Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Causes for Insomnia and Natural Remedies That Work

Having trouble sleeping and not sure what causes of insomnia affect you? Do you find yourself unable to fall asleep at night knowing you need to get to sleep and stressing because you can't? Or are you one of those who wake up tired in the mornings even though you think you went to bed early enough and slept late enough to get enough sleep time? If any of these apply to you, you're not alone. USA Today published a study showing that 26% of Americans claim to get a good night's sleep only a few days a month. And of those surveyed, 24% claim to get a good night's sleep only a few days a week. That leaves a lot of people counting sheep at night. Not getting good quality sleep at night can lead to a cycle of drinking coffee in the morning to get going and energy drinks in the afternoon to keep going, just as not getting enough sleep can. First let's take a look at some things that could be causes of insomnia and then we'll take a look at some natural solutions for causes of insomnia.

What Is Good Sleep?
About an hour and a half after a person goes to sleep, they enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. When we talk about good quality sleep, this stage is important. This is the stage of sleep that restores the body and when dreams occur. If sleep is interrupted in this stage you can find you have trouble concentrating the next day, have a lack of energy and find yourself becoming drowsy during the day. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep either. You might even need different amounts of sleep on different nights depending on what is happening in your life at the time. At different stages in your life the amount of sleep you need can also change. For most adults seven to eight hours of sleep is optimal. To find your individual optimal amount of sleep time, note what time you go to bed, then don't set an alarm clock and see what time you naturally wake up and feel well rested and alert. Add up the hours and that will give you an idea of how much sleep you need a night.

Causes For Insomnia
Even if you think you are getting enough hours of sleep in, there are interruptions and other factors that reduce the quality of your sleep. You may not even remember in the morning all the times you woke up as some of them can be brief, but enough to interrupt your REM sleep. Sometimes the reason your sleep is interrupted or you can't fall asleep is obvious – noisy neighbors, the barking dog next door, a sick child in the home or a hungry infant. Other times though we don't always realize how often our sleep is interrupted or know why. We just know we are still dragging in the morning. Here are some causes for insomnia and factors that can influence the quality of sleep you are getting.

You may find yourself drowsy after having a few drinks and think that is a good way to unwind and help yourself get to sleep. But studies show that alcohol actually can be a cause for insomnia because it does not lead to good quality of sleep. The amount of REM sleep is reduced and you are more likely to talk and/or walk in your sleep. Alcohol may put you in a deep sleep at first, but once your blood alcohol level drops, you wake up again. 

Age Factors
Children get more deep sleep than adults do which leaves them more rested and energetic come morning. They need this type of sleep because their bodies are still growing. Once they reach adulthood their deep sleep time is half as much. That means adults are not only getting less of the restorative type sleep, but they are awakened easier at night so their sleep is more often interrupted. Older people have the increased interruption of often having pain from conditions such as arthritis or acid reflux that interrupts sleep or take medications that can interfere with sleep.

Too Much Activity
This can apply to you or your sleeping partner. If your sleeping partner is restless or snores, stays up later than you and keeps a light on working or reading, or is making noise, your sleep can be affected. This applies to those who sleep with pets also. Pets don't have the same sleep cycles as humans and when they wake up during the night moving around your sleep can become interrupted.

Your own activity before bed could also be the culprit. What did you drink or eat before bed? What type of activity did you engage in? Exercise is good for you, but exercising up to an hour or two before bedtime can act as a stimulant. People who drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks all day or in the evening can find themselves too wound up to go to sleep. Eating spicy foods or a heavy meal can also interfere with falling asleep. Are you coming home exhausted thinking you will be able to fall asleep in no time only to find the reverse is true? Could be the activity that led you to be exhausted was too stimulating and you didn't take any time to decompress and unwind before hitting the sheets. Take a look at what you are doing and what your sleeping partner is doing to get some clues as to your causes for insomnia for you.

Sleep Disorders
It could be that your causes for insomnia actually stem from an undiagnosed sleep disorder. It is reported that about 40 million Americans have sleep disorders that have not been diagnosed. These could include conditions such as sleep apnea or PKMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder) both of which interfere with getting good quality sleep. You could also have pain from other sources that will interfere with getting a good night's rest. Back pain, headaches, cramps or a variety of other aches and pains, even if not severe, can keep you from getting to sleep, wake you up during the night or interfere with the quality of sleep.

