Category Archives: Aging


Cholesterol and Women’s Heart Health: What you need to know

As a woman, are you committed to living a heart-healthy lifestyle? While we might think of older men when we hear “heart problems”, research tells us it’s time for women to look after their hearts, too.

According to the Heart Research Institute, heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada for women over 55. What’s more, Canadian women are 16% more likely than men to die from the result of a heart attack. One of our current problems when it comes to women’s heart health is that, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2/3 of heart disease clinical research focuses on men.

So what does that mean for you?

It means that, until more women-centered clinical research is completed, it’s essential that you educate yourself on natural, safe ways to care for your cardiovascular system and live heart-healthy every day. This includes keeping track of your cholesterol levels. Read on for what you need to know, plus our tips and recommendations to get you started.

Women, cholesterol, and heart disease

Heart disease is a women’s issue. Some research estimates that heart attacks are more deadly for women in part because our hearts are affected by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. Physiological differences also exist. For instance, women’s hearts and coronary arteries are smaller than men’s, with faster resting heart rate.

While there are many risk factors involved in heart disease in women, like high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity, cholesterol is a factor you need to monitor for heart health – especially once you reach menopause. That’s because, according to the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, high blood cholesterol levels raise the risk for heart disease, and menopausal women are at increased risk of high cholesterol due to the drop in estrogen production that happens at menopause.

Higher estrogen levels are associated with a rise in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which offers protection against heart disease, along with a decline in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. (Confused about cholesterol types and what they really mean? We’re got you covered below, so read on!). To nurture heart health before, during, and after menopause, you want to keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.

Your cholesterol primer

Let’s dig into what cholesterol is, and more importantly, how it might affect women’s health. So what is cholesterol, anyway?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in the body. It’s both made by the body and absorbed from food. Cholesterol is essential because your body needs it to make important steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D. What’s more, the brain needs cholesterol and without enough of it, you might be at increased risk for depression, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is also used to make bile acids in the liver. In other words, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad.

But here’s the thing: excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog the arteries. These deposits (known as plaques) can result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries – which is a major cause of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which is divided in two major cholesterol types along with triglycerides:

LDL cholesterol: LDL or low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries as it undergoes free-radical damage. LDL rises after menopause in many women.

HDL cholesterol: HDL or high-density lipoprotein. It has been called “good” cholesterol because research suggests it helps the body dispose of LDL cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol might be a more important heart disease risk factor for women than for men. What’s more, low HDL in women is one of the first measure of insulin resistance (another risk factor for heart disease).

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. High levels of triglycerides could be a greater risk factor for heart disease in women compared with men. High triglycerides might be caused by conditions like hypothyroidism and PCOS and are associated with excess abdominal fat and high blood sugar, because the liver stores excess glucose as triglycerides.

Women-specific tips for healthy cholesterol levels and heart health

A heart-healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward keeping cholesterol levels in check and preventing heart disease in women. Work with an integrative doctor to track your cholesterol levels and make appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle if your total cholesterol levels are high, if HDL levels are low, or LDL levels are elevated. Diet-wise, choose healthy fats and lower cholesterol intake from foods by opting for plant-based swaps whenever possible. If you’re overweight, do your best to shed the extra pounds.

Try nutritional supplements like Healthy Heart. Talk with other women and let your emotions flow freely – all of these are pathways to a healthy heart.

Beyond the Brazil Nut: The Benefits of Selenium

What Is It?

Selenium is a trace mineral naturally occurring in the soil, in certain foods, and very small amounts can be found in natural water sources.

Selenium’s main role is acting as an antioxidant and has many benefits to the body. Selenium is also a chief component of the molecules which are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones, called ‘selenoproteins’.

The top health benefits of Selenium include:

  • regulating the thyroid
  • boosting immunity
  • reducing asthma symptoms
  • supporting fertility for both men & women
  • defending against heart disease, cancer, and oxidative stress
  • increasing longevity

Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium are key in facilitating the phase I and phase II detoxification processes in the liver.

Selenium also plays an important role in prostate health, helping to maintain healthy levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) which is the marker for prostate cancer.

More on the Benefits of Selenium

→ ANTIOXIDANT POWER, IMMUNE-BOOSTING & CANCER PREVENTION

Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and defends against oxidative stress. There is also a strong correlation between serum levels of Selenium and a reduced risk of several types of cancer.

