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Nine benefits of antioxidants: From disease prevention to healthy aging

We explore the well-known — and the lesser-known — benefits of antioxidants

What are the benefits of antioxidants? From blueberries to pumpkin, and beyond, there are many antioxidant-rich foods. Although the word antioxidant may be a bit of a mystery, what antioxidants do in the body is straightforward. An antioxidant is a compound that inhibits oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce chain reactions and free radicals, and therefore has the potential of doing damage to the body’s cells.

You may already be familiar with some of the most important antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids like beta-carotene. Most of the antioxidant rich foods in which you find them – especially in high quantities – are fruits, vegetables and other naturally occurring plant foods. Berries, carrots, coffee, red grapes, green tea, turmeric, onions, peppers, avocados, radishes, kale and lemon are all great foods to consume in order to get your daily dose.

But what does your daily dose do? Even the knowledge that antioxidants are good for you and how they function in the body to benefit you isn’t enough to say precisely what sensations and improvements they are responsible for. So here are nine benefits of getting your daily serving of antioxidants.

1. THEY REDUCE OXIDATIVE STRESS

Oxidative stress is a form of physiological stress caused by an imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen-reactive species in the cells and tissue. This can result in a gap in a system’s ability to detoxify reactive products. While this may seem abstract, research shows that oxidative stress can be responsible for the onset of diseases like cancer, diabetes, metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. By consuming antioxidants you can prevent that state of oxidative stress, which can set you up for success in many areas of your health.

2. THEY SUPPORT DISEASE PREVENTION

Most of the disease-prevention capabilities associated with antioxidants are also related to oxidative stress. A report in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences shows that by reducing oxidative stress, antioxidants can support normal cellular function and offer additional protection against diseases. Antioxidants have been linked to lower rates of cancer, tumors, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders in many cases. Although research is ongoing, the outlook on their impact is positive.

3. THEY SUPPORT EYE HEALTH

Introducing more antioxidant rich foods into your diet can have a particularly effective impact on your risk for certain major eye concerns, specifically, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. In fact, a 2013 study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging(opens in new tab) found that it may also slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Beta-carotene and vitamin E are also quite well known for these properties.

antioxidents

4. THEY AID IN BRAIN FUNCTION

Did you know that due to the amount of oxygen the brain uses in daily functioning through naturally high metabolic activity, it is more susceptible than most of the body’s other systems to free radical attack? One of the major ways you can protect your brain against this attack is by consuming antioxidants. Specifically, antioxidants have the potential to delay various forms of cognitive decline, like memory loss. This is all related to oxidative stress, too, which can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss and decline in cognitive function.

5. THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE TO MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS

Brain health and mental health are different from one another, but antioxidants can lend both a helping hand. Research in Current Neuropharmacology shows that oxidative stress is often related to anxiety and depression. Although eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a rich array of antioxidants isn’t a replacement for proper mental health medication or care, it is among the lifestyle changes that can be of help to plenty of individuals.

6. THEY CAN REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Inflammation often gets a bad rap, but it’s not always negative or concerning. In fact, inflammation serves an important purpose in the body, within reason. Inflammation is the process of your white blood cells protecting you against infections from outside the body, such as bacteria. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable, or necessary.

Inflammation can manifest in a variety of symptoms, including headaches, joint and muscle pain. The way that antioxidants prevent inflammation is relatively simple; as they protect the cells from damage, they can prevent those unwanted inflammatory responses from occurring at all.

7. THEY SUPPORT HEALTHY AGING PROCESSES

Amid claims that a diet rich in antioxidants can slow, prevent or even reverse the aging process, it’s time to set the record straight. There’s nothing that can scientifically disrupt the aging process. However, there is evidence to suggest that antioxidants can support a healthy aging process. From the mental elements of improving memory and preventing Alzheimer’s, to general disease prevention (and even playing a vital role in the bone remodeling process), antioxidants can work to keep the body protected and agile throughout the aging process.

8. THEY CAN KEEP THE SKIN HEALTHY

Antioxidants can contribute to healthy aging on the inside, and they can also do the same on the outside. By helping to fight free radical damage, antioxidants can offer extra protection for the skin. Not only can the prevention of inflammation help to ward off things like redness, puffiness, and premature aging, but antioxidants can also protect against UV sun damage (which causes premature aging and wrinkles).

One of the most common and effective antioxidants for skin care is vitamin C. Vitamin C can help reverse and prevent discoloration, as well as aid in collagen production. And one of the best ways to use vitamin C for the skin is to apply it topically. This is why so many skin and face products contain vitamin C. In skin care products, you’ll often see it listed as L-ascorbic acid and/or ester-C.

9. THEY PARTICIPATE IN A HEALTHY GUT MICROBIOME

Your gut health has the potential to impact your body from head to toe. Everything from your mental health to your skin can be affected by the state of your gut microbiome and it really is a microbiome — complete with healthy bacteria that keeps everything in balance.

Research in the journal Antioxidants shows that antioxidants can reduce intestinal oxidative stress levels by modulating the composition of beneficial microbial species within the gut. This can help to provide a strong and balanced foundation for your gut health. Antioxidants are just one part of a healthy, balanced diet and they can give you a boost from the inside out – as if you needed another reason to eat your fruits and veggies!

