Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About HIIT Training but Were Afraid to Ask

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A quick “fitness class” Google search will yield numerous spin, barre, kickboxing, Pilates, and so many more offerings for you to choose between. The number of exercise classes to choose from though can be overwhelming to navigate. And when you are paying per class, you find yourself wondering if the workout is worth the cost. The other dilemma we run into is time. With our busy schedules, many of us don’t have the time to set aside an hour each day for regular physical activity.

What has grown in popularity is a high-intensity interval workout (aka HIIT training) because it offers the same health benefits as other types of exercise but in a shorter amount of time – sometimes even as short as 15-20 minutes! It’s easy to find a HIIT class to try for yourself. You can Google different HIIT workouts or find clips on YouTube or various fitness services like Fit 5-40-5. Below we take a deeper dive into what this training is and its benefits.

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT’s name describes exactly what you can expect: high-intensity, interval training. These workouts consist of any form of exercise where you push yourself to endure a short burst of intense activity, followed by a brief period of rest or a lower-intensity activity. You’ll then repeat that sequence a few times. Each burst can vary in length (typically less than 45 seconds long) so you can play around with what makes sense for you and your body.

What are the the benefits versus conventional cardio exercise

  • Reduces your body fat: 

Unlike some other exercises, HIIT can decrease body fat more steadily. That’s because with this workout you are burning more calories in half the time. After you complete your workout, your body’s repair cycle goes into hyperdrive due to the intensity, so you stay burning fat and calories up to 24 hours after you finish! HIIT also ensures that the weight that you are losing comes from where your body is storing fats, so you aren’t losing any of your muscle mass.

  • Promotes a healthy heart:

HIIT training pushes us outside of our comfort zones and usual resting heart rates. When we work out like this, we are pushing ourselves into an anaerobic zone (when it feels like our heart is beating out of our chest) which is producing extreme results. Some studies have shown that after 8 weeks of HIIT training, some people can bicycle twice as long as they could before they started, while at the same pace!

  • Improves mental health:

We all know that exercise gives us endorphins and endorphins make us happier, but HIIT training is particularly helpful with this. Studies have shown HIIT can not only reduce depression but can also help those with psychiatric conditions. That’s because those individuals typically have a lower motivation to embrace an active lifestyle and they feel that exercise is too time-consuming. One study that looked at this at a psychiatric daycare facility showed an improvement in mental health scores related to reducing levels of depression and social avoidance.

  • Increases your metabolism:

In addition to the other health benefits, HIIT can also improve metabolic health like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol. HIIT stimulates your HGH (human growth hormone) by up to 450% during the 24 hours after you finish, and it slows down the aging process!

  • It’s time-efficient: 

You can fit HIIT into a lunch break or start, or end, your day with it. You’ll also see your progress fast. You’ll see more in just 15 minutes of interval training 3 times a week than if you were on a treadmill for an hour. You’ll still receive the great benefits of heart and lung health, metabolic health, increased oxygen supply to your muscles, and improved exercise tolerance just with 10-20 minutes sessions 3 times a week – that’s all you need!

Examples of HIIT Training

You can do HIIT training anywhere. Nothing will stop you or hold you back when all you need is some open space. Whether you’re at home, the gym, or even in your yard – you can get a quick HIIT workout in, wherever your heart desires. Below are some examples of how you can think about structuring your HIIT workout.

  • Tabata style:

Tabata is the most common style of HIIT. All it involves is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. You then repeat that sequence 8-20 times total and you’re done!

  • Bodyweight focused:

Most HIIT workouts often only require body weight and you’ll commonly perform exercises like high knees, fast feet, burpees, squats, sit-ups, and anything plyometric like jumping lunges or jumping jacks. Since the whole point is to get your heart rate up fast some equipment (like dumbbells) can make your HIIT workout less effective because you aren’t pushing your heart to the max!

  • Equipment focused: 

If you have equipment accessible, that’s fine to use! And, you may prefer to use a treadmill, rowing machine, spin bike, or even a rope for your intervals. You can increase the resistance for the high-intensity portions and then reduce it again for the rest period (or walk).