Studies show that foods high in Selenium may prevent cancer by helping with DNA repair, preventing cancer cells from replicating and by reducing free radicals in the body [1].

This mineral is such an important factor in supporting the immune system that it’s a key ingredient in our Immuno Multi formula.

→ HEART HEALTH & REDUCED INFLAMMATION

Selenium-rich foods (and the selenoproteins that they help form) can also prevent platelets from aggregating (which improves blood flow), prevent oxidative damage to cells (e.g. prevent the oxidative modification of lipids) thereby reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease [1].

People with low levels of serum Selenium have been shown to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, experts have suggested that Selenium supplements could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.

→ REGULATES THYROID FUNCTION

Selenium is probably most well-known for its role in maintaining thyroid health since it works together closely with Iodine – another important trace mineral.

Concentrations of Selenium are higher in the thyroid gland than anywhere else in the body. It helps to regulate and recycle our Iodine stores and is needed to produce the critical thyroid hormone T3, which regulates metabolism.

‘Selenoproteins’ protect the thyroid gland when we are under stress. They help flush out oxidative and chemical stress, and even social stress – which, as most of us have experienced, can cause many negative reactions in our body. 

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Selenium Deficiency

A selenium deficiency is generally observed in areas where the soil does not contain much of it and the mineral content in soil can differ dramatically depending on location.

Even in food sources, the amount of Selenium is largely dependent on soil conditions that the food grew in. Therefore, even within the same food, levels of selenium can vary widely, and the mineral’s benefits may be more prominent in crops grown in certain locations more so than others.

Health Experts are becoming increasingly concerned as evidence suggests that a decline in blood Selenium levels is occurring in parts of the U.K. and other European Union countries. The worry is with several potential health implications that can result due to a deficiency in this mineral.

Selenium deficiency signs & symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Discolouration of hair or skin
  • Whitening of the fingernail beds
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infertility in men and women
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

While Selenium deficiency is very rare in Canada and the United States (unlike other nutrient deficiencies that are more common) it is certainly wise to ensure you’re getting enough.

There are some people who do, in fact, have a Selenium deficiency due to a poor diet and conditions like Crohn’s disease that impair absorption of the nutrients your body needs to heal and thrive.

Additionally, many studies tell us that having Selenium levels above the RDI (recommended daily intake) is when it starts to have therapeutic effects, like lowering PSA for example. 

Best food sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts (just 1-2 per day provides you with enough Selenium!)
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Turkey
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybeans

While it’s important to try to acquire Selenium through quality food sources, you may not be getting enough (except if you’re eating a Brazil nut a day!) – and supplementation may be a wise choice.

Sources & Referenced Content:

[1] National Institutes of Health “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Professionals”

[2] The Lancet Journal 2012 “Selenium and Human Health”


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These Daily Habits Will Curb Your UTI Risk, Naturally

Every woman needs these tips for better urinary health

In our daily lives, we take many steps to optimize our health and well-being.

For starters, you integrate that new mindfulness meditation practice into your mornings to revitalize your nervous system and invest in quality serums and lotions for your best skin health and natural glow.

Still, you rarely stop to think about urinary health—except when you’re struck down with a urinary tract infection, or UTI.

Most women will experience a UTI at least once in their lives, but for many others, urinary tract infections happen on the regular.

The great news is that you can curb your UTI risk naturally by following some simple daily habits, and when you do get a urinary tract infection, you can turn to natural remedies for symptom relief and treatment. How? Read on for our top tips to harness your best urinary health yet.

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a bacterial infection that commonly affects the urethra and bladder. The main symptoms of UTI include painful urination, a burning sensation while peeing, a pressure in the lower abdomen and above the pubic bone, and frequent urge to pee, even though little comes out when you do. When you have a UTI, you might be tired and need more rest than usual. What’s more, frequent and painful peeing might make you anxious about your daily activities, like going to work and playing sports.

What causes UTI?

A urinary tract infection is usually caused by bacteria. But other factors are also involved. For example, being a woman is a risk factor for UTI. And once you’ve had a urinary tract infection, you become more prone to a recurring one in the future. Finally, pregnancy can up your UTI risk, too.

