Virtually everyone has stress. In fact, According to the Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association,1 39 percent of respondents said their stress increased over the past year, and 44 percent said that their stress had increased over the past five years. The question is, how well do you handle your stress, how does it affect your life, and what can you do about it? The same Stress in America survey indicates the following percentage of Americans is only fair or poor at:

  • Preventing themselves from becoming stressed (44 percent)
  • Managing or reducing stress once experienced (39 percent)
  • Recovering fully or recharging after they’ve been stressed (31 percent)

The New Year is right around the corner, and you know what that means: time for New Year’s resolutions. According to the United States government,1 five of the top ten New Year’s resolutions are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get a Better Education
  3. Get Fit
  4. Eat Healthy Food
  5. Manage Stress

Of course it’s easy to make resolutions, but hard to keep them. So what can you do to make it easier? While there is no substitute for willpower and commitment, this article will review some nutraceuticals which may actually help you be more effective at adhering to these five resolutions.

People take dietary supplements for lots of different reasons. Some are simply looking for nutritional insurance, a feeling of security that lapses in the everyday diet will not lead to inadequate amounts of this or that nutrient, such as inadequate B-12 as we get older, inadequate lutein to protect the eyes from sun damage, and so forth and so on. Others have more specific concerns, such as protecting against cardiovascular damage or speeding exercise benefits and recovery in the case of athletes. Whatever the reason for taking nutritional supplements, research normally is considered to be on the plus side of the equation both to confirm likely benefits and to show that there should be no harm. Both of these goals, unfortunately, can prove to be problematic in unexpected ways.

All parents want their children to be as healthy as possible and most parents do whatever they can to support their children. Many parents bring their children into see me not necessarily to treat specific medical conditions but to determine what they can do to support the health of their children. One of the most common questions they ask is, “Should my child take vitamin supplements?”

I typically recommend most infants and toddlers under the age of two get the majority of their vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other essential nutrients through breast milk and dietary intake. These are the most natural and pure sources of the essential nutrients. The exception to this is vitamin D, which all infants should get 400 IU/day. I typically recommend most children over the age of two take a daily multivitamin to enhance their nutritional intake.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that produces semen, the fluid that transports sperm. After a man turns 50, or in those with urinary symptoms, the prostate may begin to need support. And men who have CFS/FMS can be particularly vulnerable to a form of prostate irritation called prostadynia.

The prostate rings the urethra, the tube that transports ejaculate and drains urine from the bladder. As the prostate expands in size, the urethra may be squeezed and narrowed, causing urinary symptoms such as frequent urination (particularly during the night), urgency, difficulty starting the stream, a weaker stream, dribbling at the end, and incomplete emptying.

Thanks to a combination of new advances into natural remedies and a veritable treasure trove of time-tested information, it is more possible than ever to preserve and improve your health through holistic means. The growing popularity of such products can be witnessed both in the proliferation of the specialty stores that carry them and their emergence on the shelves of more traditional retailers. More importantly, this isn’t due to any hidden financial agenda, as these products lack the backing of the big pharmaceutical corporations that have made so many pills and powders household names. Instead, a handful of the natural remedies are gaining steam for one simple reason: they work. When taken properly, natural supplements can offer all the benefits of their synthetic counterparts without the considerable drawbacks of side effects, making them an essential part of one’s day-to-day wellness regiment.

Controversy is no stranger to vitamins and herbs, albeit there are periods of more and of less attention. Popular news sources recently have been making much of a couple of issues: To start, there has been a regular drumbeat regarding the uselessness of vitamins, either alone or in combination, for either preserving or improving health. Multi-vitamin/mineral supplements are common targets, but so are vitamins such as vitamin D and a number of popular herbs. Next, we are warned routinely of possible interactions between various supplements, especially herbal extracts, and prescription drugs. In particular, blood-thinning medications and certain immuno-suppressants used to treat HIV have been emphasized as being incompatible with a number of popular plant products, including St. John's wort and Chinese ginseng. Both sets of issues are real, to be sure, and need to be considered for safety's sake. Nevertheless, the ensuing controversy over supplements is perhaps just as important for what it reveals about American dietary and other habits as for what it reveals about the safety of vitamins and herbs.

Two years ago, in this space the magazine took a look at bone health and the role of some non-calcium factors in benefits. (See Not by Calcium Alone.) As was observed at that time, to improve bone health and reduce fracture risk, Americans have been taught to focus on calcium supplements and bone mineral density (BMD).

Above: Osteoporosis medical illustration healthy bone and unhealthy bone—osteoporosis. Osteoporosis may lead to bone fracture.

However, the weak relationship between BMD and fracture risk has led experts to look elsewhere for support for bone health. These experts draw a distinction between bone quality (which concerns reduced risks of fracture) and bone quantity (which is concerned exclusively with bone mineral density).

milk thistle not just for the liverMilk thistle, as is true of similarly classic liver tonics from the Chinese tradition, such as bupleurum, has occupied a central spot in herbalism for good reasons, many of which remain true today.

This herbal tonic generally ranks high in recognition and sales with the American public in comparison with other botanical products. Nevertheless, its sales here are small on a per capita basis compared with, say, Germany, perhaps as little as 25 percent of what might be expected. Both old research and new suggest that milk thistle deserves even wider appreciation.

Garlic, a traditional medicine for centuries, is now validated by modern science to have a wide range of medicinal properties. Fresh garlic however is not for everyone, as its lingering odor on breath and skin and its potential gastric side effects make people reject fresh garlic, thus depriving themselves of its benefits. An important alternative, chosen by many is odorless Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) that is higher in antioxidants than fresh garlic and often more effective in protecting health.

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