By Natural Advocate | October 31, 2011 - 8:50 pm - Posted in Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamin supplementation, in moderation, is a good idea for many of us.  Due to our fast paced lives, many people don’t always pay attention to getting all of the food groups in to reach our recommended daily allowances of every vitamin everyday.  Women, in particular, often go on severely calorie restricted diets and may leave themselves nutritionally short.

The best way to get our nutrition, vitamins and minerals is from the food we eat.  Taking a multivitamin suited to our personal needs is a reasonable amount of supplementation.  Taking multiple vitamins in megadoses without any indication of a deficiency and without consulting a physician, can actually be harmful to your health.

Even the water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and some of the B vitamins like niacin, can cause abdominal discomfort when taken in very large doses.  Symptoms from this practice can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a loss of appetite.  Generally speaking, supplementation should be done within the RDA or recommended daily allowance.

During certain times in our life, however, nutritional needs may change and our bodies may require more of a particular nutrient or vitamin.  A perfect example of this situation is women during pregnancy.  Prenatal vitamins are specifically tailored to their needs providing folic acid which helps to prevent birth defects.  Pregnant women usually require more iron also.

Postmenopausal women need to supplement their calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis.  Another concern for older individuals and vegans is getting enough of vitamin B12.  All of these situations should be discussed with your physician to determine what amount of supplementation is appropriate for your situation.

Use common sense when purchasing and taking any vitamin for supplementation.  Try to select a vitamin with your age and gender in mind.  A good rule to follow is to keep it simple.  Avoid taking multiple supplements or large doses of any one vitamin unless directed otherwise by a physician.

Vitamin D has been the focus of a lot of attention lately and many of us fear that we aren’t getting enough of this vitamin.  But you can get too high of an amount of vitamin D.  Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity are gastrointestinal problems, frequent urination and hypercalcemia.

Vitamin A, can be overdone also, and in too high of a dose, can lead to toxicity.  Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity are dry skin, hair, eyes and lips.  Vitamin K is another one to use caution with as it promotes clotting.  This action could interfere with blood thinners and common heart medications.

Always make sure you inform your doctor of any vitamins you are taking and what quantity.  If you are having surgery, it is very important that your medical team knows what vitamins you have been taking.

This can have an effect on your bleeding time and how you respond to anesthesia.  If and when you take a vitamin supplement, just remember, more is not better.  Food is the best vitamin source and if you do supplement, use a reasonable dose.  Keep your doctor in the loop as to what you are taking in the way of vitamins.

By Natural Advocate | October 29, 2011 - 10:16 pm - Posted in Home Remedies, Natural and Herbal Treatments

Home remedies, or natural ways of dealing with everyday physical discomforts and health and beauty issues, have been around and passed down through generations.  Some do not have a lot of value and others are really effective.

One issue that bothers both men and women is drying of the skin from colder weather outdoors and dry heat from furnaces inside.  Often, your skin can become itchy, also, from colder weather dryness.  One simple remedy to counteract this is to put a chlorine filter on your shower head.  For those of us who use a bathtub instead of a shower, you can use a faucet filter.

Dechlorinating  filters for showers are available online or from home improvement stores.  The principle behind this home remedy is to remove the drying agent, chlorine, from your water source used for bathing.  Many people see vast improvement in their skin moisture in winter from using this remedy.

Another minor, yet annoying, health issue is picking up a foot fungus from pedicures or from using public showering facilities.  One remedy for this malady is soaking your feet in a foot soaking tub with tea tree oil added.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil with a camphor type of aroma.  Tea tree oil can be found at natural food stores, certain grocery stores and online.  This has proved to be effective for many people that have tried it with success.

Another problem that plagues both men and women is excessive hair loss beyond the usual few strands you naturally lose with brushing or combing your hair.  This can result in noticeably thinning hair.  Try a supplement with biotin.

Most supplements that say they are for the hair, skin and nails have a high dose of biotin in them.  You may not see a difference right away and may have to wait two to three months to see the results.  These kinds of supplements can be found in health food stores or drugstores and can be good for those with hair loss problems or thinning hair.

In the unfortunate event of an injury, you may want to put a cold ice pack to the injured area.  You may not have an ice pack readily available.  You can use a bag of frozen peas from your freezer instead of an ice pack.  Make sure you wrap it in a towel, however, so it won’t be too cold on your skin.  The peas should stay frozen a long time so you should find this to be effective.

Here’s a delicious home healthy recipe.  Many people love chocolate and know it is high in antioxidants yet they want to avoid the calories associated with chocolate.  You can make your own hot chocolate by using unprocessed cocoa powder, stevia, which is an herb used for sweetening, and unsweetened almond milk.

Heat this mixture up and you’ll have a guilt-free cup of hot chocolate that is healthy and loaded with antioxidants.  If you are bothered by insomnia, try using lavender oil or lemon oil added to your bath before bedtime.

