The Detox Diet: 9 Simple Steps for Whole Body Cleansing

Vegetables and fuits are part of a detox diet.

We promote internal cleansing to help remove chemical toxicants present in your diet and the environment around you. But if you want to take your efforts a step further, cutting back on the food-related toxins you ingest is a good idea. And there’s no better way to do that than clean up your diet with a detox diet.

What Is a Detox Diet?

A detox diet – also called an elimination diet or a cleansing diet – is a quick and simple way to kick-start a healthier lifestyle. Doing a detox diet involves eating clean for a certain period of time, removing items from your diet that commonly trigger reactions, and slowly reintroducing foods afterward. Maybe you want to clean up your eating habits, lose weight, get rid of the blahs, or identify a food allergy or sensitivity. But detox diets have become so popular that it can be difficult to know where to start. Here, I outline the nine steps to a safe, easy, and effective one-week detox diet. You can extend or shorten it as you desire, but a week is a good baseline length of time to see change.

Nine Steps to a Successful Detox Diet

Step 1: Take Inventory

  • Take your body measurements, including weight, height, as well as waist, hip, and upper arm circumference.
  • To evaluate your overall wellness, take our general health questionnaire the day before you begin.
  • Visit your healthcare practitioner for a physical evaluation. Check your blood pressure, as well as your triglycerides and cholesterol, blood cell count, and B-12 level.

Step 2: Read Up

  • If you are detoxing for a specific reason, educate yourself about the issue.
  • Further inform yourself by reading my book, The Green Body Cleanse.

Step 3: Create a Support Group

  • Find online support groups, including forums or Facebook groups to find others who want to or have already done a detox diet.
  • Buddy up. People are more successful when trying to make life changes if they have a partner or friend to work alongside or stay accountable to.

Step 4: Plan Your Week

  • Learn about food combining so you can find recipes that follow the rules outlined below.
  • Create a meal plan for seven days using allowed foods and combos
    Make a grocery list with all the items needed for your recipes.

Step 5: Eliminate Temptations

  • Clean your kitchen pantry and refrigerator of tempting foods on the no-list. If you don’t want to toss everything, at least move tempting items to another room where you will not see them.
  • Discuss your plan with your partner or kids to ensure the best chance for success.

Step 6: Prep for the Big Detox Week

  • Buy all the fruits, veggies, and condiments for your meal plan.
  • When putting your new products away, read the labels, and make sure you have everything you need for the recipes you’ve selected, and easy, healthy snacks.
  • Consider using toxic-free body products and cleaning supplies during this week, and into the future. You can buy them or make your own. See our list of 19 chemicals to avoid in beauty products.

Step 7: Get To It! Time to Detox

  • Start on a Saturday so that you have the weekend to adjust.
  • If you work outside the home, make meals on the weekend, freeze ahead, or make one big meal that you can eat over several days.
  • Make sure that you have healthy on-the-go snacks, like nuts and fruit.

Step 8: Take Inventory Again

  • Redo your inventory to take stock of any changes. Take all the same measurements you did at the beginning if you can.
  • At a minimum, weigh yourself and take body measurements, blood pressure, and redo the online health questionnaire. Do you see any improvements?

Step 9: Reintroduction

  • If you’re going to reintroduce the eliminated food groups like meat, dairy, and gluten, do it gradually – one every few days. Because they’re potential food allergens, reintroducing more than one at a time may cause you to miss out on identifying which items cause you digestive problems or other health issues.
  • Notice and record your body’s reactions in a journal.
  • If you have a reaction to a food or food group, eliminate it again, and then wait a couple of days. Introduce another food or food group at that time.
  • Enjoy your body’s health changes.

How Does the Detox Diet Work?

Each of the steps gives you some details about how to complete a successful one-week detox diet, but you can modify them to your needs and lifestyle. I’ll provide my recommendations, but I know people like flexibility. The true key to success is eliminating the foods that cause problems for you, observing how your body responds, and then slowly reintroducing foods back to your diet.

How Long Should You Detox For?

I designed the Body Detox Diet for a one-week period. I recommend starting on a Saturday, or whichever day you are off work so that you can adjust to the process.

One week is an ideal period of time for a detox diet.

If you are unable to do a full week, I recommend a minimum of three days, because it takes at least that long for the colon to clean out the previous contents and to really feel a big difference. You can try an oxygen-based colon cleanser like Oxy-Powder® to flush your colon, which will get things moving and give you a flatter belly and smoother digestion.

If you want, you can definitely go longer than a week. You can eat this way for two weeks, a month, or even a lifetime if you find yourself experiencing better energy levels and feeling great. It will boost your metabolism, cleanse your colon, and improve your health.

What Should You Eliminate?

The Body Detox Diet is a vegan plan. Below I’ll give some specific recommendations for foods, but in general you should aim to eliminate the following for best results:

What Can You Eat on a Detox Diet?

My Body Detox Diet plan involves eating a vegan diet for one week; vegan means no animal products including meat, dairy, or eggs. For optimal results, you should also eliminate the items listed above, and follow our guidelines for food combining. Eating simple, organic, whole foods lightens the load on detoxifying organs like your liver and kidney while they eliminate the built-up toxins in your system, and you can identify what items cause your particular symptoms, by reintroducing them one by one afterward.

I also recommend avoiding certain food combinations that I outline below. So what can you eat on this body detox diet? A lot! But it will take some work for you to plan ahead, find delicious recipes to try, and shop to stock your pantry with healthful choices. Eat as much organic food as possible, because it is a healthier choice with fewer pesticides and higher quality nutrients.

There are many more choices besides these, but here are a few options:

Some people may want to eliminate legumes, particularly if one of your body symptoms involves gas or digestive issues. If you do choose to eat legumes, soaking them overnight and then draining the liquid off removes some of the compounds that can cause gas.

You may choose to eat fish or white meat during the detox diet, which is not optimal, but it will still allow you to see how eliminating the other foods affects your body and health.

Also be aware that people with gluten sensitivity or a gluten allergy can have cross-reactions with other grains that do not contain gluten. Some gluten-free items may get processed in facilities with gluten-containing grains, but even those that are not may cause a cross-reaction in the immune system. If you suspect you may be gluten-intolerant, try avoiding all grains for the duration of your detox diet.

You may also want to spend the week surveying your home and eliminating body and cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals. Replace them with green, environmentally-friendly products, or even do-it-yourself (DIY) homemade cleaning products.

The Healing Crisis

The first few days of a detox diet are often the hardest, and almost everyone experiences some symptoms that I call a “healing crisis” during this time. A healing crisis involves symptoms such as headaches, nausea, mood swings, skin eruptions, and fatigue as your body eliminates toxins and adjusts to the new status quo of your diet. Stick with it, and by day three you will almost always feel better than ever with a boost of energy. You don’t want to give up too early, because by day three or four you will experience this awesome feeling.

Caffeine Elimination Tips & Tricks

I strongly recommend that you eliminate caffeine a week before you begin the full detox diet. Caffeine has harmful health effects, but for the cleansing diet, caffeine withdrawal headaches can be so intense they can derail you from your cleanse. The best way to eliminate caffeine is gradually, rather than going cold turkey. First cut down to a half-caffeinated cup, and then a small amount of caffeine, and then none – spread this out over a few days. Then after you have eliminated caffeine for a few days, you can start the detox diet the following Saturday. Some people may want to drink decaf coffee, but I recommend against it because of the toxic process used to manufacture it – it’s only for a week, after all. You can do it! Instead, you can replace your morning cup of joe with your favorite detox drink, or distilled water with a squeeze of lemon.

Evaluate Your Current Status

The first step in any successful detox diet involves taking stock of where you are at the starting line. In a journal or in a document on your computer or phone – somewhere where you’ll remember where you wrote it. At the end of the week, take the same measurements. You may not be able to return to the doctor to get another physical, but at least you can record your weight, body measurements, and blood pressure. Most grocery and drug stores have a machine to take your blood pressure for free. Measure your blood pressure when you are relaxed and unstressed.

Reintroducing Foods After the Detox Diet

Anyone can eliminate foods for a week, but one of the most important benefits of a detox diet involves learning what foods cause your particular suite of symptoms – whether fatigue, digestive issues, bloating, skin eruptions, or headaches. And the only way to find out is to introduce the previously eliminated foods one by one back into your diet.

Reintroducing foods one at a time is a critical part of any detox diet. That way you can identify which foods – if any – your body is sensitive to.

I recommend starting with whatever item you are craving intensely. Add this group of foods or food item and eat that along with all the other allowed foods, but nothing else. So if you crave bread, try eating this glutenous food and see if you experience issues. Or if you really want meat, add that. But if you experience unpleasant symptoms that you did experience during your week of detoxing, eliminate it again – if not permanently, at least so you can introduce another food type and see if it causes problems. If you are eating two food groups and one causes unpleasant symptoms, you will be unable to determine whether other foods cause issues as well, unless you try them one by one.

If you do not experience any other physical or mental symptoms, introduce the next food, like sugar or caffeine – and again, have that with the allowed foods plus whatever groups of foods you have already started eating again. Take note of any different feelings or symptoms in your journal.

Food Combining & Detox Diet Recommendations

For the purpose of this specific detox diet, I recommend you follow these food combining rules for optimal digestion. In fact, I recommend these food combination rules all the time, but since you may not be using them already, do them for the duration of the detox week, at minimum.

Understanding pH & Foods

The term pH refers to the power of hydrogen, as in the exponential or logarithmic power – a mathematical term rather than the other use of “power.” If you have 23 it means 2 to the power of 3 (2 x 2 x 2 = 8). With pH, for every number increase on the pH scale, it increases the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) 10-fold. The pH scale runs from 1 to 14, with 1 being extremely acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being highly alkaline.

The body is amazing, and your organs work to keep it in homeostasis, or proper working order. The kidneys maintain the blood’s pH between 7.35-7.45, but even a 0.1 decrease means a 30% change in acidity.[1]

Eat Mostly Alkalizing Foods

Although the stomach will always be acidic due to the gastric acid (between 1-3), the byproducts of foods are either acidic or alkaline and these pass into the small and large intestines, as well as the urinary tract and ultimately into the body. You should aim to make alkaline-producing foods 80% of the time, as they help reduce inflammation in the body. You want to avoid acidosis – an overly acidic body – which can cause mental wellness concerns, disease, and more.

Eat foods that become alkaline in the body for optimal health.

Whether a food is considered acidifying or alkaline-producing is determined by its byproducts, not its raw state. Nutritionists run an analysis called the potential renal acid load (PRAL), which reveals the amount of acid that reaches the kidneys – the body organ that keep the blood pH neutral (between 7.35-7.45). But recall that even a tiny movement in the pH of the body can have a major effect on its functioning, since pH is on an exponential scale.

Interestingly, some foods that are acidic when you eat them – lemons, tomatoes, and spicy peppers – become alkaline after the body processes them. Meat, fish, grains, some dairy, soda and sweet drinks, sugar, and high-protein supplements and bars have an acidifying effect on the body. Most fruits and vegetables have an alkalizing effect on the body – although this does not affect our rules for combining acid foods with proteins and starches, below.

Avoid Eating Starches, Acidifying Foods, & Proteins Together

Eating certain combinations of food together, while avoiding other combinations, will prevent digestive upsets and keep things moving smoothly through the gut. Essentially, avoid eating any foods in these three categories together” starches, acid foods, and proteins. Proteins include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, and beans or other legumes. Starches include potatoes and other root vegetables, winter squash (e.g. acorn squash, butternut, spaghetti squash), corn, grains including rice. Acidifying foods include acidic fruits or juices, including citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruits, lemon), other sour fruits, and vinegar.

Eating certain combinations of food together, while avoiding other combinations, will prevent digestive upsets and keep things moving smoothly through the gut.

