Medicinal Tea – History, Benefits and Precautions

green teaTea has long been used for medicinal purposes. What is the origin and history of medicinal tea? What are the three varieties of tea? What are the primary benefits of medicinal tea?  Are there certain types of tea that can be dangerous for particular ailments or conditions? Learn the answers to these questions and much more. Continue reading

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Edema – Natural Prevention and Treatment of Swollen Joints

EdemaWhat is Edema?
Edema is the medical term for swelling. Generally, edema is a response to injury or inflammation. The swelling occurs from leaking blood vessels which release fluid into the body tissues.  Increased fluid from the blood vessels allows more white blood cells to enter the area, and the white blood cells help to fight off the infection, but if too much fluid is released, too often or for to long, this can cause discomfort and may lead to permanent damage. What are the symptoms of edema? Does sitting at the computer for long hours cause edema? Are there natural treatments that are effective? How can it be prevented?
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Osteoporosis: The Other Silent Killer – A Prescription for Proactivity

The Other Silent Killer
What is Osteoporosis and who is at risk? Osteoporosis is a disease of the skeletal system characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the bone tissue.
Spinal osteoporosis While the symptoms of the disease seldom become debilitating until the latter stages of life, its propagation may begin much earlier.

Epidemic Proportions

According to statistics from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 52 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis. 50% of women and 25% of men will break a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis.  Bone Mass and AgeBy 2020, half of Americans over 50 are expected to have low bone density or osteoporosis. A woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined.

Proactive Prevention of Osteoporosis
Bone density peaks around age 30 and subsequently declines. Adolescents and young adults should regularly participate in weight bearing activities in order to build up a “bone density reserve.”
weight lifting
The American College of Sports Medicine,  ACSM, recommends physical activities that generate relatively high-intensity loading forces to augment bone mineral accrual in children and adolescents.  Evidence suggests exercise-induced gains in bone mass in children are maintained into adulthood, suggesting that physical activity habits during childhood may have long-lasting benefits on bone health.

Treatment is Paramount
While Osteoporosis is preventable, it is not curable.  The only option is treatment. Treatment of established osteoporosis is cost-effective irrespective of age (Kanis, et al, 2005). Studies have shown that bone mineral density in postmenopausal women can be maintained or increased with therapeutic exercise.

 

osteoporosis bone

Basic Bone Anatomy
Bones are made from collagen, calcium-phosphate complexes, and bone cells. Bone tissue is living, and is constantly being remodeled. The underlying cause of osteoporosis is an imbalance between bone resorption and bone formation. Excessive bone resorption, inadequate formation of new bone during remodeling, and inadequate peak bone mass are all mechanisms by which osteoporosis develops. Aging results in bone being lost more rapidly than it is formed. 

Weight-bearing and Loading Exercise for Bone Health
Weight bearing activities like walking, jogging, dancing, stair climbing and hiking allow the force of gravity to act through the skeleton. Through this application of force, mechanisms that stimulate bone density are activated in response to the mechanical loading. The training principle of progressive overload is fundamental to the effective treatment of osteoporosis.

Exercise bone growthExercise stimulates effective bone modeling/remodeling.

Strength Training for Bone Health
Impact loading exercises are superior to traditional weight-bearing activities for maintaining bone health. Impact loading exercise simply means any exercise that requires you to support your own body weight, including walking, aerobics or weightlifting.

Osteoporosis exercises

Resistance training can be defined as the act of repeated voluntary muscle contractions against a resistance greater than what is normally experienced in daily life. Training of this kind is known to increase strength through changes in both the muscular and nervous systems. In one study, resistance training had more of an effect on bone strength in the hip and lower spine than walking alone (Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 2013).  Nine months to a year of regular exercise should be afforded before appreciable increases in bone mass are detected.  Proper form and technique are important. Volume, frequency, duration and other training variables should be specific to the condition of the individual. For individuals with diagnosed osteoporosis, the ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Pescatello, et al, 2014) suggests the following guidelines for physical activity and resistance training aimed to prevent falls:

  • One to three sets with five to eight repetitions of four to six weight-bearing, lower-body strength exercises using body weight as resistance
  • Activities performed two to three days/week
  • Additional resistance may be applied gradually and conservatively
    (up to 10 lbs.) with weighted vest
  • Therapy bands & rubber tubing may be used to facilitate
    range-of-motion exercises
  • Avoid impact exercise, spinal flexion against resistance, spinal
    extension, high compressive forces on the spine, quick trunk rotation

 

swim therapy osteoporosis

Aerobic Training
Aerobic training is also important to the overall efficiency of the system, and in maintaining bone mass. Aerobic exercises are a system of physical conditioning, such as running, walking, swimming, or calisthenics strenuously performed so as to cause a significant temporary increase in respiration and heart rate. Activities that engage larger muscles like walking, cycling, swimming, and water walking are recommended for overall health, however claims that aerobic exercise can build bone density are false. According to ACSM, “Although aerobic exercises are beneficial and important for overall fitness, they don’t specifically help build bone density”.

Non-Impact Exercises
While non-impact exercises may not directly support bone mass, they still offer immense indirect benefits in the treatment of osteoporosis. Balance exercises (e.g. Tai Chi, aquatic exercises) heighten proprioception and reduce the risk of falling, which is the leading cause of lost independence among the elderly.

Tai Chi osteoporosis

Postural exercises improve posture and help support the spine. Functional exercises improve the ability to perform activities of daily living, increasing quality of life and maintaining independence. Individuals who practice Tai Chi have 47% less falls and only 25% of the hip fractures of those who do not (Province, et al, 1995).  Tai Chi can be beneficial for stunting bone loss in weight-bearing bones in early postmenopausal women (Chan, et al, 2004).

Calcium Foods

 

Dietary Approaches to Fighting Osteoporosis 
Calcium and Vitamin D – Two of the most important nutrients in fighting osteoporosis are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is an important component of the bone matrix, while vitamin D assists in its absorption. Supplementation with vitamin D has improved lower extremity muscle performance and reduced risk of falling in several high-quality double blind randomized control trials (Bischoff-Ferrari, et al, 2009). The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the
National Academies, National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements recommends the following intake levels for post-menopausal women:

  • Calcium: 1200 milligrams/day
  • Vitamin D: 10 micrograms/day (400 International Units/day) from ages 51 to 70 (Increase to 15 micrograms/day [600 International Units/day] after age 70)

 

Protein – Aging may compromise the body’s ability to process protein efficiency. Older adults should be vigilant in their consumption of protein in order to avoid protein malnutrition. In one study with elderly men and women, higher dietary protein intake was associated with a lower rate of age-related bone loss (Hannan, et. al, 2000).

______________________________

References
American College of Sports Medicine

Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Staehelin HB, et al. (2009) Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br Med J 339:b3692.

Center for Disease Control. – Calicium

Chan, K; Qin, L; Lau, M; Woo, J; Au, S; Choy, W; Lee, K; Lee, S. A randomized, prospective study of the effects of Tai Chi Chun exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:717–22.

Daltroy, L. H., Larson MG, Eaton HM, et al. Discrepancies between self-reported and observed physical function in the elderly: the influence of response shift and other factors. Soc Sci Med. 1999;48(11):1549–61. Medline:10400256.

Hannan MT, Tucker KL, Dawson-Hughes B, et al. (2000) Effect of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. J Bone Miner Res 15:2504.

Hartard M, Haber P, Ilieva D, et al. (1996) Systematic strength training as a model of therapeutic intervention. A controlled trial in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 75:21.

Kanis JA, Borgstrom F, Zethraeus N, et al. (2005) Intervention thresholds for osteoporosis in the UK. Bone 36:22

Kemmler W, Lauber D, Weineck J, et al. (2004) Benefits of 2 years of intense exercise on bone density, physical fitness, and blood lipids in early postmenopausal osteopenic women: results of the Erlangen Fitness Osteoporosis Prevention Study  (EFOPS). Arch Intern Med 164:1084.