There are many different formats out there, but a sample HIIT workout may look like this for 25 minutes total:

  • 5-minute warm-up
  • 5-minute HIIT circuit (high-intensity exercise for 15 seconds, then rest* for 10 seconds, high-intensity exercise for 15 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds, high-intensity exercise for 15 seconds, and then rest for 30 seconds, high-intensity exercise for 15 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds, high-intensity exercise for 15 seconds, and then rest for 50 seconds)
  • Repeat that 5-minute HIIT circuit 3 times
  • 5-minute cooldown

*For each rest, you can either stop altogether or switch to a gentler exercise like walking, cycling, or stretching. 

We all know exercise is good for us. HIIT allows for all of us to not have an excuse to not fit exercise into our daily lives. It offers benefits so many other workouts can’t deliver or offer, and the quick spurts will keep you from being bored! You’ll see the benefits in a matter of weeks and since it’s short, you’ll feel like you got a whole workout in half the time!

[Sources:]

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327474

https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/apple-fitness-new-workouts-pregnancy-older-adults-beginners

10 Unbelievable Things You Never Knew About Pine Needle Tea

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Many people around the country enjoy the smell of fresh pine on a summer day, but did you know you can taste that sensation as well? Pine needle tea is a delicious treat to enjoy in the morning or during the day and provides many health benefits to its drinkers.

The needles the tea is infused with are the primary source of these benefits, such as antioxidants and vitamin A and C. There are many other benefits to be gained from drinking pine needle tea daily, here’s a brief guide.

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Fight Respiratory Infections

Pine needle tea was often used by indigenous cultures for treating respiratory problems. The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World records how the Native Americans used white pine for its expectorant and decongestant qualities.

pine needle tea benefits, pine needle tea health benefits, where to buy pine needle tea, how to make pine needle tea, are pine needles safe for tea, are pine needles toxic to humansThe Power of Antioxidants

Drinking a cup or two of pine needle tea per day will help fuel your body with antioxidants, which are highly important for the functioning of your body and blood. Pine needles possesses a slew of antioxidants, in the form of vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as a host of flavonoids.

The vitamins you consume while drinking the tea, in addition to micronutrients known as “phytonutrients” help guard your skin from excess damage by free radicals. Protection from free radicals can help you prevent illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. There are a host of supplements and artificial sources of antioxidants, but natural sources are more beneficial.

pine needle tea benefits, pine needle tea health benefits, where to buy pine needle tea, how to make pine needle tea, are pine needles safe for tea, are pine needles toxic to humansKeep Your Heart Healthy

Pine needle tea doesn’t just bolster and protect your blood. The nutrients and antioxidants found within the tea can also help your heart function in a similar manner to your blood. Pine needle tea helps bolster your blood because it provides a boost to the metabolism of lipids. Researchers have tested this function of the tea in several different ways and have consistently found it to be highly beneficial for this purpose.

In addition to quickening of metabolism, pine needle tea reduces inflammation in the body, which helps balance the flora of the gut. This gut rebalancing has many beneficial properties, but one of the primary uses is the lowering of bad cholesterol, while raising the good type. Clinical trials need still be conducted, but the initial research is promising.

pine needle tea benefits, pine needle tea health benefits, where to buy pine needle tea, how to make pine needle tea, are pine needles safe for tea, are pine needles toxic to humansRefuel More Efficiently

Because of the many antioxidants found in pine needle tea, the drink can help you refuel while exercising, so that you’re ready for another round or beginning a cycle of rest. The Journal of Nutrition exercise and Biochemistry found that rats who were fed pine needle power lowered their cholesterol significantly.

The antioxidants within the tea helped the rats perform better in their exercises and recover quickly when faced with a second bout of activity. In addition, the tea also helped prevent cell death, which is important for both recovery time and intensity. The only caveat is that the pine needle powder most likely had a higher concentration of antioxidants than would be found in most tea.

pine needle tea benefits, pine needle tea health benefits, where to buy pine needle tea, how to make pine needle tea, are pine needles safe for tea, are pine needles toxic to humansVitamins Galore

Pine needle tea holds a plethora of vitamins and minerals in addition to the antioxidant properties. The two most common vitamins found within the tea are vitamin A and vitamin C, which will help you see at night in addition to providing your skin with many benefits. Vitamin C will help you build collagen and protect your skin tissue, in addition to boosting your immune system in a natural and organic way.