Some non-starchy vegetables that you can eat with protein or with starches include: alfalfa sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, green beans, leafy lettuce, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, radishes, rutabaga, sauerkraut, snow peas, spinach, summer squash, turnips, water chestnuts, and zucchini.

Although nuts are a protein food, they are an exception to this rule of food combining. You can eat nuts (preferably raw) with acid fruits and acid foods because the high fat content in nuts delays gastric acid secretion until the body has assimilated the acid.

Avoid Eating Meat & Dairy Together

I recommend you avoid combining meat and dairy in a meal. Meat and dairy both create acidic byproducts in the body, making the urine acidic rather than alkaline diet.

If you eat a lot of meat and dairy together, it can disrupt the proportions of the two digestive enzymes pepsin and lipase that act to break down the meat. Undigested food can lead to a toxic buildup in the colon.

Avoid Drinking With Meals

When you drink water or other liquids with meals, it dilutes the stomach’s gastric juices and can slow digestion. I recommend that you avoid drinking 30 minutes before and after a meal to allow for the best result. If you can’t manage without drinking during a meal, consume small amounts.

Eat 5 Meals Per Day

Eating five small meals throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar stabilized and your digestion in excellent working order. If you can’t manage five full meals, opt for three meals plus two snacks, such as a handful of raw nuts or raw seeds.

Having five meals a day ensures your metabolism runs smoothly as well. It is not difficult once you make it a habit!

Great Recipes for the Detox Diet

Some recipes that you can enjoy during your week are listed below. You can, of course, find your own online or in recipe books. Share your favorite recipes with friends, and get their favorites to try. You can even enjoy delicious recipes kids love.

Vegan Main Dishes

Vegetable Dishes

Salads

Desserts & Sweet Snacks

If you see positive results from your detox diet week, it may be a good time to make a longer-term step towards better health. You could extend the diet for a longer period, or permanently eliminate certain food groups that upset your digestive system. Another excellent way to extend the benefits of a detox diet is to do it in combination with a colon cleanse, a liver cleanse, or even a whole body cleanse. A colon cleanse helps you to clean out your digestive system, including the toxic gunk that accumulates over a lifetime in your colon. The colon cleanse complete guide is a great place to start. If you want to boost your metabolism or your immune system, and you can follow this simple step-by-step liver cleanse guide.

I recommend Global Healing Center’s vegan-friendly, top-quality Liver Cleanse Kit, Colon Cleanse Kit, and Body Cleanse Advanced Kit which includes products for doing several cleanses sequentially.

Success Stories

Temporarily removing certain foods from your diet can help you identify food intolerances, discovering which foods make you feel tired, bloated, gassy, grumpy, or … name your symptom. Detox diets can help you burn fat, lose weight and feel great.

Helped Identify Gluten Intolerance & Clear Up Digestion Problems

“I went on a [detox diet] for two weeks. It was then I discovered my gluten intolerance,” says Ronda G, an ecotour proprietor from Australia. She gave up wheat, dairy, milk, alcohol, and caffeine and saw positive changes to her health. “When I started eating bread again, my digestion problems returned, including bloating, gas, and occasional diarrhea.” Reintroduction often pinpoints the issues.

Identified Candida Infection

Elissa Z, an aviation specialist in California, was extremely fatigued and yet unsure of the cause. A test came back positive for Candida, a systemic yeast infection in the gut. After first eliminating dairy, gluten, and other issues, she was told, to “‘Avoid sugar, that’s feeding all of the yeast.’ So I got super strict cutting out sugar.” That did the trick. When she eats gluten, she notices a “lump in her throat” feeling when she ate it. Though some symptoms remain, living with minimal sugar and no gluten has helped her fatigue and overall mindset.

Your Story

Let us know if you try this or another detox diet, and how it works for you! We would love to hear if you tried one of the recipes, or have any questions about food combining or the healing crisis. Leave a comment below!

The post The Detox Diet: 9 Simple Steps for Whole Body Cleansing appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/detox-diet/

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Activated Charcoal: 15 Benefits & Uses for Health and Wellness

A bowl of activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is a hot topic in health and wellness these days, gaining recognition as a powerhouse agent for detoxification with a wide range of potential uses. We see activated charcoal in everything from facial masks and teeth whiteners to digestive remedies and even an exotic new food trend that uses its charcoal hue for an element of surprise (think jet-black ice cream).

Activated charcoal benefits are no secret. A staple in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, activated charcoal remains to this day a common emergency room antidote for cases of toxicity and poisoning in developed nations around the world.[1] As for activated charcoal uses in daily life, this natural healing product is extremely versatile and generally considered safe. Yet activated charcoal should be handled with care (scroll down for an overview of activated charcoal side effects).

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a byproduct of burning coconut shells, bamboo, olive pits, wood, or various other substances. For your natural medicine cabinet, we recommend purchasing activated charcoal that is organic and made from coconut shells.

Processed at very high temperatures, this unique charcoal is “activated” in a way that changes its structure to increase the surface area and make it more porous. It is the porousness of activated charcoal that makes it effective at attaching to (“adsorbing”) toxins and flushing them out of the body. This is the principle behind activated charcoal detox.

Unlike the charcoal briquettes you use to light your barbecue, activated charcoal is free of toxins and carcinogens and is generally safe to consume and apply topically. Never substitute regular charcoal for the activated charcoal used for health and wellness!

What Are the Benefits of Activated Charcoal?

With its purifying qualities, activated charcoal offers potential benefits including detoxification, alleviating gas and bloating, digestive health, lowering cholesterol, reducing the effects of radiation, and anti-aging.

Detoxification

The most scientifically proven of all of activated charcoal’s benefits, detoxification happens naturally with this powerful agent. Because activated charcoal’s porous surface has a negative electrical charge, it attracts positively charged molecules such as toxins and gases for safe removal from the GI tract. In hospital emergency rooms throughout the developed world, a high single-use dosage of activated charcoal is the most frequently used method of gastrointestinal decontamination after certain kinds of poisoning, toxic exposure and drug overdose.[2]

Activated charcoal is considered to be effective for acute poisoning from a wide variety of drugs and poisons including acetaminophen, aspirin and tricyclic antidepressants. However, it is not useful for poisoning from lithium, iron, cyanide, potassium, and ethanol.[3]

While some use activated charcoal as a hangover cure, there is currently no evidence to support this. More than one study has shown that activated charcoal is not effective at adsorbing alcohol.[4]

Alleviating Gas and Bloating

Activated charcoal’s ability to reduce gas and bloating in the digestive system is scientifically proven. A double-blind clinical trial found reduced gas and bloating in subjects that used activated charcoal compared to the placebo group.[5] And in 2011, the European Food Safety Authority presented its scientific opinion in favor of using activated charcoal to reduce excess gas in the digestive system.[6] For more tips, see 10 Natural Remedies for Gas.

Digestive Health

When used for digestive cleansing, activated charcoal can promote overall digestive health. Considered a natural gut cleanser, activated charcoal can help lighten the body’s toxic load — potentially reducing allergic reactions and oxidative damage, as well as strengthening immune System.

Lowering Cholesterol

Some researchers have found that activated charcoal can help people lower their cholesterol. Just as it does with toxins, activated charcoal can attach to (adsorb) and flush out cholesterol in the intestine, preventing its absorption in the bloodstream. In a controlled study of people with high cholesterol, activated charcoal was effective at lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels.[7]

Reducing the Effects of Radiation

Piggybacking on its powers of detoxification, activated charcoal can also reduce the effects of radiation. Through the process of adsorption, activated charcoal attaches to radionuclides in the same way that it attaches to other toxins. See “13 Natural Remedies for Radiation Exposure” for more about activated charcoal’s ability to neutralize radiation, as well as the science behind it.

Anti-Aging

Through its ability to rid the body of toxins, activated charcoal has the potential to be a natural approach to healthy aging. With a reduced toxic load, the body experiences less of the oxidative damage that drives the aging process. In the same way, it may help to prevent cellular damage to our natural detox organs (the kidneys and liver) and also support adrenal gland health.

Activated Charcoal Uses

Activated charcoal use runs the gamut from gut-cleansing detox to purifying facials, teeth whitening, bug-bite care and more. Keep activated charcoal on hand for natural healing remedies like these.

Digestive Cleansing

The digestive tract is where a myriad of toxins can enter our bodies, from pesticides and heavy metals in food, to chemicals in water and exposure to mold. When you eliminate toxins with a digestive cleanse, you can feel lighter, stronger, and more energetic. While there are many different kinds of digestive cleanses, a simple approach is to eat whole, organic foods and avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

Activated charcoal can supercharge your cleanse by assisting with the removal of toxins through the process of adsorption — that is, the toxins attach to the activated charcoal like metal to a magnet, and then pass safely out of the body with a bowel movement.

Recipe: To add activated charcoal to your cleanse, take 10 grams (either as a powder added to water or in pill form) 90 minutes before each meal for two days. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.

First Aid for Poisons or Toxins

An antidote to certain types of poisoning or exposure to toxic substances, drugs, or household chemicals, activated charcoal is handy to keep in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It is essential, however, to first contact 911 or a poison control center immediately. Depending on the type of poison, they may instruct you to administer activated charcoal at home before going to an emergency room.

Note: Having activated charcoal in your first-aid kit or medicine cabinet can help jump-start the recovery process but should never replace a healthcare professional.

Facial Mask

In the same way that activated charcoal draws toxins out of the digestive system, when applied topically, it can draw oils, dirt, bacteria and other impurities from the pores, leaving skin clean, clear and less prone to breakouts.

Recipe: Mix a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder with a tablespoon of honey to make a paste. Apply to face and neck with a cosmetic brush. Keep on for 5 to 10 minutes, then wash off with your favorite natural cleanser.

Note that activated-charcoal powder is very messy when spilled! Avoid using it over hard-to-clean areas such as tile grout.

Acne Spot Treatment

Mixed with a bit of aloe vera gel, activated charcoal makes an effective acne spot treatment.

Recipe: Break open one capsule of activated charcoal in a small bowl. Using a cotton swab, mix with a half-teaspoon of aloe vera gel to create a thick paste. Apply paste to acne. Let dry about 30 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

Teeth Whitening

It may seem counterintuitive to turn your teeth black in order to whiten them (don’t worry — the black washes off!), but many people have success using activated charcoal as a natural teeth whitener. Because activated charcoal is abrasive to the teeth, dab it on gently rather than using a toothbrush.

Recipe: In a small bowl, break open two capsules of activated charcoal. Using a cotton swab, mix in just enough water to make a thick paste (less than 1 teaspoon). Dab paste onto teeth, let sit three minutes and rinse.

Flatulence Relief

Activated charcoal’s ability to alleviate gas and bloating is clinically proven. If certain foods trigger gas, activated charcoal is one way to keep flatulence at bay.

Tip: Take 1 gram of activated charcoal at least 30 minutes before you eat and 1 gram an hour after you eat.

Bug Bites

Activated charcoal can be a great remedy for mosquito bites and bee stings, as it can alleviate the itching and discomfort that they cause.

Recipe: In a small bowl, break open one capsule of activated charcoal. Using a cotton swab, mix with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the bug bite or bee sting.

Water Filtration

Just as it can remove impurities from the body, activated charcoal can also remove contaminants from water. Activated charcoal is a key component in many commercially available water filtration systems, and works in a similar way to the carbon filtration in the popular Brita water pitchers.

Activated charcoal in water filters may be effective at removing pesticides, solvents, and other chemicals. However, it is less effective at removing fluoride, viruses, bacteria, and hard-water minerals.

Air Purification

In the same spirit, activated carbon is also effective as a filter for air purification. Much like baking soda, commercially available charcoal bags can be placed in the refrigerator, car, pet areas, gym bags, and other places to freshen air, neutralize odors, and combat mold.