Kerr, D., Ackland, T., Maslen, B., Morton, A. and Prince, R. (2001), Resistance Training over 2 Years  Increases Bone Mass in Calcium-Replete Postmenopausal Women. J Bone Miner Res, 16: 175–181. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2001.16.1.175

National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Palombaro, K. M., Black, J. D., Buchbinder, R., & Jette, D. U. (2013). Effectiveness of Exercise for Managing Osteoporosis in Women Postmenopause. Physical Therapy, 93(8), 1021-1025. doi:10.2522/ptj.20110476

Pescatello L, Arena R, Riebe D, Thompson PD, ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, American College of Sports Medicine, 9th ed., 2014, Philadelphia : Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health

Preisinger E, Alacamlioglu Y, Pils K, et al. (1995) Therapeutic exercise in the prevention of bone loss. A controlled trial with women after menopause. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 74:120.

Province MA, Hadley EC, Hornbrook MC, et al. (1995) The effects of exercise on falls in elderly patients. A preplanned meta-analysis of the FICSIT Trials. Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques. JAMA 273:1341.

Raisz, L. (2005). “Pathogenesis of osteoporosis: concepts, conflicts, and prospects”. J Clin Invest 115(12): 3318–25

Strength Training is Better for Bones. (2013). Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 2013 Jul;17(12):8.

_______________________________

Kevin McMahan3This article is written by Kevin McMahan, a Health and Wellness Educator for the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. Kevin has had a lifelong interest in health and wellness. After graduating from Carmel High School he went on to get an associates degree in social sciences from Monterey Peninsula College, and a bachelors in kinesiology from California State University Monterey Bay. He is a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. “Your health is your wealth”, is something that he always likes to say. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:  
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

What Causes Leg Pain? How to Prevent and Treat Leg Pain

20 Top Causes of Leg Pain

What causes leg pain? How can it be prevented? Here are the 20 top causes of leg pain.

What causes leg pain? How can it be prevented and treated? There are many reasons for leg pain. Some are more serious than others. It’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing pain and/or swelling in the legs. Leg pain can be a symptom of a blood clot which if not treated immediately can cause stroke or heart failure.

Here are the most common causes of leg pain.

  1. Osteoporosis
    Osteoporosis is a condition of the bones where they are thin and subject to increased risk for fracture. Muscle and bone pain is a well-documented symptom of severely deficient vitamin D.   Vitamin D and calcium are important bone builders and are recommended supplements for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.   Leg cramps that occur at night are often a signal that your calcium, magnesium, and/or potassium blood levels have dropped to low levels. If low calcium, magnesium or potassium levels continue over long periods of time, this may lead to excessive bone loss and osteoporosis.

 

  1. Bone FractureFractures
    A fracture usually results from traumatic injury to bones causing the bone tissues or bony cartilage to be disrupted or broken. There are different types of fractures including simple, compound, incomplete and complete. Simple fractures (“closed fractures”) are sometimes not obvious and not seen by the eye, as the skin has not been injured. Fractures can cause leg pain. Compound fractures (“open fractures”) cause a tearing or rupturing of the skin and are more prone to infection.  Fractures can cause leg pain.  Treatment is immobilization to gain realignment of the bone.

 

