Health Centre

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs for normal growth and activity. They can often be obtained by eating a well-balanced diet from a variety of plant and animal foods.
Vitamins serve many functions in the body. Some, like vitamin D affect mineral metabolism. Others such as vitamin C function as antioxidants. The B-complex vitamins help enzymes function as catalysts. The presence of adequate amounts of vitamins in a person’s body is essential for good health.Vitamins are generally categorised into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, & K are fat-soluble and may be stored by the body. However, most vitamins are not stored in the body and require a person to consume them through a healthy diet.
Poor diets and malabsorption disorders may lead to vitamin deficiencies. Deficiencies in vitamins can often lead to unwanted health conditions such as rickets, scurvy, and pernicious anemia. All these conditions may be preventable through proper supplementation.

What are the 13 essential vitamins?

There are 13 vitamins that are considered absolutely essential for a healthy functioning body.

Vitamin Sources Function RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for adults
Vitamin A milk, cheese, cream, liver, kidney, fish liver oils Helps maintain normal vision and healthy skin 700-900 micrograms [1,300 micrograms if pregnant or nursing]
Vitamin D cheese, butter, margarine, cream, fish, oysters, and fortified milk and cereals Promotes calcium and phosphorous absorption aiding in bone mineralization, growth, and repair 200 IU  = 50 years or younger
400 IU = 51-70 years old
600 IU = above 70 years old
Vitamin E Vegetable oil, wheat germ, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, margarine, and legumes Antioxidant, protects body tissue from damage from free radicals 15 milligrams (22 IU if from a natural source; 33 IU if synthetic)
Vitamin K Green leafy vegetables (i.e. spinach, collards, etc), soybeans Helps in the formation of blood clotting factors 65 micrograms for women
80 micrograms for men
Thiamine (B1) Whole grains, meat, fortified bread, cereals, and pastas Required for carbohydrate metabolism, and normal nerve and heart function 1.1 milligrams for women
1.2 milligrams for men
Riboflavin (B2) eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, and milk and milk products Required for metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. Supports healthy mucous membranes 1.1 milligrams for women
1.3 milligrams for men
Niacin (B3) Dried yeast, liver, meat, fish, legumes, and whole grains Required from metabolism of carbohydrates and fats 14 milligrams for women
16 milligrams for men
Pantothenic Acid (B5) Liver, meats, egg yolk, yeast, and vegetables Required from metabolism of carbohydrates and fats 5 milligrams (no established RDA)
Pyridoxine (B6) Dried yeast, liver, organ meats, whole-grains, fish, & legumes Required for metabolism of amino acids and fatty acids, supports nerve function, and the formation of red blood cells 1.5 milligrams for women
1.7 milligrams for men
Biotin (B7) Liver, kidneys, egg, yolk, milk, fish, yeast, nuts & legumes Required from metabolism of carbohydrates and fats 30 micrograms (no established RDA)
Folic Acid (B9) Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, organ meats (cooking destroys 50-90% of folic content of food) Required for the maturation of red blood cells and DNA & RNA synthesis 400 micrograms
Cobalamin (B12) Liver, meats, eggs, milk and milk products Required for the maturation of red blood cells, DNA & RNA synthesis, and healthy nerve function 2.4 micrograms
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers Antioxidant, protects against cell damage from free radicals, promotes healing and growth, and aids in iron absorption 75 milligrams for women
90 milligrams for men
[smokers require an additional 35 milligrams]

Vitamin Deficiency

Inadequate levels of vitamins may result in an array of conditions. Low levels of vitamins may be due to lack of dietary intake. This is referred to as primary deficiency. When a deficiency occurs as a result of a disease or lifestyle factor, this is called secondary deficiency. For example, smokers need to increase their intake of vitamin C by 30-50%. Not getting enough sunlight affects the body’s level of vitamin D, which assists in calcium absorption for healthy bones.
The first disease directly linked to a vitamin deficiency was scurvy. Scurvy is characterized by general malaise and lethargy, progressing on to spotty skin and bleeding gums. If left untreated scurvy can be fatal. In 1753 the Scottish Surgeon, James Lind postulated in his Treatise on the Scurvy that lemons and limes, a key source of vitamin C, may be used to prevent scurvy. His recommendation was proven as fact in 1932.Vitamin D deficiency is often associated with rickets, a disease that causes the softening of bones in children usually resulting in fractures and deformities. This is due to the fact that vitamin D plays a key role in calcium absorption.

Beriberi is a condition where a person has a severe deficiency in vitamin B1. It is characterised by nerve, heart, and brain abnormalities. An alcoholic binge can worsen the brain abnormalities in a person with chronic vitamin B1 deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is commonly associated with eye disorders, and is a common cause of blindness in developing countries. Deficiencies in B12 and folic acid can also result in anemia.

