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Jun3 8th 2018
Revealed: How much coffee should you consume for peak alertness
Researchers working for the US army have figured out how much coffee to consume - and when - for peak alertness.
Coffee is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world and much like the rest of us, the army use it to ensure they’re alert and working at their most efficient.
But timing your coffee consumption is essential for peak performance - drink it too early and the effects will wear off, too late and you’ll be up all night.
Now, however, the US army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Biotechnology High Performance Computing Software Applications Institute (BHSAI) has developed an algorithm that could provide the solution.
In a soon-to-be released app called 2B-Alert, members of the public will be able to take tests and input sleep and caffeine intake data, and they will then receive “sleep and caffeine schedules” to help them “optimise performance” in future.
The researchers hope the app will be useful to students preparing for exams, pilots, truckers and anyone planning to undertake an activity where they will need to perform at peak cognitive levels during a particular time period.
“We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 per cent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” principal investigator and senior author Jaques Reifman, PhD explained.
“Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 per cent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”
The algorithm was created by assessing dosing strategies in four previously published studies on sleep loss. By doing this, the researchers were able to identify the strategies which would enhance neurobehavioural performance or reduce caffeine consumption.
“Our algorithm is the first quantitative tool that provides automated, customised guidance for safe and effective caffeine dosing to maximise alertness at the most needed times during any sleep-loss condition,” said Reifman.
However the app won’t take into consideration the quality of the coffee you’re consuming, with contaminated or polluted (cheaper) coffee beans generally providing a quicker crash than higher quality beans.
June 4th 2018
'I thought my backache was normal until I discovered this'
Your vitamin D level is one of those things most of us don’t think about, but let me tell you, once you figure out that you have a vitamin D deficiency and start taking supplements, it’s 100% life-changing. About a year ago I started noticing some stuff happening in my body; mainly, I was constantly exhausted, kind of in a funk mood-wise, I was getting winded walking up one flight of stairs, having trouble falling asleep and, the worst part, my lower-back pain was at a level of terrible I hadn’t previously experienced.So what was wrong with me?
Well, after much totally unqualified WebMD research, I decided that I was probably dying… you know, a very typical prognosis when you go down the black hole of Googling “Why am I always tired?” and “Why do I feel awful all the time?”
I had a scheduled yearly gynecologist appointment coming up anyway, so I figured while I was there I’d ask her about my symptoms and maybe do some blood work if she had concerns. Well, turns out that my vitamin D levels were so low that she was “very concerned” and told me that I needed to immediately start taking 5,000 IUs per day of a vitamin D supplement.
Naturally, I went into a panic. She told me not to worry too much (but also, be worried), because most people are low in vitamin D. Just not as low as I was.
I immediately asked her what causes such a deficiency and she replied, “Typically, a lack of sun exposure.” There you have it. I’m extremely fair-skinned and have a family history of skin cancer. Because of these two things, I’m pretty much always covered head-to-toe in SPF 30 or higher.
Her plan was to have me take the supplements for a year and then we would re-test and assess whether or not I’d have to start taking a prescription-level dose of vitamin D (5,000 IUs is the highest for over-the-counter). I followed my doctor’s orders and about a week or so later I saw a surprising difference in my health and overall mood: the “funk” was totally gone, my back pain, though still there, wasn’t as bad, and I was no longer getting winded going up stairs! Life-changing. And all for $20 for a year’s supply (I bought the generic Rite Aid brand).
The thing is, if I hadn’t told my doctor about these mostly just annoying changes I was experiencing, I’d still be just as moody and winded. Vitamin D deficiency is a sneaky little devil because the symptoms are often “not that bad” or just plain ignored. Here’s what I learned:
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
Fatigue, eczema, depression, insomnia, inflammation, bone pain, frequent colds or flu, anxiety, slow healing of wounds, and more can all be symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
What you should do:
First off, getting some general blood work done yearly isn’t ever a bad idea, just to check on your general level of health. If you have a suspicion you might be low in vitamin D, first go to your doctor and see what they say. “Ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 test to confirm your status. If your vitamin D levels are low, consider a vitamin D3 supplement,” says Dr. Chante Wiegand.
I also had a LOT of experts tell me “just go in the sun for 15 minutes a day with no sunscreen.” UM, NO. Just because you’re deficient in a nutrient that you get from the sun doesn’t mean you can or should put yourself at risk for skin damage or, even worse, skin cancer. Fifteen minutes is enough time to actually get sunburned! Don’t do it.
