Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Worst and the Best Foods for Your Waistline

Newsflash! Potato chips still aren’t good for you. That’s probably pretty obvious. And you already know a healthy diet and activity are important for maintaining your weight. But one large, long-term study got very specific about the worst foods for your waistline.

Researchers spent 20 years studying over 120,00 healthy people. Evaluations every four years helped the study pinpoint foods and behaviors that have the biggest impact on weight gain over time.

A More Complex Remedy


You probably already have some guesses. But before we start naming names, there were some interesting overall conclusions. They may reinforce what you know and add information to shape your healthy lifestyle.

Let’s start with the one you might guess. Highly refined or processed foods, liquid carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption were found to contribute to weight gain. But fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains showed the opposite effect—limiting weight gain.

That’s kind of a no-brainer, but the next one is less obvious. Mostly because it’s common to hear “eating less and exercise is all you need.” It’s an easy way to describe the change to a healthy lifestyle. But the study adds some nuance.

Their analysis suggests “dietary quality (the types of foods and beverages consumed) influences dietary quantity (total calories).” So it shifts the conversation from “less is more” to “the right amounts of the right foods.” Overall, it means choosing better, healthier options help keep your overall energy balance in check.

Weight Gain Can Sneak Up on You


Weight management is inextricably tied to the laws of thermodynamics. It all comes back to the conservation of energy—total energy in a system remains constant. Basically, you can’t make energy disappear. If you eat calories and don’t use them, they’re stored.

That reality makes weight gain easy over time. While a cheat meal won’t pack on five pounds of fat, constant calorie overruns impact your weight and health. And it doesn’t take much.

The study found that consistently having an extra 50–100 kcal per day is enough to add weight. Those small increases stack up over time. That’s how the average study participant gained 3.35 pounds during each four-year interval.

Findings like this underline the importance of daily dietary diligence. And shows the wisdom of taking the long-term approach of lifestyle change over quick-fix, fad diets.

Top 6 Worst Foods for Your Waistline


Now the part you’ve been waiting for—time to see how close your guesses were. Here are the worst offenders:
  • Potato chips: The absolute worst—of the foods in the study, at least. Increased servings of these snacks contributed a four-year average gain of 1.69 pounds.
  • Potatoes: You can’t have potato chips without potatoes. It’s probably no surprise that increased servings of the starchy root tacked on a four-year average of 1.28 pounds.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: Exactly one pound was added for study participants who increased sugary-drink intake.
  • Unprocessed red meats: The study found an 0.95-pound average gain for those who increased red-meat servings over four years.
  • Processed meats: You hear about how bad these are for your health. And the study found processed meats accounted for 0.93 extra pounds on average.
  • Alcohol: An additional drink each day meant participants added 0.41 pounds, on average, over four years. Again, that’s almost half a pound for each drink you add per day.
How did you do? Hopefully the clues above about starches, refined grains, and processed foods helped you out. Or maybe you were tipped off by other studies that have found similar results about these types of food.

The authors suggest the satiating inability of starches and refined grains may be to blame. Since they don’t make you feel as full, you eat more to fill yourself up. That could account for the constant extra calories that can really add up.

Foods to Stock Up On


The study didn’t just have bad news for carb cravers. It also identified some of the food types that showed positive effects on weight over each four-year period. Here’s what they found:
  • Yogurt: Kind of surprising that this was the study’s best of the best. The authors admit it could be confounding factors or maybe the bacterial benefits could be to blame. Other research over two decades has linked calcium-rich foods and weight. Whatever the cause, the results showed a four-year average of -0.82 pounds for participants that increased servings of yogurt.
  • Nuts: Nothing crazy about this one. Nuts are constantly mentioned as a part of a healthy diet. The study showed an average of -0.57 pounds for these protein-packed snacks.
  • Fruits: Those who ate more fruit ended up -0.49 pounds, on average over four years. The study didn’t find the same results for 100-percent fruit juice.
  • Whole grains: Unlike their processed cousins, whole grains showed a four-year average of -0.37 pounds.
  • Vegetables: This large variety of this category might explain why vegetables only accounted for an average of -0.22 pounds. But that’s still another reason to eat more vegetables.
The results probably reinforce your ideas about what a healthy diet looks like. The authors list some reasons why this group of foods showed benefits for keeping weight gain in check. And it goes beyond simple calories.

The study suggests satiety may to blame again. With higher fiber content and slower digestion speeds, these foods make you feel full. And if you’re eating more whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, you may not feel the need to fill up on other more processed, higher calorie foods.

Time to Start Healthy Habits


Diet is only a piece of a healthy lifestyle. And this study took a look at behaviors and habits that impacted weight gain over time, as well.

Health isn’t as simple as diet and exercise. But physical activity did have a huge, positive impact. Across all groups, physical activity accounted for a four-year average of -1.76 pounds. So, those who got moving fared well in the battle against weight gain.

A sedentary activity—watching television—had the predictably opposite effect. Study participants added 0.31 pounds per hour, per day. Some of this was tied to the snacking that happens during television session. Either way, it gives binge watching a new meaning.

For most of us, sleep is a pretty physically idle experience. But your sleep was tied to positive outcomes. Those whose nightly sleep averaged less than six hours or more than eight hours showed more weight gain.

The study’s advice might sound familiar—eat a fresh, healthy diet, sleep, and get off the couch. But it adds some complexity to the common “just eat less and lose weight” idea.

And whether your guesses about the foods were right, it’s a nice reminder. Checking your progress towards a healthy lifestyle can have an impact. The authors say repeated assessment over time is important. So use the information to make changes and build your health lifestyle.

Mozaffarian, Dariush, M.D., Dr.P.H; Hao, Tao, M.P.H.; Rimm, Eric B., Sc.D.; Willett, Walter C., M.D. Dr.P.H.; Hu, Frank B., M.D., Ph.D. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23; 364(25): 2392–2404.
© 2017 Ask The Scientists. All rights reserved. 

