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Are You Deficient In Magnesium?

Magnesium - the fourth most abundant mineral in the body – is in your bones, teeth, and red blood cells. It is essential for proper functioning of the nervous, muscular and cardiovascular systems, it helps maintain bones, promotes normal blood pressure and is involved in energy metabolism.

How do you know if you aren’t getting enough? Signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat

I recommend adult males get 270-400 mg per day; adult females get 280-300 mg; pregnant females get 320 mg daily; and breastfeeding females get 340-355 mg. Consider taking half as much magnesium as you do calcium, to offset calcium's constipating effect and to ensure the appropriate balance of these two key minerals in the body. Look for magnesium citrate, chelate, or glycinate, and avoid magnesium oxide, which can be irritating to the digestive tract.

Good dietary sources of magnesium include whole grains, leafy green vegetables (spinach is a great source), almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans and halibut. A diet high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed, and cooking may decrease the magnesium content of food.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!


What Foods Do You Crave Most Often? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed food addiction and if it is the cause of obesity: Addicted to Food? Check out the article and let us know what foods you crave most often.


Why Take Blood Pressure in Both Arms?

If you take your own blood pressure, it’s a good idea to check it in both arms (and ask your doctor to do so as well). A study published in the March 2014, issue of The American Journal of Medicine found that a 10- point difference or more in blood pressure readings when comparing the pressures in both arms is an independent risk factor for heart disease. The study included 3,390 people age 40 and older who were followed for an average of more than 13 years. None of them had cardiovascular disease when they enrolled, but during the 13-year follow up period, 598 had a first heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems. Of those 598, 14 percent had a difference of 10 points or more in systolic blood pressure (the top number) from one arm compared to the other. This difference was associated with an increased risk for a cardiac event, the researchers concluded, even when an individual had no other apparent risk factors including age, cholesterol, body mass index and high blood pressure. The researchers noted that other studies have associated disparate readings between arms with a narrowing of an artery that supplies blood to the upper extremities.

Ido Weinberg et al, “The Systolic Blood Pressure Difference Between Arms and Cardiovascular Disease in the Framingham Heart Study,” The American Journal of Medicine, March 2014


How to Perform the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (Video)

The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

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A Good Reason to Keep Your Cool

Losing your temper can raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke within hours after your meltdown. A review and analysis of nine studies conducted between 1966 and 2013 found that within two hours of an angry outburst, the risk of a heart attack or acute coronary syndrome (which means heart attack or angina) increased nearly five-fold. The analysis also suggested the risk of stroke increased nearly four-fold, as did the risk of ventricular arrhythmia, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder. The researchers reported that the risk was highest among people who often lost their temper and also had existing risk factors for heart problems. While the individual risk of having a coronary event after an angry blowup is generally pretty low, the investigators wrote that among people who get angry more often, five outbursts a day would lead to approximately 158 extra heart attacks per 10,000 people per year among those at low risk, and 657 extra heart attacks among those at high risk.

Elizabeth Mostofsky et al,  “Outbursts of anger as a trigger of acute cardiovascular events: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” European Heart Journal, DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehu033, published online 3 March 2014


Eat Fish, Improve Cholesterol

Researchers in Finland have found that eating salmon and other oily fish three or four times a week positively changes HDL, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Eating lots of oily fish is associated with increased numbers of larger-sized HDL particles. That’s a desirable change, since large HDL particles are the most effective at sweeping up deposits of cholesterol that build up on artery walls and raise the risk of heart attack. The study participants ate fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout and herring prepared without butter or cream. The study didn’t reveal whether participants who ate low-fat fish had similar benefits, but the researchers noted that other studies have suggested that eating low-fat fish can help control blood pressure.

My take? This study gives us new insight into how eating oily fish affects HDL and benefits health, and it confirms that to get those benefits you have to eat fish frequently – three or four times a week. Epidemiology shows us that populations eating fish regularly have increased longevity and experience less chronic disease than populations that do not include fish as part of their traditional diets. Fish provides high-quality protein without the saturated fat present in meat and poultry. Wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and bluefish are all rich in the omega-3 fatty acids needed for optimum health.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Maria Lankinen et al “Effects of Whole Grain, Fish and Bilberries on Serum Metabolic Profile and Lipid Transfer Protein Activities: A Randomized Trial (Sysdimet)”, PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090352


What’s Your Typical Reaction to Unexpected Pain? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed swearing after experiencing pain: Can Swearing Lessen Pain? Check out the article and let us know your typical reaction when you experience pain.


Hold the Bacon…and the Fries

The iconic elements of fast food, bacon and French fries have long been vilified, and new research suggests that chemicals formed in foods cooked at high heat, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), may set you up for memory and cognition problems later in life. We have known for some time that AGEs are linked to inflammation and premature cell aging. The latest on their harmful effects comes from a study enrolling 93 adults over age 60, showing that insulin resistance and cognitive issues were more common among those with high blood levels of AGEs than they were among study participants with low levels of these compounds. In addition, mice given a diet of foods high in AGEs had increased levels of beta amyloid plaques in their brains compared to mice fed foods with lower AGEs. Earlier research has shown that diets high in saturated fats have also been linked to the build up of these plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. What we don’t know yet is whether giving up bacon and fries - and burgers and fried chicken - can prevent or reverse the course of dementia.

Helen Vlassara et al, “Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI10.1073/pnas.1316013111

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