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Vitamin Deficiencies Can Mess With Your Mental Health


There are mood-related signs you’re low on nutrients like vitamin D.
Here’s how to tell and what to do about it.

You’d be hard-pressed not to stumble on a social media #ad for vitamin packs. Trendy supplement brands like Ritual or Care/Of promise their products will help alleviate a series of vitamin deficiencies, which companies warn can cause health issues ― including problems with your mental health.

We know we need proper nutrients in order to function properly. But just how much of an impact do they really have on our minds?

“Optimal mental health requires adequate availability and absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino and fatty acids as essential building blocks for our brain cells and neurotransmitters,” said Dr. Jennifer Kraker, a New York-based psychiatrist who specializes in nutrition and mental health. “When our nutritional biochemistry is imbalanced, our mental health is affected.”

For most people, a healthy diet will take care of that. For others, a doctor may need to prescribe a vitamin supplement if the body doesn’t metabolize nutrients properly. (And they don’t have to come in an aesthetically pleasing glass bottle or Instagram-worthy capsule. Drug store brands will do just fine.)

“Because we’re all unique, one person may tolerate lower levels of a certain nutrient (such as vitamin D) very well, and another might not,” Kraker said. “Rinse and repeat for most all micronutrients.”

Nutritional deficiencies can tinker with your mental health on a sliding scale ― everything from mild to disruptive symptoms, depending on the person. Research has found certain deficiencies can contribute to anxiety and depression, as well as exacerbate symptoms in people with specific mental health disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder. A deficiency can also just slightly impact your emotional well-being.

“More commonly, nutrition-related issues are experienced as symptoms like reduced ability to manage stress, increased anxiety or edginess, lower mood, and poorer concentration or focus,” said Nicole Beurkens, licensed psychologist and board-certified nutrition specialist at Horizons Developmental Resource Center in Caledonia, Michigan.

Of course, mental health is complex and nutrients may be a minimal part of the puzzle (or sometimes they don’t influence it at all). That said, there are some cases where they play a role. There’s plenty that scientists are still working to discover and debunk about the food-mood connection and the impact that specific deficiencies can have on our mind, but here are some of the key nutritional players they’ve managed to suss out so far.

Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin influences the expression of over 1,000 genes that regulate mood, sleep, as well as the protection and synthesis of neurons (the cells in our brain and nervous system that run the show).

There are vitamin D receptors throughout the body and brain, some of which are located in regions that influence mood, alertness, motivation, memory and pleasure.

“Vitamin D also regulates genes that make the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can include depression, anxiety, irritability and fatigue.

Vitamin B12
Besides helping with the formation of those ever-important neurons mentioned above, vitamin B12 plays a role in regulating mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, as well as stress hormones like norepinephrine.

“It also functions on a molecular level to aid in the detoxification of homocysteine, a neurotoxin for the brain that’s associated with depression,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include fatigue, brain fog, numbness and tingling, shortness of breath and more.

Vitamin B6

“Vitamin B6 concentrations are roughly 100 times higher in the brain than the body as a whole, implying importance in mental health function,” Kraker said. It’s a co-factor in making the brain’s feel-good chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.

And, like B12, vitamin B6 helps the body keep homocysteine levels in check, which helps with mood issues, Kraker said. People with kidney disease or malabsorption problems are the ones who are most likely to be deficient in B6.

Magnesium
In mental health, magnesium helps to regulate the stress response and is considered to be one of nature’s mood stabilizers, Kraker said.

It’s pretty uncommon to be deficient in magnesium, but it does happen. Symptoms that might indicate you’re low can include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and mood changes.

Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral with many important roles in brain function, Kraker said. It also helps vitamin B6 do the best job possible of making feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

Most people naturally get enough zinc through their diets. A deficiency can occur in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, vegetarians and people with gastrointestinal disease. Symptoms can include loss of appetite or taste, loss of temper, depression and learning difficulties.

Iron
Besides regulating oxygen delivery throughout the body and brain, iron helps to create and balance mood-regulating chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

“Those most at risk for an iron deficiency are fertile women, the elderly, and vegans who aren’t particularly mindful about how to eat to prevent an iron deficiency,” Kraker said.

Symptoms of an iron deficiency can include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and dizziness.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s contain components called DHA and EPA, both of which play an important role in brain function: “They ward off inflammation, maintain brain cell health, and improve communication between brain cells,” Kraker said. They can also help with mood.

Symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency can include mood issues, often accompanied by dry skin, fatigue, allergies and chronic thirst.

How To Figure Out If You Have A Deficiency — And What To Do About It
Before we go any further, one important note we want to reiterate: This all isn’t to say overhauling your diet or taking vitamin supplements on your own will completely cure any mood-related symptoms. Other interventions like talk therapy and medication are the best-known ways to improve mental health issues.

You should look at nutrition as “an important adjunctive treatment to maintain health and prevent relapse, or use lower doses of pharmaceutical interventions,” Kraker said.

There are several physical signs that can clue you into whether there’s a potential deficiency brewing, Beurkens said. These can include frequent headaches, GI symptoms (think: constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating), weak nails, dry skin or eczema, hair loss and many others.