These vitamins are important, but many Americans aren’t consuming enough of them on a daily basis. Adding pine needle tea to your diet and daily routine can help keep your skin healthy and young year-round.

pine needle tea benefits, pine needle tea health benefits, where to buy pine needle tea, how to make pine needle tea, are pine needles safe for tea, are pine needles toxic to humansHelp Clear Your Mind

Finally, one of the most sought-after yet undervalued properties of pine needle tea is the ability to clear your mind and help keep your body in clarity. The sweet aroma and peaceful aura of pine needle tea can help your body relax and open up your senses, allowing your mind to relax and your senses to become slightly improved. Many priests and monks from different regions of the world have drank pine needle tea over the centuries because of the boost it provides to clarity.

Making the Tea

It’s entirely possible to make your own pine needle tea, though the process is not quick. There are many concerns to take into account and steps to follow. First, you should cut off the ends and roll the needles you’ve bought. This step releases the oil and keeps the needles dry and nutritious. You should keep the needles you’ve prepared in a cup of hot water for about fifteen minutes before straining. Once strained, you can mix and enjoy at your leisure.

Caution

It may be tempting to collect your pine needles from random trees around your neighborhood or city, but you should resist the temptation. Many of the needles found within nature will be unsafe to eat and drink because they’ve not been specially prepared or treated. If you wish to make pine needle tea yourself, you should buy needles which are already bagged, for your safety and convenience.

Side Effects

There are a wide variety of pine trees. Some of these are potentially toxic or harmful when used for food. If you are foraging for pine needles, it is advisable to do so with an expert. According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the needles of ponderosa pine cause abortion when grazed by cattle. With very little research available, most of the side effects of pine-needle tea are also anecdotal. Some of these are: [14]

Irritation in the throat and mouth

Inflamed patches on the skin

Vomiting

Nausea

Dizziness

Headaches

Diarrhea

For pregnant women: The USDA cautioned against the ingestion of ponderosa pine needles. Given the toxicity of some pine species, it is best to avoid drinking this tea if you are pregnant. [15] [16]

Allergy: You should also be aware of any potential allergies to pine trees. Pine oil that is released when brewing the tea, can have inflammatory effects on the skin and stomach, resulting in stomach upset in some people. Given these possible side-effects, it is recommended that you only try about half a cup in the beginning.

SOURCES USED:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6355045_Antioxidant_Antimutagenic_and_Antitumor_Effects_of_Pine_Needles_Pinus_densiflora

https://www.google.co.in/books/edition/Encyclopedia_of_American_Indian_Contribu/QIFTVWJH3doC?hl

 

What Research Says About Quercetin for Brain Health

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Recently, there has been a heavy focus on researching the potential physical and cognitive benefits of specific natural food substances and nutritional supplements. One of the areas researchers have been focused on is the health-enhancing properties of flavonoids — a class of secondary plant metabolites found in many fruits and veggies. A lot of that research has been focused on quercetin — a flavonoid that is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are known to block inflammatory molecules in the brain.

Quercetin has been found to be a potent antioxidant that is capable of scavenging free radicals as well as protecting neuronal cells from neurotoxicity that is caused by oxidative stress.

What’s more, quercetin is an adenosine A1 receptor antagonist in vitro — meaning it can help reduce physical and mental fatigue as well as spatial memory, and it has even been shown to reverse cognitive deficits in mice. Additionally, the mice that were given quercetin supplements showed increased learning and memory function compared to non-treated mice.

What is Quercetin?

 Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid) that naturally occurs in many plants, fruits, and vegetables. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help fight inflammation, kill cancer cells, control blood sugar, and help protect against heart disease.

Where is Quercetin Found?

As we mentioned, quercetin is found in many fruits and vegetables. It can also be found in grains, tea, and wine.
Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in the average person’s diet. It’s estimated that, on average, we consume from 10–100 mg of quercetin daily through various food sources.

Quercetins Impact on the Brain

The research we mentioned above suggests that quercetin’s antioxidant properties may help fight against degenerative brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In one study, mice with Alzheimer’s were given quercetin injections every two days for a total of three months. By the end of the study, the injections were found to reverse several markers of Alzheimer’s, and the mice’s performance on learning tests was also improved.

Another study found that eating a diet high in quercetin reduced markers of Alzheimer’s disease and improved cognitive function in mice at the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s.

The research on humans and the effect of quercetin on mental health are promising as well. In fact, one study found that three weeks of quercetin supplementation protected the human brain against mental fatigue and loss of sustained vigilance following three days of heavy exercise.

You may have heard that coffee is linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. It turns out that it’s the quercetin, not the caffeine, that is the primary compound in coffee responsible for the potential protective effects against Alzheimer’s.

