Category: Advice

How Different Vitamins Affect the Body

At the dawn of a new year, it’s not uncommon for people take inventory of their personal health and strive to make positive changes. Being more conscientious of the foods they put into their bodies is a start, but some individuals may wonder if supplementation can help them go one step further.

Nutrition Insight reports that 77 percent of American adults consume dietary supplements, and Nutraceuticals World indicates 98 percent of adult supplement users are taking vitamins and minerals. Individuals considering supplements should always discuss them with their physicians prior to including them in their health regimens. Even those who haven’t considered supplements can discuss them with their physicians, as Harvard Health, MedlinePlus and the U.S. National Library of Medicine note that various products can provide some significant benefits.

Vitamin A (retinoids/carotene)

Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A as needed. It plays an important role in vision, keeps tissues and skin healthy, and also is involved with bone growth.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Helps convert food into energy, and is essential for brain health and nerve function.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

This works with other B vitamins by promoting growth and the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Helps convert food into energy. It’s also essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system function.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Helps make lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin in the body.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

This vitamin may reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower homocysteine levels. It also helps convert tryptophan into niacin and serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter.

Vitamin B9 (folate)

Vital for new cell creation, it helps prevent brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy. It also may lower risk for colon cancer risk.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is important for metabolism and energy production. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.

Biotin

Biotin helps to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates. It also promotes healthy bones and hair.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

This is an important antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It also helps the body absorb iron and maintains healthy tissue by promoting wound healing. Vitamin C may help boost the immune system to help with illness prevention or recovery.

Vitamin D (calciferol)

Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is made in the body after individuals spend time in the sun. It is hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, which is vital for healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin E (tocopherol)

An antioxidant that helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K. Scientists also are studying a potential relationship between vitamin E and a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin K (menadione)

Vitamin K activates proteins and calcium essential to blood clotting. It also may help prevent hip fractures.

In addition to these vitamins, the body needs various minerals, including calcium, iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, and more. Speak with a doctor or nutritionist to learn more about supplementation.

Healthy Hobbies Families Can Enjoy Together

Resolutions to get fit might garner the bulk of people’s attention come New Year’s Day. But resolution season also marks a great time for busy families to commit to spending more time together.

Hobbies can bring people together, which makes them an ideal outlet for families who want to spend more time with one another. Families on the lookout for hobbies they can enjoy together can consider the following activities.

Hiking

Hiking is a family-friendly activity that’s free and ideal for individuals who also want to turn over a healthy leaf as the new year dawns. The cardiovascular benefits of hiking are well-documented and include lowering hikers’ risk for serious ailments, including heart disease. But the exposure to nature that hiking provides can benefit entire families. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found that hiking can help to reduce feelings of anxiety. Hiking trails run the gamut from flat trails that are ideal for families that include young children to more challenging trails that require a little climbing.

Cycling

Cycling is another healthy, family-friendly hobby. The experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center note that cycling builds muscle, helps people maintain a healthy weight, releases endorphins that can make it easier to relieve and manage stress, and improves balance. Both adults and children can reap those rewards. When cycling with young children, parents can look for flat cycling paths that won’t discourage kids or require them to do more than their bodies can handle. Older children and teenagers can handle more challenging paths, and parents of children in these age groups can even consider incorporating mountain biking into their cycling routines.

Cooking

There are plenty of family-friendly hobbies that can be enjoyed at home. Cooking is one such hobby, and it can have some surprising benefits for youngsters. According to Nemours KidsHealth®, cooking can be a great way for parents to reinforce basic math skills kids are learning at school. Older kids who don’t need such lessons can benefit from cooking with their parents by learning to prepare nutritious meals that can lay the foundation for healthy eating habits throughout adulthood.

Painting

Painting together as a family can benefit both adults and children in unique ways. Harvard Medical School notes that studies have found that artistic expression can help people with depression and anxiety. Young children, including preschoolers, also can benefit from painting, which helps them develop both their fine and gross motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination. Parents of adolescents should know that painting has also been found to be a productive outlet for teenagers to express themselves, and the process of seeing a painting project through from inception to completion can boost confidence and self-esteem.

As the new year dawns and resolutions are made, families can look to various hobbies they can engage in together to make the year ahead both happy and healthy.

