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Archive for the ‘Vitamin B12’ Category

Fast Food Felonies, Part I: the Anatomy of a Chicken Nugget

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Let’s suppose, hypothetically speaking, that you were going to prepare a home-cooked dinner for you and your family. I say “hypothetically” because current research proves that the family sit-down dinner around the table is slowly becoming a thing of the past, as convenience food becomes standard fare in today’s “gotta have it now” society.  But let’s instead imagine a scenario where all the fast food restaurants have temporarily closed their doors to the public, and here you are left to fend for yourself and your family with nothing but a frying pan, four stove burners and a few bags of groceries still sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be unpacked.

Not wanting to intimidate your children by cooking up something unfamiliar or too “crunchy granola,” you decide that tonight’s menu will include chicken nuggets, french-fried potatoes, and fruit on the side. Here are the typical recipe ingredients for golden chicken nuggets, as featured on allrecipes.com:

  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

Looks good, right?

But wait! What’s that they’re saying on the television news? Leading fast food chain Donald McRonald has settled in court, agreeing to incorporate apple slices dipped in caramel into their kid’s menu as a healthy alternative to French fries?  Yippee! You drop your spatula like a hot potato (no pun intended).

Here are some of the ingredients your family will be getting as they gratefully chomp on their fried chicken tidbits, breathing a collective sigh of relief between sips of cola:

  • Dimethylpolysiloxane, silicon-based anti-foaming agent
  • Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)- poisonous, but only if you consume 5 grams.
  • Approximately 13 corn derivatives, including modified cornstarch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated corn oil and dextrose
  • Mono-, tri-, and diglycerides
  • citric acid
  • “leavening agents”: sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate
  • chicken

Only half of the ingredients in a fast food chicken nugget consist of actual chicken; the rest is made up of a combination of corn-like substances, leavening agents, preservatives and synthetic poisons. Yum.

Surely, if customers had some idea how badly they were clogging up their arteries they would order something healthier, right?

Nope. Consider Taco Time, a fast food eatery in Seattle, Washington. When compulsory nutritional labeling came into effect several years ago Taco Time complied, as did all restaurants of that district; for the first time customers were able to glance at a menu and quickly assess the caloric content of a burrito or a grilled chicken salad from the “light” menu.

Later, Duke University and Seattle-King County Public Health ran a study to see if the new labeling law had any effect, encouraged by health experts who predicted a sharp decline in sales. The results were underwhelming; the new menus had zero effect on Taco Time’s revenue, nobody ordered from the salad menu that ordinarily wouldn’t have and people who customarily ordered high-fat sugar-laden entrees went right on ordering the same meals everyday. Many confessed to not even looking at the label.

Scientists might be baffled by these results, but anybody who’s ever seen the website This Is Why You’re Fat knows one indisputable truth: you can lead a fast food junkie to the nutritional data, but you can’t make him read it.

B Today, Hair Tomorrow

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Hair loss got you down, as in down the drain? Women’s hair loss, male pattern baldness- it all amounts to the same impairment. But don’t throw in the bath towel just yet; here are a few treatments for hair loss that include changes you can make to your diet right now to put the breaks on that receding hairline and give you shinier, healthier hair.

  • Wholesome foods are just that- they benefit the body as a whole; what’s good for your digestive system is also good for your hair, skin and nails. Eating a variety of lean proteins, dairy, healthy oils, legumes and fruits and vegetables every day will ensure that your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly inside and out.
  • Remember, fat is not a four-letter word.  “Good” fats are anti-inflammatories which keep your hair shiny and lush. Avoid saturated hydrogenated oils like margarine and opt instead for unsaturated canola. Elect to make one day of the week as “fish dinner” night, as well as supplementing with a daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids for lustrous locks.
  • Beware of iron deficiency.  Particularly, women approaching middle age are at risk of developing anemia, a symptom of which is hair loss.  When taking an iron supplement or having an iron-rich meal such as fortified cereal or spinach quiche, remember to include a dose of vitamin c for maximum impact.
  • Many women who experience premature balding suffer vitamin b12 deficiency, a condition which often leads to pernicious anemia.  Other symptoms include chronic fatigue, short-term memory loss, tingling in the extremities and nausea. Vitamin b12 deficiency is usually caused by a diet low in eggs, meat and poultry; standard vegan diets do not maintain a sufficient amount of vitamin b12 and are often a factor in vitamin b12 deficiency.  A blood test by a physician is necessary to determine a deficiency in vitamin b12, in which a dose of 1000 mcg. of b12 is generally prescribed.
  • Another b vitamin, biotin, is also essential for a healthy head of hair; not only is biotin the key ingredient for development of hair follicles, it actually regulates all hair, nail and skin functioning.  While biotin is found in some food products like egg yolks a 3 mg. supplement is required to get an adequate supply.
  • Choose silicone-enhanced shampoos and conditioners which coat the follicles with a silky surface for less tugging and strand pulling while combing.


