Getting a good night’s sleep is a satisfying, energizing, and vital part of a healthy life. However, per the National Sleep Foundation, almost six out of ten Americans report having insomnia at least a few nights a week..
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by a gland in the brain that helps regulate the sleep and wake cycles. Researchers in recent studies have found that eating tropical fruits such as pineapples and bananas, and also certain vegetables, can naturally increase melatonin in the body and help to improve sleep and remedy insomnia.
Melatonin levels start rising in the evening and go up to a peak level in the early hours of the morning, perhaps around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then it reduces. Melatonin production also declines with increasing age. This may partially explain why some people can sleep fine for a few hours and then suddenly find themselves wide awake in the night and unable to go back to sleep.
The research study showing how tropical fruits increase melatonin was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Thirty healthy volunteers ate one fruit at a time with a one-week wash-out period between fruits. Significant increases in melatonin were observed after eating pineapple (a 266% increase), banana (180%) and orange (47%). The researchers made important discoveries about fruit consumption for those people with age-related melatonin deficiency symptoms such as sleeplessness and insomnia.
Eating more vegetables can increase melatonin levels in the body as well. Ninety-four Japanese women participated in a recent study. Half of the women ate high amounts of selected vegetables for 65 days, while the other half were told to avoid the same vegetables.
At the end of the study, the average daily intake of melatonin from eating the vegetables was 1,288 nanograms, while the non-vegetable group had an increase of a mere 5.3 nanograms. (For reference, a nanogram is a common measurement in research studies and equals one billionth of a gram, and there are 28 grams in an ounce). Another Japanese study tracked consumption of vegetables such as tomato, pumpkin, spinach, Japanese radish, cabbage, carrot, etc., and discovered there was 16% more melatonin in the women with the highest vegetable intake.
Supplements of synthetic melatonin are made commercially in a lab. Because they often offer several milligrams per supplement, which is far more than the body makes naturally, common side effects of these supplements can include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, anxiety and irritability. Melatonin supplements are only recommended for short-term use and are best used under the guidance of a doctor.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, the brain can be assisted in its melatonin production by taking calcium supplements. William Sears, M.D. writes: “Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.” It’s important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium and magnesium (in a 2 to 1 ratio) is important to overall health, and that these two minerals should be taken together for best results.
Digestibility and absorption are important factors in selecting the best forms of calcium and magnesium to use. For example, Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs is a natural insomnia remedy that contains highly absorbable forms of these minerals and it’s effective for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for heart health, restless leg syndrome, bone strength, menopause insomnia and teenage insomnia. Sleep Minerals also contains vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form mixed with natural rice bran oil, making it better assimilated than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference. I was regularly waking up at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days of use my sleep improved quite a lot. I wake up once a night to go to the bathroom, but the great thing is, I then fall back asleep and sleep several more hours. This has been a great improvement.”
Fruits, vegetables and absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium are good remedies to increase melatonin in the body and help with better sleep. For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.
Which foods help you sleep better? The Nutrition Breakthroughs Blog has provided several articles on the best sleep inducing foods, and those that follow below are the top five most popular articles of all time.
This article features a chart that summarizes research studies on foods that are high in the natural sleep hormone known as melatonin. What foods are high in melatonin? Find out more about walnuts, cherries, almonds and more. Also included in this article are good sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium – all proven to help remedy insomnia.
Melatonin levels start rising in the evening and go up to a peak level in the early hours of the morning, perhaps around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then they reduce. This may partially explain why some people can sleep fine for a few hours and then suddenly find themselves wide awake and unable to go back to sleep.
Do bananas help you sleep? Learn more about the research study that shows how tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples increase melatonin in the body. It was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
This article focuses on articles from research journals that have studied which foods are best for inducing sleep, and it also has some doctor recommendations on good bedtime snacks.
This collection of natural health articles on sleep helping foods is brought to you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2001.
Nutrition breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D, and also Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.
Which foods help you sleep better?
Studies have shown that certain foods are high in melatonin and magnesium and can help with a better night’s sleep. These include bananas, almonds, walnuts and tart cherries or their juice. Magnesium rich foods include yogurt, avocado, figs, nut butter, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
What foods are high in melatonin?
Learn more about walnuts, tart cherries, almonds, bananas and more. Also included in this article are good food sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium – all proven to help remedy insomnia.
Do bananas help you sleep?
Bananas are very high in potassium and a deficiency of potassium can interfere with restful sleep. Eating a banana before bedtime may help reduce nighttime awakenings and provide a better, deeper night’s sleep. Potassium is found abundantly in fresh vegetables and fruits, so these are a good focus as opposed to eating a lot of processed or packaged foods containing high salt.
What foods are sleep inducing?
Studies have shown that the following foods and beverages are sleep inducing: Bananas, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, almonds, walnuts, yogurt, salmon, pumpkin seeds, pineapple, nut butter, turkey, kiwi fruit and warm milk. Soothing teas shown to help sleep include chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and passionflower.
Menopause is a natural process when the production of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) declines and a woman stops having her monthly periods. It usually happens gradually between the ages of 45 and 55. During this time, a woman can experience uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, migraine headaches, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia.
