Hair Loss due to Vitamin Deficiency

What is one of the most common topics on people’s minds? The answer is hair, literally and figuratively (corny, I know). Being of Middle Eastern descent, I never thought I would ever have to worry about hair loss since I have had an abundance of it my entire life, up until now. There was a time when I wanted to shave half my head because I couldn’t manage. Now, I worry every time I see a strand of hair that has been pulled out into my brush. If you are like me, you should continue reading because I have found that hair loss is not solely due to aging, but also due to lacking certain vitamins and minerals in the body.

The first and most important vitamin for hair loss is biotin (also known as vitamin H or vitamin B7). Biotin helps the body produce collagen, which in turn helps grow strong and healthy hair. It makes the diameter of the hair shaft thicker and less fragile so it is more resistant to breakage as well. Biotin is also thought to prevent grey hair by producing melanin, which is a protein that gives hair and skin its color. As an added bonus, biotin also helps build strong, healthy nails and skin. Zinc also plays a critical role in hair loss because it aids in cell reproduction, hormonal balance, absorption of vitamins, and in protein synthesis, all of which promote the process of hair growth. Zinc also maintains the oil-secreting glands connected to your hair follicles, thus decreasing the chances of your hair falling out. Iron is also very important in preventing hair loss because it helps carry oxygen to your scalp and hair. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, which is what transports oxygen in your blood throughout your body. Lastly, make sure you have enough protein in your diet. Protein helps supply your body with the building blocks it needs to grow healthy, strong hair. If you are a vegetarian, you can still get your protein from such things as beans, tofu or even dried apricots.

Some products that I have found to work really well are Biosil, which is a tasteless, liquid form of biotin you can just mix with your water and drink, and Biotin Forte, which contains both biotin and zinc along with other B vitamins. Massaging your scalp also helps because it improves blood circulation to that area, which then promotes more hair growth. Some people like to flip their head upside down as well when doing this but I don’t know how practical that would be in most places, but to each his own. Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

Got Milk…Which One?

Milk…it does a body good, but which one is right for you? Before, our only options were  nonfat, low fat or whole. Now, we have the option of getting almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk as well. Some are enhanced with vitamins, made lactose-free, or even flavored for those of us who do not particularly like the taste of regular milk. However, how many of you really know the difference between all these options?

Before getting into which milk is best for you, let’s talk about why milk is an important part of a healthy diet. Milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, both of which are major factors in maintaining a strong and healthy body. The average sized adult needs about 1,000mg of calcium and at least 45gm of protein a day, which can be met with about 3 to 4 glasses of milk. Some people worry about milk increasing their cholesterol, however, skim (or nonfat) milk doesn’t have the potential to clog your arteries and still delivers the essential nutrients as other types of milk do. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is actually filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium:Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein:Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium:Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus:Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D:Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12:Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A:Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision  and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2):Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

Even though milk is an essential part of a healthy diet, there are some issues people have with it other than the possibility of increasing their cholesterol. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in all dairy products including milk. However, there are lactose free alternatives. Milk that is labeled “lactose free” has the enzyme lactase added to it by the manufacturers to predigest the sugar in order to be suitable for those who are intolerant. Almond, soy, and rice milk are also well tolerated since they do not contain any lactose to begin with. There are also supplements found over the counter, such as Lactaid, that contain lactase to help digest dairy products as well.

Hormones are also an issue for milk drinkers. Hormones are often injected into young livestock to make them grow larger in order to provide more meat and milk. These hormones can come out in their milk and enter our bodies when we drink it. It is said that the amount of hormones that enter our body is very minimal compared to the amount our bodies produce, however the issue is debatable. Organic milk that has the claim “rBST-free” is your safest bet when it comes to trying to avoid this issue as a whole because the milk is collected from cows who are organically fed and not injected with any growth hormones.

Almond milk is one of the most nutritious, dairy free, milk substitutes available today. Unlike soy or rice milk, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified with additional vitamins since it already provides omega-3, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, protein and plant flavanoids. Also, almond milk is naturally low in fat and calories making it safe for people with high cholesterol. Lastly, as mentioned before, almond milk doesn’t contain lactose so it is compatible with those who are lactose intolerant.

Soy milk is another great substitute for cow’s milk that is very high in protein. Although soy milk doesn’t naturally provide as many vitamins as almond milk, it does provide about 3 to 4 more grams of protein per serving. Soy milk also provides more fiber, which is very beneficial to the heart and can help lower cholesterol. For premenopausal women who suffer from lower levels of estrogen, soy milk helps replace lost estrogen and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. However, for those who do not need extra estrogen, like women below the age of 40 or men of all ages, drinking soy milk on a regular basis may not be the best option since it could elevate the body’s estrogen levels above the norm.

Rice milk is also a popular dairy free alternative for cow’s milk, but may not provide as much nutrition as the other options. It is a good option for those who are allergic to soy and who are lactose intolerant, but contains more carbohydrates and less protein than both soy and almond milk. This is because rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. People usually prefer rice milk because it is sweet on its own and doesn’t need to be enhanced with additional sweeteners or flavors. However, it does usually have to be fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron along with other nutrients to give it more of a nutritional value since it doesn’t have much to offer on its own.

Who knew there would be so much to think about when choosing milk? Times have definitely changed since going out and filling up a bucket with milk from the local cow before breakfast. Personally, I am an almond milk drinker even though it isn’t the tastiest choice because I am lactose intolerant and like the natural nutritional value it brings. However, now that you know more about your options, pick one that is right for you and make it part of your daily diet. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

The ABC’s of Protein and Why Your Body Needs It

Protein is one of the body’s main building blocks for not only muscle but bone, hair, skin, tendons, ligaments and other tissues as well. Actually, every cell in the human body contains protein as part of its structure. So, if you were to deprive your body of protein, you would be depriving your cells and tissues of the components they need to grow or even repair themselves when needed. For those of you who are vegetarians, protein can be found in many different forms other than animal meat including powders, meal replacement bars, beans, nuts, avocado, tofu and even dried apricot. However, be careful how much protein you ingest because too much can be toxic.

The recommended daily intake of protein for healthy adults is 0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day for the average man. For people who exercise vigorously, it is essential to have more protein after their workout in order to help restore and repair muscle glycogen, which is a molecule used as a fuel source for energy. Protein can also help you stay full longer than most other types of food, which is beneficial for weight loss. Most meal replacement bars and powders contain a high amount of protein specifically to help the body lose fat and build lean muscle. One of my favorite meal replacement bars is Think Thin. These bars do not contain any sugar but do pack a lot of protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins that will give you energy and keep you full for hours. Plus, they actually taste really good. A protein shake that I recommend is Shakeology. Shakeology has a protein formula unmatched by most other protein shakes and is also relatively low in calories so you will lose unwanted fat and increase lean muscle mass easily and quickly.

Protein may be good for the body, but too much protein is not. A diet in which protein makes up more than 30% of your caloric intake causes a buildup of toxic ketones in the body. Having a high level of ketones can push your kidneys into overdrive in order to flush these ketones out, which can cause you lose a significant amount of water as well. If your body loses too much water, you may be at risk for dehydration, especially for those who exercise a lot. Along with losing an excessive amount of water, you can lose muscle mass and bone calcium in your urine too. Also, dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy since excessive water loss may lower your blood pressure to an abnormally low level, which also puts a strain on your heart. Last but not least, a high level of ketones in the body can cause really bad breath!

So, protein is an essential part of one’s diet, but like almost everything else in this world, too much may be harmful. Stick to the daily recommended intake of protein and you will not only feel better but look better as well. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.