Tag: Vitamin E

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.

Eat for the Sake of Your Eyes

by Mia Syn, M.S., R.D.

Many of us know that adding carrots into the diet, is good for our eyes. What we may not realize is that there is a plethora of food and nutrients that can help keep vision sharp and slow the natural decline that occurs with age. Some of these nutrients include antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Knowing how these nutrients work within the eye and where to seek to them, is one way to help keep eyes looking and feeling healthy.

Nutrition and Your Eyes

The National Eye Institute encourages a healthy diet as being a key factor to eye health. (1) Age-related visual decline is inevitable for most individuals and the risk of developing eye diseases increases with age. (1)

There are several types of eye disorders. Two common types include cataracts, characterized by clouded vision, and diabetic retinopathy, a visual impairment brought on by high blood sugar damaging blood vessels in the retina. Additional conditions include dry eye disease marked by insufficient tear fluid and glaucoma characterized by degeneration of the optic nerve leading to poor vision or blindness. The leading cause of blindness in the developed world is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is caused by degradation of the central part of the retina called the macula, which controls visual acuity. (2) While genetics and age play a role in the development and progression of these diseases, diet and lifestyle also contribute, thus empowering us to make good choices.

Zeaxanthin and Lutein

Zeaxanthin and lutein – they aren’t only tongue twisters, but two carotenoid antioxidants thought to play a significant role in supporting eye health since they are found concentrated in the macula.

Since the lens and retina suffer oxidative damage, these antioxidants are considered protective by sequestering free radicals, which in turn help to protect and repair cells. Too many free radicals can contribute to eye diseases including AMD. (3) The National Eye Institute recommends a diet high in antioxidant-containing foods for those susceptible to age-related disease. (1)

The good news is that these two powerful antioxidants are usually found together in foods. Vegetables and eggs are considered the best sources. (4) Vegetable sources include dark-colored leafy greens, carrots, corn and orange peppers. (5) Carotenoids are best absorbed when eaten with a healthy fat source like olive oil or avocado. (5)

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another power antioxidant and fat-soluble vitamin thought to play a role in supporting eye health. Several observational studies have suggested a relationship between high vitamin E levels and lens clarity as well as reduced risk of cataract formation. (5) Cataracts are characterized by accumulation of proteins damaged by free radicals. (5) Since vitamin E is an antioxidant, it helps reduce free radicals and mitigate their damage. Reliable sources of vitamin E include nuts and oils as well as carrots, squash and peaches. Non-fat containing sources of vitamin E should be consumed with healthy fat for optimal absorption.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper retinal function. (6) Omega-3 fats exist in three forms: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The DHA and EPA forms found in cold-water fish like salmon, tuna and halibut are the most important for vision. (7) ALA is largely found in plant foods like walnuts and flax, but requires conversion to DHA in the body in order to be active. Since this conversion is largely inefficient in individuals, it is best focus on consuming sources of EPA and DHA. If you seek out supplements, it is important to preserve the quality of omega-3 fats by storing them in the refrigerator to prevent oxidation.

Body Weight

Having a high body mass index (BMI) can put you at greater risk of developing diabetes, which can have a negative impact on eye health. Elevated blood sugars are directly linked to blindness and neuropathy. (1) Thankfully diets rich in foods containing these nutrients will naturally promote a healthy body weight.

References

1. nei.nih.gov [Internet]. Bethesda: National Eye Institute; c2017 [cited 2017 May] Available from: nei.nih.gov.

2.cdc.gov [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; c2017 [cited 2017 May] Available from: cdc.gov.

3.Fletcher AE:Free radicals, antioxidants and eye diseases: evidence from epidemiological studies on cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmic Res. 2010;44(3):191-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20829643

4.Abdel-Aal, EM., Akhtar H., Zaheer K., et. al: Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):11691-1185. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/

5. Rizvi S., Raza ST., Ahmed F., et. al: The Role of Vitamin E in Human Health and Some Diseases. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014;14(2):e157-e165. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997530/

6.Querques G. Forte R. Souied EH.: Retina and Omega-3. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 2011;(2011):748361. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206354/

7. Swanson D, Block R. Mousa, SA: Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life. Advances in Nutrition. 2012;3:1-7. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/3/1/1.full

8. who.int [Internet]. Geneva: World Health Organization; c2017 [cited 2017 May] Available from: who.int.