Lifestyle habits linked with a higher UTI risk include sexual activity (from pressure on the urinary tract during sex, and more bacteria exposure post-intercourse), some forms of birth control (namely spermicides, and friction from condoms), and also wearing a diaphragm (for some women, it can slow urinary flow).

With proper treatment, a UTI will usually subside without further complications. But if you get regular urinary tract infections, you’ll definitely want to tweak your daily habits to hit reset on your urinary health. Read on for our healthful tips.

Daily tips to curb your UTI risk

Hydrate more

To kick your risk of getting a urinary tract infection and to support better urinary health, up your daily intake of fluids. Drinking lots of pure water is the ultimate urinary health action plan because it helps flush out toxins and bacteria and maintain a healthy urine flow.

Keep hydrated by drinking pure water while also avoiding too much coffee, tea, and soda, which can be dehydrating.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

While wearing tight-fitting jeans and nylon undies is fine for most people, if you’re prone to UTIs, you’ll want to swap them for cotton underwear and comfy clothes that let you breathe and don’t trap moisture. What’s more, you’ll want to avoid irritating, scented bath products and feminine hygiene sprays.

Boost your immune system

Supporting better immune health is your go-to approach to better urinary health and lower UTI risk. Fill nutritional deficiencies with a high-quality Adult Multi providing essential vitamins and minerals. Add an antioxidant Vitamin C boost to enhance immune function. Promote optimal pH balance in the body with pH Pro.

Diet-wise, choose natural and minimally processed nutrient-rich foods.

Address UTI symptoms now with these natural remedies

Try herbs

Snag some herbal remedies to help alleviate UTI symptoms. Try Dandelion leaf tea as a beneficial diuretic to help increase urine flow and flushing of bacteria and toxins. Find a Uva ursi extract as a urinary antiseptic, combined with mineral-rich horsetail. Another favorite plant remedy for UTI is pure, unsweetened cranberry juice.

Build your microflora

Restore optimal urogenital flora with probiotics, especially lactobacilli. Loading up on healthful probiotics helps lower risk of UTI while also helping you bounce back faster post-infection.

What’s more, probiotics are essential to restoring optimal flora if you decide to take a round of antibiotics for your urinary tract infection. Take a multi-strain probiotic in supplement form, or opt for live fermented and cultured foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kombucha.

Rest and recover

When you’re fighting an infection, getting enough rest is crucial. Lower stress and anxiety by indulging in lots of quiet downtimes, restorative baths, and enough sleep. Don’t overbook your schedule, and give yourself time to heal. Learning to manage stress and be more mindful of your body’s needs will also help nix the chance of recurring infections in the long-term.

A holistic approach to preventing UTIs is the surest way path to optimal urinary health.

We do always recommend you work with a qualified healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement or herbal medicine regime.  

The Top 5 Natural Supplements For Women Over 50

For many women, turning fifty is a milestone. It might be a time of transformation: from children leaving the family home to career shifts, or finding a new approach to your health and well-being.

You might notice that your body changes when you hit fifty. Staying up late and traveling, for example, might affect you differently than they used to. But your fifties and beyond can be a time of vibrant health and fulfillment.

Read on to learn about the main health concerns for women over fifty, plus which natural supplements should be on your radar.

What are the main health concerns for women over 50?

For women over fifty, one of the main health concerns is the transition of menopause. Altered hormone levels that come from the end of the reproductive years can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and lower libido. Other health concerns as you move into this decade include heart disease and bone density. Finally, to enjoy your fifties and beyond, you want to support brain health and keep your mind sharp.

Here’s the great news: you can reclaim your health and enjoy yourself in the process. How? Address your health concerns with the right natural supplements.

Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50

Herbs for hormone balance

Medicinal herbs are widely used to support hormonal health during menopause. Herbal allies for women over fifty include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, maca, and sage.

Black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors and works by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Preparations of black cohosh root have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, along with improving mood.

Chasteberry (also known as chastetree or Vitex) shifts hormone production toward more progesterone and less estrogen through its effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Several studies showed chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms.

Dong quai is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been called female ginseng for its energy and mood boosting properties. Dong quai is recommended for irregular bleeding.

Maca, a Peruvian adaptogen, benefits the endocrine and reproductive systems. Preparations made from maca root boost the production of sex hormones and increase energy and sex drive. In studies, maca supplementation was associated with a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort in early postmenopausal women.