Activated Charcoal Forms

Activated charcoal is available in pills, tablets, capsules, and loose powder for multipurpose use. In all forms, activated charcoal is odorless and neutral-tasting.

Pills & Tablets

Activated charcoal to reduce gas and bloating is often taken in pill or tablet form. Generally, two pills or tablets are recommended to be taken at least 30 minutes before eating gas-producing foods, and one hour after.

Capsules

Purchasing activated charcoal in capsule form is a handy way to use small amounts for recipes. Simply break open a capsule into a small bowl to release the powder, and mix it with water, coconut oil or another ingredient to make a paste for DIY healing.

Powder

A jar of fine, jet-black activated charcoal powder is handy for a variety of uses. In cases of poisoning or the ingestion of toxins, activated charcoal powder is mixed with a liquid and given as a drink (or, in emergency rooms, administered through a tube from the mouth to the stomach).

For more common household use, activated charcoal powder can be used in small amounts for teeth whitening and other remedies.

Are There Side Effects to Using Activated Charcoal?

It is important to remember that activated charcoal not only adsorbs to toxins and unwanted chemicals in the body but it can get rid of good things, too, such as nutrients from food, supplements, and prescription medicines, making them less effective.

It is best to take activated charcoal on an empty stomach between meals so that it does not affect the absorption of nutrients. Activated charcoal should be taken 90 minutes to two hours prior to supplements and prescription medications.

Keep in mind that activated charcoal can make your stool turn black, but this is a temporary and harmless side effect. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation when taking activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. At least one study supports its use for cholestasis, which is a condition marked by the reduction or stoppage of bile flow, during pregnancy.[8] Some pregnant women use it to alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) as well as diarrhea, though its effectiveness in such cases is not well documented. In some people, activated charcoal can cause side effects of vomiting and diarrhea — the very symptoms it may be used to relieve.

Your Story

What about you? Have you ever used activated charcoal? What’s your favorite recipe? Tell us your story in the comments below.

The post Activated Charcoal: 15 Benefits & Uses for Health and Wellness appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/activated-charcoal/

Activated Charcoal: 15 Benefits & Uses for Health and Wellness

A bowl of activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is a hot topic in health and wellness these days, gaining recognition as a powerhouse agent for detoxification with a wide range of potential uses. We’re seeing activated charcoal in everything from facial masks and teeth whiteners to digestive remedies and even an exotic new food trend that uses its charcoal hue for an element of surprise (think jet-black ice cream).

Activated charcoal benefits are no secret. A staple in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, activated charcoal remains to this day a common emergency room antidote for cases of toxicity and poisoning in developed nations around the world.[1] As for activated charcoal uses in daily life, this natural healing product is extremely versatile and generally considered safe. Yet activated charcoal should be handled with care (scroll down for an overview of activated charcoal side effects).

What Is Activated Charcoal?

Activated charcoal is a byproduct of burning coconut shells, bamboo, olive pits, wood, or various other substances. For your natural medicine cabinet, we recommend purchasing activated charcoal that is organic and made from coconut shells.

Processed at very high temperatures, this unique charcoal is “activated” in a way that changes its structure to increase the surface area and make it more porous. It is the porousness of activated charcoal that makes it effective at attaching to (“adsorbing”) toxins and flushing them out of the body. This is the principle behind activated charcoal detox.

Unlike the charcoal briquettes you use to light your barbecue, activated charcoal is free of toxins and carcinogens and is generally safe to consume and apply topically. Never substitute regular charcoal for the activated charcoal used for health and wellness!

What Are the Benefits of Activated Charcoal?

With its purifying qualities, activated charcoal offers potential benefits including detoxification, alleviating gas and bloating, digestive health, lowering cholesterol, reducing the effects of radiation, and anti-aging.

Detoxification

The most scientifically proven of all of activated charcoal’s benefits, detoxification happens naturally with this powerful agent. Because activated charcoal’s porous surface has a negative electrical charge, it attracts positively charged molecules such as toxins and gases for safe removal from the GI tract. In hospital emergency rooms throughout the developed world, a high single-use dosage of activated charcoal is the most frequently used method of gastrointestinal decontamination after certain kinds of poisoning, toxic exposure and drug overdose.[2]

Activated charcoal is considered to be effective for acute poisoning from a wide variety of drugs and poisons including acetaminophen, aspirin and tricyclic antidepressants. However, it is not useful for poisoning from lithium, iron, cyanide, potassium and ethanol.[3]

While some use activated charcoal as a hangover cure, there is currently no evidence to support this. More than one study has shown that activated charcoal is not effective at adsorbing alcohol.[4]

Alleviating Gas and Bloating

Activated charcoal’s ability to reduce gas and bloating in an unhappy digestive system is scientifically proven. A double-blind clinical trial found reduced gas and bloating in subjects that used activated charcoal compared to the placebo group.[5] And in 2011, the European Food Safety Authority presented its scientific opinion in favor of using activated charcoal to reduce excess gas in the digestive system.[6] For more tips, see 10 Natural Remedies for Gas.

Digestive Health

When used for digestive cleansing, activated charcoal can promote overall digestive health. Considered a natural gut cleanser, activated charcoal can help lighten the body’s toxic load — potentially reducing allergic reactions and oxidative damage, as well as strengthening immune System.

Lowering Cholesterol

Some researchers have found that activated charcoal can help people lower their cholesterol. Just as it does with toxins, activated charcoal can attach to (adsorb) and flush out cholesterol in the intestine, preventing its absorption in the bloodstream. In a controlled study of people with high cholesterol, activated charcoal was effective at lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels.[7]

Reducing the Effects of Radiation

Piggybacking on its powers of detoxification, activated charcoal can also reduce the effects of radiation. Through the process of adsorption, activated charcoal attaches to radionuclides in the same way that it attaches to other toxins. See “13 Natural Remedies for Radiation Exposure” for more about activated charcoal’s ability to neutralize radiation, as well as the science behind it.

Anti-Aging

Through its ability to rid the body of toxins, activated charcoal has the potential to be a natural approach to healthy aging. With a reduced toxic load, the body experiences less of the oxidative damage that drives the aging process. In the same way, it may help to prevent cellular damage to our natural detox organs (the kidneys and liver) and also support adrenal gland health.

Activated Charcoal Uses

Activated charcoal use runs the gamut from gut-cleansing detox to purifying facials, teeth whitening, bug-bite care and more. Keep activated charcoal on hand for natural healing remedies like these.

Digestive Cleansing

The digestive tract is where a myriad of toxins can enter our bodies, from pesticides and heavy metals in food, to chemicals in water and exposure to mold. When you eliminate toxins with a digestive cleanse, you can feel lighter, stronger, and more energetic. While there are many different kinds of digestive cleanses, a simple approach is to eat organic whole foods and avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

Activated charcoal can supercharge your cleanse by assisting with the removal of toxins through the process of adsorption — that is, the toxins attach to the activated charcoal like metal to a magnet, and then pass safely out of the body with a bowel movement.

Recipe: To add activated charcoal to your cleanse, take 10 grams (either as a powder added to water per the package instructions, or in pill form) 90 minutes prior to each meal for two days. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid constipation.

First Aid for Poisons or Toxins

An antidote to certain types of poisoning or exposure to toxic substances, drugs, or household chemicals, activated charcoal is handy to keep in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It is essential, however, to first contact 911 or a poison control center immediately and follow any instructions responders provide. Depending on the type of poisoning involved, they may instruct you to administer activated charcoal at home, followed by treatment in an emergency room.

Note: Having activated charcoal in your first-aid kit or medicine cabinet can help jump-start the treatment process but should never replace treatment by a health-care professional.

Facial Mask

In the same way that activated charcoal draws toxins out of the digestive system, when applied topically, it can draw oils, dirt, bacteria and other impurities from the pores, leaving skin clean, clear and less prone to breakouts.

Recipe: Mix a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder with a tablespoon of honey to make a paste. Apply to face and neck with a cosmetic brush. Keep on for 5 to 10 minutes, then wash off with your favorite natural cleanser.

Note that activated-charcoal powder is very messy when spilled! Avoid using it over hard-to-clean areas such as tile grout.

Acne Spot Treatment

Mixed with a bit of aloe vera gel, activated charcoal makes an effective acne spot treatment.

Recipe: Break open one capsule of activated charcoal in a small bowl. Using a cotton swab, mix with a half-teaspoon of aloe vera gel to create a thick paste. Apply paste to acne. Let dry about 30 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

Teeth Whitening

It may seem counterintuitive to turn your teeth black in order to whiten them (don’t worry — the black washes off!), but many people have success using activated charcoal as a natural teeth whitener. Because activated charcoal is abrasive to the teeth, we recommend that you dab it on gently rather than using a toothbrush.

Recipe: In a small bowl, break open two capsules of activated charcoal. Using a cotton swab, mix in just enough water to make a thick paste (less than 1 teaspoon). Dab paste onto teeth, let sit three minutes and rinse.

Flatulence Relief

Activated charcoal’s ability to alleviate gas and bloating is clinically proven. If certain foods trigger gas, activated charcoal is one way to keep flatulence at bay.

Tip: Take 1 gram of activated charcoal at least 30 minutes before you eat and 1 gram an hour after you eat.

Bug Bites

Activated charcoal can be a great remedy for mosquito bites and bee stings, as it can alleviate the itching and discomfort that they cause.

Recipe: In a small bowl, break open one capsule of activated charcoal. Using a cotton swab, mix with ½ tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the bug bite or bee sting.

Water Filtration

Just as it can remove impurities from the body, activated charcoal can also remove contaminants from water. Activated charcoal is a key component in many commercially available water filtration systems, and works in a similar way to the carbon filtration in the popular Brita water pitchers.

Activated charcoal in water filters may be effective at removing pesticides, solvents and other chemicals. However, it is less effective at removing fluoride, viruses, bacteria, and hard-water minerals.

Air Purification

In the same spirit, activated carbon is also effective as a filter for air purification. In addition, much like baking soda, commercially available charcoal bags can be placed in the refrigerator, car, pet areas, gym bags, and other places to freshen air, neutralize odors, and combat mold.

Activated Charcoal Forms

Activated charcoal is available in pills, tablets, capsules, and loose powder for multipurpose use. In all forms, activated charcoal is odorless and neutral-tasting.

Pills & Tablets

Activated charcoal to reduce gas and bloating is often taken in pill or tablet form. Generally, two pills or tablets are recommended to be taken at least 30 minutes before eating gas-producing foods, and one hour after.

Capsules

Purchasing activated charcoal in capsule form is a handy way to use small amounts for recipes. Simply break open a capsule into a small bowl to release the powder, and mix it with water, coconut oil or another ingredient to make a paste for DIY healing.

Powder

A jar of fine, jet-black activated charcoal powder is handy for a variety of uses. In cases of poisoning or the ingestion of toxins, activated charcoal powder is mixed with a liquid and given as a drink (or, in emergency rooms, administered through a tube from the mouth to the stomach).

For more common household use, activated charcoal powder can be used in small amounts for teeth whitening and other remedies.

Are There Side Effects to Using Activated Charcoal?

It is important to remember that activated charcoal not only adsorbs to toxins and unwanted chemicals in the body but it can get rid of good things, too, such as nutrients from food, supplements, and prescription medicines like birth control pills and tricyclic antidepressants, making them less effective.

It is best to take activated charcoal on an empty stomach between meals so that it does not hamper with the absorption of nutrients. Activated charcoal should be taken 90 minutes to two hours prior to supplements and prescription medications.

