Proven Benefits of Flaxseed: Heart, Stomach, Hot Flashes, More

benefits of flaxseedFlaxseed, also known as linseed, is a high fiber food that has been cultivated for thousands of years around the world. One of the main benefits of flaxseed is that its a rich source of the healthiest type of fat, known as omega 3 fatty acid.

This group of healthy fats also includes salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and sardines. Flax is a also complete protein source, containing all nine of the essential amino acids.

Research is showing that the benefits of flaxseed include preventing menopause hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, improving heart health and benefiting blood sugar levels. It also improves breast and prostate health and is known to be an effective laxative which helps with constipation by adding fiber and bulk to the intestines.

Flaxseed has been proven to have a dual effectiveness for both constipation and diarrhea.  This study on flaxseed comes from the Natural Products Research Division of a Medical College in Pakistan.  Flaxseed oil and its gel-like fiber was given orally to people and it caused a dose-dependent increase in looser bowel movements – meaning that the higher the dose, the more effective it was. The study also showed flaxseed helpful for people with diarrhea.

Mayo Clinic breast health specialist Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., recently conducted a study on crushed flaxseed for hot flashes and menopause symptoms. The women were given six weeks of flaxseed therapy, consisting of 40 grams (one and a half ounces) of crushed flaxseed eaten daily. Study participants were asked questions that were translated into their individual hot flash scores.

The result was that their frequency of hot flashes decreased by fifty percent. Participants also reported good improvements in mood, joint and muscle pain, chills, and sweating. This was a significant benefit to their health and quality of life. Dr. Pruthi said: “We are quite pleased with the improvements noted by these women in their quality of life. Not only does flaxseed seem to alleviate hot flashes, but it appears to have overall health benefits as well.”

Flaxseed may provide a way for men with high cholesterol to lower it without using drugs. The Iowa State University Nutrition and Wellness Research Center recently studied ground flaxseed for this purpose and found that it decreased cholesterol in men by around ten percent over the three month study. The men ate three tablespoons of flaxseed daily.

Flaxseed was recently studied for the improvement of blood sugar levels in a study from the “Nutrition Research” journal. In this study, overweight men and postmenopausal women who had pre-diabetes consumed ground flaxseed daily for 12 weeks. This resulted in decreased glucose and insulin levels and also an improved insulin sensitivity in the participants. Having a better insulin sensitivity is healthier as this allows the body to utilize sugar in the blood more effectively.

Flaxseeds are available as whole seeds, ground seeds and flax seed oil. The ground seeds may be the healthiest option as they contain the most protein and fiber. Flaxseeds blend well into many foods, such as smoothies, hot and cold cereals, can be sprinkled on salads or hot vegetables, and even used in home-baked goods like muffins. The seeds are best stored in the refrigerator to preserve their benefits. Most of the studies on flaxseed used one tablespoon per day. 

This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a provider of nutrition articles and effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.  Besides being an effective insomnia remedy, Sleep Minerals II is also beneficial for women with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats.

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.”

For more information, visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

Why flaxseed is good for you?

Research is showing that the benefits of flaxseed include preventing menopause hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, improving heart health and benefiting blood sugar levels. It also improves breast and prostate health.

How flaxseed works?

Flaxseed has a very high amount of omega-3 fatty acids – a high quality type of fat that our body is unable to make on its own. Omega-3 fats can improve the health of the heart, brain, eyes, liver, joints and skin. Flaxseed is also a rich source of fiber, making it an excellent aid to digestion.

Will flaxseed help with constipation?

Flaxseed has been proven to have a dual effectiveness for both constipation and diarrhea. In one study, flaxseed oil and its gel-like fiber was given orally to people and it caused a dose-dependent increase in looser bowel movements – meaning that the higher the dose, the more effective it was.

Sleep Foods That Help You: Best Sleep Inducing Foods

Sleep better with Sleep Minerals II
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.

1. Sleep Foods Chart: The Top Proven Foods for Insomnia

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.

2. Melatonin Rich Fruits for Sleep: Studies from Nutrition Breakthroughs    fruit melatonin

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.

