Saw Palmetto for Prostate Enlargement

Saw palmetto is also known as Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulata, American Dwarf Palm Tree, Cabbage Palm, Ju-Zhong, Palma Enana Americana, Palmier Nain, Sabal, Sabal Fructus, Saw Palmetto Berry. It is a palm-like plant with berries that were a staple food and medicine for the Native Americans of the southeastern United States. Traditionally herbalist have used saw palmetto since the early 1900s in the treatment of urinary tract problems in men, to increase sperm production and boost libido.

 

The active elements of saw palmetto include free fatty acids and sterols. Studies have shown saw pametto decreases the amount of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), an active form of testosterone, in the prostate. In test tube studies it weakly inhibits the enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) that converts testosterone to DHT and inhibits growth factors and inflammatory substances that contribute to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Other experiments suggest saw palmetto decreases the symptoms of BPH, such as frequency of urination during day and night and having trouble starting and maintaining urination.  Other test tube studies showed inhibition of tumor cell growth, possibly indicating a role in the treatment of prostate cancer. While these studies are promising, more research needs to be done to determine saw palmetto’s effectiveness in the treatment of BPH and prostate enlargement.

 

Vegetarian saw palmetto supplements are found as dried berries, capsules, tablets and liquid tinctures. It should be taken as directed by the manufacturer. Side affects are rare and include mild stomach complaints and minor headaches. Rarely bleeding has occurred with saw palmetto. Saw palmetto can have similar effects of some hormones and therefore should not be given to children or pregnant or breast-feeding moms. Saw palmetto should also not be taken with anti-coagulation medications (Warfarin, Coumadin). Do not self-treat for BPH with saw palmetto.  Always consult your physician prior to taking supplements.

Sources:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/saw-palmetto-000272.htm

Garby, Alan, et al. The Natural Pharmacy, 3rd edition, 2006

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

 

Flaxseed, Another Great Source of Omega-3

picture of flaxseed plants.

Flaxseed, also known as linseed and Linum usitatissimum L., is derived from the flax plant, an annual herb believed to have originated in Egypt. The ancient Egyptians used flaxseed for nutritional and medicinal purposes. In addition, it has been used traditionally by other cultures as a laxative and for good bowel health.

Benefits

The active components of flaxseed include fiber, omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), and lignan. Its high fiber content adds bulk to stool and allows it to act as a laxative for constipation. ALA has been shown to be beneficial in heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis. However, only a small amount of ALA is converted to its active counterparts. So larger quantities of flaxseed or flaxseed oil need to be taken to get the same effects from fish oils. Higher intake of ALA/omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with lower cholesterol, decreased blood pressure, and risk of a heart attack. 

Lignan mimics the action of estrogen. Some studies have compared hormone replacement therapy and flaxseed in women with mild menopausal symptoms to found them to be equally effective. In addition, one study showed flaxseed had the potential to decrease tumor growth in newly diagnosed breast cancer, although more studies need to be done.

Uses

Flaxseed and its supplements are available as whole flaxseed, flaxseed oil, powder, and capsules. Flaxseed oil should be refrigerated. Use whole flaxseeds within 24 hours of grinding. Otherwise, the ingredients lose their activity unless they are in a special mylar package. Flaxseed supplements should be taken as directed by the manufacturer. In general, children 2-12 years old can take one teaspoon of whole or ground flaxseeds daily. Adults can take 2-4 tablespoons per day, and breastfeeding moms can add it to their diet to increase the fat content in their breast milk. As a supplement for fish oil, 1 gram of fish oil is equivalent to 7.2 grams of flaxseed.

Considerations

Flaxseed is considered safe, although you should not take it at the same time as your medication (it can alter medications absorption). You should discuss all supplement use with your physician and especially for flaxseed if you are taking blood thinners (it can increase bleeding), diabetic medications (it can alter your blood sugar), and hormones (it mimics estrogen).

Sources:

Mulcahy, Nick. “’Surprising’ Result in FLAXSEED-FOR-HOT-FLASHES STUDY.” Medscape, Medscape, 25 July 2020, www.medscape.com/viewarticle/743995. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Bacopa for Healthy Brain

Bacopa, also known as brahmi, water hyssop, and Bacopa manniera, is native to India. It grows in marshy areas and is a water plant. Most parts of the plant have been used traditionally In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional medicine of India) as a diuretic, nervous system health, heart health, asthma and epilepsy.