What should you do (aside from taking supplements)? “Incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet, like mushrooms grown in UV light, cod liver oil, [and] oily fish (salmon, mackerel),” says Wiegand.
There you have it. Long story short: see a doctor first if you’re having symptoms, and then go from there.
May 23rd 2018
Should you take a vitamin every day?
As a kid, popping a single chewy, sugary multivitamin alongside breakfast was easy. But as an adult, navigating the world of vitamin supplements is more complicated. The sheer number of options available at the store, combined with confusing labels and a lack of nutrition knowledge, can turn the simple task of bettering your health into a seemingly impossible feat.
That’s why we chatted with two experts to help clear up the vitamin confusion. Read on to learn what vitamins are, why they’re important and what role they play in a healthy diet.
Vitamins vs. supplements
It’s important to understand the difference between vitamins and vitamin supplements.
Dr. Marc Leavey, a primary care internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, described vitamins as micronutrients, or “chemicals which act to promote or expedite biochemical reactions within the body.” The majority of vitamins you need come from the environment and the food you eat, he said. Supplements, on the other hand, are the pills you can purchase at the store that contain specific doses of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin D, iron, biotin and more.
Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, said vitamins — along with minerals and other nutrients — are essential for good health. For example, Vitamin C can improve your immune health, while potassium (a mineral) can help stabilize your blood pressure, she explained.
The question, then, isn’t whether vitamins are important (they are), but how you should best incorporate them into your daily nutrition plan.
Are daily supplements necessary?
Though you should definitely strive to obtain a variety of nutrients every day, including vitamins and minerals, Leavey doesn’t recommend “routine ingestion of vitamin supplements” to achieve this goal.
You can get the majority of vitamins and minerals you need by eating a healthy, balanced diet, Gorin added.
“Nutrition needs are very individual, and taking such supplements may certainly benefit your health,” she said, especially if you have nutrition deficiencies. “However, this should be determined on an individual basis,” she explained.
In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to taking supplements. That said, there are certain steps you can take to improve your nutrient intake and boost your overall health.
How to improve your nutrition
Start by examining your diet. Gorin recommended keeping a food journal for several days to record everything you eat and how much.
“You can use a tracker such as MyFitnessPal to do an evaluation of how much of certain nutrients you’re getting, and you can get a feel for if you’re low in certain vitamins and minerals, or other nutrients such as omega-3s,” she explained. You can then use this information as a guide to determine which foods you should add to your diet to help fill your nutrition gaps.
If, however, you adjust your diet and still want to try supplements, Leavey suggested consulting your primary care physician to help guide you through the process. Your doctor can run health tests, pinpoint your deficiencies, and ensure you obtain exactly what you need in the right quantity, he said.
If you do opt to take supplements (for vitamins, minerals or other nutrients), below are four types to consider:
Omega-3 supplements containing DHA and EPA can help improve heart and brain health, Gorin said.
“Eating at least two 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish like salmon and herring weekly would provide the amount of these omega-3s that most people need for good health,” she explained. But if you’re not eating that, she said, a daily supplement of 250 milligrams should do the job.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, Gorin stressed, and can also help prevent hyperparathyroidism, “which is an excess of the parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream that may lead to osteoporosis, joint pain and other issues,” she explained.
But since Vitamin D comes primarily from exposure to sunlight and can be difficult to obtain from food, Leavey said, many people are deficient and may require a supplement.
3. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps your body perform essential functions, like producing red blood cells and maintaining the central nervous system, Gorin said. ”[But] many vegetarians and vegans are low in this vitamin, as many of the good sources are animal-based,” she explained. That’s where a supplement can prove beneficial.
Iron, a mineral present in red blood cells, helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Leavey said iron deficiency, which can cause fatigue and dizziness, is common among menstruating women, but that an iron supplement (in addition to an iron-rich diet) can help combat that deficiency.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that supplements aren’t always well-regulated, so be careful when you’re shopping.
“You want to make sure that you’re buying a quality product, one that contains what its label says it does and that doesn’t contain any contaminants,” Gorin said. Her advice? “Shop for one that’s undergone third-party testing or review, such as one with a USP Verified mark.”
