Biotin and Keratin for Healthier Skin

Many women, and men as well, desire ways to have firmer skin, more resilient hair, and stronger nails. The answer may be from within, with biotin and keratin.

Biotin is a vitamin B complex that helps the body metabolize protein. This vitamin is necessary for healthy skin and hair, as our hair and nails are made up of proteins, and it helps build thicker nails as well as stronger hair, increasing elasticity of the hair’s cortex preventing breakage, thickens cuticles and diameter of the hair shaft, as well as promotes hair growth.

Biotin has been well recognized for improving nail strength, with results of 25 percent increase in nail thickness with supplementation. It is important to note that it is not absorbed through the skin or through our hair, and needs to be ingested through our diet. A shampoo with biotin doesn’t really have any benefit to hair strength.

Keratin is an important structural component of our skin, hair, and nails. It is a protein that helps hold skin together firmly and prevent sagging, and also forms layers of our nails. Keratin is formed by keratinocytes, the living cells below our outer layers. The cells slowly push their way upwards as needed, eventually dying and forming a protective layer of cell.

Taking care of our skin can reduce the amount of keratin our body needs, as the harder we are on our skin, the faster we show signs of aging. We can also supplement our body with additional sources of keratin to have smoother skin and fuller hair. The difficulty has been in obtaining keratin that is both soluble as well as functional, and processed animal sources such as hooves have not provided much benefit for skin care.

A unique source of keratin has been developed from the wool of sheep in New Zealand. As it does not have to be processed significantly, it is retained in a natural bio-available form. Clinical studies have shown decreases in hair loss and improvements in hair strength in brightness with supplementing with the keratin source over a 3 month period.

So if looking to improve hair, skin, and nails, don’t overlook the building blocks of biotin and keratin.


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African Mango Shows Promise for Significant Weight Loss

The African Mango, also referred to as Irvingia gabonensis, is a fruit commonly consumed in Nigeria and Cameroon. Extract from the African mango is showing promise in helping individuals who struggle with excess weight shed the pounds.

Studies have shown that supplementing with the extract of this fruit show reduces body weight, body fat, and waist size. Additionally, it also has shown to lower cholesterol as well as help overcome insulin resistance, factors that perpetuate metabolic syndrome in the overweight, a cycle where losing weight can be difficult and health risks are high.

Researchers at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon conducted a double-blind placebo study, published in Lipids and Health and Disease in 2009, that investigated the African mango benefits. The participants were overweight but otherwise healthy, and received 150 mg of the African mango extract or a placebo before lunch and dinner. The participants were instructed to not make changes to level of physical activity and no dietary intervention was instituted during the course of the study.

Results were very significant. At the end of the 10 week study, the overweight participants taking the African mango extract had lost on average of 28 lbs, or almost 15% of their average body weight. Waist size and body fat decreased by 6 inches and 6% respectively. Additionally, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels, factors related to the metabolic syndrome as well as a warning sign for diabetes declined with taking the supplement.

The African mango extract may be benefit weight loss in a few different ways. Studies show that the African mango extract has been shown to reduce secretion of leptin, and leptin inhibits fat metabolism. Adiponectin levels are increased which influences response to insulin and greater levels reduces. A low level of adiponectin is associated with obesity and a high level associated with reduced risk of heart attack. Higher levels will also regulate blood sugar levels reducing cravings associated with overeating.

The African mango extract appears to be a safe and natural way to lose weight, reduce body fat, curb cravings, and even breakout of the metabolic syndrome trap associated with obesity.


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DIM and Healthy Estrogen Balance in Men and Women

DIM and Healthy Estrogen Balance in Men and Women

The balance of our hormones plays important roles in health and well being. In particular, the balance of estrogens 70-410 and progesterone can have significance in both men and women. Estrogen and progesterone need the presence of each other in order to perform their individual functions. But as we age, levels can become unbalanced and prevent us from feeling our best.

Estrogen is produced in some degree to both men and women, playing a larger role in the female sex. It maintains the health and function of our sex organs and well as other needs such as skeletal growth, skin, and protein deposition.

Progesterone is the building block for other major 70-640 hormones. Sex hormones are formed from progesterone, including the corticosteroids, which are essential for stress response, electrolyte balance, and blood pressure.