Hormone replacement therapy drugs can help hot flashes, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the long-term use of hormone replacement drugs can increase the risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots in the lungs and breast disease As a result, more and more women today are seeking to use natural remedies.
One such remedy is evening primrose oil. This oil comes from the seeds of a wildflower that grows throughout the United States. In a study from the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, researchers tested the effect of evening primrose oil on 56 menopausal women aged 45 to 59 with hot flashes. The women were given two capsules per day of evening primrose (500 mg per capsule) for a continuous 6 weeks. This resulted in a 42% improvement in the severity of hot flashes, as well as beneficial improvements in their life activities.
Can magnesium help menopause symptoms? Mineral supplements such as magnesium and calcium are of good benefit to menopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats. One example is a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. Women with at least 14 hot flashes a week received 400 milligrams of magnesium oxide for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg. per day if needed. At the end of the study, the magnesium supplements had reduced their frequency of hot flashes from 52 to 28 per week, which is a 41.4% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were also significantly reduced.
The 29 participants in the study were breast cancer survivors, thus they were unable to take the usual hot flash medications that have estrogenic activity such as hormone replacement or soy supplements. Many women, breast cancer survivors or not, prefer to take a non estrogen-active natural remedy for hot flashes and night sweats, and the researchers concluded that magnesium appears to safely reduce hot flashes with few side effects and at minimal cost.
Can magnesium help balance hormones? Yes, in fact as menopause approaches, there is an emerging link between estrogen decline, menopause symptoms, and the aspect of mineral deficiency. Mildred Seeling, M.D. describes this in her report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. She says “Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis — as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”
Magnesium works best when it’s balanced with calcium. The pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis writes of mineral deficiency during menopause in her book Let’s Get Well. Davis says: “Calcium is less well absorbed and the urinary losses are greater when the output of estrogen decreases. Such calcium-deficiency symptoms as nervousness, irritability, insomnia and headaches are common.”
Magnesium has also been found to help other health conditions. According to Dr. Michael T. Murray, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, “In addition to helping with hot flashes, correction of low magnesium status may have additional health benefits. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common in Americans, and in addition to the well-known association between low magnesium and increased risk for cardiovascular disease, low magnesium levels have also been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s disease, decreased muscle performance, insulin-resistance, and osteoporosis.”
Are there forms of magnesium that are more absorbable than others? Which magnesium for menopause? Some of the most highly absorbed forms of minerals are those that are mixed into a healthy base of natural oils. When carrier oils are used along with minerals in a softgel supplement, a creamy paste is formed inside that encourages increased mineral absorption. This results in a supplement that is absorbed more rapidly and fully than hard tablets or even powdered capsules.
One natural sleep aid that helps with hot flashes and night sweats and has increased in popularity among menopausal women is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This insomnia remedy contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for heart health, restless legs syndrome, bone strength, and menopause insomnia. The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making it more fully assimilated and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Anita L. of New Caney, Texas says: “I was having hot flashes every 30 minutes to an hour through the night and was so miserable. After about two weeks of taking the Sleep Minerals, I noticed an incredible difference with my sleep. I have much less interruption from flashes, I’m sleeping much better, and I’m a lot more comfortable.”
Valerie H. of Santa Clarita, California says: “I had such severe menopause insomnia it took me hours to fall asleep even though I was extremely tired. My legs also had crawling and tingling feelings at night. I got the Sleep Minerals II and after several days, it started to work really well. I fall asleep now within 20 minutes and no more restless legs.”
Natural menopause remedies are a healthier option for women with hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia. For more information on Sleep Minerals II visit this page.
Can magnesium help menopause symptoms?
Mineral supplements such as magnesium and calcium are of good benefit to menopausal women with hot flashes and night sweats. One example is a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. Women with at least 14 hot flashes a week received 400 milligrams of magnesium oxide for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg. per day if needed. At the end of the study, the magnesium supplements had reduced their frequency of hot flashes from 52 to 28 per week, which is a 41.4% reduction. Fatigue, sweating, and distress were also significantly reduced.
Can magnesium help balance hormones?
Yes, as menopause approaches, there is an emerging link between estrogen decline, menopause symptoms and the aspect of mineral deficiency. Mildred Seeling, M.D. describes this in her report in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. She says “Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis — as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”
Which magnesium for menopause?
Some of the most highly absorbed forms of minerals are those that are mixed into a healthy base of natural oils. When carrier oils are used along with minerals in a softgel supplement, a creamy paste is formed inside that encourages increased mineral absorption. This results in a supplement that is absorbed more rapidly and fully than hard tablets or even powdered capsules.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a handy, very helpful guide on “Healthier, Greener Home Cleaning Options.” The link to the guide can be found below.
This is especially valuable coming from the EWG, as they do regular research and studies on chemicals and contaminants in our cleaning products, foods, and the environment.
Here is the EWG mission statement that can be found on their website:
“The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action.”
“We work for you. Do you know what’s in your tap water? What about your shampoo? What’s lurking in the cleaners underneath your sink? What pesticides are on your food?”