Finally, sage is used to alleviate hot flashes, sweating, and other menopausal symptoms as a general tonic. A clinical trial showed the efficacy of sage over a two-month treatment period.

Find these herbs as dietary supplements in such forms as a powdered whole herb, liquid extracts, and dried extracts in pill form, or a convenient all-in-one herbal blend like Meno-Prev.

Vitamins & minerals

Sufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals is essential for thriving in your fifties and beyond. You’ll want to supplement your diet with the following: calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K.

Calcium supplements help make up for lowered assimilation from food sources as you age. Calcium is needed by every cell in your body and is especially important for women over fifty to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis risk.

Working in synergy with calcium, magnesium helps promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure (not to mention its sweet stress-busting properties).

Fat-soluble vitamins D and K play a crucial role in calcium metabolism. Controlled trials have shown the benefits of vitamins D and K on postmenopausal osteoporosis with a study duration between 8 weeks and 3 years. Try a formula like Osteo Prolong to fill your nutritional needs.

Fiber

Fiber is one of the top supplements for women over fifty, thanks to its massive amount of health benefits. Think enhanced blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better gut health from curbing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. What’s more, fiber helps regulate hormone levels during menopause. Look for a dietary fiber supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for best results.

Inflammation fighters

Women over fifty become more prone to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation. To stay healthy throughout your fifties and beyond, fighting inflammation is your go-to action plan. Try turmeric, or better yet, highly bio-available Curcumin. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation, so you can count on the time-tested Ayurvedic remedy to keep you feeling healthy.

Mind boosters

Keep your mind sharp and curb depression and memory loss with natural supplements like gingko biloba. Clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of gingko biloba on cognitive function (especially concentration and memory). Try the Mind-Pro formula to fuel your brain as you enter what can be the best years of your life.

References: 
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800090/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5413815/
https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/chasteberry
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21630133
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621390/
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h10
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613455/

What Do My Fingernails Have To Do With My Health?

You probably don’t think about them too much, except maybe which polish colour to choose next? But, you would be surprised what those little keratinized extensions of our fingertips (your fingernails) can tell us about our nutrition, and our health status overall.

Naturopaths often include an examination of a patient’s nails as part of their routine health evaluations. Signs on the nails may be an indication of certain conditions or deficiencies. However, it is not a definitive diagnosis without also looking at many other aspects of an individuals health in order to get the most informed view and create a holistic treatment plan.

What’s considered normal differs in everyone, but generally, fingernails should be clear, smooth, pliable and peachy-pink in colour.

There are numerous conditions that can affect the nails – too many to mention here, but in many cases, it is a nutritional deficiency that may be causing your nails’ odd appearance. However, it may also be that your body is not effectively absorbing nutrients or you may even be low in stomach acid – vital to digestion.

The 5 nail health signs to watch out for 

White spots

Ever noticed white spots on your nails? While this is most often due to mild trauma (like nicking your nail), it can also indicate a zinc deficiency.

Zinc is found in such foods as oysters, red meat (especially lamb), legumes, nuts, egg yolks, oats, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, and cocoa or dark chocolate.

Hangnails 

Lack of Vitamin C can cause pesky and often painful hangnails. Vitamin C-rich foods are citrus, berries, mango, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and leafy greens.

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons 

What about horizontal lines or ridges across your nails? Sometimes called Beau’s lines – these may also be due to a zinc deficiency but could be indicative of low iron or anemia. Nails can be spoon-shaped at the tips with iron deficiency as well.

To pump more iron into your day, try spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale. Also, red meat, liver, egg yolks, beans, shellfish, dried fruit and blackstrap molasses – are all good sources.

It’s a good idea to pair those iron-rich foods with sources of Vitamin C for better absorption.

Example: fresh spinach and strawberry salad, topped with lean chicken for extra protein – also vitally important for healthy looking nails.

Dry, brittle and peeling

Dry, brittle, thin or peeling nails? Could just be dry nails, but possibly a lack of protein, Vitamin D &/or B Vitamins in your diet.

Food sources of Vitamin D are limited as it’s naturally attained by exposing your skin to sunlight, hence being dubbed the Sunshine Vitamin. However, fish, liver and egg yolks are reasonable sources, as well as many fortified Dairy products.