“High stress levels also often accompany … symptoms and can negatively impact nutrient levels,” Beurkens added.

Similarly, adjusting to a new set of life stressors can impact how you take care of yourself and deplete nutrient stores in the process ― say, a recent move has you eating differently, a new job has upended your go-to lunch habits, or a newly diagnosed autoimmune condition has you adjusting to a whole new way of functioning.

Getting a comprehensive workup of your nutritional status can be helpful in getting to the root cause of what’s going on.

“Physical and mental health are interconnected, so nutrition should always be a part of the discussion when mental health symptoms are raised as a concern,” Beurkens said. “Unfortunately, this rarely happens.”

Start by opening up to your physician or psychiatrist about your suspicions: Share with them the symptoms you’re experiencing, a highlight reel of what your eating habits are like, and anything else you feel might be relevant, such as relatives who have the same deficiency.

Ask your doctor to either order relevant bloodwork that’s consistent with your symptoms or refer you to someone who specializes in both mental health and nutrition. (The Institute for Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine for Mental Health, and the Walsh Research Institute all list doctors trained in this manner.)

“You know your body and your life best, so if something feels off, it probably is,” Kraker said.

With the right treatment plan ― which can include input from your doctor along with a psychologist or psychiatrist ― you’ll hopefully find a solution that works best for you.

By Krissy Brady     02/17/2020

 

vitamines

Magnesium May Improve Memory

Only 32% of Americans Get Recommended Daily Allowance of Magnesium, Researchers Say

Having trouble remembering where you left your keys? Forgot the name of an acquaintance?

A new study suggests that increasing your intake of magnesium, an essential mineral found in dark leafy vegetables and certain fruits, beans, and nuts, may help combat memory lapses associated with aging.

In the study, published Jan. 28 in Neuron, neuroscientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tsinghua University in Beijing found that increasing brain magnesium using a newly developed compound, magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), improves learning abilities, working memory, and short- and-long-term memory in rats. The magnesium also helped older rats perform better on a battery of learning tests.

“This study not only highlights the importance of a diet with sufficient daily magnesium, but also suggests the usefulness of magnesium-based treatments for aging-associated memory decline,” one of the study’s authors, Susumu Tonegawa, says in a news release. Tonegawa works at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

Although the experiments were conducted in rats, the results have implications for humans, the researchers say.

Half of the population of the industrialized world has a magnesium deficiency, researcher Guosong Liu says in the release. “If MgT is shown to be safe and effective in humans, these results may have a significant impact on public health.”

Liu and his colleagues at MIT developed MgT after discovering in 2004 that magnesium might enhance learning and memory. Liu is co-founder of Magceutics, a California-based company that develops drugs for the prevention and treatment of age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Magnesium for Better Memory

The researchers examined how MgT stimulates changes in synapses, the junctions between neurons that are important in transmitting nerve signals.

They found that in young and old rats, MgT increased plasticity, or strength, among synapses and promoted the density of synapses in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays important roles in spatial navigation and long-term memory.

Other experiments performed within the study found that MgT treatment boosted memory recall under partial information conditions in older rats but had no effect in young rats. Aging causes dramatic declines in the ability to recollect memories when incomplete information is provided, the authors write.

“Because [magnesium] is an essential ion for normal cellular functions and body health, many physiological functions are impaired with the reduction of body [magnesium],” they write. The researchers cite that only 32% of Americans get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.

The researchers conclude that the study provides “evidence for a possible causal relationship between high [magnesium] intake and memory enhancements in aged rats.” They also call for further studies to investigate the relationship between dietary magnesium intake, body and brain magnesium levels, and cognitive skills.

The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adults 19-30 years old is 400 milligrams/day for men and 310 milligrams/day for non-pregnant women. For adults 31 and older, it is 420 milligrams/day for men and 320 milligrams/day for non-pregnant women.

By Joanna Broder        FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES
WebMD Health News           Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD         January 27, 2010
 

 

The Best Supplements

Magnesium for Depression

A controlled study of magnesium shows clinically significant improvement.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. Years ago, I wrote about the importance of magnesium for the brain; it remains my most read blog post to this day.

We get most of our magnesium from plants (almonds, black beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate are all good sources), but it’s the bacteria in the soils that enable plants to absorb magnesium, so all sorts of environmental influences can deplete magnesium in our food, from pesticides that kill off bacteria to potassium-based fertilizers (can be taken up by plants in lieu of magnesium and calcium). Food processing, antacids, diuretics, caffeine, and alcohol can also decrease magnesium absorption. For these reasons, the modern human tends to need more magnesium and get less, leaving a lot of people chronically depleted. Blood levels remain fairly stable, because without magnesium in a narrow range, the heart can stop beating…every ICU doctor checks magnesium levels on patients pretty much every day, and repletes magnesium levels by the bag full to keep up with a patients’ needs under such intense stress as a critical illness.

Increased stress increases magnesium loss (as described here), and the environment may not readily replace it. Since magnesium is such an important mineral to the brain as a part of almost every part of the stress response, recovery, and repair, it seems self-evident to study magnesium as how it relates to brain function and common stress-related ailments such as clinical depression. Small studies have been found to be helpful for folks with fibromyalgia and major depression and type II diabetes. However, most of the studies that have been done are, admittedly, terrible.