Jamie Kahn        August 26, 2022

source: www.livescience.com


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The Healthiest Water to Drink: Is There Such a Thing?

The science is clear: Staying hydrated and drinking enough water has health benefits.

Hydration can help lubricate and cushion joints, protect sensitive tissues in your body, flush out waste and keep your immune system and even your skin healthy.

Yet when it comes to bottled water, there are several types on the market: spring, purified, mineral, artesian and even alkaline. Is any type best?

It turns out that might come down to personal preference, as more research seems to be needed for a definitive answer.

“For the price, I’m going to get spring water,” said Dr. Eddie Fatakhov, a physician and nutritionist at the Center for Internal and Integrative Medicine in Alpharetta, Georgia. “Because I know it came from the spring.”

Spring, purified, mineral, artesian: What’s the difference?\

Spring water comes from an underground source and must be collected at the spring or through a borehole tapping the spring’s source, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
The association defines purified water as water that has been highly treated – through distillation, deionization or other suitable processes – in order to meet certain standards before being sold.

Mineral water is natural water that has a constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements – containing no less than 250 parts per million total of dissolved solids, according to the water association. No minerals can be added to it.

Then there’s artesian water, which is derived from a well that taps a specific layer of rock or sand.
You also might have seen alkaline water on store shelves; it has a higher pH level than tap water. A pH level is a measure of how acidic or basic water is. Seven is a neutral pH. Higher pH levels are more alkaline, or basic; lower pH levels are more acidic.

“Tap water has a pH of roughly around 7, and alkaline water is closer to about 8 or 9,” Malina Malkani, a registered dietician nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CNN in January.

Could alkaline water provide any special health benefits? “There’s really not a lot of evidence either supporting of the health claims that are made about alkaline water or refuting the claims,” Malkani said.

In other words, the jury is still out.

Malkani noted that “if all the body systems are functioning as they should be, the blood pH isn’t going to vary too much. So it’s a misconception that you can, by drinking an alkaline water, drastically affect the pH of the body.”

Illnesses are common causes for changes in the blood pH level. Diabetes can make your blood more acidic, but kidney problems can make it more alkaline. Certain foods, including dairy products, also can make your blood more acidic.

It is more common for companies to manufacture alkaline water, but natural alkaline water can occur when water picks up minerals from areas such as springs, when it passes over rocks in the environment.

“Alkaline compounds are salts and metals that, when added to water, make it more basic,” Malkani said.

All in all, the general consensus among health experts for now is that making sure you are drinking enough water is more important than the type of water you prefer.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that men drink an average of about 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water each day and that women drink about 2.7 liters (91 ounces). That water can come from beverages and foods, according to the recommendations.

So, for men and women respectively, “that’s 15 cups of water and 11 cups of water, from the eight cups we were taught to believe,” Fatakhov said.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated, according to the Mayo Clinic, which noted that the Office on Women’s Health recommends that women who breastfeed consume about 13 cups of fluids a day.

“North America is dehydrated,” Fatakhov said, and that’s a problem because “83% of your lungs is water. If you take the heart and the brain, 73% is water. If you take the bones, about 31% is water. If you take the kidneys and muscles, about 76% is water. Your body is made up of water.”

‘Water boosts energy’

Water not only benefits your health, it could help you control your weight.

A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2016 found a significant association between not being adequately hydrated and having an elevated body mass index, known as BMI.
BMI is determined based on a person’s height and weight. Having a BMI of 30 or higher is categorized as obese.

The study was based on data from 9,528 people ages 18 to 64, whose levels of hydration were measured in urine samples. Those whose samples showed inadequate hydration tended to have higher BMIs and higher odds of being obese, compared with the hydrated adults.

Water can benefit weight management because staying hydrated helps you better understand when you are actually hungry, and it can boost your metabolism and energy.

“Because of our high water content, it makes sense that our bodies need water to keep our systems functioning. So the next time you hit that afternoon slump, drink a glass of water to increase your energy levels,” Fatakhov said.

“Think about it like this: I tell you to drink water, and you drink water. Your body has to convert that water back to your body temperature. So if you drink cold water, your body has to turn it back to body temperature,” he said. “That’s why they say it’s better to drink cold water than hot water if you’re trying to burn calories.”

If you think you’re not drinking enough water, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some tips:
=> Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day for easy access to water.
=> Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, even when eating out.
=> Add a wedge of lime or lemon to water to help improve taste.
=> Try chilling freezer-safe water bottles for easy access to ice-cold water throughout the day.

CNN Digital Expansion 2016 Jacqueline Howard
By Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Wed March 20, 2019
source: www.cnn.com

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Top Ten Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation

There are many reasons to oppose water fluoridation, including safety concerns and health risks.

