management, lowers risk of osteoporosis, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep and speeds up wound healing.

Calcium and vitamin D are just two examples of the many vitamins and nutrients found in typical sushi dishes. Calcium helps build strong bones, lowers cancer risk, lowers diabetes risk, controls blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease and heart attack, prevents kidney stones and it helps transport nutrients across cell membranes. Vitamin D helps us maintain calcium balance in the body, helps us absorb nutrients, regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension, relieves body aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms, reduces respiratory infections, helps in differentiation of the cells, aids in insulin secretion, helps fight depression, improves overall skin health by reducing wrinkles, makes skin soft, strong, and smooth, and improves cardiovascular function.

There are plenty of wonderful reasons to try or continue to enjoy sushi as part of your diet and while there is risk-as long as you choose wisely-you should be free to enjoy your meal without worry!

Staying Active After Summer

Summer is winding down and the kids are back to school which means many will be spending more time indoors whether it’s because of the weather cooling off or all that homework that needs to be finished. There are plenty of reasons to maintain outdoor activities into the cooler months for yourself and your family. If you find that you are one of the many people that spend little time outdoors once summer is over or this sounds like someone you know-you may want to keep reading.

Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that vitamin D helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Limited sun exposure is a good regimen and shouldn’t just be limited to the summer months.
Light also tends to elevate people’s mood and there’s usually more light available outside than indoors. Getting some sunshine or daylight can improve your mood and ease symptoms of depression. It will also make you more alert and focused to get some natural light on a daily basis. When you are outside you are usually getting more physical activity which has been shown to help people relax and cheer up. If you tend to feel more tired or depressed once summer is over-spending a little more time outdoors may improve this.

If you make getting outside a goal, that means less time in front of the television or computer screen and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion. Exercise keeps the body healthy and in motion as well as elevates your mood. Those who get exercise also tend to improve their quality of sleep. Taking a walk during your lunch break or a family walk after dinner can help burn off that extra energy that keeps you up at night. There is a reason kids fall asleep quicker after a day at the park versus a day spent indoors.

While there are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from during the summer-inactivity doesn’t have to start once the pool closes. Throwing an extra layer on in the fall to take a walk or bike ride will help you feel better and can become a family or social activity you’ll look forward to. A short 15 or 20 minute walk with the family can also be a great time to talk to your kids about how their day at school went without just getting a one word answer in between commercial breaks.

Being active outside more often can help kids with health issues such as obesity, reduced symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, increased vitamin D production, which may help protect a child from future bone problems, heart disease, and diabetes; and improved distance vision. It can also familiarize them with their local neighborhood and outdoor environments, boosting their self-confidence.
For adults, spending more time being active outdoors can help with weight management, reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (cognitive function is enhanced by physical activity), increase opportunities for social interactions, an increase in energy and improved immunity and reduced risk of diabetes, heart attack and some forms of cancer.

Adults and children can all benefit from outdoor activities and special times with family and friends that will create memories that last a lifetime!

Dangers Of Vitamin And Mineral Overdose Part III

Routinely getting an overload of vitamins and minerals can hurt you. It is very hard to overdo it from diet alone and rare when combining a healthy diet with a standard multivitamin but is not uncommon if you combine the one or both with other supplements. Your best bet to avoid experiencing side effects is to try to get most of your vitamin intake via a healthy diet. Take all supplements under the direct supervision of a health care provider and never megadose on vitamins unless it has been recommended by a qualified health care provider. Let’s explore what is too much of some vitamins and minerals and why.

The RDA for adults of Vitamin D is 600 IU(international units) and it is found in many food sources as well as produced by our body in reaction to the sun’s rays. It is fat-soluble, which means your body has a hard time getting rid of it if you take too much. Usually elderly people or people who live in areas with a lack of sunshine are prescribed a supplement. Vitamin D is responsible for enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. It can be harmful if you take 40,000 IU per day for a couple of months or longer, or take a very large one-time dose. When you take large amounts of vitamin D, your liver produces too much of a chemical called 25(OH)D. When your 25(OH)D levels are too high it causes high levels of calcium to develop in your blood(also known as hypercalcemia). Symptoms of hypercalcemia are feeling sick or being sick, poor appetite or loss of appetite, feeling very thirsty, passing urine often, constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle weakness or pain, feeling confused, and feeling tired.

The RDA for adults of vitamin B12 is 1.8 to 2.4 mcg and it supports a number of important functions in the body including red blood cell formation, immune function, DNA replication and energy production just to name a few. It can also help to prevent or reverse pernicious anemia. While overdosing is rare because with water soluble vitamins, the body excretes excess amounts in the urine instead of storing it, taking too much can cause serious side effects. Some side effects include narrowing of the blood vessels, high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, increased risk of developing fatal hypokalemia (low levels of potassium) and skin problems such as rash, pustules, and Rosacea.

The RDA for adults of folate is between 400-600 mg and the risk of overdose is low because it is water soluble. It is responsible for many important functions throughout the body but too much can be harmful. Symptoms of taking too much include nausea, bloating, gas, insomnia, loss of appetite, a bitter or unpleasant taste in the mouth, depression, excessive excitement, irritability and a zinc deficiency. More severe signs include psychotic behavior, numbness or tingling, mouth pain, weakness, trouble concentrating, confusion, fatigue and even seizures. A folate deficiency is virtually indistinguishable from a vitamin B12 deficiency. Large doses of folic acid given to an individual who has a vitamin B12 deficiency and not a folate deficiency can cause irreversible neurological damages.