The major flaw in most studies is they used insufficient amounts of magnesium oxide. On the face of it, magnesium oxide is about 60% elemental magnesium, which sounds pretty good. However, it is also a very stable compound, so often doesn’t disassociate into the parent compounds and give you the free magnesium you need.

Therefore, out of a 250mg tablet, you might only absorb 6mg. Magnesium malate is only 6.5% magnesium, but almost all of that is available to be absorbed. Magnesium citrate is also highly absorbable and 16% bioavailable. However, it is more likely than the other formulations to cause diarrhea. For a recent and much improved clinical trial of magnesium for depression, the researchers decided to use magnesium chloride.

The full text of the paper is free online at PLOS One. First the flaws: it was not double blinded, placebo controlled. Folks knew whether they were taking magnesium or not. However, the researchers did employ a crossover design as a control. In the first weeks of the study, half the patients took magnesium chloride (12% elemental magnesium and pretty much 100% bioavailable), and then in the second phase of the study, the first half was switched off magnesium while the other half of the patients took the supplement. The study wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small either, with 126 depressed participants. The scale used to measure depression is my personal favorite, the PHQ9, and the average score was just over 10, which corresponds to a moderate depression. Some patients were on meds, others in therapy, some in neither, but the main key is that other treatments for depression did not change in the course of the study…magnesium chloride was added.

Participants were given 2000mg (248mg of elemental magnesium) daily for 6 weeks on an immediate or delayed (until week 7, the crossover) schedule. Depression scores on average over the trial dropped by 6 points, which brought the mean from moderately depressed to mild or minimally depressed, a clinically important change. Anxiety scores also improved. Participants reported reduced muscle cramps, aches and pains, constipation, and decreased headaches during the magnesium trial (all of these are known already to improve with magnesium supplementation and are signs of magnesium depletion). When asked after the trial if they would continue magnesium, over 60% said yes. Those that didn’t complained that magnesium didn’t help or it caused diarrhea (n = 8).

The positive effect of magnesium supplementation was gone within 2 weeks of stopping the supplement, indicating a relatively quick clearance.

Important notes:

Although the association between magnesium and depression is well documented, the mechanism is unknown. However, magnesium plays a role in many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. It is a calcium antagonist and voltage-dependent blocker of the N-methyl-D-aspartate channel which regulates the flow of calcium into the neuron. In low magnesium states, high levels of calcium and glutamate may deregulate synaptic function, resulting in depression. Depression and magnesium are also both associated with systemic inflammation. The finding that those participants taking an SSRI experienced an even greater positive effect points toward magnesium’s possible role in augmenting the effect of antidepressants.

So…it would have been nice to have a blinded study. However, magnesium supplementation is both inexpensive and pretty safe. The amount of magnesium in this trial was below the recommended daily allowance of elemental magnesium, and as long as you have normal kidneys, it’s difficult to take too much (diarrhea tends to limit outrageous usage). Magnesium can interfere with some medications and vice-versa, so check my old post for that info. For depression and constipation or headaches or restless legs or fibromyalgia, it makes sense to at least try magnesium for a few weeks. Those who prefer not to supplement can be encouraged to add nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate (a palatable and healthy prescription).

In the meantime, keep an eye on PubMed, because the studies are (slowly) getting better!

Emily Deans MD         Jan 28, 2018


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This Mineral May Be Key to Protecting Your Bones (It’s Not Calcium)

Calcium and vitamin D may get the spotlight when it comes to bone health, but there’s another mineral that plays a role in keeping your skeleton strong: It’s magnesium, and 67% of the body’s stores for this mineral are found in your bones. Now, research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests magnesium could help prevent fractures.

While previous research had revealed that magnesium supports bone growth, no study had tied the mineral to risk of bone fractures. Tapping into over 20 years of data on 2,245 men, investigators in Britain and Finland compared the men’s magnesium blood levels to their risk of fracture. They discovered that the higher a man’s magnesium, the lower his risk of fracture.

Magnesium works with bone building cells (aka osteoblasts), and works in conjunction with vitamin D and parathyroid hormone to keep calcium levels normal, and fracture risk low. Medical factors affecting magnesium absorption include inflammatory bowel disease (or other chronic diarrhea problems), kidney insufficiency or certain medications.

So, how much magnesium should you eat? The recommended daily intake for adults over 31 years of age is 320 mg for females and 420 mg for males. Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and cashews are rich in magnesium. Other food sources include oatmeal, milk, peanut butter, spinach, broccoli, peas and beets.

However, the Finnish study couldn’t link dietary intake of magnesium to higher blood levels of magnesium, which is strange. Although the study authors aren’t sure why food couldn’t boost levels, previous research suggests an improvement in bone density among menopausal women who took supplements of magnesium hydroxide.

The bottom line is that eating foods high in magnesium still makes sense, since those foods tend to be healthy. If you’re at elevated risk for osteoporosis or fracture talk to your physician or a registered dietitian about taking magnesium supplements.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


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10 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most underrated minerals, but it’s involved in literally hundreds of your body’s functions. Pay attention to it, and your body will thank you.

So what’s the deal with magnesium?