  1. Shin splints
    Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) refers to the pain that results from stress on the tissues that connect muscles to the shin bone (tibia). They also may come from the small bone of the lower leg and ankle, (the fibula). The most common cause of shin splints is stressful activities that constantly pound on the legs and feet.  It is a common complaint among basketball players, tennis players and runners.  Physicians usually recommend that people with shin splints take an extended period of rest to let that area heal.
  2. Strain
    A strain (also known as “pulled muscle”) is an injury to a muscle or tendon in which the muscle fibers tear as a result of overstretching.   A tendon is a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones.  Strains often occur in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh. Mild strains can be treated at home by resting the  effected area, but you should see a doctor if you can’t walk more than a few steps without significant pain,  can’t move the affected joint, or have numbness in any part of the injured area.  Strain is generally treated by applying cold pack, elevating, compressing the area, and rest.
  3. High Ankle SprainSprain
    A sprain is an injury to a ligament caused by tearing of the fibers of the ligament. The ligament can have a partial tear, or it can be completely torn apart. Sprains most often occur in the ankle, knee and wrist.  For most sprains home treatment is effective. Elevate the area, rest, apply cold pack, compress the area with elastic wrap or sleeve.  See a physician or trusted health-care professional if pain is more severe or not subsiding.
  4. Internal bleeding
    Internal bleeding is bleeding occurring inside the body. It can be a serious medical emergency depending on where it occurs (e.g. brain, stomach, lungs), and can potentially cause death and cardiac arrest if proper medical treatment is not received immediately.  Internal bleeding (also called internal hemorrhage) is a loss of blood that occurs from the vascular system into a body cavity or space. It can result in pain, swelling, dizziness, muscle weakness, blood in urine, stool, or vomit, or noticeable bruising
  5. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
    Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) happens when there is a narrowing of the blood vessels outside the heart. The cause of PAD is atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis is caused by a build up of plaque (made up of fat and cholesterol) on the walls of the arteries.  The arteries supply blood to the arms and legs.
  6. Deep Vein ThrombosisDeep vein thrombosis (DVT)
    A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein that is deep inside the body.  Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh. If the vein swells, the condition is called thrombophlebitis.  DVT can be very serious and lead to heart attack or stroke or a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism.  Treatment includes medicines to break up and prevent blood clots, relieve inflammation and swelling.  Sitting for long periods of time can increase the risk of blood clots. Elevating the area and applying moist heat can be helpful.  Always take plenty of breaks, stretch, and drink plenty of liquids.
  7. Shingles
    Shingles can be a cause of leg pain. Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus.  This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Symptoms include pain and red blisters on the skin that appear on one side of the body.   Symptoms usually begin with muscle aches and pain. The pain can be a severe shooting pain, or burning or tingling, electrical sensation. Blisters usually go away after 14 days but the pain of shingles can last for weeks, months and even years.
  8. Alcoholism
    Alcoholism can lead to a condition known as alcoholic polyneuropathy (also known as “alcohol leg“).  This is a neurological disorder in which multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction at the same time. It causes the degeneration in neurons of both the sensory and motor systems.   People with alcoholic polyneuropathy experience pain and motor weakness usually beginning first in the feet, legs  and hands and then moving inwardly toward the center of the body.  Treatment is abstaining from alcohol, nutritional supplements, and pain management.
  9. Diabetes
    Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because the cells in the body do not respond to the insulin that is produced.  People with diabetes can experience diabetic neuropathy.  The most common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are numbness, tingling and pain in the legs or feet, and also a risk of skin damage. Treatment of diabetes involves keeping the blood sugar levels normal, usually with diet, exercise, and appropriate medications (insulin).
  10. SciaticaSiatica