3. Insomnia Remedies: The Best and Worst Foods for Promoting Sleep

What foods are sleep inducing? This article includes an informative, short chart that contains the five best foods and five worst foods for promoting sleep.

Some foods can act as natural sleep aids, while others can make your time in bed a struggle with tossing and turning all night.

heathiest foods4. Food for Sleep: Study Says Salmon Remedies Insomnia

Researchers in Norway have proven that eating fish has a positive impact on good sleep and overall daily functioning.

5. Insomnia Remedies: The Science Behind Sleep Inducing Foods

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.

Hot Flashes in Menopause: Studies Show Magnesium and Primrose Oil Effective

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.

Magnesium vs Melatonin as a Natural Sleep Aid

Is magnesium better than melatonin for sleep? Magnesium has many benefits for good health, one of them being its action as an effective natural sleep aid.

Melatonin supplements are also used as a sleep remedy.  These two ingredients have different qualities, different health effects, and different possible side effects.  James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes: “A lack of the nutrients magnesium and calcium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.”

In contrast with mineral supplements, melatonin is a hormone which is produced by the pineal gland, located in the center of the brain. At night or in the dark, the pineal gland naturally releases melatonin to regulate the sleep cycle. The body produces less melatonin with advancing age and while melatonin doesn’t require a prescription, it’s a potent hormone. It can help with sleeplessness. If too much is taken, it can result in grogginess, dizziness, stomach  cramps and make it more difficult to wake up in the morning.

Is it better to take magnesium at night?  One of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency is chronic insomnia, accompanied with with frequent nighttime awakenings.  On the other hand, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep, per a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.  Another study from the Human Nutrition Research Center found that a magnesium citrate supplement increased sleep quality in adults aged 51 to 85.

Magnesium has hundreds of health effects in the body. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center web site, inadequate magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels in the brain.  One study found that magnesium was just as effective as an antidepressant drug in treating depression.  In addition, researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute reported that for every 100 milligram increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing type-2 diabetes decreased by 15 per cent.  Other studies have shown that people with migraine headaches have low concentrations of magnesium in their body.

Mildred Seelig, M.D., the leading medical researcher on magnesium says: “Many people needlessly suffer pain – including … migraines and muscle cramps – because they don’t get enough magnesium.”

Which form of magnesium is best for sleep?  A recent study on magnesium for sleep comes from the University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Its subjects were 46 older adults, aged 60 to 75, who were experiencing insomnia. However, it’s interesting to note the researchers recommend that their results be extended to all ages of the general population as helpful advice.

In the University study, the subjects were divided into two groups. One group received placebos, while the other received magnesium oxide tablets twice a day (250 milligrams each) for eight weeks. In the group that was given magnesium, the subjects experienced significant increases in sleep time and sleep efficiency (which is the time spent in bed vs the time spent sleeping).  They also had less night time interruptions and fewer early morning awakenings.

One possible side effect from taking too much magnesium is that the bowels may become too loose.  Another important nutritional tip that can help to avoid any deficiencies is to balance magnesium with calcium and vitamin D, rather than taking it alone.  The recommended ratio is 2 to 1 or twice as much calcium as magnesium.

According to the Mayo Clinic, possible side effects of melatonin include stomach cramps, anxiety, irritability, confusion and short-term depression.  Melatonin supplements can interact with various medications such as blood-thinning medications, medications that suppress the immune system, diabetes medications and birth control pills.

This health news is brought to you by Nutrition Breakthroughs and their natural sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.  Sleep Minerals II is the original magnesium and calcium based remedy and is known for soothing even the worst, long-term insomnia.  It also contains vitamin D and zinc and helps everyone from teenagers, to women with menopause symptoms, to older seniors, to get a good night’s 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 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.”

Tammy M. of Meridian, Idaho says: “I was plagued with insomnia for five years and desperate for a breakthrough. Nothing has helped me more than Sleep Minerals. I’m so sold on them I could go door to door promoting them.  I’m 60 years old and have never slept so soundly.”

For more information on Sleep Minerals II visit this page.

Is magnesium better than melatonin for sleep?

James F. Balch, M.D. writes: “A lack of the nutrients magnesium and calcium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.” Magnesium is also beneficial for bone health and heart health. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. According to WebMD, melatonin side effects may include headache, depression, daytime sleepiness, dizziness, stomach cramps and irritability.

