Archive for the ‘DHA’ Category

Top 5 Best Prescription Prenatal Vitamins

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Many women do not get enough vitamins and minerals to support a healthy pregnancy on their own. This is where prescription prenatal vitamins can help. But not all prenatal vitamins are equal. There are many, many prescription prenatal vitamins on the market from organic to chewable to those with DHA. How do you know you are getting the best for you and your baby? Here is a guide to the Top 5 best prescription prenatal vitamins money can buy.

1. Prenate Elite: Forget about those gigantic horse pills of the past. Prenate Elite is a small vitamin with all of the same benefits as the larger ones. It is film coated so that there is no nasty smell or taste. Some women feel that typical prenatal vitamins make their morning sickness worse, but Prenate Elite has a lower incidence of nausea. It also contains extra folic acid which is thought to aid in DNA and red blood cell production.

2. NataChew: These vitamins are for women on the go. There is no need for water because they are easily chewable. These contain one milligram of additional folic acid. NataChew do not have the same unpleasant taste as most prenatal vitamins.

3. CitraNatal with DHA: This prenatal vitamin contains calcium (many do not), iron, and DHA. This vegetable based DHA has recently been shown to improve fetal brain development, cognition, and visual acuity. Mom also gets the added benefits of improved hair, skin, and nails. Because constipation is a common issue during pregnancy, CitraNatal also contains a gentle stool softener. I currently take this prenatal vitamin and I am very pleased with it. The DHA comes in a separate capsule and it is one of the few prenatal vitamins containing calcium.

4. DuetDHA: This prenatal vitamin has two parts. There is your typical multivitamin containing folic acid, iron, calcium, and other minerals. There is also a capsule containing both DHA and omega 3 fatty acids. There is some research which suggests that DHA may decrease the risk of premature birth. Also, DuetDHA has an enteric coating so that it doesn’t dissolve until it gets to the intestines. This helps to minimize stomach upset.

5. Nestabs FA: Another great small and odorless product. This one is even kosher certified and it doesn’t have an aftertaste.

It is important to note that prescription prenatal vitamins containing extra folic acid may mask certain types of anemia. Check with your doctor if this is a concern for you. Also, never take more vitamins than prescribed. Although they may seem harmless, some vitamins are fat soluble and build up in the body for extended periods of time. This can be toxic to you and your baby. As always, consult your doctor about which prenatal vitamins are best for you.

The Best DHA Supplements

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Docosahexaenoic acid, better known as DHA is just one of three fatty acids recommended for various conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, and is added to formula to promote the healthy development of infants. DHA is also known as an omega-3 acid. While omega-3 acids are good for you, you can have too much of a good thing. If you’re taking aspirin on a regular basis or taking medications for high blood pressure, you will need to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning an omega-3 supplement. High doses of omega-3 are related to gastrointestinal upsets, including diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and abdominal bloating. The American Heart Association has recommended a dose of about 1 gram of omega-3 acids per day for adults with heart disease and high levels of triglycerides. Healthy adults need a smaller dose.

The best way to take your omega-3 acids is in the food you eat. The best source of omega-3 acids is Wild Alaskan Salmon. It’s high in omega-3s and low in contaminates. Eat two servings of salmon or tuna a week, add walnuts to your diet, and use small amounts of canola oil when you cook and you will have all the omega-3 acids you need in your diet. Rather than relying on a pill, the best supplement containing DHA is eating a healthy diet including fatty fish, nuts, and healthy oils.

There are a few different kinds of omega-3 supplements: flax seed, fish oil, and micro-algae. Flaxseed supplements don’t contain DHA, but they do contain the other two parts of omega-3 acids: ALA and EPA, which the body turns into small amounts of DHA during digestion.

Micro-algae supplements are a completely animal free, vegan omega-3 supplement. While some people say omega-3 from algae isn’t as reliable as fish oil, there’s no scientific basis for this. Taking an omega-3 supplement derived from micro-algae is like going to the source. Fish contain omega-3s because they eat micro-algae. Micro-algae derived lacks the fishy smell and taste you get from fish oils. O-MegaZen-3 is a great vegetarian omega-3 supplement that contains Martek DHA derived from micro-algae. You may have to go to a health food store to find this supplement and it’s more expensive than your typical fish oil.

When it comes to fish oil supplements, there’s not really a huge difference between the various brands. The main difference you will find is the price. Nature Made Fish Oil found at Wal-Mart is an inexpensive brand of omega-3 fatty acids. If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, this is a good option.

One-A-Day Cardiovascular Health is a great choice for those who are also taking a multivitamin. If you have cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol you probably already take a lot of pills, so you love the chance to combine some of them. This is a more expensive supplement, but considering you can combine your omega-3s and you multivitamin, it may end up being a money saving adventure in the end.

On the higher end of the spectrum is Spectrum Essentials Omega 3 Norwegian Fish Oil. This is a more expensive supplement that will cost you over $200 a year. You can find this supplement in some health food stores.

While I still recommend you obtain your omega-3 fatty acids through the food you eat, if you’re going to take a supplement, take the most cost effective supplement that provides you with the recommended one gram per day and contains ALA, EPA, and DHA.