Disorders related to vitamin deficiency are uncommon in developed nations due to an adequate food supply. However, there are other factors that may give rise to these conditions. Diets low in fat reduces the absorption of vitamin E. Alcohol consumption has an impact on folic acid levels. Medications can also cause vitamin deficiencies. Certain antibiotics such as isoniazid can cause B6 deficiency. Anticonvulsants can decrease absorption of folic acid and drugs such as methotrexate and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim can interfere with folic acid metabolism.

What are Minerals?

Minerals are inorganic chemical elements that enable the body to perform essential functions. Like vitamins, minerals can be obtained through a well-balanced diet, but individuals with certain disorders may be prone to deficiencies.
Minerals are often separated into two categories, macro-minerals and trace minerals. The body needs larger amounts of macro-minerals than trace minerals. The macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur, and can be found in the body in abundance. Trace minerals, such as selenium and chromium exist in the body in limited quantities.
The role of minerals in the body varies greatly. For example, calcium is needed to support strong healthy bones. Sodium and potassium function in the body as electrolytes. Iodine is needed for the body to make thyroid hormones.Most people who eat a balanced diet will consume an adequate amount of minerals. However, consuming too much may be very harmful. Your doctor can detect mineral deficiencies by performing a blood or urine test.

Multivitamins

Multivitamins are supplements containing a combination of vitamins and sometimes minerals. They provide an easy means of ensuring adequate daily vitamin intake. Generally, multivitamins are taken once a day.
Many studies have been done supporting the use of multivitamins and touting their health benefits. In 2002, the Harvard School of Medicine reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that “it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.” The researchers examined articles spanning from 1966 to 2002 regarding the relationship between vitamins and various chronic diseases. They concluded that inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to the development of diseases including coronary heart disease, cancer, and Osteoporosis.Multivitamins may even have significant impact in reducing mortality. In July of 2000, the American Journal of Epidemiology examined over a million people in the U.S. and compared their mortality rates. Participants were divided based on multivitamin use. Those who supplemented with a multivitamin containing vitamins A, C, and E were found to have a significantly reduced risk of heart disease related deaths!2

In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2003, 130 participants were followed over the course of a year and given either a placebo or a multivitamin. According to the results, those taking the placebo reported a higher rate of illness while those taking the multivitamin reported less illness. This study suggests that the use of a multivitamin may have some protective qualities against some illnesses.3

Consistent use of multivitamins has been shown to promote good health and general well being. Multivitamins are not intended to replace a healthy diet, nor are they meant to correct a poor nutritional diet. Rather, multivitamins are meant to supplement one’s dietary intake to ensure there are no deficiencies.

1 Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults, Clinical Applications Robert H. Fletcher, MD,MSc; Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD,DrPH. JAMA. 2002;287:3127-3129. Published 19 June 2002. Accessed 27 Dec 2007.
2 American Journal of Epidemiology. 152(2):149-62, 2000 Jul 15.
3 Annals of Internal Medicine. 138(5):365-71, 2003 Mar 4.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that display a wide array of health benefits. There are three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, and other seafoods. ALA can be found primarily in plant sources such as flaxseed.
Because omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, they are considered the “healthy fats” that are good for the body, as opposed to trans-fats and saturated fats. They are considered so beneficial that even the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. However, caution must be exercised, especially by pregnant or nursing women, when consuming fish or omega-3 supplements. They may be exposed to harmful levels of mercury.Consumption of fish or omega-3 fatty acids may aid people with various cardiovascular problems by improving blood circulation, breaking down fibrin which plays a major role in clot formation. Also, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood pressure. They also appear to reduce blood triglyceride levels as well as decrease the risk for heart attack. Consumption of ALA (the plant derived fatty acid) does not demonstrate the same level of cardiovascular protection as does the EPA and DHA which are found more abundantly in fish.1
In 2006, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) both released studies that supported the claim that regular consumption of fish oils ( omega-3 fatty acids) results in decreases in total mortality and cardiovascular incidents such as myocardial infarctions.2-3

Omega 3’s also have a positive effect on one’s lipid profile. In a study conducted in 2007, the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy stated that patients with triglycerides levels above 500mg/dl were given 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily. They reduced their triglycerides by an average of 45% and VLDL cholesterol by more than 50%.4
Omega-3 fatty acids also have mild antihypertensive effects. In 1993, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that patients who consumed omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 3.5-5.5 mmHg.5

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are not restricted solely to the cardiovascular system. Many studies have been done linking omega-3 fatty acids to preventing cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer. Omega-3’s have also been linked to reducing pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis as well as helping sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.
1 .Wang, C; Harris, WS; Chung, M; Lichtenstein, AH; Balk, EM; Kupelnick, B; Jordan, HS; Lau, J (2006). “N-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review”. The American journal of clinical nutrition 84 (1): 5–17. PMID 16825676
2. Mozaffarian, Dariush; Rimm, Eric B. (October 2006). “Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: evaluating the risks and the benefits”. JAMA 296 (15): 1885–1899. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1885. PMID 17047219