Is it better to take magnesium at night? 

One of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency is chronic insomnia accompanied with with frequent nighttime awakenings.  On the other hand, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep, per a study done by James Penland at the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota.

Which form of magnesium is best for sleep?

A recent study on magnesium comes from the University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Its subjects were 46 older adults who were experiencing insomnia. One group received placebos while the other received magnesium oxide tablets twice a day for eight weeks. Those taking the magnesium experienced significant increases in sleep time with less night time interruptions. Another good form of magnesium is magnesium citrate.

Top Foods That Can Remedy Insomnia and Give Better Sleep

tart cherry juice for sleepInsomnia and sleeplessness are a widespread problem.  Sleep inducing foods and relaxing minerals are a first-line remedy to help people with insomnia to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

There is a helpful chart below that shows twelve ways to use foods as natural sleep aids.  Many of these foods are high in melatonin and magnesium and are supported by research studies.  This article describes many of these sleep-inducing foods in detail and names the studies that support their use in improving sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced in the brain.  At night or in the dark, melatonin is naturally released to regulate the sleep cycle.  A recent study on the use of melatonin-rich foods for sleep appeared in the journal “Nutrients”.  The study was called “Dietary Sources of Melatonin.”

The researchers noted that nuts contain some of the highest quantities of melatonin.  Topping the list are almonds and walnuts.  Almonds deliver a two-part punch as they are also high in magnesium, a mineral known to induce sleep.

Bananas are high in both magnesium and potassium, and each of these minerals are proven to help good sleep in research studies.  The Journal “Sleep” recently reported that the use of potassium for sleep results in significant improvements in quality of sleep and less waking up during the night.

In addition to improving the quality of sleep, potassium has many other valuable health benefits.  Dr. Joseph Mercola writes about potassium in his article: “Potassium Plays a Key Role in Your Everyday Functions.”  He says:

“Sometimes referred to as the “good salt,” potassium is a mineral that helps support a variety of essential body functions, including the contraction of muscles, regulation of body fluids, transmission of nerve impulses, and maintenance of normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels.”

”Since your body does not have the ability to produce potassium naturally, one of the ways for you to maintain optimum levels of it is to eat potassium-rich foods….When it comes to increasing your potassium levels through diet, one of the first foods that may come to mind are bananas — one medium banana contains 422 mg of potassium.”

”However, bananas are far from being your only source of potassium, since you can also obtain this nutrient from the following foods:

  • Beet greens Provides 654 mg of potassium per half-cup.
  • Swiss chard Contains 962 mg of potassium per cup.
  • Acorn squash Provides 996 mg of potassium per cup.
  • Avocado Contains 364 mg of potassium per half-cup.
  • Spinach Contains 740 to 838 mg of potassium per cup.
  • Baked potato flesh and skin – Contains 941 mg in one medium potato.
  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmonProvides 534 mg of potassium per 3-ounce serving.
  • Plain yogurt Contains 579 mg of potassium per cup.”

Continuing on, those experiencing sleeplessness or insomnia should definitely include more of these healthy sources of potassium in their diet.  And even more vital than potassium, the two most famous minerals for calming insomnia are calcium and magnesium.  This is what makes warm milk one of the most popular natural sleep aids.

James F. Balch, M.D, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, writes that: “A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.”  The European Neurology Journal supports this with their study showing that the normal course of sleep can be restored by increasing calcium levels in the body.

Regarding the use of minerals for insomnia, a study called “The Nutritional Relationships of Magnesium” discusses the differences between calcium and magnesium and their effects on sleep.  The author notes that the type of insomnia associated with a calcium deficiency causes difficulty with falling asleep.

On the other hand, the classical sign of magnesium deficiency is insomnia characterized by falling asleep easily, but awakening frequently throughout the night, with individuals finding themselves tired even after several hours of sleep.

Chronic insomnia is known to be one of the main symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Sleep in magnesium deficiency is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. A high magnesium, low aluminum diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. This was proven in a study titled “Effects of trace element nutrition on sleep patterns in adult women.”