Reason #1 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Fluoridation is a violation of the individual’s right to informed consent to medication.  Within a community water supply, fluoride is being added to the water of everyone, even if some people do not want it and still others do not even know about the fluoride being added to the water or about its health risks.  Informed consumer consent is needed for water fluoridation, especially because of the alarming lack of safety for this chemical and its health risks.
Reason #2 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Fluoride is not a required component for human growth and development. In fact, fluoride has been recognized as one of 12 industrial chemicals known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in human beings. Researchers have repeatedly challenged the alleged safety and effectiveness of fluoride.
Reason #3 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Hundreds of research articles published over the past several decades have demonstrated potential harm to humans from fluoride at various levels of exposure, including levels currently deemed as safe. Fluoride is known to impact the cardiovascular, central nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, renal, respiratory, and skeletal systems, and exposure to fluoride has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, and many other adverse health outcomes, including fluoride toxicity.
Reason #4 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: People are now exposed to fluoride from an array of sources.  Since water fluoridation began in 1940s, an array of products containing fluoride have been introduced to the average consumer including water, dental products, pesticides, fluoride supplements, other prescription drugs, and many other sources. There is no current accurate estimate of just how much fluoride people are taking in from all of these sources. However, dental fluorosis is recognized as the first visible sign of fluoride toxicity. It is likewise a warning signal of the human health risks associated with fluoride exposure. According to 2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23% of Americans aged 6-49 and 41% of children aged 12-15 exhibit fluorosis to some degree
Reason #5 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: A “one dose fits all” level is unacceptable.  Susceptible populations with low body weights, such as infants and children, and individuals who consume increased amounts of water, such as athletes, military personnel, outdoor laborers, and those with diabetes or kidney dysfunction, can be more intensely effected by fluoride.  Additionally, fluoride is also known to impact each individual differently based on allergies, nutrient deficiencies, genetic factors, and other variables. Notably, a bottle-fed baby in a fluoridated area gets up to 200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby, resulting in an increased risk of dental fluorosis and other adverse effects.
Reason #6 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: There is not a wide-spread understanding about how fluoride interacts with other chemicals.  This issue is crucial to understanding risks of artificial water fluoridation, as the multiple chemicals to which we are exposed to can produce distinct reactions and interactions. For example, the fluoride added to many water supplies attracts lead, which can be found in certain plumbing pipes. Likely because of this affinity for lead, fluoride has been linked to higher blood lead levels in children.
Reason #7 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Does it even work to prevent tooth decay?  The trend of decreased decayed, missing, and filled teeth over the past several decades has occurred both in countries with and without the systemic application of fluoridated water. This suggests that increased access to preventative hygiene services and more awareness of the detrimental effects of sugar are responsible for these improvements in dental health. Research has also documented decreases of tooth decay in communities that have discontinued water fluoridation.  Even proponents of fluoride have suggested that fluoride primarily works to reduce tooth decay topically (i.e. scrubbing it directly onto to teeth with a toothbrush), as opposed to systemically (i.e. drinking or ingesting fluoride through water or other means).
Reason #8 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Ethical questions have been raised in regard to the use of fluoride, especially because of fluoride’s ties to the phosphate fertilizer and dental industries. Furthermore, researchers have reported difficulties with getting articles published that are critical of fluoride, and an urgent need for an appropriate application of the precautionary principle (i.e. first, do no harm) related to fluoride usage has emerged.
Reason #9 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: Fluoridation discriminates against those with low incomes. Research has indicated that fluoride does not aid in preventing pit and fissure decay (which is the most prevalent form of tooth decay in the U.S.) or in preventing baby bottle tooth decay (which is prevalent in poor communities). Also, research has suggested that in malnourished children and individuals of lower socio-economic status, fluoride can actually increase the risk of dental caries due to calcium depletion and other circumstances. Moreover, people on low incomes are least able to afford avoidance measures (reverse osmosis or bottled water) or medical and dental treatment for dental fluorosis and other fluoride-related ailments.
Reason #10 to Oppose Water Fluoridation: It also poses threats to animals (pets and wildlife), as well as the environment at large.  Animals are exposed to fluoride in the environment through pollution of air, water, soil, and food. It is important to consider their overall fluoride exposure as a result of each of these sources. Harmful effects of fluoride, including species vulnerability, have been reported in an array of wild animals. Even domestic pets have been subjects of reports raising concerns about fluoride exposure, especially through their water and food.
source: iaomt.or


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12 Benefits of Lemon Water

Celebrities and naturopaths won’t start their day without guzzling a glass of lemon water. Here’s what this a.m. habit can and can’t do for your health.

Lemon water may help you lose weight

Lemon water may be a dieter’s best friend. “The polyphenols in lemon may aid in reducing appetite,” registered dietician Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. Rodent studies have shown that the polyphenols in lemon do help to prevent weight gain. Plus, she adds, “when you drink a glass of water, especially before a meal, this helps to fill your stomach, offsetting the amount of food needed to feel satisfied.” Lemon-flavored water is also a healthy option to replace your morning glass of orange juice—think of all the calories saved! To make lemon water, use whole lemons (not lemon juice in a bottle). “Try squeezing the juice from one lemon into 8 to 12 ounces of water,” Palinski-Wade says. You can also grate in a bit of the zest (just wash the lemon first). “Enjoy it cold or warm, but if you will be having it to promote weight loss, drink it chilled with ice,” she says.