Keep in mind that activated charcoal can make your stool turn black, but this is a temporary and harmless side effect. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation when taking activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. At least one study supports its use for treating cholestasis, which is a condition marked by the reduction or stoppage of bile flow, during pregnancy.[8] Some pregnant women use it to alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting (morning sickness) as well as diarrhea, though its effectiveness in such cases is not well documented. In some people, activated charcoal can cause side effects of vomiting and diarrhea – the very symptoms it may be used to treat.

Your Story

What about you? Have you ever used activated charcoal? What’s your favorite recipe? Tell us your story in the comments below.

The post Activated Charcoal: 15 Benefits & Uses for Health and Wellness appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/activated-charcoal/

Iodine: The Complete Guide to Iodine Health Benefits

A woman jumping with joy. Iodine provides many health benefits.

“I went from an energetic, thin active person to feeling sluggish, gaining weight, and feeling unwell in general,” says Diane S, a paraprofessional who works for a school in Ohio. Her elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels suggested hypothyroidism, an under-functioning thyroid gland. Even after her doctor put her on the artificial thyroid hormone Synthroid, her symptoms did not improve, and she had side effects from the drug. Although hypothyroidism has various causes, iodine deficiency is one of them. “I researched the internet and ordered Detoxadine® [a nascent iodine supplement]. Within weeks my symptoms improved. I have more energy and feel my health improving.” Now she only uses the natural iodine supplement and feels great! Iodine is an essential nutrient that regulates metabolism, and without enough, people can experience low energy, weight gain, dry skin, and other conditions.

What Is Iodine?

A chemical element with the atomic number 53 and symbol I, iodine occurs as a purple-black solid or a purple vapor when a gas. It has 37 known isotopes, and all are radioactive except I-127, the form found in food and supplements. Iodine is a trace element because of its rarity. The human body requires iodine but does not produce it; hence it is also called an essential nutrient. This means people must eat foods high in iodine or take supplements to avoid iodine deficiency. The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other body processes.

What’s the difference between iodine and iodide? When iodine occurs as a single ion, it is called iodide, whether it’s alone as I- or bound to another element. As a negative ion or anion, I- likes to bind with positively-charged ions, like potassium or K+ which forms KI, potassium iodide.

Where Is Iodine Used in the Body?

The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other processes. Although thyroid hormones are found throughout the body, elemental iodine can only be absorbed by thyroid and breast tissue cells via a “sodium-iodide symporter” molecule. The thyroid, a bow-tie shaped gland in the neck, takes up iodine from the blood and creates two hormones, T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).

T3 has three and T4 has four molecules of iodine (or technically iodide). Every cell in the body requires the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 to create energy. T4 is created from the amino acid tyrosine and regulates how much T3 is produced. T3 plays a more prominent role in metabolism.

Top 10 Iodine Health Benefits

Iodine has many therapeutic uses and provides many benefits, no matter your age. The most critical function of iodine, via thyroid hormones, is childhood brain development, but iodine also plays a role in heart, kidney, and liver health throughout life.[1] Below are the top ten health benefits that iodine offers.

  • Helps form thyroid hormones
  • Supports fetal and child brain development
  • Promotes mental wellness
  • Boosts metabolism and energy
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Creates healthy skin and nails
  • Removes harmful halogens
  • Counteracts radiation
  • Needed for first aid
  • Promotes female health

1. Necessary for Thyroid Hormone Production

The number one role of iodine in the body is the production of thyroid hormones. As a result, most of the body’s iodine is concentrated in the thyroid. The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce. Stress can increase the production of TSH, which affects how much T3 and T4 are produced, affecting metabolism. The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, produces a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) that also affects the production of thyroid hormones. Ensuring a healthy supply of iodine is important for a healthy thyroid.

2. Essential for Childhood Brain Development

According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental and intellectual disabilities around the world. Pregnant women need more iodine than usual because this mineral is necessary for proper brain development of the unborn child. A breastfeeding woman needs even more iodine to ensure she gets enough for herself and her baby. Even in the U.S. and other developed nations, many pregnant women are iodine-deficient, which can lower the child’s IQ and mental aptitude.[1, 2] The most critical phase of brain development is during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, but iodine supports healthy brain function throughout life.

3. Supports Mental Wellness Through Life

Iodine and thyroid hormones play a crucial role in supporting brain function, including mental wellness and mood. Some studies have linked developmental conditions, such as ADHD and autism to low iodine during pregnancy or childhood.[3] Healthcare providers increasingly understand the role of using nutrition to encourage mental health because of connections between the gut, mental wellness, and the immune system.[4, 5,6] The role the thyroid has on adult psychiatric conditions remains unclear,[7, 8] but given iodine’s critical role in brain development, ensuring an adequate supply for overall mental wellness is a good idea.

4. Boosts Metabolism and Energy

The thyroid gland controls metabolism; some people call it the master gland. People with hypothyroidism — low thyroid function – generally experience weight gain, which can also lead to sluggish feelings, brain fog, and low energy. Low iodine levels, genetics, and other conditions can cause hypothyroidism. People with hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid – often have trouble gaining weight. An overactive thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones, which usurps all the body’s iodine, so sometimes supplementing with iodine helps, even though it seems counterintuitive. However, check with your healthcare provider.

5. Stimulates the Immune System

Iodine can clean up and destroy most types of harmful organisms.[9] Because of this, medical professionals use it to clean wounds and prepare you for some surgeries. But these properties can also benefit your immune system. Iodine helps defend against harmful cells, a process called apoptosis.[10] Iodine also acts as an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals in the body.[11]

6. Promotes Healthy Hair and Skin

It’s clear that getting adequate iodine in your diet plays a role in ensuring healthy skin, nails, and hair. In animal studies, iodine deficiency was linked to a lack of hair growth. Individuals born with cretinism have less hair than normal and thick, dry skin.[12] People with low iodine may experience dry skin.[13] Some people, particularly adolescents, may get acne after consuming iodine-rich foods especially dairy (which gets its iodine from iodine-antiseptics used to clean dairy farming equipment).[14]

7. Detoxes the Body of Halogens

Elemental iodine falls within the halogen group on the periodic table of elements. The halogen group also includes chlorine, fluorine, and bromine. People use chlorine to disinfect pool water, but it can irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin.[15] Although it’s commonly added to public water supplies, fluoride (a form of fluorine) disrupts the way enzymes operate in the body, affecting cellular function, cell signaling, and the stress response.[16] Scientists have linked brominated flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs) to brain and thyroid dysfunction, preterm birth, and more.[10] These halogens are taken up by the thyroid, since they are chemically similar, preventing iodine from entering thyroid cells.[17] Saturating the thyroid with iodine promotes detoxification by prompting it to release undesirable halogens. It can also purge the system of toxic metals since iodine binds to such elements in the body.

8. Protects the Thyroid From Radiation

When nuclear emergencies arise, I-131, a dangerous radioactive form of iodine, is released into the atmosphere where it can be taken up by the thyroid gland. To prevent this, governments and medical professionals provide non-radioactive iodine in the form of potassium iodide (KI). If given at high enough doses – hundreds of times the normal dose – the good iodine saturates the thyroid gland, preventing the radioactive isotopes from entering. The dose is repeated once daily until the threat is gone.[18]

9. Must-Have for First Aid

Iodine has a long history as a must-have tool for first aid, and you will find iodine packets in most first aid kits. These are typically povidone-iodine solution on a small towelette and used topically to cleanse wounds. Some first aid kits also include iodine crystal tablets for treating water in emergency conditions. Iodine tablets provide a faster method of water treatment compared with boiling.

10. Supports Women’s Health

Iodine plays a crucially important role in supporting women’s health. In addition to the support it provides to the brain, bones, and organ development of a baby during a woman’s pregnancy, it helps with women’s reproductive health and breast health. Studies show that moderate iodine deficiencies may reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.[19] Severe iodine deficiencies may also lead to miscarriage. Even mildly low iodine levels in pregnant women are linked with greater oxidative stress – a reduction in the body’s ability to break down free radicals – which leads to complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preterm birth.[20]

Iodine-deficiency is also a risk factor for developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), in which cysts or benign growths develop in the ovaries. This condition starts off harmless but may affect hormone balance. Like thyroid tissue, breast tissue absorbs iodine, and breast conditions and iodine deficiencies may be connected.[10, 21] Women with low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) also may experience water retention, which leads to puffy, swollen skin.

How Much Iodine Do You Need?

Below are the guidelines for iodine developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.[22] The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is listed in micrograms (mcg). Some healthcare experts, myself included, recommend higher servings than described here because these recommendations are insufficient to provide all the iodine the body needs. However, as with everything, there is an upper limit to how much iodine you should consume.

Life Stage RDA
18+ Women and Men 150 mcg
Pregnant or Lactating Women 220-250 mcg
Breastfeeding Women 250-290 mcg
Infants birth-6 months 110 mcg (if not breastfeeding)
7-12 months 130 mcg (if not breastfeeding)

Is Iodine Safe?

Not only are iodine supplements safe when used as directed, but iodine is also an essential nutrient. The US Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization describe a tolerable upper level of 1,100 mcg per day for adults. On the other hand, many medications, supplements, and iodinated radiological treatments contain iodine doses at much higher servings (a single drop of SSKI solution contains 50,000 mcg. Research suggests that people have a wide variance in how much iodine their bodies can tolerate before expressing symptoms of overdose, and further, that a person’s thyroid adapts to high amounts of iodine in a biological feedback loop that allows the body to maintain its healthy functioning (this even has a name: the Wolff-Chaikoff effect).[23] People with autoimmune diseases, particularly those affecting the thyroid, are most at risk of experiencing negative health issues from consuming higher servings of iodine.

Can I Be Allergic to Iodine?

Many people believe they have an iodine allergy, but the science is clear: iodine is too small of a molecule to cause an allergic reaction in the body. Some people experience a severe allergic reaction to iodine-containing seafood, but the research indicates seafood proteins cause the allergy. Some people experience allergic responses to iodine-containing contrast dyes or, rarely, to a povidone-iodine topical solution, but again, studies indicate other chemical compounds cause the reactions or allergies, not iodine.

Side Effects of Iodine Ingestion

Although iodine side effects are rare, some people report minor concerns including a metallic taste in the mouth, burning, nausea, headache, or diarrhea. When taking higher doses of potassium iodide immediately after radiation exposure, people have reported skin rashes, swelling of the salivary glands, or in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash often caused by gluten intolerance or autoimmune disease, iodine may worsen the condition. Iodine may interact with certain medications, especially thyroid medication. Mild interactions may occur with medications that contain lithium, medications for high blood pressure, diuretic water pills, and iodine-containing products for heart conditions.

Can I Take Too Much Iodine?

Although iodine is an essential nutrient, it should be taken responsibly and with a specific purpose. If you have certain medical conditions, discuss your iodine supplementation with your healthcare provider. Studies have found that – in some cases – ingesting too much iodine can lead to symptoms similar to those associated with iodine deficiency, like goiter and hypothyroidism. If you have known kidney or thyroid issues, consult your healthcare provider to find out their recommendations for your condition, so that you take the correct amount of iodine. When excessive amounts of iodine are ingested, it can cause an iodine overdose or iodine toxicity, which causes abdominal pain, delirium, fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

If you recently moved from an iodine-deficient region, like eastern Europe or Africa, your body might overcompensate for increased iodine in your diet. According to the American Thyroid Association, people in iodine-deficient areas have adapted to functioning with extremely minute amounts of iodine, and a sudden increase in iodine may cause symptoms of a thyroid disorder.[24]

What Are the Signs of Iodine Deficiency?

We previously described the importance of iodine throughout the body. Not only is it necessary for the thyroid hormones that control how you feel and how much energy you have, but it’s also critical for cognitive health. If you have low iodine levels, you may experience symptoms such as brain fog, poor mood, low energy, weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, weakened immune system, and in women, breast heaviness.[1] Deficiencies can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland and mental imbalances. Children who do not get enough iodine may have stunted brain development. Severe deficiencies during pregnancy lead to various developmental disabilities. Iodine deficiency may also lead to miscarriage.

