Christmas Season Wearing You Down?

This is a busy time of year for many of us.  Shopping, decorating, baking, hosting family or traveling to Grandma’s house can really be exhausting!  Yes, it’s fun and yes, it’s expected of us to do our part and enjoy the season.  I don’t know about you but I’m worn out and I’m just now coming into the home stretch with last minute activities.  What are you doing to keep your spirits and your energy up?  It’s easy to say “Take some time and give yourself a break,” but it’s easier said than done. It may be the season for exhaustion, as well as cheer, but sometimes our bodies are trying to send a message.  One supplement that could help, offered in many forms, has been called the newest energy booster.  Used to lose weight, improve the health of your skin, reduce stress and give you an energy boost, the vitamin B12 could be the answer to your short term overload.  Our body’s ability to get enough B12 through diet is limited.  It is added to many cereals but is also found naturally in shellfish and meat such as liver and beef, and in dairy products including cheese and eggs.  Injections have been found to be the most effective method for providing B12 in a usable form, although it is also available in pill and liquid.  Vitamin B12 deficiency can be dangerous if extreme and warning signs are fatigue and muscle weakness.  Your waning energy may not be caused by a deficiency but you could find some relief and much needed energy with B12 supplements. Feeling run down makes the holidays more difficult,...

Dietary Supplement Use is On the Rise: Are They Worth It?

With all of the reports in the news about vitamin D deficiency, the importance of calcium, B12, and many other vitamins and minerals, Americans are ingesting vitamin supplements like candy.  These supplements aren’t cheap and the research is unclear about the benefits.  But we’re taking them anyway.  A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics stated that the percentage of adults taking supplements rose from 42% in 1988-1994 to 50% in 2003-2006.  The largest increase was for calcium.  The number of women aged 60 and over who take calcium supplements increased from 28% to 61%.  Interestingly, the number of women who can get pregnant and who take folic acid, which is known to prevent neural tube defects, remained constant. Calcium and folic acid have been proven to prevent disease, but there is a lot of controversy about other vitamins, especially vitamin D.  MicroNutrient tests can provide information about whether you are absorbing enough of specific nutrients based on recommended intake numbers from the FDA.  The real question is whether the numbers that are provided by the FDA provide enough of the necessary nutrients.  Controversery over how critical vitamin D is to overall health and disease prevention may have limited the number of people who would reach for a vitamin D supplement.  Currently, the FDA does not support megadoses of vitamin D and in fact, there may be research to support a claim that too much vitamin D can cause health problems.  It is important to know whether you are getting the right amount of key minerals and vitamins, but don’t go overboard until there is solid research to support it. Written by...

An Anti-Aging Pill? Not Yet!

Do you think you know what you are supposed to do to live a long life?  Stop smoking, eat less (a LOT less!), eat fruits and vegetables, exercise…but what if there was a drug you could take that would reverse the aging process and allow you to live longer?  There isn’t yet, so don’t get too excited, but new research released this week is showing promise in reversing aging in mice.  There are quite a few caveats, of course!  The mice were genetically engineered to age quickly so that makes direct application to our natural causes of aging trickier.  One major potential problem is that the drug could cause cancer.  It looks like this could be a balancing act for researchers to figure out how to provide a benefit, longer life, without the tremendous drawback of cancer. The research is based on telomeres, the small protective caps that are found at the end of chromosomes.  Over time, through cell division and oxidative stress (exposure to actual stress and toxins in the environment), our telomeres shorten causing chromosomes to fray and stop replicating.  Shortened telomeres is believed to be a natural sign of aging and is linked to many health problems including Alzheimer’s and increased risk of certain types of cancers.  The estrogen-based drug used in the study turned on the mice’s dormant telomerase gene which increased the telomere lengths in the animals and their telomerase levels. Don’t wait for the miracle pill, it will be quite a while before this is ready for prime time.  In the meantime, do all the boring stuff you know you should and take antioxidants supplements including vitamins...

A Diabetes Medication May Cause B12 Deficiency

Researchers have long thought that a popular medication used to control blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes, Metformin, could be causing B12 deficiency in some patients, but this was based on short term studies.  A recent study followed 380 Type 2 diabetes patients for 4.3 years and found that the patients’ B12 levels dropped significantly while on the medication, confirming the theory.   B12 is necessary for the body to produce red blood cells.  Without this critical vitamin, Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia will develop due to low red blood cell count.  Symptoms include diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite, pale skin, problems concentrating, difficulty breathing, swollen, red tongue or bleeding gums and even, in long term deficiency nerve damage or dementia. This new research highlights the need for Type 2 diabetes patients to have their B12 levels monitored, either through an Anemia Panel or with a MicroNutrient test.  The deficiency can easily be corrected with B12 supplements and eating a diet with a lot of foods containing B12 like meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs and dairy products.  If you are currently taking Metformin for Type 2 diabetes you should take action; get tested now to prevent long term damage to your body. Written by...