So, enjoy this short EWG guide to healthy home cleaning options by clicking the link below. Here’s to your good health and the health of your family.
This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D.
Here’s a short vitamin D primer that also includes how it can affect insomnia. Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of Sleep Minerals II
Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, you are not alone. Every night, millions of people lie in bed hoping for a restful night’s sleep that does not come.
It is estimated that one in three people will develop acute insomnia every year, and about 10% of these individuals will struggle with insomnia for several months at a time.
Insomnia can wreak havoc on one’s ability to live a normal, productive life. In fact, lack of sleep can lead to mood changes, memory loss, and impaired judgement. In addition, unresolved or unmanaged sleep disorders can increase the risk of chronic pain, depression, and a compromised immune system.
There are a variety of sleep medications on the market to help manage insomnia. However, the side effects often lead to a new set of health complications. As a result, many people have begun searching for a safer, natural alternative to promote a healthier sleep cycle. Of the options on the market, vitamin D is proving to be a serious contender.
Vitamin D at a glance
Vitamin D has been making media headlines for over two decades. Originally believed to be important solely for bone health, research continues to uncover a wide range of additional health benefits of maintaining optimal levels.
Unfortunately, despite the thousands of studies that have showcased the body’s need for vitamin D, deficiency remains highly prevalent. This is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
Avoidance of mid-day sun exposure
Lack of supplement use
Often, people who are vitamin D deficient experience symptoms like fatigue, joint and muscle pain, frequent infections and insomnia.
How vitamin D status may impact sleep quality
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, it’s a hormone. That means, after undergoing a couple of activation processes in the body, it binds to cells throughout the body to regulate a wide range of bodily functions.
Hormones are fat-soluble substances derived from cholesterol. They are produced by glands such as the thyroid, adrenals and pancreas, and then released into the bloodstream to reach target cells. These include cortisol made by the adrenals, testosterone, estrogen and yes, vitamin D.
So, how may vitamin D impact sleep? Vitamin D receiving points are located throughout regions of the brain that regulate our mood and sleep patterns. This has led researchers to theorize that vitamin D helps regulate the circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal clock that instructs us when to sleep, eat, and rest.
Several studies have supported this theory by reporting a relationship between healthy vitamin D levels and improved sleep quality. In addition, a recent study found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an 11-fold increased odds of resistance to sleep medication. This means that the people who didn’t respond to sleeping drugs had a lower level of vitamin D in their body.
Best sources of vitamin D
Thankfully, there are a variety of ways one can ensure they are receiving enough vitamin D to promote healthy sleep cycles. This includes safe sun exposure (avoiding getting burned), supplementation, and eating a balanced diet.
Now more than ever, foods are being fortified with vitamin D in an effort to better support the body’s needs. However, people frequently ask, which form is better, vitamin D2 or D3?
Vitamin D2 is obtained through the diet and is produced by plants; whereas D3 is naturally produced when the skin is exposed to the sun and it can be consumed via animal sources in the diet.
Vitamin D3 is more bioavailable than D2, meaning this form is more efficiently utilized by our bodies. For this reason, experts recommend people ensure they are receiving ample amounts of vitamin D3 per day.
Top dietary sources of vitamin D
Cod liver Oil is the most potent dietary source for vitamin D3. In just one tablespoon, you can receive 1,360 international units (IU) vitamin D3. In addition to vitamin D, cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are the best dietary sources of vitamin D, with about 500 IU vitamin D3 content in just three ounces of cooked fish. Also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these sources offer a heart-healthy option for those looking for a balanced dietary approach to maintaining healthy vitamin D levels.
Plain greek yogurt is another healthy option to provide some of your daily vitamin D needs. Known for its probiotics, greek yogurt helps support a healthy intestinal tract. In addition, it is a great snack for people who struggle with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to its high protein, low carbohydrate ratio. It also contains calcium, magnesium and about 80 IU vitamin D per 6 oz serving.
Eggs offer another beneficial source of vitamin D3. They generally contain about 40 IU per yoke.
Perhaps one of the most popular dietary sources of vitamin D is milk. It offers about 120 IU vitamin D3 per serving. Milk also provides a great source of calcium. For this reason, milk is an important dietary component to protecting bone health.
If you struggle with insomnia and hope vitamin D may help improve your sleep quality, there are a couple important factors to keep in mind. First, consistency is key. Although time of day isn’t important when eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking an oral supplement, it is important that this is done on a regular basis.
Research suggests that taking a couple thousand international units (IU’s) of vitamin D per day between foods and supplements is ideal when addressing sleeplessness and insomnia.
One supplement that contains a good amount of vitamin D is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. It also contains highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are all blended together with healthy oils to form an absorbable soft gel. Together, these vitamins and minerals work to help facilitate quality sleep. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause one to wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to fall back asleep.
One Sleep Minerals II user in Massachusetts says: “I had become dependent on sleeping drugs and couldn’t sleep without them. Now I take the Sleep Minerals before bed and can sleep through the whole night without drugs. I’m also able to easily fall back to sleep if I do have to get up. Another benefit is this helps alleviate my chronic fatigue and aches and pains.”