3 .Wang, C; Harris WS, Chung M, Lichtenstein AH, Balk EM, Kupelnick B, Jordan HS, Lau J (July 2006). “n?3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review”. Am J Clin Nutr 84 (1): 5–17. PMID 16825676

4 .McKenney, James M.; Sica, Domenic (2007). “Prescription omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia”. Am J Health-Sys Pharm 64 (6): 595–605. doi:10.2146/ajhp060164. PMID 17353568
5 Appel LF, Miller ER, Sidler AJ, Whelton PK (1993). “Does supplementation of diet with ‘fish oil’ reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials.”. Archives of Internal Medicine 153 (12): 1429–1438. doi:10.1001/archinte.153.12.1429. PMID 8141868

Children’s Multivitamins

Most experts agree that kids who eat a balanced diet should be getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need, and supplementation may not be necessary. However, kids are often the pickiest eaters, refusing to eat vegetables and foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, making it difficult if not impossible to maintain a balanced diet.
Kids require many of the same vitamins that adults do, but in different amounts based on their age and condition. Some recent studies suggest that increasingly kids are not getting enough vitamin D1, which promotes tooth and bone formation and regulates the absorption of minerals like calcium. Other studies suggest that many kids aren’t getting enough iron2, which is essential for the production of blood and building muscles, especially during periods of rapid growth.
Some other vitamins that may be beneficial for kids include:

  • Vitamin A, which promotes normal growth, healthy skin and tissue repair, and vision
  • B vitamins, which promote red blood cell formation and assist in various metabolic activities
  • Vitamin C, which helps strengthen connective tissues, assists in the healing of wounds and bones, and helps prevent infections.

For many youngsters, diet alone isn’t enough to provide these essential vitamins. Taken daily, and at recommended values, multivitamins for children are safe, provide all the essential vitamins and minerals their bodies need, and may help to supplement an inadequate diet. Additionally, many pediatricians recommend multivitamins particularly for children who have erratic eating behaviors, poor appetite, or certain conditions, which may result in a lack of particular essential vitamins and minerals.3

Every child’s needs are different. Be sure to speak to your pediatrician to find out if daily multivitamins are right for your child.

1 NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplements: Background Information. Accessed June 10, 2010.http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/dietarysupplements/.
2 Diagnosis and Prevention of Iron Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anemia in Infants and Young Children (0–3 Years of Age)
http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;126/5/1040
3. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/nutrition/pages/Vitamin-Supplements-and-Children.aspx

Pregnancy and Prenatal Vitamins

Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life. It brings with it hope and expectations. Of these expectations is the joy of seeing a healthy new baby. Often physicians will recommend taking a prenatal multivitamin several months before conception in order to give the best possible start for the newborn.
During pregnancy, the body’s demands change. So too will the nutritional requirements. Although a balanced and healthy diet is the key to good nutrition, supplementation with a prenatal vitamin may help ensure an expectant mother is covering all her bases. Pregnant women generally need more folic acid, iron, and calcium in their diet.Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The most common neural tube defect is spina bifida, a condition where the spine doesn’t close. This may ultimately lead to paralysis, incontinence, and in some cases, mental retardation.

Since neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception the Department of Health recommends that you take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day while trying to conceive and continue for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In women who are on anticonvulsants or who have had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect, doses as high as 4,000 micrograms have been recommended.1

Folic acid has also been shown to reduce the incidence of cleft lips.2
During pregnancy the fetus requires a lot of calcium to develop strong bones and a healthy heart. Failure to consume adequate quantities of calcium will result in the fetus drawing on the calcium stores in the mother’s bones. This will put her at increased risk for osteoporosis later on in life.

Iron is a key component in red blood cells that helps them carry oxygen. In pregnancy, the need for this mineral is greater due to increased metabolic demands. Pregnancy approximately doubles the amount of iron needed. Non-pregnant women are recommended to take in 18 milligrams of iron per day. For pregnant women, the amount is increased to 27 milligrams per day.3 Iron has also been shown to decrease the risk of pre-term delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality.

Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated to meet the demands of pregnancy. Sometimes omega- 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA will be added to the formulation to support healthy brain and nerve development and vitamin D will be added to prevent rickets, a bone disorder.
In prenatal vitamins, the levels of vitamin A are also reduced. This is done because high doses of vitamin A have been associated with birth defects. The plant form of vitamin A, beta-carotene, has been shown to be safe and is often found in most prenatal vitamins.
Although prenatal vitamins are available as both prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) retail products, little difference can be found between the two in regards to potency of ingredients. Differences may exist in the amount of folic acid. Prescription formulations usually contain 1 milligram (1,000 micrograms) of folic acid while OTC products will have less. The recommended daily dose for pregnant women is 400 micrograms. It is best to talk with your physician to see which vitamin is best for you.