    Sciatica (sciatic neuritis, sciatic neuralgia, or lumbar radiculopathy) is a set of symptoms including pain caused by general compression or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots of each sciatic nerve or to the left or right or both sciatic nerves. Symptoms include lower back pain, buttock pain, and pain, numbness or weakness in various parts of the leg and foot. Other symptoms include a “pins and needles” sensation, or tingling and difficulty moving or controlling the leg. Typically, symptoms only manifest on one side of the body. The pain may radiate below the knee.   Treatment varies depending on the cause of the problem (pregnancy, herniated disc, tumor, etc.). Spinal manipulation, surgery, physical therapy, and pain management are typical treatments.
  11. Peripheral neuropathy
    Peripheral neuropathy is a result of nerve damage.  It often causes weakness, tingling, numbness and pain, usually beginning in your hands and feet but also in the legs and other parts of the body.  Peripheral neuropathy distorts and sometimes interrupts messages between the brain and the rest of the body.   Pain and other symptoms often appear symmetrically, for example, in both feet followed by a gradual progression up both legs. Next, the fingers, hands, and arms may become affected, and symptoms can progress into the center of the body.   Treatment includes exercise programs and physical therapy, eating a balanced diet, taking vitamin supplements, and limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption.
  12. Cancer
    Cancer can be a cause of leg pain. Cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. Cancer cells are called “malignant” cells. Cancer expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis.  Traditional treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy.  Alternative treatments are becoming more popular.  Particular dietary considerations and lifestyle changes have been shown to be effective in cancer prevention.
  13. ArthritisArthritis
    Arthritis can be a common cause of leg pain.  Arthritis is inflammation of joints due to infectious, metabolic, or constitutional causes.
    Arthritis leg pain generally is associated with specific joints (e.g., knees or hips).  When cartilage around a joint wears down, a person may feel pain, stiffness, and experience swelling at the joint. Arthritic joints may also be warm and have limited movement.  Treatment for arthritis pain can include pain treatment, exercise, resting the joint, elevating the effected body part, change in lifestyle, and nutritional or diet changes.
  14. Myalgia
    Myalgia isn’t a disease but is a symptom of many diseases and disorders. The most common causes are the overuse or over-stretching of a muscle or group of muscles.  Myalgia has also been referred to as muscular rheumatism.  Leg pain which is caused by muscle pain can be generally classified as myalgia. Treatments vary depending upon the cause of the problem, but can include pain treatment, exercise, resting the joint, constrictive wrap, cold packs, elevating the effected body part, change in lifestyle, and nutritional or diet changes.
  15. Muscle cramps
    Leg pain can be caused by a muscle cramp in the leg. A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Cramps can be prevented by having adequate nutrition and hydration, exercising safely (warming up), and maintaining flexibility t factors.  Cramps can be stopped by stretching the muscle.  A cramp can last a few minutes or several hours. Cramps of the legs and feet, are common.  A cramp of the calf is very common and known as a “charley horse.”
  16. Dehydration
    Dehydration can be a cause of leg weakness, pain, and cramping.  When a person is dehydrated it means that the body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.  The severity of the dehydration (mild, moderate, or severe) is determined by how much of the body’s fluid is lost or not replenished. When it is severe, dehydration is a life-threatening emergency and a person could become unconcious and risk death, heart failure or stroke.  Hydration is important in pain management.
  17. HamstringHamstring injury
    A hamstring injury is a common injury to the leg  and common cause of leg pain. It is caused by the straining of the hamstring (also known as a “pulled hamstring”).  This injury is defined as an excessive stretch or tear of muscle fibers and related tissues of the hamstring muscles — the group of three muscles that run along the back of the thigh, and is common among dancers, runners, and soccer, basketball, football, or tennis players.  It occurs with activities that involve running with excessive stopping and starting.  Surgery may be needed to repair a torn muscle but generally homecare treatment is advised, including rest, elevation, cold packs, and pain treatment.
  18. Trauma
    Trauma to the leg can be the cause of leg pain. Trauma can be a serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident. Most leg injuries in children and teenagers occur during sports or play. The risk for injury is higher in sports, such as football, wrestling,  snowboarding, in-line skating, soccer, biking, skiing,  and skateboarding. Knees, ankles and legs are often injured.  Elderly adults with osteoporosis (thinning bones) are more at risk for fractures.  Treatment for trauma to the leg varies depending on the injury and may include surgery.