A balanced ratio of calcium to magnesium is important to overall health and the two minerals should be taken together for best results.  The best calcium and magnesium ratio is twice as much calcium as magnesium.

One natural insomnia remedy showing good results is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs.  This natural sleep aid contains potent forms of calcium and magnesium, the best known minerals for relaxation and sleep, as well as for restless leg syndrome, stomach health, teenage insomnia and menopause insomnia.  The ingredients are formulated in a softgel with healthy oils, making them more quickly absorbed 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 at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days use my sleep improved quite a lot.  I wake 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.”

Sleep inducing foods and minerals are a healthy alternative to taking sleeping drugs. Make good use of them as an insomnia remedy.  Enjoy the chart below and be sure to visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

12 foods that help sleep

Why Do Some People Get a Charley Horse? (Muscle Cramp)

young women calf pain on white backgroundBy Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine who provides up-to-date natural health information.
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This article is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective calcium, magnesium and vitamin D based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.
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A charley horse, or muscle cramp particularly in your calf muscles, is an incredibly common condition that results in your muscles becoming tight, stiff and extremely painful. If you’re an adult, there’s a good chance you’ve had one at some point (and likely multiple points) during your lifetime.

In case you’re a trivia buff and wondering why these muscle cramps are referred to as “charley horses” (a name that’s primarily used in North America), it’s said to be a tribute to Charley “Old Hoss” Radbourne, an 1880s-era baseball pitcher who often suffered from muscle cramps during games.

Another version states the term came from a lame work horse named Charley who limped around doing various jobs around the baseball park (also in the 1880s).

Whenever a baseball player would get injured or have a cramp in the lower legs, thus limping around like Charley the horse, teammates would call the player “Charley Horse.” Regardless of the name’s origin, the pain of a charley horse is unmistakable and can be excruciating.

What Causes a Charley Horse?

According to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, about 1 in every 3 adults is affected by muscle cramps in their lower limbs. In many cases, the pain is temporary and goes away on its own, but for some the cramps interfere with sleep, quality of life and daily activities.

In one study of more than 500 people aged 60 years and older, 31 percent reported being woken up by muscle cramps and 15 percent had cramps more than three times a month. Anyone can get a charley horse, but they’re most common in the following populations and scenarios:

  • During exercise
  • At nighttime, especially in the elderly
  • In pregnant women
  • In people with neurological disease
  • During kidney dialysis

It’s not clear what triggers a charley horse to occur, but it is thought the cramp may be related to a rapidly firing nerve (up to 150 electrical dischargers per second), which causes the muscle to tense up, as opposed to an issue with the muscle tissue itself.

Many medications are also associated with muscle cramps, including statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, ACE inhibitors (blood pressure drugs), certain asthma drugs, diuretics and more. In addition, the following factors may also increase your risk of a charley horse:

  • Poor blood circulation in your legs
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Mineral deficiencies, including magnesium, potassium or calcium

magnesium and menopauseIs Magnesium Deficiency Causing Your Charley Horses?

By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Other research shows only about 25 percent of U.S. adults are getting the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men.

Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.

Further, if you suffer from charley horses, low levels of magnesium could be to blame. Magnesium is necessary for activating muscles and nerves, and a key sign of ongoing magnesium deficiency can be muscle contractions and cramps like charley horses.

Magnesium deficiency may be particularly problematic for your muscles in the presence of an overabundance of calcium. Americans in general tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.

If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor:

“What happens is the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don’t have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm.

Calcium causes muscle to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They’d relax, contract and create their activity.”

This underscores the importance of eating a nutritious diet, which will naturally give you optimal amounts of the minerals and other nutrients your body needs.

Eating plenty of organic leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds every day, and drinking fresh green vegetable juice will help keep your magnesium stores replenished. In addition, Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin.

Soaking in a bath with Epsom salts is an excellent way to not only help prevent magnesium deficiency but also to soothe and relieve the pain of a charley horse.

potassiumLow Potassium Levels May Also Trigger a Charley Horse

Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte. (An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrical conducting solution when dissolved in water. Electrolytes carry a charge and are essential for life. In our bodies, electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium).