Natural Remedies
If you find yourself dragging and tired in the morning, needing a caffeine fix to get moving, irritable after waking up, drowsy during the day, lacking in energy, or having trouble with short term memory then you possibly are not getting enough good quality sleep. Here are a few natural remedies that can help you get to sleep and have a better quality of sleep.

Establish a Bedtime Routine
Start training your body to know when it is time to sleep and when it is time to get up. Pick the same time each day to wake up and avoid taking naps during the day. Establish a nighttime routine that cues your body to get ready for sleep. Begin dimming the lights at least an hour before bedtime, put away all work and conflict situations. Do something relaxing to unwind and clear your mind of worries from the day. Taking valerian root or drinking a cup of chamomile tea can help you relax before bedtime. Avoid any kind of stimulants such as coffee or caffeinated teas.

Regular exercise can help with sleep problems. Do not include this in your bedtime routine however as it can also act as a stimulant. Exercise should be done at least 3 hours prior to your bedtime routine. Yoga and Tai Chi are good practices that have been found to be helpful with sleep problems.

Eating a late meal or heavy snack before going to bed can activate your digestive system and keep you from being able to go to sleep. On the other hand, going to bed hungry can also prevent sleep. A light bedtime snack of complex carbohydrates or dairy foods like cereal and milk can be helpful in easing hunger and not interfere with sleep for some people.

Algae and Probiotics
Adding some probiotics and blue green algae to your nightly regimen can really help you recharge while you sleep. 1-2 capsules before bed of the form of blue green algae that is the core of the algae without the cell wall, relaxes the brain and allows you to get a good night's sleep. Taking 2-4 capsules of bifidus before getting ready for bed can help with more restful sleep so you wake rested and confident. Digestive enzymes help us digest our food, but on a metaphysical level, they can also help us digest and "work through" worries and problems that have built up throughout day. If you're facing a difficult situation or problem and need some solutions, taking 2-4 digestive enzymes before bed can help you work through the problem and possibly rise in the morning with a solution.

Has this article given you some ideas of causes for insomnia that can be affecting your sleep and keeping you from being alert and energetic during the day? We certainly hope so. Take a good look at some of your lifestyle habits and add one or all of the natural remedies suggested here and we'll bet you will get a better night's sleep and awake better able to live your life as a result.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Food for the Lazy Dieter

D.I.E.T. is a four-letter word. Count 'em. There are four letters in that word and we all know that four-letter words are bad news. Well, to me, a diet is bad news, too. I don't like to diet -- at all. I'm a hedonist at heart, but being knowledgeable about nutrition, I tend to be able to moderate my libertine tendencies somewhat. However, I'm super-lazy when it comes to dieting.

The Food for Super Lazy Dieters
Fortunately for me, I've discovered a super food that make losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet a lot easier. This food is blue-green algae, and in this article I break down the essential ingredients in this food, and explain why each ingredient makes it easier to sticky to a healthy diet. It does for me, and I'm a hedonist to the extreme.

Chlorophyll for the Gut
Blue-green algae has one the highest chlorophyll content of any food around. Chlorophyll helps the dieter by invigorating the intestinal lining, which enhances digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. It also increases the peristaltic action of the gut, which reduces constipation, soothes gastric ulcers, and soothes inflammation in the gut.

Carnitine for Burning Fat
Carnitine is basically a fat-transporter. It's an amino acid our body makes that transports fat molecules across the cell membrane, so the cell can metabolize the fat and give us energy. This allows us to have more stamina for workouts and burn more fat. While blue-green algae doesn't contain any carnitine, it has all the raw ingredients our bodies need to produce carnitine.

Phenylalanine for Good Mood
Now this is something every dieter needs -- a good mood. Blue-green algae contains phenylalanine, which is an amino acid that has been show to elevate the mood and decrease appetite. So, if you take blue-green algae 30 minutes before eating a meal, chances are that you'll have a happy meal and not eat as much.