How to Plan a Safe New Year’s Eve Night Out

New Year’s Eve is a popular night to paint the town red. That popularity could skyrocket even further as the world says goodbye to 2021 and ushers in 2022.

Many cities and millions of individuals toned down their New Year’s Eve shenanigans a year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard to celebrate safely. But the rollout of three effective vaccines has beckoned revelers out of their homes, and that could make for an especially rowdy New Year’s Eve.

Fun might be the top priority on New Year’s Eve, but safety must be in the mix as well. As individuals make plans for a night out this New Year’s Eve, it can help to keep these safety tips in mind.

Utilize a car service

Whether it’s a ridesharing service like Uber, a taxi cab or even a private limousine for large parties, leave the New Year’s Eve driving to the professionals. This ensures that no one will drive after having too much to drink. Even revelers who can control their alcohol consumption should avoid driving if they plan to drink. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person need not be legally impaired to experience impairment. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 are considered to be legally impaired. But the NHTSA reports that a BAC of .05 can reduce coordination, lead to a reduced ability to track moving objects, make it difficult to steer, and produce a slower-than-normal response to emergency driving situations.

Go out for dinner first

Experts at the University of Notre Dame’s McDonald Center for Student Well-Being note that having food, especially foods that are high in protein, in your stomach prior to consuming alcohol will help slow the processing of that alcohol. Someone who has not eaten will typically hit a peak BAC between 30 minutes and two hours of drinking. But someone who has eaten will typically peak between one and six hours of drinking depending on the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Make a plan

Overconsumption of alcohol is not the only potential danger lurking on New Year’s Eve. Large crowds can make it easier for friends to become separated, especially if they plan to visit more than one establishment before or after the clock strikes 12. When going out with a group on New Year’s Eve, create an itinerary, complete with meet-up spots, for the entire night. This ensures anyone who gets lost can easily find his or her way back to the group. Individuals who are wandering alone on New Year’s Eve may be vulnerable to criminals who are looking to prey on people whose inhibitions have been lowered by alcohol and/or the festive atmosphere of the night.

A rowdy New Year’s Eve may be on tap as the world ushers in 2022. That likelihood only underscores the importance of emphasizing safety when going out this December 31.

Last-minute Holiday Shopping Tips

Some people thrive by doing all of their tasks early. Others seem to do their best work when faced with a time crunch. The methods individuals use to manage their time at work and play may extend to the ways they approach holiday shopping as well.

There’s no right or wrong way to handle holiday shopping tasks, though Christmas Eve crowds at malls and throughout shopping districts suggest that there’s more late comers than there are early birds. The following tips can help those who typically wait until the last minute to check names off their lists.

Utilize free shipping services

Shoppers who shop for gifts online at the last minute run the risk of gifts not arriving on time. Many online retailers charge a premium for expedited shipping. Try to stick to shopping at online retailers that offer free shipping even in the eleventh hour.

Create a budget

When rushing around from store to store, it may be easy to spend more than you want to. Make a list of how much you want to spend on each person, and stick to that limit for each person. Move on to the next store if you didn’t find what you need in your price range.

Establish a time limit

Stores have strategies in place to keep shoppers in their establishments longer, hoping you’ll make impulse buys. These tricks include scenting the air with inviting aromas, putting necessities at the rear of the store, failing to display the time, and putting discounted items by the registers or door to attract shoppers. Set an alarm on your watch or phone for each store so you get what you need and get out on time.

Subdivide bulk gifts

Think about purchasing bulk gifts like gift baskets from wholesale clubs and then breaking them down into individual gifts. This way you can gift several people on one purchase and save time in the process.

Choose one-size-fits-all gifts

Think about a gift that can be purchased for multiple people so you can save time shopping for individualized gifts for everyone. For example, print a personalized photo calendar for several members of your family. You also can purchase multiple subscriptions or memberships to zoos or magazines for people on your list. Streamlining gifting in this way may save money as well as time.

Choose in-store pickup

Rather than scouring various aisles, you can shop a retailer’s website and then pick up items in the store. You’ll save on potential shipping fees but still benefit by avoiding crowds.

Some people wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. A few tricks of the procrastinator’s trade can make last-minute shopping go smoothly.

How to Reduce Risk of Home Fires This Holiday Season

Safety might not be the first thing people think of as the holiday season approaches. Faith, celebrations, decorations, and holiday dinners all come to mind when considering the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean safety should be left out of holiday planning.

