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3 Ways to Prevent Blindness

Keeping your vision as clear as possible is vital – but an unhealthy lifestyle and diet can be detrimental to your eyesight. Try adding these three simple suggestions to your daily routine to help prevent macular degeneration and other vision concerns. 

The leading cause of blindness in those over the age of 60 - affecting more than 13 million Americans - is macular degeneration. The health of the macula (an oval spot in the center of the retina that's essential for central vision) depends on a very rich blood supply, and anything that interferes with circulation can cause damage to the macula and decrease its ability to function.

Unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices can reduce the supply of oxygen and vital nutrients to the eye, eventually leading to the death of cells in the retina and macula. To help prevent macular degeneration and other vision problems, consider the following: 

1. Stop smoking. The nicotine in tobacco smoke can decrease blood supply by causing a narrowing of the blood vessels and a thickening of the blood. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

2.  Eat a diet low in sugar, flour and oxidized oils (such as soybean oils used in processed foods and deep-fat frying). These can contribute to plaque build-up along blood vessel walls, including those supplying the macula, which impedes blood flow.

3. Get enough antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and lutein. These antioxidant compounds may help prevent plaque from sticking to the blood vessel walls, lessening the risk of damage to the tissue.

What Happens if You Take Too Many Supplements?

Taking too many vitamins can have a detrimental effect on your health – but not getting enough can have downsides as well. Learn more about what Dr. Weil says when it comes to getting the right amounts of vitamins, minerals and other supplements.

People often ask if they should be worried about getting too much of a particular vitamin. While supplements can help supply nutrients that may be deficient or missing in the diet, dosage can be the difference between benefit and harm. It is especially important to always read labels carefully and discuss your supplement regime with your physician, particularly when combining different multivitamins, multiminerals and fortified foods with similar ingredients, which can lead to a higher intake than is recommended.

To avoid any potential for toxicity or overdose, you may want to choose a supplement routine that is designed for you by a nutrition specialist and that takes overall dosages into account. The Weil Vitamin Advisor has three separate evaluations to ensure the proper dosages across a wide arrange of vitamins - try it today for your free recommendation.

7 Ways to Prevent Gallstones

Gallstones are unpleasant, to say the least, and their presence often requires surgical removal. Use these tips to minimizing the risk of developing gallstones.

Every year, more than one million Americans discover that they have gallstones - hardened, pebble-like deposits in the gallbladder that can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Roughly 50 percent of people diagnosed with gallstones end up in surgery for the removal of the gallbladder.

So how can you prevent gallstones? Since most stones are composed of cholesterol, diet plays a role in their formation. If you are at risk of developing gallstones (risk factors include a family history of gallstones, being overweight, recent rapid weight loss and, among women, pregnancy, using birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy after menopause), you may be able to prevent them or prevent symptoms from worsening with these measures:
If you need to lose weight, do so slowly (crash dieting can lead to gallstone formation).

  1. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep hydrated - this can help keep the bile in your gallbladder fluid.
  2. Women should make sure to get 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium from all sources daily (an intake level that's associated with a lower incidence of gallstones). Consider taking 500-700 mg of calcium in supplement form. This can help bind bile acids and decrease the risk of stone formation. However, men should limit calcium consumption to 500 to 600 mg from all sources.
  3. Take 200 mg of supplemental vitamin C daily (in one study, women with higher blood levels of vitamin C were half as likely to develop gallstones as those with lower levels).
  4. Keep your fat intake to about 25 percent of daily calories. A high-fat diet can trigger the gallbladder to release bile and set off an attack if you already have gallstones. But be wary of very low-fat diets, which can promote the formation of stones by failing to stimulate normal gallbladder contraction and flow of bile.
  5. Limit your intake of sugar, which may promote gallstone formation.
  6. Increase your fiber intake, and substitute whole soy protein for animal protein in your diet.

 

3 Reasons You May Need More Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, and odds are you don’t get enough. Find out why you need it, and how much to take.

Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient with a central role in maintaining health. I recommend prudent daily sun exposure to support the natural production of vitamin D in our skin as one of the best ways to get enough of this vitamin. Be certain that prudent means sun exposure without getting burned. But if, like many these days, you have few opportunities to go outside due to work, school or for other reasons, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Decreased or insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to:

  1. Suppressed immunity: Our innate systems of defense may not function efficiently without adequate vitamin D, allowing increased susceptibility to infectious agents.
  2. Increased risk of chronic disease: Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a higher than normal risk of several health conditions.
  3. Heightened inflammation: Vitamin D is a key cofactor in regulating inflammation throughout the body.
  4. Speak with your doctor about checking your 25-hydroxy vitamin D level and find out if supplementing is recommended. I recommend 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day as a baseline level, more if you have depressed blood levels. Look for supplements that provide D3 (cholecalciferol) rather than D2 (ergocalciferol). The Weil Vitamin Advisor can help! QAA401588

 

Are You Deficient in Vitamin B7?