The active components of the leaves are saponins, including bacosides. Bacosides are presumed to enhance the effects of neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotoin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). Bacopa extracts appear to be strong antioxidants in the brain and may help protect brain cells. In studies bacosides have been found to enhance higher cognitive functions, memory and learning ability when taken for 3 to 12 weeks in comparison to placebo. In other studies it has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Bacopa has also been shown to relax the muscles in the airways of the respiratory tract, possibly explaining its traditional use in asthma.

Bacopa supplements can be found as a dried herb, in powdered form and capsules. Bacopa should always be taken as directed by the manufacturer although traditionally 5 to 10 grams per day of powdered herb have been used; and in human studies 300-450 mg per day has been used. Bacopa tends to be well tolerated when taken in the traditional amounts although there have been reports of dry mouth, nausea and muscle fatigue. Always refer to your physician before taking supplements, especially when giving supplements to children, pregnant women or breast-feeding moms.

 

Sources:

Garby, Alan, et al. The Natural Pharmacy, 3rd edition, 2006

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

 

Glucosamine For Healthy Joints

Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body and plays a key role in building cartilage, the strong connective tissue that cushions the joints. Glucosamine supplements are believed to help in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a type of inflammation of the joints due to cartilage break down and loss due to overuse and natural aging.

Glucosamine supplements have been found in a number of well-designed scientific studies to be an effective treatment for OA, particularly OA of the knee and hip. In general glucosamine helped reduce OA pain, improve function in people with hip or knee OA, reduce joint swelling and stiffness, and provided relief from OA symptoms for up to 3 months after treatment is stopped. In most studies glucosamine, and sometimes glucosamine mixed with other ingredients such as chondroitin, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and hyaluronic acid, was taken for 2 to 4 months. There have been some mixed results with recent glucosamine studies. For example one recent study showed pain improvement with moderate to severe OA of the knee but not in the overall relief of pain associated with OA.  It is also believed that glucosamine can help slow the progression of OA, although there have been no studies to date to support this. More studies need to be done.

The current medical treatment for OA is acetaminophen (Tylenol), non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen, (Aleve). These can cause abdominal pain, cramping, constipation and stomach ulcers if used chronically. Glucosamine supplements are a more natural alternative for the treatment of OA with less side effects than traditional treatments.

Glucosamine supplements should be taken as directed by the manufacturer. In studies it is usually taken 500 mg 3 times daily or 1,500 mg once daily dosing. Glucosamine supplementation is generally considered safe, although the most common side effect is stomach upset, indigestion and bloating. If you suffer from these effects, glucosamine should be taken with food. Glucosamine should not be given to children or pregnant or breast-feeding moms. All supplements should be discussed with your physician prior to use.

 

Sources:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/glucosamine-000306.htm

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

 

 

Green Tea Has Weight Loss and Anti Inflammatory Properties

The green tea plant, also known as Camellia sinesis, grows as large as a shrub or tree. It was first cultivated in India and China. In traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, it was used as a stimulant to promote mental health, promote digestion, as a diuretic, help regulate blood sugar, for improvement of hearth health and topically to help wounds heal.

Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and therefore has the highest concentration of antioxidants, mainly polyphenols, among the different teas. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals that can alter cells and cause cell death. It is believed free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids provide green tea’s stimulant effects. L-theanine, an amino acid compound also found in green, has a calming effect on the nervous system.

Green tea has been extensively studied and has shown promise in multiple health areas. In studies following large populations over years, green tea consumption has been shown to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack. Studies have also shown people who consume green tea tend to have lower rates of cancer, especially bladder and breast cancer.

Green tea has also been shown to reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease, such as crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In diabetes type 1, green tea showed a slowed progression of complications due to diabetes, although more studies need to be done. Clinical studies also suggest green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat. One study confirmed the combination of green tea and caffeine improved weight loss and maintenance in overweight people.

Green tea is generally considered safe if taken as directed. Traditionally 2-3 cups of tea per day is recommended. Supplements in general should not be given to children, breast-feeding or pregnant mom’s unless under the direct supervision of your physician. People with heart problems, those on blood thinning medication (Warfarin), those with ulcers or anxiety disorders should avoid green tea. Caffeine overdose can cause nausea, vomiting and headaches.