Who Is at Risk for Iodine Deficiency

  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • People living far from the ocean
  • People who follow a diet that’s high in goitrogenic foods
  • People who do not eat seafood or dairy

Pregnant women are vulnerable due to the importance of iodine to the developing baby, which increases their daily iodine requirement. Children also require iodine for proper brain and bone development. In recent years, milk products are considered less and less a good source of iodine, since fewer dairy farmers are using iodine-containing solutions to sterilize their equipment, which makes its way into the milk supply. Also, people who follow diets that are very high in goitrogens, which are foods that reduce iodine absorption by the thyroid, may be at risk of developing an iodine deficiency. Foods that contain goitrogens include cassava, millet, mustard, peanuts, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Keep in mind, however, that cruciferous vegetables provide many health-promoting nutrients when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Iodine and Salt

Since 1924, table salt has been iodized, which means iodine is artificially added to sodium chloride. Switzerland and the U.S. were the first countries to iodize salt. At the time, deficiencies were increasing, yet easily preventable with an iodine supplement, and salt is almost universally used around the world. Iodizing salt made a significant difference in lowering iodine deficiency, and supplementation in iodine-deficient regions even increased the general IQ of the population, according to research.[25, 26]

Although salt is still iodized, the U.S. government noticed a decline in American iodine levels between 1971–1974 and 1988–1994, which they linked to lowered dietary intake of iodine. Less iodine in milk and dairy products might be one factor for this decline.[22]

What Are the Best Sources of Iodine?

There are several ways to obtain iodine. A healthy, balanced diet should provide all your nutrients, including iodine. There are a number of foods that are a good source of iodine. But, if you’re unable to consistently and completely get the iodine you need from food, iodine supplements can help.

Foods That Provide Iodine

Most foods do not have a high iodine content, but there are several iodine-rich foods.

  • Foods From the Ocean: Since iodine occurs in ocean sediments and ocean water, top sources include seafood, shellfish, and sea vegetables or seaweed such as wakame, dulse, or nori – which are iodine superfoods. A sheet of seaweed may contain between 16-3,000 mcg of iodine. Unfortunately, food from the ocean can be subject to various pollutants.
  • Dairy Products: Milk products often contain iodine due to the use of iodine-containing antiseptics on dairy equipment and to clean the teats of cows, although this usage is declining. As a result, milk products may or may not contain iodine, depending on the dairy farm it comes from.[22] For persons who follow a plant-based diet, dairy isn’t a viable solution.
  • Produce Grown in Iodine-Rich Soil: When grown in iodine-rich soil, vegetables may contain higher levels of this element. Generally, farms in coastal regions, or which were historically under the ocean have higher iodine content in the soil. Unfortunately, most people do not know where their produce is grown. Some stores provide local produce and you can ask your grocer where it’s grown.
  • Iodine-Rich Fruits & Vegetables: Some fruits and vegetables contain iodine, including potatoes, beans, and corn. Among fruits, cranberries, strawberries, prunes, and bananas have the highest amounts. One banana provides 3 mcg, and five prunes or one cup of strawberries contain 13 mcg.[22] That’s still only about 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of 150 mcg for adults, and even less if you are seeking a larger serving.
  • Himalayan Pink Salt: Some people consider table salt a good source of iodine. However, not only is table salt bleached with chemicals, but iodine is artificially added to the sodium chloride. Instead, I recommend Himalayan pink crystal salt which has natural, although inconsistent levels, of iodine.

Nutrients from food are best but it can be a challenge to get enough iodine from foods unless you eat seaweed and seafood every day. Supplementing can help you ensure that you meet your daily needs for this vital nutrient.

Iodine Supplements

If you don’t get enough from your diet, you can find iodine supplements virtually anywhere. You can buy iodine supplements over the counter without a prescription, at stores or online. Many multivitamin formulations include iodine. Whichever one you choose, make sure you’re getting a product that’s organic, deep-earth sourced, and produced without harsh chemicals or alcohol.

What Forms Does Iodine Come In?

You can find iodine in several forms including tablets, liquid, and in different configurations, like potassium iodine, nascent iodine, and more.

Potassium Iodide

Potassium iodide (KI) comes in tablets or liquid. The tablets are sometimes sold under the brand name Ioderol. The liquid is called SSKI or Super Saturated KI. Doctors give patients SSKI as an expectorant to help clear mucus, to prepare for surgery, and in rare circumstances of exposure to nuclear outfall to treat radiation. Sometimes, sodium iodide is also used to remedy deficiencies.

Povidone-Iodine Solution

Povidone-iodine solution, sold under the brand Betadine, is a powerful antiseptic and disinfectant. This form is commonly used in first aid kits and medical settings to clean wounds and sterilize skin before major or minor surgery. This is not typically taken orally, although some people use it as a mouthwash. A study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that not only did it support gum health, the iodine mouthwash had a side benefit of reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol.[27]

Lugol’s Solution

Lugol’s Solution is one of the most common iodine supplements. Lugol’s is an aqueous solution containing one part free elemental iodine to two parts potassium iodide in distilled water. Although Lugol’s contains just 2-5 percent iodine, the free iodine is more potent, so it is sometimes called strong iodine solution. Lugol’s has been used for decades as a disinfectant, in dental settings, in various medical procedures, and as a pre-operative treatment for patients with Grave’s disease headed for thyroidectomy (thyroid removal).[28]

Tincture of Iodine

In an iodine tincture, elemental iodine is suspended in water and ethanol. A weak iodine tincture is about 2-7 percent iodine, while a strong tincture is 7 percent or higher. Both strengths are used as antiseptics, and are used topically rather than taken orally. Some people use a tincture of iodine for what’s called the iodine patch test, a popular but unreliable method of testing for iodine deficiency. An iodine loading test is a far more reliable measure of iodine levels, but must be done by a healthcare provider.

Nascent Iodine

What are the best ways to get iodine supplementally? Although Lugol’s and SSKI are sometimes useful, I recommend nascent iodine, sometimes called atomic iodine, where iodine is in a free ionic state, unbound to another atom. Nascent, colloidal iodine is more readily absorbed by the body than other forms, which means it is more bioavailable. Our certified organic nascent iodine supplement, Detoxadine, is a colloidal suspension, which means the iodine atoms are suspended in another substance, in this case, vegetable glycerin, which is better than alcohol. Not only is glycerin a better solvent for iodine, but it’s also healthier since ethanol alcohol is typically manufactured from genetically modified (GMO) corn.

For more information, check out Dr. Group’s Everything You Need to Know About Iodine Webinar!

Your Story

How about you? Do you try to get your iodine from food or do you take an iodine supplement? What sort of results have you experienced? Tell us your story in the comments below.

The post Iodine: The Complete Guide to Iodine Health Benefits appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-guide-to-health-benefits/

Iodine: The Complete Guide to Iodine Health Benefits

A woman jumping with joy. Iodine provides many health benefits.

“I went from an energetic, thin active person to feeling sluggish, gaining weight, and feeling unwell in general,” says Diane S, a paraprofessional who works for a school in Ohio. Her elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels suggested hypothyroidism, an under-functioning thyroid gland. Even after her doctor put her on the artificial thyroid hormone Synthroid, her symptoms did not improve, and she had side effects from the drug. Although hypothyroidism has various causes, iodine deficiency is one of them. “I researched the internet and ordered Detoxadine® [a nascent iodine supplement]. Within weeks my symptoms improved. I have more energy and feel my health improving.” Now she only uses the natural iodine supplement and feels great! Iodine is an essential nutrient that regulates metabolism, and without enough, people can experience low energy, weight gain, dry skin, and other conditions.

What Is Iodine?

A chemical element with the atomic number 53 and symbol I, iodine occurs as a purple-black solid or a purple vapor when a gas. It has 37 known isotopes, and all are radioactive except I-127, the form found in food and supplements. Iodine is a trace element because of its rarity. The human body requires iodine but does not produce it; hence it is also called an essential nutrient. This means people must eat foods high in iodine or take supplements to avoid iodine deficiency. The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other body processes.

What’s the difference between iodine and iodide? When iodine occurs as a single ion, it is called iodide, whether it’s alone as I- or bound to another element. As a negative ion or anion, I- likes to bind with positively-charged ions, like potassium or K+ which forms KI, potassium iodide.

Where Is Iodine Used in the Body?

The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other processes. Although thyroid hormones are found throughout the body, elemental iodine can only be absorbed by thyroid and breast tissue cells via a “sodium-iodide symporter” molecule. The thyroid, a bow-tie shaped gland in the neck, takes up iodine from the blood and creates two hormones, T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).

T3 has three and T4 has four molecules of iodine (or technically iodide). Every cell in the body requires the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 to create energy. T4 is created from the amino acid tyrosine and regulates how much T3 is produced. T3 plays a more prominent role in metabolism.

Top 10 Iodine Health Benefits

Iodine has many therapeutic uses and provides many benefits, no matter your age. The most critical function of iodine, via thyroid hormones, is childhood brain development, but iodine also plays a role in heart, kidney, and liver health throughout life.[1] Below are the top ten health benefits that iodine offers.

  • Helps form thyroid hormones
  • Supports fetal and child brain development
  • Promotes mental wellness
  • Boosts metabolism and energy
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Creates healthy skin and nails
  • Removes harmful halogens
  • Counteracts radiation
  • Needed for first aid
  • Promotes female health

1. Necessary for Thyroid Hormone Production

The number one role of iodine in the body is the production of thyroid hormones. As a result, most of the body’s iodine is concentrated in the thyroid. The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce. Stress can increase the production of TSH, which affects how much T3 and T4 are produced, affecting metabolism. The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, produces a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) that also affects the production of thyroid hormones. Ensuring a healthy supply of iodine is important for a healthy thyroid.

2. Essential for Childhood Brain Development

According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental and intellectual disabilities around the world. Pregnant women need more iodine than usual because this mineral is necessary for proper brain development of the unborn child. A breastfeeding woman needs even more iodine to ensure she gets enough for herself and her baby. Even in the U.S. and other developed nations, many pregnant women are iodine-deficient, which can lower the child’s IQ and mental aptitude.[1, 2] The most critical phase of brain development is during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, but iodine supports healthy brain function throughout life.

3. Supports Mental Wellness Through Life

Iodine and thyroid hormones play a crucial role in supporting brain function, including mental wellness and mood. Some studies have linked developmental conditions, such as ADHD and autism to low iodine during pregnancy or childhood.[3] Healthcare providers increasingly understand the role of using nutrition to encourage mental health because of connections between the gut, mental wellness, and the immune system.[4, 5,6] The role the thyroid has on adult psychiatric conditions remains unclear,[7, 8] but given iodine’s critical role in brain development, ensuring an adequate supply for overall mental wellness is a good idea.

4. Boosts Metabolism and Energy

The thyroid gland controls metabolism; some people call it the master gland. People with hypothyroidism — low thyroid function – generally experience weight gain, which can also lead to sluggish feelings, brain fog, and low energy. Low iodine levels, genetics, and other conditions can cause hypothyroidism. People with hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid – often have trouble gaining weight. An overactive thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones, which usurps all the body’s iodine, so sometimes supplementing with iodine helps, even though it seems counterintuitive. However, check with your healthcare provider.