Vitamin D is one of the master players in the game we all hope to win: Vibrant health, well-being and good sleep. Use it well in foods and supplements, as well as together with those minerals that are best-known for being relaxing insomnia remedies.
A study from the Journal “Sleep” has found that having a cooler body temperature before bedtime is beneficial in helping one fall asleep.
Making a special effort to cool down the body before bedtime may particularly help those with insomnia and sleeplessness to fall asleep easier and sleep more deeply.
Doctors at the Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, New York found 44 people to participate in their study. There were 21 men and 23 women between the ages of 19 and 82.
Using body temperature testing methods, the scientists discovered that the participant’s body temperatures naturally dropped most significantly in the two hours before sleep started. Because of this, they concluded that taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed is the best time to create a more ideal temperature.
In other words, a person’s body temperature can be changed by taking a warm bath and then when they get out of it, a steep drop in temperature will occur that more closely approximates the ideal, cooler temperature for a more sound sleep.
More recently, the study mentioned above from the Journal “Sleep” was included in an analysis of 13 different research studies published in a report in “Sleep Medicine Reviews”. In this new report, the authors found that taking warm showers and baths 90 minutes before bed can cause an increase in blood circulation that moves body heat from the internal areas of the body to the extremities, such as the palms and soles of the feet, thereby cooling the body down.
The bathing supports the natural rhythms and temperatures of the body. Bodies naturally have a cooler body temperature in the late afternoon and evening, and then as the night’s sleep ends, the body gradually becomes warmer.
Another tip would be to keep the bedroom comfortably cool, by using fans or an air conditioner as needed, to assist with falling asleep better and sleeping more deeply.
This health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective natural insomnia remedy Sleep Minerals II. Sleep Minerals II contains highly absorbable forms of the best minerals for sleep and relaxation, such as calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and zinc. The ingredients are delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making them more easily assimilated than capsules or tablets and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Valerie H. of Santa Clarita, California says: “I had such severe menopause insomnia it took me hours to fall asleep even though I was extremely tired. My legs also had crawling and tingling feelings at night. I got the Sleep Minerals and after a few days, it started to work really well. I fall asleep now within 20 minutes and no more restless legs.”
Wendy R. of Honolulu, Hawaii says: “My friends know that I’ve had chronic insomnia for a very long time. Surprisingly, I received the Sleep Minerals II and took it and I actually slept! This thing really works. In the past, if I ever got a good nights sleep I’d say “I slept like a baby”, but that’s the wrong analogy. Those little guys get up every two hours. I am actually beginning to sleep like an adult — a much-rested adult.”
A hot flash, also called hot flush, is a sudden feeling of warmth and often a breakout of sweating in the upper half of the body. When these occur at night, they’re known as night sweats.
Hot flashes are normally brought on by a reduced function of the brain’s temperature regulation, are caused by changing hormone levels, and are one of the most common menopause symptoms. Having night sweats while sleeping can cause overheating and frequent awakenings.
Another source of hot flashes can be medications. According to WebMD, “Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of drug that can lead to night sweats. From 8% to 22% of people taking antidepressant drugs have night sweats. Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats.”
The “Sleep in America” poll results from the National Sleep Foundation found that more than half of all Americans (60%) experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night. Interestingly, a ten-year study to discover which drugs are used to treat insomnia was published in the journal “Sleep”.
The study found that prescriptions for sleeping medications have decreased by 53.7%, but that antidepressant drugs prescribed for insomnia have increased by a surprising 146%. Examples of antidepressants prescribed for insomnia are trazodone, doxepin, trimipramine, and amitriptyline.
Medications may not always have the desired effects. For example, Drugs.com says the following about an antidepressant drug called Welbutrin — “Nervous system side effects have frequently included headache (27%), insomnia (16% to 33%)….and sleep abnormalities.” Health.com lists other possible side effects of antidepressants as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, dry mouth and throat, racing pulse, confusion, disturbed dreams, and an increased risk of suicide.
Nature has provided us with some natural sleep remedies and relaxants that have stood the test of time. Regarding mineral deficiency as we age and at the time of menopause, the pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis says, “The amount of calcium in a woman’s blood parallels the activity of the ovaries. During the menopause, the lack of ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone) can cause severe calcium deficiency symptoms to occur, including irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, leg cramps, and insomnia. These problems can be easily overcome if the intakes of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are all generously increased and are well absorbed.”
One sleep remedy increasing in popularity is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs. This natural sleep aid contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for restless legs syndrome, bone strength, aches and pains, and menopause insomnia.
The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making the minerals more quickly assimilated than tablets or capsules. The softgel formulation provides a deeper, longer-lasting sleep and is an effective alternative to medications.
Anita L. of New Caney, Texas says: “I was having hot flashes every 30 minutes to an hour through the night and was so miserable. After about two weeks of taking the Sleep Minerals, I noticed an incredible difference with my sleep. I have much less interruption from flashes, I’m sleeping much better and am a lot more comfortable.”