1 “Why do I need folic acid?”. NHS Direct. 2006-04-27. Archived from the original on April 13, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-19
2 Wilcox, AJ; Lie, RT; Solvoll, K; Taylor, J; McConnaughey, DR; Abyholm, F; Vindenes, H; Vollset, SE et al. (2007). “Folic acid supplements and risk of facial clefts: national population based case-control study.”. BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 334 (7591): 464. doi:10.1136/bmj.39079.618287.0B. PMC 1808175. PMID 17259187
3 Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Everyone knows calcium is responsible for strong bones, but the body needs calcium for so much more. Calcium is also needed for muscle contractions, electrical conduction of the heart, and maintaining healthy cell physiology.
A deficiency in calcium can lead to many health issues such as rickets, hypocalcemia (a low level of calcium in the blood), and most famously, osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become gradually thinner and lose density. This is a natural phenomenon. Risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, thin, inactive, and elderly, as well as smoking, drinking heavily, taking immune suppressing drugs such as prednisone, and having a family history of osteoporosis.

Calcium supplementation is one of the keys to slowing down the progression of bone loss and fractures associated with osteoporosis by increasing calcium deposition.1 Calcium is often given with vitamin D in order to aid in calcium absorption. The following is a chart of the daily recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D:

Calcium: Dietary Reference Intake2
Age mg/day
Infants
0 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
210
270
Children
1 to 3 years
4 to 8 years
500
800
Males
9 to 13 years
14 to 18 years
19 to 50 years
51+  years
Females
9 to 13 years
14 to 18 years
19 to 50 years
51+ years
1300
1300
1000
1200

1300
1300
1000
1200

Pregnancy
<= 18 years
19 to 50 years
1300
1000
Lactation
<= 18 years
19 to 50 years
1300
1000

 

Vitamin D: Dietary Reference Intake3
Age IU/d
Infants
0 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
400
400
Children
1 to 3 years
4 to 8 years
600
600
Males/Females
9 to 18 years
19 to 70 years
51 to 70 years
> 70 years
600
600
600
800
Pregnancy
<= 18 years
19 to 30 years
31 to 50 years

600
600

Lactation
<= 18 years
19 to 30 years
31 to 50 years

600
600

Studies have also suggested that there is a benefit in supplementing with calcium to prevent certain cancers. In 2005, the international Cochrane Collaboration conducted a meta-analysis and found that calcium “might contribute to a moderate degree to the prevention of adenomatous colonic polyps.”4 Colonic polyps are small overgrowths that carry a risk of becoming cancerous.

More recently, a study conducted in 2007 had found that high calcium and vitamin D intake was associated with “lower risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.”5
Among the other benefits of calcium, other studies have suggested that calcium aids in weight management6 as well as decreasing the risk for developing kidney stones.7

1 Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Krall EA, Dallal GE (1997). “Effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone density in men and women 65 years of age or older”. N. Engl. J. Med. 337 (10): 670–6. doi:10.1056/NEJM199709043371003. PMID 9278463
2 Berkow R: Merck Manual. Rathway, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories. 85:S199-S203.
3 Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997; 288-313.
4 Weingarten MA, Zalmanovici A, Yaphe J (2005). “Dietary calcium supplementation for preventing colorectal cancer, adenomatous polyps and calcium metabolisism disorder.”. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (3): CD003548. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003548.pub3. PMID 16034903
5 Lin J, Manson JE, Lee IM, Cook NR, Buring JE, Zhang SM (2007). “Intakes of calcium and vitamin d and breast cancer risk in women”. Arch. Intern. Med. 167 (10): 1050–9. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.10.1050. PMID 17533208
6 Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obes Res 2004;12:582-90.
7 Borghi L, Schianchi T, Meschi T, et al. Comparison of two diets for the prevention of recurrent stones in idiopathic hypercalciuria. N Engl J Med 2002;346:77-84.

Disclaimer

The dietary supplement information contained on this site has been compiled from published sources thought to be reliable, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Efforts have been made to assure this information is accurate and current. However, some of this information may be purported or outdated due to ongoing research or discoveries. The authors, editors and publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequences from applications of the information in this site and make no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the contents herein.

Heart Health

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Statistics show more than 2,400 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day; that’s an average of one death every 37 seconds.The good news is that there are simple steps we can all take to protect our hearts.

Know your health factors

Certain factors such as age and heredity cannot be controlled, but understanding the factors you can control can help you make positive changes.
Some factors you can control include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity and extra weight
  • Diabetes

What is High blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of the force created when the heart pumps blood into your blood vessels, which carries the blood to your organs and tissues.
Blood pressure varies greatly depending on many factors. For example it is higher during physical exertion and lower during sleep.
High blood pressure (hypertension) results when the heart is working harder than normal. This can happen when blood vessels are restricted or tightened. Think of it as water flowing through a hose – the narrower the hose, the more force will be required for water (your blood) to pass through. The extra stress this causes on the heart can lead to serious health problems, and if left untreated can result in damage to the kidneys, brain, and eyes, as well as to the heart.
Blood pressure is measured as systolic pressure/diastolic pressure.Systolic pressure is the pressure when your heart is pumping
Diastolic pressure is the pressure when your heart is filling with blood

What numbers should you look for?

Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
Pre-hypertension is when the numbers fall between 120-139/80-89.
If any of your numbers consistently fall above 140/90 then you may have high blood pressure. Speak to your healthcare provider about what numbers are right for you.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and other cells and found in certain foods, such as dairy products, eggs, and meat. The body needs some cholesterol to function properly, but only a limited amount. Too much cholesterol consumption can lead to a buildup in the blood vessels, which can result in hypertension (high blood pressure).
The different types of cholesterol include:

  • LDL cholesterol: low density lipoprotein, often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol, this is the kind that can stick to your arteries and cause heart disease. The lower the number of these the better.
  • HDL cholesterol: high density lipoprotein, sometimes called ‘good’ cholesterol, this kind of cholesterol will actually protect your heart. Having a high amount of HDL containing foods may provide health benefits.
  • Triglycerides: fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, sugars, and fats we consume are converted by our bodies into triglycerides, which are then stored in cells. Too much triglyceride has also been linked to heart disease.
  • Total cholesterol: the overall picture, measured from your LDL, HDL, and other factors.

Experts recommend that men aged 35 and older and women age 45 and older be routinely screened for lipid disorders. You should ask your doctor about having a cholesterol blood check to see how your numbers stand.

Below is a list of references for normal cholesterol levels:

LDL Cholesterol LDL-Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 Optimal
100 – 129 Near optimal/above optimal
130 – 159 Borderline high
160 – 189 High
190 and above Very high

 

Triglycerides Triglyceride Category
Less than 150 Normal
150 – 199 Borderline high
200 – 499 High
500 or higher Very high

 

HDL Cholesterol HDL-Cholesterol Category
60 and above High; Optimal; helps to lower risk of heart disease
Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women Low; considered a risk factor for heart disease

 

Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 Desirable
200 – 239 Borderline High
240 and above High

Steps towards a healthy heart!

Maintain a healthy weight. A low-fat diet, combined with exercise can help lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol means healthier arteries and a healthier heart. Remember to test your cholesterol regularly.
Eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies. Manage stress and avoid tobacco to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts strain on your heart as it does its work. Unfortunately there are no obvious signs of high blood pressure, so remember to check often.If you are already a smoker ask your doctor or pharmacist about nicotine replacement, counseling and other methods to help you drop the habit. Smokers are at doubled risk of heart-related diseases. The good news is individuals who manage to kick the habit can eventually lower their heart health risks to the levels of non-smokers.

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you aren’t already regularly exercising it’s OK to start slow. Even 10 minutes at a time can offer benefits. Exercise improves oxygen flow to the heart and makes it stronger over time.

Choose a diet low in sugars and fat. Added with regular exercise, a healthy diet can help maintain a healthy weight, and healthy heart.

Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of developing heart disease, even if glucose levels are maintained. But the risks are greater if it is not well controlled. If you have diabetes be sure to get regular checkups with your doctor to manage the condition.

Taking these simple steps and being health-conscious is a great way to maintain a healthy heart.

Know the warning signs

Many of the signs of heart problems are insidious – they don’t show up until a problem actually occurs. Be aware of certain signs that may mean you need immediate treatment.
Heart attacks A heart attack occurs when the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart get blocked. This leads to the heart not getting enough oxygen, which can result in the heart getting damaged, or dying completely.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. These are usually obvious to everyone around. Most however, are not. They start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people experiencing these symptoms aren’t sure what’s happening and wait too long to seek help. Some of the signs that the discomfort could possibly be a heart attack include:

  • Pressure, squeezing, and pain in the center of the chest that lasts for a few minutes and goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness

Remember, men and women commonly feel pain in the chest. But women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain. If you or anyone you’re with experiences any of the above symptoms do not wait longer than a few minutes to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

Stroke warning signs

Unlike a heart attack, a stroke is when the supply of oxygen to the brain gets interrupted.
Warning signs can include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, leg, or especially one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing from one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone you know have any of these signs please do not delay! Call 911 immediately.

Get healthy at any age

Children and teens can start early by getting at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

Men and women in their 20’s should start keeping an eye on their blood pressure and should be aware of their family history to know their risks.
Once in their 30’s many people will benefit from managing the stresses in their life, and knowing that it’s important to take care of themselves no matter how busy life gets.

In your 40’s consider getting routine blood glucose checkups. Manage your busy schedule by squeezing in exercise with little changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

For those 50 and over remember to age actively! Ask your doctor about aspirin therapy and try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet.

Don’t worry about the past, and remember it’s never too late to make some change and adopt healthy habits!