It helps keep you from getting sick

We’ve all heard that vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits like lemon, gives your immune system a boost (more on vitamin C later). But one of the benefits of lemon water is helping to prevent infection. “Certainly the acidic environment in the stomach serves as a barrier, deterring pathogens from gaining a foothold and causing illness,” says Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise. “Ingestion of highly acidic foods, including lemon juice, contributes to the acidic environment.” According to The Cleveland Clinic, chemicals in lemon known as phytonutrients have antioxidant properties that can also help protect the body from disease.

It aids digestion

Another one of the benefits of lemon water is that the acids help to digest food. “The citrus flavonoids in lemon aid the acid in the stomach in breaking down food, which may improve overall digestion,” says Palinski-Wade. “Warming the water seems to provide the greatest digestive benefits.” Aiding digestion is especially important as we get older because the amount of acid in our stomach declines with age. One study showed that over 30 percent of men and women over age 60 had atrophic gastritis, a condition marked by little to no stomach acid. In addition, if you add lemon slices and zest to your water, you may be able to harness some of the benefits of pectin, a fiber found in the pulp and peel. Many studies have shown fiber to improve digestion and gut health.

Lemon water gives you a vitamin C boost

Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a fourth of a cup of lemon juice yields 23.6 mg of vitamin C, about a third of the recommended daily allowance for women and a fourth for men. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells against free radicals, and according to the National Institutes of Health, this could even help protect us again cardiovascular disease and cancer. And although we don’t think much about this ailment anymore, “vitamin C prevents scurvy, a disease of weakened connective tissue that results in bleeding gums, among other symptoms,” says Dr. Sukol. Connective tissue is also crucial for wound healing.

Lemon-Water

 

It keeps you hydrated

Hydration is not a direct benefit of the lemon properties themselves, but rather, drinking flavored water might entice you to consume more of it. “Fluids, in general, provide hydration, however, some people struggle to drink an adequate amount of water per day simply because they find water boring or do not enjoy the taste,” Palinski-Wade says. “Adding lemon to water can enhance the taste, making it more appealing to some, helping them to drink more and improve hydration.” Although the old rule was to drink eight 8-ounce glasses a day, nutritionists now recognize that the amount will vary based on what you weigh, how active you are, and where you live. One test to make sure you’re getting enough? Your pee should be nearly clear—if it’s yellow or dark, you need to drink more.

It may help you look younger

The vitamin C in lemon juice might actually help your skin as well, definitely one of the benefits of lemon water. One study from the U.K. showed that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with fewer wrinkles. “Because vitamin C is a nutrient that can fight off free-radical damage, it can protect skin,” Palinski-Wade says. This could be due to vitamin C’s effects on collagen, which helps make up the connective tissue under the skin. “In addition, the hydration from the water helps skin stay more subtle and provides a more youthful appearance,” she adds. Your skin is an organ, and hydration helps it function at its best.

It may help liver function

Another one of the benefits of lemon water is helping your liver to do a better job being the body’s filter. “Boosting overall hydration can help to improve the function of all organs in the body, including the liver,” Palinski-Wade says. “In addition, animal studies have found that the citrus flavonoids in lemon may protect the liver against toxins and reduce fat in the liver, protecting against fatty liver disease.” Your liver is the body’s natural mechanism for flushing out toxins; so although claims of “detoxification” from lemon juice aren’t exactly proven, helping the liver to work better could benefit your body.

It increases your potassium levels

We generally associate potassium with bananas, but it turns out lemons are a good source as well. “Potassium is found in large amounts primarily in fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Sukol says. “It is an element that is essential for cell function and metabolism, transmission of nerve signals.” According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium, an electrolyte, helps to conduct electricity throughout the body. This nerve-muscle communication helps skeletal-muscular function—which is why you need it when you get a Charlie horse. (Here’s why you might want to skip lemon water at a restaurant, though.)

It makes you more regular

Along with helping your gut and liver, lemon-flavored water can be part of a healthy way to help you go to the bathroom. “Increasing fluid intake can help to promote regular bowel movements,” Palinski-Wade says. ” If adding lemon to your water helps you to drink more fluid throughout the day, this may help you to become more regular.” And although lemon juice doesn’t provide much fiber, getting in pulp and zest from the peel could help boost the fiber content, which helps you go as well.

It helps prevent kidney stones

Kidney stones often develop as a result of dehydration, so one of the benefits of lemon water is that it helps flush out your kidneys and prevent these painful deposits. “Some kidney stones result from precipitation of calcium salts,” Dr. Sukol says. “Acidification of the aqueous—or watery—environment in which this occurs is thought to reduce the likelihood of precipitation, and therefore prevent the formation of some stones. Purely a chemical reaction.” So in other words, the acid from the lemon can help keep the stones from coming together. Although lemon-flavored water is thought to be a diuretic, this hasn’t been proven—rather, increased urination is likely the result of drinking more fluid. Either way, it’s helpful for keeping kidney stones at bay.

It freshens breath

When it comes to personal hygiene, it may help your mouth smell cleaner. “The citrus in lemon water may help to reduce the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which may lead to fresher breathe,” Palinski-Wade says. The only problem is that the acid in lemon juice could, over time, erode the enamel of your teeth. Try drinking it through a straw to reduce exposure to your chompers.

