In Rachel Khong’s 2017 novel “Goodbye, Vitamin,” the protagonist, Ruth, records what her aging father does: “Today you held your open hand out and I shook out the pills into it, same as every day. Fish oil. Magnesium. Vitamins D and C and A. Gingko Biloba. ‘Hello, water,’ you said, holding the glass against the moonlight and shaking the pills like they were dice you were ready to roll into your other hand. ‘Goodbye, vitamin.’”
We all know that you don’t want to roll the dice with supplementation. A new review of studies from 2012 to 2017 found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C don’t magically lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or premature death for a five-year period.
However, other data show major cardiovascular benefits if you take them for 20 years. The other good news? They have substantial benefits — decreasing cancer risk; improving gut health; and aiding immune system functioning — if you use them wisely in combination with lifestyle upgrades. So …
1. Identify your nutritional deficiencies through blood tests.
2. Recognize your nutritional gaps and fill them with foods when possible, with supplements if necessary. If you never eat fish, you’re a candidate for 900 mg of fish oil/omega-3 daily, as well as a multivitamin with doses of calcium and C close to their recommended daily allowances.
3. If you spend hours indoors, increase intake of mushrooms (packed with D) and consider taking supplements if your tests show deficiency.
4. Take supplements certified by United States Pharmacopeia, the National Science Foundation or ConsumerLab.com.
Making up for lost sleep
In “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Harry’s godfather Sirius Black is about to suffer a fate worse than death for a crime he didn’t commit, and Buckbeak, Hagrid’s beloved hippogriff, has seemingly been executed. Dumbledore tells Harry and Hermione that by using a time turner to go back a couple of hours, “more than one innocent life may be spared tonight.” (Spoiler alert: They succeed. But you probably knew that.)
For a long time, we thought there was no way to turn back the clock on sleep deprivation by packing in extra hours on following nights. And we know that people who get less than six hours of sleep nightly are more likely to have risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But evidence is now showing your missed hours of sleep may not be irrevocably damaging after all.
For a new study, researchers looked at data on almost 40,000 people for 13 years and found that there was no difference in death rates between people who had less than six to seven hours of sleep nightly during the week, but slept more on the weekends, and those who consistently had more than seven hours a night. You can catch up on sleep!
Of course, the ideal is to keep your body clock on the same healthy schedule seven nights a week. But if during the week, kids, exercise, work and play don’t allow for enough ZZZs, on the weekends take a snooze fest. It will help your body repair.
Refuse that food
delivery: Stopping toxic black plastic pollution
“Black Mirror” is a sci-fi series that looks at the unexpected consequences of new technologies and contemporary behavior — and paints a dystopian portrait of the near future that would give Rod Serling nightmares!
But that’s nothing compared to the unexpected consequences of using recycled black plastic for food packaging and utensils. A new study in Environment International found that toxins such as bromine and lead showed up in some of 600 black plastic consumer products they tested, including cocktail stirrers and children’s toys.
Because black plastic looks cool, folks like it. But it’s hard to recycle (something about the recycling technology doesn’t work well on dark colors), so to obtain it, manufacturers are relying on “the plastic housings of end-of-life waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE). Inefficiently sorted WEEE plastic has the potential to introduce restricted and hazardous substances into the recycled black plastic, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), Sb, a flame retardant synergist, and the heavy metals cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead.” They cause everything from reproductive and thyroid problems to neurotoxicity, mental retardation, kidney, bone and lung disease.
Scientists at the University of Plymouth in the U.K. have sounded the alarm and given you and you and you an opportunity to mount a campaign that will stop the use of black plastic altogether: Don’t buy black plastic bags; refuse to order takeout from places that serve their food in black plastic. Just say no, loudly and consistently. Then you’ll be looking at a healthier person in the mirror.
Walk this way
When Steven Tyler and Aerosmith first crooned the anthem “Walk This Way,” they were appealing to teenagers’ unrequited — and then requited! — desires. But for kids, teens, young adults and seniors, the true key to happiness and good health is to walk THIS way: quickly!
A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that if you up your pace to a sweaty, aerobic stride, you fight off cardiovascular disease more effectively. Over the two years of this study, walking at an average pace (just under 3 miles an hour; but not slow) for at least 150 minutes a week reduced participants’ risk of all-cause mortality by 11 percent. However, up that pace to 3.1 to 4.3 miles per hour, and you’ll slash your risk by 24 percent. If you’re older than 60, you will reduce your risk of death from any and all cardiovascular causes by 53 percent (average-pace walkers reduce their risk by 46 percent).
Want to walk faster? Start with interval walking, combining five minutes of average pace with two minutes of brisk/fast pace; repeat four times. As that becomes comfortable, decrease time spent at average pace and increase the brisk pace. Your goal? Sustained fast pace for 30 minutes. And as you walk …
• Maintain good posture; don’t move your arms too vigorously, or too little.
• Gaze at the ground about 20 feet ahead of you, not down.
• Tighten your core; breathe from your diaphragm.
• Push off your toes, land on your heels. Don’t use ankle or hand weights.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.