Sources of Quercetin

Quercetin, quercetin covid, quercetin benefits, what is quercetinIf you’re eager to start reaping the potential cognitive benefits of quercetin, add more of these foods into your diet:

  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Capers
  • Yellow peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Red onions
  • White onions
  • Shallots
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Cooked asparagus
  • Kale
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Cherries
  • Red apples
  • Red grapes
  • Citrus fruits
  • All kinds of berries, including cranberries, blueberries, and raspberries
  • Buckwheat
  • Red wine

You can also take quercetin in supplement form. You can purchase quercetin supplements at most health food stores in capsule and powder form. The typical dosage ranges from 500–1,000 mg per day.

By itself, quercetin actually has a low bioavailability — meaning the body absorbs it poorly. This is why supplements often include other compounds like vitamin C or digestive enzymes such as bromelain to help increase absorption.

As the most abundant dietary flavonoid, quercetin has many health benefits, from brain health to improved exercise performance. Although these benefits are promising, we are looking forward to even more research being conducted on the substance.

Eating Dates for a Healthy Brain: What You Need to Know

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Nutritionists have long known the benefits of dates as a healthy part of a diet.  Recently, neuroscientists have studied the fruit’s effect on the human nervous system as well.  There is evidence to suggest dates lend a supportive or even restorative function with neural transfers and conductivity.  The studies have implications about maintaining or slowing the degeneration of brain functions. The research is still in its infancy, but early results have strong implications that eating dates is healthy for the brain.

How Do Dates Actually Help Brain Function? 

Once you’ve taken into consideration its other global impacts, it’s time to look at what scientific study says about brain health and dates.  One of the most promising correlations is between the consumption of dates and the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Dates have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.  They can help block the reaction of proteins such as Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which not only influences the onset of dementia but that of cancer, arthritis, and other debilitating aging maladies.

Dates also help reduce the formation of plaque on the brain.  By limiting the reactions of amyloid beta proteins, dates may help slow the death of brain cells and failing neural pathways.  In animal studies the subjects showed better memory and learning capability with the inclusion of dates in their diet.  They also displayed lower stress when compared with the studies’ control groups.

Human trials, of course, will yield more conclusive data.  The research is still young, but if everything from Alzheimer’s to cancer and early blindness can be prevented, the incentive to do more study is there.  Dates may soon prove to be yet another of nature’s hide-in-plain-sight miracles.

What are Some Other Properties of Dates?

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Dates don’t simply aid brain function.  The fruit is rich in fiber.  They have several nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, B-vitamins and protein.  The fruit’s carbohydrate content is high.  It is a strong source of sugar and must be eaten moderately to avoid excess weight gain.  Dates have many antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid.  These elements protect cells from free radicals.  They reduce the chance of heart disease, diabetes and loss of eyesight.  They also lower the risk of cancer and intestinal disorders.

Along with brain health there is evidence showing dates provide some help during labour.  The fruit can help with anything from cervical dilation to stabilization of the delivery cycle.  As little as six dates a day showed positive results in controlled studies.  As with brain studies, more research is needed, but indications are that the tannins in dates may help with contractions.  It’s also thought that some elements in dates mimic oxytocin, a hormone that regulates the actual contractions of labor.

 What’s The Best Way To Include Dates?

As to how you include dates in the daily diet the simple answer of course is to eat them.  The fruit is edible and tastes good freshly picked or dried.  It can be crushed and used as a sugar substitute.  As the ancient cultures showed, dates can be made into breads, puddings, powders, or purees.  They can be eaten at breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  Dates are great to eat before a workout.  You can eat them at night, but it’s best to do that in moderation, due to the fruit’s high calorie count.

 

 

 

 

What Research Says About Coenzyme Q10 for Mental Health

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Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in our body. This coenzyme is important for the growth and maintenance of the body’s cells. CoQ10 is also beneficial to your mental health.  As people grow old, the levels of CoQ10 in the body decrease. CoQ1O levels are also low in people who have conditions like heart disease, diabetes, migraines.  Certain foods, including fish, meat, and nuts can help increase the levels of Coenzyme Q10 in the body. You can also take CoQ10 supplements, which are available as capsules, tablets, IV, or liquid syrups.

