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DHEA

The steroid Hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has been hyped as a supplement that will deliver the virtual fountain of youth, with extravagant claims that it can slow aging, melt away Fat, enhance memory, prevent osteoporosis, and increase libido. Naturally produced and released by the adrenal glands, DHEA is ultimately converted into estrogen (the female sex hormone) and androgen (the male sex hormone).

Hopping for Strong Bones

Although it’s the Christmas season, the title is not Shopping for Strong Bones. It is actual hopping, of the jumping-up-and-down variety. With or without a mini-trampoline (great fun, by the way, and readily available online).

Exercise researchers are spending more time these days determining which forms of exercise actually produce specific health benefits. Several weeks ago I wrote about the findings that exercise didn’t help with weight loss unless you cut calories, too.

Vitamin K

In the 1930s, researchers in Denmark observed that chicks on a fat-free diet experienced bleeding problems. By l939, they were successful in isolating an alfalfa-based compound that effectively stopped the bleeding. Because of its ability to help blood clot–called coagulation–this substance was named vitamin K, for Koagulation. Over time, scientists discovered that “friendly” bacteria in the intestinal tract produce sufficient quantities of this nutrient to meet most of our body’s needs. Another 20% of this fat-soluble vitamin is acquired from foods (it’s particularly abundant in leafy green vegetables). Vitamin K helps to prevent excessive bleeding and promote strong bones. A number of other health benefits are currently being researched.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is called the sunlight vitamin because the body produces it when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays strike the skin. It is the only vitamin the body manufactures naturally and is technically considered a hormone. Essential for building strong bones and teeth, vitamin D also helps to strengthen the immune system and may prevent some types of cancer.

Vitamin C

In the eighteenth century, seasoned sailors found that by sucking on lemons they could avoid scurvy, a debilitating disease that often developed during long voyages when fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce. When the lemon’s key nutrient was formally identified in 1928, it was named ascorbic acid for its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, action. Today ascorbic acid is widely known as vitamin C.

Trace Minerals

As the name implies, only trace amounts of certain minerals are needed for the body to function properly. Nearly all function as coenzymes–substances that work in tandem with enzymes (complex proteins) to speed up chemical reactions in the body. Trace minerals are part of DNA, our genetic material. There are a number of trace minerals, including boron, fluoride, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, and vanadium. Several particularly important trace minerals–zinc, selenium, magnesium–are discussed separately

Magnesium

Essential for hundreds of chemical reactions that occur in the body every second, the mineral magnesium has received surprisingly little attention over the years. Recent findings, however, suggest that it also has important health-promoting benefits, from an ability to prevent heart disease to a role in treating such chronic conditions as fibromyalgia and diabetes.

Ipriflavone

Ipriflavone (7-isopropoxyisoflavone) is a synthetic derivative of naturally occuring isoflavones, flavonoid compounds found in soybeans and other plants that act like the female hormone estrogen in the body.

For some time, postmenopausal women in Europe and Japan have taken ipriflavone supplements to maintain the density and strength of their bones and to guard against fractures and other complications associated with the bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis.

Boron

Boron is a biologically dynamic ultra trace element important in human metabolism. A recommended dietary allowance for boron has not been established, although surveys indicate that average daily intakes of boron range between 0.5 and 3.1 mg. Based on animal studies, humans probably have a daily requirement of 1 mg a day.