Disclaimer

The dietary supplement information contained on this site has been compiled from published sources thought to be reliable, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Efforts have been made to assure this information is accurate and current. However, some of this information may be purported or outdated due to ongoing research or discoveries. The authors, editors and publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequences from applications of the information in this site and make no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the contents herein.

Weight Management

Being overweight is a growing concern for many individuals and families, and the health consequences can be significant.
Just a few of the risks imposed by carrying extra weight may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease

How can you shape up?

A great way to start is to calculate your BMI, or ‘Body Mass Index’.

BMI is an approximation of body fat, based on an individual’s height and weight.
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and anything above 30 is considered obese.

Use the following chart to get an estimate of your current BMI – follow the number on the left for your height, and move across to your weight. The number on the top of that column will represent your BMI.
Health Centre
An additional way to determine if you are overweight is by measuring your waist size. Added fat here may put you at greater risk than other areas of the body. Health professionals recommend men aim for waist sizes below 40” and women below 35”.

How do your numbers look? Remember – just losing 5-10% of your body weight can significantly lower your risks for health problems! Along with help from your doctor, you can use the tips on this site to help you towards living a healthier happier life.

Where to start?

Small changes add up.

1.Start with a healthy breakfast, such as oatmeal and whole grain cereals. This may prevent you from overeating later.
2.Keep a food diary. Knowing how much you consumed in a day can help you understand your eating habits.
3.Turn off the tube. You don’t burn many calories sitting on the couch. Watching television can be a great time to add extra pounds.
4.Weigh yourself often, at least once a week.
5.Cut calories by consuming smaller portions, skipping seconds, and asking restaurants to bag half your meals to-go.
6.Become more active. Physical activity helps you burn calories and stay fit. A great time to sneak in some exercise is during TV time!

Counting the Calories

Diet fads come and go, but one simple rule remains – burn more calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight. Once you’ve reached your goal, keeping your calories balanced will maintain your healthy shape.
Some calorie counting consultation –1. Get a good start by filling up on whole fruit, salad or broth based soups. These foods are high in fiber and water, which fill you up on fewer calories.
2. Make smart swaps – for example replace cheese in your sandwich with extra tomatoes, or swap low calorie mustard instead of mayonnaise.
3. Avoid processed snack foods, and don’t be fooled by ‘low-fat’ labels. They’re still often high in calories and lack unsaturated ‘good’ fats that satisfy your hunger. Instead look for foods labeled ‘low calorie’
4. Pay attention to portion – too much of a good thing can still be a bad thing.
5. Remember to eat! To stay healthy most men need at least 1500 calories, and women 1200 calories per day. Don’t make the mistake of starving your body in order to lose weight.

Watch what you drink

Sugary sodas and coffees can contain up to 400 calories! And what’s worse – these calories don’t satisfy a hungry stomach.
To make healthier drinking choices –1. Drink more water. The National Institute of Health recommends six to eight 8-oz glasses of water a day.
2. Drink a glass or two of milk per day. New research suggests that consuming dairy calcium and vitamin D can help you lose weight. But remember to choose skim milk.
3. Skip sugar and syrups in coffee or use artificial sweetener.
4. Choose calorie-free diet sodas.

The Low Carb Trend

Diets that restrict certain types of food usually leave out certain important nutrients. Carbohydrates for example are important in providing energy for your body, but eating too many carbs can lead to excess calories.
The key is to choose your carbs wisely. To get important vitamins, minerals, and fiber, choose complex carbohydrates and natural sugars found in:1. Fruits and veggies
2. Whole-grain rice, breads, and cereals
3. Beans, lentils, and dried peas

Avoid – carbs found in processed and refined sugars such as candies, sodas, and table sugar. These ‘empty’ calories have little nutritional value.

Get Your Body Moving

As a general rule, if you cut your daily calories by 500 you will lose 1 pound a week. You can do this by cutting down on calories as mentioned, or exercising… or both!
Here are some activities that can help you go for the burn, based on average calories burned per hourPhysical Activity Calorie Use Chart

The chart below shows the approximate calories spent per hour by a 100-, 150- and 200- pound person doing a particular activity.

Activity 100 lb 150 lb 200 lb
Bicycling, 6 mph 160 240 312
Bicycling, 12 mph 270 410 534
Jogging, 7 mph 610 920 1,230
Jumping rope 500 750 1,000
Running 5.5 mph 440 660 962
Running, 10 mph 850 1,280 1,664
Swimming, 25 yds/min 185 275 358
Swimming, 50 yds/min 325 500 650
Tennis singles 265 400 535
Walking, 2 mph 160 240 312
Walking, 3 mph 210 320 416
Walking, 4.5 mph 295 440 572

Workouts that Work

Being active can contribute to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and even less stress and better sleep. There is no shortage of benefits to living an active lifestyle.
Here are three easy steps to get you started*:1. Know your needs
a. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking and jogging raises your heart rate and breathing. The Center for Disease Control recommends 30 minutes or more a day, 5 days a week, of aerobic exercise.
b. Strength training, such as lifting weights, increases your muscle capacity. You should exercise your large muscle groups at least twice a week.
*Noor Pharmaceuticals recommends you consult your healthcare provider before beginning any weight-loss or exercise program
2. All this may sound like a time commitment, but you can still reach your exercise goals by splitting it up into 10-20 minute parts throughout the day.
3. Find something fun to do! You are more likely to stay active if you participate in something you enjoy. Consider team sports if you like company, or swimming if you prefer quiet.

