7 Sneaky Steps to a Healthier Halloween

Halloween is here and tonight the sidewalks will be filled with little ghouls and goblins marching from one house to the next in search of treats. All Hallows’ Eve can be scary, especially when it comes to the amount of calories, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup¬†children consume this time of year. Here are seven sneaky steps parents can take to make Halloween a bit healthier for their little monsters.

Trick or treat

Q&A: Should I Take a Prenatal Vitamin Even If I’m Not Pregnant?

Question: I’ve heard that prenatal vitamins can help improve hair quality, balance hormones, prevent acne and make fingernails stronger. Should I consider taking them even though I’m not pregnant?

Prenatal vitaminsImage credit: Prenatal vitamins via Shutterstock

Metabolic Discoveries Hidden In Our Genomes

This article was written by Allison Bland.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) hints at a future where a daily multivitamin could be replaced with a personalized vitamin that would work with the unique genetic makeup of an individual’s genome [1]. Studies have repeatedly cast doubt on the effects of vitamins for the prevention of cancer and other diseases, and doctors and scientists are mixed in their recommendations for taking these supplements. A doctor may prescribe vitamins to cure metabolic diseases, but the enzymes that do this metabolic work in our bodies vary from person to person because of genetic mutations that cause them to function slightly differently.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is a complex of eight water soluble vitamins active in cell metabolism. They include Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2, also called vitamin G), Niacin (vitamin B3, also called vitamin P), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Pyridoxine and Pyridoxamine (vitamin B6), Biotin (vitamin B7, also called vitamin H), Folic acid (vitamin B9, also called vitamin M) and Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).

Note: This review is not meant to be a comprehensive or definitive glossary, but rather to identify each vitamin’s function and highlight recent research findings of each of the B vitamins.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential biomolecules that act as both catalysts (meaning a substance that increases or decreases the rate of a chemical reaction) and substrates (meaning a molecule that is acted upon by an enzyme) in chemical reactions and are required in very small amounts for essential metabolic reactions in the body. With the exception of biotin, vitamin D and vitamin K, the body cannot manufacture vitamins — they must be obtained through food or nutritional supplementation. There are 13 known vitamins categorized as either fat-soluble (meaning absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of lipids) and include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K or water-soluble (meaning dissolves easily in water) and include eight B vitamins and vitamin C. The body stores fat-soluble vitamins for long periods of time while water-soluble vitamins (excluding vitamin B12) remain in the body for a short period of time and must be replenished more frequently.