Potassium is essential for your cells, tissues and organs to function properly. It plays a vital role in heart health, digestive and muscular function, bone health and more. One of the symptoms of low potassium levels is muscle cramps.

While potassium is found in many foods commonly consumed in the U.S. — including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, salmon, sardines and nuts — only 2 percent of U.S. adults get the recommended daily amount of 4,700 mg.

This is especially problematic because potassium is a nutrient that needs to be kept in proper balance with sodium in your blood. If you consume too much sodium, which is common if you eat a lot of processed foods, you’ll have an increased need for potassium.

Others who are at particular risk of low potassium, or hypokalemia, are those with chronic malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn’s disease, or those taking heart medicine (particularly loop diuretics). However, anyone who eats a poor diet — an excess of processed foods and not enough fresh, whole foods — is potentially at risk of inadequate potassium levels and related muscle cramps.

Green vegetable juicing is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients for optimal health, including about 300 mg to 400 mg of potassium per cup. Some additional rich sources of potassium are:

  • Lima beans (955 mg/cup)
  • Winter squash (896 mg/cup)
  • Cooked spinach (839 mg/cup)
  • Avocado (500 mg per medium)

Foods rich in calciumToo Little Calcium May Trigger Muscle Cramps

While too much calcium in the absence of magnesium can be problematic for muscle cramps, so too can a calcium deficiency. Low blood levels of calcium (as well as magnesium) may increase the excitability of nerve endings and the muscles they stimulate.

This may be a trigger for muscle cramps, especially in the elderly and during pregnancy. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, meanwhile, your body may have inadequate calcium absorption, again predisposing you to muscle cramps.

It’s very important to maintain a proper balance of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and also vitamin K2, as these four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. If you’re calcium deficient, your best bet is to increase consumption of foods high in calcium before opting for a supplement. This is because many high-calcium foods also contain naturally high amounts of vitamin K2; nature cleverly gives us these two nutrients in combination, so they work optimally.

Good sources of calcium include nuts, seeds and raw, organic, grass-fed dairy especially cheeses, and vegetables, although veggies aren’t high in vitamin K2. One exception is fermented vegetables where a starter culture specifically designed to produce ample amounts of vitamin K2 was used.

Homemade bone broth is another excellent source. Simply simmer leftover bones over low heat for an entire day to extract the calcium from the bones. You can use this broth for soups and stews or drink it straight.

What to Do If You Get a Charley Horse

A charley horse often occurs without notice, sometimes waking you up from sound sleep. If you’re lying down when the pain starts, stand up and put some weight on your foot. Walking around will help to increase blood circulation to your muscles and possibly help to soothe and relax the cramp.

charley horse stretch leg crampYou can also try a simple stretch. If the cramp is in your calf in the back of your lower leg, pull your toes and foot upward until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. You can also do this sitting down with your legs outstretched. Put a towel around your feet and gently pull both ends toward you until you feel a stretch.

As mentioned, soaking in an Epsom salt bath may also help to relieve pain (and possibly help with prevention). Massaging the area and applying a heat pack, which will increase blood flow to the area, promoting healing and soothing pain, may also help.

Staying well-hydrated is also important for muscle cramp prevention. You’ll want to drink enough pure filtered water so that your urine is pale yellow in color. In addition, performing regular stretching exercises on your legs may help reduce your risk of a charley horse.
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Comment from Nutrition Breakthroughs: Interestingly, the same mineral deficiencies that can cause charley horses are the same ones that can cause sleeplessness and insomnia.  Studies show that calcium and magnesium are effective natural sleep aids.  Highly absorbable forms of these minerals are featured in the Sleep Minerals II softgels. For more information visit the Sleep Minerals II page.

The Healthiest Fats for Good Skin, Hair, Nutrition and Sleep

Greetings to you,

There’s a helpful chart below that shows the healthiest fats for glowing skin and hair, as well as for good nutrition of the organs and hormones.  All hormones are formed with healthy fats, so eating more of these foods can nourish you in many ways.

Eating healthy fats with our meals can play a vital role in helping us sleep better and achieve overall greater health as these provide the basic building blocks for cholesterol production — a surprisingly healthy substance in our bodies.  The best fats to eat are nutrient rich foods like eggs, natural butter, salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and coconut oil.

