Should You Be Worried About the Link Between Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease?

In recent years, research has accelerated into Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are studying the disease around the clock in order to understand the causes, and solutions, to the disease. While there are still dozens of different avenues to look into, some research has illuminated a potential link between common household pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s been found that exposing certain neurotransmitters to pesticides greatly reduces their energy level and output, which could translate into the development of Parkinson’s Disease. The link between pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease is still being studied and reviewed thoroughly, so new evidence is still coming out every day. Here’s a brief guide to the findings so far.

The Environment and Parkinson’s Disease

It’s been known for years now that while environmental factors can and do play a part in developing Parkinson’s Disease, they aren’t as important or predictive as genetic factors. A person’s genetic makeup is still the number one determining factor when trying to figure out how Parkinson’s Disease develops and reveals itself, though environmental factors can “trigger” the disease in people who are already genetically susceptible.

Any environmental factor is thought to only increase the odds of developing the disease slightly, especially when comparing it to the genetic makeup of the individual. Furthermore, there are also environmental factors which have actually been shown to decrease the risk of the disease, such as coffee and anti-inflammatory medications.

Location and the Development of Parkinson’s

Studies were conducted throughout the 80s to determine the link between rural living and the development of Parkinson’s Disease. Although many are unaware of these studies, they do confirm a link, although tenuous, between rural living and the development of Parkinson’s.

There are many factors which researchers looked at when trying to establish a connection: farming as an occupation, frequency of time spent around animals, living on a farm, and exposure to a variety of pesticides, as well as frequently drinking well water. These factors closely correlate to each other, however, so the individual factors should be taken with a grain of salt.

Restudying Rural Considerations

Since the study in question was performed in the 80s, nearly forty-five years ago, a team in Finland decided to reconduct the experiment to see if anything had changed in that timespan. Interestingly, they came to the same results as the previous study.

Although citizens had flocked to urban areas from rural farmland and well water is no longer used predominantly as a drinking source in rural areas, the study still showed a tenuous connection between growing up in rural areas and developing Parkinson’s Disease. It’s possible this conclusion represents a carry-over from environmental exposure from well into the past, although there is no substantial evidence to confirm or deny this conclusion.

Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease

The connection between pesticides and Parkinson’s has been raised many times, which led some researchers to look into specific pesticides. However, these efforts are difficult because they require data which already exists in the population. Researchers can’t simply expose individuals to pesticides and record the data, so they must use information from pre-existing patients and study their findings based on the patients’ accounts.

However, despite these difficulties, there have been specific chemicals which have been studied, as there is enough data to do so. The chemical paraquat has been the most studied chemical in this timespan and seems to pose a significant risk to triggering Parkinson’s in patients.

The chemical is associated with a likelihood of disease development two or three times the control group. Another chemical which is concerning to the scientific community is rotenone, which acts to disrupt mitochondria during its use. Rotenone is actually extracted from plants, making it a “natural pesticide” though it has still been associated with Parkinson’s Disease and its development.

Other Concerns

Pesticides and rural living are not the only factors which can increase pesticides. Although, again, this research is difficult to conduct and conclusions are not always substantial or set in stone, there have been other, urban elements that have been associated with a slight risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. These mostly include factors born from air pollution in cities and other urban areas.

For example, numerous pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide have been linked to Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, metals like copper, mercury, and manganese which can become entwined in the fabric of city air have also shown the potential to increase the risk of Parkinson’s, though not to a great degree.

Military Pesticides

One of the most extensively studied chemicals in the last fifty years is “agent orange” a pesticide sprayed by the American military in Vietnam, in an attempt to kill trees and plants of the country. This chemical is itself a mix of two other chemicals and lasts an extremely long time in the environment and in the systems of those who are exposed.

Many negative health outcomes, such as birth defects and cancer, have been attributed to Agent Orange’s use. However, many studies also come to wildly different conclusions. American Veterans are actually protected under the “Agent Orange Act” even if the scientific data is not airtight, an accommodation made to protect those who served in Vietnam. In 2010, Parkinson’s Disease was added to the list of ailments covered under the act.


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.





The Fascinating Science of How Pumpkin Seeds Help Brain Function

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Pumpkin seeds are a fall snack favorite adored by many. But, did you know that pumpkin seeds also have powerful brain health benefits and are integral in healthy brain function? They are rich in many micronutrients that are essential for healthy brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Their magnesium content provides a calming effect on the brain — an amazing and all-natural option for stress relief.

Keep reading to learn more about how pumpkin seeds help brain function.

Key Minerals and Nutrients in Pumpkin Seeds

A quarter cup of raw pumpkin seeds contains about 150 calories, 15 grams of healthy fat, a few grams of carbs, and 8-10 grams of plant protein. They are also packed with nutrients.

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Pumpkin seeds, which are also called pepitas, are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Magnesium is key to helping improve mood and sleep. Manganese plays a key role in collagen production — promoting bone and skin health. Iron and Cooper found in pumpkin seeds are involved with energy production, whereas iron helps transport oxygen to the cells in the body. Zinc is key for immunity, vision, and skin health.