Magnesium is involved in numerous bodily functions, from relaxing sore muscles to relieving anxiety, though it isn’t as widely discussed as other vitamins and minerals. Holistic nutrition coach Andrea Moss of Moss Wellness in New York City says magnesium deficiencies are such a big focus in her practice because nutritionists see the effects so frequently. “So many clients of ours are surprised to hear about it, since it usually isn’t discussed by their physicians,” she says. Don’t let that happen to you—check out our tips for what magnesium deficiency signs you might be ignoring.

You kind of hate vegetables

The most common cause of magnesium deficiencies is a diet deprived of magnesium-rich foods. “Many of us are magnesium deficient because we aren’t necessarily eating enough magnesium-rich foods,” says Moss. Moss recommends veggies, brown rice, nuts and seeds to adjust this.

You’re so stressed out

If you’re under a lot of stress, your body will react chemically and magnesium levels can be affected. “Stress also can make us more prone to magnesium deficiency, as can excessive sweating from workouts,” says Moss. Try to take it easy, both mentally and physically, and your body will thank you.

Junk food is one of your food groups

Replacing fruit with Fruit Roll-Ups can wreak havoc on your magnesium levels. “Normal, healthy people should get enough magnesium as long as they eat enough fruit, vegetables, and complex starches/whole grains,” says Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N, founder of Essence Nutrition in Florida. “You can see how a poor diet quality could result in these deficiencies!” These are good clues you’re eating too many preservatives.

The littlest things can give you a headache

If your head is pounding and you can’t seem to shake it, you might want to get tested for a magnesium deficiency. People often have headaches when their magnesium levels are low, says Auslander.

You’re constipated

You might not think about magnesium levels when you’re constipated, but you should. Auslander says people often experience constipation precisely when their magnesium levels are too low.

You’re more shaky or twitchy lately

A little shake here or there might not seem like a big deal, but take it seriously. Nutritionist Alyse Levine MS, RD of Nutritionbite in California warns that chronically low levels of magnesium can lead to more serious problems like an irregular heartbeat or even seizures. It’s also a good idea to be aware of these other symptoms of atrial fibrillation.

Your energy levels are MIA

Magnesium helps energize your body, so if you don’t have enough of it, you’ll feel weak. “Magnesium is involved in at least 300 different chemical reactions in our body, and a lot have to do with energy production,” says Alison Boden, MPH, RD, functional medicine nutritionist in California. “A sign of low magnesium can be low energy.”

You’re not sleeping well

While magnesium can be used to treat a number of medical issues, and Boden uses it the most for sleep problems. “If patients have a hard time winding down, we use magnesium therapeutically to help with that,” says Boden. “It’s a muscle relaxant that can slow things down bit and help with sleep.”

You’re dealing with bone loss problems

A lot of magnesium is stored in bones, so Boden says a deficiency in it can cause bone loss when there isn’t enough magnesium over a long period of time.

You have low levels of vitamin D

When low magnesium levels lead to low vitamin D levels, a whole cascade of problems develop. “We need magnesium to absorb vitamin D. Too much calcium can actually lower absorption as well, so we need to find a balance between all these vitamins and minerals,” says Manuel Villacorta MS, registered dietitian and founder of Whole Body Reboot in California. “This stuff can happen to everyone.”

BY ALEXANDRA WHITTAKER
source: www.rd.com


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Health Benefits of Magnesium

Top 6 Health Benefits of Magnesium

By April Klazema     March 20, 2014

You probably already know a lot about the other vitamins and minerals that are crucial to your overall optimal health, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C, but other minerals – such as magnesium – are often neglected when it comes to choosing the foods and supplements that you put into your diet in order to stay healthy.

However, magnesium has a number of incredible health benefits that can make you stronger, that can ease your fatigue, and that can even improve your mood.

Here are six incredible health benefits of magnesium that you can gain by eating the right kind of foods.

1. High Blood Pressure Regulation

Whether you have a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure, or you simply want to ensure that you maintain a healthy blood pressure, adding magnesium into your diet is a simple but effective way to ensure you don’t suffer the ill effects of hypertension.[1]

2. Migraine Headaches

Do you suffer from chronic migraine headaches? Many individuals will try every treatment under the sun, without realizing that one of the most effective treatments for migraines may actually be something as simple as magnesium. In fact, some researchers have suggested that every sufferer of migraines should attempt to use magnesium as a cure.[2]

3. Depression and Other Mood Problems

While deficient levels of magnesium have not been shown to be a cause of depression, many individuals have reported that using magnesium has been able to better help them transition out of depression and to elevate their mood[3]. Other issues such as anxiety have also been shown to be effectively treated by magnesium.

While your best option when feeling depression is to seek help form someone specialized in dealing with these issues, you may consider boosting your magnesium levels if you are feeling overly anxious or down in the dumps.

4. Cancer Reduction

Studies have shown a 13 percent reduction in colorectal cancer among those individuals who have increased amounts of magnesium in their body[4].

Whether an individual has an increased risk of cancer due to family history or not, it can be a good idea to increase one’s magnesium intake to help prevent cancer.

5. Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

A deficiency in magnesium levels can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to numerous problems, including an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease[5]. Ensuring that you are getting enough magnesium can help prevent these issues and keep your blood sugar at the appropriate levels.

6. Bone Health

Bone health is incredibly important for every individual, but especially for women as they grow older. Magnesium, over half of which is stored in the bones within the body, works with both Vitamin D and calcium to promote healthy, stronger bones.

Having enough magnesium in your body can help prevent major issues such as osteoporosis, so be sure to keep this in mind – especially if you are at particular risk for these conditions[6].

As if these six factors weren’t enough, magnesium may be associated with a number of other health benefits as well. In other words, you might want to look at ways you can incorporate magnesium rich foods in your diet, and to use an appropriate supplement if necessary.

references:



[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120313230354.htm
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426836
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950577
[4] http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=200073
[5] http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=412391
[6] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286304001573

Top 9 Veggies Highest in Magnesium

By Daily Health Post      March 11, 2014

While vitamins and minerals can be ingested via supplements, the best and most natural way to ensure that you have enough of them in your diet is to choose healthy foods – especially vegetables – that include these vitamins and minerals.

Many people do not realize how important magnesium is to their overall health, despite the fact that magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in the body.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to numerous issues, such as fatigue and mood disorders.

Having the optimal amount of magnesium can help to prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even issues such as migraine headaches, anxiety, and depression.

There are many things that can cause magnesium deficiency. The most obvious reason a persons magnesium levels might be low is simply because they are not eating enough of these magnesium-rich foods on a regular basis. However, issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and excessive alcohol consumption can also be a factor in magnesium deficiency.

Regardless of why your magnesium levels might be low, there are a number of great, delicious vegetables that you can begin incorporating into your diet to ensure that you are maintaining your optimal health and preventing many of the issues associated with low magnesium levels.

1. Spinach

This dark, leafy green can be consumed in many different ways. While raw is always best – in salads and on sandwiches, for example – spinach can also be steamed or cooked into pasta for a quick, magnesium rich dietary addition. There are over 150 mg of magnesium per cup of this leafy green, making it one of the best sources of this mineral available.

2. Broccoli

With 33 mg per cup, broccoli isn’t as rich in magnesium as spinach, but is still a great source of magnesium that can be utilized in many different ways. Whether served raw or cooked, it’s a delicious and nutritious magnesium source.

3. Squash

It’s not just the leafy greens that can provide plenty of healthy magnesium to your body. A little over 40 mg can be found in every cup of squash, so when you’re tired of all the green veggies choose squash as a side.

4. Okra

At a smidge over 70 mg per cup, okra is a great source of magnesium. While it’s probably best to stay away from fried okra, delicious as it may be, it can be served in many different ways.

5. Beet Greens

Though they aren’t the most common type of green, beet greens deserve a second look, as they contain a whopping 100 mg per cup of magnesium. Think of serving them as you would any other types of leafy greens, whether raw or cooked.

6. Pumpkin

The biggest benefit of pumpkin? It can be served as a savory option or a delicious dessert. At almost 60 mg per cup, there is plenty of magnesium to be had in pumpkin, no matter how you have it.

7. Peas

With a little over 70 mg of magnesium, peas are a great source of this mineral. Whether you have them as a side, choose split pea soup, or have peas mixed in with pasta or a salad, there are tons of ways to enjoy these veggies.

8. Cucumbers

Another versatile favorite, cucumbers contain a decent 40 mg per cup of magnesium. Eat them raw, mix them into a salad, or choose any other delicious recipe containing cucumbers. There are plenty of options available.

9. Collard Greens

A soul food favorite, collard greens are delicious and flavorful, and at a little over 50 mg of magnesium per cup offer plenty of magnesium.


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7 Ways To Prevent and Even Reverse Heart Disease With Nutrition

By: Sayer Ji      Monday, April 22nd 2013

Considering that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the developed world, anything that can prevent cardiac mortality, or slow or even reverse the cardiovascular disease process, should be of great interest to the general public.
Sadly, millions of folks are unaware of the extensive body of biomedical literature that exists supporting the use of natural compounds for preventing and even reversing heart disease.
Instead, they spend billions buying highly toxic cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals with known cardiotoxicity, among 300 other proven side effects, simply because their doctor told them to do so.
So, with this in mind, let’s look at the biomedical literature itself.