5. Stimulates the Immune System

Iodine can clean up and destroy most types of harmful organisms.[9] Because of this, medical professionals use it to clean wounds and prepare you for some surgeries. But these properties can also benefit your immune system. Iodine helps defend against harmful cells, a process called apoptosis.[10] Iodine also acts as an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals in the body.[11]

6. Promotes Healthy Hair and Skin

It’s clear that getting adequate iodine in your diet plays a role in ensuring healthy skin, nails, and hair. In animal studies, iodine deficiency was linked to a lack of hair growth. Individuals born with cretinism have less hair than normal and thick, dry skin.[12] People with low iodine may experience dry skin.[13] Some people, particularly adolescents, may get acne after consuming iodine-rich foods especially dairy (which gets its iodine from iodine-antiseptics used to clean dairy farming equipment).[14]

7. Detoxes the Body of Halogens

Elemental iodine falls within the halogen group on the periodic table of elements. The halogen group also includes chlorine, fluorine, and bromine. People use chlorine to disinfect pool water, but it can irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin.[15] Although it’s commonly added to public water supplies, fluoride (a form of fluorine) disrupts the way enzymes operate in the body, affecting cellular function, cell signaling, and the stress response.[16] Scientists have linked brominated flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs) to brain and thyroid dysfunction, preterm birth, and more.[10] These halogens are taken up by the thyroid, since they are chemically similar, preventing iodine from entering thyroid cells.[17] Saturating the thyroid with iodine promotes detoxification by prompting it to release undesirable halogens. It can also purge the system of toxic metals since iodine binds to such elements in the body.

8. Protects the Thyroid From Radiation

When nuclear emergencies arise, I-131, a dangerous radioactive form of iodine, is released into the atmosphere where it can be taken up by the thyroid gland. To prevent this, governments and medical professionals provide non-radioactive iodine in the form of potassium iodide (KI). If given at high enough doses – hundreds of times the normal dose – the good iodine saturates the thyroid gland, preventing the radioactive isotopes from entering. The dose is repeated once daily until the threat is gone.[18]

9. Must-Have for First Aid

Iodine has a long history as a must-have tool for first aid, and you will find iodine packets in most first aid kits. These are typically povidone-iodine solution on a small towelette and used topically to cleanse wounds. Some first aid kits also include iodine crystal tablets for treating water in emergency conditions. Iodine tablets provide a faster method of water treatment compared with boiling.

10. Supports Women’s Health

Iodine plays a crucially important role in supporting women’s health. In addition to the support it provides to the brain, bones, and organ development of a baby during a woman’s pregnancy, it helps with women’s reproductive health and breast health. Studies show that moderate iodine deficiencies may reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.[19] Severe iodine deficiencies may also lead to miscarriage. Even mildly low iodine levels in pregnant women are linked with greater oxidative stress – a reduction in the body’s ability to break down free radicals – which leads to complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preterm birth.[20]

Iodine-deficiency is also a risk factor for developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), in which cysts or benign growths develop in the ovaries. This condition starts off harmless but may affect hormone balance. Like thyroid tissue, breast tissue absorbs iodine, and breast conditions and iodine deficiencies may be connected.[10, 21] Women with low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) also may experience water retention, which leads to puffy, swollen skin.

How Much Iodine Do You Need?

Below are the guidelines for iodine developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.[22] The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is listed in micrograms (mcg). Some healthcare experts, myself included, recommend higher servings than described here because these recommendations are insufficient to provide all the iodine the body needs. However, as with everything, there is an upper limit to how much iodine you should consume.

Life Stage RDA
18+ Women and Men 150 mcg
Pregnant or Lactating Women 220-250 mcg
Breastfeeding Women 250-290 mcg
Infants birth-6 months 110 mcg (if not breastfeeding)
7-12 months 130 mcg (if not breastfeeding)

Is Iodine Safe?

Not only are iodine supplements safe when used as directed, but iodine is also an essential nutrient. The US Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization describe a tolerable upper level of 1,100 mcg per day for adults. On the other hand, many medications, supplements, and iodinated radiological treatments contain iodine doses at much higher servings (a single drop of SSKI solution contains 50,000 mcg. Research suggests that people have a wide variance in how much iodine their bodies can tolerate before expressing symptoms of overdose, and further, that a person’s thyroid adapts to high amounts of iodine in a biological feedback loop that allows the body to maintain its healthy functioning (this even has a name: the Wolff-Chaikoff effect).[23] People with autoimmune diseases, particularly those affecting the thyroid, are most at risk of experiencing negative health issues from consuming higher servings of iodine.

Can I Be Allergic to Iodine?

Many people believe they have an iodine allergy, but the science is clear: iodine is too small of a molecule to cause an allergic reaction in the body. Some people experience a severe allergic reaction to iodine-containing seafood, but the research indicates seafood proteins cause the allergy. Some people experience allergic responses to iodine-containing contrast dyes or, rarely, to a povidone-iodine topical solution, but again, studies indicate other chemical compounds cause the reactions or allergies, not iodine.

Side Effects of Iodine Ingestion

Although iodine side effects are rare, some people report minor concerns including a metallic taste in the mouth, burning, nausea, headache, or diarrhea. When taking higher doses of potassium iodide immediately after radiation exposure, people have reported skin rashes, swelling of the salivary glands, or in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash often caused by gluten intolerance or autoimmune disease, iodine may worsen the condition. Iodine may interact with certain medications, especially thyroid medication. Mild interactions may occur with medications that contain lithium, medications for high blood pressure, diuretic water pills, and iodine-containing products for heart conditions.

Can I Take Too Much Iodine?

Although iodine is an essential nutrient, it should be taken responsibly and with a specific purpose. If you have certain medical conditions, discuss your iodine supplementation with your healthcare provider. Studies have found that – in some cases – ingesting too much iodine can lead to symptoms similar to those associated with iodine deficiency, like goiter and hypothyroidism. If you have known kidney or thyroid issues, consult your healthcare provider to find out their recommendations for your condition, so that you take the correct amount of iodine. When excessive amounts of iodine are ingested, it can cause an iodine overdose or iodine toxicity, which causes abdominal pain, delirium, fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

If you recently moved from an iodine-deficient region, like eastern Europe or Africa, your body might overcompensate for increased iodine in your diet. According to the American Thyroid Association, people in iodine-deficient areas have adapted to functioning with extremely minute amounts of iodine, and a sudden increase in iodine may cause symptoms of a thyroid disorder.[24]

What Are the Signs of Iodine Deficiency?

We previously described the importance of iodine throughout the body. Not only is it necessary for the thyroid hormones that control how you feel and how much energy you have, but it’s also critical for cognitive health. If you have low iodine levels, you may experience symptoms such as brain fog, poor mood, low energy, weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, weakened immune system, and in women, breast heaviness.[1] Deficiencies can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland and mental imbalances. Children who do not get enough iodine may have stunted brain development. Severe deficiencies during pregnancy lead to various developmental disabilities. Iodine deficiency may also lead to miscarriage.

Who Is at Risk for Iodine Deficiency

  • Pregnant women
  • Children
  • People living far from the ocean
  • People who follow a diet that’s high in goitrogenic foods
  • People who do not eat seafood or dairy

Pregnant women are vulnerable due to the importance of iodine to the developing baby, which increases their daily iodine requirement. Children also require iodine for proper brain and bone development. In recent years, milk products are considered less and less a good source of iodine, since fewer dairy farmers are using iodine-containing solutions to sterilize their equipment, which makes its way into the milk supply. Also, people who follow diets that are very high in goitrogens, which are foods that reduce iodine absorption by the thyroid, may be at risk of developing an iodine deficiency. Foods that contain goitrogens include cassava, millet, mustard, peanuts, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Keep in mind, however, that cruciferous vegetables provide many health-promoting nutrients when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Iodine and Salt

Since 1924, table salt has been iodized, which means iodine is artificially added to sodium chloride. Switzerland and the U.S. were the first countries to iodize salt. At the time, deficiencies were increasing, yet easily preventable with an iodine supplement, and salt is almost universally used around the world. Iodizing salt made a significant difference in lowering iodine deficiency, and supplementation in iodine-deficient regions even increased the general IQ of the population, according to research.[25, 26]

Although salt is still iodized, the U.S. government noticed a decline in American iodine levels between 1971–1974 and 1988–1994, which they linked to lowered dietary intake of iodine. Less iodine in milk and dairy products might be one factor for this decline.[22]

What Are the Best Sources of Iodine?

There are several ways to obtain iodine. A healthy, balanced diet should provide all your nutrients, including iodine. There are a number of foods that are a good source of iodine. But, if you’re unable to consistently and completely get the iodine you need from food, iodine supplements can help.

Foods That Provide Iodine

Most foods do not have a high iodine content, but there are several iodine-rich foods.

  • Foods From the Ocean: Since iodine occurs in ocean sediments and ocean water, top sources include seafood, shellfish, and sea vegetables or seaweed such as wakame, dulse, or nori – which are iodine superfoods. A sheet of seaweed may contain between 16-3,000 mcg of iodine. Unfortunately, food from the ocean can be subject to various pollutants.
  • Dairy Products: Milk products often contain iodine due to the use of iodine-containing antiseptics on dairy equipment and to clean the teats of cows, although this usage is declining. As a result, milk products may or may not contain iodine, depending on the dairy farm it comes from.[22] For persons who follow a plant-based diet, dairy isn’t a viable solution.
  • Produce Grown in Iodine-Rich Soil: When grown in iodine-rich soil, vegetables may contain higher levels of this element. Generally, farms in coastal regions, or which were historically under the ocean have higher iodine content in the soil. Unfortunately, most people do not know where their produce is grown. Some stores provide local produce and you can ask your grocer where it’s grown.
  • Iodine-Rich Fruits & Vegetables: Some fruits and vegetables contain iodine, including potatoes, beans, and corn. Among fruits, cranberries, strawberries, prunes, and bananas have the highest amounts. One banana provides 3 mcg, and five prunes or one cup of strawberries contain 13 mcg.[22] That’s still only about 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of 150 mcg for adults, and even less if you are seeking a larger serving.
  • Himalayan Pink Salt: Some people consider table salt a good source of iodine. However, not only is table salt bleached with chemicals, but iodine is artificially added to the sodium chloride. Instead, I recommend Himalayan pink crystal salt which has natural, although inconsistent levels, of iodine.

Nutrients from food are best but it can be a challenge to get enough iodine from foods unless you eat seaweed and seafood every day. Supplementing can help you ensure that you meet your daily needs for this vital nutrient.

Iodine Supplements

If you don’t get enough from your diet, you can find iodine supplements virtually anywhere. You can buy iodine supplements over the counter without a prescription, at stores or online. Many multivitamin formulations include iodine. Whichever one you choose, make sure you’re getting a product that’s organic, deep-earth sourced, and produced without harsh chemicals or alcohol.

What Forms Does Iodine Come In?

You can find iodine in several forms including tablets, liquid, and in different configurations, like potassium iodine, nascent iodine, and more.

Potassium Iodide

Potassium iodide (KI) comes in tablets or liquid. The tablets are sometimes sold under the brand name Ioderol. The liquid is called SSKI or Super Saturated KI. Doctors give patients SSKI as an expectorant to help clear mucus, to prepare for surgery, and in rare circumstances of exposure to nuclear outfall to treat radiation. Sometimes, sodium iodide is also used to remedy deficiencies.

Povidone-Iodine Solution

Povidone-iodine solution, sold under the brand Betadine, is a powerful antiseptic and disinfectant. This form is commonly used in first aid kits and medical settings to clean wounds and sterilize skin before major or minor surgery. This is not typically taken orally, although some people use it as a mouthwash. A study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that not only did it support gum health, the iodine mouthwash had a side benefit of reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol.[27]

Lugol’s Solution

Lugol’s Solution is one of the most common iodine supplements. Lugol’s is an aqueous solution containing one part free elemental iodine to two parts potassium iodide in distilled water. Although Lugol’s contains just 2-5 percent iodine, the free iodine is more potent, so it is sometimes called strong iodine solution. Lugol’s has been used for decades as a disinfectant, in dental settings, in various medical procedures, and as a pre-operative treatment for patients with Grave’s disease headed for thyroidectomy (thyroid removal).[28]

Tincture of Iodine

In an iodine tincture, elemental iodine is suspended in water and ethanol. A weak iodine tincture is about 2-7 percent iodine, while a strong tincture is 7 percent or higher. Both strengths are used as antiseptics, and are used topically rather than taken orally. Some people use a tincture of iodine for what’s called the iodine patch test, a popular but unreliable method of testing for iodine deficiency. An iodine loading test is a far more reliable measure of iodine levels, but must be done by a healthcare provider.

