Give me cabbage with my Auld Lang Syne

“Happy New Year!” That greeting will be said and heard for at least the first couple of weeks as a new year gets under way. But the day celebrated as New Year’s Day in modern America was not always January 1.

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays.  It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first day of spring, which seems a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of rejuvenation.  January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical or agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary, but then again, I can say that about a lot of holidays!

Traditions of the season include the making of New Year’s resolutions. That tradition also dates back to the early Babylonians. Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonian’s most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. Now, that one, I could probably keep.

Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for people to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year with family and friends. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year’s Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man like George Clooney.  OK, I added the George Clooney part.

Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes “coming full circle,” completing a year’s cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year’s Day will bring good fortune. Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the New Year by consuming black-eyed peas accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another “good luck” vegetable that is consumed on New Year’s.  Cabbage leaves are considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency as well as rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year’s Day.

The song, “Auld Lang Syne,” playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700’s, it was first published in 1796 after Burns’ death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long ago,” or simply, “the good old days.”

So, in summary:  If you wake up on New Year’s morning with a dark-haired man holding a bowl of black-eyed peas and cabbage over rice, humming a few bars of Auld Lang Syne, 2011 should be an Epic year for you.  Good Luck and Happy New Year from all of us at Vita Nutritionals®.

~Angela

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December 26- A dangerous day?

We all love to take part in the Holiday festivities, however, did you know that December 26 is historically one of the most dangerous days of the year for people vulnerable to cardiac problems, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart failure?  Many of these so-called Merry Christmas coronaries will hit people who didn’t even realize they were at risk when they unwrapped their gifts the day before.

Anecdotally, doctors say that their ERs stay quiet on Christmas Day itself. Then, come December 26, they see a surge of cardiac traffic. A 2008 study found that daily visits to hospitals for heart failure increased by 33% during the four days after Christmas.  Normally, a holiday heart arrhythmia isn’t fatal, and in fact it usually fades on its own. Some of the symptoms are the same as a hangover — nausea, weakness, and a pale face — and your heart should be back to normal in 24 hours. But if it isn’t, you may need to see a doctor for medication or electrical cardioversion, which will stabilize your heart beat.

 This time of year is notorious for heart attacks, heart failures, and arrhythmias.  Here are some suggestions on how to steer clear of the hospital:

  • It’s easy to knock back several glasses of wine when you’re sitting around the holiday table for long stretches of time, especially if you tell yourself that wine is good for your heart. But more than one alcoholic drink can have consequences. Excessive drinking can trigger atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat. If it persists, atrial fibrillation ups your odds of suffering a stroke.

 

  • Think twice before you decide to shovel your stoop or take a hike in bitter weather, as strenuous physical activity can leave you clutching your chest. But cold weather isn’t the only culprit. Come Christmas Day, many people confuse the signs of a heart attack — like shortness of breath or chest pains — with indigestion from a big dinner. While you may be apt to play it safe on any other day, hauling yourself down to the hospital may seem like too much of a hassle on a big holiday. Instead, many people ignore the signs of a heart attack until they wake up on the 26th, still feeling that discomfort but by then it may be too late.

 

  • Patients with heart issues who are following a low-sodium diet need to exercise extra caution this Christmas. Experts say that people may choose not to live within their everyday rules, opting to partake in holiday overindulgences instead. Heavy meals, too much salt and excess alcohol can all exacerbate heart failure.

 Listen to your body over the long holiday haul and don’t dismiss any discomfort as a by-product of overindulgence. Keep an eye on any friends or family members who have had a heart attack in the past.

Ultimately, it’s the patients who are going to decide what to do. But everyone, not just heart patients, can benefit from watching what they eat.  We need to try to stay healthy through the holidays, not wait until January 1. Visit us at www.vitanutritionals.com and check out the Cardio and Cholesterol Support Kit specifically designed for Men or Women and their cardiac support needs.  If you have questions please utilize our Ask the VN Team feature and please have a Happy and Health New Year!

~Angela

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Why do we hang mistletoe?

I never gave it much thought, but as I was putting up my Christmas decorations I started to wonder why we hang mistletoe.  Where did the tradition start? I found it intriguing as I started googling the history and traditions of the green sprig.  I found that the word “mistletoe” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words, “mistel”, meaning dung, and “tan”, meaning twig– misteltan is the Old English version of mistletoe. It’s thought that the plant is named after bird droppings on a branch. Really? I decided to find out more.

Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens or Viscum album) is a parasitic plant that grows on trees, particularly hardwood trees like oak and apple. As mistletoe grows on a tree and uses its roots to invade a tree’s bark, which allows mistletoe to absorb the tree’s nutrients. But mistletoe is also capable for growing on its own.

