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HEALTHY LIVING

How to choose quality vitamins, supplements

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(Family Features) More than half of Americans take an over-the-counter vitamin or dietary supplement, but many may not realize that the quality of these products can vary greatly. Because supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like other medicines, not all are quality products. When choosing a vitamin or other supplement, checking for independent verification can help ensure quality.

A recent study in the “Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine” found that the amount of actual melatonin in 71% of supplements is off by a 10% margin, meaning that labels of many melatonin substances do not accurately reflect how much melatonin is in the pill. The study also found the amount of melatonin within pills in a single jar can vary by 465%. This incident illustrates the value of verification, which confirms what is on the label is what is in the bottle.

Measures of Quality
The following are some of the characteristics to consider when evaluating the quality of a dietary supplement:

  • Positive Identification: There are products on the market that do not contain the ingredients indicated on the label. Tests by an independent third party can confirm that what is on the label is in the bottle.
  • Potency: It is crucial that ingredients are present in the right amount. Too little may have no effect on your health, while too much may be harmful.
  • Purity: Unwanted ingredients can have a negative effect on health. Examples may include heavy metals, mold or mildew, and chemicals from pesticides.
  • Performance: A pill or tablet must properly dissolve, or else ingredients cannot be absorbed by the body. In that case, it is more likely to pass through your system without any effect on your health.

Another example is saw palmetto extract, a supplement commonly used to support prostate health and help to reduce frequent urination. Studies indicate that not all saw palmetto products are the same. Differences in purity, potency and quality among the various available saw palmetto products are thought to affect the usefulness of these supplements.

“As with any supplement, a consumer should look for the most reliable option,” said Ed Wyszumiala, head of the Dietary Supplement Verification Program at U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). “Only consistent and quality saw palmetto extracts have been shown to be effective based on clinical research. Therefore, consumers seeking a quality dietary supplement can feel confident choosing products with third-party verification, such as Flomentum, the only saw palmetto extract supplement that has been independently verified by USP.”

How to Make Supplements Part of a Healthy Daily Routine
Following a few simple guidelines can make it easy to include supplements as part of your daily routine.

  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplements, as they may interact with your prescription medications.
  • Do your homework on the manufacturer to make sure it is a reputable company that adheres to good manufacturing practices and does not appear to be the subject of frequent consumer complaints.
  • Avoid companies making questionable claims about curing diseases and do your research on the science behind the products.
  • Carefully follow the directions on the labels, so you take the supplement exactly as intended.

Tests by an independent third party can confirm that what is on the label is in the bottle. Learn more about quality supplements and check whether your products are USP Verified at Quality-Supplements.org/Verified-Products.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
U.S. Pharmacopeia

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HEALTHY LIVING

Make the most of snacking for healthy kids

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(Family Features) Kids, no matter their age, love snacks, and often come home from school hungry and looking for something to eat. However, it can be a struggle to find snacks that kids enjoy and parents approve.

The snack experts at Kemps along with registered dietitian and nutrition expert Frances Largeman-Roth know the importance of finding fun and tasty ways to give hungry, growing kids the nutrient-rich foods they need. These tips can help you make the most of snack time (or any time) to keep kids healthy.

Look for Real Fruit Ingredients
While quick and easy, many packaged snacks use sugar instead of real fruit. Make sure to read labels carefully to understand what is in kids’ snacks. Look for real fruit, not just fruit juice, and key vitamins and nutrients like calcium while skipping out on artificial flavors, preservatives, colors and high-fructose corn syrup.

Stock Up on Kid-Friendly Options
One way to help make the most of snack time is choosing an option like Kemps Smooth Cottage Cheese. This first-of-its-kind whole milk cottage cheese is blended with real fruit to create a creamytaste and texture without curds that kids are sure to love. A quick and easy solution, it also allows kids to be independent with what they eat to make snack time more rewarding – just grab a spoon with no unnecessary cutting or preparation needed.

Start the Day Off Right
It’s not always easy to squeeze a nutritious breakfast into busy mornings, but it’s an important way to start each day. Multiple studies show kids who eat a nutritious breakfast perform better academically and focus better throughout the day. Plus, starting the day off right helps kick unhealthy cravings while keeping kids full and energized. Once snack time rolls around, they’ll be ready for something healthy and delicious instead of reaching for something sugary.

Pack In the Protein
To make sure your kids are staying full between meals and getting the nutrients they need, stock up on snacks that are high in protein. According to Largeman-Roth, dairy is a great way to accomplish this while also giving kids a tasty snack. Snacks like Kemps Smooth Cottage Cheese pack a protein punch with almost twice as much protein per ounce as most yogurts made for kids, plus it contains probiotics, another key ingredient to support gut health.

Model Healthy Habits
Kids learn by example in countless ways, and the way you take care of your own health and well-being is no exception. When kids see grownups they admire making smart choices about nutrition, they’re more likely to adopt those behaviors themselves. Join in the fun at snack time and create meaningful family moments by preparing or enjoying a nutritious snack together.

Make Snack Time Fun
There’s few things kids love more than fun flavors or seeing characters they cherish on their favorite foods. To make snack time extra exciting, get snacks featuring characters they love or with favorite flavors, like strawberry or mixed berry, which are popular among kids.

To learn more and find fun recipes, visit kemps.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
Kemps

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HEALTHY LIVING

Spring checklist for pets

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6 ways to keep your pets happy and healthy

(Family Features) Warmer weather means it’s time to spring clean, get grooming and prepare your pets’ diets to support them through the season.

