Tag: DHA

Let Your Age Shine with These 4 Nutrients

by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.

The belief that aging is inevitable is in many cases a myth. It is not age per se, but years of abuse that wear down our bodies. (1) Many aspects of aging can be slowed or avoided – from wrinkles and age-related health conditions to middle-age spread and even to the frailty and loss of independence that many of us fear – by making a few changes in what we eat and how much we move. There is every reason to expect we can live robustly, passionately and vitally into our 90s and beyond.

Aging starts much earlier than you think, as early as your 20s. (2) It’s only after the accumulation of damage has progressed that you notice the overt signs of aging. That means, the sooner you start taking charge of your aging process, the longer you will remain youthful and vital. However, it’s never to late. Start today. Vow to make a few simple changes in your diet (and exercise) to ensure you get enough of the following 4 nutrients.

DHA Omega-3

The so-called “bad” fats — such as saturated fats in red meat and cheese, or trans fats in processed foods — are major players in heart disease. (3,4) In contrast, some of the “good” fats, such as the omega 3s, actually support your heart.

There are three types of omega-3s, and the one most important to overall health is DHA. Heart tissue concentrates DHA to a greater extent than any other omega-3. (5,6) Research points to the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3s, including DHA, in supporting the overall health of the heart. (7-10)

Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of DHA. However, if you are vegetarian, choose foods fortified with or supplements containing an algal- or vegetarian-based DHA. Aim for two servings of fatty fish a week or take a supplement that contains ample amounts of the omega-3 DHA.

Vitamin E

Little oxygen fragments, called free radicals or oxidants, damage cell membranes throughout the body, contributing to inflammation throughout the body. (11) Maintain a well-stocked arsenal of anti-free radicals or antioxidants, and you side-step this damage and help keep your tissues healthy.

Vitamin E, being a fat-soluble antioxidant, is a primary protector of cell membranes throughout the body. (12,13)

Even the skin benefits from vitamin E. Vitamin E helps slow skin cell ageing by reducing the production of an enzyme called collagenase that otherwise breaks down collagen, causing the skin to sag and wrinkle. (14,15) The best dietary sources of this potent antioxidant are nuts and oils, such as wheat germ oil.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in abundance in red wine and in lower amounts in red grapes, peanuts, pomegranates and berries. It is a potent antioxidant. Studies show that resveratrol alters gene expression, turning on the cells’ production of anti-aging substances. It also speeds cell repair and strengthens blood vessels. As if that wasn’t enough, it even shows promise in extending the lifespan. (16-23)

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 supports memory and nervous system function, yet people are less efficient at absorbing vitamin B12 as they age. Several studies suggest that low vitamin B12 status might be associated with memory function. (24-29) Also, this vitamin is only found in meats, eggs, and milk, so are prone to deficiency unless they supplement or include several servings a day of foods fortified with vitamin B12. People taking acid-inhibiting medications for stomach conditions, such as gastric reflux, also could be low in the vitamin, since B12 requires stomach acid for absorption. (30,31)

The best dietary sources are clams, tuna, tempeh, yogurt, eggs, miso, chicken and fish. Also make sure your multi-vitamin supplement contains ample amounts of vitamin B12.

Get Started!

Imagine if someone said they had a pill that would help slow aging while helping you feel and look younger for the rest of your life. That pill had no side effects other than improved mood, energy level, and self image. Would you take it? You’d be crazy not to! Well, it may not be a pill, but eating well, exercising daily and supplementing responsibly will stack the deck in favor of you living a long and healthy life.