If you are experiencing leg pain and unsure of the cause, see your doctor or trusted health care provider to determine the cause of your discomfort and to seek treatment.

24 Health Benefits of Spinach

Benefits SpinachWhy should someone eat spinach?
Can it be dangerous to eat too much spinach? Does spinach aid in healing?

Spinach has been shown to be effective in improving health for a variety of reasons. Spinach is high in fiber. One cup of spinach has nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber.  A diet that is high in fiber helps aid digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and prevents people from overeating.

Research has shown that flavonoids– a phytonutrient  have anti-cancer properties.  Spinach is abundant in flavanoids.  Flavanoids can slow down cell division in human stomach and skin cancer cells.  Research has shown that flavanoids provide protection against the occurrence of aggressive prostate cancer.

Blood PressureSpinach can help lower blood pressure  by inhibiting the angiotensin I-converting enzyme, peptides. Folate in spinach is good for a healthy cardiovascular system. Magnesium in spinach is a mineral that helps to lower high blood pressure.

Lutein is a carotenoid found in spinach that is protective against eye diseases. There is some indication lutein might be absorbed better if you eat it with a little fat. Both antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are especially plentiful in spinach and protect the eye from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Spinach is good for our skin.  It containshigh amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin by allowing for proper moisture retention in the epidermis. Eating spinach can help in fighting psoriasis, keratinization, acne and help to prevent early onset of wrinkles. Spinach is also a good source of selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Spinach promotes healthy brain and nervous system.

Arthritis Knee DiagramArthritis
sufferers will be glad to know that spinach can help reduce inflammation and pain.  Neoxanthin and violaxanthin are two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls that are found in spinach. These play an important role in controlling inflammation.

Spinach is high in vitamins and nutrients.  The vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, manganese, zinc and selenium present in spinach all serve as powerful antioxidants that combat the onset of osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6. It’s a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper.

Myelin SheathThe abundance of vitamin K in spinach helps to  provide an essential part for the synthesis of sphingolipids. Sphingolipids are the crucial fat that make up the Myelin sheath around our nerves.   Vitamin K is also an important part of the process of carboxylation.  Carboxylation produces the matrix Gla protein that prevents calcium from forming in our body tissues. Eating one cup of spinach contributes to this process that fights atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The vitamin A in spinach can help us fight infection.  One cup of spinach contains over 337% of the RDA of vitamin A.  Vitamin A protects and strengthens mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts.  Vitamin A also is a key component of lymphocytes (or white blood cells) that fight infection.

OsteoporosisSpinach can be very helpful in preventing osteoporosis.  If spinach is boiled, one cup provides over 1000% of the RDA of vitamin K that can prevent excess activation of osteoclasts.  Osteoclasts are the cells that break down bones.   Spinach can also increase the synthesis of osteocalcin.  Osteocalcin is the protein that is essential for maintaining the bone density and strength.


Are there any reasons why someone should not eat spinach?
  • Some people are allergic to spinach.  If you have not eaten it before, eat a small amount to see if you are allergic to it.
  • Spinach can be a high pesticide-containing food, so it’s important to always wash spinach and eat organic spinach.
  • The oxalates in spinach may interfere with the absorption of calcium, and could crystallize. People who have kidney or gallbladder problems may want to think carefully about choosing to eat spinach.
  • People with thyroid problems should consult their doctor about eating spinach. It’s possible that it can interfere with proper thyroid gland functioning.  However, many people with thyroid problems choose to cook spinach. Cooking spinach can reduce the goitrogenic compounds.
  • Spinach contains purines.  Gout-prone people might choose not to eat spinach because they may be affected by the purines in this food.
Benefits of Spinach
What are the 24 Benefits of Spinach?
  1. Low in calories
  2. High in vitamin A
  3. High in vitamin K
  4. High in magnesium
  5. High in fiber
  6. Protein source
  7. Calcium source
  8. Antioxidant source
  9. Cancer preventative
  10. Lowers blood pressure
  11. Lowers cholesterol
  12. High folate level
  13. Increases brain function
  14. Anti-inflammatory
  15. Promotes healthy vision
  16. Increases circulation
  17. Helps immune system
  18. Helps fight infection
  19. Promotes healthy skin
  20. High in flavanoids
  21. Vitamin E source
  22. Beta-carotene source
  23. Zinc source
  24. Increases bone density

_________________________________

Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

 

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition. 

 

Can Vitamin D Help Improve Muscle Strength and Fatigue?