Benefits of CoQ10 for mental health

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With the increase in mental illnesses, there has been an increase in research focusing on the benefits of CoQ10 for mental health. Several studies have indicated that CoQ1O supplements have been effective in treating and preventing a number of mental health issues. Some of the proven benefits of CoQ10 for mental health include;

1. Helps with migraine prevention

CoQ10 is found in the membrane of mitochondria of the cells. Research shows that coenzyme Q10 helps to boost the function of the mitochondria. Proper mitochondrial function increases energy to the cells while decreasing inflammation, which occurs during migraines.

Low levels of CoQ10 in the body can lead to abnormal mitochondrial function. This results in high uptake of calcium by the brain cells and increased production of free radicals as antioxidant protection decreases. It also reduces the energy levels in the brain cells, which causes migraines.

Research indicates that increasing CoQ10 does not only prevent but also treats migraines. Since frequent migraines can cause mental health issues, increasing CoQ10 levels in the body can help improve your overall mental health.

2. Safeguard brain cells from oxidative damage

While free radicals help in supporting the growth of brain cells and cognitive function, excessive production can damage and kill brain cells. Overproduction of these radicals occurs during oxidative stress when the counteracting antioxidant response system fails to work sufficiently.

CoQ10 is a lipid antioxidant that inhabits the generation of free radicals and oxidation of proteins as well as peroxidation of lipids. This in turn suppresses oxidative stress leading to healthy brain cells.

3. Guards against Neurodegenerative Disease

Research conducted by Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment shows that CoQ10 helps to improve the conditions of patients with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Further clinical trials have also supported the promising effects of CoQ10 on people with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. An example is where animal-based research indicated that CoQ10 prevents the overproduction of the harmful beta-amyloid, a component present in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Treating anxiety and depression

Research has reported that patients with mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar were found to have a drop in levels of CoQ10.  The research conducted by the journal Molecular Biology found out that supplementing CoQ10 in the body of patients with lowered coenzyme Q10 levels helped to decrease fatigue and depression.  Recent studies have also shown CoQ10, being a powerful antioxidant can help in improving the symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety.

Dosage

There is no specific daily dosage for CoQ10. The amount will vary depending on the condition and can range from 90mg to 200 mg per day.  However, studies suggest the following dosage;

  • 150 to 300 mg per day for Migraine
  • 200 to 400 mg per day for depression and anxiety
  • 200 mg for neurodegenerative disorders

Always consult your health care professional on the dosage before using these supplements. Alternatively, you can follow the instructions provided on the packaging, because CoQ10 supplements have varying ingredients and strengths.

Possible side effects and risks

Generally, CoQ10 is safe for the majority of users. However, some people have reported mild side effects such as dizziness, insomnia, abdominal pain, fatigue, and stomach upsets after use.  You should also note that some medication like blood thinners can decrease the effectiveness of CoQ10. As such, talk to your health care professional before using these supplements if you’re under medication.

 

Learn How Melatonin Prevents Blood Clots in Ten Minutes

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Everybody needs 7-8  hours of sleep to function well. Without sleep, we don’t perform at our best, and lack of sleep can negatively impact our health.  Many people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, tossing and turning during those precious hours intended for sleep. Melatonin, a neurohormone supplement, helps many people fall asleep and stay asleep, making it known primarily as a sleep aid. But there is research to show that melatonin can help in preventing blood clots. One of the most important areas of research would be exploring the use of melatonin in preventing blood clots, as around 100,000 people die from blood clots annually.

Melatonin has other health benefits that are just as important as sleep improvement possibly making it effective in treating:

Understanding Melatonin

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Melatonin has a long history in alternative medicine. In the U.S., it’s sold as an over-the-counter supplement, while it’s available by prescription in other countries. Natural melatonin is produced in your body by the pineal gland in the brain. Its production is triggered by darkness, which explains its benefits while sleeping in the dark. The supplement is a synthetic version of the natural substance.