References

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/200000-heart-disease-stroke-deaths-a-year-are-preventable-201309046648
  2. National Institutes onAging: What is aging? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/aging-under-microscope/what-aging
  3. Williams C, Salter A: Saturated fatty acids and coronary heart disease risk. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 2016;19:97-102.   (Saturated fat)
  4. Ginter E, Simko V: New data on harmful effects of trans-fatty acids. Bratisl. Lek. Listy. 2016;117(5):251-253.
  5. http://www.today.com/news/5-heart-healthy-nutrients-women-wbna29039017
  6. http://www.dhaomega3.org/Cardiovascular-Health/Higher-DHA-Omega-3-Levels-Found-in-Heart-Tissue-of-Cadavers-with-Low-Cardiac-Mortality
  7. Defilippis A, Blaha M, Jacobson T: Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease prevention. Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine 2010;12:365-380.25.
  8. Sakabe M, Shiroshita-Takeshita A, Maguy A, et al: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids prevent atrial fibrillation associated with heart failure but not atrial tachycardia remodeling. Circulation 2007;116:2101-2109. (Heart rate )
  9. Clark C, Monahan K, Drew R: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation attenuates blood pressure increase at onset of isometric handgrip exercise in healthy young and older humans. Physiological Reports 2016; July;4(14). (Blood pressure)
  10. Spigoni V, Lombardi C, Cito M, et al: N-3 PUFA increase bioavailability and function of endothelial progenitor cells. Food & Function 2014; 5:1881-1890. (Endothelial function and blood flow)
  11. Ellulu M, Patimah I, Khaza’ai H, et al: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: A review of initiators and protective factors. Inflammopharmacology 2016;24:1-10.
  12. Ambrogini P, Betti M, Galati C, et al: Alpha tocopherol and hippocampal neural plasticity in physiological and pathological conditions. International Journal of Molecular Science 2016;17(12).
  13. Georgousopoulou E, Panagiotakos D, Mellor D, et al: Tocotrienols, health and aging: A systematic review. Maturitas 2017;95:55-60.
  14. Ricciarelli R, Zingg J, Azzi A: The 80th anniversary of vitamin E: Beyond its antioxidant properties. Biological Chemistry 2002;383:457-465.
  15. Azzi A, Stocker A: Vitamin E: Non-antioxidant roles. Progress in Lipid Research 2000;39:231-255.
  16. Barger J, Kayo T, Vann J, et al: A low dose of dietary resveratrol partially mimics caloric restriction and retards aging parameters in mice. PloS ONE 2008;308:e2264.
  17. Majumdar A, Banerjee S, Nautiyal J, et al: Curcumin synergizes with resveratrol to inhibit colon cancer. Nutrition & Cancer 2009;61:544-553.
  18. Kroon P, Iyer A, Chunduri P, et al: The cardiovascular nutrapharmacology of resveratrol. Current Medicinal Chemistry 2010;17:2442-2455.
  19. Mercader J, Palou A, Bonet M: Resveratrol enhances fatty acid oxidation capacity and reduces resistin and retinol-binding protein 4 expression in white adipocytes. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2010;November 24th.
  20. Smith D, Nagy T, Allison D: Calorie restriction: What recent results suggest for the future of ageing research. European Journal of Clinical Investigation 2010;40:440-450.
  21. Anekonda T: Resveratrol: A boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease? Brain Research Review 2006;52:316-326.
  22. Roth G, Lane M, Ingram D: Caloric restriction mimetics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2005;1057:365-371.
  23. Mukherjee S, Dudley J, Das D: Dose-dependency of resveratrol in providing health benefits. Dose Response 2010;8(4):478-500.
  24. Osimani A, Berger A, Friedman J, et al: Neuropsychology of vitamin B12 deficiency in elderly dementia patients and control subjects. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 2005;18:33-38.
  25. Durand C, Mary S, Brazo P, et al: Psychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency. Encephale 2003;29:560-565.
  26. Hin H, Clarke R, Sherliker P, et al: Clinical relevance of low serum vitamin B12 concentrations in older people. Age and Ageing 2006;35:416-422.
  27. Barghouti F, Younes N, Halaseh L, et al: High frequency of low serum levels of vitamin B12 among patients attending Jordan University Hospital. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal 2009;15:853-860.
  28. Smith A, Refsum H: Vitamin B12 and cognition in the elderly. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009;89:707S-711S.
  29. Behrens M, Diaz V, Vasquez C, et al: Dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. Revista Medica de Chile 2003;131:915-919.
  30. Smith A: Hippocampus as a mediator of the role of vitamin B12 in memory. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016;103:959-960.
  31. Kobe T, Witte A, Schnelle A, et al: Vitamin B12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2016;103:1045-1054.