What does Vitamin D have to do with muscle development and functionality?  Can taking vitamin D supplements help improve muscle strength? Recent research shows that vitamin D can be effective in improving muscle strength and reducing muscle fatigue.

Vitamin D - Powerful Healer

Current research shows that vitamin D can strengthen muscles and reduce fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem.

HOW DOES THE BODY RECEIVE AND USE VITAMIN D? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.  It is produced in the body using the energy we receive from sunlight, and also found in some foods such as milk, salmon or cod liver oil and other fish, and vitamin-fortified foods, such as cereals.  Vitamin D and calcium are important for good bone health and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and protect older adults from osteoporosis. Muscles need vitamin D in order to move and nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and  every part of the body, and vitamin D helps our immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

 

Man exhausted books

A vitamin D deficiency results in muscle weakness and atrophy, bone loss, and fatigue.

WHAT IS VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY? A diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency is rapidly on the rise and becoming a significant public health problem world-wide.  Fatigue is frequently found to be the cause of vitamin D deficiency. The mitochondria within the cells, take fats and sugars and make them into energy.  When the mitochondria are not working properly, people have symptoms of fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency is a well-recognized cause of fatigue and myopathy (a muscular disease resulting in muscular weakness).  Bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen without sufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D can prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.  In the 1930’s milk was fortified with vitamin D making rickets almost unheard of in the United States, although it is still occurs occasionally.  It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food and therefore sunlight is the primary source.  This means that elderly people who are home-bound, those who spend most of their days working inside,  or women or men who wear long robes and cover their heads for religious reasons, will most likely not receive enough vitamin D and will need supplementation. Dark-skinned and obese people, those whose wear sun-block, and those who have tinted windows are also at risk of not getting enough vitamin D. Doctors are discovering that patients with somewhat elusive or undiagnosed symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency.


WHAT RESEARCH HAS BEEN CONDUCTED?
Several research studies have been conducted on vitamin D. Bischoff-Ferrari  (2009)  and other researchers investigated vitamin D and its effects on preventing falls among older individuals.  They concluded, “Supplemental vitamin D in a dose of 700-1000 IU a day reduced the risk of falling among older individuals by 19% and to a similar degree as active forms of vitamin D. Doses of supplemental vitamin D of less than 700 IU or serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of less than 60 nmol/l may not reduce the risk of falling among older individuals.”

 

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More children and adults are getting less exposure to sunlight and are deficient in vitamin D.

Holick and Chen (2008) conclude that, “Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic.”  They state that “A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D’s beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800-1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults.”   Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari and others (2007) in a study on dietary and lifestyle predictors with British adults, found an “urgent need”  to recommend an efficient dose of vitamin D.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2010) summarized 165 primary articles and 11 systematic reviews that incorporated over 200 additional primary articles, in “Vitamin D and Calcium: Systematic Review of Health Outcomes.”  They concluded that “The majority of the findings concerning vitamin D, calcium, or a combination of both nutrients on the different health outcomes were inconsistent. Synthesizing a dose-response relation between intake of either vitamin D, calcium, or both nutrients and health outcomes in this heterogeneous body of literature proved challenging.

Dr. Anna Dorothea Hoeck, MD (2009), estimates that over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient and that there appears to be a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and chronic fatigue syndrome or multi-system syndromes. She states that  “Severe vitamin D deficiency with levels below 10 ng/ml (25 nm ol/L) causes severe fatigue and personality changes, depression-like symptoms, chronic sleep disorder, multiple intolerances,obvious immune dysfunctions and in the long time, multi-system symptoms and multi-system diseases”

Dr. Zahid Naeem (2010), MBBS, MCPS, DPH, FCPS, Professor, states that “Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem. With all the medical advances of the century, vitamin D deficiency is still epidemic. Over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient. Yet no international health organization or governmental body has declared a health emergency to warn the public about the urgent need of achieving sufficient vitamin D blood levels.”