Nascent Iodine

What are the best ways to get iodine supplementally? Although Lugol’s and SSKI are sometimes useful, I recommend nascent iodine, sometimes called atomic iodine, where iodine is in a free ionic state, unbound to another atom. Nascent, colloidal iodine is more readily absorbed by the body than other forms, which means it is more bioavailable. Our certified organic nascent iodine supplement, Detoxadine, is a colloidal suspension, which means the iodine atoms are suspended in another substance, in this case, vegetable glycerin, which is better than alcohol. Not only is glycerin a better solvent for iodine, but it’s also healthier since ethanol alcohol is typically manufactured from genetically modified (GMO) corn.

For more information, check out Dr. Group’s Everything You Need to Know About Iodine Webinar!

Your Story

How about you? Do you try to get your iodine from food or do you take an iodine supplement? What sort of results have you experienced? Tell us your story in the comments below.

The post Iodine: The Complete Guide to Iodine Health Benefits appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-guide-to-health-benefits/

Folate Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Remedies

Kale can help with folate deficiency.

If you’re feeling weak or like you have low energy, folate deficiency might be to blame. Folate is one of the essential B vitamins – B9 to be exact. This water-soluble vitamin is essential for making red blood cells and keeping levels of the amino acid homocysteine low. Lack of sufficient folate is linked to a variety of problems, including anemia, memory loss, bone fractures, and hearing loss. Folate is also critical for developing fetuses.

While folate is found in many foods, not everyone gets enough of it in their diets And even if they do, not everyone can absorb it due to issues like poor digestion (specifically malabsorption disorders). Or, they have a genetic problem that makes it harder to convert the dietary folate and supplemental folic acid that they do consume into a form their body can use.

Read on to learn more about the signs of folate deficiency, the health benefits of folate, common causes of folate deficiency, top folate-containing whole foods, and recommended doses of folic acid supplements.

Signs of Folate Deficiency

There are several common folate deficiency symptoms:

  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Hearing loss
  • Anemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Memory loss
  • Pale skin

Fatigue & Low Energy

Do you ever feel tired or weak or have unexplained fatigue? Maybe you feel like your get up and go has got up and went away. Whatever the case, your energy reserves are low, and you’re not sure why. While there are many causes of low energy, it’s possible folate deficiency is to blame. That’s because fatigue is a common problem with anemia, and folate deficiency can cause anemia.

Hearing Loss

A 2010 study[1] found that age-related hearing loss is associated with significantly lower levels of folate in the blood. If you’re over the age of 60 and experiencing hearing loss without a clear medical diagnosis, it could be from a folate deficiency, which is common in older people.

Anemia

Anemia is a shortage of red blood cells in your body. Because red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen and energy to the cells throughout your body, anemia can make you feel tired and weak. Without sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body, you may feel short of breath – and your heart rate may go up as it tries to get more oxygen to your cells. Your hands and feet may feel cold, and your skin may be paler than normal.

Anemia can have many different causes. Internal bleeding, heavy menstruation, serious illnesses, and genetic diseases (such as sickle cell anemia) are all factors. But anemia is more commonly caused by nutritional deficiencies, particularly low iron, low B-12, and low folate.

Shortness of Breath

If you have trouble catching your breath, or if you feel winded after even mild exertion, the cause may be a folate deficiency. That’s because anemia, an aforementioned common problem in people with folate deficiencies, can lead to shortness of breath.

Memory Loss

Cognitive impairment, including poor memory and dementia, is associated with lower levels of folate in the blood, especially in older adults that need special care. A couple of small studies[2] have indicated that folic acid supplementation can lead to improvement in cognitive function for some patients.

Pale Skin

If your skin looks significantly paler than normal, you may have a folate deficiency. That’s because pale skin is a symptom of anemia, and anemia can be caused by folate deficiency.

If you are experiencing symptoms of folate deficiency, make sure you are getting adequate folate in your diet and consider taking a folic acid supplement to get the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for this vitamin. If your symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Folate vs. Folic Acid

You may hear people talk about folate and folic acid. So what’s the difference? While folate and folic acid are both forms of the water-soluble vitamin B9, the difference is their source. Folate is the natural form of this vitamin. You get it by eating natural foods, especially nuts, green leafy vegetables (such as kale and spinach), and other fruits and vegetables.

By contrast, folic acid, also known as folacin, is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Since 1998, the FDA has required food producers to fortify enriched cereal and flour with folic acid. Many brands of nutritional yeast are also fortified with folic acid. Food manufacturers use synthetic folic acid rather than the natural form of this vitamin, folate, because folic acid is less expensive and folate is not shelf-stable.

It is not necessary to eat fortified foods or take folic acid supplements to get enough vitamin B9. You can get enough folate through your regular diet alone, provided you follow a healthy, whole-food diet rich in fruit, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

Folate and Folic Acid Benefits

There are many health benefits to consuming sufficient folate and folic acid. Adequate amounts of this water-soluble B vitamin help your body produce new blood cells and reduce the risk of stroke in people with high blood pressure. Folic acid can also help promote bone health. During pregnancy, getting enough folate through a healthy diet or enough folic acid through supplements and fortified foods helps to protect your developing baby’s health and prevent certain birth defects.

Facilitates New Cell Production

Adequate folate doesn’t just enable your body to build more red blood cells, it’s also important for producing and maintaining all new cells in the body. That’s because folate is required for DNA replication (to copy DNA for new cells) and for the DNA within each cell to be used to create new proteins.

Promotes Normal Blood Pressure

In people with high blood pressure, adequate folic acid intake may help prevent strokes. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[3] followed more than 20,000 adults with high blood pressure in China over 4.5 years. Those participants who received folic acid supplements, rather than a placebo, were less likely to have a stroke during that time.

Keep in mind, China doesn’t require folate fortification of grains the way the U.S. does, so it’s likely that the China-based study saw a more dramatic benefit due to the lower folate levels of people in the study. But these findings may be relevant to people in the U.S. who do not consume a lot of fortified grains, either because their main source of dietary carbohydrates is corn masa (which isn’t fortified) or because they are on a gluten-free diet due to celiac or other health issues.

Helps Healthy Development of Fetus During Pregnancy

Getting enough folic acid in pregnancy is critical to protecting the developing fetus from neural tube defects (NTDs). One type of NTD is spina bifida, where the neural tube of the spine doesn’t close completely. With the more severe forms of spina bifida, part of the infant’s spine is exposed at birth, and the child will experience minor to major disabilities. Other types of NTD affect the developing fetus’s brain and can lead to stillbirth (due to the failure of the brain to develop) or part of the infant’s brain being exposed at birth.

The good news is that women can help protect their developing babies by consuming enough folic acid before and during pregnancy. According to the CDC, since mandatory folic acid fortification of cereals and flours began, the percentage of infants in the U.S. who were born with a neural tube defect has fallen by 35 percent.[4]

While getting enough folic acid is important throughout a woman’s entire pregnancy, it’s especially critical during the early weeks, since NTDs can occur as early as three to four weeks into pregnancy. That’s why the CDC recommends that women of childbearing age consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, even when they’re not pregnant. By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant and starts taking prenatal supplements, she may already be six weeks pregnant – or more.

At the very least, folic acid supplementation should begin at least one month before conception, to ensure that blood levels are adequate before conception.

Encourages a Healthy Heart

One marker for heart disease risk is the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

The body needs sufficient amounts of B vitamins – specifically, B6, B9 (folic acid) and B-12 – to convert homocysteine into methionine, an essential amino acid. While studies of those who already have heart disease showed no benefit from B vitamin supplementation, the Nurses’ Health Study[5] found that woman with no history of heart disease and high levels of dietary B6 and folate had a lower risk of heart disease.

Helps Protect Your Bones

Folate deficiency can lead to higher levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels can increase the rate of bone fractures.[6] Ensuring you get adequate folic acid through diet and supplements can bring down homocysteine levels, potentially protecting your bones.

What Causes Folate Deficiency

The most common cause of folate deficiency in the U.S. is eating too little of the foods that contain folate. But even people who are eating enough folate can still be at risk. Here are some common risk factors:

A Defect of the MTHFR Gene

Those with a common defect of the MTHFR gene have trouble converting both dietary folate and folic acid supplements into a form that can be used by the body. So even with sufficient intake, they are still deficient. People who have a genetic defect with their MTHFR gene should avoid taking folic acid supplements and instead speak with their healthcare provider about methylated folate.

Poor Digestion Due to a Malabsorption Disorder

A malabsorption disorder (like celiac disease) that prevents nutrients from being adequately absorbed into the blood from the small intestines can also cause folate deficiency, even in those who consume enough dietary folate or take folic acid supplements.

Alcoholism

Alcoholics are also more at risk of folate deficiency because long-term consumption of high amounts of alcohol can affect the digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients. It can also cause more folate to be excreted in the urine. Plus, the long-term impact of alcohol on the liver makes it harder for the liver to take up and store folate, and roughly half of the body’s folate is typically stored in the liver.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also lead to folate deficiency due to the increased demand for folic acid in women’s bodies during these times.

Medications

Finally, certain medications – including metformin (for diabetes) and birth control pills – can cause folate deficiency.

Top Foods High in Folate

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Nuts

It’s easy to get enough natural folate by following a well-balanced, whole food diets – especially if you eat some high-folate foods every day. It’s probably no surprise that nutrient-dense dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, are one of the best natural sources of folate. Just one cup of spinach contains 263 micrograms of folate – or 65 percent of the U.S. RDA. Collard greens come in a close second, with 177 micrograms or 44 percent of the U.S. RDA, for a one cup serving.

Legumes are also a great natural source of folate. Most beans contain between 200 and 300 micrograms of folate (50 percent to 75 percent of the U.S. RDA) per cup. When it comes to folate, though, lentils are the clear leaders – just one cup of lentils contains a whopping 358 micrograms of folate – or 90 percent of the U.S. RDA!

Other good sources of dietary folate include nuts, peas, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, corn, and carrots. It’s not just nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables that are high in folate. Unexpected sources of natural folate include egg yolks and organ meats, such as liver and kidney.

How Much Folic Acid Should You Take?

Life Stage RDA
Infants birth-6 months 65 mcg
Infants 7-12 months 80 mcg
1–3 years 150 mcg
4–8 years 200 mcg
9–13 years 300 mcg
Individuals 14+ 400 mcg
Pregnant women 600 mcg
Breastfeeding women 500 mcg

The U.S. RDA for folic acid is 400 micrograms for adults, 600 micrograms for pregnant women and 500 micrograms for lactating women.[7] While most adults get enough folate in their diet and don’t need a supplement, the CDC recommends[8] that all women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to prevent birth defects, particularly spina bifida and anencephaly (where part of skull and brain are missing).

Supplementation is also recommended if you are not consuming a lot of folate-rich foods, if you have a malabsorption disorder that prevents you from adequately absorbing the folate you do eat or if you are taking medication that negatively impacts your folate stores.

Points to Remember

If you’re dealing with unexplained weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, memory loss, or age-related hearing loss, it’s possible that folate deficiency is causing it. The best way to prevent a folic acid deficiency is to get enough folate in your diet by eating ample amounts of dark leafy greens and beans, and also nuts, citrus fruits, and other foods that are high in folate.