Tyrosine for Decreased Cravings
Blue-green algae contains moderate amounts of this amino acid. Tyrosine is a precursor to thyroxin, which is a hormone associated with reducing symptoms of depression. Having adequate amounts of tyrosine, and hence thyroxin, helps emotional or binge eaters decrease cravings. Tyrosine has been used to treat eating disorders because it is also elevates mood and decreases cravings.

Blue-green algae, in short, is a power-packed food that contains a lot of the basic nutrition our bodies need. It also contains ingredients that elevate our mood, decrease appetite, and reduce food cravings. How's that for a totally natural food source? Not bad, right? Plus it's organic, which puts it into the "very health" category.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Modern Food Choices -- Making the Right Choices

There are many factors that influence how, what and when we eat. Establishing healthy eating habits takes some effort and practice. We have an overabundance of food products in our grocery stores. Many experts believe that the easy availability of high fat, processed, fast, and quick cooking foods are responsible for the increasing obesity rates in the US.

Simple and Successful Steps
Improving nutrition can be simplified and you and your family will benefit. Try two or more of these suggestions and see what benefits you feel.

Fresh Fruit - keep a bowl at home and in the office. You'll benefit with increased hydration, fiber and wholefood synergy.

Eat Breakfast - follow the adage, eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner. Your brain needs fuel after a night long fast.

Snack and Meal Preparation - Balanced diets take a little time and are well worth it. People who eat regular meals tend to have better diets and be closer to their recommended weight than those who eat randomly. Carry these nutritious snack bars with you for snacks or meal replacements.

Healthful Cooking - enroll in a cooking class that teaches healthy techniques or buy some books and videos that explain how to cook and retain the most nutrition in your foods.

Shop with a List - limiting impulse buying assures increased nutrition.

Simple enough, right? Got any other ideas for making healthy modern food choices?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Having Senior Moments? Naturally Improve Memory

Good nutrition is not only important to your physical health, but also affects your mood and your memory. As you plan your meals and the types of foods to include in your diet, adding in foods that will feed your brain can help you avoid those senior moments and improve your memory.

Food For the Brain
Food for the brain are those that will nourish the brain and have the micronutrients and fat-soluble molecules to pass through the blood brain barrier. Since the brain is made up of 60% fat, foods with omega-3 fatty acids are a good choice for food for the brain. Other nutrients that help feed the brain include B vitamins, antioxidants, proteins that raise mood-boosting neurotransmitters, and ALA (alpha lineoleic acid). Vitamin E may also be a good addition as it has been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer's and the amino acid acetyl-L-carnitine has been found to help with memory problems in Alzheimer's patients. Eating a diet loaded with vegetables, fruits, and nuts that also includes some amounts of dairy, fish, poultry and healthy oils and very light on red meat has been reported to lower risks of getting Alzheimer's. Flavonoids, especially anthocyanins and quercetin, which you get from foods such as apples, blueberries, and red onions, are also good food for the brain and memory function. Flavonoids are the chemical compounds that fruits and vegetables get their rich colors from, so any colored fruits and veggies added to your diet are good food for the brain.

Supplements For the Brain
Ginkgo biloba has been used with some success for dementia caused by restrictive blood flow. According to Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD at Georgetown University School of Medicine, it shows similar benefits for dementia as some drugs that are used in Alzheimer's treatment. It doesn't prevent dementia, but can help slow the progress and symptoms. You can get Ginkgo biloba as well as the whole food nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae, eleuthero, wheatgrass juice, bee pollen, Lion's Mane mushroom and noni in this natural supplement. That means not only do you get the memory enhancing benefits of Ginkgo biloba, but also the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins and other nutrients that feed the brain. This form of AFA bluegreen algae with the cell wall removed through a special process provides all the essential amino acids which make it an abundant source of raw materials for enhancing activity in the brain and this "stripped down" version of the blue-green algae is small enough to slip through the blood brain barrier to feed hungry brain cells..