It may boost metabolism

Lemon water is a great addition to your morning routine because it could jump-start your metabolism, helping you keep a healthy weight and be active. “Staying hydrated and drinking ice-cold water has been shown to provide a metabolism boost,” Palinski-Wade says. “Aim to drink at least three cups per day to help fire up your metabolism while providing a feeling of fullness that may help you to eat less.” Drinking your lemon-flavored water cold could have even more of a beneficial effect. “Chilling it may provide an even greater metabolism boost as the body needs to warm the water to body temperature during digestion,” she says.

BY TINA DONVITO
source: www.rd.com


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This Vegetable Will Make You Look 50% More Attractive

…or try the supplement that contains the same critical pigment.

Yellow and red skin pigments are perceived as 50% more attractive in Caucasian people, new research finds.

Although these pigments in the skin are supposed to be signals of good health, they can be faked.

Taking beta-carotene supplement, for example, will have the same effect.

Beta-carotene is the pigment that gives carrots — and other fruits and vegetables — a strong red/yellow colour.

For this research 43 Caucasian men were given a beta-carotene supplements for 12 weeks.

Below you can see the effect of the supplementation on their skin tone.

The left hand picture shows a typical face before supplementation, the right-hand one shows afterwards.

Notice the slightly more red-yellow hue in the right-hand face.

The supplementation group were compared with a placebo group who were given a dummy pill.

Women were then asked to rate men’s pictures before and after supplementation.

The results showed that beta-carotene supplementation increased the overall redness and yellowness of the men’s faces (but did not change how light or dark they were).

Women were 50% more likely to choose men who had taken the supplementation.

This was all despite the fact that taking beta-carotene did not make the men any healthier — it only changed their appearance slightly.

Mr Yong Zhi Foo, the study’s first author, said:

“Carotenoids are known to be responsible for the striking mating displays in many animal species.
Our study is one of the first to causally demonstrate that carotenoids can affect attractiveness in humans as well.
It also reaffirms the results of previous studies showing that what we eat can affect how we look”

The study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology (Foo et al., 2016).

FEBRUARY 16, 2017  source:  PsyBlog


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7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.

Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.

Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease.

1. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.

It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.

Bottom Line: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.

2. Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC?

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.

The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested.

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.

Bottom Line: Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.

3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.

One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.

However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.

Bottom Line: The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

 

chocolate

4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.

In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.

It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol.

Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.

This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.

Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Bottom Line: Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.

In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.

It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.

In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.

Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.

Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.

Of course, these 3 studies are so-called observational studies that can not prove that it was the chocolate that caused the reduction in risk.

However, given that we have a biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL) then I find it plausible that regular consumption of dark chocolate can in fact reduce the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.

6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.

The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.

The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.

In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.

If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.

Bottom Line: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.

7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.

One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.

Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.

Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term .

Take Home Message

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.

But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them.

Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.

Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

There are of course other benefits to chocolate that I have not mentioned… such as the awesome taste.

By Kris Gunnars, BSc
 


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Climate change is shifting areas of skin disease concern

Climate change is bringing certain skin diseases and other illnesses to regions where they were rarely seen before, according to a recent research review.

Dermatologists should keep these changing patterns of skin diseases in mind when making diagnoses, say the authors, who analyzed specific disease shifts in North America.

As the planet warms, many bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can survive in areas where they haven’t been found before, the review team writes.

In the U.S., for example, the incidence of the tick-borne Lyme disease increased from an estimated 10,000 cases in 1995 to 30,000 in 2013, and the area where it occurs keeps expanding from New England north into Canada as the ticks find their preferred habitat expanding.

“In places like Canada, now there are ticks that carry Lyme disease farther north than doctors would ever expect to see that,” Dr. Misha Rosenbach of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia told Reuters Health said in a phone interview.

The range of Valley Fever in the southwest U.S. is spreading in a similar way, he said.

Viruses like dengue, chikungunya and Zika are transmitted by mosquitoes originally from Africa and Asia, which have now spread widely throughout North America as the mosquitoes can survive further and further north.

“We are seeing a much wider spread northward for some of these formerly tropical diseases that are now in Texas and Florida,” Rosenbach said.

Seventeen of the warmest years on record occurred within the last 18 years, largely due to combustion of fossil fuels and destruction of rainforests, the authors write in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

globe

Water warming and flooding can also give rise to skin threats not previously typical of certain areas, the authors note. Ocean warming increases jellyfish populations, and Portuguese man-of-war now swim along the southeast U.S. coastline where they once did not, for example.

Parts of North America, particularly the Great Lakes, should expect substantially greater rainfall and therefore more outbreaks of waterborne disease as well.

Increasing temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the increased cases of illness from consuming raw oysters.

Another skin-related consequence of climate change is skin cancer: as ozone is depleted, the risk of skin cancer goes up. A two-degree temperature increase could raise skin cancer incidences by 10 percent each year, the authors write.

The dermatologic consequences of climate change may not all be negative – you could argue that if temperatures keep rising, some mosquito habitat will be dried out due to drought and some disease ranges may shrink, Rosenbach said.