Fire safety bears special consideration during the holiday season, when the prevalence of fire hazards like Christmas trees, holiday lighting displays and other decorative items increase the risk for home fires. Such tragedies can be averted with a few simple safety measures.

Tend to your tree

Live Christmas trees are awe-inspiring, but they also pose a significant fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association urges celebrants to purchase only healthy trees with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Such trees are less likely to dry out, especially when well-watered throughout the season. Dry trees can catch fire more easily than healthy trees if embers from nearby fireplaces or candles drift in their direction.

Recognize that location matters when decorating

The NFPA notes that Christmas trees should always be placed at least three feet away from any heat source, including fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, candles, and even overhead lights. If decorating with candles, never place them on the tree or on tables where other flammable decorations have already been placed. Chanukah menorahs should never be placed near curtains or other decorations.

Turn off all lights and extinguish all lit decorative items when leaving the home or going to bed

Lit candles and menorahs should never be left unattended. The NFPA recommends turning tree lights and exterior decorative lights off when leaving the home or going to bed.

Utilize a fire screen on fireplaces

Embers can catch on trees, decorations or anything else that’s flammable if they escape the fireplace. Fire screens prevent that from happening by ensuring embers from burning logs stay in the fireplace. Like candles and menorahs, fires burning in a fireplace should never be left unattended. Make sure all embers have been extinguished before leaving the home or going to bed.

Keep discarded trees away from your home

A 2014 analysis from the NFPA found that none of the ten days with the largest share of Christmas tree fires were before Christmas. Dried out trees still pose a fire risk even after they’ve been removed from a home. When discarding a tree at the end of the holiday season, place it at the curb or keep it a safe distance away from your home and garage until you can.

Fire safety measures are an important component of the holiday season that can prevent this joyous time of year from turning tragic.

Tips to Keep Your Tree Fresh This Holiday Season

Christmas trees are often the pièce de résistance of holiday decor. Few things draw the attention of holiday guests quite like an awe-inspiring Christmas tree, especially when that tree maintains its fresh, healthy sheen throughout December.

Many families purchase fresh trees over Thanksgiving weekend or during the first weekend of December. Though the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day may seem like a long time to keep a tree looking great, there are a handful of ways for holiday celebrants to help their trees maintain that undeniable appeal for the long haul.

Pick the right tree

Choosing the right tree is one of the simplest ways to keep a tree looking good throughout the holiday season. A freshly cut tree that buyers choose and cut down themselves or have cut down can reassure them that the tree is likely to stay strong throughout December. Trees purchased from a tree lot may have been cut down long before they made it to the lot, which can make it harder to keep them looking good until Christmas Day.

Cut an inch off the base of any tree that is not freshly cut

MSU Extension at Michigan State University notes that all Christmas trees are conifers, which means they have resin canals in their trunks. Once a tree is cut, the resin can block the pores and make it harder for the tree to take in water. Cutting an inch off the base of a tree that was not freshly cut just before putting it in the stand can help ensure it gets the water it needs to stay healthy and firm. MSU Extension notes that this approach should be taken with any tree that was not cut within six to eight hours of being put in a stand.

Replenish the water supply every day

Fresh tree veterans recognize that Christmas trees can be very thirsty, especially within the first week or so of being cut and brought home. Fill the stand with water each morning and, if necessary, refill it each night before going to bed. The more water a tree gets and drinks, the more likely it is that the tree will look healthy all the way to Christmas Day. MSU Extension notes that many decorative or antique tree stands do not hold much water, so anyone with such a stand may need to replenish the water supply more than once or twice per day.

Keep the tree away from a heat source

For safety’s sake, trees should be kept away from heating vents, fireplaces and space heaters. But keeping trees away from such heat sources, and ensuring they are not spending the daytime in direct sunlight, also decreases the chances they will dry out before Christmas Day.

A handful of simple strategies can help holiday celebrants keep their Christmas trees looking good throughout the month of December.

How to Show Your Appreciation for the Military in a Unique Time

United States military personnel serve both domestically and abroad. Active-duty personnel are following in the footsteps of retired veterans and protecting the freedoms of their fellow Americans while also playing a vital role in protecting millions of non-Americans across the globe.

