Dangers Of Vitamin And Mineral Overdose Part II

On our quest to be healthy, sometimes we don’t realize that too much of a good thing can be bad. Forty-four percent of Americans take vitamins and dietary supplements daily and as many as 84% of Americans consider vitamins and supplements to be safe. This is a perception that increases their risk for vitamin toxicity since more than 60,000 instances of vitamin toxicity are reported annually to US poison control centers. Taking vitamin or mineral supplements without consulting a doctor can leave us with other more serious health issues. Taking a standard multivitamin combined with a healthy diet is perfectly safe but when we combine those with additional vitamin or mineral supplements- we may be increasing our risk of serious illnesses and side effects. Let’s explore what is too much and the side effects that an overdose can cause.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B3 is between 14-16 milligrams and it is water soluble so it is not stored in the body. Deficiencies are rare because of the abundant food sources that contain vitamin B3 (niacin). Many people supplement this because it can lower your cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease but this should always be done at the instruction of a doctor. Doses of 35 mg or more daily cause blood-vessel dilation, which can result in tingling, itching, and flushing of the face, neck, and chest — a condition called niacin flush which is uncomfortable but not dangerous. Other side effects include hair loss, dry skin, liver toxicity, heart palpitations, joint pain, muscle cell damage, glucose intolerance, headache, seizures, mental changes and fainting. High doses could pose risks such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems including vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. Long term vitamin B3 overdose toxicity has also been shown to cause gout.

The RDA of vitamin B6 is 1.3 – 1.7 mg and it is water soluble so it is not stored in the body so toxic levels are hard to obtain unless a dietary supplement is taken. Vitamin B-6 supplements had been recommended in large doses for treatment of health issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), improved cognitive function and for the reduction of homocysteine (a protein that is often elevated when a person is at a high risk for heart disease or dementia). Doses of one to six grams for more than one year can lead to a range of minor to debilitating symptoms. Some symptoms of toxicity include muscle spasms, muscle cramps, headaches, severe fatigue, mood changes, skin lesions, light sensitivity and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and heartburn. While these symptoms can be reversed with discontinued supplementation, long term dosages of 100 mg or more can lead to permanent nerve damage including loss of bodily functions.

The RDA of vitamin E is 15 mg and because it is fat soluble, it is stored in the liver. While vitamin E has been recommended for a wide range of reasons including prevention of eye disorders, improving skin elasticity, controlling diabetes and cancer prevention-taking too much can be dangerous. Researchers hypothesize that cumulative free-radical damage to neurons over time contributes to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. High doses of vitamin E from supplements may also cause serious bleeding in the brain known as a hemorrhagic stroke. The tolerable upper limit of vitamin E for adults is 1,000 milligrams, or 1,500 international units, per day, but your doctor will determine what a safe upper limit is for you.

Manganese is essential for healthy bone structure and prevention of osteoporosis. While there is no RDA for it, it is said to be LIKELY safe in amounts up to 11 mg per day. More than 11 mg per day might not be safe and can cause serious side effects, including symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease, such as shaking (tremors). People who have trouble getting rid of manganese from the body, such as people with liver disease, may experience side effects when taking less than 11 mg per day.

While there are many reasons and benefits of supplementing specific vitamins and minerals, it is important to know what the safe daily intake for each is. Consult your doctor prior to implementing dietary supplements into your daily routine.

The Effects Of Stress On The Body

While many of us do our best to avoid stress because of its effects on our mood, that’s not the only reason we should avoid stress. There are a plethora of negative effects and if left unchecked for too long-can lead to health problems.

You may think illness is the cause for that nagging headache, insomnia, lack of focus or your decreased productivity at work but stress is likely the culprit. Other symptoms caused by stress include muscle tension, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset restlessness, lack of motivation, anxiety, sadness, depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, overeating, under eating and change in sex drive.

Recognizing common stress symptoms can enable you to manage them. But finding a way to manage stress is important because if left unmanaged, stress can contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, can take a toll on the body, increasing the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

Stress can also have negative effects on your gastrointestinal system. It affects digestion, and what nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how fast food moves through your body. You may find that you have either diarrhea or constipation.

There are easy ways to manage your stress levels. Physical activity, relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and tai chi are all great ways to help you manage stress. Finding an activity that helps your body cope with stress will not only help you manage your day to day stress load but will also help you avoid these more serious health issues that it can also cause.

A healthy and balanced diet is another great way to help you manage your stress levels. Certain foods contain nutrients that help our body combat stress. Foods high in folate help to stabilize our mood and reduce anxiety. Asparagus, spinach, avocadoes, broccoli, oranges, beans and lentils are all high in folate so adding them to your regular diet will help you combat or control your stress levels.