From Deanna:  Take action on everything in this article!  My other suggestion is to jumpstart your weight management program with Usana's healthy meal replacement program.  The RESET 5 Day Jumpstart Program followed by the 28 Day program of health shakes, optimal supplements and ProBiotics.  The program gives you ideas for healthy snacks and low glycemic meals. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Notice: Only 1% of Adults Are Getting Enough Omega 3's

Omega-3s: Despite knowing the benefits, as few as 1% of adults get enough      

From Deanna:  I fortify my Omega 3 blood level concentration by taking Usana's BiOmega fish oil supplement daily, which contains a concentrated dose of two important Omega-3 fatty acids - EPA and DHA to support healthy cellular function through out the body. 
Omega 3 fatty acids are shown to be effective in supporting cognitive health and brain function.


In spite of adequate knowledge about food sources and a belief that omega-3 fatty acids are important for health, very few adults have omega-3 blood levels in the range necessary to provide cardiovascular support.

A new cross-sectional study conducted in U.S. and German adults compared typical diet and knowledge about omeg
a-3 fatty acids with the omega-3 index. The omega-3 index (O3-I) is a red blood cell-based biomarker associated with cardiovascular disease risk. Optimum status for minimizing risk is >8%, with 4-8% considered intermediate risk, and <4% being at high risk.

More than half of adults could correctly identify food sources of omega-3s and believed that omega-3s are beneficial for heart health.
However, the average O3-I in the U.S. was 4.3% and in Germany 5.5%, and nearly 99% of adults were in the intermediate or high risk categories.

Of interest was the fact that about a third of the adults in the intermediate category believed their diet was adequate in omega-3s. But, O3-I concentrations didn’t significantly differ regardless of dietary perceptions.

This study shows that despite being knowledgeable about omega-3s and their importance for health, only about 1% of adults had omega-3 blood level concentrations in the range for cardiovascular disease protection.

Take CoEnzyme Q10 For Extra Energy

From Deanna:  I use Usana's Coquinone 100 daily, which contains a combination of CoenzymeQ10 and DL-Alpha-Lipoic Acid.  Within the mitochondria, cells store energy in a molecule called ATP, which is synthesized and used by every cell in the body. CoQ10 is an essential part of the electron transport chain the mitochondria use to make ATP.


Combination of Lipoic Acid and CoQ10 Maintain Healthy Energy Metabolism, Stress Response, and Antioxidant Defenses

Skeletal muscle function largely depend on intact energy metabolism, stress response, and antioxidant defense mechanisms. 

CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has an essential function in the electron transport chain in the inner mitochondrial membrane, and is involved with cellular respiration and mitochondrial biogenesis. It is also known as an important antioxidant. 

Alpha-lipoic acid is synthesized in the mitochondria and plays a role in mitochondrial function. Alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10 do not likely work in isolation, but synergistic activity of CoQ10 and ALA in muscle fibers are not well documented.

Researchers analyzed the effect of combined supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) plus CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on a master switch of energy metabolism (PPARγ-coactivator α (PGC1α)), expression of glutathione-related phase II enzymes and glutathione (GSH) levels in cell culture.

The combination of nutrients significantly increased the levels of PGC1α, a master switch of energy metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis. The combination also increased gene expression related to stress response, glutathione synthesis and recycling. The increase in glutathione was accompanied by an increase in Nrf2 protein levels.

Activation of PGC1α results in greater expression of slow-twitch muscle fibers which depend on increased mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism as a main energy source. 

Physical exercise increases PGC1α activity, and aging is related to a decrease in PGC1α expression in skeletal muscle. A decrease in PGC1α impairs mitochondrial function which increases oxidative stress and depletes glutathione.

This research suggests that the combined supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10 may improve energy homeostasis, stress response, and antioxidant defense mechanisms.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The 8 Pillars of Holistic Health and Wellness


Health is often understood as the absence of disease or sickness. While this definition is valid, it lacks the comprehensiveness of a broader approach. So start assessing your holistic health and wellness on a wider spectrum. This means wellness depends on more factors than simply avoiding the flu each year.

Holistic health and wellness is sustained by eight pillars: physical, nutritional, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, financial, and environmental.

The pillars will give you a sense of how to work toward your optimal wellness, but it’s by no means prescriptive. The path to wellness is not one-size-fits-all. The journey is unique and different for each individual.

Your biology, personality, and environment will determine what wellness means to you. That’s why your approach should be personalized. The common thread for everyone is that wellness requires a holistic approach.

So, let’s learn more about each pillar and how you can strengthen each one.


Most people immediately think of exercise when they hear “physical wellness.” Regular physical activity is an important part of the equation that can’t be ignored. But it’s not the only aspect deserving of attention.

Your body needs more than movement alone. Physical wellness also includes appropriate sleep, hygiene, and a healthy diet (more on this in the next section). If you’re evaluating your physical health, ask these questions: Are you getting enough quality sleep? And if not, what barriers keep you from achieving regular and restful sleep?

Researchers published an update to The National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations for adult sleep requirements. Their study reaffirmed the idea that adults should get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

For college students, parents, and workaholics, this can be a tough number to meet. But simple strategies can ensure the sleep you get comes easily and goes on uninterrupted.
  1. Avoid screens 30 minutes before bedtime.
  2. Incorporate a relaxing wind-down routine each night. This can include dimming lights in your home, turning on calming music, and even light stretching.
  3. Block out unnecessary light and noise. This can be done with blackout curtains and a white-noise machine.


Though nutrition is intimately tied to physical health, it’s so important and must be represented by its own pillar. This is especially true because nutrition must be personalized based on age, sex, activity level, and body chemistry.

A balanced diet requires that you consume nutritional foods that feed your body and mind. The USDA recommends that during meals, adults fill half of their plates with fruits and vegetables. The other half should be dedicated to mostly grains, along with a modest portion of protein and a side of dairy.

Diversifying your plate with appropriate amounts of each food group will help you acquire the necessary macronutrients for day-to-day energy, muscle growth and recovery, and other bodily processes.