Source:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Soy, A Vegetarian Protein Source

Soybean.USDASoy, also known as soy isoflavones, soy protein and soybean (edamame), has been used as a food staple in many Asian countries for almost 5,000 years. Soybeans, unlike most plant foods, are high in protein and together with rice provide protein comparable to that found in animal products.

The active constituents of soy include protein, isoflavones, saponins, phytosterols, and essential amino acids. The isoflavones are antioxidants and phytoestrogenic (plant compounds similar to estrogen), which can help reduce cell damage and may help ease menopause symptoms. Saponins enhance immune function and bind to cholesterol to limit its absorption in the intestine. Phytosterols also help lower cholesterol levels. A number of clinical studies in Japan found those who ate the most soy had the lowest cholesterol levels, specifically LDL decreased by 10 % and total cholesterol by 7 %, although this might also be do to less consumption of meat by these populations. Studies also show soy intake may help prevent hormone-related cancers such as breast, prostate and endometrial cancer. There have also been some mixed studies showing some benefit in increasing bone mineral density in women, which may help prevent osteoporosis.

Soy comes in various forms. Whole soy nuts, soybean, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy-based infant formula, soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy powders and shakes, soy nut butters and soy containing protein bars are just a few examples of soy containing foods. Soy in general is considered safe, although it has been associated with constipation and stomach upset. Soy is considered safe for children, pregnant and breast-feeding moms. Avoid soy if you are allergic to soy. Although soy consumption has been shown to decrease your risk or acquiring breast cancer, in some laboratory studies it stimulated the growth of breast cancer cells already present. So therefore if you have breast cancer you should discuss soy consumption with your physician prior to taking soy products.

 

Sources:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/soy-000326.htm

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Activated Charcoal Overview

It was 1831. In front of his distinguished colleagues at the French Academy of Medicine, Professor Touery drank a lethal dose of strychnine and lived to tell the tale. He had combined the deadly poison with activated charcoal.

That’s how powerful activated charcoal is as an emergency decontaminant in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the stomach and intestines. Activated charcoal is considered to be the most effective single agent available. It is used after a person swallows or absorbs almost any toxic drug or chemical.

  • Activated charcoal is estimated to reduce absorption of poisonous substances up to 60%.
  • It works by adsorbing chemicals, thus reducing their toxicity (poisonous nature), through the entire length of the stomach and small and large intestines (GI tract).
  • Activated charcoal itself is a fine, black powder that is odorless, tasteless, and nontoxic.

Activated charcoal is often given after the stomach is pumped (gastric lavage). Gastric lavage is only effective immediately after swallowing a toxic substance (within about one-half hour) and does not have effects that reach beyond the stomach as activated charcoal does.

 

How Activated Charcoal Works

Activated charcoal exerts its effects by absorbing a wide variety of drugs and chemicals. Adsorption is a process in which atoms and molecules move from a bulk phase (such as a solid, liquid, or gas) onto a solid or liquid surface. In other words, the toxic substance attaches to the surface of the charcoal. Because charcoal is not “digested,” it stays inside the GI tract and eliminates the toxin when the person has a bowel movement.

  • This mechanism of action should not be confused with absorption. Absorption occurs when a substance passes into or through a tissue, like water passing into a sponge. Once the chemical or drug has been absorbed by the GI tract, activated charcoal can no longer retrieve the toxic ingestion. It will only attach to substances that are still inside the stomach or intestines.
  • The charcoal is “activated” because it is produced to have a very fine particle size. This increases the overall surface area and adsorptive capacity of the charcoal. It is produced by adding acid and steam to carbonaceous materials such as wood, coal, rye starch, or coconut shells. To put this in perspective, one standard 50-gram dose of activated charcoal has the surface area of 10 football fields.
  • Activated charcoal is often combined with sorbitol (a substance that stimulates the bowels to move, like a laxative) to shorten the amount of time to move through the system and reduce the possibility of constipation. However, to avoid adverse effects, sorbitol is not given with every dose of activated charcoal.
  • All efforts should be made to reduce adsorption of severely toxic substances, as activated charcoal  does not bind as well with these substances:
    • Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), strong acids and bases, metals and inorganic minerals such as sodium, iron, lead, arsenic, iodine, fluorine, and boric acid.
    • Alcohol (such as ethanol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, glycols, and acetone)
    • Hydrocarbons (such as petroleum distillates and plant hydrocarbons such as pine oil)
  • Activated charcoal does not irritate the mucous membranes of the GI system. In addition to adsorption of toxins, activated charcoal also adsorbs food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. However, this short-term effect is not a concern when activated charcoal is used to treat poisoning.

