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Nutrition

Spotting B12 Deficiency: Essential Signs Seniors Should Know

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The importance of a balanced diet cannot be overstated. It’s not just about keeping cardiovascular disease and weight gain at bay, but also about ensuring that your body gets all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. One of these essential vitamins is vitamin B—especially B12, which is commonly found in meat, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy. However, it’s not uncommon to fall short of your recommended intake.

According to Samantha Turner, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of Forks and Grace, “Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older adults, vegetarians, and vegans.” She further explains that “[Vitamin B12] plays an important role in supporting nerve and brain health and energy metabolism, and is crucial for nerve development, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell formation.”

While a doctor’s visit can reveal a deficiency, there are other warning signs to be aware of. Here are some signs that you might not be getting enough vitamin B12, as per doctors and nutritionists.

Feeling constantly tired, rundown, or low on energy can be a symptom of various health problems, but it can also indicate a deficiency of this vital nutrient. Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical, explains, “Vitamin B12 is essential to make healthy red blood cells. Low B12 levels can decrease red blood cell production and make it difficult for them to deliver oxygen to body cells, which can cause fatigue.”

If you’re planning on conceiving, a lack of vitamin B12 could become a problem. Qianzhi Jiang, PhD, RDN, a family dietitian and owner of The Nutrition Changer, shares, “Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to infertility as vitamin B12 improves the number of healthy eggs and embryo quality.” She adds that a low level of vitamin B12 is also associated with increased homocysteine, an amino acid that can increase the risks of many diseases when in excess. “Elevated homocysteine levels can damage the lining of the uterus, causing infertility,” Jiang explains.

Experiencing a pins-and-needles sensation in your extremities could be a sign that your body is low on vitamin B12. Poston elaborates, “Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause changes in how your nerves send messages throughout your body. As the rate at which nerve impulses decreases, your body interprets this with numbness and tingling.”

But that’s not all. Jiang adds, “People with vitamin B12 deficiency can experience irritability, abnormal gait, an impaired sense of smell, and absences of neurologic reflexes such as the knee-jerk reaction.” In severe cases, psychiatric symptoms that resemble the symptoms of dementia can also occur.

If you notice some tenderness in your mouth that’s not related to a burn or toothache, it could be a sign you’re lacking in vitamin B12. Poston explains, “Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause glossitis. This appears as a smooth appearance of the tongue that can be painful.”

A vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to misshapen red blood cells, says Poston. “These cells get caught in the spleen, decreasing the number of red blood cells circulating. This condition, called anemia, can cause pale skin color.”

However, there are also internal signs of this condition. Jiang notes, “Some people may see no or very mild symptoms caused by pernicious anemia for years while others may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, or palpitations (which is a feeling that your heart is pounding or skipping a beat). However, pernicious anemia may not be seen in cases of mild vitamin B12 deficiency.”

While this information is up-to-date and provided by top experts, it’s not intended to replace professional guidance. Always consult your healthcare provider directly for any questions about your medication or health.

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Nutrition

Healthy Highs: 12 Carb-Rich Foods That Boost Your Well-Being

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Over the course of time, carbohydrates have been viewed unfavorably, often being linked to health concerns such as weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Indeed, processed food items high in sugar and refined grain that are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals are problematic. However, some carbohydrate-rich foods that are loaded with nutrients and fiber can be very beneficial for health. It is essential to remember that completely avoiding high carb food isn’t necessary, even though low carb diets can be advantageous for certain individuals. Here are twelve high carb foods which, contrary to popular belief, are incredibly good for you.

Quinoa, a nutritious seed greatly favored by health enthusiasts, is categorized as a pseudocereal. This implies it’s a seed that is prepared and eaten similar to a grain. Given that cooked quinoa is 70% carbs, it is a high-carb food while also being a viable source of protein and fiber. Quinoa possesses a plethora of minerals and plant compounds and is associated with several health benefits, like managing blood sugar levels and improving heart health.

“Quinoa is highly nutritious and may help improve blood sugar management and support heart health. Quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, so it may be useful for weight loss, as both of these nutrients can help keep you feeling full for longer.”

Bananas, a favorite fruit used in assorted recipes, are also high in carbs. Apart from being rich in potassium, vitamins B6 and C, they contain several beneficial plant compounds. Eating bananas contributes to lower blood pressure and healthier hearts due to their high potassium content. Bananas in their less ripe state have more starch which gradually transforms into natural sugars as they ripen.

“Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral that plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. Less ripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, both of which can improve digestive health.”

Beetroots or beets, while not considered high in carbs, contain significant amounts for a non-starchy vegetable. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, powerful antioxidants and plant compounds. Particularly high in inorganic nitrates, beets are converted into nitric oxide in the body, improving heart health and potentially lowering disease risk.

“Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They also contain high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which can improve heart health and boost physical performance.”

Oranges, apart from being a good source of fiber, are rich in vitamin C, potassium, some B vitamins, citric acid, potent plant compounds and antioxidants. Regular consumption of oranges may enhance heart health, prevent kidney stone formation and increase iron absorption to guard against iron deficiency anemia.

“Oranges are a good source of fiber. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and other healthy plant compounds. Eating oranges may benefit heart health and increase iron absorption to help prevent anemia.”

Blueberries, often hailed as a superfood due to high antioxidant content, contain several vitamins and minerals. High in antioxidant compounds, blueberries guard the body against damaging free radicals and may even bolster memory in older adults.

“Blueberries are very healthy. They contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they can help protect against oxidative damage.”

Apples, known for their sweet-tartness and crunchiness, contain substantial amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Regular consumption of apples can improve blood sugar management, heart health, and may lower the risk of certain types of cancer.

“Apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C, antioxidants, and plant compounds. Eating apples may improve blood sugar management, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and potentially even certain types of cancer.”

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are great sources of plant-based protein along with several vitamins and minerals. Consumption of chickpeas can boost heart and digestive health, and may even protect against certain types of cancer.

“Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas has been linked to benefits for heart and digestive health, as well as potential cancer prevention.”

Carbohydrates aren’t inherently unhealthy. Many nutritious foods are high in carbs. While it is recommended to avoid excessive intake of carbs for those following a low-carb diet, and refined carbs like white bread and pasta can be unhealthy in large amounts, these nutritious, delicious carbs can contribute significantly to a wholesome diet.

“When you go grocery shopping, opt for whole grain varieties of high carb foods like bread, pasta, and rice. This will boost your intake of important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.”

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Boost Your Diet: Top 10 Superfoods Nutritionists Recommend

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In the quest for a healthier lifestyle, we commonly hear what we should avoid in our diets. However, even when we think we are eating healthfully, we might still miss out on necessary nutrients. Nutrition experts highlight the significance of incorporating superfoods into our diets. Superfoods are nutritionally dense foods known for their extra health benefits, typically packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So, which superfoods should you prioritize? Here are ten that come highly recommended by nutritionists.

Amanda Sauceda, MS, registered dietitian and gut health nutritionist, lists salmon, specifically with the skin on, as a leading superfood. She elaborates that salmon provides collagen, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3s, labeling it as a “4-in-1 package for health.”

“You want more salmon on your plate because it’s a 4-in-1 package for health,” Sauceda says. “You’re able to get a lot of nutrients in one food making it an ideal ingredient to keep in your fridge.”

Beyond salmon, another fish considered a superfood is the humble sardine. According to Michelle Routhenstein, MS, a preventive cardiology dietitian at EntirelyNourished, we should aim to consume two servings of sardines weekly.

“Sardines provide about 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounces, contributing to half of the recommended weekly intake,” she shares. “These fatty acids help to lower triglycerides levels and reduce inflammation in the body, making them a heart healthy food to regularly add to your diet.”

This oily fish is also rich in calcium and vitamin D, contributing to better bone health.

If fish isn’t your favorite, Sauceda suggests an alternative: chicken with the skin, another fantastic source of collagen. She also proposes marinating your chicken with citrus to supplement your diet with vitamin C, or using chicken bones to make a collagen-rich bone broth.

Next in the protein lineup are eggs, which Brynna Connor, MD, general practitioner and healthcare ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy, considers a superfood.

“Eating just two eggs provides up to 30 percent of your daily vitamins, making them a great superfood option for a meal or snack,” she says. “Egg contain all nine essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, as well as healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals.”

Daryl Gioffre, DC, functional nutritionist and gut health expert, highlights avocados for their high monounsaturated fat content, which can be readily converted into energy by the body. Avocados also bestow a variety of vitamins including K, C, B5, B6 and, surprisingly, more potassium than bananas.

“They’re also surprisingly high in fiber, so they help maintain digestive health,” Gioffre adds.

Another green to consider is broccoli sprouts, which Gioffre emphasizes contain significantly more sulforaphane – a compound with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer properties – than its mature counterpart.