Unfortunately, in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nationally, 76 percent of adults didn’t meet the recommendations for daily fruit intake. Even more—87 percent—of adults didn’t meet daily vegetable requirements. When meeting the suggested five cups a day becomes difficult to do, supplementation can help restore the necessary nutrients in your body to appropriate levels.

Strengthening this pillar requires careful attention to your diet and appropriate supplementation. Life’s stressors and time commitments can make these tasks difficult. But nutritional improvements will help strengthen the other seven pillars of holistic health and wellness.

  1. Consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Diversifying this portion of your plate will ensure you get the micronutrients your body needs.
  2. Pay attention to portion sizes to help with weight maintenance and adherence to MyPlate guidelines.
  3. Replace refined grains with their whole counterparts to ensure you get enough fiber.


Emotional wellness encompasses the ability to navigate your feelings. This means identifying, assessing, and effectively sharing those feelings with others.

Why is this important? The ups and downs of life can take you on an emotional rollercoaster. But the better you understand, process, and manage those feelings, the smoother the ride will be.
  1. Create a list of those who support you and how best to contact them. When the going gets tough, it can be hard asking for help. Having this quick reference at hand may make it that much easier to reach out.
  2. Seek out a therapist or counselor. Often a third party’s insight can help you navigate rough waters.
  3. Journaling is an easy way to identify and process your feelings, especially if you’re not comfortable sharing them out loud. It’s always a great way to measure your progress or growth. And reminders of your past obstacles and successes will only be a few pages away.


Social wellness is about connecting with others to form positive relationships. And if those falter, it’s about dealing with any conflicts appropriately.

Social relationships create support systems that can carry you through life’s struggles. Harvard’s Study of Adult Development ran for 80 years, collecting data on hundreds of participants. A recent study on a subset of this population—surviving octogenarians—investigated the connections between marital satisfaction, social lives, and happiness. Researchers found that participants who spent more time with others reported greater levels of happiness.

The impact of surrounding yourself with those that care for you can’t be understated. When the demands of life increase and stress mounts, the ability to turn to someone for support and understanding is powerful. Building and maintaining these networks take time and energy, but the work is worth the effort. And it will continue to serve you throughout your life.
  1. Meet new people through social networks like, community events, or volunteer service.
  2. Schedule a recurring time weekly to reach out to out-of-state friends and family. Connect with someone new each week to keep those relationships strong.
  3. Revisit the idea of pen pals and snail mail. Connecting with loved ones through handwritten communication can really strengthen bonds.


The spiritual pillar will look different for everyone because it’s such a personal piece of overall wellness. It will play a stronger role in one person’s life more than another, depending on how each person defines it.

Spirituality is commonly viewed as a sense of purpose, direction, or meaning, without which, values can slip to the wayside, upending life’s balance. Many cultivate their spirituality through meditation, prayer, or other activities that foster a connection to nature or a higher power.

Maintaining your spiritual wellness will look different for everyone. It’s not about a specific religion or belief system. Spiritual health is about personalizing your journey. Some people might practice mindfulness as a way of checking in with their intentions, guiding their actions, and maintaining a values-based approach to life. How you choose to strengthen your spiritual health is up to you.
  1. Dedicate a small chunk of time each day to yourself. Make this time a priority, free of distractions, interruptions, and major activities. This time can be used to relax, reflect, meditate, or pray.
  2. Keep a journal. Writing regularly can help clear your mind and keep you accountable to the goals you’ve set.
  3. Choose your top three values in life and write them down. Reflect on them often. Keeping these values in the front of your mind will help guide everyday decisions—big and small. This practice will make it easier to say “yes” to things that matter, and “no” to things that don’t align with your values.


Intellectual wellness is strengthened by continually engaging the mind.  Doing so can help you build new skills and knowledge that inspire and challenge you, and help you grow. You might choose different ways to keep your mind sharp—depending on your mood. For some, that’s brain games and puzzles, or scholastic endeavors. Even simply engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations and debates can strengthen this pillar.

Some experience intellectual boons through self-discovery and personal advancement.  Academic efforts, involvement in community activities, or other avenues of personal growth are just a few you can try.
  1. Look for continuing education classes through a local community college or university.
  2. Join a book club or visit your local library and sign up for a card.
  3. Take up journaling or another self-reflective activity.


To be financially well is to live within your means and plan for the future appropriately. It can be tough to accomplish, but small steps can pay off big-time in the long-run.

Financial wellness might sound the least exciting. But pursuing betterment in this area will surely strengthen the other pillars of holistic health and wellness. After all, financial troubles are one of the top stressors that Americans report. Taking small steps to control spending and save money can really lighten the burden on your everyday life.
  1. Make paying off debt a priority.
  2. Create a budget with the help of an online system like Mint or a personal financial planner.
  3. Set aside a fixed amount of money every month for non-essentials, like entertaining, dining out, and recreation.


Environmental wellness is concerned with your immediate personal surroundings and the larger community where you live and work. Specifically, environmental wellness is determined by the reciprocal relationship between an individual and their environment.

How do you support your environment? And in return, how does your environment support your health, well-being, and safety?
The effects of strengthening your environmental wellness can be felt personally, and by your larger local and global communities. The more you care for and respect your natural and built environments, the better they can support and sustain your daily life.
  1. Individual: Keep your workspace clear. A clutter-free workspace inspires creativity and productivity.
  2. Neighborhood: Join local clean-up efforts. This could include: producing less waste, recycling, and picking up litter in your neighborhood.
  3. Larger community: Cut back on car trips. Whether it’s combining errands or replacing motorized transport when possible, each small effort can add up to a large impact.

Build Up Your Pillars of Holistic Health and Wellness

Wellness means different things to each individual. And being well gives each person the ability to reach their personal goals. After all, when your body, mind, and soul are cared for holistically, you’re able to pursue and meet your goals with less resistance.

To determine your personalized approach to wellness, reflect on the eight pillars of holistic health and wellness. Figure out which ones most require your attention. And remember, strengthening each one will provide a great foundation for living your best, healthiest life.