Three Natural Substances that Reduce the Risk of Heart-Related Death

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: There is a robust body of research indicating that the risk of sudden cardiac death is reduced when consuming higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Going all the way back to 2002, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study titled,  “Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death,” which found  “The n-3 fatty acids found in fish are strongly associated with a reduced risk of sudden death among men without evidence of prior cardiovascular disease.” Another 2002 study, published in the journal Circulation, found that Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduces total mortality and sudden death in patients who have already had a heart attack.[i] For additional research, view our dataset on the topic of Omega-3 fatty acids and the reduction of cardiac mortality.
It should be noted that the best-selling cholesterol drug class known as statins may actually reduce the effectiveness of omega-3 fats at protecting the heart. This has been offered as an explanation as to why newer research seems to show that consuming omega-3 fats does not lower the risk of cardiac mortality.
Vitamin D: Levels of this essential compound have been found to be directly associated with the risk of dying from all causes. Being in the lowest 25% percent of vitamin D levels is associated with a 26% increased rate of all-cause mortality.[ii]  It has been proposed that doubling global vitamin D levels could significantly reduce mortality.[iii] Research published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology in 2009 confirmed that lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased all-cause mortality but also that the effect is even more pronounced with cardiovascular mortality.[iv] This finding was confirmed the same year in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, [v] and again in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.[vi]
Magnesium: In a world gone mad over taking inorganic calcium supplementation for invented diseases such as T-score defined “osteopenia” or “osteoporosis,” despite their well-known association with increased risk of cardiac mortality, magnesium’s role in protecting against heart disease cannot be overstressed. It is well-known that even the accelerated aging of the heart muscle experienced by those in long space flight is due to magnesium deficiency. In 2010, the Journal of Biomedical Sciences reported that cardiovascular risks are significantly lower in individuals who excrete higher levels of magneiusm, indicating its protective role.[vii]  Another study published in the journalAtherosclerosis in 2011 found that low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.[viii] Remember that when you are looking to ‘supplement’ your diet with magnesium go green. Chlorophyll is green because it has a magnesium atom at its center. Kale, for example, is far better a source of complex nutrition than magnesium supplements. But, failing the culinary approach, magnesium supplements can be highly effective at attaining a therapeutic and/or cardioprotective dose.
For an additional list of compounds that may reduce cardiac mortality, including cocoa, tea, wine and yes, even cholesterol itself, view our Reduce Cardiac Mortality page.

Four Natural Compounds Which May Unclog the Arteries

Pomegranate: this remarkable fruit has been found in a human clinical study to reverse the carotid artery thickness (i.e. blockage) by up to 29% within 1 year. [ix] There are a broad range of mechanisms that have been identified which may be responsible for this effect, including: 1) lowering blood pressure 2) fighting infection (plaque in arteries often contains bacteria and viruses) 3) preventing cholesterol oxidation 4) reducing inflammation.[x]
 
Arginine: Preclinical and clinical research indicates that this amino acid not only prevents the progression of atherosclerosis but also reverses pathologies associated with the process. (see also:Clogged Arteries and Arginine). One of the mechanisms in which it accomplishes this feat is by increasing the production of nitric oxide which is normally depressed in blood vessels where the inner lining has been damaged (endothelium) resulting in dysfunction.  
 
Garlic: Not only has garlic been found to reduce a multitude of risk factors associated with arteriosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the arteries, but it also significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.[xi]  In vitro research has confirmed that garlic inhibits arteriosclerotic plaque formation.[xii]  Aged garlic extract has also been studied to inhibit the progression of coronary artery calcification in patients receiving statin therapy.[xiii]
And let us not forget, garlic’s benefits are extremely broad. We have identified over 150 diseases that this remarkable culinary and medicinal herb has been confirmed to be of potential value in treating and preventing and which can be viewed here: Garlic Health Benefits.
 
B-Complex: One of the few vitamin categories that has been confirmed in human studies to not only reduce the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries but actually reverse it is B-complex. A 2009 study published in the journal Stroke found that high dose B-complex vitamin supplementation significantly reduces the progression of early-stage subclinical atherosclerosis in healthy individuals.[xiv] More remarkably, a 2005 study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found a B-vitamin formula decreased the carotid artery thickness in patients at risk for cerebral ischemia.[xv]Another possible explanation for these positive effects is the role B-vitamins have in reducing the production of homocysteine, an artery and otherwise blood vessel scarring amino acid.[xvi]
 

Additional Heart Unfriendly Things To Avoid

No discussion of preventing cardiac mortality would be complete without discussing things that need to be removed in order to reduce risk, such as:
 
NSAIDs: Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol, have well-known association with increased cardiac mortality. Review six studies on the topic here: NSAID Cardiotoxicity.

Statin Drugs: It is the height of irony that the very category of drugs promoted to millions globally as the standard of care for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cardiac mortality are actually cardiotoxic agents, linked to no less than 300 adverse health effects. Statin drugs have devastating health effects. Explore the research here: Statin Drug Health Effects.
 
Wheat: while this connection is rarely discussed, even by those who promote grain-free and wheat free diets, wheat has profound cardiotoxic potential, along with over 200 documented adverse health effects: Wheat Toxicity. And why wouldn’t it, when the very countries that eat the most of it have the highest rate of cardiovascular disease and heart-related deaths? For an in-depth explanation read our article: Wheat’s Cardiotoxicity: As Serious As A Heart Attack.
 
Finally, for additional research on the topic of heart health promoting strategies visit our Health Guide:Heart Health.

References


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Three nutrients for better sleep: Magnesium, potassium, vitamin D

Nutrients such as vitamin D and potassium have been scientifically linked to a good night’s rest.

Published Monday, July 29, 2013

Want a better night’s sleep? If you have difficulty getting quality zzzs, it could be linked to a surprising reason: vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

This week health website Livescience reported on three common sleep problems and the three nutrients that may cure what ails you.

1. Can’t get to sleep: Studies have shown that insomnia is one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Good natural sources are dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, beans and lentils.