As we age, we can develop a condition where our active estrogen dominates progesterone levels. This can be problematic in both men and women. In women, some of the issues go beyond menopause and it can cause weight gain, moodiness, and breast pain. Men tend to suffer from weight gain, loss of sex drive, prostate enlargement, and male patterned baldness due to the condition.

There are various factors that affect our hormones, from diet, environment, stress, and the natural aging process. The supplement DIM (Diindolylmethane) has been shown to naturally help the body balance or reduce our estrogen levels. DIM is a phytonutrient that is found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli.

A slow metabolism of estrogen prevents the body from managing the levels of active estrogen, and DIM specifically helps increase its metabolism into the beneficial estrogen metabolites the body needs. Many of the benefits that are attributed to estrogen, which includes its ability to protect the heart and brain with its antioxidant activity, are now known to come from these “good” metabolites. And in men, the promotion of healthy estrogen metabolism also supports the desirable actions of testosterone, including energy and libido.

The supplement DIM may the solution you need for helping support healthy hormone balance in both men and women. It is a natural phytonutrient, but always consult your doctor if taking other medications.


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A Smarter Diet Strategy

While it makes sense to reduce calories to lose weight, a very low calorie diet is a poor strategy. It only forces your body into survival mode, reducing metabolism to preserve the very fat stores you want to burn. Also intake of protein will be low which means your body will start to feed off muscle to function. The result is less muscle burning up calories.

A better strategy is to eat smaller portions more regular. When you skip breakfast for instance, you miss an opportunity to get your metabolism going early. In the morning your blood sugar level is low and your body is not yet giving signals to ramp up burning of energy stores. You can quickly change that by ingesting complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, and protein like an egg-white omelette in the morning.

Eating 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day helps maintain metabolism. An example day might incorporate oatmeal and a protein source for breakfast, a mid morning snack of celery with peanut butter followed by a chicken salad for lunch, mid-afternoon snack of a protein shake, and an evening meal of chicken breast with vegetables.

A key to successful weight loss is your protein intake. Protein boosts metabolism, makes you feel full and maintains your lean muscle for a more lean and tone look. And eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet, the kind that are most prevalent in our diet, including cereals, pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice. Get your carbs from natural sources such as whole grains and reduce carb intake towards evening.

It may be just good for the psyche, but give yourself one day a week to eat where you give in to the guilty pleasure that you want. Think of it as a reward for being good, and one day a week will not wreak your progress. It will also get you out of the cycle of beating yourself up when you slip up with your diet, which will happen from time to time.


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Whole-Food Vitamins – What Nature Intended

We can find many things today made to synthetically recreate nature. Fabrics, wood floors that aren’t really wood, even plastic plants that fool the eye. But when it comes to nutrition, should we try to recreate nature or get nutrients derived from whole food sources?

Including a multi-vitamin in your diet can be a great way to make sure you have all the foundational nutrients needed every day. Let’s face it, most of us don’t regular eat the variety of food sources to get the optimal levels of nutrients. But there are two choices, whole-food source vitamins or vitamins synthetically sourced in a lab.

Synthetic vitamins are designed to imitate the vitamins that we get from whole food. These vitamins meet the molecular structure requirements, but in the process they are no longer in the same complex forms found nature. Compared to food, they are like “homeless” chemical isolates.

Whole-food sourced vitamins are derived from plant life sources without. The major difference is that you don’t just get the chemical form, but a whole-food complex of the vitamins, minerals and herbs that contain all of the plant’s active, natural biochemistries.  It takes more effort to make a multi-vitamin this way, but it’s about providing nutrients that are in the forms found in food.

Whole-food sourced vitamins are more effective as the vitamins are in whole-food complexes and retain many of the beneficial compounds in food. Some of those beneficial compounds are the phytonutrients retained from the fruit and vegetable sources, which are antioxidants that slow down the process of cell and tissue damage.

For example, Vitamin C in a whole-food complex is more useful to the body then the ascorbic acid found in a synthetic vitamin. Your body just won’t fully recognize and absorb all of the synthetic Vitamin C. All those milligrams listed on the back label may be just passing right through.

You may have to ask yourself, am I getting real nutrients or just a synthetic pretender?Your body knows the difference.


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