Web MD

Evil Erin

Feed your Brain Something You’ll never Forget

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Ever walk into a room and instantly forget what you were looking for?  Do you find that you have to scribble notes to yourself just to remember short-term errands or short shopping lists?  Short term memory loss, although usually age-related, can also be a sign of stress and vitamin deficiency.  Treatment can be found in a variety of herbs, supplements and dietary changes.

  • Eat more berries.  Blueberries are rich in polyphenols which keep your brain cells busy and according to studies delay memory loss associated with aging.  According the the Journal of Neuroscience, strawberries aid in preventing short term memory loss, in addition to improving motor skills.  Indulge in a berry-yogurt smoothie for breakfast.  No fresh berries in your area? Frozen fruits are just as nutritional as the ones you find in the farmers markets’.
  • Spinach contains alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant which protects the brain from aging and memory loss.  Picky about cooked spinach? Fresh spinach leaves have a smooth buttery taste that complement tossed salads well.  Toss in some orange wedges and candied pecans for a sweet twist.
  • Turmeric, a deep yellow-orange spice popular in many Indian dishes, has a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, curcumin, which was the focus of a study on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric has a very mild flavor and if often added to basmati rice and soups.
  • Fish dishes are the ultimate brain food, thanks to their Omega-3 oils, which are closer in composition to the fats found in our brain tissue and are thus more easily absorbed and utilized than any other type of oil.  Salmon and tuna are excellent sources, but fish oil supplements are also recommended for prevention of ADD and short term memory loss.  Include a dose of Phosphatidyl Serine for compounded prevention.
  • Egg yolks are an important source of the B vitamin choline, which is essential for building up acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which is necessary for healthy brain function.  Pregnant women are advised to include eggs in their diet for normal brain development in the fetus.  Avoid all-white omelets and opt instead for some nearly-white scrambled eggs with at least one yolk included in the mix.
  • Chewing gum may improve your memory, at least that’s what scientists concluded after studying teenagers who chewed gum while sitting in class and studying for tests.
  • Ginkgo Biloba extract contain glycosides and terpenoids, ingredients which nutritionists believe help to prevent memory loss, encourage brain activity and increase circulation to the brain.
Severe memory loss may signify early dementia, so a doctor’s visit is crucial for proper treatment.

Cantankerous Canker Sores: How to Get Rid of Them

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Canker sores, oral lesions, mouth ulcers, stomatitis aphthous- call ‘em what you want. I call them annoying. Having a canker sore on your tongue is like being poked in the face with a sharp stick every time you take a bite of food; after a short while it becomes excruciating and just plain intolerable.

What causes mouth ulcers? Many physicians believe that oral lesions are caused by b12 deficiency. A study conducted by Ben-Gurion University found that b12 vitamins are useful as a preventative measure against recurrent stomatitis aphthous.

Here are some popular home remedies for treatment of oral lesions:

  • In one particular study 82% of test subjects with painful oral lesions reported feeling much better after an application of German chamomile extract.
  • Rinsing the mouth periodically with warm saltwater or aloe juice.
  • Applying a paste composed of baking soda and a bit of water.
  • Sucking on a zinc tablet.
  • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is an herb which is available as a powder and is often used in mouthwash used to treat canker sores.
  • Additionally, rubbing an ice cube on the tongue or inside cheek can provide a fair amount of relief.

Crohn’s Disease: What You Can Do about it Now

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Crohn’s disease is a personal, often embarrassing topic to bring up with friends and family, but left untreated could have devastating results. Characterized by inflammation of the small intestine, symptoms of Crohn’s include malnutrition, diarrhea, indigestion, ulcers, stomach cramps and loss of appetite.  Early diagnosis and proper diet can go a long way towards alleviating most of these symptoms.