 

 

How Activated Charcoal Is Given

Activated charcoal may be given by mouth to someone who is awake and alert. It is a black liquid drink.

  • If the person vomits the drink, another dose will be given through a nasogastric or orogastric tube (a tube inserted through the nose or mouth, down the esophagus and into the stomach).
  • If the person is unconscious (or nearly so), an endotracheal intubation (a procedure in which a tube is inserted through the mouth down into the trachea) may be necessary. This will allow oxygen to be delivered and will help protect the airway and lungs from gastric content. This will minimize the risk of the person vomiting and choking.
  • Activated charcoal is usually given by a doctor. It is not a substance to be used at home. Doctors determine the dose or amount of charcoal to give based on the patient’s weight (with special doses for children) and on how much poison was swallowed. There are some doctors who will prescribe charcoal for emergency use in the home. This should only be done under the direct guidance of the doctor or poison control center. In the United States, the direct line to the poison control center is 1-800-222-1222.
  • The doctor also determines when and if additional doses are given by monitoring blood levels of the poison. Other symptoms the doctor monitors are nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and severe heart problems. Multiple doses of activated charcoal can be given if someone swallowed large doses of long-acting, sustained release medications.
  • If blood levels of the poison remain too high, the doctor may recommend kidney dialysis. Dialysis is the best way to remove the toxin from the bloodstream.

 

 

When Not to Use Activated Charcoal

  • Activated charcoal will not be given to people with an obstruction of the intestines or if the person swallowed a corrosive agent, such as a strong acid or alkali.
  • Strong acids may “burn” through the lining of the GI tract. Doctors will need to look at the lining with an endoscope – a special instrument designed to look inside the stomach. Activated charcoal is not to be used with this type of poison because it is difficult to see the lining of the GI tract with the scope after charcoal is given.
  • Activated charcoal can cause intestinal problems such as constipation, or it can create clumps of foreign material. This situation can be prevented by giving a laxative such as sorbitol to the patient, however, repeated doses with sorbitol may cause excessive diarrhea, dehydration, and chemical imbalance.
  • If the patient is fructose intolerant, family members should notify the treating doctor, and sorbitol will not be given with the activated charcoal. Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that acts as a laxative to move the charcoal through the system. Babies younger than one year of age year should not be given sorbitol because it may cause excessive fluid losses.

If an antidote to a specific type of drug poisoning is given, then the doctor may not give activated charcoal because the drug given as treatment will also be adsorbed. A classic example is an acetaminophen (Tylenol overdose), in which there is a clearly established antidote with acetylcysteine (Mucomyst)

 

Emergency Home Care

If you or someone you know has swallowed or breathed a poison and you or they have signs or symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, pain, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, or abnormal skin color, then you must call either an ambulance, alert your local medical emergency system, or the National Poison Control Center in the United States (1-800-222-1222) for guidance (this number is routed to the poison control center that serves your area).

Place the telephone number (along with police, fire, and 911 or equivalent) near your home phones.

The best approach to poisoning is to identify the toxic substance and call your regional poison control center, or equivalent in your area, or go directly to the nearest Emergency Department.

  • Do not induce vomiting or give syrup of Ipecac.
    • Ipecac was once used to induce vomiting in poisoned patients for whom there was a chance to get the toxin out of the body. Several advisory bodies such as the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that Ipecac NOT be used and that it should not even be kept in the home. For more information on this subject go to: http://www.poison.org/prepared/ipecac.asp
  • A few poison centers recommend the use of activated charcoal in specific circumstances. Call your local poison control center for guidance before giving it to someone. In areas in which the poison center recommends activated charcoal, pharmacies will stock the product, and it can be purchased over-the-counter. In general, if the local poison center does not recommend its use at home, pharmacies will not stock it.
  • Milk products may decrease the ability of the charcoal to work. Do not attempt these types of home remedies. The best advice is to get the person to an Emergency Department.

If the person cannot be aroused, is vomiting, or has difficulty breathing, this is a 911 emergency. Bring the container of poison or medicine bottles, if known, to the Emergency Department.