“Broccoli sprouts boast nearly 38 micrograms of vitamin K per serving, while broccoli only contains 0.4 micrograms,” Gioffre states.

Beets are also worth adding to your diet. As Connor explains, they are rich in nitrates, which help maintain healthy blood vessels and improve blood flow. Studies have shown that regular beet consumption can enhance blood flow to the brain, particularly to regions vital for memory and critical thinking.

Chia seeds are another versatile superfood. They are a great source of protein, fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s, as Gioffre points out.

“When consumed, they can help regulate blood sugar levels, promote digestive health, and support weight management,” he shares.

Erik Natkin, DO, a physician specializing in holistic wellness and nutrition, recommends spinach for its rich content of vitamins A, C, and K, along with magnesium, iron, and manganese.

“Eating spinach regularly can benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress, and help prevent heart disease,” Natkin advises.

Finally, blueberries make the list as the top fruit-based superfood. They are loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants, which contribute to improved brain function and reduced risk of heart disease.

“Blueberries are loaded with flavonoids, particularly anthocyanins, quercetin, and myricetin, which are linked to improved brain function, decreased risk of heart disease, and promoting healthy aging,” Routhenstein advises.

Not only are they antioxidant-rich, but blueberries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, which support heart health and brain function. She recommends aiming for one to two cups of fresh or frozen blueberries in your weekly diet.

Remember, while our content provides an excellent starting point for your self-improvement journey, it should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider about your specific health concerns and any medication you may be taking.

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Doctors Reveal: The 9 Supplements That May Harm Your Stomach Health

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Supplements often seem equivalent to enhanced health, yet their potential side effects are at times overlooked, particularly the negative impacts they can have on organs like the stomach. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises that high dosage, multiple supplements intake, or employing them as alternatives to prescribed medications, can provoke these effects.

NIH experts underline the importance of being vigilant about adverse reactions, particularly when using a new product, they say, “Many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong effects on the body.” To ensure your wellness, it’s crucial to be aware of supplements that can adversely affect your stomach. Here, we enlist the nine that physicians warn against.

Iron, which helps create hemoglobin in red blood cells for oxygen transportation, can cause iron deficiency anemia if not adequately consumed, with symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, heart palpitations, among others. However, be wary of its supplementation, especially in high doses.

“Their effect on the stomach lining can cause nausea, constipation, or stomach cramps,” remarks Dr. Raj Dasgupta, the chief medical advisor for Fortune Recommends Health. Dr. David D. Clarke recommends consulting your physician before starting an iron supplement regimen, as side effects are more likely to occur with intakes exceeding 17mg daily.

Calcium intake is essential for heart, muscle, nerve, and bone health, yet this supplement can cause digestive issues, particularly in high doses. Clarke highlights that intakes surpassing 1,500 mg daily potentially cause gastric damage or gastrointestinal symptoms; it’s also crucial to consider dietary calcium when calculating total intake.

Magnesium, a mineral involved in over 300 bodily chemical reactions, can cause digestive issues when excessively consumed via supplements. “Overconsumption can potentially cause stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and bloating,” Dasgupta warns.

Vitamin C, beneficial for immunity and metabolism, can irritate your stomach lining when consumed in excess, leading to diarrhea, nausea, or abdominal cramps, warns Dasgupta. Clarke adds that doses over 1,000mg daily can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, provides heart benefits and reduces inflammation but can cause nausea, indigestion, or diarrhea, especially in high doses, says Dasgupta.

Green tea extract, potent in antioxidants, might cause gastrointestinal issues due to caffeine’s effect on stomach acid production. Dasgupta cautions, “The caffeine in it can increase stomach acid production and irritate the stomach lining, potentially causing nausea or digestive issues, even liver damage in extreme cases.”

Probiotics might initially cause temporary digestive issues like gas, bloating, and stomach upset, especially for first-time users, according to Dasgupta.

Excess Vitamin A consumption can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, from nausea and irritability to abdominal pain and diarrhea, cautions Dasgupta.

Lastly, even though Aspirin falls under medication and not dietary supplements, it bears mentioning due to its usage in conjunction with supplements for reducing heart attack, stroke, or blood clots risks. Clarke warns that Aspirin can cause significant stomach issues, even in reduced doses.

“Consulting with a healthcare provider is advised before starting any supplement regimen”, advises Clarke. While we offer up-to-date expert information, always consult your healthcare provider for any health-related queries or medication advice.

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