About the Author

Jenna Templeton is a health educator and freelance science writer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Virginia Tech, Jenna spent five years as a research scientist in the nutritional industry. This work fueled her interest in personal wellness, leading her to pursue a graduate degree in Health Promotion & Education from the University of Utah. Outside of work, Jenna enjoys live music, gardening, all things food, and playing in the Wasatch mountains.

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Waldinger RJ, Schulz MS. “What’s love got to do with it? Social functioning, perceived health, and daily happiness in married octogenarians”. Psychology and Aging (2010). 25(2): 422-431.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

10 Reasons Why Being Outside is Important


In today’s world of powerful technology, many people feel the urge to simplify and get back to nature. To experience the health benefits of outdoor recreation, it’s necessary to unplug and recharge in the wilderness. Those who are able to soak up everything nature has to offer find out why being outside is important—it comes down to health.

Long before smartphones and self-driving cars, Japan deemed “forest bathing” an essential part of its national health program. With forest bathing, the soaking isn’t literal. Bathing takes on a new meaning—immersing yourself in the natural environment.

The concept stems from Japanese Shinrin-Yoku Forest Therapy, and goes back to 1982. Over three decades later, the goal of forest bathing is still to reintroduce people to the healing power of nature. Much study and research has confirmed what the Japanese have long believed—nature benefits wellbeing in many ways.

The popularity of forest bathing has risen in the United States, particularly in metropolitan areas. Individuals, families, and friends have taken to the woods together for therapeutic hikes and nature walks. But forest bathing isn’t the only thing you can use the outdoors to improve your wellbeing.

There are so many ways you can take advantage of the benefits of nature. We’ll leave the how to you—hint: it starts with putting down your phone and experiencing the outdoors. We’ll supply the why. Here are 10 reasons why being outside is important to improving the health of you and your family.

1. Relieve Stress

Getting outside can help you escape the stress of work or school. Stress can tear up a healthy mind and immune system. High levels of stress at work and school are associated with depression, obesity, and high blood pressure. Stress is unhealthy when not managed properly. Luckily, there is a natural stress reliever right in your backyard.

Spending time in nature relieves stress in teens and adults. Bloodstream levels of the stress hormone cortisol are lowered after time spent outside. For a group of male students in China, those who spent their break from school hiking and camping returned with lower cortisol levels than those who spent time in the city. And these lower cortisol levels persisted for several days after their retreat to the wilderness.

The results suggest regular trips outdoors are a reliable way to manage stress. Experiences in nature are low cost and accessible to everyone. For the next long weekend, choose to spend time in nature over a trip to the city. You will reduce your stress load and return feeling rejuvenated.

Pro tip: Nature can help create more job satisfaction. Office workers with window views are more satisfied and less stressed at work. If you don’t have a window, take time every day to look outside and feel the stress-busting effects of nature views.

2. Strengthen Immunity

Staying indoors can have a negative impact on your immune health. The immune system works best when challenged regularly. That doesn’t happen when we spend time indoors.

Healthy doses of nature will help prepare your body fight. Here’s how it works.

A study published in 2010 evaluated the effect of forest bathing on immune function. For a group of Japanese adults, a three-day trip to the forest increased the number of white blood cells in their blood. These levels of white blood cells stayed elevated for more than 30 days after their adventure in the woods. White blood cells are crucial to your immune system. They help your body battle germs by recognizing pathogens and harmful intruders with the help of antibodies.
The boost in immunity from a trip into nature can help keep you feeling healthy. For active adults and growing children, increased immunity is a valuable asset in a healthy lifestyle. Strengthening your body’s natural germ-fighting power with a regular trip into the wild.

3. Sharpen Your Focus

In the general population, studies have shown that attention is almost uniformly enhanced by exposure to natural environments. A study published in 2009 found that the same holds true for children with attention deficits. Spending twenty minutes walking in a nearby park was sufficient enough to elevate attention performance in children with ADHD. This so-called “dose of nature” could prove to be a more natural solution to attention deficits in children.

The same effects can be seen in adult attention. Views of nature from an office window and breaks from work in the outdoors have both been shown to increase productivity and concentrati

Creative problem solving and cognitive function can be boosted by nearly 50 percent after spending several days exploring the outdoors. Wilderness retreats may help you tackle a big assignment or personal goal. If you’re still wondering why being outside is important, it can enhance your creativity.

4. Helps Develop a Healthier Diet

Looking for a hobby to get you outside? Gardening is a great way to increase your time outdoors. Not only does gardening keep you active, it provides you with access to healthy fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

Outdoor recreation has long been associated with a healthy lifestyle. But being active in your garden also lets you can reap the healthy dietary rewards of your labor and get exercise at the same time.
Read more reasons why you can grow health in the garden.

5. Calm the Mind

Anxiety and depression can be crippling. Coping with mental illness is difficult and methods vary from person to person. Most physicians and therapists recommend regular exercise in addition to therapy and medication. Getting that recommended exercise outdoors can help ease emotional and mental pain while improving mood.

There are several physical responses our bodies have to being in nature. Sitting outside can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease cortisol levels. When we are outside our body slows down, helping us feel peaceful and calm.

Our minds work in a similar way. Spending time outside improves mood and reduces feelings of anxiety. We can focus better in nature, and our improved concentration can help us address feelings of stress and anxiety. Self-esteem can also receive a boost after time spent wandering outdoors.
Peace and mental clarity is a big reason why being outside is important. Find it by adding time in nature to your mental healthcare regimen.

6. Aids in Weight Management

Nature offers beautiful views and fresh air, so choose an exercise regimen that will get you outside. Research at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one third of American adults are obese.

Exercise and proper diet are the two most effective ways to stop the spread of obesity. You can burn 149 calories each half hour of walking in the park, and 372 calories every half hour by riding your bike.

To encourage kids to get exercise outside, find a fun activity to do as a family. Increase your time walking, biking, running, and playing outside and lower your risk of obesity. Take your exercise outside the gym and enjoy all the health benefits nature has to offer.