 

Sources:

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/activated_charcoal/article_em.htm

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

 

Wild Yam For Improving Cholesterol

Wild_yam_in_woods_-_young_plantsWild yam, also known as Dioscorea villosa, is originally found in the US, Latin America (especially Mexico) and Asia. It is a twining, tuberous vine with small, greenish-white and greenish-yellow flowers with heart-shaped leaves. The root of wild yam is used medicinally. Traditionally herbalists used wild yam for cough, stomach upset or colic, inflammation, menstrual cramps and problems related to pregnancy.

The main active ingredients in the roots of wild yam are diosgenin, dicroetine and an antioxidant. Diosgenin is a phytoestrogen that can be chemically converted in a lab into a hormone called progesterone. Diosgenin was used to make the first birth control pills in the 1960s. What is interesting about diosgenin is that the human body cannot convert it to progesterone but this can be done chemically in the lab. Wild yam supplements have not been shown to increase estrogen or progesterone in human studies to date. Also there has been no studies to date that support wild yam’s use in helping with menstrual cramps, pregnancy symptoms or with menopause symptom’s. Another active component, dicroetine, has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in studies. An antioxidant contained in wild yam has also been shown to raise HDL, the good cholesterol, and decrease triglycerides in human studies.

Wild yam is available as a supplement in liquid extract, as a powder, capsule, tablet and as a topical cream. Wild yam has been traditionally taken as a tincture 2-3 ml, 3 times a day, or in powdered, capsule and tablet form 1 gram 3 times per day. These supplements are not recommended for children and should not be given to pregnant or lactating moms.  Wild yam supplements should not be used with hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills because it might interact with estradiol and therefore the medications ability to work properly.

 

Sources:

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/wild-yam-000280.htm

Garby, Alan, et al. The Natural Pharmacy, 3rd edition, 2006

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Iron and Vitamin D supplementation in children/infants

 

I hope by now you have heard about the AAP’s vitamin D recommendation for young children.  In addition to vitamin D, the AAP will be publishing an updated report on iron recommendations for children in November.  Here is a sneak-peek.  But first, a little background info.

Why is iron important?

Iron is used by the body in many ways.  Specifically, iron is used to make red blood cells. The red blood cell moves oxygen throughout the body.  In order for the red blood cell to attract oxygen molecules for the ride, an “oxygen magnet” called hemoglobin is made for the cell using iron as a key ingredient.  If a person does not have enough iron to make functioning red blood cells, the body will not produce an adequate amount of these cells.  This leads to a condition called iron deficiency anemia (IDA).

We also know that iron is important for brain development. Without appropriate levels of iron in a young child, there may be irreversible neurodevelopmental consequences.  Since iron deficiency (ID) is the most common nutrient deficiency in children worldwide and evidence of iron’s importance for a growing young child’s body is so significant, the AAP hopes these updated recommendations will decrease the presence of ID and IDA.

What is “anemia”?  How is iron related to anemia?

Anemia is a term that reflects the amount of hemoglobin in the body.  If a person has  low level of hemoglobin, they are considered anemic.  Hemoglobin is the “oxygen magnet” that lives in the red blood cell.  Every hemoglobin molecule is made using iron.

In the past, if a child was anemic, it was assumed that the child was also iron deficient.  This assumption was made based on the knowledge of the high prevalence of IDA in kids.  After assessing the recent review of data, researchers were surprised to find that most kids that were iron deficient were not anemic.  Of the kids who were anemic, only 40% of those kids had anemia due to ID.

Based on the new analysis, the AAP has made the following recommendations:

  • Exclusively breastfed, full-term infants have adequate iron intake for the first 4 months of life.  After this time, the iron content in breast milk decreases and the infant’s larger body requires more iron for optimal growth.  Therefore, all infants over the age of 4 months who are getting at least 50% of their intake with breast milk should receive a liquid iron supplement. Once adequate iron-containing foods are added to baby’s diet, the supplementation may be discontinued.  Goal supplementation = approximately 0.5 mg per pound of body weight per day.
  • All breast-feeding pre-term infants (before 37 weeks gestation) should receive an iron supplement from 1 month of age until the age of 1 year. Iron is passed from mother to child in the womb during the last trimester.  If a baby comes too early, they miss the time needed for iron to be shared.  Goal supplementation = approximately 1 mg iron per pound of body weight per day.
  • All formula-fed (term and pre-term) infants should remain on an iron-fortified formula until 12 months of life. This will be adequate intake without any additional supplementation.
  • Infants 6-12 months of age should regularly eat iron containing foods.  Adding iron-containing foods as “first foods” is important.  If iron-containing foods are not routinely part of the child’s diet, a liquid supplement should be added. Recommended daily intake is 11 mg of iron for this age group.
  • Children 1-3 years of age routinely need foods containing iron.  Vitamin C is also important in toddler diets since vitamin C helps iron get absorbed into the body from the digestive tract.  Milk is very low in iron.  Drinking over 24 ounces of milk per day increases ID risk. Recommended daily intake is 7 mg of iron for this age group.