Research on Melatonin and Blood Clotting

As far back as 2008, the Journal of Pineal Research published a study that showed the relationship between taking oral melatonin and blood coagulation. The study included 46 healthy men between 21 and 29 years of age. The subjects were given a placebo containing no medication or 3mg of oral melatonin. The study results reported: “A single dose of oral melatonin was associated with lower plasma levels of procoagulant factors 60 mins later.” Procoagulant factors promote blood clotting, and melatonin had lowered their levels, making clotting less likely. A 2013 research paper published by Arushanian described melatonin as a “natural inhibitor of (platelet) aggregation” that is potentially impactful in cardiovascular disorders so may be “recommended for use in pharmacotherapy.” A 2020 review of studies, published by Otamas, Grant and Aijan supported previous evidence, suggesting that, “…melatonin inhibits platelet aggregation and might affect the coagulation cascade, altering fibrin clot structure and/resistance to fibrinolysis.” In layman’s terms, melatonin inhibits bodily functions that lead to blood clots. This more recent study recommended further study to confirm and progress the research findings. The research on melatonin in this area is ongoing and more is needed in the future.

Who Shouldn’t Take Melatonin?

While Melatonin can have many benefits, including the potential to reduce clotting, it’s important to realize the dangers that may create to people on blood thinners, such as Warfarin, with herbs that can slow clotting, including garlic and ginger, and with blood clotting medication.

Taking melatonin along with blood thinning medication can lead to bleeding or bruising. It can interfere with the work of blood clotting medication. Melatonin is generally not advised for these groups but as always, people should follow the advice of their medical doctors.

Fluvoxamine (Luvox) is an antidepressant medication that increases the absorption of melatonin. Since more melatonin is absorbed creating greater conditions for blood thinning, taking it with fluvoxamine should be avoided.

Should I Take Melatonin?

A healthy person that doesn’t take blood thinning or coagulating medication, Fluvoxamine, or other medications or herbs that can interact with melatonin should be able to safely take melatonin if permitted by their doctors. If you’re considering melatonin, it may help you sleep, have additional benefits, and keep your blood free from unwanted clotting.

SOURCES USED:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5563342_Oral_melatonin_reduces_blood_coagulation_activity_A_placebo-controlled_study_in_healthy_young_men

https://www.livescience.com/42066-melatonin-supplement-facts.html

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1479164120920582?icid=int.sj-abstract.citing-articles.3&

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d04058a1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/melatonin-side-effects#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282008268_Effect_of_melatonin_on_the_thrombocyte_hemostasis_and_its_circadian_organization

This Is Your Brain on Vitamin C

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Vitamin C is well known for enhancing immunity, including preventing colds and improving mental health. Scientific studies indicate that people who consume foods rich in vitamin C experience less stress as they encounter physical challenges. After we consume vitamin C, it causes the body to dispense neurotransmitters that enhance mood such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. People who lack vitamin C have low synthesis of these neurotransmitters, and can become irritable and stressed.

 

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Vitamin C and Mental Health

A German study measured the stress levels of 120 individuals by letting them perform public speaking while solving math problems. The subjects were given 1000 mg of vitamin C prior to the task. Participants who did not take the vitamin showed elevated cortisol levels and higher blood pressure. Those who took the vitamin showed normal blood pressure levels and said that they did not feel that stressed.

Vitamin C also plays a vital role in maintaining the function and integrity of the central nervous system, including the formation of myelin and maturation of neurons, which protects nerve fibers and repairs neurons. In addition, it acts as a neuromodulator, which influences mood regulation.

Research studies also indicate that free radical damage and oxidative stress can play a part in the pathogenic mechanisms underlying several neuropsychological disorders including depression.

The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study stating that low levels of vitamin C were closely related to depression in the elderly. Another study published by McGill University found that administering vitamin C twice a day improved the mood of hospital patients. Vitamin C is also linked to promoting health for people suffering from bipolar disorder and anxiety.

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The Brain consumes a lot of vitamin C. Brain concentrations of vitamin C are higher than those of the rest of the body. It maintains vitamin C levels for a longer period of time after the body depletes them. That’s because metabolic furnaces in the neurons churn through glucose to power one’s movements and feelings. Vitamin C also works as an antioxidant. It surrenders electrons for the purpose of neutralizing rogue oxygen molecules which are emitted in the process. These are the free radicals that ruin DNA and cause cells to age.

Vitamin C also plays a role in the maturation and differentiation of neurons and in forming the myelin sheath that expedites impulse transmission and protects neurons. Thus, vitamin C is essential for cognitive performance and is also a cofactor in synthesizing several neurotransmitters. It plays a vital role in converting dopamine to serotonin. It also modulates the release of neurotransmitters in nerve cells. Vitamin C is also found in collagen, which is a stabilizing force for bones, teeth, and blood vessels. It helps ensure that the integrity of blood vessels retain their integrity as an aspect of cognitive capacity, particularly as people age.