Nov 15th 2017
Five vitamins that help maintain your mental health
Whilst we are beginning to become very aware of how what we eat affects our physical health and wellbeing, we don't often connect what we eat with how our brain functions. Just like our organs, our brain needs certain vitamins to function normally - deprive your brain of these for too long and you will start to experience a range of neurological and emotional problems. It is easy to assume that if we're feeling sad, or low on energy, it must be to do with a situation, or behaviour, rarely do we look to our diet for the solution or prevention. Yet humans have used natural sources to prevent and cure mental disorders for centuries - and it's not tales from folklore that back it up - its solid gold science! Take a look at how including these vitamins can have a positive impact on your mental health
Make Sure You Have Enough B Vitamins
All of the B vitamins - B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panthothenic acid), B6 (pyridonxine), B7 (biotin) and B9 (folate) are essential for extracting energy from food, building vital molecules, and regulating the metabolism of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. They have all been found to alleviate the symptoms of depression, stress, and age related mental decline. Niacin in particular has been found to have positive effects when administered in controlled doses to long-term sufferers of depression and schizophrenia.
Many veggies such as spinach, broccoli, turnips, and beetroot are high in B vitamins. The only exception is B-12, which can only be found in animal products such as fish, meat, milk and eggs. If you are vegan you should consider taking vitamin B-12 supplements.
Selenium is not only great for the immune system - holding one of the most important antioxidants, but also fights inflammation, and supports healthy cognitive function. Brazil nuts have the highest concentration of selenium than any other food source at 68-91 mcg per nut. That means that you only need one or two nuts to reach your daily selenium requirements of 200mg a day - more than 400mg is considered dangerous, as selenium is toxic in higher doses. Studies have shown that low selenium levels, particularly in young people, put you at higher risk of depression. Selenium levels which were too high also yielded negative results, whilst in another study pregnant women who had enough selenium in their diet were at lower risk of developing post natal depression.
Vitamin D is vital for maintaining our mental health and may contribute towards what we term as the 'winter blues' - a drop in our mood over the winter months.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, and other mental illness, so it's fair to say it's pretty important that we get enough! We all know that the best source of our good friend vitamin D is the sun, but unfortunately it's not always around, especially during the winter months. So if you are not able to soak up the sun's rays the natural way, then it is important to include it as a supplement in your diet. You can buy vitamin D supplements from natural remedy shops, pharmacies and supermarkets. A lot of breads, cereals and milks are now fortified with vitamin D to ensure that we're getting enough of the good stuff.
Magnesium is important for many different aspects of our health. It activates over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body. It is crucial to nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation.Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote.
In studies, decreased magnesium levels were shown to increase adrenaline and cortisol, by-products of the "fight or flight" stress reaction. Studies carried out in Western countries such as the U.S, France and Canada found that at least 50% of the population are deficient in magnesium which can be found in adequate amounts in spinach, kale, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and almonds. The recommended daily amount is 400- 420 milligrams.
The root vegetable, turmeric has a whole host of nutritional and health benefits. It contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties, as well as curcumin - a natural anti-inflammatory compound. As well as its positive impact on the body, turmeric has been found to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, mood swings and ADHD. This is thought to be down to turmeric increasing the bioavailability of DHA - a major structural fat found in the brain that is crucial for its function. Turmeric can be bought in root form, as a powder to use in curries or soups, or as a tea - so there's no excuse not to be getting enough! So whilst I am by no means saying that vitamins alone will prevent, or cure, mental illness - including these things as part of your diet can contribute towards a healthier overall brain functioning, especially when combined with daily exercise.
Visit this store for all your essential vitamin supplies click on this link Vitamins ,should be part of our daily keep fit routine, you get most vitamins from your daily food.
But when you are unwell and go to the doctor; if he checks your blood. It is not unlikely that he will find that one or more of your vitamin levels is out of balance.
I have been a believer in vitamin supplements for many years and I can tell you the reason.
Years ago I read a report about the health of a farmers cows in Norway, they were all suffering from some complaint or other and not responding to the local vet’s treatments, eventually, somebody suggested that they put up a range of medical cow licks and observing which of these the cows went for.
After much investigation, it was discovered that the problem was there was no natural selenium present in the area, after a few weeks, with selenium rich cow licks being made available all the animals returned to robust good health.
I decided there and then, what was good enough for those poor animals was good enough for me and I have been taking vitamin supplements ever since.