High blood pressure: the hidden killer

High blood pressure is considered the “silent disease” and should not be taken lightly, nor should it be ignored.

In April 2012, a dear friend had a stroke. He was hospitalized, in ICU for a few weeks, had a tracheotomy and afterward his life was never the same. The stroke had caused brain damage leaving him unable to do many of the things he loved on his own.

On May 16, 2013, he died of Hypertensive and Arteriosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease.

He was 63 years old. According to WebMD, arteriosclerosis is “One of the most serious health problems related to untreated high blood pressure,” which is plaque build-up in the arteries.⠀

Are you aware of the changes in the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology regarding blood pressure?

If your blood pressure is above 130/80, you are now considered to be at risk for HIGH blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is now considered 120/80 or lower, elevated is 120-129/80-89; stage one hypertension is now 130-139/80-89 and stage two hypertension is anything over 140/80.⠀

These changes will affect millions of people across America who will have to find ways to lower their blood pressure. Exercise is exceedingly important.

Now more than ever, it’s important to use the right supplements to help target these areas without the use of blood pressure medications and blood thinners.

My company manufactures a full line of heart healthy vitamins and supplements to help battle this in-going problem. I’m grateful for my company’s Peak Performance Pack, which has helped keep my numbers at optimal levels and is helping to reduce any risk of me developing heart disease.

It’s too late for my friend, but it’s not too late for me, and definitely not too late for you.

Magnesium: the forgotten supplement

Vitamins and minerals are called “essential” because they are needed to sustain life and health, and almost all must be obtained from your diet. The most common source is fruit and vegetables, but only 14% of U.S. adults and 9.5% of U.S. teens are eating the recommended servings.

Because magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, a deficiency can wreak havoc on your health. The fact that researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins should give you a sense of how important this mineral is for your body’s optimal functioning. Your body needs magnesium for:

  • Activating muscles and nerves
  • Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats
  • Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
  • Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin

The human body is not capable of storing most vitamins and minerals, so optimal health relies on nourishing the body with ideal amounts throughout the day. Dietary sources of magnesium include avocados, Brazil nuts, brown rice, cashews, dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, oily fish, raw cacao, seaweed and seeds.

You may be suffering from magnesium insufficiency if you experience:

  • Constipation
  • Eye twitches, muscle spasms — especially “charley horses” or spasms in your calf muscle that
    occur when you stretch your legs, numbness or tingling in your extremities and seizures
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and/or coronary spasms
  • Low energy, fatigue and/or loss of appetite

Since the body’s ability to utilize some minerals diminishes with age, I supplement my diet with additional calcium, magnesium, and chromium with a Multivitamin & the Mineral supplement of that provides 100% or more of the daily recommended dose I need. How about you?

Sunshine in a bottle: Vitamin D3

The Harvard School of Public Health suggests an estimated 1 billion people worldwide have low vitamin D levels, with deficiencies noted across all age and ethnic groups.

You are at risk of missing out on vitamin D from natural sun exposure if you spend most of your time indoors, use topical sunscreens or wear long clothing for religious reasons.

This study from Health Impact News supports an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu. Individuals with common lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, may be particularly susceptible to respiratory infections from vitamin D deficiency. Another study, done in Japan, indicated schoolchildren taking 1,200 units of vitamin D per day during winter reduced their risk of contracting the flu by about 40 percent.

Here is a list of vitamin D deficiency symptoms that most people ignore from Healthyway.com.

If for whatever reason you cannot get outdoors, or not frequently enough to receive sufficient UV exposure,consider taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement along with vitamin K2 and magnesium.

I take an excellent Vitamin D3 supplement that provides 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 to battle the effects of Vitamin D deficiency to support my immune system, bone health and mood. It’s the same vitamin D my body produces when exposed to the Sun without exposure to, harmful UV rays.
This combined with my Peak Performance = Optimal health!

Even if you are in good health, I encourage you to have your level tested twice a year by your primary health care provider and think about taking a vitamin D supplement like I do.


Beauty Comes from the Inside

Shiny hair, robust nails, and bright skin can be signs of a great beauty regime…the things you do for the outside of your body. But as the article below from “The Healthy Food Guide” explains, your skin, hair, and nails are even more dependent on what’s going on INSIDE your body.

Your diet can be a huge determinant of the appearance of your skin, hair, and nails. The discussion from dietitian, Cindy Williams, speaks to the things that you can do to ensure that you are as beautiful as can be.