In a review of fifty studies of Brain function and vitamin C levels conducted between1980 and 2017, Australian researchers discovered that there was a striking relationship between mental function and vitamin C status. A questionnaire, known as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) measured the relationship.

In the study, the individuals that were cognitively intact had higher blood concentrations of vitamin C than the individuals who were cognitively impaired. Among the individuals who were cognitively intact, the levels of vitamin C in the blood had a correlation with cognitive ability. There was no linear correlation seen in people with cognitive impairment.

Factors such as exposure to toxins caused by air pollution and smoking as well as drinking alcohol make extra demands for vitamin C by placing the body under oxidative stress. Studies show that conditions like depression, fatigue, and poor healing of wounds happen when vitamin C levels are inadequate.

References

Bundrant, M. vitamin C and Its Key role in mental health. Psych Central. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2017/01/vitamin-c- nd-its-key-role-in-mental-health/

Marano, H. The Cognitive Benefits of vitamin C. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201801/the- cognitive-benefits-vitamin-c

Got Stress? You Need vitamin C. adrenalfatigue.org. https://adrenalfatigue.org/got-stress-you-need-vitamin-c/

Vitamin C: Essential for stress and Adrenal Function. adrenalfatigue.org. https://adrenalfatigue.org/vitamin-c-adrenal-function-stress/

The Link Between Zinc and Mental Health

If you are struggling with low mood or depression, you may have something that can help you hiding in the back of your medicine cabinet: zinc.

What is it?

Zinc supports a number of human bodily functions. In addition to providing support for the immune system, it allows the body to make proteins and DNA, helps heal wounds, and plays a vital role in childhood growth and development. It occurs naturally in a wide range of foods like beans, meat, and fish, and it’s also available in the form of a dietary supplement.

Zinc’s link to Mental Health 

Emerging studies are showing that zinc is also helpful in treating depression and psychosis. There also appears to be a link between zinc dysregulation and attention deficit disorder (ADD), and hyperactivity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Depression is associated with a low quality of life and leads to more than one million suicide deaths each year.

Multiple studies have shown that people suffering from depression have reduced levels of zinc in their bodies. Separate studies support the effectiveness of zinc to improve mood in both depressed and healthy people.

How to Add More Zinc to Your Diet

Whether you are feeling low or have been diagnosed with depression, adding zinc to your diet will help boost your mood. Here’s how to incorporate more into your daily life:

  • Take zinc supplements. You can buy these online, at the grocery store, or at your local supplement shop.
  • Meat is an excellent source. Red meat, in particular, contains high levels of zinc, but you can find sufficient amounts in pork, lamb, beef, and other kinds of meat.  A 3.5-ounce serving of raw ground beef contains 4.8 mg of zinc— that’s 44% of the Daily Value (DV).
  • Shellfish are a healthy, low-calorie source. In particular, oysters contain high amounts of zinc. Six medium oysters provide 32 mg of zinc— 291% of the daily value! Other shellfish that are good sources include Alaskan crab, mussels, shrimp, and salmon.
  • Legumes, including chickens, lentils, and beans, contain substantial amounts. But, they also contain phytates— an antinutrient that inhibits the absorption of zinc and other minerals. This means that you should still eat legumes, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, but just know they don’t provide as much zinc as other sources. You can also heat, sprout, soak, or ferment legume to increase zinc’s bioavailability.
  • Dairy like cheese and milk contain a host of nutrients.. Milk and cheese, in particular contain high amounts of bioavailable zinc— meaning most of the food’s zinc can be absorbed by the body.

Zinc is a key part of a healthy diet, especially for people struggling with depression and low mood. The best part is you can easily add more naturally to your diet by consuming substantial amounts of the above-mentioned foods.

 

 

The Benefits of Vitamin D for Mental Health

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When you think of vitamin D, you likely think of the sun. Does thinking of the warm sun shining on your face make you happy? Well, there’s actually science to back up the significant role that vitamin D plays on our mental health. Let’s explore

What is Vitamin D?

You may have heard vitamin D referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” before. That’s because vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. The body naturally produces vitamin D when directly exposed to sunlight, but you can also get it through foods and supplements to ensure you have enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D to Fight Depression

Research shows that vitamin D may play an integral role in regulating mood and fighting depression. One study found that depressed people who received a vitamin D supplement noticed their symptoms improve.