Also known as biotin, vitamin B7 is necessary for optimal health. Learn more about why you need it, and ways to get this vitamin!

Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, is a water-soluble nutrient necessary for several key metabolic functions.

Biotin is a co-factor in many enzymatic reactions, and serious complications can result from biotin deficiency, including diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system. Biotin plays a role in:

  1. Regulating blood glucose levels and may help in decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance in those with type 2 diabetes.
  2. Maintaining healthy hair and nails, and possibly in preventing birth defects.

I recommend 50 mcg of biotin as part of a B-complex that contains a full spectrum of B vitamins, including thiamine, B12, riboflavin and niacin. You can also obtain biotin from foods including organ meats, barley, brewers yeast, egg yolks, milk, royal jelly, whole soy foods, and wheat bran. Avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, cheeses, chicken, fish, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, pork, potatoes, and spinach also provide biotin and are nutritious parts of my Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid.

 

What Supplement Do You Feel You Need Most? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed vitamins and supplements for seniors and whether seniors need specific nutrients: Do Seniors Need Special Vitamins? Check out the article and let us know what vitamins and minerals you feel you need the most in your diet.

Should Kids Take Vitamins?

I am often asked whether children should take vitamins. The answer is yes, I believe the evidence is clear that most children will benefit from an antioxidant and multi-mineral formula. Many kids don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits, and their diets are often full of processed and refined foods. However, vitamin supplements shouldn’t be substitutes for whole foods, and children need a full complement of healthy fats, slow-digesting carbohydrates and body building proteins.

You can help encourage a healthy diet by eating meals together, focusing on whole, fresh foods, and discouraging your children from eating too much fast food, processed food, sugar and caffeine (in cola and other drinks).

As far as supplements are concerned, give children a complete antioxidant formula as well as multiminerals. Try to find versions that do not have a lot of excess sugar, small tablets if they can be swallowed, or powders that can be blended into a smoothie. Be sure to keep the vitamins out of the reach of young children – some supplements for kids taste and look like candy and there is a danger of overdosing, especially when supplements contain iron.

Are Your Vitamins “Good”?

Confused about which nutritional supplements to choose? Dr. Weil has spent a lifetime researching nutrition and health, including which forms of nutrients are the most bioactive – or have the greatest potential to provide benefits. Here are some of his chief insights among the major supplement classes:

  • Vitamin A: Some forms of supplemental vitamin A, when taken in even moderate daily doses, can be toxic. I recommend the use of mixed carotenoids - these are substances that the body converts to vitamin A, avoiding toxicity potential and maximizing effectiveness.
  • Vitamin D: Inexpensive vitamins tend to contain vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), the kind synthesized by plants. But when humans eat plant-derived D2, it needs to be converted by the body to D3 (choleciferol), the form most readily used by the human body and which skin makes when exposed to ultraviolet light. Although vitamin D2 will contribute to adequate daily intakes, I recommend D3 as this form has been shown to have greater biological activity in human tissue.
  • Vitamin E: In nature, this vitamin is found as a combination of eight different active compounds - four tocopherols, and four tocotrienols. Many manufacturers use inexpensive, synthetic versions of one or only a few of those eight forms. I recommend a complete, naturally derived mixed tocopherol/tocotrienol complex that more closely mirrors the natural vitamin E found in foods.
  • Calcium: Manufacturers make calcium supplements in many forms, including calcium carbonate (the main constituent of chalk, and the most common supplement type), calcium lactate and calcium aspartate. I suggest calcium citrate because it is more easily absorbed, especially by older people who may have less stomach acid. Although more expensive, calcium citrate is more than twice as bioavailable as calcium carbonate.
  • Fish Oils: Oils derived from the fat of cold-water fish are an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Unless carefully sourced, however, these otherwise natural compounds can be contaminated with toxic heavy metals. Look for products derived from fresh catches and waterways with minimal pollution, and those that have received the highest rating for purity - five out of five stars - from the International Fish Oil Standards program.

In every case above, the form Dr. Weil recommends is the one that is available in the Weil Vitamin Advisor. Dr. Weil donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Weil Vitamin Advisor products and Weil Nutritional Supplements directly to the Weil Foundation, an organization dedicated to sustaining the vision of integrative medicine.

Unfounded Vitamin Fears (Video)

At the 5th International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research in Norway, Dr. Weil describes the tendency of medical researchers toward reductionism - a belief that wholes can be fully understood via analyzing their parts. This inaccurate belief has led, among other unfortunate conclusions, to an unfounded indictment of vitamin E.

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