What’s Good for Your Heart, Is Good for Your Brain

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

“The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

The heart and the head are not always on the same page. But one thing is certain, when it comes to nourishing these two essential parts of you, what’s good for one is also good for the other.

You probably already know that you can support the health of your heart with lifestyle changes. Even if you are genetically susceptible, the lifestyle choices you make can turn on or off those genes, raising or lowering your inherent risk for heart disease. In short, even family history can be rewritten depending on how you choose to eat, move and live. (64-66)

What’s the Connection?

Everything known to be unhealthy for blood vessels and the heart is also linked to poor brain health. The culprits that raise heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, stiff arteries, inflammation and obesity, may also impact brain function. (61,62)

In contrast, every habit you adopt to lower the risk of heart disease helps to support positive brain health. For example, a study from the University of Miami compared cardiovascular health with cognitive function in more than 1,000 people. Results showed that those who had the highest scores on measures of heart health did the best on mental tests. They scored highest on processing information, memory and the ability to organize, manage time and control impulses, a set of skills known as “executive function.” (1)

A Hearty Diet for the Mind

To protect your brain, adopt a heart-healthy diet, preferably one that resembles the Mediterranean diet rich in fatty fish, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and nuts. This diet supports healthy arteries that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to both the brain and heart, and helps clear fatty deposits from arteries to help keep blood pressure in check. (58-60,63)

  1. Think Fish
    One of the mainstays of this diet is the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA found in fatty fish, such as salmon and herring. The health benefits of consuming at least two servings a week of fatty fish has been known for decades. (17-21,38) The body cannot make these fats at optimal levels, so it holds true that as intake decreases, levels in the brain of these omega-3s also decrease. (2-15,56,57) The benefits of DHA and EPA to mood, cognition and learning are noted around the world in both men and women and throughout life, from infancy through the senior years. (22-37)
  2. Eat the Rainbow
    The heart pumps one-fifth of its blood to the brain, where billions of brain cells use 20 percent of the blood’s oxygen and fuel. Along with that oxygen comes oxygen fragments, called oxidants or free radicals. Left unchecked, the oxidative damage caused by this onslaught damages cells. The antioxidants in foods, such as vitamins C and E, protect both the arteries and the brain from damage. (39,40-42) For example, preliminary evidence suggests that vitamin E helps lower the risk for both heart disease and dementia. (43-47,56,57) Load at least half of every plate with a variety of antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables, and include vitamin E-rich nuts in the weekly diet.
  3. Supplement Responsibly
    On the days when you don’t eat perfectly, supplement. Make sure your multi-vitamin contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E. Supplement your multi-vitamin with DHA and EPA omega-3s. Rest assured that supplemental sources of these fats are just as effective at protecting your heart and brain as are the same fats found in fatty fish. (48-52)
  4. Stay Lean
    Humans are not meant to be overweight. Excess body fat is associated with most aspects of aging and health conditions. For example, being overweight in the middle years significantly increases the risk for dementia down the road. The good news – the very diet that protects your brain and heart also helps to slim your waistline! (53-55)

Live It Up!

One cannot live by diet alone. To protect your heart and head, include exercise in the daily routine. Move at a level that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat, and you’ll stimulate growth of the hippocampus, the memory and learning center in your brain. You’ll also reduce many of the risk factors for heart disease. Then, sleep well, lower stress, and of course, don’t smoke! Adopt those habits and your brain and heart will repay you a thousand-fold!

References

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What Nutrients are Important for Eye Health?

What’s good for your heart and brain is good for your eyes – especially when it comes to nutrition. The connections aren’t too surprising – your eyes rely on tiny arteries for oxygen and nutrients just like your brain does, and your heart relies on much larger arteries. Keeping all those arteries healthy can help your vision throughout life.

Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer agrees eye health is an important aspect of overall health and provided a list of nutrients that provide a good recipe for healthy vision:

  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin – Dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collards and turnip greens), eggs, broccoli, peas and corn are super stars when it comes to providing lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important, but often forgotten, nutrients for eye health
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons) provide a hefty amount of vitamin C
  • Vitamin E – Oils, wheat germ and peanuts provide vitamin E – free radicals don’t stand a chance against this fat soluble antioxidant
  • Omega-3s DHA and EPA – Fatty fish and algae (found in fortified foods and supplements) provide the omega-3s DHA and EPA

Try a DHA supplement like Ovega-3 with DHA and EPA or DHA-fortified foods like Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauce

 

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