Other Natural Memory Solutions
Just like physical exercise keeps your body in good shape, exercise for the brain helps keep brain functions like memory in good shape. Learning new things even if you don't master them is good brain exercise. Here's a chance to try out all the things you've thought you wanted to learn and haven't made time for. Try them all out and maybe you'll find one that you're really good at and want to continue as a hobby, but going through the actions of learning new things is the important part as a brain exercise. And since the brain is a part of the body, physical exercise can help keep the memory sharp too. Exercising increases blood flow and brain nerve cells as well as reducing heart disease risk which is important for the brain. Maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle aids brain function because the brain cells like all other cells in the body need oxygen and nutrients which are delivered through the bloodstream and need stable blood pressure and cholesterol levels for this to work properly.

If you find yourself having memory problems there are many memory tricks and coping strategies you can also use. Pairing a list of items to visual cues, leaving sticky notes for yourself, and developing habits of putting things in the same places all the time are a few of these. Here's another good tip we got from this source. It basically suggests that since our minds work better with visuals, remember the layouts of places better than lists of information, and things that are funny, offensive or sexual are retained more easily that makes those types of pairing cues good memory aids. In particular it is suggested in this memory aid technique to start by visualizing a place that you are very familiar with, such as your home or maybe even where you lived as a child. Then pair an image with each item on your list, for example in a grocery list you might see a monkey as a visual for bananas. Using a funny, sexual or offensive visual works even better. Finally, see yourself going through the visualized place with the items and place them where they would go.  

Whatever memory tricks and tips, brain exercises, and supplements you use, be sure you are getting the right food for the brain to keep it nourished and performing at its best. Nutrition is the cake with supplements and other natural solutions as the icing. Try out a variety of the natural solutions we've given you here to make your own individualized healthy brain cake.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Best Foods for Your Immune System

Keeping your immune system strong means less time out sick and more time being able to enjoy life and get the things done that you want to do. Part of making sure your immune system is healthy involves getting enough sleep, exercising, coping with stress and staying socially active. All of these have been shown in studies to help improve your immune system function. There are also certain types of foods and whole food supplements that can help boost your immune system. Here are a few of these and what they have that helps in supporting your immune system.

Foods with Zinc
Most of us do not get enough zinc in our diets and zinc is a crucial mineral for boosting your immune system. Since beef is high in zinc,this is especially true for people that keep a vegetarian diet. Zinc aids in the development of white blood cells that are a part of your immune system that destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. If you are a meat eater, then eating lean beef, pork, oysters and poultry will add zinc to your diet. Vegetarians can get zinc from fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso. Miso, a soybean paste, is an especially good choice because it also has protein and B12 which are immune system boosters. If you really aren't getting enough zinc through your diet, there are zinc supplements that may be helpful.

Antioxidant Foods
Antioxidants are those molecular substances that your body needs to protect your cells from free radical damage, which in turn supports your immune system. To ensure that you get enough antioxidants, focus on eating plenty of bright colored fruits and vegetables. This would include foods like dark leafy greens, oranges and lemons, berries of all kinds, broccoli, red peppers, and papayas.

Elderberry and Goldenseal are often used in herbal tinctures as a support for your immune system and in fighting off colds and flu. Some test tube studies have reported that elderberry may actually block viruses that cause flu, but in light of more research being needed on this aspect, elderberry is high in antioxidants. Acai berries are another rich source of antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins. Watermelon contains the antioxidant glutathione that has been reported to fight infections and strengthen the immune system.

Broccoli not only has glutathione like watermelon, but also vitamin A and C which also help in supporting your immune system. Vitamin A is an antioxidant nutrient that comes from foods with beta-carotene. The body takes beta-carotene from foods and converts it into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the vitamins that helps keep skin healthy and your skin is your body's first line of defense in the immune system for keeping out bacteria and viruses. Other foods high in beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, apricots, blue green algae, carrots, squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe.

Alliums are foods such as leeks, onions and garlic. Foods in this family are known to have natural antibiotic properties to help fight off germs. They have also been found useful in helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and there is research that suggests they can help reduce the growth risk of prostate, stomach and colon cancer cells. Allicin, found in garlic, is released when the garlic is crushed or chopped. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties, has been found to improve immunity and to be useful in fighting off colds.

Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are another important aid to your immune system. Acidophilus and bifidus are two of the probiotics found naturally in the intestinal tract. These "good bacteria" aid in the defense against "bad bacteria" and yeast in our intestines. Balanced levels of these beneficial microflora support proper digestion and help eliminate waste. When we do not have enough of these probiotics, more stress is put on your immune system. Many of the foods we eat such as those high in fat and sugar, chlorinated drinking water, environmental toxins, antibiotics and other medications we take can all contribute to killing off these friendly bacteria leaving an imbalance. Eating low-fat yogurt and kefir that have live and active cultures are a way to get more probiotics in your diet. When foods alone are not enough (and they usually aren't), taking high quality supplements of acidophilus and bifidus with active live cultures can help support the replenishing of these microflora.

Beta Glucan Foods and Mushrooms

Beta glucan is a complex carbohydrate of the simple sugar glucose. It can come from cereals like oats and barley or from yeast, bacteria and fungi. Beta glucans differ in structure according to how the glucose is linked. Yeast beta glucan is linked in such a way that it has been found to enhance and stimulate macrophages, a type of white blood cell that kill off foreign invaders and stimulate other immune cells to fight them off. The beta glucan that comes from baker's yeast is the most potent anti-infective beta glucan immunododulator. Since the body does not produce beta glucans by itself, we have to get them from the foods we eat or supplements. Baker's yeast, shiitake mushrooms, barley, oats, rye, and wheat are all sources of beta glucan. Studies have found beta glucan to be effective against bacterial infections and viral infections and even lessen the duration of symptoms of the common cold in people.

Certain types of mushrooms are being found effective in supporting your immune system too because they have polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, and triterpenoids. These just all happen to be precursors to beta glucans. Mushrooms have been found to be supportive of white blood cells that fight off infections. With their immunosupportive agents, they can help protect you from viruses, bacteria and even yeast. Mushrooms also have the mineral selenium and antioxidants as well as B vitamins riboflavin and niacin which are all helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system. If you are not a big fan of eating mushrooms, you can get the immune supporting power of beta glucan and six of the most extensively researched mushrooms that show positive immune system support together in this one supplement. It combines reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms along with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae to help support your immune system function.

Live your life to the fullest by keeping your immune system strong and working to keep you healthy. These tips can give your immune system the boost it may need to do the best job it can for you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Natural Solutions for Better Hair

Having better hair doesn't have to mean hours at a salon or wrecking your wallet with expensive hair treatments. The fact of the matter is that many salon treatments may help your hair look better temporarily, but many of these treatments actually damage your hair. For instance, excessive coloring, perming, and highlighting actually stresses your tresses.

If you want better hair and you don't want to stress your tresses, try some of the natural solutions we discuss in this article. Most of these solutions are simple, practical, and can be achieved with ingredients in your kitchen cabinet.

Natural Solutions for Better Hair from the Outside In
Changing just a few aspects of your daily hair care regimen can give you better hair. You just have to know a little bit about how hair grows and is nourished. Consider a few of these natural solutions that can help your hair look and grow better:

Sun Protection: Like your skin, your hair can suffer from sunburn. Mild sun exposure can give your hair some great highlights, and won't do much damage. However, prolonged sun exposure, especially in the hours between 10 AM and 3 PM, can damage your hair. The results can be split ends, dry hair, and a general lack of health. Wear hats or use specially-formulated shampoos or conditioners that include sunscreen.

Comb Rather Than Brush: Depending on your hair type and fullness, try combing your hair rather than brushing your hair. The bristles on brushes can damage hair shafts, while broad-toothed combs don't. Obviously, people with super thick or curly hair may not be able to use a comb. If you have this kind of hair, choose a brush that has bristles with rounded tips to limit damage.

Treat Your Scalp at the Right Time: If you are going to use any kind of scalp treatment, timing is important. Scalp treatments are more effective when the pores are open, so the perfect time to apply any scalp therapy is just before you step into a warm bath. The pores in your scalp will be open and dilated, and thus more able to respond to any kind of applied treatment. After you have rinsed out your scalp treatment, consider rinsing your hair with cold water. The cold water re-tightens pores and has the tendency of leaving your hair shinier.