Remember, exercising doesn’t have to cost you any money either. Walking or exercising outside in parks work just as well as gym memberships. Consider climbing the stairs to work, walking to the grocery store, and getting home exercise videos if money is a concern. You can even switch weights for calisthenics, which are exercises that uses your own body weight as resistance, such as pushups, squats, and dips.

Don’t Forget the Kids!

Overweight and obese kids are susceptible to many of the same health risks as adults and are more likely to develop serious health problems as they get older. Get your kids involved by turning physical activities into family activities and the whole family will benefit.
Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Help them reach this goal by doing simple things like

  • Walking your child to school (if possible)
  • Dribble a ball together after homework is done
  • Go to the park after dinner

Remember to also help establish healthy eating habits early on by

  • Choosing healthy snacks
  • Making breakfast a family meal
  • Offering healthy fruits and vegetables and keeping an eye on portion sizes

And There’s So Much More!

The tips offered in this guide are merely a sampling of the vast opportunities available to lose weight and live healthy. Remember even if the steps you take are small, the changes can be vast. Have a positive attitude and you are well on your way towards a healthier lifestyle!

Disclaimer

The dietary supplement information contained on this site has been compiled from published sources thought to be reliable, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Efforts have been made to assure this information is accurate and current. However, some of this information may be purported or outdated due to ongoing research or discoveries. The authors, editors and publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequences from applications of the information in this site and make no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the contents herein.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of lifelong diseases in which blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high because the body can’t make or appropriately use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use or store glucose.
Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1, which can’t be prevented, occurs when the body stops making insulin. To survive, people with this type need insulin therapy. Type 1 is most often diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.

Type 2 Diabetes:

This type, which can be prevented, is the most common. People with this type do make insulin, but their bodies don’t make enough or don’t respond well to it. Type 2 is most often managed through lifestyle changes and oral medication. Insulin may be added after the pancreas gradually loses the ability to produce insulin.

Prediabetes:

The 57 million Americans who have prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Within 10 years, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.

But there is good news: A healthy lifestyle can help the body better use glucose so it doesn’t build up in the blood. Research shows that people with prediabetes can lower their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than half when they lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight by exercising and eating right.

Check out the At-Risk Weight Chart – if you weigh the same as or more than the weight listed across from your height, you may be at risk for or already have prediabetes or diabetes.

At-Risk Weight Chart
4’10” 148 lbs
4’11” 153 lbs
5’0” 158 lbs
5’1” 164 lbs
5’2” 169 lbs
5’3” 175 lbs
5’4” 180 lbs
5’5” 186 lbs
5’6” 192 lbs
5’7” 198 lbs
5’8” 203 lbs
5’9” 209 lbs
5’10” 216 lbs
5’11” 222 lbs
6’0” 228 lbs
6’1” 235 lbs
6’2” 241 lbs
6’3” 248 lbs
6’4” 254 lbs
6’5” 261lbs

Small Changes, Big Differences

Small steps do add up! You don’t need special foods or a Pro-Athlete-like regimen to make a difference. You can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes or delay its onset by making some sensible adjustments.
First, eat better. Fine-tuning your eating habits helps cut calories and fat. Use some of the following strategies for a healthier meal:Replace some of the meat in your diet with a variety of vegetables and whole grains.
Replace desserts and snacks with fresh fruit.
Compare food labels and choose alternatives that are lower in calories, fat, and sugar, such as nonfat milk instead of 2 percent.
Use smaller plates to help shrink your portion sizes.
Split large restaurant portions with a friend or take half home.

Get fit and pump up your activity level with these tips:

Walk every chance you get – to work or on errands, with co-workers during a break, and before or after dinner.
Socialize with family and friends by being active together. Ride bikes, play soccer or basketball, etc.
Do housework and yard work with vigor.
Break exercise into 10 minute segments to fit into your schedule.
If you’ve been inactive, begin by getting your doctor’s advice about what and how much to do.

Choose one action you can take today to start reducing your risk. Setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals can help you move gradually toward a healthier lifestyle.