The RDA for adults of Vitamin K is between 90-120 mg and it plays a key role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding. It is generally not taken as a dietary supplement so overdosing is rare. Symptoms of too much of this fat soluble vitamin are excessive blood clotting, kidney tubal degeneration, jaundice, damage to cell membranes and Hemolytic Anemia ( the destruction of red blood cells that carry oxygen and iron to the bloodstream) in infants.

The RDA for adults of magnesium is between 300-400 mg. Excessive amounts of magnesium from food does not pose a health risk in healthy individuals because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts in the urine. However, high doses of magnesium from dietary supplements or medications often result in diarrhea that can be accompanied by nausea and abdominal cramping. Very large doses of magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids (typically providing more than 5,000 mg/day magnesium) have been associated with magnesium toxicity and have been fatal in a few cases.

While a healthy diet and multivitamin combined do not cause toxicity, taking dietary supplements can be dangerous and lead to or mask other illnesses or deficiencies. That’s why it is important to talk to a qualified health care provider prior to including any supplements into your daily regimen.

Dangers Of Vitamin Or Mineral Overdose Part I

Most people don’t realize there’s no real advantage to taking more than the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals and many don’t recognize there may be disadvantages. While the general theme of our blogs are about eating healthy and the vitamin and mineral content of specific foods, sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad for our health. Routinely getting an overload of vitamins and minerals can hurt you. It is very hard to overdo it from diet alone and rare when combining a healthy diet with a standard multivitamin but is not uncommon if you combine the one or both with other supplements. Let’s explore what is too much of some vitamins and minerals and why.

Vitamin C cannot be stored in our bodies so it’s rare to overdo it on this one but getting more than 2000 mg a day can be harmful. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 60 mg but too much on a regular basis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, heartburn, headache, insomnia and kidney stones.

Iron can be stored and when consistently getting too much, it builds up in our organs causing severe medical conditions. The RDA for iron varies somewhat depending on age and whether you are pregnant but for most its 18 mg. Getting over 45 mg a day is very harmful to your health and can even cause death unless you suffer from anemia. The side effects come in stages and begin with irritability, lethargy, explosive abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, which can sometimes contain blood. Late stage side effects consist of seizures, a decrease in blood sugar levels, fever and liver damage. Symptoms of liver damage can include bleeding and jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and white portion of the eyes. Too much iron may also cause scaring in the stomach and intestines, which can lead to a blockage in the digestive tract. Death usually occurs because of a buildup of iron in the heart, liver and endocrine glands, such as the pancreas.

Zinc is not stored in the body and the RDA for adults is between 8-11 mg. Too much can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea and abdominal pain. Very large doses of zinc — 225 milligrams in a single dose can also cause you to vomit. Too much zinc also interferes with your body’s ability to absorb copper from your diet and some antibiotic medications. If you take zinc supplements in the form of nasal spray, you might experience other side effects. High doses of nasal zinc can affect the nerves in your nose, causing anosmia — a loss of your sense of smell.

Vitamin A can be stored in the body making it easier to overdo it when you have some in reserves for when your body needs it. The RDA is between 700-900 micrograms or 2,300-3,000 IU. When too much is taken you can become sick and skin yellowing can occur. Children are more sensitive to an overdose and too much taken while pregnant can cause severe birth defects.

Selenium is stored in the body and the RDA is 55 micrograms. It is not recommended to take more than 200 micrograms daily. An overdose of selenium may cause bad breath, fever, nausea, and liver, kidney and heart problems. It also greatly increases your risk of skin cancer and diabetes. At high enough levels, selenium could cause death.

While a healthy, balanced diet and daily multivitamin is recommended, it’s important to know the risks of taking vitamin and mi

Health Benefits of Raspberries

Berries of all kinds are a great and healthy snack that boasts amazing healthy benefits. Rasberries, a smaller and sometimes overlooked part of the berry family-offer their sweet taste and are antioxidant powerhouses.

The antioxidants in raspberries help protect us against free radical damage which causes cancer and other age related diseases. The human body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. In most cases, free radicals far outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants. A continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to maintain the balance and obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing the free radicals from the bloodstream.
They also contain high amounts of phytonutrients which help control the dangers of excessive inflammation. By helping to scavenge free radical molecules and regulating the activity of enzymes that could trigger unwanted inflammation, the phytonutrients in raspberries help lower our risk of chronic diseases that are associated with chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. These chronic diseases include obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.

Raspberries are also rich in dietary fiber. Fiber helps control blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, helps with weight management, keeps our digestive system running smoothly, promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, lowers our stroke risk and keeps skin healthy.

The vitamin A in raspberries helps lower stroke risk and is key for good vision, a healthy immune system, cell growth, healthy skin, maintaining strong bones and healthy mucous membranes. It also plays a direct role in performing physiological functions and helps in the development of the central nervous system. It is also needed in the formation of sperm cells and the regulation of hemoglobin production in the embryo.

The vitamin e in raspberries helps speed up wound healing, maintaining healthy skin, maintaining a healthy immune system, thinning the blood and helps prevent eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

They also contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.

Iron helps with carrying life-giving oxygen to human blood cells. Magnesium is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, helps with transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Now you know that these amazing little berries pack a healthful punch in such a small package. With the amount of vitamins and nutrients they provide-they are worth adding to everyone’s regular diet!