For example, a healthy heart and long life are associated with eating walnuts.  They have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and also extend life spans in general. Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers protective benefits for the heart.

Walnuts can be a good sleep inducing food.  Eating a handful of walnuts before bedtime may be a good way to soothe sleeplessness and insomnia. Russel Reiter, Ph.D., a professor of cellular biology at the University of Texas says, “Relatively few foods have been examined for their melatonin content. Our studies demonstrate that walnuts contain melatonin and that it is absorbed when it is eaten.”

Avocados are a healthy, creamy, tasty food, whether they sit on top of a sandwich, an omelet or a salad — or become transformed into guacamole. The healthy fats in avocados balance hormones and this food features over twenty vitamins and minerals.

In summary, eating good healthy fats can enhance one’s health in many ways. This information is brought to you by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective natural insomnia remedy Sleep Minerals II.

Nutrition Breakthroughs

A Medicine Cabinet of Healing Herbs and Spices in Your Kitchen

Greetings to you,

I’ve included an interesting and useful chart below containing healing herbs and spices – “A Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen.”

One good example is a healing herb that was the subject of a research study published in the journal “Circulation”.  Researchers found that a pain ointment containing the main ingredient in cayenne pepper was able to reduce damage to the heart during a heart attack.  An incredible 85 percent reduction in cardiac cell death was observed.

Cinnamon is more than a delicious seasoning.  Studies from the University of Toronto and Ball State University in Indiana have confirmed that consuming cinnamon can significantly reduce blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels by adding cinnamon to the morning cereal.

Ginger contains many healing properties.  For women with PMS, scientists at the University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, Iran compared ginger capsules with two different kinds of anti-inflammatory drugs. 150 women participated and they were divided into three groups.  At the end of the five-month study, ginger was shown to be as effective as the drugs with relieving pain and providing relief.

Sage is a delicious herb used in cooking, particularly with poultry and pasta sauces, and it has a long history of use for medicinal purposes. It’s been used by herbalists to treat sore throats, strengthen the nervous system and improve brain function.

The German Health Commission officially approved the use of sage for excessive sweating and one German study found sage to reduce excessive perspiration by 50%. Sage leaf is also a well-researched remedy for hot flashes and night sweats in menopause.

Regarding the use of minerals such as calcium and magnesium for good sleep and remedying insomnia, William Sears, M.D. writes that: “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.”

In magnesium deficiency, chronic insomnia is one of the main, central symptoms. Sleep is usually agitated with frequent nighttime awakenings. On the other hand, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep.

For more information on effective sleep remedies, see this page on calcium and magnesium for sleep on the Nutrition Breakthroughs blog.

To your good health,

Jobee Knight
Nutrition Breakthroughs

Magnesium as an Insomnia Remedy – Proven Research

Magnesium is an Effective Sleep Remedy

The magnificent mineral magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in our cells and is known to be effective for strengthening heart health, reducing diabetes, and treating migraines, insomnia and depression.  With increasing age, the risk factor for developing magnesium deficiency grows larger.

A National Institutes of Health fact sheet says that adults are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency due to a decreased ability to absorb the mineral.  And according to the Journal “Sleep”, nearly 50% of older adults are experiencing insomnia and having with difficulties with falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up early.

Several reports have come out regarding the role of magnesium deficiency in insomnia.  The journal “Magnesium Research” writes that magnesium deficiency contributes to sleep disorders and interrupts sleep by reducing melatonin levels in the body.  According to the Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, a high magnesium diet has been found to be associated with deeper, less interrupted sleep. Good sources of magnesium in foods include fish, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

The most recently released study on magnesium for sleep comes from the University of Medical Sciences in Iran.  Its subjects were 46 older adults, aged 60 to 75, who were experiencing insomnia.  However, it’s interesting to note the researchers recommend their results be extended as a helpful aid to all ages of the general population.

In the University study, the subjects were divided into two groups.  One group received placebos, while the other received magnesium oxide tablets twice a day (250 milligrams each) for eight weeks.  In the group that was given magnesium, the subjects experienced significant increases in sleep time and sleep efficiency, with less night time interruptions and fewer early morning awakenings.