When doctors see patients with a fever and a rash, he added, “what you suspect” as the diagnosis “depends on where you are.”
“It’s important to remember that what people learned 20 years ago or 10 years ago in medical school can be subject to rapid change,” he said. “The bottom line is it’s important to keep an open mind about possible diagnoses.”

By Kathryn Doyle      Fri Oct 21, 2016
 
SOURCE: bit.ly/2enGiMA   Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, online October 11, 2016.       www.reuters.com


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9 Ways Eating Bananas Can Benefit Your Health

If you’re like many people, no trip to the grocery store is complete until you add a bunch of bananas to your cart.

Bananas are inexpensive, tasty, and versatile, but the best reason to eat them is their health benefits. Read on to learn how this curvy, yellow wonder can help you stay well.

1. Tames Your Tummy
If you’ve ever had the stomach flu or food poisoning, you’ve probably been told to eat the BRAT diet during recovery. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Bananas are included in the acronym for good reason. They are bland enough to pass through the digestive tract easily, their potassium helps replenish lost electrolytes, and their fiber adds bulk to your stool to help calm diarrhea.

Some pregnant women report that bananas help ease morning sickness. It makes sense since bananas are high in vitamin B-6. One medium banana provides about 20 percent of your recommended daily intake. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), studies led by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend vitamin B-6 supplements during pregnancy to treat nausea and vomiting. Eating a few raw bananas each day may be a fresh alternative.

2. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
The potassium in bananas may help lower blood pressure. Two medium bananas provide a quarter of your daily allowance.

According to the American Heart Association, potassium helps lower blood pressure by reducing sodium’s effects on the body. They recommend that bananas and other foods containing potassium be part of an overall dietary plan to lower blood pressure. The plan should also include watching your salt, fat, and saturated fat intake.

3. Helps Lower Stroke Risk
The potassium in bananas doesn’t just impact blood pressure. If you’re a postmenopausal woman, it may reduce your stroke risk too.

According to the American Heart Association’s Rapid Journal Report, a study published in Stroke showed that postmenopausal women who eat high-potassium foods are less likely to have strokes and die from them than women who eat fewer potassium-rich foods. The study also suggests a benefit to increasing potassium in the diet before you develop high blood pressure.

4. Provides an Energy Boost
If you need an energy boost during exercise or otherwise, try eating a banana. A study published in PLoS ONE suggested that bananas are as beneficial as sports electrolyte drinks during exercise.

In fact, bananas may be superior. They deliver potassium, carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamin B-6 in an all-natural package. Sports drinks contain nutrients, but also processed sugar and artificial ingredients.

The next time you feel sluggish and need a pick-me-up, reach for a banana instead of a sports drink, soda, or other sugary beverage.

5. Good Source of Magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral that helps every organ and system in your body function normally. According to ODS, magnesium is important to protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production, glucose control, and blood pressure control.

Magnesium deficiency may lead to:

  • loss of appetite
  • migraines
  • osteoporosis
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness and tingling
  • heart rhythm issues
  • seizures

Alcoholism, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and poor diet can increase you risk of deficiency.

Two medium bananas have 16 percent of the recommended daily value. Adding bananas to your daily diet, especially if you have a health condition that depletes magnesium, may help you from becoming deficient.

6. Good Source of Manganese
Manganese isn’t a mineral you hear about often, but it’s critical to good health.

Manganese helps metabolize carbohydrates, cholesterol, and amino acids. It also plays an important role in bone development and wound healing.

Some studies suggest women with osteoporosis have lower levels of manganese than women without the condition. Manganese may also help prevent migraines, reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, and decrease the risk of death after a heart attack.

Two medium bananas have over 30 percent of your daily dietary allowance of manganese.

bananas

7. Good Source of Fiber
Most people don’t get anywhere near the recommended daily allowance of fiber, which is 38 grams daily for men 50 and under, and 25 grams for women. Fiber helps maintain bowel health and keep your bowels moving. It also helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.

Fiber may help you lose weight by keeping you fuller longer. High-fiber foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and oats are lower in unhealthy fats and calories than most so-called diet foods.

Two medium bananas contain 6 grams of fiber, which is about 23 percent of your daily fiber allowance. While you still have some distance to go to meet your goal, adding bananas to your diet helps get you there.

8. Helps Relieve Heartburn and Prevent Ulcers
According to research published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, bananas are natural antacids and work by neutralizing acid.

They also contain a flavonoid antioxidant called leucocyanidin which helps increase the mucous membrane layer in the stomach. This may help prevent stomach ulcers from forming or worsening.

9. Healthy Skin
Don’t throw away those overripe bananas! Use them to make a nourishing face mask.

While evidence is anecdotal, the theory behind the natural beauty treatment is sound. Bananas contain vitamin C, an antioxidant necessary for collagen production and that helps limit UV damage. Bananas are also reported to help treat acne, absorb oil, and moisturize dry skin.

To make a banana mask, mash a ripe banana until a paste forms. Apply to clean skin and leave on at least 15 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. For added moisture, add a teaspoon of honey or plain Greek yogurt. The mask is messy, so keep a towel handy.