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is the form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It can cause many problems, from high blood pressure to delivery complications. The good news is that both mother and baby can often be healthy by having the mother follow a special meal plan and be physically active.
Without treatment, gestational diabetes carries some serious risks, including high blood pressure and sudden high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) in the mother. Also, mothers with gestational diabetes tend to give birth to babies so large that the mother must have a cesarean section. The infant is also at an increased risk for breathing and blood glucose problems after birth.Many women with gestational diabetes can keep their blood glucose under control by adopting healthy eating and exercise patterns. Some also need testing and insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Work with your diabetes educator to design a plan to keep your blood glucose levels in the target range. Many plans recommend that you:

Eat three small meals and one to three snacks a day.
Count your carbohydrates. Your meal plan should tell you when and how many to have at meals and snacks.
Limit sweets.
Try to be active for 30 minutes or more, at least five days a week. Walking and swimming are good activities for pregnant women.

Although gestational diabetes often disappears after delivery, those with the condition have an increased risk of developing it again in a future pregnancy and type 2 diabetes later in life. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, and being active 30 minutes a day on most days of the week are important preventative steps.

Childhood Obesity and Diabetes

These days, lots of kids – many who are overweight and inactive – are developing type 2 diabetes, putting them at risk for complications like early heart disease. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent childhood obesity, staving off diabetes as well as many other health problems:Parents should lead by example: Eat healthy and be active.
Dine together: Regular family meals can foster healthy eating habits. Research also shows that kids whose families eat together get more fruits and vegetables, have improved self-esteem, better grades, and are less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, or get into fights.
Encourage exercise: Kids need at least one hour of physical activity every day.
Ask for help. If you think your child is overweight, talk with his or her doctor.
Know the symptoms. People with type 2 diabetes often don’t have symptoms, but see the doctor right away if your child shows signs of frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, excessive thirst, or cuts and bruises that are slow to heal.

Kids who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes may feel emotional, stressed, or left out. A little parental support can go a long way. Here’s how you can help:

  • Cook the same healthy foods for the whole family.
  • Plan family walks to help kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Give teens some space once they’ve shown they can keep their glucose under control.

Keep your Diabetes in Check

If you have diabetes, you need to keep up with several tests during the year to find out how your glucose levels are affecting your overall health. The American Diabetes Association has created a Checkup Checklist to keep track of all the tests you need and how often you need them.
If you have diabetes, you need to keep up with several tests during the year to find out how your glucose levels are affecting your overall health. The American Diabetes Association’s has created a Checkup Checklist to keep track of all the tests you need and how often you need them.The American Diabetes Association recommends the following for adults with diabetes:

A1C Test (estimated average blood glucose): at least twice a year. If your treatment has changed or you’re not achieving your blood glucose goals, up to four times a year.

Dental Visits: twice a year

Annual Tests, Shots, and Visits:

  • Flu vaccine
  • Fasting lipid Profile (cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Urine Albumin Excretion (kidney function)
  • Serum Creatinine (kidney function)
  • Dilated Eye Exam
  • Food exam including neuropathy testing with monofilament.

Other Screenings and Vaccinations:

  • PAD (peripheral arterial disease) screening for those at risk
  • PPV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) A one-time vaccine for most, but people over 65 will need to get it again.

Immunization is crucial for diabetic patients. Catching the flu is never fun, but people with diabetes have a higher risk for serious complications, such as pneumonia and even death. Help protect yourself by getting a yearly flu shot. And get a pneumonia shot if you haven’t already – one shot usually protects you for life!

Know your Diabetes ABC’s. Keeping your ABC’s on target helps lower your risk of heart disease.

A: A1C level – your average blood glucose for the past two to three months – should be less than 7 *
B: Blood pressure is best below 130/80*

C: Cholesterol level – the bad type, LDL – should be no higher than 100*
*(individual targets may vary)

For people with diabetes, food, activity, and stress can cause glucose levels to change throughout the day. Watching your glucose level closely can help you avoid hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

When your glucose level is too high too often, it can lead to problems with your kidneys, heart, eyes, and nerves. Frequent checks can help prevent damage to these parts of the body.

Many people do daily glucose checks before and after meals and at bedtime. Your doctor will help you find the best routine for you.

The American Diabetes Association Blood Glucose Targets:

  • Before meals: 70-130 mg/dL
  • Two hours after meals: below 180 mg/dL

If you have diabetes, you need an A1C test at least twice a year to give you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past two to three months. This helps you see how well your treatment plan is working.

Using the chart below, see how your A1C compares with your estimated average glucose (eAG), a new format for giving A1C results in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). This is the same format you see when you check your glucose level with a meter.

A1C% eAG mg/dL
5 97
5.5 111
6 126
6.5 140
7 154
7.5 169
8 183
8.5 197
9 212
9.5 226
10 240
10.5 255
11 269
11.5 283
12 298

Disclaimer

The dietary supplement information contained on this site has been compiled from published sources thought to be reliable, but it cannot be guaranteed.
Efforts have been made to assure this information is accurate and current. However, some of this information may be purported or outdated due to ongoing research or discoveries. The authors, editors and publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequences from applications of the information in this site and make no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the contents herein.