Another way to use this remedy is to put it in a spray bottle with water and lightly mist it on your pillow. Lavender oil and lemon oil have a relaxing effect that is conducive to sleep.  These remedies have been tried and true for many people and are economical without any bad effects.

By Natural Advocate | October 26, 2011 - 5:39 pm - Posted in Herbal Supplements

I take flax seed supplements every day. I used to take a krill oil supplement, but frankly that got a bit expensive and I was getting a little tired of the fishy burps that often accompanied as dose. I also have been on a bit of a vegan kick with my diet, trying to stay away from meats and cheeses and dairy.

So flax seed oil is a great way for me to ensure that I am getting my daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids in my diet while also not having to take a fish source of it (fish sources can also be contaminated with mercury and other toxins unless they are specifically labeled as mercury free).

Flax seed is an excellent food for both men and women. However, women may be especially interested in taking flax oil or eating a lot of flax seed in their diet. Flax seeds have a high content of a nutrient called lignans. What are lignans you ask?

They are compounds that actually help to regulate the estrogen levels in the body by boosting phytoestrogens, which are an arguably safe form of estrogen-mimicking plant based hormone mimicking nutrients.

A new study that has just come out found that flax seed oil supplementation did not improve women’s hot flashes. However, previous studies indicated that women did report less hot flashes during menopause when they were taking flax oil. So, as usual, studies are contradictory and it is hard to know what to really trust.

In the end, you have to trust your own body. I trust mine, and it says to me that I feel much better when I’m getting a daily dose of omega 3 fats – no matter what form they are in – vegan or fish based!

By Natural Advocate | October 24, 2011 - 11:40 am - Posted in Antioxidants

Green tea has enjoyed a really healthy reputation lately. Of course, it started a few years back when it got all kinds of great press for being a super antioxidant drink and a healthier alternative to America’s favorite energizing beverage coffee.

Tea in general, when it is organic and when it is brewed properly, has some excellent antioxidant properties. It’s all in the catechins called polyphenols and the compound called EGCG, which is the compound responsible for many of its health promoting properties.

In addition to a study recently confirming that regular drinking of green tea, or regular ingestion of their main compound EGCG, slows weight gain down in mice by a significant amount. In the study, mice were fed shakes with or without green tea extract in them.

The mice that drank the shakes with tea gained weight about half as slowly as the mice who drank just shakes with no green tea extract.  This is great news for those of us (like me) who are getting older and starting to notice that the pounds pile on a little too easily!

The theory is that the EGCG somehow helps the body to excrete more fat via the feces than without it.  The mice that had the green tea in their shakes showed a higher fat content in their fecal matter.

Now, green tea is also implicated as a healing tonic for lung cancer.  A recent study showed that consumption of green tea’s main compound EGCG enhanced the body’s ability to produce a molecule called mi-R210m which inhibits cancer cell’s ability to grow on top of one another – a common trait of many types of cancer cells.

Because of this, it may inhibit cancerous tumor growth which is another great benefit to drinking this tea – and only enhances its anti-cancer benefits when consumed on a regular basis.

Of course, this study indicated these results in a petri dish, but the thought is that it may have similar implications inside the human body. We really hope so, because green tea supplements are easy to come by and relatively reasonable in cost and green tea is an enjoyable alternative to caffeinated beverages!


By Natural Advocate | October 22, 2011 - 3:02 pm - Posted in Alternative & Herbal Health News, Foods

This is often misleading since the consumer would probably assume this type of cheese uses nothing but soy or rice in it’s processing.  However, many vegetarian cheeses are not really dairy free.  They often contain a product called casein, which is a milk protein.

So, many of these cheeses are not truly dairy free which could cause huge problems for individuals who are allergic to milk or lactose intolerant.  There are cheeses that state on the label “casein free” which means they are truly dairy free.

Casein is found in other products where you probably wouldn’t expect to find it.  Certain types of processed meats and canned tuna fish use casein as a binder.  Another unexpected source of dairy products is in steaks ordered from a steakhouse.

Often, butter is melted on the steak as it is grilled.  If you are allergic to milk, always ask how your food is prepared in restaurants.  Other areas of concern are, for vegans, looking for hidden products, such as fish.

It is not unusual for worcestershire sauce or bottled salad dressing to use anchovies as one of their ingredients. Gelatin listed as a food ingredient can also be derived from animal products.
Individuals with a peanut or tree nut allergy have to use a lot of caution about what they consume.

It is not unusual for chili, hot sauces or pesto to contain peanuts.  Coconuts are considered a tree nut and it is found in many different food products such as pancake mixes and breads.

One of the best choices for consumers is to buy products with the least amount of ingredients to be sure of what is in the food you are buying.  The closer to fresh our food is, the more certain you can be of what you are eating.

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