Be sure your diet includes plenty of protein (preferably lean) because our skin, hair, and nails are mostly protein. Essential fats are also part of internal health and beauty. Avoid the fats that are part of sugary snacks you may crave. The fats we refer to are essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 which occur in many seafoods. Eating fish, especially oily fish two or three times a week can help.

Foods high in iron not only will help maintain the cosmetic results you are seeking, it will bolster your energy levels, as well. Red meats are the best source of iron. If you avoid meats, you can get iron from legumes and whole grains, remember to assure proper absorption by supplementing with vitamin C.

Whole grains will add vitamin B (the skin vitamin) and the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E, will guard against dry skin. Nuts should also be part of your “beauty diet”. They provide additional essential fats. Nuts also offer a healthy alternative to higher calorie snacks and control your appetite.

Citrus for vitamin C, orange, yellow, red and green vegetables provide beta-carotene and vitamin A. Finally, hydrate with water and black, green and white tea to get the benefits of flavonoids which will help protect your skin from UV damage. 

I’m excited that the company I am associated with keeps its pulse on the consumer trends. They just developed an incredible supplement designed to target skin, hair, and nails. I plan on adding it to my daily supplements. Balance your dietary changes with healthy exercise and supplements that really work!


Low Sodium Foods to promote heart health

Most people eat much more sodium (salt) than they need. This can lead to health problems like high blood pressure. To lower the amount of sodium in your diet, follow these tips when you go food shopping:

  • Choose fresh instead of processed foods when you can.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the amount of sodium. Look for foods with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less. A sodium content of 20% DV or more is high.
  • Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
To preserve your heart and keep pressure in check, get plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Any fresh fruits, like apples, oranges, or bananas
  • Any fresh vegetables, like spinach, carrots, or broccoli
  • Frozen vegetables without added sauce
  • Canned vegetables that are low in sodium or have no salt added
  • Low sodium vegetable juice
  • Frozen or dried fruit (unsweetened)
  • Canned fruit (packed in water or 100% juice, not syrup)
Breads, Cereals, and Grains

Compare labels to find products with less sodium. When you cook rice or pasta, don’t add salt.

  • Rice or pasta
  • Unsweetened oatmeal
  • Unsalted popcorn

Tip: If your food comes with a seasoning packet, use only part of the packet. This will lower the amount of sodium in the food.

Meats, Nuts, and Beans

Choose fresh meats when possible. Some fresh meat has added sodium, so always check the label.

  • Fish or shellfish
  • Chicken or turkey breast without skin
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Dried peas and beans
  • Canned beans labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium”
  • Eggs
Dairy Products

Choose fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt. Be sure to check the label on cheese, which can be high in sodium. Milk and yogurt are also good sources of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Low- or reduced-sodium cheese (like natural Swiss cheese)
  • Soymilk with added calcium
Dressings, Oils, and Condiments

When you cook, use ingredients that are low in sodium or have no sodium at all.

  • Unsalted margarine and spreads (soft, tub, or liquid) with no trans fats
  • Vegetable oils (canola, olive, peanut, or sesame)
  • Sodium-free, light mayonnaise and salad dressing
  • Low-sodium or “no salt added” ketchup
  • Vinegar

Try these seasonings instead of salt to flavor your food.

  • Herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning blends
  • Chopped vegetables, like garlic, onions, and peppers
  • Lemons and limes
  • Ginger

Whole Grains & High Fiber

In this society that is possessed with health and healthy weight, and that is a good thing, many have chosen to increase their consumption of whole grains and high in fiber foods.

Whole grains are high in nutrients and when you eat them, you just feel good. That’s not surprising since they are not only high in vitamins, they contain a good amount of essential minerals, like zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese, as well.

But, as the article I have included below, points out there are great differences between whole grains and refined grains, even when enriched. There are many choices when selecting your whole grains and, in most cases, there are a variety of preparations, which will allow you to add interest to your menu.

In addition to delicious variations you will be able to concoct that will make your fare delicious, you will be adding great benefits to increase your health and prevent or protect against many maladies that plague our contemporary, fast-paced lives.

Whole grains (and high fiber) will reduce your risks from heart disease, stroke, and obesity. If you are going to increase your intake of whole grains you may want to consider some supplementation to assure that your diet is balanced and truly healthy.



Keep Your Heart Healthy

Take steps today to lower your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

To help prevent heart disease, you can:

  • Eat healthy.
  • Get active.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol (“koh-LEHS-tuh-rahl”) and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Manage stress.