Alex R. of Ramseur, North Carolina says: “Sleep Minerals II has been a blessing for me. It has given me the opportunity to withdraw from a highly addictive sleep medication over time, and has allowed me to sleep while going through this most difficult ordeal. What’s great about it is it doesn’t lose its effectiveness, which is something that happens with sleep medications. I am most thankful for this product.”
By Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine who provides up-to-date natural health information
Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs,
maker of the effective calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II
*************************************** While the importance of vitamin D has become more fully appreciated, another vitamin that is just as important as vitamin D, vitamin K2, needs wider recognition. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin most well known for its role in blood clotting.
However, there are two primary kinds of vitamin K, and they serve very different functions. Vitamin K1 is the primary form of vitamin K responsible for blood clotting, whereas vitamin K2 is essential for bone strength, the health of arteries and blood vessels, and plays a role in other biological processes as well, including tissue renewal and cell growth.
In the 2014 paper, “Vitamin K: An old vitamin in a new perspective,” vitamin D expert Dr. Michael Holick and co-authors review the history of vitamin K and its many benefits, including its significance for skeletal and cardiovascular health. They also discuss important drug interactions.
Vitamins K1 and K2 are Not Interchangeable
The difference between vitamins K1 and K2 was first established in the Rotterdam Study, published in 2004. A variety of foods were measured for vitamin K content, and vitamin K1 was found to be present in high amounts in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is only present in fermented foods. It’s produced by certain bacteria during the fermentation process. Interestingly, while the K1 in vegetables is poorly absorbed, virtually all of the K2 in fermented foods is readily available to your body.
Examples of foods high in vitamin K2 include raw dairy products such as certain cheeses, raw butter, and kefir, as well as natto (a fermented soy product) and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.
However, not every strain of bacteria makes K2, so not all fermented foods will contain it. For example, pasteurized dairy and products from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are NOT high in K2 and should be avoided. Only grass-fed animals (not grain fed) will develop naturally high K2 levels.
Most commercial yogurts are virtually devoid of vitamin K2, and while certain types of cheeses, such as Gouda, Brie, and Edam are high in K2, others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria present during the fermentation.
One of the best sources I’ve found is to ferment your own vegetables using a special starter culture designed with bacterial strains that produce vitamin K2.
My research team found we could get 400 to 500 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K2 in a two-ounce serving of fermented vegetables using such a starter culture, which is a clinically therapeutic dose.
If you want to learn more about making your own fermented vegetables with a starter culture, you can watch the video at Mercola.com.
Sub-Categories of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 (a fat-soluble vitamin) can be broken into two additional categories, called:
MK-4 (menaquinone-4), a short-chain form (a type of fat) of vitamin K2 found in butter, egg yolks, and animal-based foods. Short chain fats are often liquid at room temperature.
Avoid this in supplemental form, as it’s only available in synthetic form. MK-4 also has a very short biological half-life (the time it takes to reduce the amount of a supplement by one-half in the body) — about one hour— making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement.
MK-7 (menaquinone-7), longer-chain forms. (A longer chain form has more chains of carbon atoms). (These are fats that are solid at room temperature) and found in fermented foods. There’s a variety of these long-chain forms but the most common one is MK-7.
This is the one you’ll want to look for in supplements, as this form is extracted from real food, specifically natto, a fermented soy product. You could actually get loads of MK-7 from consuming natto, which is relatively inexpensive and available in most Asian food markets.
The MK-7, which forms in the fermentation process, has two major advantages. It stays in your body longer, and has a longer half-life, which means you can just take it once a day in very convenient dosing.
Research has shown MK-7 helps prevent inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory markers (substances) produced by white blood cells called monocytes.
Health Effects of Vitamin K2 Deficiency
Vitamin K2 is an important adjunct to vitamin D, without which vitamin D cannot work properly. K2’s biological action is also impaired by a lack of vitamin D, so you really need to consider these two nutrients together.
This means that if you take high doses of oral vitamin D you need to remember to also increase your vitamin K2 intake from either food or a MK-7 supplement. Failing to do so could cause harm, as without K2, your body will not be able to complete the transport of calcium into the proper areas, and arterial calcification could set in.
If you get your vitamin D primarily from sun exposure then this issue is largely circumvented, as your body is then able to regulate its vitamin D production. You simply cannot overdose on vitamin D from sun exposure.
Vitamins D and K2 also work synergistically with magnesium and calcium, so this quartet should ideally be taken in combination. Unfortunately, most people are deficient in both vitamins D and K, and magnesium insufficiency is also common.
At least 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, and as many as 97 percent may be lacking in vitamin K2. This could very well be due to the fact that we stopped eating fermented foods with the advent of refrigeration and other food processing techniques.