Vitamin C like oranges, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green or red peppers and leafy greens like spinach, kale, cabbage and turnip greens help reduce the secretion of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Once it gets into the bloodstream, it is responsible for relaying the news of stress to all parts of the body and mind.

Zinc helps us maintain ideal hormone levels in the body and even a small deficiency exacerbates the effects of stress on the body. Foods high in zinc like beef, chicken, seafood, beans, nuts, legumes, cheese, fortified cereals, or potatoes help us maintain healthy hormone levels.

Learning to manage your stress will help you feel better and will help you avoid more serious illnesses.

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

The Dangers of Aspartame

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener otherwise known by their brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It’s used in place of sugar and can also be found in products like yogurts puddings and carbonated beverages. But as you may have already heard, it has some pretty unhealthy effects that could actually be more damaging than sugar.

It was discovered by accident in 1965 when chemist James Schlatter of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug. It was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods in 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr. John W. Olney and consumer attorney James Turner, as well as investigations of G.D. Searle’s research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold. Unfortunately, it was later approved and became a popular sugar substitute marketed as a healthier alternative to sugar.

There is a laundry list of side effects to regular use of aspartame products such as headaches, seizures, dizziness, muscle spasms, nausea, depression, slurred speech, anxiety attacks, vertigo, insomnia, breathing difficulties, hearing loss, fatigue, loss of taste, vision problems, tachycardia, irritability, heart palpitations, memory loss, tinnitus, numbness, weight gain and rashes.

It is also known to worsen illnesses such as brain tumors, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, lymphoma, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia. It can also cause birth defects.
Aspartame contains 40 percent aspartic acid and excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate or MSG is glutamic acid) in our food supply are can cause serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.

Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins” because they stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid and taken in its free form (unbound to proteins), it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess levels in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) can lead to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain. The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons and unfortunately 75 percent or more of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. Some chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include: ALS, Alzheimer’s, MS, AIDS, dementia and brain lesions.

Aspartame in diet sodas, or aspartame in other liquid form are absorbed more quickly and have been shown to spike plasma levels of aspartic acid. There is no need to panic if you’ve just discovered this is an ingredient in a yogurt you just ate but it is definitely not a healthy alternative and can actually be very harmful to your health. You may want to add this to the “avoid” list just to be safe.

Health Benefits of Watermelon

Summer is coming to an end and so is the availability of a sweet summer favorite-watermelon. This delicious seasonal fruit is a mainstay in many households throughout the warmer months because it’s a great treat and excellent way to stay hydrated but it packs a good amount of health benefits in every bite as well.
It is 91.5 percent water so it’s great for keeping you hydrated which is especially important during the hot summer months. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that women with even mild dehydration experienced headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, and worse moods.

At 46 calories per cup, it’s a great snack for dieter’s and it offers 20 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fend off free radical damage that causes cancer and other age related diseases. It is also key for a healthy immune system, promotes eye health, prevents cardiovascular disease , prevents stroke and prevents skin wrinkling.

Watermelon also contains Vitamin A which is another antioxidant that protects against cancer. It also strengthens “entry points” into the human body, such as mucous membranes, the lining of the eyes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, it is also essential for the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, that fight infection once in the body. Vitamin A is also helpful in promoting eye health, preventing skin wrinkling, maintaining a healthy reproductive system and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

The fiber content in watermelon helps us maintain a healthy digestive system, lowers cholesterol, helps maintain blood sugar levels, is important for weight management, providing energy and plays a role in maintaining healthy skin. It’s also important for preventing heart disease, stroke and kidney stones.
Watermelon also contains potassium which is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It provides relief from stroke, helps control blood pressure, promotes heart health, prevents kidney disorders, anxiety and stress, as well as enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and a healthy nervous system.

Watermelon contains an abundance of lycopene with just one cup offering 1.5 times more than a raw tomato. Lycopene acts as a super antioxidant, stopping free radicals from damaging your cells and compromising your immune system. Lycopene also protects agains heart disease and several types of cancer. It also prevents age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, aging of the skin, diabetes, osteoporosis and infertility.

Watermelon also contains a natural substance called citrulline that’s been tied to improved artery function and lower blood pressure. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that drinking watermelon juice can actually be soothing after a workout. Athletes who consumed a little more than 16 ounces an hour before exercise had less muscle soreness and a lower heart rate within a day.

Aside from its’ sweet taste, there are plenty of reasons to fill up on this delicious treat before they go out of season.

Eliminating Germ and Bacteria Hotspots From Your Home

As clean as we try to keep our homes, there are prime areas for harmful bacteria to grow which can weaken our immune system and make us sick. Here are some common areas in our homes where bacteria thrive and how to avoid it.