Ways to Enjoy Bananas
If you want to enjoy the health benefits of bananas, but you don’t like eating them plain, you’re in luck. Bananas are delicious in milkshakes, smoothies, and parfaits. They are tasty solo or sliced onto whole grain pancakes, oatmeal, and your favorite cold cereals.

Try these healthy banana recipes.

Banana-Oatmeal Smoothie
This healthful treat is great for breakfast, lunch, or snack time. It combines bananas with oatmeal, almond milk, and Greek yogurt. View the recipe.

Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins
If you’re looking for a healthier banana muffin, look no further. This recipe features mashed bananas, coconut oil, maple syrup, oats, and whole-wheat flour. View the recipe.

Grilled Banana
If you’ve never tried a grilled banana, you don’t know what you’re missing. Grilling fruit brings out its natural sweetness. This recipe tops the banana with a dash of cinnamon. View the recipe.

Chocolate-Banana Ice Cream
Simply blend two frozen bananas and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Sweet, creamy, and healthy!

The Takeaway
When it comes to healthy fruit, you can’t do much better than bananas.

They’re low in calories, have no fat, and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Since bananas are inexpensive, portable, versatile, and easily fit into any healthy eating plan, there’s no excuse not to eat them.

To reap their health benefits, simply eat them in place of a couple unhealthy foods or snacks each day.

Article resources
Basic report bananas, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2159?manu=&fgcd=
Digestive Health Team. (2014, December 24). Mom’s advice is still the best for treating diarrhea. Retrieved from http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/moms-advice-is-still-the-best-for-treating-diarrhea/
Higdon, J. (2010, March). Manganese. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/manganese
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, September 22). Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
Michels, A. J. (2011, September). Vitamin C and skin health. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrients-health/skin-health/nutrient-index/vitamin-C
Nieman, D. C., Gillitt, N. D., Henson, D. A., Sha, W., Shanely, R. A., Knab, A. M., Cialdella-Kam, L., & Jin, F. (2012, May 17). Bananas as an energy source during exercise: A metabolomics approach. PLoS ONE, 7(5), e37479. Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0037479&representation=PDF
Nutrition facts: Bananas, raw. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2
Potassium and high blood pressure. (2014, August 4). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.Vr5TJvIrLIU
Sampath Kumar, K.P., Bhowmik, D., Duraivel, S., & Umadevi. M. (2012). Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Banana. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 1(3), 51-63. Retrieved from http://www.phytojournal.com/vol1Issue3/Issue_sept_2012/9.1.pdf
Vitamin B6 fact sheet for consumers. (2011, September 15). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer/
Vitamins B6. (2011, September 15). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

Written by Annette McDermott      Medically Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on 25 February 2016

 


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The Best Foods for Healthy Skin

Research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited. Still, antioxidant-rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin.

Consider these skin-friendly foods:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
  • Nuts
Carrots

On the flip side, some foods seem to be associated with skin damage. For example, some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging.

Remember, many of the best foods for healthy skin also promote good health overall. Rather than focusing on specific foods for healthy skin, concentrate on a healthy diet in general. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Include nuts, seeds and beans in your favorite meals. Opt for whole-grain breads and pasta. Limit sweets. Strive for variety as you’re making healthy choices.

Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.       Dec. 18, 2014

References

  • Draelos ZD. Eating for a lifetime of healthy skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2011;10:1.
  • Cosgrove MC, et al. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;86:1225.
  • Borek C. Aging and antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are powerful armor. Advances for Nurse Practitioners. 2006;14:35.
  • Bae J, et al. Bog blueberry anthocyanins alleviate photoaging in ultraviolet-B irradiation-induced human dermal fibroblasts. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2009;53:726.
  • How to create an anti-aging skin care plan. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/every-stage-of-life/adult-skin/how-to-create-an-anti-aging-skin-care-plan. Accessed Oct. 17, 2014


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9 Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is more than just a tasty garden herb. This medicinal plant has been shown to help combat inflammation, acne, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Here’s how thyme can reduce your pain and benefit your health.

1. Antibacterial

Medicinal Chemistry published a study that found essential oil from common garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) exhibited very strong activity against clinical bacterial strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas.

Thyme oil also worked against antibiotic resistant strains that were tested. This is especially promising news considering the current increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The antibacterial action of thyme also makes it useful for oral care. Try mixing one drop of thyme oil in a cup of warm water and using it as a mouthwash.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an enzyme that plays a key role in the body’s inflammatory response. A Nara Women’s University study found that thyme essential oil reduced COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent.

Interestingly, when researchers isolated a pure extract of carvacrol, a compound in thyme oil, this extract reduced COX-2 levels by more than 80 percent.

Thyme’s anti-inflammatory action can also help with localized pain. You can mix a few drops of thyme oil into a basic massage oil and rub it into an area where you’re experiencing pain, such as muscle aches, headaches, or skin inflammation.

3. Supports Brain Health

In one study, rats given a thyme supplement had antioxidant levels in their brains that were equivalent to antioxidant levels of much younger mice. Also, the level of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, were significantly higher compared to mice that had not received the thyme supplement.