In addition, I would add that teens also need to review their iron intake.  Teen boys need 12 mg of iron per day, while teen girls need 15 mg of iron per day.

It is best to support nutritional requirements with whole, natural foods.  However, when was the last time you were able to get a toddler to eat a plateful of liver and lima beans?  Our typical American diets are low in foods with iron.  It is appropriate, therefore, to supplement our young kids with quality vitamins if natural foods containing iron are not a large part of the diet.

As a result of these recommendations, it is possible that your provider will be asking more questions about your child’s health and diet history to determine his or her risk of iron deficiency. Based on your child’s risk factors, a blood test to determine iron status is recommended after the first birthday, or sooner if needed.  If iron supplementation is recommended, additional testing may be requested after 4 weeks to determine if the supplementation is effective.  Your provider will be able to specifically direct any lab testing or supplementation needs for your family.  Please ask at your child’s next check-up what your doctor suggests.

P.S. Iron can be toxic in large amounts.  If you choose to supplement your kids, keep iron formulations out of kids’ reach to decrease the risk of overdose.

Sources:

http://kckidsdoc.com/does-my-child-need-a-vitamin-new-aap-recommendations.html

 

Vitamin D: On the Double

If you think your child is getting enough vitamin D by just drinking milk, you’re probably wrong. Recent studies show that most children aren’t getting enough of this essential vitamin. In October 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) responded by doubling the amount of vitamin D it recommends for babies and children to 400 International Units (IU) per day.

Why Vitamin D?

Most often associated with milk and sunlight, vitamin D hasn’t been top-of-mind for parents in recent years. Common wisdom says that if you’re child drinks milk and plays outside, he’s getting what he needs, right? Surprisingly, not necessarily. “We’re seeing evidence of vitamin D deficiency in infants and children of all ages as well as adolescents and adults,” says Carol Wagner, M.D., FAAP, professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina. “We know more about vitamin D than we did even five years ago. Because of lifestyle changes and sunscreen usage, the majority of the population shows signs of deficiency as determined by measured vitamin D levels in blood.”

Vitamin D helps ensure the body absorbs and retains calcium and phosphorus, both critical for building bone. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a bone-softening disease that continues to be reported in the United States mostly in children in the first two years of life. At greatest risk for rickets are infants exclusively breastfed who do not receive a daily vitamin D supplement.

“There is epidemiologic evidence that vitamin D not only makes for strong bones, but may play a role in preventing some chronic diseases later in life, including those involving the immune and cardiovascular systems,” explains Frank R. Greer, M.D., FAAP, professor of pediatrics at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Based on these findings the AAP has changed its previous recommendation of 200 IU per day to 400 IU a day beginning in the first days of life. “We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits,” says Dr. Greer, chair of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and co-author of the AAP’s clinical report on vitamin D. “Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone.”

Supplements for All

The AAP recommends vitamin D supplements for infants, children, and adolescents, including those who are breastfed. “Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants,” explains Dr. Wagner, a member of the AAP Section on Breastfeeding Executive Committee and co-author of the AAP’s clinical report on vitamin D. “However, it is important that breast-fed infants receive supplements of vitamin D. Until it is determined how much vitamin D a nursing mother should take, we must ensure that the breastfeeding infant receives an adequate supply of vitamin D through a supplement of 400 IU per day.” Once the child is weaned, a vitamin D supplement is needed throughout childhood and adolescence as well, she adds.

For formula-fed babies, the requirements are the same. Unless the child is drinking 32 ounces of infant formula per day, a vitamin D supplement is required.

Giving Supplements

When it comes to giving your child a vitamin D supplement, there’s nothing new about the process. “Any chewable multivitamin supplement for kids that contains 400 IU of Vitamin D is acceptable,” says Dr. Greer. “There are several liquid vitamin preparations for infants that contain 400 IU vitamin D per dose as well. Chewable vitamins are generally regarded as safe for  children over the age of three who are able to chew hard foods and candy.”

