January 31, 2014

Anemia

         Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin.  Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia -- like fatigue -- occur because organs aren't getting what they need to function properly. 

What Causes Anemia?
There are more than 400 types of Anemia, which are divided into three groups:
  • Anemia caused by blood loss
  • Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production
  • Anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells

Blood Test Monitoring 

Blood tests are taken regularly to monitor your red blood cell (hemoglobin) levels.
  • Normal hemoglobin (Hgb) levels: Women 11.7 -15.7 Men 13.3 -17.7 
  • A slight drop in your red blood cell count may not result in any symptoms
  • A large drop (severe Anemia) may result in a variety of signs and symptoms which may require special medical/nursing care


What Are the Symptoms of Anemia?

Symptoms common to many types of anemia include the following:
  • Easy fatigue and loss of energy
  • Unusually rapid heart beat, particularly with exercise
  • Shortness of breath and headache, particularly with exercise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Leg cramps
  • Insomnia

Call Your Doctor About Anemia If

  • Persistent fatigue, breathlessness, rapid heart rate, pale skin, or any other symptoms of anemia
  • Poor diet or inadequate dietary intake of vitamins and minerals
  • Very heavy menstrual periods
  • Symptoms of an ulcer, gastritis, hemorrhoids, bloody or tarry stools, or colorectal cancer
  • Concern about environmental exposure to lead
  • A hereditary anemia runs in your family and you would like genetic counseling before having a child
For women considering pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin taking supplements, especially folate, even before conception. These supplements benefit both mother and baby.

How is Anemia treated?

Treatment for anemia depends on the type, cause, and severity of the condition. Treatments may include dietary changes or supplements, medicines, procedures, or surgery to treat blood loss
Source : WebMD
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January 30, 2014

Calcium

Calcium is essential for living organisms, in particular in cell physiology, where movement of the calcium ion Ca2+ into and out of the cytoplasma functions as a signal for many cellular processes. As a major material used in mineralization of bone, teeth and shells, calcium is the most abundant metal by mass in many animals.

Functions of Calcium
  • Calcium is necessary for the growth and maintenance of strong teeth and bones
  • It also helps in nerve signalling and secretion of certain hormones and enzymes.
  • Calcium also helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems work properly.
Rich Sources
  • Dried Herbs – Dried Savoury, Celery Seeds, Dried thyme, Dried Dill, Dried Marjoram and Dried Rosemary
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Tofu
  • Almonds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Yoghurt, Milk and Other Dairy products
  • Cheeses, such as parmesan, Romano, gruyere, cheddar, American, mozzarella, and feta
  • Green Leafy Vegetables (Turnip, Mustard and Dandelion Greens)
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Raw Broccoli
  • Grape Leaves (Canned)
  • Chia Seeds (Dried)
  • Lotus Seeds
  • Cooked Mustard Greens
  • Foods that are fortified with calcium, such as juices, soy milk, rice milk, tofu and cereals
Recommended Daily Intakes
  • 19 - 50 years: 1,000 mg
  • Women 51 years and older: 1,200 mg
  • Men 51 - 70 years: 1,000 mg
  • Men older than 70: 1,200 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women 19 years and older: 1,000 mg
Deficiency
This may occur due to less intake of calcium through diet or due decreased absorption of calcium by body. Calcium deficiency may lead to the following conditions:
  • Osteoporosis – In this condition the bones weaken and become fragile. It is characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This usually occurs due to low intake of dietary calcium.
  • Hypocalcemia – It is characterized by low levels of calcium in blood. This may result from taking medications.
Getting enough calcium in diet may also help to prevent hypoparathyroidism, premenstrual syndrome, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Symptoms
A deficiency in calcium depletes bone stores, rendering the bones weak and prone to fracture. The symptoms of calcium deficiency are:
  • Bowlegs, Pigeon Breast, and Knock-knees of children
  • Cramp pains in legs
  • Delay in sitting up, Crawling and Walking of babies
  • Heart becomes irregular
  • Nerves become extremely irritable
  • Poor sleep disorder
  • Weakness in the bones
Prone to Deficiency
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Vegetarians
  • Lactose intolerant - Supplementation is recommended
Overdose
Too much calcium will affect the body’s absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. A person with too much calcium also has to monitor their levels of Vitamin D—which can actually mask calcium toxicity. Excess calcium (particularly from supplements) can lead to kidney stones, calcification of soft tissue, and increased risk of vascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. The DV for calcium is 1000mg.

