by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
We typically don’t think about our eye health until we begin having problems with it. What we should be doing is supporting our eyes along the way with the right nutrients they need to keep them working and focusing properly. Various nutrients such as: carotenoids (like lutein and zeaxanthin), beta carotene, vitamin C with citrus bioflavonoids, bilberry, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), and minerals (like zinc and copper) work as antioxidants that can help boost overall eye health.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods, that are stored in high amounts in and around the macula. Zeaxanthin is the predominant carotenoid found in the center of the macula, and lutein is found in higher concentrations in the surrounding retina. Studies suggest high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye tissue are associated with healthy vision, which is why a diet rich in these antioxidants is often recommended. Recent studies show health benefits in taking approximately 10 mg/day of lutein and about 2 mg/day of zeaxanthin.
Beta carotene is an important antioxidant that also acts as a source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for healthy vision, as it plays a role in helping the eyes adapt to light changes. Food sources of vitamin A include: cod liver oil, eggs, fortified milk, and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Supplemental lower doses of vitamin A are typically found in multivitamins and eye formulas. The DRI (Daily recommended Intake) of retinol or retinyl forms of vitamin A varies from 900 RAE (retinol activity equivalents) to 1,300 RAE. With certain eye issues, even higher amounts are recommended.
Vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids are additional antioxidants that work to scavenge free radicals and aid in capillary and blood vessel health. Recommendations vary from 500 mg/day of vitamin C with bioflavonoids to a few grams per day. Higher levels depend on bowel tolerance.
Bilberries are related to blueberries and contain polyphenols and anthocyanidins, two strong antioxidants that supports eye health. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is most well-known for its antioxidant effects. NAC increases glutathione, our body's most potent and self-made detoxification compound. Copper is an antioxidant that encourages the development of flexible connective tissue for proper eye structure.
If you're looking to support your eye health, these are some of the most important key nutrients. Many of these are found in a multivitamin/mineral; however, the amounts many not be enough, so an additional supplement may be a good option.
by Jolie Root, LPN, LNC
Melatonin can seem like a miracle supplement for those of us who fly back and forth across multiple time zones for work. Time zone hops can mess with our ability to sleep, and melatonin is one of my favorite tools for resetting. If you feel your resetting needs even more than a Melatonin boost, try adding magnesium and pharma GABA in the evening, about an hour before bed.
Melatonin offers many health benefits. It's a strong antioxidant that directly binds to free radicals, like reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Adding melatonin also helps our body produce antioxidant enzymes, including glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Melatonin has the ability to make harmful molecules less harmful, so our tissues and organs can age more gracefully.
Melatonin also protects our mighty mitochondria, the powerhouse of our cells. Mitochondria produce energy, have their own DNA, and fuel every cell, making them crucial for survival. Within our cells, the nucleus and mitochondria are the areas we find the most melatonin. It's there to neutralize free radicals and to cleanse the cell and mitochondria of toxins.
Melatonin also supports the healthy aging of our brain by supporting neuroplasticity, or the development of new networks of brain cells. It does this by supporting better levels of brain-derived growth factor, or BDNF.
My Melatonin Gummies are one supplement I will never be without!
by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
As a dietitian, when I used to counsel individuals, there were several occasions when my clients brought in shopping baskets filled with supplements. They couldn’t remember exactly all of the reasons why they bought them nor how much or how often to take them. If this sounds like you, you are NOT alone! I think we’d all like to get the most out of our supplements through proper timing, combining, and dosing. Here are a few basic supplements I’ll be covering: vitamins C, B, and D; calcium; magnesium; iron; omega-3 fish oil; and probiotics.
Typically, most supplements are recommended to be taken with a meal because there’s a synergistic effect of better absorption. Fat soluble supplements like vitamins A, D, E, and K should be taken with a meal containing healthy fats, like avocado, salmon, or nut butter for optimal absorption. Some vitamin and mineral supplements can cause nausea or heartburn when taken on an empty stomach, and taking too many supplements at once may cause an upset stomach. If you experience the latter, I recommend taking your supplements across multiple meals.