For breast- or bottle-fed babies, liquid supplements are the best option. “There are liquid preparations that give the recommended intake of 400 IU in 1/2 or 1 mL, which are considered to be safer by some,” says Dr. Wagner. “There are also liquid drop solutions available that provide one drop that equals 400 IU per day. The care provider can put the vitamin D drop on an index finger and then place the finger in the baby’s mouth,” she suggests. “Alternatively, the drop can be put on a pacifier or breast and then when the infant sucks the pacifier or breast, the infant receives the vitamin.”

As with all medications and supplements, vitamin D supplements should be kept out of a child’s reach. “The risk with drop solutions is that an infant or other children in the house could receive too much vitamin D,” Dr. Wagner says.

Finding D Naturally

In addition to vitamin supplements, enriched foods are another way to increase the vitamin D in your child’s diet. Look for foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereal, orange juice, yogurt, and margarine.

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods — they include oily fish, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and some mushrooms. Oily (or fatty) fish are one of the best sources of the vitamin. For example, 3.5 ounces of cooked salmon offers approximately 360 IU (about 90 percent of your child’s daily recommended value) of vitamin D per serving. Other examples of oily fish include tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, kipper, anchovies, carp, and orange roughy.

Quick Tips: The ABCs of Vitamin D

How to make sure your child is getting enough vitamin D:

  • Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life.
  • All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than 32 ounces per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU a day.
  • Adolescents who do not get 400 IU of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount.
  • Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those taking certain medications and with chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, may need higher doses of vitamin D. Consult your  pediatrician.

Quick Tips: Adding it Up

Here’s a look at some food sources of Vitamin D:

 

Food IU per serving* Percent DV**
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon  1,360 340
Salmon, cooked, 3.5 ounces  360  90
Mackerel, cooked, 3.5 ounces  345  90 
Tuna fish, canned in oil, drained, 1.75 ounces 200 50
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1.75 ounces  250  70
Milk (nonfat, reduced fat, and whole), Vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup  98  25 
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon 60  15
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the Daily value for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup 40 10
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk)  20 
Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces  15  4
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce  12 
*International Units
**Daily Value based on recommended 400 IU for children.Source: National Institutes for Health, Office of Dietary Supplements 

 

http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/pages/Vitamin-D

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Valerian – A Natural Sleep and Relaxation Remedy

576px-20130530Baldrian_Altlussheim2Valerian, also known as Valeriana officinalis, setwall, Valerianae radix, Baldrianwurzel, and phu, is a member of the Valerianaceae family, a perennial plant that grows up to 2 feet tall. It is native to Europe and Asia and has a distinctive odor that can be unpleasant. Valerian has been used historically since ancient Greece and Roman times for insomnia, anxiety, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, for epileptic seizures, hyperactivity and heart palpitations.

The active ingredients in valerian are volatile oils. A possible mechanism by which valerian may cause sedation is by increasing the amount of an inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). Valerian is believed to cause GABA to be released from brain nerve endings and also block its re-uptake, increasing it’s effects in the brain. Valerenic acid also inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA. A class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which includes Xanax and Valium, also works by increasing the amount of GABA in the brain. Researchers think valerian may have a similar, but weaker effect. There have been a few double-blind randomized studies that support a decrease in insomnia symptoms when taken for over a month. Germany’s Commission E also has approved valerian as an effective mild sedative. The other historical uses of valerian have not been actively studied and therefore have not been proven to be effective.

Valerian supplements are made from its roots, underground and horizontal stems and these are dried and prepared as capsules, teas, tablets or tinctures.  Valerian supplements should be taken as directed by the manufacturer.  For insomnia, 600 mg of valerian is recommended 1 to 2 hours prior to bedtime; or for anxiety 200 mg 2 to 3 times per day. Valerian is generally considered safe although the most common side effects reported in clinical studies included headaches, dizziness, itching and gastrointestinal disturbances. Children and pregnant or nursing moms should not take valerian unless under the direct supervision of a physician. Individuals who drink alcohol or take barbiturates, benzodiazepines or anticonvulsants should be aware of the possibility of dangerous additive sedative effects with valerian.

 

Sources:

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/valerian-000279.htm

 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.