There is a wide range of customs and traditions from many cultures that encapsulate the use of mistletoe; one of them being the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe.  That was first associated with Saturnalia, a Greek festival. It was also later used for primitive marriage rites. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace. Enemies could stand under the mistletoe to declare a truce. This was transferred to “warring” spouses, who could kiss and make up while standing under the mistletoe.

In eighteenth-century England, it became irresistible to kiss a woman standing under mistletoe. The kiss could have meant a long-lasting relationship or a long-lasting friendship and goodwill. If the woman remained un-kissed, she would never marry. To this day, people stand under the mistletoe to kiss, whether to ward off evil spirits, or to declare a truth.

It doesn’t matter to me what folklore you believe, it is always fun to kiss under the mistletoe, a tradition that I hope last throughout the ages.

~Dee

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It’s that time of year!

This time of year is supposed to full of joy and togetherness. Well, there is definitely togetherness here in Florida! The roads are full of snowbirds and the stores are crazy. It takes longer to get home from work and I’ve been run into with a cart a few times when shopping. Then, there are the cards to write and send, the presents to wrap, the parties, the cold weather, cooking, and on and on. I’m still feeling the joy of the season, but my body does not enjoy the feel of exhaustion.

It’s in times like these, that I realize I should be taking my supplements everyday, not just when I remember. This frenzied time of year brings worse eating. Yes, I said worse, because I don’t eat properly to begin with; that’s why I take supplements. The cold air dries out my skin and the heat indoors dries out my nose; I feel crispy inside and out! At the end of the day, and sometimes in the middle, I fell so tired, but I can’t seem to settle down. I’m just so full of excitement of the holidays.

I’m making a new year’s resolution at the end of the year. I will take my supplements everyday! I’m also adding some extra ones to help with the havoc that the season has wreaked on my body.

I know I’m not the only one that gets this way this time of year, so I’ve helped create the VN Holiday Survival Kit! It has all the components of the Health Support Kit, plus Advanced Fiber Complex, Immune Science, and VN Relax. We’ve added all three of these products for only and additional $10! You’ll get 7 great products for only $99.95 and you’ll be giving yourself (or someone else!!) the gift of health. That’s over $70 you’ll be saving by purchasing the products together. It makes me feel great knowing I’m giving or getting myself an awesome gift for a great deal!

See all the details at www.vitanutritionals.com! We even put up some cool holiday slides, so you’ll see it right on the homepage! 🙂

Happy Holidays!

I’ll be sharing again soon! ~ Debbie

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False: Turkey = sleepy

Does your husband always come up with the excuse that he is too tired to help you with the dishes after a big thanksgiving meal?  “It’s nap time!” he exclaims.  Little does he know that the old “there is too much tryptophan in my turkey” excuse is really not an excuse at all.  The truth of the matter is turkey does not contain any more tryptophan than typical poultry, about 350 milligrams per four ounces.  What is tryptophan anyway?  Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning that the body can’t manufacture it. The body has to get tryptophan and other essential amino acids from food.  How does it work?  Tryptophan helps the body produce the B-vitamin niacin, which helps the body produce serotonin, a chemical that acts as a calming agent in the brain and plays a key role in sleep.

You might think that if you eat a lot of turkey, your body would produce more serotonin and you would feel calm and want a nap. Nutritionists and other experts say that the tryptophan in turkey probably won’t trigger the body to produce more seroton­in because tryptophan works best on an empty stomach. It’s not fair to blame your poor innocent turkey for all the yawning on Thanksgiving day!

So, why are we all so tired after a big Thanksgiving meal?  First of all, big is one of the operative words.  We tend to eat a lot more at one sitting thinking we are not going eat these foods again until next year. Don’t forget the stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuits, oh yes, and dessert.  All those carbohydrates can put anyone into a food induced coma.  Another reason could be that some of us are drinking alcohol with our meals.  There is nothing like a nice bottle of chardonnay with your turkey and alcohol tends to make us tired.  Also, many of us wake up early to get the bird in the oven and are on our feet cooking and preparing for the gathering.

Are you going to let your family know that you are on to them, or are they going to get away with the after dinner nap or sitting on the couch for the football game while you’re in the kitchen cleaning up?

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Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D This Winter?

Time to get cozy—cooler weather is here! The days are shorter, the sky is bleaker, and most of us want to stay indoors for longer periods. Bundle and snuggle!

Unfortunately, this means that you’re in danger of not getting enough vitamin D this season.

You may already know that it’s good for the bones and teeth by helping our bodies use calcium. But that’s not all—this powerful vitamin can do much more, according to studies. Vitamin D is a major focus of research these days for its other, lesser-known roles in these conditions:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer (colorectal, breast, prostate)
  • Autoimmune disease (Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression  (Consider the lack of sunlight and its role in both vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder)

While optimal doses are still to be determined, one thing is clear—the standard daily 400 IU (International Units) dose may be too low. Many scientists believe that 2000 IU daily is safe for most adults, and even that’s conservative.  Some practitioners are now recommending 800-1200 IU for most patients.