Picture source 

January 17, 2014

Alkaline phosphatase in children

Alkaline phosphatase is abundant within liver cells. According to Lab Tests Online*, any condition that affects the liver will cause the release of high quantities of alkaline phosphatase in the blood stream, which can then be picked up by a blood test.
In particular, conditions that affect the bile ducts, the tiny tubes that carry bile from the liver into the intestine, cause marked elevation of alkaline phosphatase, as the cells that line the bile ducts have especially high levels of this enzyme.
Conditions that affect bone growth or damage bone tissue can also cause elevations of the alkaline phosphatase level.

Causes
In children, the most common causes of an elevation in the alkaline phosphatase level include hepatitis, or an inflammation of the liver, usually caused by viruses;
mononucleosis, which can cause hepatitis and painful swelling of the neck lymph nodes;
overactivity of the parathyroid glands, the tiny glands that sit within the thyroid and which control bone metabolism;
Paget's disease, a condition that causes excessive breakdown of bone; and
rickets, caused by a deficiency of vitamin D in the diet.

Symptoms
According to the Children's Hospital Boston*, children with liver conditions that cause elevation of the alkaline phosphatase level have jaundice, or a yellowish tinge of the skin; nausea and vomiting; easy bruising and bleeding; fatigue and weakness; and poor weight gain and appetite.

Bone conditions with elevated alkaline phosphatase depend on the bones affected. They can cause localized bone pain, bending of the legs, and tingling or numbness in the extremities, and predispose the child to fractures even with only mild trauma.

Evaluation
The evaluation of a high alkaline phosphatase level in a child starts with the history of the illness and the symptoms. Alkaline phosphatase can be broken down into iso-enzymes that determine whether the elevation is coming from bone or from the liver.

Other blood tests that can help in the diagnosis include liver function tests, including bilirubin, the substance that accumulates in the bloodstream if there is damage to the bile ducts and which causes jaundice; and levels of parathyroid hormone, calcium, and vitamin D. A liver or bone biopsy may be necessary to pinpoint the cause of the elevation of the alkaline phosphatase level.

Treatment
The treatment for an elevation of the alkaline phosphatase level depends on the cause. Hepatitis due to viruses can be self-resolving, although children usually require symptomatic treatment with intravenous fluids and nausea-controlling medicines. Surgery may be necessary in cases of hyperparathyroidism, and in children with Paget's disease of the bone to fix fractures or bone misalignment. Medicines usually reserved for elderly patients with osteoporosis can also be used in children with Paget's.

January 10, 2014

What's your Set point?

An interesting perspective around Dieting and how it is counter-intuitive to the notion of weight loss! Even though most of the points hold merit, one needs to be cognizant of the fact that to ensure a stable metabolic rate, you need to burn as much as you consume! So whatever you eat, if you can burn it alongside, it does not impact your 'set point', an interesting benchmark as per Sandra's studies!

So what is your 'set point'?
A great video for anyone who has thought of or plans for a 'quick' weightloss solution!

January 07, 2014

How an obese town lost a million pounds (weight!)

A brilliant initiative - on the cultural shift brought about by the Mayor, in getting people to think of health, and building on health to drive the economy! Hope some of our local government bodies can take a cue from him - first lose 40 pounds on themselves, and then move their cities!

Definitely worth emulating!
[Source]

January 02, 2014

Vitamin E helps reduce effects of mild Alzheimer's

Today's mint has an interesting study published for patients suffering from Alzheimer's - put a bit more of sunflower seeds or wheat-germ and the effects would reduce.

Interesting read!

Link