Always speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any supplemental regimen.

Surprising Non-Vegetarian Ingredients in Otherwise Veggie Foods

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Most vegetarians are diligent ingredient readers when they purchase their goods. While some vegetarians go so far as to consume fish and white meat, most vegetarians by definition will eat dairy products and eggs but won’t eat animal flesh. Vegans, whom I take my hat off to, won’t even consume animal by-products. For the basic vegetarian who thinks they’re NOT consuming animal flesh, guess again. There are ingredients in foods that we’re eating every single day that likely consume animal products.

Like gelatin. It’s not a myth that gelatin is animal fats. What gelatin is basically is all the fatty substance that comes to the surface of the boiling vat they throw the animal parts we don’t eat into, which means it’s animal fats from their tissues, hair and bone. So if you eat skittles, Jello, starbursts, or take gel-filled caps, you ARE eating meat. Marshmallows included. While many people think gelatin is plant-based, unless it says so on the packaging, if it has gelatin in it, it is animal fats. Even kosher gelatin may be animal based, it just doesn’t include pork.

Hey, cheese lovers! This will make you cringe! Many cheeses we buy and consume all the time (for protein and calcium in our diets) has an ingredient called rennet in them, which is a substance scraped from the inside of cows’ intestines. Ew!

Did you know that many foods contain a red food dye called cochineal/carnine? This red food dye coloring is found in some every day products, like coating on apples to make them redder, and many candies. This food dye is actually derived from insects. Makes you want to think twice about biting into a juicy red apple.

DHA-enriched products, such as milk, cheese, bread and even margarine and orange juice contain gelatin, so watch out.

Even some soy products (vegan must-haves due to the claim they contain no animal by-products) have casein in them, which is derived from milk. This means some soy products (such as some types of soy cheese) are not truly vegan, as they have milk by-products in them that are used to help the cheese alternatives melt.

Even regular white sugar in our daily diets (perhaps you put it in your coffee?) is filtered using bone char.

And get this- Amino L-cysteine, common in many breads and crackers to aid in preservation and freshness, is derived from animal feathers and/or hair! It’s enough to make you afraid of everything in your pantry that you think is normally free of animal parts.

These are just a few of the things in our daily food allowance that can have us consuming meat without realizing it. A product doesn’t have to state that it contains meat products, and can even say that it may contain vegetable fats OR lard, or not give a full disclosure of the coloring and flavoring additives in the product, depending on what it is.

The best way to approach this situation? Do your research on what you’re buying. Call the customer service numbers on the foods you’re concerned about and get ingredient confirmation, look them up online, and/or shop at truly vegan and vegetarian shops to make sure even the Omega 3s you’re consuming are vegetable-based as opposed to fish derived. Breads and other products will boast they are rich in Omega 3s but once again do not have to state where the Omegas come from. If you want to know for sure, do your research and find out.

You may not really be a vegetarian after all. Creepy, isn’t it?

Some Ways to Look Younger Naturally

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

There are lots of tips to looking younger than your years. Plastic surgery or having poison shot into your body to maintain a youthful look isn’t for everyone. Invasive surgery or other medical alternatives can be costly and dangerous. Here is a short list of healthy alternatives that will help to turn back the clock on your appearance.

Maintain a healthy weight. Getting lean will make you healthier and live an even longer life. Some cancer risks are eliminated by those that don’t carry excess fat cells. Fat cells also do other damage to your body. Type 2 diabetes is a risk due to the hormones that fat cells can produce. You could develop stiffening of your arteries, your heart or other vital organs because of cytokines which is a substance that fat cells make that cause inflammation.

Body frames are widely varied so it’s hard to determine a perfectly, healthy weight based on height. The best way to determine your particular healthy weight is to try and maintain a body mass index of 23.5.

Don’t let pain get you down. If you suffer with any type of chronic pain don’t try to ride it out. Consult your doctor and keep on until you get relief from pain. If you live with chronic pain you take a chance on lowering your immune system. Pain that isn’t treated can cause depression and make stress levels in your life higher; stress is not a youth promoting circumstance.

Take a walk for looking younger naturally. Just a short, brisk walk of about 30 minutes per day, only 5 days per week will get your blood pumping. Walking will add flexibility to your arteries. Just some form of mild exercising helps to prevent the risk of several life-threatening problems such as depression, diabetes, some types of cancers and maybe, even lessen the signs of dementia in older folks.

To help you in your fight to look younger don’t pass up the vegetables. There is nothing that you can eat that compares to the benefits of vegetables. You can eat up to nine servings of fruits and veggies daily to stock up on that antioxidant, youth enhancers as well as the cancer preventatives.

Eat fatty fish. It’s true that you can eat such seafood delights as lake trout and salmon for health and a younger looking appearance. These types of fish are loaded with the Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. There have been several studies conducted that show sudden death heart attacks have been prevented by having higher levels of DHA and EPA in your system. Age-related macular degeneration has been warded off in some people by eating an Omega-3 fatty acid rich diet.