7. Better Your Short-Term Memory

Nature could be the answer to remembering names, not forgetting your keys, and taking better notes in class. There is growing evidence that both short-term and working memory can be improved by time spent outside.

At the University of Michigan, a simple experiment backed this theory. Two groups of students were given a memory test and then assigned to take a walk through a garden or down a city street. After their walks, the participants performed the memory test again. Those who walked through the garden improved their scores by 20 percent. No consistent improvement was observed in the participants who walked in the city.

Natural scenery and garden views calm our minds and help us focus. Urban settings are full of traffic, street noise, lights, and lots of people. These things pull our attention in several directions. This makes it hard to sharpen our focus and recall things we just learned. Pondering new information in a peaceful, natural setting may help enhance your short-term memory.

8. Improve Vision

Your eyes provide another reason why being outside is important. A study following Australian school children linked time spent outside and better vision. Of the 2,000 children followed during the study, those who spent more time playing outside significantly reduced their risk of becoming nearsighted. This suggests that outdoor activity has a protective effect on the eyes of children.

These results are striking because the same was not observed in children who spent time playing indoor sports. Being outside in fresh air and sunlight protects growing eyes more than equal physical activity indoors.

Dim indoor lighting makes it difficult for young eyes to focus on an image. This causes the eye to change shape in order to see clearly. The ample light of the outdoors keeps kid’s eyes from working harder than they need to. So when encouraging play time and exercise, take the fun outside and protect your child’s eye health.

9. Fight Nature Deficit Disorder

We’re spending more time inside than ever before. Computers, tablets, cell phones, and video games hog our attention and keep us from getting into nature. That’s especially bad for our children.

Playing outside encourages kid’s creativity, builds their attention spans, and increases their desire to explore. The book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv outlines this growing pattern. Louv coined the term nature-deficit disorder to explain what happens when kids spend too much time indoors.

Recent findings show children ages 8-18 spend more than six hours each day with electronic media. A study published in 2002 found that 8-year-old children could better identify Pokémon characters than plants or animals in their neighborhoods. As children spend less time outside, unhealthy habits begin to form.

Children who spend little time outside are at risk for developing chronic health problems. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and depression are common companions of a sedentary indoor lifestyle. Help your family learn healthy habits and encourage playing outside over electronic devices.

10. Increase Longevity

A 2015 study followed 108,630 American women to determine the relationship between nature and longevity. Women who lived near parks, lawns, trees, and forests had significantly lower mortality than women living far from nature. The results held regardless of urban or rural settings.

The longer life expectancy associated with living near vegetation could be caused by several factors. Air quality is known to increase longevity and is better in areas of more dense vegetation. Being close to parks and nature trails can encourage more frequent exercise, which helps maintain heart health. Time spent outside also increases social engagement and can improve mental health.

Whatever the exact cause, getting outdoors will help you live happier and longer—and that’s the ultimate reason why being outside is important. So, when establishing a place to live, pick a location where you and your family have regular access to nature.

Get Healthy, Get Outdoors

Find time today to venture outside and take advantage of the health benefits of the outdoors. Replace time spent inside on electronic devices with a bike ride or a walk to a local park. Take up forest bathing or gardening as a new hobby. And remember outdoor recreation can be enjoyed alone or as a family.

There’s no wrong way to get outside and so much to be gained by exploring the natural world. You know why being outside is important. It’s time to reconnect with nature. Your body and mind will thank you for it later.

About the Author

Sydney Sprouse is a freelance science writer based out of Forest Grove, Oregon. She holds a bachelor of science in human biology from Utah State University, where she worked as an undergraduate researcher and writing fellow. Sydney is a lifelong student of science and makes it her goal to translate current scientific research as effectively as possible. She writes with particular interest in human biology, health, and nutrition.

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Shin Won Sop. The influence of a forest view through a window on job satisfaction and job stress. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 2007;22(3):248-253.
Taylor AF, Kuo FE. Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. J Atten Disord. 2009;12(5):402-9.
Tennessen CM, Cimprich B. Views to nature: Effects on attention. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 1995;15(1):77-85.
“This Is Your Brain on Nature.” National Geographic, 7 June 2017.

Friday, October 27, 2017

You’re Never Too Old (or Too Young) for Vitamin D


physical performance
Vitamin D’s role in bone health is widely known. But the essential vitamin also plays a role in muscle and skeletal function. This connection to physical performance was expanded in a study of people over 65.  (If you are younger than
this, then plan ahead!)

The physical performance was analyzed using a short physical performance battery (SPPB) and handgrip strength. The SPPB tests included walking speed, standing from a seated position, and maintaining balance in progressively more challenging positions.

A majority of participants were low in vitamin D. Over 28 percent of the women and 13 percent of the men were vitamin D deficient. Nearly three-fourths of the women and over half of the men had insufficient vitamin D levels.

Those with low vitamin D levels had significantly lower physical performance and grip strength than participants with adequate levels. The finding remained valid after taking into consideration other factors. They included the season of the year and physical activity levels.

With the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in older populations, more studies about vitamin D status and physical function are needed. Current vitamin D recommendations are based on its role in bone health. But emerging research indicates vitamin D may also play important roles in preserving muscle strength, physical function, and other aspects of health.

The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 62:440-446 (2007)

From Deanna: In addition to the Usana CellSentials, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which include 800 IU's of Vitamin D, taken as directed.... I also take extra tablets of the company's Vitamin D    
BiOmega and MagneCal D also include vitamin D, so important as part of the perfect nutrient combination of those products. 
Body Rox for teens and the Usanimals for children both include Vitamin D

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A meta-analysis published online by the Mayo Clinical Proceedings found that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA had favorable benefits for heart health.


Researchers included 18 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 16 prospective cohort studies into their analysis. The results from the RCTs showed a 6% reduction (not
statistically significant) in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients using EPA and DHA. The prospective studies showed a statistically significant 18% reduction in coronary heart disease among participants. Subgroup analysis from the RCTs showed that individuals at higher risk for CHD, such as those with elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL cholesterol, benefitted most from the omega-3 fatty acids, especially at dosages above 1 gram per day.