United States military personnel make myriad sacrifices every day. Recognition of those sacrifices is just one of the many ways Americans can show their appreciation for the military, even during the era of social distancing.

Help a veteran

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2019 there were 17.4 million military veterans living in the United States. More than half of those veterans are 65 or older. As difficult as social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven for everyone, perhaps no group has sacrificed more than men and women over 65, millions of whom have been separated from their families. Aging men and women spent a year or more isolated at home to protect themselves from a virus that public health officials acknowledged was especially lethal to people over 65. Adults who want to show their appreciation for military veterans can reach out to local veterans’ organizations and offer to lend a hand. Such organizations may be delivering meals to vulnerable veterans, driving veterans to appointments to see their doctors or get vaccinated or organizing events for veterans who have already been vaccinated. Pitching in to help with such efforts is a great way to show veterans their efforts are still appreciated, even if it’s been decades since they last served.

Help a military family

Data from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense indicates that there were roughly 1.3 million active-duty military personnel in 2018. Many of those service members serve overseas for months at a time. Their families back home can use a helping hand even in the best of times, but they might be especially needy while confronting the pandemic. Though vaccination projections suggest hundreds of millions of Americans will be fully vaccinated by mid-summer, in the meantime neighbors can help local military families handle life at home. Invite a local military family over for a weekly meal, offer to take kids to a sports practice if it’s safe to do so or help out with chores like mowing the lawn or washing the car.

Donate to charities that serve the military

Adults who have not been vaccinated and are hesitant to be around others can still show their appreciation for military service members. Various organizations help both active-duty military and veterans, and donating to such charities can be a great way to help an excellent cause. If you’re unsure about which organization to support, visit Charity Navigator at charitynavigator.org. Charity Navigator evaluates hundreds of thousands of charitable organizations and can be an invaluable resource for prospective donors.

Veterans and active military personnel deserve support. There are various ways for people to express that support, even as the world continues to confront the pandemic.

Tips for Dorm Room and Campus Safety

Life on a college campus can be exciting, especially for freshmen enjoying their first taste of life away from home. As exciting as campus life can be, it also can be a bit nervewracking for students who have never before had to fend for themselves.

Administrators and security personnel work to make school environments as safe as possible, but incidents can happen on any campus. A recent report from Campus Safety and Security, there were 38,100 reported criminal offenses, including burglary and identity theft, on college campuses in the United States in 2017.

Students need not live in fear on campus, but embracing various safety measures can make life at school that much safer.

• Hide or lock up valuables. You never know what may catch the eye of a thief. Devices and cash are near the top of lists of most commonly stolen possessions, but a desperate student may steal notes or even expensive textbooks if he or she is struggling. Always close doors and lock dorm rooms when leaving. Keep valuables out of sight at school. Consider buying a dorm room safe and lock your locker at all times.

• Prepare for emergencies. Research the school’s policies on emergency preparedness. Some have text alert systems for emergency situations like adverse weather conditions, while others have clear guidelines on what students should do if they feel threatened in any way. Participate in fire drills and learn the nearest exits and protocols for emergency evacuations.

• Utilize the buddy system. Most campuses are safe to move around, but it can’t hurt to schedule certain classes, particularly if they take place after dark, with a friend so you can walk to and from classes together. Security experts say that elevators and stairwells are common places for assailants to target victims. If you ever feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.

• Install window alarms. Many retailers sell battery-operated window alarms that can be adhered to windows. The alarms will activate if the window is opened or the glass breaks. These alarms can provide extra security even if your dorm room isn’t on the ground floor.

• Be alert when ridesharing. The safety resource Safety.com says rideshare crimes are on the rise. Always identify your driver and vehicle before getting in and ask the driver to identify your name, as he or she will have it and your destination. Wait for the ride in a safe place, and try to avoid riding alone.

• Maintain personal health. Be sure to visit the doctor and stay current on necessary vaccinations, such as the one for meningococcal disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk for meningococcal disease in college students is slightly higher than the risk in other teens and young adults who are not attending college. Other communicative diseases can spread more easily on campus as well.

Campus and dorm safety is multifaceted. Informed students can reduce their risk of being involved in accidents or being targeted by criminals.