Everyone is at risk for heart disease. But you are at higher risk for heart disease if you:

  • Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Don’t get enough physical activity
  • Don’t eat a healthy diet

Your age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. Your risk is higher if:

  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

But the good news is there’s a lot you can do to prevent heart disease. Throughout National Heart month we will be sharing healthy heart tips and stories.


Do you Get Enough Calcium?

Since you were a kid, your mom has been telling you, “Drink your milk. You need the calcium.”  It’s true. You need calcium for strong bones and teeth.

Everyone needs calcium, but it’s especially important for women and girls. Many people, including most women, don’t get enough calcium.

  • Calcium is essential for optimal bone health
  • Calcium helps with proper muscle contraction
  • Calcium is critical to nerve function

Calcium can help prevent Osteoporosis, which makes your bones fragile and more likely to break. Some people don’t know they have it until they break a bone. One in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Calcium helps to keep your bones strong and less likely to break.

Protect your bones – get plenty of calcium every day.
  • If you are age 19 to 50, get 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day.
  • If you are age 51 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
  • If you are ages 19 to 70, get 1,000 mg of calcium every day.
  • If you are age 71 or older, get 1,200 mg of calcium every day.
  • Kids ages 9 to 18 need 1,300 mg of calcium every day.
How can you get enough calcium?

There are 2 easy ways to get your calcium.

1. Eat foods with calcium every day.

But, did you know milk is not the only source of calcium? Calcium is also found in vegetables like kale, most nuts and in the following foods:

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Soymilk with added calcium
  • Broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables
  • Tofu with added calcium
  • Orange juice with added calcium

For more ideas, check out this list of foods that are high in calcium.

2. Take a calcium pill every day.

You can take a multivitamin or a pill that has calcium. We like Vitality Calcium Complete. It contains four sources of calcium for timed release replenishment plus magnesium and Vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones and teeth. Plus, it’s powered by Oligo® for maximum mineral absorption.

Recent studies have shown that the benefits of calcium and Vitamin D extend far beyond strong teeth and bones. Vitality Calcium Complete goes above and beyond “daily minimum values” to deliver the optimal amounts of minerals from the best possible sources. Calcium is essential to optimal bone health as well as the proper function of the heart and nerves. But without Vitamin D3, calcium is very difficult for the body to absorb. Absorption isn’t the only difficulty. Once it’s in the body, calcium can remain in the bloodstream unless there is enough vitamin K2 to direct it to your bones and teeth for proper storage. To maximize the benefits of Vitality Calcium Complete, we pair it with Vitamins K2-D3.

Talk to your doctor before you start taking extra calcium.

Check food labels.

nutrition label highlighting percent daily value of calciumThe Daily Value (DV) on a food label tells you the amount of a nutrient (like calcium) that’s in a serving of the food. Foods that have at least 20% DV of calcium are excellent choices. Foods with at least 10% DV of calcium are good, too.

For example:

  • A cup of fat-free milk has about 300 mg of calcium, or 30% DV.
  • Some kinds of breakfast cereal have 600 mg of calcium per serving, or 60% DV.
If you take a calcium pill, make it easy to remember.
  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth before bed.
  • Leave the pill bottle out where you will see it, like on the kitchen counter or by the bathroom sink.
Get enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb (take in) calcium. Your body makes vitamin D when you are out in the sun. You can also get vitamin D from:

  • Salmon and tuna
  • Milk with added vitamin D
  • Some breakfast cereals, yogurt, and juices with added vitamin D
  • Mushrooms
  • Vitamin D pills

Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D pills.

Eat healthy.

Along with eating foods high in calcium or taking a calcium pill, it’s important to eat other healthy foods– like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and foods with protein.

Do you get enough Folic Acid?

 Women of childbearing age (typically ages 11 to 49) need 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is found in vitamins and foods like breakfast cereal or bread that have folic acid added.

Everyone needs folic acid, but it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor can help you figure out how much folic acid is right for you. You may need more than 400 mcg folic acid if you have a health condition or are taking certain medicines.

Getting enough folic acid is important even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

How can I get enough folic acid?
Getting enough folic acid every day is easy. You can eat foods like breakfast cereal or bread that have folic acid added. Or you can take a vitamin with folic acid.

Look for breakfast cereal with folic acid.
Check the Nutrition Facts label on the side of the box to see how much folic acid the cereal has. Choose cereal that has 100% DV (Daily Value) of folic acid.