Water-soluble vitamin C and the B vitamins are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Amounts of the B vitamins and vitamin C not used by the body pass out of the body; therefore, it’s recommended to split the doses of vitamin C and B vitamins throughout the day. When doses are split, it helps keep blood levels elevated. Too much vitamin C taken at once (3 g and up) can cause gastrointestinal (GI) stress, such as loose stools, in some people. Splitting the dose to 250-500 mg with breakfast and lunch works well. B vitamins tend to give people more energy, so it’s best to take them with breakfast and lunch also.
Calcium and magnesium are critical for bone, cardiovascular, and nerve health. Taking them in a combined supplement in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio is best. Be sure to take calcium with food and in split doses because our body absorbs them better in smaller doses of 400-500 mg/meal.
Iron is best taken on an empty stomach for maximum absorption first thing in the morning with orange juice. The caffeine in coffee and the calcium in dairy can interfere with its absorption, while vitamin C and vitamin C-rich foods can enhance it.
Omega-3 fish oil should always be taken with food, as the fat in our meal with also help its absorption. It’s also beneficial to take fish oil in divided doses of around 500-1,000 mg per meal.
Harsh stomach acids can destroy certain probiotic strains, so they’re best taken on an empty stomach. Different strains may have different tolerances to stomach acids, so it’s best to take them before meals.
It can be confusing what to take when. In doubt, follow the recommendation listed on the label. If you have concerns about interactions with medications, be sure to speak to a pharmacist or health practitioner.
Celebrating the women behind the Carlson brand. Carlson began in 1965 as one woman’s mission to improve the health of families by creating nutritional supplements with high-quality ingredients. Susan Carlson’s father suffered from heart issues but found relief after taking natural-source vitamin E. Inspired by this discovery and her background as a pharmacist, Susan started Carlson out of her small Chicago apartment with a single vitamin E formula. Her product line quickly expanded, and Carlson began popping up on store shelves around Chicago. The wave continued across the nation.
In the early 1980s, Carlson helped launch the omega-3 marketing in North America, importing our first high-quality, great-tasting, sustainable fish oils from Norway. Today, the commitment to helping families live a healthier lifestyle continues, as Susan’s daughters Carilyn and Kirsten continue the Carlson family’s mission to produce high-quality, science-based, competitively-priced nutritional supplements. Carlson now offers more than 200 vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, kid’s products, and other special formulas for the entire family.
by Karen Roth, MSNC
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in many of the foods we eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Omega-6 oils, including corn and soybean oil, are used when making many popular foods such as French fries, crackers, potato chips, muffins, cereals, cookies, and breads. Due to the convenience, and sometimes dependency, on these types of fast foods, many of us have a very high intake of omega-6 – and that can create an imbalance to omega-3s.
It’s important to note that omega-6s shouldn’t be demonized. Our body needs them, and they can actually also be found in healthy foods such as nuts and seeds. The problem is, they can be harmful when consumed in excessive amounts from unhealthy sources. When consumed in moderation, omega-6s can be beneficial, as they support bone and muscle health. But these health benefits can only be achieved when omega-6s are consumed in the proper ratio with omega-3s. The optimal ratio is 2:1 omega-6:omega-3, and not higher than 3:1. Those who consume large amounts of convenience foods can have ratios of 20:1 and even as high as 50:1.
When evaluating our diet, we shouldn’t only categorize fast foods as the quick meals we get through the drive through or a walk-up window, we should also include convenient grab-and-go foods, like frozen entrees, coffee shop muffins, snack bars, etc.
We can balance out the omega-6s we consume by eating more omega-3-rich foods such as salmon and flaxseeds, while supplementing with fish oil. Omega-3s support cardiovascular, joint, brain, vision, and immune health, and also promote healthy aging.
Here’s what a balanced omega-6:omega-3 diet looks like:
The Daily Dose blog features health and wellness articles from Senior Nutritionist & Educator Jolie Root, LPN,LNC; Nutritionist & Educator Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN; and Featured Guest Blogger Karen Roth, MSNC. Other guest bloggers will also join us.
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