Among the buzz in COVID-19 talk: vitamin D levels as a potential indicator of who’s at risk of developing more serious complications from the disease.
A variety of medical experts have noted that research shows high rates of vitamin D deficiency in people with severe COVID-19 infections. People with low vitamin D levels may be more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections. According to Harvard Health Publishing, vitamin D may protect against COVID-19 in two ways: Helping to boost our bodies’ natural defense against viruses and bacteria and potentially preventing an exaggerated inflammatory response.
A study published in Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reported that more than 80 percent of 200 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Spain had vitamin D deficiency. Men had lower levels than women. And the Mayo Clinic reported that other research observed high rates of vitamin D deficiency in people with COVID-19 who experienced acute respiratory failure.
Researchers are exploring the effectiveness of giving high doses of vitamin D to people hospitalized with COVID-19, but thus far have seen mixed results. The Mayo Clinic article said there isn’t enough data to recommend the use of vitamin D to prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or to treat COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.
Still, every little bit helps. If you suspect or know you have a vitamin D deficiency, experts recommend checking with your doctor about whether a supplement is a good idea.
5 reasons to increase your flexibility
Flexibility plays a key role in your overall fitness. In fact, stretching your muscles and joints on a regular basis can make a variety of everyday activities easier. Here are the five main benefits of increasing your flexibility.
1. It improves your posture and balance
2. It increases your range of motion
3. It reduces your risk of getting injured
4. It helps your muscles work more effectively
5. It reduces aches, pains, and muscle tension
Furthermore, stretching after your exercise facilitates muscle recovery and repair. It also prevents lactic acid from building up and causing muscle soreness.
Keep in mind that stretching shouldn’t be painful. Though it’s normal to feel a pulling sensation, a sharp or stabbing pain means you’ve over-extended your muscles or joints, which can result in injury.
Activities to try
Stretching is just one of many ways to improve your flexibility. You can also try yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, Pilates, ballet, and more. Consider signing up for a beginners’ class in your area.
One cause of health problems can be mistaken for aging
One condition, not uncommon in women, can be misdiagnosed as a typical problem in aging.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can be responsible for a number of conditions throughout the body. But, often patients just experience one of the many possible symptoms. To make matters worse, the symptoms resemble problems typical of normal aging.
Joint and muscle pain is a classic symptom, according to Harvard Health. Large muscle groups, like those in the legs, can begin to ache. Sometimes it is the only symptom of hypothyroidism in an older person.
If you suddenly start forgetting the names of your grandkids and maybe your memory seems shorter, it could be hypothyroidism, especially if it has gone undiagnosed for some time.
Another common symptom is depression. Like muscle pain, depression can be the only noticeable symptom of hypothyroidism. In severe, untreated cases, adults can even experience hallucinations.
Constipation may be dismissed as a routine problem, but it often accompanies low thyroid.
Unexplained high cholesterol can pop up in tests and be a sign that the thyroid should be checked.
Finally, low thyroid levels can even make your heart work poorly with weaker contractions and a slower heart rate.
Make daikon part of your diet
Daikon is a sweet, mildly spicy root vegetable that resembles a plump white carrot. Also known as white or Japanese radish, daikon is popular in many types of Asian cuisine and a great addition to your winter meals.
This crunchy cruciferous vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants. In addition to being low in calories, some studies indicate that eating daikon:
• Helps protect against certain cancers and chronic conditions like heart disease
• Increases satiety and promotes a healthy body weight
How to eat it
Daikon can be served raw or cooked. Often, it’s thinly sliced for pickling or to be used as a garnish. However, it also makes a tasty addition to a variety of hot and cold dishes and can even be used in baked goods. This winter, try daikon pan-fried or roasted. Additionally, the greens can be used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.
How to store it
Keep daikon in a perforated plastic bag or wrapped in a damp towel in the fridge. It should last for several weeks. Store the greens separately.
What are the health risks of vaping?
Electronic cigarettes are devices designed to heat a nicotine-based liquid into a vapor, which can then be inhaled. Here’s a look at the known health risks associated with vaping.
Exposure to nicotine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping is a less harmful option than smoking if you already smoke. However, since most e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, they pose a number of health risks. Among other things, vaping can:
· Lead to addiction
· Cause behavioral problems
· Alter brain development
It should be noted that adolescents are particularly susceptible to the dangerous effects of nicotine. This is why it’s illegal to sell or give vaping products to anyone under the age of 21.
Exposure to other chemicals
The main liquids found in vaping products are vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and chemicals used for flavor such as diacetyl. When these substances are heated in a vaping device, they create a carcinogen called formaldehyde. Other toxins that can be found in e-cigarette vapor include nickel, tin, and aluminum.
Heart and lung disease
Inhaling the harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes increases the risk of cardiovascular and lung disease. Health experts are also currently investigating the rise of a severe and potentially fatal lung disease referred to as vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI).
While the potential long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, there’s no doubt that the use of e-cigarettes is hazardous. The best way to avoid the health risks associated with vaping is to not start or to ask a health-care professional for advice on how to quit.
The hazard of batteries
Vaping devices can be dangerous if they’re not properly used or stored. The lithium-ion batteries in electronic cigarettes can overheat, catch fire, or explode in your pocket if they come into contact with metal objects like loose coins or keys.
Orthokeratology: an overnight treatment for myopia
If you’re nearsighted, orthokeratology can be an effective alternative to wearing glasses or contacts. This non-surgical treatment involves wearing rigid, custom-fit lenses overnight to temporarily reshape your cornea. Here’s a look at how orthokeratology can improve your vision.
What to expect
Orthokeratology lenses are made of a sturdy, gas-permeable material that flattens the center of the cornea while still allowing oxygen to reach your eye. For best results, these lenses should be worn for at least six consecutive hours every night.
You may experience some minor discomfort during the first week as your eyes get used to the rigid lenses. When you remove the lenses in the morning, your cornea will stay flat and change the way light enters your eye. This vision correction usually lasts about 24 to 48 hours.
How it can help
Though it can’t permanently correct your vision, orthokeratology slows the progression of myopia in 50 to 90 percent of cases. Among other things, this preventive action can help you:
·Avoid further eye health problems
·Reduce your risk of retinal detachment
·Prevent the appearance of eye floaters
To find out if orthokeratology is right for you, speak with your optometrist.
3 myths about heart disease
February is American Heart Month and a great opportunity to raise awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Here are three myths that must be debunked to ensure all Americans take the necessary steps to minimize their risk.
Myth: You don’t need to worry about heart disease until you’re in your 50s
Fact: You can develop heart disease at any age, especially if you have high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, diabetes, or excessive body fat. To monitor these risk factors, the American Heart Association recommends that adults be tested for them every four to six years starting at the age of 20. Furthermore, adopting healthy lifestyle habits at an early age reduces your risk of developing heart disease later in life.
Myth: You’ll know you’re having a heart attack because you’ll have chest pain
Myth: You can’t prevent heart disease if it runs in your family
Fact: A family history of heart disease puts you at higher risk for the condition, but there are steps you can take to protect your heart health. Among other things, you should quit smoking (or never start), eat a healthy diet, and exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Additionally, speak with your doctor about how you can manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
For more information about heart disease, visit heart.org.