While you likely get sufficient amounts of vitamin K from your diet to maintain adequate blood clotting, you’re probably not getting enough to protect you from a variety of other health problems that are more specifically associated with vitamin K2, such as:
Arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease
Leukemia and cancer of the lung, prostate, and liver
Neurological deficiencies, including dementia
Infectious diseases such as pneumonia
Beware: Statins May Deplete Vitamin K2
Statins are a group of drugs that act to reduce levels of fats, including cholesterol, in the blood. Besides a vitamin K2-poor diet, certain drugs may affect your vitamin K2 status. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests statin drugs may increase calcification in the arteries, and other research shows that statins deplete vitamin K2.
You may be aware that statin users need to take CoQ10 (or ubiquinol) as the drug depletes this nutrient, but they may also need vitamin K2 in order to avoid the cardiovascular risks associated with statins.
Why Vitamin K Is Critical for Cardiovascular Health
In the 1980s, it was discovered that vitamin K is needed to activate the protein osteocalcin, which is found in your bone. A decade or so later, another vitamin K-dependent protein was discovered: matrix Gla protein (MGP), found in your vascular (heart) system.
Without vitamin K, these and other vitamin K-dependent proteins remain inactivated, and cannot perform their biological functions. Another important finding was that MGP strongly inhibits calcification. When MGP remains inactivated, you end up with serious arterial calcifications, and this is why vitamin K is so crucial for cardiovascular health. Evidence suggests vitamin K can even reverse arterial calcification induced by vitamin K deficiency.
Vitamin K2 also helps prevent arterial calcification by shuttling calcium away from areas where it shouldn’t be (in the lining of your blood vessels) to where it’s really needed (such as in your bone). In the Rotterdam Study,which ran for 10 years, those who consumed the greatest amounts of K2 had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular calcification, and the lowest chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.
People who consumed 45 mcg of K2 daily lived seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day. This was a profound discovery, because such a correlation did not exist for K1 intake. In a subsequent trial called the Prospect Study, 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Here, they found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet resulted in nine percent fewer cardiac events.
More recently, a study published in a medical journal on circulation, found that MK-7 supplementation improved arterial stiffness in otherwise healthy postmenopausal women. This study has been lauded as significant because while previous studies have only been able to show an association, this is the first to confirm that long-term use of vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7 does result in improved cardiovascular health.
Vitamin K2 Is Crucial for Osteoporosis Prevention
As mentioned, vitamin K2 also plays a crucial role in bone health,and may be critical for the prevention of osteoporosis. Osteocalcin is a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation), and is utilized within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. However, osteocalcin must be “carboxylated” (take part in a salt-like reaction) before it can be effective. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes (allows) the carboxylation of osteocalcin.
A number of Japanese trials have shown that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss and in some cases even increases bone mass in people with osteoporosis. The pooled evidence of seven Japanese trials also show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures.
A recent Chinese meta-analysisof 19 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin K2 supplementation significantly improved vertebral bone density in postmenopausal women, and reduced the risk of bone fractures.
Another three-year long placebo-controlled study done in the Netherlands found that postmenopausal women taking 180 mcg of MK-7 per day increased their bone strength and saw a decrease in the rate of age-related bone mineral decline and reduced loss of bone density, compared to those taking a placebo.
Vitamin K2 Is Also Important for Healthy Pregnancy, Cancer Prevention, and More
Vitamin K2 also plays an important role throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding for the healthy growth of the child. Not only does it affect the development of both primary and adult teeth; it also helps develop proper facial form and strong bones. (During childhood, vitamin K2 helps prevent cavities.) It may be particularly important during the third trimester, as most women’s levels tend to drop at that time, indicating there’s an additional drain on the system toward the end of the pregnancy.
Since there are no reported cases of overdose of vitamin K2, and appears to have no toxicity issues, it may be prudent to double or even triple your intake while pregnant. Cancer prevention is another health benefit of vitamin K2. The 2010 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study found that high intake of vitamin K2 — not K1 — leads to reduced cancer risk, as well as a 30 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.
The evidence also suggests vitamin K2 may reduce the risk for a type of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a 45 percent lower risk for this type of cancer, compared to those with the lowest vitamin K2 intake. They attribute this effect to vitamin K2’s ability to inhibit inflammatory cytokines, which are related to this type of lymphoma, and its role the life cycle of your cells. Researchers are also looking into other health benefits.
Vitamin K2 has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity; people who get the most vitamin K2 from their foods are about 20 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes
One 2012 study found vitamin K2 has the potential to improve disease activity in those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Another study, found that vitamin K2 serves as an electron carrier for the energy producing portion of our cells, thereby helping maintain normal ATP production (ATP is the energy factory in our cells) and preventing dysfunction, such as that found in Parkinson’s disease
According to Dr. Holick’s paper, vitamin K2 has anti-inflammatory,
anti-oxidative, and anticarcinogenic properties, and in addition to cancer and diabetes, MK-7 in particular may also offer benefits for age-related macular degeneration in the eyes.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K?