A recent research study was presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Harrogate, UK., and supported by the British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes (BSPED).    Dr Akash Sinha (2013), research team leader, and researchers from Newcastle University Endocrinology, GNCH, Institute of Genetic Medicine, investigated the effects of cholecalciferol therapy (vitamin D3) on skeletal mitochondrial oxidative function in symptomatic, vitamin D deficient individuals.  The researchers studied  the phosphocreatine (a compound of phosphoric acid and creatine found in vertebrate muscle) recovery time in patients with vitamin D deficiency.   Twelve patients were used in the study.  They each were diagnosed with severe vitamin D deficiency before and after treatment with vitamin D.   A non-invasive magnetic resonance scan (MRI) called phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to measure phosphocreatine movement in response to exercise in the calf muscles of all 12 patients.  Serum assays were performed before and after cholecalciferol therapy to document serum 25OHD and bone profiles.   Ten to twelve (10-12) weeks after treatment, the researchers found phosphocreatine recovery significantly improved. After receiving vitamin D supplementation, all patients reported improvement in fatigue symptoms. According to Dr Akash Sinha research team leader,

“This is the first time a link has been shown between vitamin D status and muscle aerobic function.”

“Patients with vitamin D deficiency often experience symptoms of muscle fatigue. Our findings in a small group of patients with very low vitamin D levels show that muscle efficiency significantly improves when vitamin D status is improved.”


CONCLUSION

Kiss the sunVitamin D deficiency is becoming a world-wide problem. This may be due to our technological advances and cultural changes with more people choosing to spend long hours working and relaxing indoors. Researchers conclude that vitamin D deficiency may be the cause of multiple physical ailments with symptoms of muscle fatigue, atrophy and bone loss.  Vitamin D is not easily found in many foods, therefore many researchers and health professionals are determining that it may be necessary or urgent for people to alter their lifestyle to receive adequate doses of vitamin D from sunshine or from supplementation.  The recent study by Akash and others (2013) showed significant improvement in muscle efficiency after increasing vitamin D supplementation with patients who were vitamin D deficient. This was ground-breaking documentation.  More research, like this is needed with more subject to determine how and why this is happening and if people who are not vitamin D deficient can also benefit from using vitamin D.

RESOURCES
Akash SA, Hollingsworth K, Ball S, and Cheetham T, Improving the vitamin D status of vitamin D deficient adults is associated with improved mitochondrial oxidative function in skeletal muscle Endocrine Abstracts (2013) 31 OC1.6, DOI:10.1530/endoabs.31.OC1.6

Bandeira F, Gris L. Vitamin D deficiency a global perspective. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metab. 2006;50/4:640–646.

Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Staehelin HB, Orav JE, Stuck AE, Theiler R, et al. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2009;339:b3692.

Chung M, Balk EM, Brendel M, Ip S, Lau J, Lee J, et al. Vitamin D and calcium: a systematic review of health outcomes. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 183 prepared by the Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2007-10055-I. AHRQ

Cranney A, Horsely T, O’Donnell S, Weiler H, Puil L, Ooi D, Atkinson S, Ward L, Moher D, Hanley D, Fang M, Yazdi F, Garrity C, Sampson M, Barrowman N, Tsertsvadze A, Mamaladze V. Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158. (Prepared by Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02-0021). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013, Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. August 2007.

Heaney RP. Long-latency deficiency disease: insights from calcium and vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:912-9.

Hoeck AD, MD, Vitamin D deficiency results in chronic fatigue and multi-system symptoms
Mariawaldstr. 15.09.2009; Apr;87(4):1080S-6S.7, 50935 Cologne, Germany.

Hollick MF, Chen TC. Vitamin D deficiency a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:10805–68.

Naeem Z, Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic, Int J Health Sci (Qassim). Jan 2010; 4(1): V–VI.

Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, Office of Dietary Supplements,  National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari H, Boucher BJ, Dawson-Hughes B, Garland CF, Heaney RP, et al. The urgent need to recommend an intake of vitamin D that is effective. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:649-50.

Vitamin D and Calcium: Structured Abstract. May 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

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Jean E. Dart
This article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

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