Keep your furry friends happy and healthy this spring with these six tips from the experts at Zesty Paws, an award-winning pet supplement brand:

Give Skin and Coats a Little TLC: Many pets form winter coats during the colder months to help them stay warm and comfortable then shed the coats in the spring to prepare for warmer temperatures. Some pets may need extra help maintaining their shiny, healthy coats, especially if mats have formed in their fur or if they are breeds that develop a thick undercoat. Professional grooming, at-home brushing and regular bathing can all be helpful ways to speed up the process to remove some of the extra fur and decrease the prevalence of dander, dust and pollen that can attach to fur and skin through the season.

Add Seasonal Allergy Support with Supplements: Just like humans, furry friends can develop and experience seasonal allergies, too. Giving your pets’ immune systems some extra support can help ease some common allergy symptoms. Supplements like Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites for Cats and Aller-Immune Bites for Dogs are chewables that provide seasonal allergy support by aiding normal immune functions, skin health and gut flora, and may also help maintain normal histamine levels.

Ease Back into Exercise: The change in weather means more time for outdoor adventures with your pets, but don’t forget to cool down and warm up as you and your pets ease back into the season. Planning for short, leashed walks and timed play sessions can help your pets gradually prepare their hips and joints for fun, warm weather activities.

Watch Out for Pet Pests: Once temperatures start to rise, the tiny, creepy critters start crawling. Fleas, ticks and other pests can cause serious health concerns for pets. This spring, make sure your pest control programs are primed and ready for added protection. Talk to your veterinarian about the best routine and products for your pets.

Freshen Up Bedding and Bowls: It’s important to keep a clean environment by scrubbing, sweeping and vacuuming regularly to decrease allergens in the home. When you’re tackling this year’s spring cleaning, remember to put your pets’ bedding and bowls on the list, too. Updating or disinfecting your pets’ blankets, litter boxes, toys and other supplies is a good way to keep them feeling safe and comfortable in the home.

Schedule an Annual Vet Visit: Spring is a good time to schedule your pets’ annual vet visits. Make sure they’re up to date on all vaccinations, get their dental health checkups and re-evaluate nutrition plans.

Find more advice for keeping your pet healthy and happy at zestypaws.com.


SOURCE:
Zesty Paws

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Take control: How managing blood pressure can help save lives

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(Family Features) Effectively managing your blood pressure can help reduce your chances of life-threatening medical events, even death.

Gain confidence and learn how to take control of your blood pressure with these tips and resources from the American Heart Association.

The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it typically has few, if any, noticeable symptoms but can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and even death. Many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Some overlooked symptoms can include dizziness, facial flushing and blood spots in the eyes.

Understand Your Readings
(Family Features) Effectively managing your blood pressure can help reduce your chances of life-threatening medical events, even death.

Gain confidence and learn how to take control of your blood pressure with these tips and resources from the American Heart Association.

The Silent Killer
High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it typically has few, if any, noticeable symptoms but can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and even death. Many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. Some overlooked symptoms can include dizziness, facial flushing and blood spots in the eyes.

Understand Your Readings
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to regularly take an accurate blood pressure measurement. Understanding your results is key to controlling high blood pressure. Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are usually considered within the normal range, yet it is important to talk to a doctor about your healthy range. Even if you fall within a healthy range, it can be beneficial to stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise. Consider these numbers and ranges to know if it’s necessary to take action:

  • Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 mm Hg systolic (the upper number) and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic (the lower number). People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.
  • Hypertension stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 mm Hg systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack or stroke.
  • Hypertension stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
  • A hypertensive crisis requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait 5 minutes then test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. Seek emergency help if your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness or weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking.

Know Your Risk
While many risk factors for high blood pressure may be related to your age, gender and family history, there are also risk factors you can change to help prevent and manage high blood pressure. People at added risk may be those who engage in lower levels of physical activity, eat a diet high in sodium (particularly from packaged, processed foods), may be overweight or obese, drink excessive amounts of alcohol and may have multiple chronic conditions.

Talk About It
Whether you’re making changes in your own life to combat high blood pressure or helping someone else, positive feelings and confidence are longer-term motivators to making health changes. If you’re talking with friends, loved ones or your doctor, be prepared to ask open-ended questions. Be curious and kind to yourself and others you may be helping.

Lowering Your Pressure
You can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure and even death with lifestyle changes and medication.

Watching your weight, especially if you are overweight or obese, can bring health gains; losing as little as 5-10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure. Managing your stress by relaxing for short periods during your workday, at night and on weekends is another productive practice.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to work with a doctor to manage the disease and reduce your blood glucose levels.

If you think you could have sleep apnea, getting screened for and treating the condition can also reduce your risk for developing high blood pressure.

When you have high blood pressure, medication may be an important part of your treatment. Follow the recommendations carefully, even if it means taking medication every day for the rest of your life.

When you’re discussing high blood pressure concerns with your health care provider, also be sure to talk to your doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers that may raise your blood pressure. Talking with your doctor can help you identify over-the-counter pain medications that won’t raise your blood pressure to ensure you’re not creating a blood pressure problem while treating other concerns.

Getting Ready for Your Appointment
Think about what challenges you face in controlling your blood pressure that you need to share with your doctor to create a plan that works for you. Start by considering the answers to these questions to discuss with your health care provider:

  • How often do you check your blood pressure?
  • Do you keep a log of your blood pressure measurements?
  • Are you taking medications as prescribed?
  • What are some things you can do to have less salt in your diet?
  • What are some reasons it can be hard to manage your blood pressure?
  • What are some things you’d like to discuss during your appointment?

Learn more about monitoring and managing high blood pressure at heart.org/bptools.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man talking with nurse)


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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