Studies have indicated that high levels of omega-3 will help protect cognitive function and mental health as we age.

4. Acne Treatment

A Leeds University study found that a thyme tincture was more effective in killing the bacterium that causes acne than common chemical-based creams, such as benzoyl peroxide.

The thyme tincture was made by steeping thyme leaves in alcohol. This extracts the vital compounds from the plant. Naturally Healthy Skin has a good recipe for a thyme acne gel you can make at home.

Health Benefits of Thyme

5. Anticancer

Thyme extracts are shown to cause cell death in both breast and colon cancer cells.

Two studies found that wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) extract killed breast cancer cells, and mastic thyme (Thymus mastichina) extract was effective against colon cancer cells.

6. Reduces Respiratory Symptoms

A fluid extract of thyme and ivy leaves was shown to significantly reduce coughing and other symptoms of acute bronchitis compared to a placebo.

Drinking thyme tea may help when you have a sore throat or a cough. You can also try adding 2 drops of thyme oil to a container of hot water for steam inhalation.

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

In separate studies, extracts from wild thyme (Thymus serphyllum) and Himalayan thyme (Thymus linearis Benth.) were found to reduce blood pressure in rats. Both studies indicated that thyme extract may protect against hypertension.

8. Fungicide

A 2007 study looked at the effect of thyme essential oil as a disinfectant against household molds. They concluded that thyme oil is an effective fungicide against many different types of fungi and molds.

You can add a few drops of thyme oil to water or your favorite household cleanser to help clean up any fungal problems in your home.

Thyme can also kill fungi within your body. For instance, Candida albicans is the fungus that causes both vaginal and mouth yeast infections in humans. Italian researchers found that thyme essential oil greatly enhanced intracellular killing of Candida albicans.

9. Bug Repellant

Thymol, a compound in thyme, is an ingredient in many different pesticides. It’s been shown to effectively repel mosquitos, which can help prevent mosquito-borne disease.

To use as a repellant, mix 4 drops of thyme oil per teaspoon of olive oil and apply to your skin or clothing. You can also mix 5 drops for every 2 ounces of water and use as a spray.

How to Eat More Thyme

Many of these studies looked at thyme essential oil. Speak to your doctor, naturopath or herbalist before you start to consume thyme oil internally. Essential oils are potent compounds that should be taken under the advice of a professional.

Incorporating more fresh or dried thyme into your diet is a gentler way to get all the benefits from this wonderful herb.

By: Zoe Blarowski      June 22, 2016


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Supplement Linked to Reduction in Skin Cancer Risk

Preliminary Australian study saw association between nicotinamide and lower rates

WebMD News from HealthDay   By Dennis Thompson    HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) – A cheap and easily available vitamin supplement appears to reduce a person’s risk of skin cancer, new research contends.

A form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide is linked to a reduction of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23 percent when taken twice daily, according to Australian researchers.

“It’s safe, it’s almost obscenely inexpensive, and it’s already widely commercially available,” said senior author Dr. Diona Damian, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney.

Nicotinamide costs less than $10 for a month’s supply and is available at pharmacies and health food stores, she said.

However, more study is needed before researchers can say whether everyone would benefit from the supplement. “It’s not something we’d recommend at this stage for the general population,” Damian said.

The study is slated for presentation May 30 at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Funding for this study was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with about 5 million cases treated every year at a cost of about $4.8 billion, Damian said.

Common skin cancers tend to grow slowly and can be cured if found and treated early, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). These types of skin cancer include basal and squamous cell carcinoma. A more dangerous type of skin cancer called melanoma accounts for just 73,000 cases a year, according to the ACS.

Sunshine

Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause most skin cancers by damaging the DNA of skin cells, Damian said.

UV radiation also hampers the body’s ability to fight off cancer, depleting the energy that skin cells need to repair damaged DNA and profoundly suppressing the skin’s immune system, she said.

Earlier studies indicated that nicotinamide can provide skin cells with an energy boost, enhancing DNA repair and strengthening the skin’s immune system, Damian said.

However, those benefits quickly disappeared during the study’s follow-up period. “When people stopped taking their tablets after 12 months, the benefit was no longer seen,” Damian said. “In other words, you need to continue taking the tablets in order for them to be effective.”

Nicotinamide did not appear to cause any more adverse events than the placebo, researchers said.

Damian said that nicotinamide is very different from a more commonly known form of B3 called niacin. People who take high doses of niacin can suffer from headaches, flushed skin and low blood pressure. “These side effects are not and were not seen with nicotinamide,” she said.

Further studies are planned to determine if nicotinamide can help reduce skin cancers in people with suppressed immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients who have to take lifelong immune suppressive medications, researchers said. People with suppressed immune systems have skin cancer rates up to 50 times higher than those with normal immune systems, the researchers noted.

ASCO President Dr. Peter Yu said that the new study may provide doctors with a tool to head a major form of cancer off at the pass.

“We all know that we clamor for preventing rather than treating diseases, and this is a major advance for us,” said Yu, director of cancer research at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “With just a daily vitamin pill, along with sun protection and regular skin cancer screenings, people at high risk for these types of skin cancers have a good preventive plan to follow.”

source: HealthDay