Your kitchen sink can surprisingly be more germ filled than your toilet. Food particles from plates left to soak or rinsed from dishes on their way to the dishwasher can serve as a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. They can get on your hands or spread to foods. It’s recommended to clean your sink and drain plug once a day with a mixture of bleach and water. Your first thought might be “who has time for that” but by keeping an already prepared mixture in a spray bottle nearby-you can easily make this part of your routine at the end of the day.

Your salt and pepper shaker is another breeding ground for germs. We grab it to season our food while cooking or at the table but no one thinks to wash their hands before doing so. Eliminate any germs left behind by wiping them clean when you clear the table after dinner.

Your toothbrush is another place that moisture loving bacteria like to hang out. Putting your toothbrush somewhere that it can air dry will avoid this. Don’t store it too close to the toilet though. Research done in the 1970s found that flushing the toilet sends a spray of bacteria- and virus-contaminated water droplets into the air. These germs can float around in the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush before landing on surfaces — including your toothbrush. Close the toilet lid before flushing and replace your toothbrush often to lower your contamination risk.
It shouldn’t be surprising that your TV remote is another big source of germs.

After all, everyone in the house touches it and who thinks to wash their hands before or after touching the remote? Cleaning it routinely with the same bleach/water mixture mentioned early or an alcohol wipe will eliminate germs and stop them from infecting everyone in the house.

Another source of germs is your computer keyboard and mouse because it’s another place we don’t think about washing our hands before using. More germs are added if we are eating or drinking near our computers. In a study done by a British consumer group, researchers swabbed keyboards for germs and found a host of potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Four of 33 sampled keyboards had enough germs to be considered health hazards and one had levels of germs five times higher than that found on a toilet seat! Cleaning your keyboard with a bleach or alcohol wipe periodically will kill any germs and keep harmful bacteria from growing.

When we take a bath to get clean we may not be doing it in the cleanest area. One study found staphylococcus bacteria in 26% of the tubs tested. Another study had even worse findings for whirlpool tubs. Forty-three water samples from whirlpools were tested and all 43 had mild to dangerous bacterial growth. Almost all showed bacteria from fecal matter; 81% had fungi, and 34% contained staph bacteria. The reason whirlpool tubs are so dirty has to do with the lining of the pipes. Water tends to get trapped in the pipes which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. When you turn on the jets, the germy water spouts out into the tub where you’re soaking. Cleaning and disinfecting your tub with bleach or bathroom cleaner after bathing and drying it with a clean towel will cut down on bacteria growth.

For whirlpool tubs, the best way to prevent bacteria from accumulating is to clean out the pipes before use. It’s not very practical since you’d have to fill the tub with a bleach solution, run the jets, empty it, then refill it and run the jets to rinse the bleach out, empty it and finally refill to soak in the tub. Unfortunately, the pipes are a breeding ground for germs.

So there you have it, as clean as you think your home is, there are still germs and bacteria lurking if you don’t already routinely clean these areas of your home. Routinely cleaning these areas will keep germs from spreading and bacteria from bogging down your immune system.

Cleaning Your Produce

Fresh produce is the most nutrient rich form of fruits and vegetables but it’s important to properly store and clean them before you eat them. Fresh produce can harbor bacteria, fungi, and other microbes along with trace amounts of chemicals. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help improve the safety of fruits and vegetables.

Produce that requires refrigeration can be stored in vegetable bins or on shelves above raw meats, poultry, or seafood to prevent cross contamination. Storing fresh produce in cloth produce bags or perforated plastic bags will allow air to circulate. Do not keep cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is above 90F) and store in the refrigerator in covered containers.

Washing produce before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage, so it is often recommended to wait and wash fruits and vegetables just before use. Generally, soil has been removed from fresh produce but if not and you choose to wash before storing, dry thoroughly with clean paper towels before storing.
Before preparing fruits and vegetables, always wash your hands well with soap and water. Clean counter tops, cutting boards, and utensils with hot soapy water before peeling or cutting produce. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it is being cut or peeled.

No washing method completely removes or kills all microbes which may be present on fruits and vegetables. Thoroughly rinsing fresh produce under running water is an effective way to reduce the number of microorganisms and helps remove dirt, bacteria, stubborn garden pests and residual pesticides. Rubbing fruits and vegetables briskly with your hands under running water will help remove dirt and surface microorganisms.

If immersing in water, a clean bowl is a better choice than the sink because the drain area often harbors microorganisms. Produce with a hard rind or firm skin may be scrubbed with a vegetable brush. Wash water should be no more than 10 degrees colder than produce to prevent the entrance of microorganisms into the stem or blossom end of the produce.

These are easy tips to store and clean your fruits and vegetables to eliminate bacteria growth and remove chemicals before you eat.