The conclusions of the meta-analysis support the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association Task Force’s recommended addition of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids to dietary patterns to support heart health and prevent coronary heart disease.

Similar studies:…/…/
Note from Deanna:  I recommend Usana's BiOmega fish oil supplement with EPA and DHA to support healthy cellular function throughout the body.  There is also a version for young people called BiOmega Jr. to support healthy growth and development.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What You Need to Know About Bone Health

Thanks to:

Recent trends in dietary consumption have shown a shift in the past several years towards increased calcium consumption, however overall calcium consumption still falls short of recommended dietary amounts. Additionally, magnesium consumption and vitamin D levels continue to remain low. USANA MagneCal D was created by USANA to address this need.

USANA® MagneCal D™ is an excellent complement to Core Minerals in the USANA CellSentials. Specifically designed to help support a healthy skeletal system as part of a balanced and healthful diet, it helps adults ensure they are getting optimal amounts of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D every day.

Calcium Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is needed for strength and structure of teeth and bones, blood clotting, nerve function, muscle contraction and relaxation, enzyme regulation, and membrane permeability.

Most of the calcium in the human body is found in teeth and bones. This amount is continually in flux, with various amounts being deposited and resorbed. Later in life, more calcium is reabsorbed than is replaced, leading to bone loss and potentially to osteoporosis if calcium intake is inadequate (or has been inadequate in the past).

Good sources of calcium are broccoli, legumes, fortified orange juice, dairy products, and fish. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D, which plays an important role in calcium absorption.
The recommended dietary allowance of calcium for adults ages 19 to 50 is 1000 mg/day. Pregnant or lactating women and adults over 50 should get 1200 mg/day. Adverse effects of calcium in normal adults have been observed only with chronic intakes above 2500 mg/day.

MagneCal D contains a blend of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. The absorption and utilization of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are bioequivalent when taken with food and adequate vitamin D. Calcium carbonate contains more calcium (by weight) than calcium citrate. By adding calcium carbonate to USANA formulas, we can make the tablets smaller while still maintaining a good amount of elemental calcium. Thus, to reach a more advanced amount of elemental calcium without significantly increasing tablet size, a mixture of citrate and carbonate is used.
magnesium calcium


Magnesium is an essential mineral for many fundamental processes in the body. It normally exists in the body as a charged particle (or ion) and is primarily stored in bones. Inadequate blood magnesium levels are known to negatively affect blood calcium levels, reduce parathyroid hormone (PTH) action, and increase resistance to some of the effects of vitamin D.  

Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that control various natural reactions in the body, including; supporting mitochondrial integrity and the production of cellular energy; protein synthesis, DNA, RNA, and supporting proper glutathione production. Magnesium also plays a critical role in supporting normal nerve transmission, neuromuscular conduction, muscular contraction, and healthy glucose metabolism. 

Many of these benefits contribute to magnesium’s support for cardiovascular health. Research has also shown that magnesium can help support arterial elasticity, which is important for maintaining the artery’s ability to expand and contract to maintain normal blood flow in healthy people.

Food dietary sources of magnesium include spinach, legumes, nuts, and grains. Excessive intake can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, but no adverse effect has been seen for long-term consumption of amounts less than or equal to 700 mg/d.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D supports the development and maintenance of bones and teeth by helping in the absorption and use of calcium. Adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D promotes a healthy, balanced immune system through its key role in regulation and differentiation of immune system cells. It has been linked to healthy endothelial function, which is important for cardiovascular health. And, it alsohelps maintain normal functioning of the nervous system.

Every time we expose our bare skin to direct sunlight, we use ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to produce vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). There is a very small amount of vitamin D in a few foods, which makes it almost impossible to get the levels you need from food alone. However, some foods that include vitamin D are fatty fish, egg yolks, orange juice, and some cereals.

Boron and Silicon

MagneCal D also contains boron and silicon, which are known to play a role in supporting a healthy skeletal system. In bone, silicon is localized in the active growth areas where it is thought to promote growth and hasten mineralization. Boron may play a role in the maintenance of bone by reducing calcium excretion and increasing deposition of calcium in the bone.

Vitamin K

The ratio and forms of calcium and magnesium used in MagneCal D adversely affects the stability of vitamin K in this formulation. USANA is very particular about quality and providing products that contain what they claim on the label. Because of the stability issues and USANA’s commitment to quality, USANA has decided not to include vitamin K in MagneCal D.

It is our intent to include vitamin K in the Magnecal D, but only when we are able to confidently ensure that it is stable and will provide the benefit that is expected from a quality product. We are continuing research on this product and testing new formulations that do include vitamin K. However, it can take as long as two years to fully assess stability, and vitamin K will not be included until it is fully stable.

For now, the vitamin K dosages in the CellSentials have increased significantly and there is vitamin K2 in the U.S. Vitamin D product as well.
  • *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Additional Resources

Calcium Supplements and Heart Health
Calcium Supplements May Help Reduce the Risk of Bone Fractures, but Only if you Take Them Consistently!
Magnesium and Bone Health
Vitamin D Supplementation Helps Slow Age-Related Bone Loss in Older Women


Friday, October 13, 2017

USANA China Subsidiary BabyCare Celebrates its Achievement in Helping Children's Congenital Heart Disease

 USANA Health Sciences currently operates in 20 markets throughout the world. USANA recently expanded even more by opening a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Beijing, China, through its subsidiary in mainland China, BabyCare, Ltd. This new facility will only manufacture products for Mainland China.

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On September 20th, USANA's China subsidiary, BabyCare, hosted the Angel Heart Project conference in Beijing.  

The conference aimed to celebrate the achievement of the project, and to draw awareness to children's congenital heart disease. 

Representatives from China Poverty Alleviation Office, National Health and Family Planning Commission and China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) showed their support by attending the conference and awarding BabyCare the charity souvenir.