2. Difficulty staying asleep: This could be linked to potassium, Livescience reports. Studies have shown that potassium supplements may boost sleeping through the night, but good food sources are beans, leafy greens, avocados, baked potatoes, and to a lesser degree, bananas.

3. Feeling tired during the day: While this could be the result of many factors, namely stress, research has found “a strong correlation” between excessive drowsiness during the day and vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Good vitamin D sources: the sun’s rays, but you can find the mineral in food sources such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, and fortified dairy products.


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Benefits of Magnesium

We normally hear about the importance of iron and calcium, and vitamin’s C and D. 
We don’t hear much about magnesium, however, and this mineral, 
when one becomes deficient, can lead to severe health consequences. 
Not only that, but an estimated 80% of Americans are deficient in this mineral, 
and they may never know it since it is hard to measure with blood testing.
 
The enzymes in our body require magnesium to undergo their daily reactions. 
In fact, magnesium is found in over 300 different enzymes in the body 
which are responsible for things like:
 
1) Proper Bowel Function 
In the digestive tract, magnesium acts as a coenzyme – it breaks down food and helps assimilate the nutrients into the cells of your body. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach in also dependent on magnesium for its production and assimilation, as well as the bile in your liver.
 
2) Heart Muscle Contraction
Magnesium helps transport potassium, calcium and other ions across cell membranes, and without proper coordination and participation of magnesium to help these nutrients into cell membranes, then our heart would not properly function. This crucial function of magnesium in our bodies helps promote healthy muscle contraction, normal heart rhythm and healthy nerve impulses.
 
3) Relaxation of Blood Vessels
Magnesium is vital for muscle relaxation. Arteries and vessels are made up primarily of smooth muscle (the middle layer called the “Tunica Media”), and this muscle contracts and relaxes like a pump, allowing blood to flow through the body. Research has shown that magnesium acts to relax blood vessels (vasodilaton), which is associated with lower blood pressure.
 
4) Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
In fact, without enough magnesium in your body, you may be prone to developing diabetes. Magnesium deficiency has been directly linked to insulin resistance, and thus, increases your chances of becoming diabetic or developing some other chronic health issue.
 
5) Proper Formation of Bones and Teeth
We normally only think of calcium when it comes to maintaining healthy bones and teeth, however, magnesium is also a large player in this case as well. About half of your body’s magnesium supply is stored in your bones and it helps strengthen the structure of our bones with the help of vitamin D and calcium.
 
 
 
6) Creation of ATP (energy molecules of the body)
Magnesium is essential for proper ATP synthesis. ATP requires magnesium in order to be stable, and without magnesium, ATP would break down into other components called ADP and inorganic phosphate. Without enough magnesium, our ATP synthesis slows and doesn’t work as it should which can lead to serious health issues.
 
7) Reduces Cancer Risk
The body’s most powerful antioxidant, “glutathione,” requires magnesium to function properly. When magnesium is present, the body can properly shield itself from heavy metals, environmental chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, all factors that determine your risk for developing cancer. In fact, increasing magnesium to just 100 mg extra per day has been found to reduce a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer by around 13 percent!
 
Magnesium has been found to help in a variety of health-related cases, such as those suffering from fibromyalgia, atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes, PMS, cardiovascular disease, migraines, and aging. 
 
Incorporating magnesium into your diet is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, many fruit and vegetables contain magnesium, which could dramatically improve your health. Chlorophyll, which creates the beautiful green colour of many of the plant foods we eat, allows the plant to capture solar energy and convert it into metabolic energy. This molecule contains a magnesium atom in its centre, and is also highly similar to the structure of our hemoglobin, meaning that lots of green leafy salads and juices nourish our blood and the cells of our body.
 
Men should aim for around 320 mg of magnesium per day, whereas women should aim for 230 mg/day.
 
The best natural sources of magnesium include (per 100 grams):
Sea Vegetables (nori, wakame, dulse) = 770 mg
Raw Cacao = 550 mg
Raw Pumpkin Seeds =  535 mg
Cilantro/Corriander = 694 mg
Almonds = 268 mg
Bananas = 27 mg
Okra = 57 mg
Swiss Chard = 81 mg
Spinach (or any dark leafy greens) = 79 mg
Hazelnuts = 163 mg
Beet Greens = 98 mg
Dates = 77 mg
Figs = 68 mg
Avocados = 29 mg


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Four Nutrients to Keep Your Heart Beating

Without the proper nutrients, your heart won’t work properly. There are four nutrients in particular—vitamin A, thiamin, vitamin B6, and magnesium—that are absolutely vital to heart function. A deficiency of any of them could have disastrous results.

So, it’s important to know what the warning signs of a deficiency are, and also what foods provide these essential nutrients.
 
• Vitamin A: Without adequate levels of vitamin A, arteries can clog, and cells can be exposed to dangerous free radicals that can bring disease. Deficiency symptoms include dry eyes, inflamed eyes, poor night vision, rough or dry skin, and frequent respiratory and urinary tract infections. Vitamin A can be found in broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, and any vegetables and fruits that are orange or yellow. Supplements are commonly 15 mg per day of beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A in the digestive tract), though up to 60 mg per day is considered safe.
 