From blood samples taken, the researchers found that magnesium significantly reduced cortisol levels in the body, which is a stress hormone that can keep people awake.  Magnesium also brought about a statistically important increase in melatonin, the hormone involved with sleep-wake cycles.

Their conclusion: Supplementation with magnesium improves subjective and objective measures of insomnia in elderly people and is a useful natural remedy to manage sleep disorders – not only in the elderly but as an effective sleep aid for people of all ages.

Regarding supplements containing magnesium that are taken as an insomnia remedy, the combination of minerals included and the presence of complementary vitamins (such as calcium and vitamin D) are vital. Formulas should contain a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium for the best utilization in the body. The original research on this recommended ratio appeared in 1935 in the Journal of Physiological Reviews.  In addition, softgels that mix the minerals with natural carrier oils allow them to be more fully absorbed than with tablets or capsules.

One formula that has these qualities and is gaining in popularity is Sleep Minerals II from Nutrition Breakthroughs.  Sleep Minerals II contains highly absorbable forms of calcium and magnesium, the best minerals for sleeplessness and insomnia, as well as for restless legs syndrome, bone strength, teenage insomnia and menopause insomnia.  The formula also includes vitamin D and zinc and is delivered in a softgel form with healthy rice bran oil, making it quickly absorbable and allowing it to provide a deeper, longer-lasting sleep.

Sadie D. from The Netherlands says: “I am ever so grateful that I discovered Sleep Minerals II after suffering with premenopause and now the real menopausal insomnia.  I felt like I was slowly losing my mind due to the continual lack of sleep.  I can’t express the relief of getting a good night’s sleep and being able to function properly.”

Richard P. of Parkville, Maryland says: “The Sleep Minerals are making quite a difference.  I was regularly waking at around 3:00 a.m. and after a few days use my sleep improved quite a lot.  I wake 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.”

Minerals have come to the forefront as some of the most effective natural remedies for insomnia.  For more information on Sleep Minerals II, visit this page.

Want to Live Longer? Eat Calcium in Foods and Supplements

calcium longer lifeGreetings to you,

An article from the science news website known as Eureka Alert has shared the results of a study on how calcium extends lifespans in women.

Here’s the news article:

Calcium supplements linked to longer lifespans in women – Study finds calcium-rich diet, supplements provide equal benefits

Chevy Chase, Maryland — Taking a calcium supplement of up to 1,000 mg per day can help women live longer, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. (A note from the blog author Nutrition Breakthroughs: “endocrinology” refers to the actions of hormones in the body.  Interestingly, in this study, the benefits of longer lifespans were seen when the calcium came from any source, including dairy foods, non-dairy foods or supplements. See a list of calcium-rich foods below).

Calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health, is commonly found in dairy products as well as vitamins. Although calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health, past studies have linked calcium supplements to heart disease risk. Researchers analyzing data from the large-scale Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study sought to clarify this issue and found moderate doses of calcium supplements had a beneficial effect in women.

“Our study found daily use of calcium supplements was associated with a lower risk of death among women,” said the study’s lead author, David Goltzman, MD, of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “The benefit was seen for women who took doses of up to 1,000 mg per day, regardless of whether the supplement contained vitamin D.”

The study monitored the health of 9,033 Canadians (over a 12-year period), between 1995 and 2007. During that period, 1,160 participants died. Although the data showed women who took calcium supplements had a lower mortality (death) risk, there was no statistical benefit for men. The study found no conclusive evidence that vitamin D had an impact on mortality.

“Higher amounts of calcium were potentially linked to longer lifespans in women, regardless of the source of the calcium,” Dr. Goltzman said. “That is, the same benefits were seen when the calcium came from dairy foods, non-dairy foods or supplements.”

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From the blog author Nutrition Breakthroughs: Some of the best food sources of calcium include kale, collard greens, yogurt, cheese, sardines with bones, canned salmon with bones, broccoli, okra, almonds, figs, navy beans, sweet potatoes and spinach.

This natural health news is provided by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of Sleep Minerals II — the effective natural sleep aid with highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D.

Best of health,

Jobee Knight
Nutrition Breakthroughs

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/tes-csl052013.php