5 tips to help you age healthier

HappyMother's DayAre the foods on your plate helping you stay healthy through the years? We know what foods are ‘good’ for us, but did you know that what’s on your plate today could affect the way you age?

A recent study, by DSM and Groningen University, looked at why some populations age healthier than others. The researchers found evidence that a lack of nutrients can have long-term health effects. The results of the study support what we already know about the importance of a balanced diet throughout our lives.

It’s not always easy to ensure we’re getting proper nutrition, particularly as we age and need fewer calories and our bodies may absorb less nutrients. To help you stay healthy, try following these five rules:  Continue reading “5 tips to help you age healthier”

Common Misconceptions about Supplements

In our last article, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. iStock_000011975542_sm“Even if you follow a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle can make it difficult to obtain the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, a leading registered dietitian and author of several books, including “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.”

So, how else can we get the nutrition we need? One easy way to maintain good nutrition is to enhance your diet with supplements. The problem for many is that the frequency of new studies combined with the staggering number of supplements available makes it increasingly confusing to know what is right.

To help you put nutrition news in context, Somer is debunking a few of the common misconceptions about dietary supplements:

Continue reading “Common Misconceptions about Supplements”

Making the nutritional grade

As we enter 2016, many of us are thinking about our health and nutrition. After the indulgences of the holiday season, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s on our plate. When it comes to getting essential nutrients through food, it’s not enough to add the right foods to your menu, you also need to look at how often and how much of those foods you are eating.

Do you regularly eat a whole cup of sautéed spinach or get three weekly servings of salmon or other fatty fish? Research shows that Americans aren’t making the nutritional grade and, therefore, can lack important vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K and even vitamin C.

Data on dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index to compare what people say they eat to recommended dietary guidelines, found that children and adults scored 56 points out of a possible 100 (equivalent to an “F” grade), while seniors fared only slightly better at 65 points (equivalent to a “D” grade). The American Heart Association agreed with those findings in its 2013 report on heart disease and stroke, concluding that poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the main factors contributing to the high prevalence of heart disease in the U.S.

While many of us are falling short on meeting recommended dietary guidelines, it’s clear from the sheer amount of healthy lifestyle articles, diets, methods and tips out there that we are striving to be healthier. 

Here are a few easy to ways to add extra nutrition to your meals:

  •  Add a cup of spinach or other leafy greens to your next smoothie. You won’t taste the spinach at all and your drink will be a pretty shade of green.
  • Add finely chopped veggies to your pasta sauce, soups and casseroles.
  • Swap out white pasta and bread and cereals for whole grain (aim for low-sugar and high-fiber options too).

Do you aim to meet the recommended dietary guidelines? How do you get your get your essential nutrients?

Four Lifestyle Factors that Affect Brain Health

Senior Couple Jogging In Park

What’s the most important thing we can do to maintain brain health as we age? According to a new study, it’s not one thing but a combination of several things that may help slow cognitive decline in older adults.

A recent study was done over three years with nearly 1,700 older adults who had mildmemory complaints, slow walking speed, and other daily living limitations. The study participants were randomized into four groups, each with a different regimen to follow. The group who were assigned nutritional counselling, exercise, social and cognitive stimulation along with DHA supplements showed positive results. Even the participants in this group who had a low baseline DHA showed significant results.

The study results reinforce what we already know. The Four Dimensions of Brain Health – a healthy diet, mental engagement, physical activity and social engagement are essential to maintaining our brain health. “The MAPT study shows us that we have some influence in helping to maintain brain health,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author. “Lifestyle changes, like making sure you’re eating the right foods and being active for thirty minutes daily, can have a big impact on brain health.”