Be sure to incorporate Vitamin B-rich foods into your diet as well, such as whole grains like brown rice and oats, eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese, poultry, lamb, mushrooms, pumpkin, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower and many types of beans.

No half moons? 

Ever noticed the lighter-toned half-moons at the base of your fingernail? Or perhaps you haven’t noticed them because they’re absent!

This is usually due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency and is associated with anemia. Vegetarians often have trouble attaining enough B12 as it’s found primarily in animal foods, so they’re encouraged to sprinkle cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast onto foods – or supplementation may be prudent.

As always, getting your full complement of nutrients is encouraged through whole food sources, but sometimes our diet just isn’t meeting all of our needs and this is where supplementation may be necessary – for all of the reasons we discussed in the article “Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them!”

Check your nails weekly for something that may be out of the “norm” for you and inform your health practitioner. Be sure to discuss what nutritional deficiencies, digestion and/or absorption issues may be a contributing factor to the problem.

CanPrev recommends 

Vitamin D3 + K2
Zinc 
Iron 
Synergy B 

Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them

Health Canada advises, along with many nutrition professionals, “that a healthy and balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health.” [1]

Does that mean that if we eat a “healthy and balanced diet”, that we’ll be meeting all the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and we’ll be safe from nutritional deficiency?

Or do some of us follow this recommendation and still have a nutrient deficiency – and not even know it?

According to the latest Health Canada Community Survey (June 2017), Canadians as a population are not as well nourished as we may think.

Fruit and vegetables contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. Consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including cancers and heart disease. [2]

Therefore, fruit and vegetable consumption is considered a healthy behaviour, and a good indication of the overall diet and nutritional quality of a population.

However, in data from the 2017 survey, less than a third (30.0%) of Canadians aged 12 and older reported that they ate the recommended number of servings.

Given the rather significant shortfall in Canadians reaching their “5-a-day”, it’s not surprising that there are a number of nutrients reported to be lacking in our diets.

With the overall lack of adequate fruit and vegetable servings, along with soil depletion, over-processing of food, and treated water…well, it’s no wonder that many of us are lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once attained easily and ought to supplement.

For example, today you would have to eat 4 carrots to get the full amount of Magnesium available that was in just one carrot 80 years ago. Unfortunately, you’re not eating your grandmother’s carrots anymore!

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps maintain normal vision and keeps your immune system, skin, and eyes functioning at their best.

More than 35% of Canadians age 19 and over consumed vitamin A in quantities below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). [3]

Carotenoids, such a beta carotene, are converted into vitamin A in the body, and it gives fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colour (such as pumpkin, carrots and bell peppers).

It is also found in dark green leafy vegetables; with liver, dairy, eggs, and fatty fish also being good sources of Vitamin A.

Magnesium

A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets, is Magnesium.

This multi-tasking mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body including nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis and blood glucose control.

It is also involved in the structural development of bone and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.

Evidence suggests that 34% of Canadians over the age of 19 consumed magnesium in quantities below the EAR. [3]

Magnesium is found mostly in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables. Milk and yogurt contain some magnesium as well.

Calcium

Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, provides the structure and rigidity of bones and teeth. It is also important for proper muscle function, hormone secretion, and nerve transmission. [4]

It was reported that there’s an increasing prevalence of calcium inadequacy with older age.

Calcium is found in dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with soft bones and fortified products.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of Calcium from the gut, and for supporting optimal bone health. It is also thought to play a role in immune function, healthy skin, and muscle strength.

While our bodies can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, during the fall and winter months, and in northern climates, where sunlight hours are limited, it can be hard to get enough of this critical nutrient, and vitamin D deficiency can become (and is becoming) more prominent.

While about 80% of the adult Canadian population are not getting the vitamin D they need from dietary sources [3], available clinical measures do not suggest widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the Canadian population. [5] [6]

The major food sources of Vitamin D are foods that have been fortified or through supplementation.

So, how do we get all the nutrients we need?

We’ve always recommended, first and foremost, that people strive to meet their nutritional requirements through eating a varied diet with a foundation of whole and unprocessed foods.

But, as we’ve established, for various reasons it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Lack of nutrient bioavailability, poor dietary choices, restricted diets, food sensitivities, various health conditions (such as gastrointestinal disorders and poor absorption), some medications and age can all play a part in an individual’s ability to meet their recommended dietary intakes.