Clearly, you want both vitamin K1 and K2, but you’re virtually guaranteed to not get enough K2 from your diet unless you eat the proper fermented foods. Dietary sources of vitamin K1 include:
Kale Spinach Collard Greens Broccoli Brussels Sprouts
As for a clinically useful dosage of vitamin K2, some studies — including the Rotterdam study — have shown as little as 45 micrograms (mcg) per day is sufficient. As a general guideline, I recommend getting around 150 mcg of vitamin K2 per day. Others recommend slightly higher amounts; upwards of 180 to 200 mcg. You can obtain healthy amounts (about 200 mcg) of K2 by eating 15 grams (half an ounce) of natto each day, or fermented vegetables. If you fermented them using a starter culture designed with vitamin K2-producing bacteria, one ounce will give you about 200 to 250 mcgs.
If you opt for a vitamin K2 supplement, make sure it’s MK-7. Also remember to take it with fat since it’s fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed otherwise. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2, as it appears to be completely non-toxic. People have been given a thousand-fold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies).
That said, people who are taking vitamin K antagonists, i.e. drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K, are advised to avoid MK-7 supplements. As a last tip, keep in mind that vitamin K2 may not necessarily make you “feel better” per se. Its internal workings are such that you’re not likely to feel the difference physically. Compliance can therefore be a problem, as people are more likely to take something that has a noticeable effect. This may not happen with vitamin K2, but that certainly does not mean it’s not doing anything.
This article is shared with you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the original calcium and magnesium based natural sleep aid Sleep Minerals II, and Joints and More, the natural remedy for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails, and more energy.
There are few things that feel worse than being exhausted, yet unable to sleep. In addition to insomnia (the inability to fall or stay asleep), many people also suffer from poor sleep quality, which can cause you to feel sleepy during the day despite getting eight or more hours of rest.
If you frequently have trouble getting a decent night’s sleep, it’s a good idea to see your doctor to rule out/treat any underlying conditions, such as sleep apnea or depression. For many people, sleep problems can be remedied naturally with lifestyle changes and proper nutrition. The following are five natural, safe and effective remedies that might help you get some good shut-eye.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies need for a multitude of biological roles, ranging from bone health to mental health. Human and animal studies also indicate that magnesium plays an important role in sleep, and that magnesium therapy can help insomnia sufferers. Although magnesium is available in a multitude of foods, the USDA says that 57 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium. So how can you get more of this essential sleep nutrient? One method is to eat more foods with magnesium – fibrous foods, such as whole grains, nuts and vegetables are generally high in this mineral. Magnesium supplements in daily doses of less than 350 mg are also considered safe for most adults. Magnesium supplements can also help relieve constipation – another common consequence of a typical fiber-deficient American diet.
Although it may seem counterintuitive that bright light can actually help you sleep, getting enough natural light during the day is important for maintaining circadian rhythms that control our sleep-wake cycles. While many of us don’t get sufficient sunlight because we work indoors all day and/or live in a place that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight for much of the year, people who work night-shifts can be especially light-deprived. There is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that vitamin D, a nutrient we get from certain foods and from exposure to ultraviolet light, has wide-ranging health implications, and that a lack of it may cause insomnia and other serious health problems. To get enough sunlight and vitamin D for good health and good sleep, experts recommend getting 10 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight exposure each day – ideally, in the morning hours. Light therapy boxes and vitamin D supplements (in typical therapeutic doses) are also considered safe and effective.
Another major culprit for poor sleep is a lack of physical activity. America’s population is largely sedentary, spending most of the day sitting in a chair at work, sitting in the car while commuting, and sitting in front of the TV when we get home. Unless we find a way to incorporate some exercise into our daily routine, your body may not be tired enough to sleep well at night – even though your mind is exhausted. Exercise is also important for relieving stress and tension that accompany our modern, hectic lifestyles. Although you should aim to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day for good sleep and for good health in general, exercising vigorously within several hours of bedtime can actually interfere with your sleep. For this reason, gentle yoga, with its series of tension-relieving stretches and meditative elements, is an excellent type of exercise that you can practice in the evening to help you sleep – you can even do certain poses in bed! A 2010 University of Rochester study found that cancer survivors with insomnia who practiced gentle yoga for four weeks reported improved sleep quality and decreased use of sleep aids during the program’s duration.
4. Good sleep hygiene
Although it sounds like it might have to do with the cleanliness of your sheets, the term “sleep hygiene” is actually used to refer to your overall sleep environment and habits that can affect your sleep quality. Many of the factors that impact our sleep quality are environmental or have to do with our nighttime behaviors. The following elements are considered by sleep experts to be important components of good sleep hygiene:
* Going to sleep at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time each morning.
* Limiting or avoiding consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol – all of which can impair sleep quality or make it hard to fall asleep.
* Avoiding late-night exposure to bright electronic screens, e.g., iPads, smartphones, TVs, computers, etc., which can disrupt circadian rhythms.
* Relaxing before bed with a warm bath or another restful activity. Lavender aromatherapy may also help relax you before bed to combat insomnia.
* Using the bedroom only for sleep and sex – not for watching TV or working from your laptop, for example.
* Making sure your sleeping environment is sufficiently cool, dark and quiet.