• Thiamin: Inadequate levels of this nutrient, also known as vitamin B1, can impair heart function, and can even cause heart failure. A mild deficiency will yield mood swings, and feelings of fear, uneasiness, depression, and confusion. Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, sleep problems, muscle weakness, and abdominal pain. Thiamin is found in large quantities in foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts (especially peanuts), fish (especially tuna), asparagus, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, and crimini mushrooms. Most multivitamins and B-complex vitamins contain doses of about three mg of thiamin per day. It is particularly important for diabetics to keep their thiamin levels up.
 
 
• Vitamin B6: Mild deficiencies of vitamin B6 are actually common; it’s probable that well over half the population doesn’t get enough vitamin B6. Along with confusion, depression, weight reduction, and skin problems, a severe deficiency could result in heart disease or a number of other serious conditions. Older adults, those who maintain a poor diet, and alcoholics are at most risk of deficiency. To make sure you get enough vitamin B6, increase your intake of these foods: organ meats, brown rice, sunflower seeds, legumes, walnuts, bananas, avocados, seafood, and potatoes. For supplements, the best way to take it is in a multivitamin or B-complex, because vitamin B6 works in combination with other B vitamins. The recommended daily intake, through diet, is 1.3 to 1.7 mg per day for adults.
 
• Magnesium: This mineral works in the same way as many heart medications. With low levels, your heart can experience trouble. A deficiency is relatively common in North America, due to either losing too much in your urine, poor absorption, or not getting enough in your diet. Signs of deficiency include: low levels of calcium and potassium; confusion; disorientation; loss of appetite; depression; muscle cramps; fatigue; personality change; and tingling or numbness. Take a supplement containing 350 mg per day if you are deficient. Still, the mineral is so good for your heart that patients with heart disease are often recommended 1,000 mg of magnesium each day to help improve their ability to exercise. Foods rich in magnesium include leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, beans, avocados, seeds, shrimp, and fortified cereals.
 
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Four Nutrients to Keep Your Heart Beating
(Originally published on Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Food and NutritionVitamins by  for The Doctors Health Press)
 


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The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Mostly known for being a part of Halloween decorations or a pie filling, pumpkins are also packed with nutrition and offer a wide range of health benefits. Pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, mineral and other healthy nutrients. Whether it is the pulp or the seeds, pumpkins are great for your health and can offer some incredible benefits.

Nutritional Composition of Pumpkins

High Carotenoids Content – Pumpkins owe their bright Orange color to the high amount of carotenoids present in them. Carotenoids assist in staving off the free radicals in the body, and help in preventing premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and other infections. They are also high in Lutein & Zeaxanthin which protect the eyes against free radical damage and prevent formation of cataracts and degeneration of the eye tissues.

Protein – Pumpkin seeds also known as Pepitas are a rich source of protein. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains approx. 7 grams of protein. Their oil is high in phytosterols or plant-based fatty acids and their chemical composition is the same as cholesterol. Phytosterols can replace cholesterol in the body, and help in reducing the blood cholesterol levels.

Essential Fatty Acids – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. From providing protection against serious health diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer to promoting healthy skin and improving brain power, essential fatty acids present in pumpkin oil offer several health benefits.

Vitamin A – Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A. Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.

Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps fight free radicals, improves immunity and promotes the production of collagen. The high Vitamin C content in pumpkins also offers protection against various forms of cancer.

Magnesium – Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral required for various biological functions. Magnesium is also required for the maintenance bones and teeth.

Potassium & Zinc – Pumpkin is loaded with potassium and Zinc. Studies show that eating a potassium-rich diet can prevent onset of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Zinc is important for providing bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis. It boosts the immune system and promotes reproductive health.

Fiber – Pumpkin flesh is very low in calories and contains abundant quantities of extremely good dietary fiber. It is extremely effective for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, indigestion etc. The high amount of fiber also helps in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood and in regulating the blood sugar levels.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds

Prostate Cancer – The protective compounds present within the pumpkin seeds, called phytosterols can lower the risk of prostate cancer. These work by shrinking the prostate and stimulating the secretion of chemicals that protect against the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High DHT levels can cause enlargement of the prostate glands.

Anti-Inflammatory Effect – The Beta carotene present in pumpkin seeds and flesh has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of pumpkin can protect against joint inflammation and arthritis. Pumpkins have been known to provide relief from inflammation quickly, without the harmful side-effects of anti-inflammatory medicines.

Great on your skin – The high amount of Vitamin A, C and E as well as Zinc present in pumpkin, make it a great choice for those who want a healthy and glowing skin. Have a cup of pumpkin seeds per day to prevent appearance of wrinkles and to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.

Prevents Kidney Stones – Have 5 to 10 grams of pumpkin seeds every day. This stimulates the kidneys and prevents the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

Depression – Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.

Treatment of Parasites – In various cultures especially China, pumpkins are used to treat infections caused by tapeworms and other parasites.

Diuretics – Pumpkins are natural diuretics. These help in flushing out the toxins and unwanted waste material from the body, leaving you refreshed and healthy.

With so many health benefits, it is no wonder that pumpkin is an important part of the list of Super Foods. Next time you are carving a pumpkin, do not throw away the pulp or the seeds – instead boil, bake or cook them in any form you like.

source: bewellbuzz.com