Archives for September 2017

Probiotics — The Good Bacteria

Our bodies are full of bacteria – good and bad.  Probiotics are good or beneficial bacteria.  They help the body in many ways; most notably the digestive system;.  Probiotics also can help improve mental health.

Probiotic supplements are easily found in vitamin stores, natural health food stores, even on Amazon.  Probiotics can also be obtained from foods.  Probiotic foods include yogurt (make sure the label says it contains live cultures), kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles – (basically fermented foods).

Probiotics need Prebiotics to live.  Prebiotics are dietary fibers that humans can’t digest   but feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics include raw vegetables, wheat fiber, onions (raw or cooked) and bananas.

 

Biotin

Biotin, also known as coenzyme R, Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, supports the health of the skin, nerves, digestive tract, metabolism, and cells; however the reason I take it is for hair growth as I lost a lot of hair due to radiation treatments.

Hair is made up of a protein called Keratin. Biotin is an essential ingredient in helping the body metabolize food into proteins including keratin. Dermatologist  Dr Richard Scher, believes taking the vitamin does improve the keratin infrastructure. 

I need all the help I can get, and I find that the biotin supplements work for me.  My hair is slowly but surely growing back!

 

Note: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take any particular supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.

Vitamin C

Another supplement I take regularly is Vitamin C. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body make collagen, necessary for the formation and maintenance of connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin.  Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is vital for healing wounds, and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protect against heart disease, aid in the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

Research indicates that vitamin C may help protect against a variety of cancers by combating free radicals, and helping neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that may raise the risk of certain forms of cancer).  Supplemental vitamin C may also lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts, and support healthy immune function.

Vitamin C is readily obtained through fruits and vegetables, but given all its benefits, I often add a Vitamin C supplement to my regimen

 

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Often combined in a single supplement, lutein and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-zan-thin)are carotenoids. Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant red, orange, yellow and green colors. Lutein and zeaxanthin absorb excess light energy to prevent damage to plants from too much sunlight, especially from high-energy blue light rays.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye.   It is believed that lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (AMD).

The best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables. According to the USDA, cooked kale and cooked spinach top the list.  (Non-vegetarian sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include egg yolks).

I take lutein primarily for eye health, but lutein and zeaxanthin also have anti-oxidant properties and may help protect against atherosclerosis — the leading cause of heart attacks.

Note: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take any particular supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.

D and B12 — Important Supplements for Vegetarians

Continuing on with my posts of supplements, I want to mention two important supplements for vegetarians — Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is commonly found in foods such as oily fish like salmon, codfish, mackerel, and blue fish. Other food sources of Vitamin D2 include fortified milk.

Known as “The Sunshine Vitamin”, vitamin D is made by the body naturally when skin is exposed to sun.  However, using sunscreen blocks our ability to absorb vitamin D from the sun!

Getting enough vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved immune system functions. Research suggests that adequate amounts of vitamin D can protect against multiple sclerosis, heart disease and the flu

So…. since I follow a mostly vegan diet, and live in the northeast where the sunlight isn’t strong, my physician recommended that I take Vitamin D supplements.

 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is required for proper formation of red blood cell, of DNA, and for proper neurological function. Vitamin B12, bound to protein in food (i.e.: meat) and is released by the activity of gastric acids in the stomach.  Vegetarians and people taking medication to reduce stomach acid do not get enough B12 from food and it recommended that they take a B12 supplement. As B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body doesn’t store it and so it is important to take the supplement regularly.

 

Mote: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take these or any supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.