Supplement your diet with vitamins, especially Vitamin D. Your body will produce Vitamin D in your skin when you are enjoying the sun but it slows down production of this vital nutrient with age. If you don’t have enough Vitamin D you could suffer from some risks such as multiple sclerosis or even osteoporosis.

Another tip to remain looking young is to give up the sunbathing. It might be all well and good to have that pool-side polished, bronze skin at 20 but by the time you are 40 your skin could have the look of worn leather. Tanning beds and booths are not the answer either; they are even more dangerous than the sun. Protection from the sun is important to maintain the elasticity of skin as well as slathering on the moisturizing lotion to exposed parts of your body. A sunscreen of SPF 15 is usually a good choice for most skin types.

Just a few tips and tricks to keep the look of youth is all it takes to erase years off your appearance.

Race, IQ and the Economics of Nutrition

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

On average, African Americans score fifteen points lower on IQ tests compared to Caucasian Americans. This very significant difference is often used as an excuse for anti-black racism, based in the unfounded belief that reduced IQs are the result of genetic inferiority. However, despite the racist assumptions of some studies and organizations, research may reveal that lower IQ is the result of inadequate prenatal and infant nutrition– not genetics.

Nutritional deficits are often severe in urban black communities, so they may play a role in the much higher rates of preterm birth among African American women. Black women are three to four times more likely to give birth to a baby who is premature compared to white women, leading to a number of problems pertaining to brain development. Infants born prematurely are at a high risk of developing cognitive delays and mental retardation– in other words, these issues become more common in black communities because the rates of preterm birth are so much higher.

The reason for the much higher rate of pregnancy complication in black women is a combination of higher smoking rates and nutritional deficits. The diet of many American women, regardless of race, is often critically low in folic acid, a B vitamin known to reduce the incidence of many birth defects and preterm labor. Since many low-income families are uninsured, early supplementation may be difficult or impossible to come by for women who lack the resources for receiving immediate prenatal care.

Additionally, the brain-building omega-3 fatty acid DHA, found in breastmilk and some formulas, is known to be critically important in maintaining proper brain development in infants, especially those who are premature. A lack of DHA in an infant’s diet is associated with a 7-point decrease in IQ, and may also be connected to disorders including dyslexia, autism, and ADD. Preterm babies who do not receive high amounts of DHA immediately following birth are especially likely to develop mental retardation and cognitive disorders.

African American mothers are less likely to breastfeed that white mothers, and this may be one of the biggest factors in incidence of reduced IQ within black communities. Until very recently, no infant formulas contained DHA. DHA is now found in many infant formulas and cereals, but they are generally more expensive, and their cost is rarely paid for by WIC, the USDA’s federal infant nutrition service. Many low-income and WIC-eligible families, regardless of race, are unable to afford DHA-fortified formulas– leading to lower average IQs within low-income families across the board.

One study, performed before the advent of DHA-fortified formulas, defended the racist assumptions of genetic inferiority because it found that black infants adopted into white families still had a lower IQ than their white siblings by 8 points. Given that this number is almost exactly the same as the average IQ reduction in formula-fed infants, it is quite clear that the delays were caused by DHA deficiency, not a racial genetic flaw. Because all adopted children were formula-fed during the time that this study took place, the link is painfully obvious.

DHA’s powerful brain-boosting powers are not limited to babies who have already been born, either, which is yet another sign that lower IQs among African Americans are the result of nutritional and socioeconomic factors. Several studies have revealed that women who do not recieve adequate levels of DHA are more likely to give birth to babies with reduced IQs and cognitive delays, making it a critical component of proper prenatal nutrition.

Because DHA is found mostly in expensive foods like salmon, and because supplements containing it are often prohibitively expensive, low-income pregnant women are more likely to be deficient in this essential fatty acid. Given the high incidence of poverty within black communities, it is no surprise that African American babies are more likely to have cognitive delays that result from inadequate prenatal nutrition.

As the U.S. celebrates our first president of African descent, we might ask ourselves whether or not we now live in a truly post-race society. Despite the fact that the United States now tries to maintain an illusion of being a colorblind society, a painful socioeconomic rift still prevents black children from receiving the nutrition necessary to support healthy brain development.

In a truly post-race world, America will not hide behind the lie that people of African descent are inferior to any other race: instead, the world will move toward guaranteeing excellent nutrition for all children, so that they may reach their fullest potential regardless of their skin-color or socioeconomic status. It is distinctly un-American for health and intellectual prowess to be commodities held only be the wealthy.

Sources: Race and Intellligence. McGraw-Hill. Hernstein and Murray. The Bell Curve. from Contemporary Psychology; Importance of Breastfeeding in Improving the Health of African-Americans. Journal of Multicultural Nursing and Health. Deborah McCarter-Spalding. Fall 2004; Bio-Medicine. Preterm Delivery More Common in African American Women. Eurekalert. Accessed 15 Jan 09.; Liz Szazbo. Study: DHA supplements may help baby girls. USA Today. 13 Jan 09.; Salynn Boyles. Omega-3 Essential for Baby’s Brain Development. WebMD Health News. 16 Jul 04. Folic Acid: American Pregnancy Association. Accessed 15 Jan 09.