DHA is an essential nutrient for brain health  but most of us don’t get nearly enough through diet, says Somer. “97% of the omega-3s in the brain are DHA, so it’s no wonder the study found that DHA supplementation can support a healthy brain,” she says. “Aim for a supplement that has at least 200mg DHA.”

How do you take care of your brain health?

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How to protect your eyes year-round


As the temperatures cool down (goodbye summer, see you next year!), the sun may be shining a little less brightly, but that doesn’t mean you should pack your shades away. Maintaining healthy eyes and vision is a year-round job.

5 ways to keep your eyes healthy throughout the year:

  • Wear sunglasses: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to vision issues, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. If you do winter sports or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, consider polarized lenses which offer additional protection from the sun’s glare.
  • Hydrate: Keep dry eyes at bay by drinking lots of water. If you’re going to be losing water (i.e. sweating), add in additional water to replenish your body. Keep a refillable bottle of water nearby throughout the day to remind you to drink up.
  • Wear protective eyewear: Don’t underestimate the potential for eye injury in everyday activities. Sharp tools, flying dust, harsh chemicals – all can be hazardous to your eye health. If you’re doing basic home repairs or intensive cleaning, don a pair of safety goggles. You can pick them up at many eyewear and sporting goods stores.
  • Eat well: We shared Vitamins in Motion’s infographic on nutrition for eye health in our last post. In a nutshell, look for nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and healthy fats to keep your eyes bright, shiny, and healthy. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids are eye-health superstars.
  • Limit screen time: Today, screens are everywhere, not just on our desktop computer. Tapping out an email on your smartphone, watching a movie on your tablet – too much time in front of a screen can cause eyestrain. To prevent this, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If you can, take a quick walk during this time.

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

New Year, New You: How to stay with your nutrition goals

If you’ve made a resolution to live a healthier life in 2014, congratulations! We all know how important exercise and healthy diets are, but it can be difficult to stick with them.

A lifestyle change is often more effective than any single action. Why not use the four dimensions of brain health as your basis to make lifestyle changes that will lead to a healthier, happier you? The four key areas to help support your brain health and function throughout life are: diet, physical health, social well-being and mental engagement.

Check out these tips on how to incorporate lifestyle changes into your daily routine.

Diet

Your brain plays a critical role in every area of your life, from learning, working and playing to personality, aptitude and memory. A healthy diet can help to support cognitive function.

Tips to try:

  • Switch out saturated and trans fats for healthier fats like the ones found in olive oil and fatty fish.
  • Maximize your intake of DHA, which can be found in salmon and trout, along with algal DHA fortified foods like Horizon Organic Milk plus DHA Omega-3, Mission Life Balance Tortillas. It’s also easy to add an algal DHA supplement to your daily routine.

Physical Health

Exercise significantly improves your health in many ways — from helping to maintain a healthy weight and keeping cholesterol levels in check, to maintaining good blood flow to the body and encouraging growth of new brain cells and connections.

Tips to try:

  • Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Walk, play sports, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or do something you enjoy outdoors.
  • Sleep soundly — try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Social Well-Being

Friends and family are central to happiness — and they just might be the key to brain health as well. Research shows that regular social interaction has a significant effect on long-term brain health and function. Getting the emotional and social support you need to help you manage stress and feel happy makes life meaningful and fun, and it stimulates and protects your brain.

Tips to try:

  • Volunteer for a cause that is meaningful to you.
  • Join a new club this year.

Mental Engagement

The “use it or lose it” idea is especially true when it comes to your brain. Strive to keep your mind active by engaging in brain-boosting activities.

Tips to try:

  • Commit to lifelong learning. Intellectual curiosity, pursuit of education, reading, learning new activities and skills, and even playing games are fun and easy ways to exercise your mind.
  • Find a brain-stimulating activity you enjoy such as reading, crosswords, learning a new language — and engage in it regularly.

What New Year’s resolutions do you have planned for yourself and how do you plan to stick to them?