Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

20 Dec

The Buckler Brief

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT: Choline

Choline is a B vitamin. It is essential to the body’s functions and it is found in every cell. Choline can be produced in the body, but not in adequate amounts. Choline works in concert with other vitamins, particularly Folic Acid and B12.

WHAT IT DOES: Choline assists in brain function, liver function, and cardiovascular function. This supplement is a precursor to acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.

Choline also plays a role in lipid metabolism and storage in the body. Choline is particularly vital for the regulation of fat in the liver, possibly playing a role in triglyceride regulation and fat storage.

STUDIES SHOW: Pregnant women who take choline can help the brain development of the fetus. Choline supplements have been proven to increase blood choline levels. And high-performance athletes have benefited from choline supplementation because it can help boost endurance.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Choline was determined to be an essential vitamin by the U.S. government in 1998, but many people are unaware of its importance to good health. Choline may assist in memory, brain development and function, cardiovascular health, fat metabolism, liver health and energy levels. As an essential component of the B-vitamin family, choline can help to support your optimal health.

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20 Dec

Generation XXL

Health Day News published an article on children’s health this morning, and here’s the quote that made me pause:

“Being overweight or obese is the most important health issue facing children in the United States, a new survey finds.”

I remember a time when the most important health issue a kid had to think about was how many bites of broccoli you could feed to the dog without Mom noticing.

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19 Dec

Tuesday’s Buzz

WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES

Yo! All kinds of news you’ll want to check out today, Apples. Here’s the best of it:

Bite My MDA

The FDA says it wants stricter warnings on the dangers of over-the-counter pain pills like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxin sodium. Since thousands of people die every year from painkiller-related problems (even when following dosage directions!), this is a good thing, but we’re still not forgiving the FDA for what we feel is a moronic decision yesterday to allow Celebrex for tiny tots. It’s not at all about being anti-drug – drugs serve a tremendously important role in improving human health and survival. But we think it’s short-sighted to approve the prescription of a very problematic drug to the wee ones.

There’s no clear-cut data on just how many people die from painkillers, according to the FDA. Sure. If you believe that, you’ll also believe the FDA’s claim that they wanted to issue stern warnings back in 2002, but it just takes so long to write warnings. Yes, that’s right – your eyes do not deceive you. It has taken over four years to deal with this because, well, writing a few paragraphs for pill bottle labels just takes a really, really long time. We know there are things like rules, regulations, and procedures. But don’t lives take precedence? Nope – lobbyists do, and that’s why it takes so long. That’s why they get paid the big bucks, Apples.

Feed Those Kids Some Sushi!

While this is a small, simple study, it’s certainly interesting news for your little ones’ health that isn’t the least bit fishy. Read up.

Why Supplements Are Important As We Age

Here’s a good study out of Cornell University that discusses the importance of supplements for older women. Stay healthy, ladies!

Trans Fats Make It to State

First, Chicago and NYC had to start in with the fat bans. We’re still waiting on Los Angeles to join the city competition, but in the meantime, an entire state – Massachusetts – is all set to ban trans fats, too. They always have to be first, don’t they? However, we’re glad to see the trans fat issue finally getting some serious political sizzle (we know, we know…bad pun).

deepfryer

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19 Dec

Risk, Schmisk

lightning

What are you more likely to be afraid of:

A shark or a candy bar?

Driving in your car or flying on a plane?

Falling out of your bed or being hit by lightning?

The flu or avian flu?

It’s interesting how we humans assess risk. It turns out, we’re pretty bad at it. Our risk of choking on a candy bar is 3,000 times greater than being attacked by a shark. Our risk of being killed in a car accident is over 44,000 times greater than dying from an airplane crash. No one in America has died from avian flu, but 36,000 people died from the “regular” influenza virus just last year. You have a greater chance of dying from falling out of your bed than from a snakebite, shark attack, airplane crash, stampede, skydiving, dog bite, bee sting, and lightning strike…combined. And then doubled.

It’s interesting how our evolutionary development intersects with the rapid changes in human society over the last 50 years. We simply haven’t caught up, physically or mentally. A fascinating article I caught the other day explains our faulty risk assessment in greater detail, but what concerns me most is how this judgment quirk of the human brain has an impact upon our health.

A few noteworthy points:

The brain fears what is new or unusual, rather than what is likely.

The brain also has a cumulative way of reasoning. So, if you’ve (just hypothetically) gotten away with an unsafe behavior in the past – say, driving under the influence, or speeding recklessly, or eating junk food in high school without gaining much weight – your brain rationalizes that you can continue taking the risks, even though the odds are stacked considerably against you (again, a hypothetical “you”).

The brain has a bad risk memory, and a bad consequence memory, too. Though junk food might cause you to have a spare tire now, the memory is that you “have always been able” to eat junk food. We consistently underrate our risk and overrate our success. We consistently underrate consequences. That’s just part of human biology. It served us well when we had to worry about being attacked by a mammoth or filling up on all the seeds and berries one could possibly ingest in the likely event that food might not come around for a while. But, these days, with the food and drug supply being what it is, coupled with consistently sedentary behavior, hours in front of computer screens, and long commutes, it’s no wonder we are witnessing widespread health problems.

This isn’t an issue we can solve in a day. It’s simply something to be mindful of as we go about our daily business, making all manner of choices. The real things to fear – heart disease, lung cancer from smoking, fatal diseases caused by obesity – are literally hundreds of thousands of times more likely than any (admittedly scary) prospect of death by large animal or flying transport. My take on all this? Make smarter choices in how you move, what you eat, and how you handle stress, and you’ll outlive all the people worrying about avian flu and spinach. You’ll feel better, too.

Here’s the excellent and highly-enjoyable – and not even scary – article on our risk assessment ability. You’ll want to check it out. Clickativity

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19 Dec

Black Tuesday for Black Cohosh

The latest study doesn’t look good for black cohosh. Here’s the clickativity.

Our take: The study was performed by the National Institutes of Health (your friendly government agency), and looked at just over 300 women – so, not exactly a conclusive study. However, size does not always matter – a good study is a good study. The researchers found that women taking black cohosh for hot flashes had a half-episode less per day than women on the placebo treatment. This marginal difference might be enough for some women to take the herbal supplement, but it’s not significant enough to pass scientific muster (and that’s really a good thing – that’s why science rocks).

Black cohosh has been used for hundreds of years and was a traditional Native American medicine. If you suffer from hot flashes and find that black cohosh has helped you, there’s probably nothing to worry about as it is a fairly harmless herb (though it can cause headaches and stomach discomfort in some).

The study designers did state that the jury’s not out and larger studies need to be conducted.

Mark adds:

About a year and a half ago, a big study was released on echinacea. The report was that the herb did nothing to prevent or alleviate cold and flu viruses. The study was certainly well-designed: participants were locked up dorm-style in a completely controlled environment for the duration of the study. But despite the strict parameters, the scientists forgot something: the echinacea plant has different parts that can be utilized for medicinal purposes. Because herbal supplements are not regulated the same way as drugs are regulated, the type of echinacea in the assortment at your local GNC can literally vary from bottle to bottle. Other studies testing different sources of echinacea have proven a benefit. It just goes to show that “the latest study” is almost never the last word.

cohosh

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