Eating just one serving of raw pumpkin seeds can supply between 14-42% of the daily target for these essential nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds contain the following key brain health minerals:

  • Magnesium: This mineral is essential for a well-functioning nervous system, and it also supports brain development, memory, and learning. Research has shown that low levels of magnesium may increase neurological health issues and conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the risk of stroke, migraines, epilepsy, and anxiety and depression.
  • Zinc: Zinc plays a key role in the regulation of communication between the brain cells that impact brain development, memory, and learning. Zinc deficiency is linked to a number of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and depression.
  • Iron: Iron is another mineral that plays an integral role in the day-to-day functions of the brain and development. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, and anxiety. Iron deficiency is a widely known cause of impaired cognitive, language, and motor development.
  • Cooper: Cooper plays a key role in brain function and development and is required for essential enzymes that supply the brain with energy. A proper balance of copper is key because too little or too much can cause brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Menkes, and Wilson’s diseases.

Brain Benefits

Some of the most significant brain benefits that pumpkin seeds pack include:

  • Feelings of calm — The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds can lead to stress and anxiety relief and an overall sense of calm. Over the past 50 years, as magnesium consumption has plummeted, anxiety rates have gone up drastically. A calm and controlled mind increases your decision-making power and brings you a better sense of clarity.
  • Feelings of happiness — Pumpkin seeds can also help produce serotonin — the incredible neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy. According to the NCBI, Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters that influence mental health.

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

You can buy pumpkin seeds at most grocery stores and health food stores. Or, you can make your own! Simply take the seeds from a pumpkin and bake them at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Here are some simple and delicious ways to incorporate more pumpkin seeds into your diet:

  • Eat them alone as a snack
  • Sprinkle them on top of salads for some crunch
  • Mix them into yogurt and smoothies
  • Blend them in with protein balls
  • Sprinkle them on whatever you want for added flavour, crunch, and a brain boost, from oatmeal to cereal and stir-fries and tacos.

Pumpkin seeds are an extremely versatile and delicious snack that packs a serious brain-boosting punch. Try adding them to your meals or snacking on them to harness the brain-boosting powers and ensure healthy and optimal brain function.

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.


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.


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.


Bundrant, M. vitamin C and Its Key role in mental health. Psych Central. nd-its-key-role-in-mental-health/

Marano, H. The Cognitive Benefits of vitamin C. Psychology Today. cognitive-benefits-vitamin-c

Got Stress? You Need vitamin C.

Vitamin C: Essential for stress and Adrenal Function.

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.



Pets and People: Benefits of Having a Pet

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It goes without saying that 2020 and so far, 2021 has been exceedingly difficult and challenging to say the least, for many people.  Statistics show an increase in anxiety and depression in adults and children, suicides, drug, and alcohol abuse, as well as domestic abuse.  As we move through this unique time in our lives our goal should be to find ways to thrive, to be the best we can be both physically and mentally.  I want to explore the amazing health benefits of having a pet .  Moreover, people are exploring and utilizing the extraordinary healing powers that pets possess through therapy programs.  You see them in senior’s homes, hospitals, and schools. Not to mention their invaluable help as assistants for those with health challenges.

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Health Benefits

According to PIHHEALTH.ORG pets not only offer unconditional love and companionship but they also suggest:

Decrease stress – A study from the State University of New York noted that people experienced less stress when performing a task in the company of their pet than when a spouse, family or friend was close by.

Lower blood pressure – Owning a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure. This finding is associated with the decreased level of stress people experience while being around their pet.

Ease Pain – According to Mayo Clinic, pets have the power to help heal patients experiencing emotional or physical pain. Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover and better cope with health problems.

Improve mood – People who own a pet tend to be happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who do not. Pet owners are also less likely to visit the doctor for minor issues.

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Social magnets – Pets attract people which can help you make connections more easily. If you are not the best at socializing, take your pet such as a dog to a nearby park and see how others naturally become drawn to your furry friend.

Prevent allergies and improve immunity – Pets spend much of their time outside and bring in all sorts of germs into the home, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The outside germs can help boost your immunity which will help prevent colds and other mild illnesses.

Improve fitness – All dogs need regular exercise to stay happy and healthy and coincidentally, we need exercise too! Dogs can give you that extra motivation to take a walk around your neighborhood or play Frisbee at a nearby park.

Long Term Health Benefits

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More recently, says Rebecca Johnson, a nurse who heads the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, studies have been focusing on the fact that interacting with animals can increase people’s level of the hormone oxytocin.

“That is very beneficial for us,” says Johnson. “Oxytocin helps us feel happy and trusting.” Which, Johnson says, may be one of the ways that humans bond with their animals over time.

But Johnson says it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”


If you already have a pet give them an extra hug or treat in gratitude for how they’ve added to your life.  If you don’t have a pet but are considering it, keep in mind it is a big responsibility that must not be taken lightly because they need a lot of love and care and they need to thrive just as much as humans do.  But once you take that leap it is well worth it.  If you can’t have a pet, you can also explore some volunteer work.  Volunteers are always needed and much appreciated in any capacity when it comes to animals.  You will not only be helping people and animals, but you will gain all the benefits of being around animals too.

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.