  • Include lean proteins such as chicken and fish.
  • Avoid iron deficiency by pairing up iron-rich foods with vitamin C for increased absorption.  For example, fry up some tofu cubes with broccoli, or just remember to have an orange alongside a bowl of iron-fortified breakfast cereal.
  • Stick to a low fiber diet.  Avoid foods such as corn or nuts which are more difficult to digest completely and may trigger constipation.
  • Consume plenty of fluids, particularly drinks which are high in electrolytes.
  • Visit your doctor.  In some cases an antibiotic such as rifaximin is all that is needed to begin the healing process.
  • Your physician might prescribe steroids, so know your facts before the office visit.
  • Many extol the wonders of coconut oil in easing stomach cramps and diarrhea associated with Crohn’s disease.

Don’t ignore the symptoms and think they will go away on their own.  If you think you have Crohn’s, seek professional help immediately.

Steroids? Who’s to say it wasn’t the B12?

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Much has been said by sports enthusiasts and commentators over the controversy surrounding former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and his rejection by the 2011 National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Did he use steroids back in 2005? Drugs tests conclude that he did; whether unbeknownst to him or not is the hot topic of the day.

What about his claim that he unwittingly received B12 injections which were laced with the illegal performance enhancer stanozolol, as he has repeatedly affirmed?  Well, he’s sticking to his story, even if the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) doesn’t quite buy it.

Is it possible that his astonishing success these past years is due exclusively to his use of steroids?   With 3,020 hits, 569 home runs and 1,835 RBIs, Palmeiro’s record puts him in the same league as baseball legends Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

Before we jump to any more conclusions, let’s not entirely rule out the b12 supplements, which we know he was getting on a regular basis.

  • B vitamins convert proteins and carbohydrates into energy for greater stamina during a workout.
  • B12 works with pyrodixine and folic acid to burn fat.
  • According to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (IJSNEM), professional athletes who fail to maintain a sufficient balance of B12 in their diet score lower than their teammates for cardiovascular endurance and strength training.
  • Athletes require more than the USRDA recommendation for B12 allowance.
  • Sports competitors who are on a restricted diet are strongly advised to take B12 supplements in order to avoid b12 deficiency, an illness which can lead to fatigue, depression, nausea and lethargy.
  • B12 boost red and white blood cell production, in addition to strengthening DNA.

So, let’s assign credit where credit’s due.  Will b12 vitamins give you superhuman strength, the ability to leap home runs in a single bound? Probably not.  Are ballplayers like Rafael Palmeiro wise to take advantage of b12 for greater athletic performance?  Emphatically, you bet.

B12 Prevents Brain Loss in Old Age – Confirmed by UK Study

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

A UK study which focused on memory and aging  made an amazing discovery- elderly test subjects who had high levels of vitamin b12 were found to be six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage.  This study, conducted by Anna Vogiatzoglou of Oxford University, shed some light on the correlation between b12 deficiency and dementia.

The 5-year study, published by Neurology online, followed a panel of 107 volunteers between the ages of 61 and 87.  Subjects were given yearly MRIs and regular exams gauging physical and mental aptitude. Blood tests taken at the onset and the conclusion of the investigation produced the following results:

  • While none of the test subjects suffered from b12 deficiency, the ones who had the highest amounts of vitamin b12 were six times less likely to lose brain density than those who had the lowest amounts.
  • Vitamin b12 deficiency could be a contributor to brain atrophy among the elderly.
  • Adjusting our daily habits to include B12 in our diet could go a long way towards preventing memory loss in our old age.
  • B12 deficiency is recognized as a major health problem, particularly among the elderly, as it frequently leads to loss of brain volume.

B12: Celebs Say it’s the New C

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

It’s been called the “morning after” shot.  It’s used by celebrities to recuperate after an evening of partying and paparazzi.  Politicians rely on this vitamin to keep them in their prime.  What is this wonder drug, you ask?  No, it’s not vitamin C.

Justin Timberlake and Madonna both say they get their stamina from regular doses of vitamin B12 every day, declaring that they couldn’t get through their chaotic schedule without it.  Says an insider close to Justin, “the day Madge gave him his first shot was one of the best of his life.”