Like magnesium and vitamin D, B-vitamins are also important nutrients for sleep. In particular, B-6 is important for the production of serotonin, a “feel good” hormone which aids sleep and combats anxiety and restlessness that can keep you awake; and folic acid (B-9) deficiency has been found in those with insomnia and in those with depression, a condition which is often implicated in insomnia. Vitamin B-12 is also needed for good sleep and mental health, and certain populations, including seniors and vegans, are more likely to be deficient in this vitamin. Additionally, niacin, or B-3, has been shown to increase REM sleep and help with depression. Good food sources of B vitamins include animal products such as fish and dairy, and whole, unprocessed foods such as whole grains, beans, and green, leafy vegetables. Taken at recommended doses, B vitamin supplements are also generally considered to be quite safe, as they are water-soluble, meaning that any excess vitamins will be excreted through the urine.
This information was written by Lifed.com and is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective natural insomnia remedy Sleep Minerals II. Sleep Minerals II contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleep, relaxation, heart health, restless legs syndrome, bone strength and menopause insomnia.
The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc, and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy carrier oils, making it more quickly absorbable than tablets or capsules and providing a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.
Doctor P. P. of Houston, Texas says: “I had developed sleeping problems and took two different sleep medications over the course of several weeks. When I discontinued them, the insomnia came back even worse. I literally got about 20 hours of sleep in 6 weeks time. Sleep Minerals II was an answer to my prayers. I’ve been taking it for a couple weeks and getting many hours of sleep a night. As a doctor I would definitely avoid prescribing sleeping drugs — I would recommend Sleep Minerals II.”
The word “metabolic” refers to the processes in plants and animals by which food is changed into energy or used to make cells and tissues. A “syndrome” is a group of signs or symptoms that together indicate a particular disease or condition.
So, “metabolic syndrome” is a group of risk areas that increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke. These include high blood sugar levels, increased blood pressure, excess stomach fat and high cholesterol.
Fish and omega-3 foods for metabolic syndrome
Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of fat that we must get from our diet as the body can’t produce them on its own. This classifies them as “essential” fatty acids. These include wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and oysters, as well as fish oils, walnuts, flaxseeds, grass-fed beef and leafy greens. Omega 3 fats assist in reducing blood pressure, supporting a healthy heart and strengthening the eyes and brain.
The Journal of Physiology published a study on omega 3 fatty acids. They reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of eating omega 3 fish and fish oil supplements for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome. They found that supplementing with Omega 3 sources improved obesity, insulin levels, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They commented that the anti-inflammatory aspects of these fatty acids also offer good protection for the heart.
Flaxseeds for metabolic syndrome
Phytotherapy is a word that comes from the Greek word “phyton” meaning “plant”, and therapeuein” meaning “to take care of, to heal.” This is the term used to describe medical herbalism.
A study in the magazine “Phytotherapy Research” discovered that flaxseeds are a good remedy for metabolic syndrome by helping to reverse high blood sugar and obesity. In the study, the participant’s body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index all had significantly greater reductions in the flaxseed group. The researchers concluded that co-administration of flaxseed with lifestyle modifications is more effective than lifestyle modification alone in management of metabolic syndrome.
Vegetables and fruits for metabolic syndrome
In a study of Chinese adults, it was discovered that those with adequate vegetable and fruit intake had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome. Eating a good amount of these foods was significantly associated with reduced risk among adult residents of China.
Healthy vegetables to eat include dark leafy greens such as lettuce, kale and spinach, as well as avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, olives, sweet potatoes, cabbage and others that are enjoyable. Avocados in particular have been found to be related to improved overall diet quality, a healthy nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome
Good fruits to eat include berries, applies, grapes, apples, pears and others. Due to the natural sugars in fruit, It’s good to keep fruit in moderation and eat at least two or three times as many vegetables as fruit.
Magnesium for metabolic syndrome
A study from the journal “Diabetic Medicine” reports on the role of magnesium deficiency in metabolic syndrome. They found that magnesium acts through many mechanisms in the body to help prevent this group of health disorders. Magnesium has a positive effect on glucose metabolism and insulin, as well as beneficial effects on fat metabolism.
The authors of the study explain that magnesium actively promotes muscle relaxation and offsets calcium-related muscle contractions. This mechanism may explain the hypertension (high blood pressure) in metabolic syndrome that’s found in populations with magnesium deficiency. (In supplements, calcium and magnesium should be taken together as they balance each other).
Dietary magnesium prevents chronic inflammation, a state that sets the stage for metabolic syndrome and its consequences. Magnesium does this by preventing the activation of inflammatory changes. The researchers concluded that the amount of magnesium a person consumes is directly related to the presence of metabolic syndrome or its absence. Good food sources of magnesium include almonds, beans, peas, seeds, banana, avocado, leafy greens and whole grains.
This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and a supplier of natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D.
The ingredients in Sleep Minerals II can be helpful for a variety of health conditions. I.C. of Ontario, Canada says: “I have diabetes, a thyroid condition, arthritis and other issues. The Sleep Minerals helps me sleep and gives me the minerals I need. I also have arthritis throughout my whole body and the minerals help this a lot. In fact, Sleep Minerals lessens all of my symptoms greatly and has helped me to go into remission.”