But diet alone may not be enough. If you have a defect in your MTHFR gene, you should consider taking methylated folate, which doesn’t require conversion to be used by your body. And if you are a woman of childbearing age, you should strongly consider taking a high-quality folic acid supplement, even if you’re not trying to conceive, to ensure you have adequate levels of folate in your blood to support a healthy pregnancy.

But the benefits of folic acid supplementation go beyond ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Adequate folate can help boost your energy and decrease your risk of having a stroke. It can also help protect your bones, hearing, and memory as you age.

The post Folate Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Remedies appeared first on Dr. Group's Healthy Living Articles.

Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/folate-deficiency/

Folate Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Remedies

Kale can help with folate deficiency.

If you’re feeling weak or like you have low energy, folate deficiency might be to blame. Folate is one of the essential B vitamins – B9 to be exact. This water-soluble vitamin is essential for making red blood cells and keeping levels of the amino acid homocysteine low. Lack of sufficient folate is linked to a variety of problems, including anemia, memory loss, bone fractures and hearing loss. Folate is also critical for developing fetuses.

While folate is found in many foods, not everyone gets enough of it in their diets. And even if they do, not everyone can absorb it due to issues like poor digestion (specifically malabsorption disorders). Or they have a genetic problem that makes it harder to convert the dietary folate and supplemental folic acid that they do consume into a form their bodies can use.

Read on to learn more about the signs of folate deficiency, the health benefits of consuming enough folate, common causes of folate deficiency, top folate-containing whole foods and recommended doses of folic acid supplements.

Signs of Folate Deficiency

There are several common folate deficiency symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • hearing loss
  • anemia
  • shortness of breath
  • memory loss
  • pale skin
  • memory loss

Low Energy

Do you ever feel tired or weak or have unexplained fatigue? Maybe you feel like your get up and go has got up and went away. Whatever the case, your energy reserves are low, and you’re not sure why. While there are many causes of low energy, it’s possible folate deficiency is to blame. That’s because fatigue is a common problem with anemia — and folate deficiency can cause anemia.

Hearing Loss

A 2010 study[1] found that age-related hearing loss is associated with significantly lower levels of folate in the blood. If you’re over the age of 60 and experiencing hearing loss without a clear medical diagnosis, it could be from a folate deficiency, which is common in older people.

Anemia

Anemia is a shortage of red blood cells in your body. Because red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen and energy to the cells throughout your body, anemia can make you feel tired and weak. Without sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body, you may feel short of breath — and your heart rate may go up as it tries to get more oxygen to your cells. Your hands and feet may feel cold, and your skin may be paler than normal.

Anemia can have many different causes. Internal bleeding, heavy menstruation, serious illnesses (like cancer) and inherited genetic diseases (such as sickle cell anemia) are all factors. But anemia is more commonly caused by nutritional deficiencies, particularly low iron, low B-12 and low folate.

Shortness of Breath

If you have trouble catching your breath, or if you feel winded after even mild exertion, the cause may be a folate deficiency. That’s because anemia, an aforementioned common problem in people with folate deficiencies, can lead to shortness of breath.

Memory Loss

Cognitive impairment, including poor memory and dementia, is associated with lower levels of folate in the blood, especially in older adults that need special care. A couple of small studies[2] have indicated that folic acid supplementation can lead to improvement in cognitive function for some patients.

Pale Skin

If your skin looks significantly paler than normal — like your blood has gone on vacation — you may have a folate deficiency. That’s because pale skin is a symptom of anemia, and anemia can be caused by folate deficiency.

If you are experiencing symptoms of folate deficiency, make sure you are getting adequate folate in your diet and consider taking a folic acid supplement to get the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for this vitamin. If your symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Folate vs. Folic Acid

You may hear people talk about folate and folic acid. So what’s the difference? While folate and folic acid are both forms of the water-soluble vitamin B9, the difference is their source. Folate is the natural form of this vitamin. You get it by eating natural foods, especially nuts, green leafy vegetables (such as kale and spinach), and other fruits and vegetables.

By contrast, folic acid, also known as folacin, is the synthetic form of vitamin B9. Since 1998, the FDA has required food producers to fortify enriched cereals and flours with folic acid. Many brands of nutritional yeast are also fortified with folic acid. Food manufacturers use synthetic folic acid rather than the natural form of this vitamin, folate, because folic acid is less expensive and folate is not shelf-stable.

It is not necessary to eat fortified foods or take folic acid supplements to get enough vitamin B9. You can get enough folate through your regular diet alone, provided you eat a healthy, diverse whole-foods diet rich in fruit, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

Folate and Folic Acid Benefits

There are many health benefits to consuming sufficient folate and folic acid. Adequate amounts of this water-soluble B vitamin help your body produce new blood cells and reduce the risk of stroke in people with high blood pressure. Folic acid can also help promote bone health. During pregnancy, getting enough folate through a healthy diet — or enough folic acid through supplements and fortified foods — helps to protect your developing baby’s health and prevent certain birth defects.

Produce New Cells

Adequate folate doesn’t just enable your body to build more red blood cells; it’s also important for producing and maintaining all new cells in the body. That’s because folate is required for DNA replication (to copy DNA for new cells) — and for the DNA within each cell to be used to create new proteins.

Promotes Normal Blood Pressure

In people with high blood pressure, adequate folic acid intake may help prevent strokes. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association[3] followed more than 20,000 adults with high blood pressure in China over 4.5 years. Those participants who received folic acid supplements, rather than a placebo, were less likely to have a stroke during those 4.5 years.

Keep in mind, China doesn’t require folate fortification of grains the way the U.S. does, so it’s likely that the China-based study saw a more dramatic benefit due to the lower folate levels of people in the study. But these findings may be relevant to people in the U.S. who do not consume a lot of fortified grains, either because their main source of dietary carbohydrates is corn masa (which isn’t fortified) or because they are on a gluten-free diet due to celiac or other health issues.

Helps Healthy Development of Fetus During Pregnancy

Getting enough folic acid in pregnancy is critical to protecting the developing fetus from neural tube defects (NTDs). One type of NTD is spina bifida, where the neural tube of the spine doesn’t close completely. With the more severe forms of spina bifida, part of the infant’s spine is exposed at birth, and the child will experience minor to major disabilities. Other types of NTD affect the developing fetus’s brain and can lead to stillbirth (due to the failure of the brain to develop) or part of the infant’s brain being exposed at birth.

The good news is that women can help protect their developing babies by consuming enough folic acid before and during pregnancy. According to the CDC[4], since mandatory folic acid fortification of cereals and flours began, the percentage of infants in the U.S. who were born with a neural tube defect has fallen by 35 percent.

While getting enough folic acid is important throughout a woman’s entire pregnancy, it’s especially critical during the early weeks, since NTDs can occur as early as three to four weeks into pregnancy. That’s why the CDC recommends that women of childbearing age consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, even when they’re not pregnant. By the time a woman finds out she’s pregnant and starts taking prenatal supplements, she may already be six weeks pregnant — or more.

At the very least, folic acid supplementation should begin at least one month before conception, to ensure that blood levels are adequate before conception.

Encourages a Healthy Heart

One marker for heart disease risk is the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

The body needs sufficient amounts of B vitamins — specifically, B6, B9 (folic acid) and B-12 — to convert homocysteine into methionine, an essential amino acid. While studies of those who already have heart disease showed no benefit from B vitamin supplementation, the Nurses’ Health Study[5] found that woman with no history of heart disease and high levels of dietary B6 and folate had a lower risk of heart disease.

Helps Protect Your Bones

Folate deficiency can lead to higher levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels can increase the rate of bone fractures[6]. Ensuring you get adequate folic acid through diet and supplements can bring down homocysteine levels, potentially protecting your bones.

What Causes Folate Deficiency

The most common cause of folate deficiency in the U.S. is eating too little of the foods that contain folate. But even people who are eating enough folate can still be at risk. Here are some common risk factors:

A Defect of the MTHFR Gene

Those with a common defect of the MTHFR gene have trouble converting both dietary folate and folic acid supplements into a form that can be used by the body. So even with sufficient intake, they are still deficient. People who have a genetic defect with their MTHFR gene should avoid taking folic acid supplements and instead speak with their health-care provider about methylated folate.

Poor Digestion Due to a Malabsorption Disorder

A malabsorption disorder (like celiac disease) that prevents nutrients from being adequately absorbed into the blood from the small intestines can also cause folate deficiency, even in those who consume enough dietary folate or take folic acid supplements.

Alcoholism

Alcoholics are also more at risk of folate deficiency because long-term consumption of high amounts of alcohol can cause malabsorption problems. It can also cause more folate to be excreted in the urine. Plus, the long-term impact of alcohol on the liver makes it harder for the liver to take up and store folate, and roughly half of the body’s folate is typically stored in the liver.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also lead to folate deficiency due to the increased demand for folic acid in women’s bodies during these times.

Medications

Finally, certain medications — including metformin (for diabetes treatment) and birth control pills — can cause folate deficiency.

Top Foods High in Folate

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Lentils
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains

It’s easy to get enough natural folate in your diet by eating a well-balanced, whole foods diets — especially if you eat some high-folate foods every day. It’s probably no surprise that nutrient-dense dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale, are one of the best natural sources of folate. Just one cup of spinach contains 263 micrograms of folate — or 65 percent of the U.S. RDA. Collard greens come in a close second, with 177 micrograms or 44 percent of the U.S. RDA, for a one cup serving.

Legumes are also a great natural source of folate. Most beans contain between 200 and 300 micrograms of folate (50 percent to 75 percent of the U.S. RDA) per cup. When it comes to folate, though, lentils are the clear leaders — just one cup of lentils contains a whopping 358 micrograms of folate — or 90 percent of the U.S. RDA!

Other good sources of dietary folate include nuts, peas, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, corn, and carrots. It’s not just nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables that are high in folate. Unexpected sources of natural folate include egg yolks and organ meats, such as liver and kidney.

How Much Folic Acid Should You Take?

Life Stage RDA
Infants birth-6 months 65 mcg
Infants 7-12 months 80 mcg
1–3 years 150 mcg
4–8 years 200 mcg
9–13 years 300 mcg
Individuals 14+ 400 mcg
Pregnant women 600 mcg
Breastfeeding women 500 mcg

The U.S. RDA for folic acid is 400 micrograms for adults, 600 micrograms for pregnant women and 500 micrograms for lactating women[7]. While most adults who eat healthy amounts of folate in their diet don’t need a supplement, the CDC recommends[8] that all women of childbearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, to prevent birth defects, particularly spina bifida and anencephaly (where part of skull and brain are missing).

Supplementation is also recommended if you are not consuming a lot of folate-rich foods, if you have a malabsorption disorder that prevents you for adequately absorbing the folate you do eat or if you are taking medication that negatively impacts your folate stores.

The Takeaway

If you’re dealing with unexplained weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, memory loss or age-related hearing loss, it’s possible that folate deficiency is part of the problem. The best way to prevent a folic acid deficiency is to get enough folate in your diet by eating ample amounts of dark leafy greens and beans — and also nuts, citrus fruits and other foods that are high in folate.

But diet alone may not be enough. If you have a defect in your MTHFR gene, you should consider taking methylated folate, which doesn’t require conversion to be used by your body. And if you are a woman of childbearing age, you should strongly consider taking a high-quality folic acid supplement, even if you’re not trying to conceive, to ensure you have adequate levels of folate in your blood to support a healthy pregnancy.

But the benefits of folic acid supplementation go beyond ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Adequate folate can help boost your energy and decrease your risk of having a stroke. It can also help protect your bones, hearing, and memory as you age.

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Source: https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/folate-deficiency/