So what’s sunshine got to do with all this? Simply put, we can make our OWN vitamin D with the help of the sun and its ultraviolet B (UVB) rays!  And it doesn’t take much exposure… Approximately 15-20 minutes three times weekly has been recommended by many scientists. Go easy—face and arms, casual exposure. NO BURNING! Just enough to produce a slight pinkness in fair-skinned people (if your skin is dark, you’ll likely need more; as much as a couple of hours).

Problem is, many of us won’t get even this much exposure. During this season there’s less sunlight (and therefore UVB) to absorb. Imagine a line running from Richmond VA (east) across the United States to San Francisco CA (west). If you live above this line (37° N), you will probably not produce sufficient vitamin D from November through early March.  The further north you live, the longer the “vitamin D winter”.

Cloud cover and pollution also affect how much UVB light we receive. Those who live in foggy areas or big cities may need more vitamin D. Altitude is another factor—in a good way.  Every 1000 foot increase in elevation is roughly equivalent to one degree closer to the equator. So, if you live in Denver (the Mile High City), it’s like being 5° further south.

The elderly don’t synthesize vitamin D when exposed to UVB as readily as younger adults. (They’re more likely to stay indoors too). Dark-skinned individuals may have half the vitamin D in their blood when compared to fair-skinned people (the more melanin in the skin, the less vitamin D synthesized). And obesity has been associated with vitamin D deficiency.

So how do you get enough vitamin D during this season? Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, tuna, milk, and mushrooms. You might also wish to supplement. Start with a good multivitamin; your physician can test you and let you know if you need even more.

Vita Nutritionals can help too. Our multivitamin formulas (Superior Wellness for Men, Superior Wellness for Women) have 200 IU and 400 IU of vitamin D, respectively, per serving. And our bone health product (Calcium Quadraplex + Mag and D) contains 800 IU of this powerful supplement.

Until next time, stay warm. Go out if you like, stay in if you must, but make sure you get your Vitamin D!

Science for Lifesm

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You need your Zzzz’s

 

Many of us admittedly have too much on our plate!  Not for dinner, but in life.  I don’t remember the last time I heard somebody say, “Wow, I have a lot of free time on my hands” or “Boy, do I feel energized today”!  The truth is, I’m just plain tired.  I think we’re a nation of tired people. So, why is this worth blogging about?  Not only are most of us tired at the end of the day, we’re tired when we wake up each morning.

 True, there are a bunch of different reasons that I’m tired, but most nights I just don’t sleep well.  Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence in modern culture and in my life. Every day there seems to be twice as much to do and half as much time to complete it in. While some people may like to believe that they can train their bodies to require less sleep, you really can’t. Sleep is crucial for concentration, memory formation, and repairing and rejuvenating the cells of the body. Both mentally and physically, a good night’s sleep is essential for your health.

Sleep disorders are a very common medical issue that affects more than 70 million Americans each year. While some people suffer from mild sleeping problems, such as the occasional nightmare, others have extremely severe sleep disorders that can negatively affect their health if left untreated. In fact, 95 percent of people suffering from a sleep disorder remain undiagnosed.  You know the one’s…”I didn’t sleep well because I ate chocolate right before bed,” “I have too much on my mind,” “ I don’t remember if I washed the cub scout uniform,” “ did I pay the electric bill?”…and the list goes on!  That’s the stuff that goes through our minds in between counting sheep. 

Finding an effective remedy is difficult. Some sleep aids require a visit to your doctor, dealing with unpleasant side effects, and facing the possibility of becoming dependent on the drugs. Even over-the-counter sleep aids can be habit-forming. So, what’s the answer? Melatonin – a naturally-occurring compound that regulates sleeping cycles and also has value as a possible antioxidant.  If you are having trouble sleeping it is recommended that you take a natural sleep aid containing melatonin roughly one half hour before going to sleep. One of the frequently reported advantages of melatonin is it doesn’t leave users with a hangover like effect the next morning. Most over the counter sleep aids tend to leave you feeling a bit drowsy the morning after. There is no one right dose from person to person. It seems every person reacts differently to melatonin. For some 1.5 mg may work while another person may need to take 3 mg of melatonin before going to bed. The fact is, melatonin is helpful for falling asleep. In the Vita Nutritionals® product VN Relax, we offer 3 mg of melatonin along with 1 mg of B-6 which produces serotonin and the combination of the two ingredients in each tablet, make for a restful night. Now I just need to remember to take it! 

Here are some additional strategies that may help you catch some zzz’s a bit easier every night.

  • Go to bed at the same time or nearly the same time every night.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Write down your worries and to-do list on paper before going to sleep.
  • Sip some chamomile tea.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal right before bed.
  • Read (I know that makes me sleepy)

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed begs bite…that’s a whole other topic!

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