"Our government and party have emphasized the importance of poverty relief. Through partnership with corporations like BabyCare, we have worked together on helping children with congenital heart disease in undeveloped areas and effectively improved poor families' healthcare situations," said Jun Wang, Deputy Secretary General from CFPA.

Congenital heart disease can be fatal for children, especially from underprivileged families, due to the inability to pay for surgeries needed to cure them. In the last two years, the Angel Heart Project has raised over 6 million RMB and helped 215 children recover from congenital heart disease. Because of the project, 215 families have been able to lead a normal, happy life.

"With the corporate culture of giving back in mind, BabyCare will continue to help more people in need in the future." Said, Frank Li, vice president of sales at BabyCare.

To honor the efforts and accomplishment that BabyCare has made for the Angel Heart Project, Su Meng from China Poverty Alleviation Office and Xiaowei Hou from the National Health and Family Planning Commission awarded BabyCare the charity souvenir.

Earlier this year, BabyCare was awarded the "Outstanding Contribution Award"— along with Disney, Unilever, JP Morgan and other prominent companies — for its contributions to China's poverty alleviation and public welfare undertakings.

Founded in 1992, USANA Health Sciences (NYSE: USNA) is a U.S.-based nutritional company that manufactures high-quality supplements, personal care and healthy food products in its state-of-the-art facility in Salt Lake City. 

Learn more about USANA by visiting or the official USANA blog

Media Contact: Ashley Collins
VP Marketing & Public Relations
(801) 954-7629

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cell Signaling: It's Amazing How Your Cells Talk To Each Other!

Cell Signaling: How Your Cells Talk To Each Other

Every minute of the day your body completes complex tasks. Whether it’s maintaining body temperature or keeping your hand away from a hot stove, your trillions of cells do all the talking needed to help you function. This effective, efficient form of communication is a process called cell signaling.

The network needed to send and receive these messages is complex. It consists of an army of messenger molecules to spread the signal across and between cells (signaling molecules). They’re seeking targets that receive the initial signal (receptors). And finally, the interaction of messengers and receptors creates a final cellular consequence (the cell responding to the initial signal).
Cell signaling molecules come in multiple forms. Sometimes the signaling happens within the cell itself. In other cases, cells send messages to neighbors or other cells a great distance away. These signals can be:
  • Chemical compounds (example: nutrients and toxins)
  • Electrical impulses (example: neurotransmitters inducing electrical signals along nerves)
  • Mechanical stimuli (example: stretching of the stomach to signal you are full)

Chemical Signaling

There are four general methods of chemical signaling. They’re broken down by the distance each signal travels between sending and receiving cells.
  1. Autocrine Signaling: When cells send signals to themselves, this how they do it. In autocrine signaling, the cell releases a chemical signal that binds to a receptor on its own surface. This method may seem strange, but autocrine signaling is important. It helps cells maintain integrity and divide correctly. This is crucial during development and helps cells reinforce their identity.
  2. Paracrine Signaling: This takes place across short distances between two cells. This method of communication allows cells to coordinate movement and activity with their neighbors. An example of this is called synaptic signaling. That’s when signaling occurs across the tiny gap between two neurons. This gap is also known as a synapse. You can also call these neurotransmitters. They send messages from neuron to neuron to help our brain and central nervous system work together.
  3. Endocrine Signaling: To send messages across long distances, cells use this method. Endocrine signals travel through the bloodstream to reach target tissues and cells. Signals that originate in one part of the body and travel to their target through the bloodstream are called hormones. Growth hormone (GH) is a great example. The pituitary gland releases this hormone, which stimulates growth in cells, cartilage, and bones. In this example of endocrine signaling, GH leaves the pituitary gland and travels through the blood stream to the cells throughout the body. The hormone then instructs your bone and cartilage cells to divide, helping you grow taller and stronger.
  4. Direct-Contact Signaling: Gap junctions—tiny channels that connect neighboring cells—are found in plants and animals. These gap junctions are full of water and allow small signaling molecules to travel across the channel. This is cell signaling through direct contact. It allows for entire groups of cells to respond to a signal that only one cell received.

Electrical and Mechanical Signaling

Chemical signaling isn’t your body’s only form of communication. Many cells also respond to electrical or mechanical signals. Two well-known examples of this would be regulating your heart beat (electrical) or signaling muscle growth following exercise (mechanical).

Your heart is composed of four chambers. Two supply blood to the lungs while the other two send blood to the rest of the body. Dividing the work means your heart does not beat all at once. It’s not like flexing a bicep. The heart beats more like a wave moving across the ocean. This very defined beating pattern is initiated and synchronized by electrical signals.

Mechanical signals (think physically changing the shape) in muscle cells can lead to their growth and strength gains. When muscle cells are stretched—otherwise deformed or damaged—calcium ions flood into the muscle cell. This flux of calcium ions is the intermediary, changing the mechanical signal into a chemical one. The presence of calcium ions signals a number of cell signaling pathways inside of the muscle, including hormones responsible for muscle growth.

Two of your senses—touch and hearing—are additional examples of mechanical signaling. Your skin’s sensory cells respond to the pressure of touch. And sensory cells in the inner ear and brain react to the movement of sound waves.

Whether it’s chemical, electrical, or mechanical, these processes share a similar goal. The human body has developed a number of mechanisms to sense, respond, and adapt to your environment—inside and out.

How Cells Recognize and Respond to Signals

Large proteins called receptors help cells recognize signals sent to them. Receptors can be located both inside and outside of the cell or anchored into a cellular membrane. Signaling happens when specific molecules bind to their particular receptors. You see, this is a highly specific process—just like how a lock and key work.

There are two classes of receptors: intracellular and cell-surface receptors. Location is important, so you can probably guess how they got their names.

Intracellular receptors are located inside the cell. Signal molecules must travel through pores in the cell’s membrane to reach this type of receptor and elicit a response.

Cell-surface receptors are easier to get to. These receptor proteins are embedded in the cell’s membrane. They bind with signaling molecules on the outside of the cell, but ultimately relay the message internally.