To determine whether or not you are at risk of a nutritional deficiency, it is important to discuss your concerns with a naturopathic doctor, a qualified nutrition professional or another healthcare provider.

In many situations, as we’ve discussed here, where diet alone is unable to meet your recommended nutrient requirements, therapeutic supplementation may be a good option.

 

Referenced Studies & Content

[1] Statistics Canada: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2017 – Nutrition: Nutrient intakes from food and nutritional supplements
[2] Statistics Canada: Health Fact Sheets. Fruit and Vegetable consumption
[3] Health Canada: Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?
[4] Health Canada: Vitamin D and Calcium: Updated Dietary Reference Intakes
[5] Health Reports, March 2010: Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
[6] American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011: The vitamin D status of Canadians relative to the 2011 Dietary Reference Intakes: An examination in children and adults with and without supplement use

Boosting Your Memory Naturally

Your mind is one of the most valuable assets that you have. It is extremely complex! The brain can change, learn and unlearn via neuronal connections, firing and wiring every day. Though we have come to understand the brain’s function much better, there are still many aspects of this fascinating organ that are unknown to researchers and neuroscientists to this day.

In order to keep this organ healthy and functioning optimally, it must be provided with nutrients. Medicinal herbs can be a great way to boost brain function, help heal, improve physiology, manage conditions and get you back on track nutritionally from previous heart problems that may have affected the brain’s function.

CanPrev’s Mind Pro is a fantastic formula for improving your brain health and contains the following nutrients:

Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid which help keep levels of homocysteine low, may help reduce irritation and clot formation that can occur inside vessels. This also helps supports proper vascular flow to the brain, which is crucial for bringing nutrients, oxygen and glucose to the brain and for removing carbon dioxide along with other metabolic wastes.

DL-Alpha lipoic acid converts glucose into a form of usable energy for the brain.

Phosphatidylserine (PS), found in soy lecithin, is critical for ensuring the cell membranes are able to release neurotransmitters, which is how cells communicate with each other.

Choline is another substance in this formulation that allows for the production of acetylcholine which easily used in the brain to help with memory and also recovery from degenerative or vascular dementia.

Bacopa is an herb that increases the communication between neurons; to make sure they are signaling thus, allowing information to flow between each neuron to help improve long-term memory.

Ginkgo is another medicinal herb that dilates the blood vessels and decreases clot formation, to ensure smooth blood flow.

The complex cells in the brain, neurons, need to be protected from free radical damage that can be caused by chemicals, smoking, alcohol, fried foods, pesticides and toxins in the environment.

Maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels with antioxidants is important to reduce plaque build up. This allows smooth blood flow and stimulates the production of neurotransmitters that are important for a healthy brain. It is easy to obtain a powerful dose of daily antioxidants through use of CanPrev’s Antioxidant Network.

It contains coenzyme Q10, n-acetylcysteine, zinc, selenium, dl-alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E and green tea extract. This combination provides an army full of substances that give one of their electrons over to these free radical molecules to make them stable. When they are stable, they are not damaging cells, trying to steal their electrons or continuing the cascade of instability.

Overall, cell membranes are protected, blood vessels flow normally and inflammation is reduced.

Of course, there are other aspects of health that play a role in keeping our minds sharp. Proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and our thoughts all play a factor.

Our focus habits may also have an effect on our brain. Multi-tasking, may not benefit us like we think it does. Your mind may function best when focused on one single moment at a time. Constant distractions and switching between tasks may cause reduce long-term memory and wreak havoc on our minds.

This increasingly is a concern as our smartphones, become our handheld portable internet, email, social media and texting alert hotspots. The more interruptions, the more productivity and long-term memory decline.

Studies have shown that constant multi-tasking can decrease overall productivity, increase mistakes and reduces long-term memory and creativity.

Turning notifications off, mute, or a different setting can reduce this constant source of interrupting that can make you feel like you are being pulled in too many different directions, stressed, anxious, and feel like your memory is failing.

Show Your Heart Some Love

Every February an abundance of red and pink heart shapes fill the media! This year, maybe these Valentines Day tributes can act as a kind reminder to take a look at our own hearts health.

Whether you have a strong family history of heart disease or not, striving to take care of this very important organ — is an essential part of having a ‘prevention policy’ for your own life.