How Small Businesses Can Support and Help Each Other Grow

Small businesses play a vital role in economies across the globe. The Small Business Administration says small businesses, which are defined as firms that have fewer than 500 employees, comprise 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States. Small businesses may be defined differently elsewhere in the world (in the European Union, small businesses are defined as firms with 50 or fewer employees), but they are no less valuable to their economies.

Because of the key role small businesses play, including employing millions of people throughout the world, it is essential that small businesses thrive and prosper. There is much the public can do to help small businesses be successful, but there also are steps small business owners can take to assist one another.

• Pass along opportunities. As a business owner, if you come across a resource or an opportunity that may not be the ideal fit for your own company, consider sharing the information with another small business owner or recommending another firm that might make for a more suitable partner.

• Promote one another. Make sure there is a prominent and visible collection of business cards or promotional materials available in your facility. For example, if you are a local real estate agent, you can promote and recommend mortgage brokers, home inspectors, interior designers, and moving companies. If you own a store, enable other businesses to advertise their own stores and services.

• Organize networking and meeting opportunities. Networking and meeting with others in the industry is a great way to share ideas to see what may be working for others and what is not. Networking meetings also provide great opportunities to work on potential collaborations.

• Consider sharing resources. Certain businesses may benefit from sharing facilities, equipment or even supplies and other resources as cost-saving measures. This also may open up opportunities to collaborate.

• Use one another’s services. One of the simplest ways to help another small business is to be their customer. This is the ultimate show of support and can help validate your recommendation.

• Explore co-branding or co-marketing. Some businesses support each other by working together. Finding ways to work together can be effective, especially in similar industries. For example, pet store owners can work exclusively with a nearby dog trainer, and both can market their services together.

• Start a social media group. A small business with social media savvy can be the administrator/moderator of a local group that encourages other businesses in the area to frequently post and advertise their businesses.

Small businesses can work together to support one another so these vital cogs in the economy can flourish.

Must-Have Hunting Gear

Hunting is popular throughout North America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that 40 percent of the population of the United States ages 16 and older participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, the most recent year for data. Hunting also is popular in Canada, where it’s difficult to paint a picture of that popularity because hunting is regulated at the provincial level. However, Wild Alberta reports that, in 2020, there were 151,724 resident hunters in Alberta alone.

As is the case with many hobbies and pastimes, hunting requires some unique gear. Hunters need to bring some essential gear along on each trip to ensure their safety, while other gear and gadgets are all about convenience.

Proper clothing: Hunting clothing comes in two main varieties: camouflage and blaze orange. Camo patterns mimic real-life foliage or use a digital pattern of natural colors to trick the animals’ eyes, preventing them from detecting the hunters’ outlines. Blaze orange hunting gear, from coats to hats to coveralls, is designed to make hunters visible to other hunters. Some game, like whitetail deer, cannot detect the orange color spectrum, so hunters need not worry that they will be compromising their hunting efforts. Depending on the hunting area and its specific regulations, camo or orange clothing will be required. Hunting clothing also should be comfortable for the weather and the conditions. Waterproof or water-resistant clothing can protect hunters from the elements as well. In cold climates, layer up and wear insulated materials.

Weapon and ammo: Hunters should always look for ammunition details for the animals they will be hunting so they choose the correct weapon and ammunition type. Weapons should be maintained and cleaned for safety, and all hunters should consider taking a course in the proper handling of weapons.

Knife: Knives are a staple for every hunting trip and can be used for multiple purposes. Most hunters prefer a dedicated knife for field dressing the animal, which includes gutting, boning, skinning, and butchering. Some knives fold and others are fixed blades.

Legal documents: Hunters should always carry their hunting licenses and have game tags on hand to mark their kills appropriately. Depending on where one lives and hunts, licenses may need to be visible on the person.

Calls and scents: It may be possible to lure game closer with special calls or scents. In addition, hunters may want to utilize scent killers, which are sprays and washes that remove human scents from clothing and gear so game are unaware that hunters are present.

Binoculars: While one may be able to use the scope on a weapon to spot game, binoculars are more efficient.

First aid kit and other safety gear: Hunters should stock a first aid kit, emergency phone, water and snacks to stay hydrated and fed, and a foldable paper map in the event cell phone signals fade or prove unreliable.

Hunting requires patience, dedication and essential gear. With the right supplies, a hunting venture is that much more enjoyable.