Whether the signal is received inside or outside of the cell doesn’t matter. Once a signal molecule is properly bound to the correct receptor protein, it initiates cellular signaling inside the cell.

These intracellular signaling pathways amplify the message, producing multiple intracellular signals for every bound receptor. The amplified signal then propagates throughout the cell and elicits a response. This doesn’t just happen one at a time. Cells receive and respond to multiple signals at once.

Cell Signaling’s Role in Maintaining Health

The purpose of cell signaling is to respond and adapt to your internal and external environment. Since they help your body adjust, properly functioning cell-signaling pathways are essential to maintaining and promoting health. So when cell-signaling pathways work well, your body runs smoothly.

And the environment—internally and externally—can impact your cells. That’s because your cells are really just “bags” of chemical reactions. They require specific conditions to make the reactions work.

That includes proper temperature, pH, and energy status. Your cells need to sense these conditions. If any of these three factors changes outside of a very small range of tolerance, all of that biochemistry stops. That’s when serious problems can occur.

For example, our normal body temperature is 37°C (98.6°F). A variance of only +/- 3°C (+/- 5°F) can be life threatening. Hypothermia can set in at 35°C (95°F). If our temperature raises to just 40 °C (104 °F) because of dehydration, exposure to extreme heat, or fever, it is an equally life-threatening situation.

Your body’s pH is similarly tightly regulated. Our normal pH is 7.4. If it falls below 6.8 or raises above 7.8, irreversible cell damage ensues.

You need a tremendous amount of energy to run your body. That’s why regulating energy is important. Just like the temperature and pH examples above, your body tightly regulates its energy balance.

Through cell signaling pathways (some directly related to glutathione), our cells have the ability to turn energy production up or down as needed. If energy balance falls out of its very tightly regulated normal range, cellular function is critically impaired.

Detoxification is another example of signaling helping with cellular maintenance. You’re constantly exposed to toxins, either inadvertently through our diet and environment or directly through the consumption of alcohol or medications. Through an extensive signaling network, your cells can sense when they are exposed to toxins.

Recognizing the presence of a toxin kicks off a process that deals with it. That starts with upregulating the appropriate cell signaling pathways. This will ultimately ramp up your detoxification mechanisms. If your body didn’t have the inherent mechanism literally built into its DNA, every day would be a challenge.

The body’s ability to constantly sense, adapt, and correct changes in pH, temperature, energy status, and toxin exposure is essential for your overall health. And we have cell signaling to thank for that.

Key Nutrients’ Impact on Cell Signaling

Certain things can negatively affect proper cell signaling. These include an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, environmental factors, exposure to toxins, and the normal aging process. However, recent research has shown that living a healthy lifestyle along with a number of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients can support cell signaling pathways.

Your cells utilize several vitamins and minerals to effectively communicate. Vitamin D, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and number of others play important roles in cell signaling. Your body needs to maintain a healthy balance of these key nutrients in order for keep communicating properly.

Some vitamins and minerals are even directly involved in cell signaling. They can initiate cell signaling or act as the signaling intermediates. They are also often required for receptors to work properly or to help an enzyme function properly after cell signaling has “turned it on.”
Recent research has also shown that certain nutrients from plants (phytonutrients) also have direct, beneficial effects on cell signaling. Only a few examples include:
Eating a diet rich in protein and healthy fats can help your body’s cell-signaling pathways. That’s because omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats are needed to maintain the shape of your cells.

The membrane surrounding each of your cells is made primarily of fats called phospholipids. These allow the membrane to remain fluid and not ridged. They also facilitate the free flow of molecules across the cellular membrane, which ultimately helps with cellular communication.

The last thing you can do to maintain healthy cellular communication through nutrition is eating foods that protect against damage. Free radicals and other dangerous forms of oxygen erode healthy cells and damage DNA, signaling molecules, and proteins. And once damaged, they aren’t going to work as well. So taking in antioxidants can defend your cells from such damage.

Keep the Conversation Going

That’s a lot of talk about cell signaling. It’s a complex process where your cells can talk to themselves, their neighbors, or other cells far away. But it breaks down into these parts:
  • Your cells receive signals through various signaling methods (chemical compounds, mechanical stimuli, and electrical impulses).
  • Signaling molecules join the appropriate receptor either on a cell or inside it.
  • This triggers a chain of events that incorporates the signal and amplifies it in the cell.
  • Finally, the result is a cellular consequence of some sort—which obviously depends on the signal sent.
And don’t lose the importance of this process in the details of how it works. All that talking amongst your cells allows them to adapt to their internal and external environment. This ability to sense, respond, and adapt makes cell signaling essential to maintaining your health.

Hopefully you understand a little bit about how cell signaling happens and why it’s important. Now help your cells keep the conversation going. That means protecting and supporting your cells with a healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, proteins, and healthy fats.
Berridge MJ. Unlocking the secrets of cell signaling. Annu Rev Physiol. 2005;67:1-21.
“Cell Signaling.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 2014, Accessed 19 Sept. 2017.
Cooper, Geoffrey M. “Signaling Molecules and Their Receptors.” The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970,
Ermak G, Davies KJ. Calcium and oxidative stress: from cell signaling to cell death. Mol Immunol. 2002;38(10):713-21.
Eveleth, Rose. “There are 37.2 Trillion Cells in Your Body.”, Smithsonian Institution, 24 Oct. 2013, Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.
“Introduction to cell signaling (Article).” Khan Academy, Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.
Martin GS. Cell signaling and cancer. Cancer Cell. 2003;4(3):167-74.
Mattson MP. Hormesis and disease resistance: activation of cellular stress response pathways. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2008;27(2):155-62.
Von essen MR, Kongsbak M, Schjerling P, Olgaard K, Odum N, Geisler C. Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nat Immunol. 2010;11(4):344-9.

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From Deanna:  Usana addresses the cell signaling processes with its new breakthrough InCelligence technology found in many of its products, such as the base product of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, CellSentials