Omega 3’s

Certain nutrients are very important for a properly functioning heart. One of these major nutrients is essential fatty acids, specifically omega 3s.

The typical North American diet currently provides plenty of omega 6 essential fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid). These fatty acids can come from fried foods, crackers, cookies and other snacks. Too much of these foods can leave us in an inflammatory state, so balancing the effects of too many omega 6 fatty acids is a must for keeping your heart healthy. The anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), is a great start to doing just that!

They are called essential fatty acids because the body is incapable of making them on its own, so it is essential that they are obtained them from the diet or supplementation.

Small amounts of omega 3’s can be found in foods such as nuts and seeds and fatty tissues of cold water fish. But, since we often consume too many over-processed omega 6 foods — we usually do not get the amounts of omega 3’s from foods needed to balance the overconsumption of omega 6’s.

Supplementing with omega 3 essential fatty acids, provide an easy way to receive the correct daily amount of essential fatty acids. Look for a formulation that contains two types of omega 3’s; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) derived from small wild fish.

Another beneficial effect of omega 3’s is their ability to reduce the viscosity of the blood, similar to the blood thinning effect of certain medications but without the side effect of disrupting the stomach lining. It can also have a positive effect on a healthy blood lipid profile (eg. cholesterol, LDL and HDL) by reducing plaque build-up and allowing for properly flowing blood in the vessels.
There are specific nutrients that are aimed to heal and provide the heart to work optimally.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) is a powerful antioxidant that gives energy to the heart muscle cells and helps to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy cholesterol. In fact, pharmaceutical treatments like statins (cholesterol-lowering medication) lower the level of Coenzyme Q10, leaving a serious deficiency of this important nutrient that is important for the whole body, not just the heart.

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which will relax the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure as a result. Vitamin B12 and folate are also important for certain enzymes in the body that remove homocysteine, an inflammatory marker, from the blood. High levels of homocysteine contribute to plaque build-up causing atherosclerosis.

Herbal Medicine 

Many studies show that certain herbs are extremely beneficial in improving and maintaining heart health. Garlic extract helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by slowing the platelet aggregation which helps to prevent heart attacks.

Grape seed extract is an extremely rich antioxidant which overall protects the integrity of the inner lining of the blood vessels.

Hawthorn extract is perhaps a little less known, but a powerhouse of an herb in its ability to interact with enzymes in the heart to increase the pumping force of the heart and eliminate arrhythmias. It dilates the coronary arteries to improve circulation and oxygen levels and it can even improve LDL and HDL levels in the blood, thus decreasing plaque build up.

CanPrev’s Healthy Heart is formulated with all of the above nutrients in therapeutic dosages to help the heart with many complex health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and valve disorders.

Taurine 

Another supplement that was formulated with heart health in mind was Can Prev’s Magnesium + Taurine, B6 and Zinc. Now, it was created for people looking for a magnesium supplement that also provided some cardiovascular support.

Taurine acts as an antihypertensive, antiatherogenic and antioxidant to help treat coronary artery disease, ischemia, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Vitamin B6 was added to this formula because it used in the synthesis of taurine.

Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before beginging any new supplement regime.

Nutrition 

Besides supplementation, dietary factors are of course important!

An excellent way to start a heart healthy day is with oats. They naturally contain beta-glucan which is a type of fiber that helps reduce cholesterol and boosts the immunity!

Extra virgin olive oil, in the amount of 2 tbsp per day, can help to lower overall cholesterol and improve one’s overall blood lipid profile. But, it is important to use it cold, or adding to food once it is cooked. Olive oil has a low smoking point, so frying, cooking or baking with it can burn this beneficial oil which decreases its phytochemical and antioxidant value.

Dark Chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa) and red wine have benefits too, mainly from their antioxidant properties. But moderation, of course, is key. Even a consistent amount of exercise such as 20 minutes a day of moving your body, (like fast past walking) can help with improving your overall heart health.

Laughter 

We also recommend a daily dose of laughter and spreading love, to improve your own hearts happiness and wellbeing.

Taking A Closer Look at Bone Health

Bone tissue is very dynamic because it is constantly being remodeled by dissolving and replacing minerals to keep the bones healthy. Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is dissolving and losing minerals faster than it can be replaced making the bones hollow, porous and very susceptible to fractures.