Party girl Lindsay Lohan calls up her doctor for a blast of B12 whenever she feels fatigued and wiped out from jet lag.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher confesses that she depended on regular vitamin B12 injections in order to keep up with the daily demands of government.

Hugh Jackman gets his hit of B12 twice a week; he says it keeps him on his toes while rehearsing his dance numbers for “The Boy from Oz.”  Even Prince makes a point of getting his B12 before every concert.

Many Hollywood doctors claim they get dozens of requests each week for a quick B12 fix.  Excessive drinking causes you to lose a lot of B12, they explain.  Celebrities go to a lot of all-nighters, and that usually translates into a lot of liquor.  In fact, alcoholism is a known cause of severe B12 deficiency.

Check out this video of Justin Bieber telling Chelsea Lately about his regular shots in the “butt.”  Oh, if only he knew…



Don’t be a Glutton for Gluten

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Today’s health food stores stock a wide variety of goods to meet the needs of every diet known to mankind- low fat, low sugar, processed-free, nondairy, low carb, high protein…but what gives with gluten-free?

Gluten is a protein found in grain products such as wheat, spelt and barley, among others.  Patients of celiac disease, a disorder which distresses the small intestines, have trouble digesting such products and are thus advised to follow a gluten-free diet.  Health food aisles abound with gluten-free cake mixes, breads and pastas.  Hundreds of recipe web sites offer creative suggestions for gluten-free living.

Rewind to thirty years ago, and most people would probably have not heard of celiac disease.  So, how did celiac disease suddenly become a household name?  Modernization provides a key – despite the advice from numerous health experts, we Americans still love our Wonder bread; those light, airy loaves cannot be produced without rich, glutinous dough, and agriculturalists have been striving to deliver the most highly glutinous crops of wheat available in order to meet our demands.

Another culprit might be commercial yeast, which has replaced sourdough yeast as the preferred rising agent among bread makers. According to a report published by Applied and Environmental Microbiology, sourdough yeast contains bacteria which break down the gluten in the dough, thereby reducing the likeliness of bowel irritation.  Commercial yeasts offer no such protection.

Celiac disease can lead to other complications such as osteoporosis, anemia resulting from B12 deficiency, fatigue and weight gain, to name just a few. Incidences of celiac disease are rising, either due to increased wheat consumption or the public’s rising awareness of the disorder.

A doctor’s visit is required in order to ascertain whether one is suffering from celiac or from gluten intolerance, the latter of which is less harmful.  Although gluten intolerance does not create any lasting damage, some experts believe that the continuance of a high-gluten diet might lead to an eventual celiac disease diagnosis.

B-Gone, Heart Disease

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

A study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that regular intake of vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and B9 (folate) can prevent premature death of heart disease and stroke.

The Japanese study proves that women who eat foods enriched vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folate are less likely to suffer heart attack or die of a stroke.  Japanese men who eat B-rich foods are less likely to suffer heart failure.

These findings confirm similar studies which have been conducted in the US and Europe, all of which came to the same conclusion; B vitamins such as B12, B6 and folate are essential for cardiovascular health.

Through the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study, a survey which collected data on the dietary habits of over 85,000 Japanese between the ages of 40 and 79, scientists were able to gain information on a correlation between the amount of B vitamin intake and likeliness of mortality from heart disease and stroke.   Out of the 85,000 men and women studied, 986 died from stroke, 424 perished from heart attack and over 2,000 died from a variety of heart-related illnesses – all in a 14-year time frame.

Scientists grouped test subjects into five categories, varying in relation to B6, B12 and folate intake.  Of the female test subjects who ate the lowest amounts of B6, B12 and folate, more were likely to die of stroke or heart attack than those who ate a moderate amount of B vitamins.  Similarly, men who consumed the least B vitamins were more likely to die from cardiovascular illness than others.  Of the test subjects who reported eating a steady diet of B6, B12 and folate, fewer suffered mortalities related to stroke or heart disease than counterparts from any of the other groups.

Scientists believe that B vitamins lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid which many doctors believe increase one’s risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke.  Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid prevent the accumulation of homocysteine.  Eating whole grains, leafy vegetables, legumes and fish are excellent ways to get B vitamins.  However, many suffer from an inability to completely digest B12, resulting in B12 deficiency.  Symptoms include fatigue, memory loss and numbness or tingling in the extremities.

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