Take a vitamin with folic acid.
You can take a multivitamin or a small pill that has only folic acid. Vitamins and folic acid pills can be found at most pharmacies and grocery stores. We like Vitality Multivitamin and Mineral—it’s formulated with 24 essential nutrients and 200% DV. It comes in formulations for women, men, prenatal and 50+.

 It’s easy to get the folic acid you need. Just eat a bowl of cereal with 100% DV of folic acid – or take a vitamin – every day.

Check the label.
nutrition label with folic acid highlightedWhen you are at the grocery store, look for foods with folic acid in them. Choose cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid.

Folic acid is also in foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other foods made with grains. Check the Nutrition Facts label.

If you buy vitamins, be sure to check the label for folic acid. This label shows a vitamin with 100% DV of folic acid.


If you take a vitamin, make it easy to remember.

  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth in the morning or when you eat breakfast.
  • Leave the vitamin bottle somewhere you will notice it every day, like on the kitchen counter.

Eat healthy.
Eating healthy means getting plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and foods with protein. A healthy diet also includes foods with folate (a different type of folic acid).

In addition to eating cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid or taking a vitamin, it’s important for women to eat foods with folate, such as:

  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Asparagus
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Beans and peas
Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Folate and Folic Acid [7]
Food mcg DFE
per serving
Percent DV*
Beef liver, braised, 3 ounces 215 54
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 131 33
Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled, ½ cup 105 26
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV† 100 25
Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, ½ cup† 90 23
Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears 89 22
Spaghetti, cooked, enriched, ½ cup† 83 21
Brussels sprouts, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Lettuce, romaine, shredded, 1 cup 64 16
Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup 59 15
Spinach, raw, 1 cup 58 15
Broccoli, chopped, frozen, cooked, ½ cup 52 13
Mustard greens, chopped, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 52 13
Green peas, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 47 12
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 46 12
Bread, white, 1 slice† 43 11
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce 41 10
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons 40 10
Tomato juice, canned, ¾ cup 36 9
Crab, Dungeness, 3 ounces 36 9
Orange juice, ¾ cup 35 9
Turnip greens, frozen, boiled, ½ cup 32 8
Orange, fresh, 1 small 29 7
Papaya, raw, cubed, ½ cup 27 7
Banana, 1 medium 24 6
Yeast, baker’s, ¼ teaspoon 23 6
Egg, whole, hard-boiled, 1 large 22 6
Vegetarian baked beans, canned, ½ cup 15 4
Cantaloupe, raw, 1 wedge 14 4
Fish, halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 12 3
Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup 12 3
Ground beef, 85% lean, cooked, 3 ounces 7 2
Chicken breast, roasted, ½ breast 3 1
* DV = Daily Value. The FDA developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for folate is 400 mcg for adults and children aged 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list folate content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.
† Fortified with folic acid as part of the folate fortification program.

Check out this list of foods with folate.

Central Body Fat

Fat, no matter where it is in your body, is not something that any of us desire. We diet. We exercise. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere. There are essentially two types of fat: Subcutaneous fat, the fat that can collect anywhere on the body. It is the “soft”, “pinchable” fat and visceral fat that is hard and usually appears as central body fat (right at the belly-line).

While there are indeed dangers to subcutaneous fat, it does not present the same level or volume of risk that visceral fat does. This article from Dr. Axe’ Food Is Medicine, focuses on the dangers of visceral fat, why it is so risky and the things you can do to get rid of it.

In general, what makes visceral fat so dangerous is that it collects around the organs. Certain types of body fat are really inflammatory diseases of their own. Visceral fat is excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation. It is deep fat that is stored deep under the skin, deeper than subcutaneous fat.

As this article clarifies, visceral fat is linked to many diseases, like cancer and coronary disease. It is by itself toxic and provokes the inflammatory pathways. It develops when communication between the brain and other major organs (the brain/body connection) begin to break down at its’ core are your blood sugar levels.

Increased inflammation, higher diabetes risk, difficulty in losing weight in general, higher risks of heart disease and stroke, dementia, depression and mood swings are just some of the consequences of excess visceral fat. The causes are overwhelmingly increased glucose in our bloodstreams. Controlling glucose is, therefore, the key to avoiding those consequences.

I take a supplement each day that controls the spikes in insulin and therefore the glucose that produces these and other problems. My company has developed and manufactures many high quality and affordable products that have helped me make the kind of adjustments in my lifestyle to keep it healthy and high energy.

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Barbara Hay
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