Vitamin K for directing calcium 

It is common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D3 are needed for increasing bone health, both of which are fairly prevalent in North American diets. Yet magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin K1 and K2 are equally important in proper bone maintenance to make sure calcium is directed to the bones and not deposited elsewhere in the body such as the heart.

Can Prev’s Osteo Prolong and Vitamin D3 + K2 are formulated with these nutrients so they work together synergistically in absorbable forms to help maintain bone health but also muscles, teeth and skin.

The pH balance in the body is another factor important to bone health that is not usually addressed or well known. The reason this is important is that the blood needs to stay at the pH level of  7.0-7.4. This is a very tightly regulated system in the body so if the body is undergoing an acidic state (i.e. smoking, stress, nutrient-poor diet, and pharmaceuticals etc), the body will draw from the bones to get the minerals needed that are alkaline in nature.

The alkaline nutrients that are helping to buffer the blood are calcium, potassium and magnesium, the very nutrients we want to stay in our bones!

Can Prev’s pH Pro is a formula containing sodium bicarbonate, spirulina, magnesium bicarbonate and potassium, all nutrients that are alkaline to decrease acidity and keep those precious nutrients in the bones. In each bottle of CanPrev pH Pro there are pH test strips so you can check your pH using urine or saliva. If you tend to be acidic, then start increasing your alkalinity by taking 1 or 2 caps of this formula.

Prevention – start early 

The prevention of osteoporosis actually begins in childhood and adolescence to gain as much bone density as possible by the age of 20 – 30 and then to maintain that density for the rest of adulthood. Having a youth’s diet full of healthful nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, K1 and K2 and zinc from a varied diet is essential in providing the building blocks for the bones to grow and be maintained.

Nutrition 

Beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks are popular among youth should be limited. They contain both phosphoric acid and caffeine which increase the amount of calcium lost from the bones. Caffeine causes about 6 mg of calcium to be lost for every 100mg of caffeine ingested. About 2 cups or a 16 oz of coffee contain 320 mg of caffeine which can leach about 20 mg of calcium from your body.

Processed foods are usually very high in salt, which is another substance that should be limited because every 2.3g of salt consumed about 40 mg of calcium is lost in the urine.

In adulthood multiple factors start to add up that can deplete bone minerals such physical inactivity, smoking, stress, alcohol, recreational drugs, increase of salt, caffeine and sugar, pharmaceutical drugs such as corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors and hormonal changes in women.

Bone health for moms to be 

Even pregnancy can leave the female depleted in many nutrients, as the requirement for calcium is very high due to the developing skeletal frame and formation of teeth, thus taking Can Prev’s Prenatal Multi ensures that the mother is receiving the therapeutic amounts of bioavailable calcium and vitamin D3 for the baby.

For those at risk of developing health conditions related to mineral deficiency, or those looking to increase mineral intake and absorption, speak with your natural healthcare provider about what supplements might be right for you.

Magnesium and Cardiovascular Conditions

Blood clotting (intravascular thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes)

Clotting is a normal response to blood vessel damage. When a blood vessel wall is damaged, tiny blood cells called platelets activate. These platelets adhere to a damaged surface and release sealing agents like fibrin. Magnesium regulates the activation of these platelets by controlling calcium levels and maintaining cell receptors. That’s why magnesium is sometimes called an anticoagulant.

Magnesium deficiencies increase the risk of unnecessary platelet activation, forming more clots in blood vessels. These clots may block blood flow to the brain or heart, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. 

High Blood Pressure

Besides preventing blood clots, magnesium also acts as a natural vasodilator. Magnesium, as a calcium antagonist, allows the heart muscles and the smooth muscles of the arteries to rest and relax, reducing blood pressure. If there is insufficient magnesium, these blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure.

Magnesium’s role in maintaining healthy blood pressure has a lot to do with its ability to activate the sodium-potassium pump. Even if a magnesium deficiency occurred and a sufficient supply of potassium was available, it would likely not make it into the cell to allow for proper sodium regulation.

Arrhythmia

Like elsewhere in the body, magnesium regulates concentrations of potassium and calcium in the heart as well. These concentrations control and coordinate the rhythm of electrical signal and muscle contractions.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends that hospitals administer magnesium intravenously in order to reduce the risks of atrial fibrillation.