Research points to vitamin D’s role in regulating serotonin and calcium for its possible therapeutic impact on depression when vitamin D levels are boosted.

Vitamin D to Fight Anxiety

A separate study of people with fibromyalgia found that vitamin D deficiency was more common in people experiencing anxiety and depression. Another study of children also found that kids who were vitamin D deficient experiencing significantly higher levels of anxiety and stress than their peers.

Vitamin D and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition that causes people to lose touch with reality. This often leads to psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Researchers have discovered that people with schizophrenia are more likely to have significantly lower levels of vitamin D than normal, in addition to being more likely to live in parts of the world with less sun exposure.

A number of studies have also found that insufficient sunlight or vitamin D supplementation as an infant increases the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.

So, how can you get some more vitamin D in your life to reap the mental health benefits?

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Get outdoors!  Soak up the sun and enjoy the mood-boosting effects.  Just don’t forget the SPF!

 


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Light therapy is a daily treatment that involves a dose of intense artificial light— something more commonly associated with the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, but it has also been proven to be effective for treating other forms of non-seasonal depression such as major depression and bipolar. In fact,  studies show that light therapy has similar effectiveness to pharmaceutical treatments. You can even do light therapy from home with at-home lightboxes

 

vitamin d and mental health, vitamin d deficiency and mental health, lack of vitamin d and mental health, low vitamin d and mental healthVitamin D supplements: You can purchase Vitamin D supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy. They come in a pill form that you can take every morning to help increase and regulate mood. Ideally your levels should be at 40-60 mg/ml year round.

 

Increase Vitamin D in your diet: Try to incorporate more vitamin D-rich foods into your everyday meals, such as fish oil, milk, egg yolks, mushrooms and vitamin-d fortified foods.

 

 

The Lockdown’s Effect on Mental Health

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Lockdowns, gyms being closed, holidays alone, and being separated from classmates, friends, and family members are just a few of the factors that have made the pandemic extremely hard on mental health. In fact, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look now at the impact COVID-19 is having on mental health.

Anxiety and Depression During the Lockdown

Before the pandemic had even made it to the United States, it was wreaking havoc on the mental health of people in China. Half a dozen studies with more than 10,000 respondents showed that people experienced worse mental health problems than before the pandemic, including high symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to half of the respondents showed serious signs of depression, and 35 percent showed serious anxiety. Studies find that the stress and anxiety fueled by the pandemic also cause poor sleep, creating a vicious cycle. The more we lay awake worrying at night, concerned about the pandemic, the worse our mental health becomes.

Loneliness During the Lockdown

Stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and travel restrictions have left people feeling more isolated than normal. 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always feeling lonely in April 2020, up more than 25 percent from 2018. However, we also saw a shift to more FaceTime calls and Zoom hangouts, and these things contributed to respondents in a separate study reporting feelings of “remarkable resilience.” So, not only did they not become lonely during the pandemic, but they gained a greater sense of community support.

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Domestic Violence During the Lockdown

Another unfortunate side effect of the pandemic and a major contributor to stress, shame, and anxiety is a spike in domestic violence worldwide. Sixty percent of people who were experiencing domestic violence pre-pandemic report the violence worsened during the pandemic. This is likely caused by increased stress, unemployment, spending more time at home, and shelters being forced to close their doors. The threat of abuse compounds the stress, anxiety, and fear that a lot of victims were already experiencing during the pandemic.

The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 are Worse for Disadvantaged Groups

Researchers worldwide set out to discover what else was making people vulnerable to mental health issues during COVID-19. They found that among the risk factors were people with poor health or chronic conditions who have a higher tendency of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Researchers also found education and income played a role. The less stable the income and education, studies showed, the more anxiety, depression, and stress experienced.

Vital Self-Care Tools

  • If you can’t physically see loved ones doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Lean on virtual chats with tools like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.
  • Physical activity is vital for mental health so make sure to make time for it even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. We can mental health, mental health awareness month, mental health services, mental health quotesnever underestimate the power of physical activity on our mental and emotional well-being.
  • Taking a moment each day for positive reflection will ensure that a part of each day has been dedicated to your well-being.
  • Don’t hesitate to create a support system with friends, family and others who can relate.  Seek out online support groups.
  • Talk to your health care professional who can guide you through these difficult times and give you more resources.
  • Eating a healthy well balanced diet will create a positive environment from inside out.