Natural Solutions for Better Hair from the Inside Out
The above tips help support hair health from the outside in. You can get better hair by supporting your hair from the inside out. Your lifestyle often has a big influence on the health of your hair. For instance, check out these simple natural solutions for better hair from the inside out:
  • drink enough water
  • get plenty of sleep
  • eat plenty of healthy fresh foods
  • exercise regularly (enough to sweat and open your pores)
  • avoid smoking and excessive alcohol intake
These lifestyle solutions are pretty much "no-brainers" because they support your body's general health as well as hair health.

Supplements are another way to get better hair. When it comes to healthy hair, most people immediately think of biotin. While taking oral supplements of biotin may help you have better hair, your body's ability to absorb nutrients plays a big factor in this supplement's effectiveness.

What often seems to work better is to support your liver as well as your body's level of probiotics. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver governs the head hair. If your liver is healthy, your hair will also be healthy. Eating foods that support the liver, such as leafy greens and sprouted greens, will help you have better hair. If you can't slow down enough to prepare fresh foods, consider adding a supplement of sprouts to your diet a that gently supports your liver health. Voila... mission accomplished!

Another way to support hair health from the inside out is to ensure that the probiotics that live in your gut are healthy and happy. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut, and provide a variety of health benefits. These benefits include assisting with digestion, preventing harmful bacteria from taking up residence, and providing a first line defense against foreign invaders.

But when it comes to having better hair, probiotics are important for a different reason: they produce a variety of vitamins, including biotin. Probiotics also produce vitamin K, folic acid, and a variety of B vitamins. All of these support general health. Biotin helps with healthy hair growth. As always, the body seems to accept and assimilate the vitamins produced by its own systems rather than synthetic or other forms of vitamins not ingested in natural or whole foods. At the end of the day, it seems a better idea to take probiotics, such acidophilus and bifidus, orally rather than taking a single biotin supplement.

Better Hair from the Outside or Inside
Are you getting the message that natural solutions that produce better hair are simple, practical, and plain common sense? That's what we have discovered. No matter what "type" of hair you have, these natural solutions are equally applicable. More importantly, by boosting your hair's health using these solutions, you also support your body's overall health.

Now that's a no-brainer, right?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

How to Get Enough Nutrients if You Are Vegan or Vegetarian

With a vegan diet or only eating vegetarian food you get plenty of antioxidants, fiber, some essential fatty acids, flavonoids and other good nutrients, but there are nutritional elements that may be lacking from these diets. Whether you follow a vegetarian food plan or a vegan diet on principles related to animal rights or just because you believe it is healthier, you can get all the nutrition you need with a little planning and attention. First it makes a difference what type of vegetarian you are. Some people refer to themselves as vegetarian if they eat a mostly plant based diet but also include dairy products. Then there are those that include dairy with the exception of eggs. Vegans on the other hand do not include any dairy and don't include eggs or any other foods from animal sources. There are also people that fall somewhere in between the definitions by eating mostly vegetarian with or without dairy and eggs and occasionally include fish or poultry in their diets.

What Nutrition You May Be Missing
Whichever diet you follow, there are certain deficiencies that can exist in a mostly plant based diet to be aware of. You can find plant based alternatives for most of these including possible dietary supplements as long as you know there may be a chance you are not getting the amount needed for good health. Here are some of the nutritional elements to consider when looking at your diet to make sure you are getting adequate amounts. You may also want to consult your health care provider or nutritionist for advice on the diet you adhere to and any nutritional deficits it may have. 

The kidney and liver produce some amounts of creatine that is needed for cells to store energy for when the body needs it, and for certain brain, muscle and bone functions. Food sources for creatine are usually meat, eggs and fish. If you do not have these foods in your diet, then you may not be getting the creatine your body needs. There are opinions and research that advocate the use of creatine supplements if a vegetarian diet is followed because the body does not make enough on its own and there are those that report the body makes enough for normal activity. Creatine is a necessary amino acid and this may be a case where consulting your healthcare provider or nutritionist can help you decide if you need more than you are getting from your diet or not.

Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is of course needed for bone health and teeth and usually comes from dairy foods. If dairy foods are not included in your diet, there are other sources for calcium including dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, rhubarb, AFA bluegreen algae, turnip greens, cereals, tofu, and juices that are fortified. There are also alternative milk sources that contain calcium such as soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. Vitamin D is also an important nutrient for bones. Vitamin D gets the calcium from the intestines and kidneys into the bloodstream. Without this nutrient, even if you get enough calcium, it can just end up leaving the body as waste and not being used to strengthen bones. Our bodies create Vitamin D mainly from our exposure to sunshine so getting outdoors a little bit every day is important. Vitamin D is available in cow milk, but there are also soy and rice milks and some cereals that you can get it from. Check the labels of foods for vitamin D or check with your health care provider to see if you need a vitamin D supplement.

Animal products are one of the best food sources for iron which is needed for red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Plant based sources include dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, AFA bluegreen algae, enriched cereals, Swiss chard and tofu. Iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed by the body however so it is often recommended that vegetarians need twice as much as meat eaters. Along with iron, foods rich in vitamin C are needed to help the body convert the iron into a form it can use. Vegans and vegetarians probably are already eating foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, and broccoli. Just be sure to eat some of these at the same meal with your iron sources.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is important to health for energy production (red blood cell production), a healthy nervous system, a strong digestive system, vibrant hair, skin and nails, brain functions and antioxidant protection. Unfortunately B12 is also one of the vitamins that is very difficult to get from plants. If your diet is exclusively a plant based diet, chances are that you are not getting enough B12. Just taking a B12 supplement isn't necessarily a solution either because your body can only absorb B12 in the biologically active form of cobalamins. So taking any random store-bought B12 pill may not help you much. There are natural sources of vegan food plants that have high levels of biologically active B12 easily absorbed by the body. One of these sources is blue-green algae, specifically AFA (aphanizomenon flos aquae) blue-green algae from Klamath Lake. Compared to spirulina and chlorella, this AFA algae has a higher content of biologically active B12. There are also vitamin enriched cereals and fortified soy products that have vitamin B12 or if you do dairy in your diet then milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs are good sources.

The body needs protein for healthy organs, muscles, skin, and bones. If you are not getting protein from meat sources, but do include dairy in your diet, then eggs and dairy products can also be good protein sources. Plant based sources of protein include lentils, legumes, nuts, AFA bluegreen algae, seeds, soy products, whole grains, broccoli, kale, spinach, and squash. Some protein powder drinks may be another alternative for those on a mainly plant based diet.

Zinc is important for cell division, aids in the development of white blood cells that are a part of your immune system that destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, forming proteins, and strengthening the intestinal lining. If you are a meat eater, then eating lean beef, pork, oysters and poultry will add zinc to your diet. Vegetarians can get zinc from lima beans, AFA bluegreen algae, Swiss chard, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, wheat germ and miso. Miso, a soybean paste, is an especially good choice because it also has protein and B12. If you include dairy in your diet then milk and yogurt can also be sources of zinc for you.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are needed for your brain to function, help hydrate skin, aid in healthy hair growth and retention, supporting heart health and nervous system health, reducing inflammation and may improve blood pressure. If you include seafood in your diet, the best food sources are coldwater fish like cod, mackerel, tuna, herring, lake trout and salmon. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids because they, in turn, eat a lot of blue-green algae which is high in omega-3s. If you do not include seafood in your diet then you can get omega-3 fatty acids from fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens like spinach and kale, AFA blue-green algae, seeds and nuts, edamame, wild rice, chia seeds, flaxseeds, flax oil, soybean oil and olive oil.

After considering these possible nutritional deficiencies in your diet, you may want to re-think the type of diet you currently follow. In the past if you did not include dairy, meat or seafood you may want to define why you made that decision and see if current research or sustainable food sources available in your area may make a difference. Many types of processed meats are full of things you don't want and the animals they come from treated inhumanely, but there are animal food products that have certifications assuring animals have been treated humanely and grass-fed or wild meats do have some nutritional value that is hard to get from plants alone. If you feel strongly about not including animal sources in your diet, then just make sure you are getting the nutrients that are often lacking in that type of diet. Whatever you decide works best for you physically, mentally and spiritually, find the highest quality food sources available in the area you live in and research what food supplements you might need to add to your particular diet to fuel your body for optimal health.

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