vitamin A

  1. The secret to avoiding skin cancer

    I’m sure you’ve heard it said about a million times by now: The best way to avoid skin cancer is to stay out of the sun -- and don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen when you do dare to step outside.

    But no matter how many times you hear it, it’s still not true.

    Simply put, you don’t have to live like a vampire to avoid the deadliest form of skin cancer. In fact, the latest research shows that the best way to slash your melanoma risk has nothing to do with the sun at all.

    It’s a simple vitamin -- and you might want to go check the label of your multi right now.

    If the form of vitamin A used in yours is retinol, you’re golden -- because a new study finds that people who get this form of A have a 60 percent lower risk of melanoma. And those who got the most A of all -- 1,200 mcg a day -- were 74 percent less likely to suffer melanoma, according to the study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

    The "catch" here is that vitamin A from food -- like liver (calf or chicken), kale, spinach or carrots -- didn’t make a bit of difference. The vitamin A precursors such as beta-carotene and lycopene used in many multivitamins didn’t make the cut either.

    Only the retinol form of A, and only from supplements -- or what the drug industry refers to as "the ‘s’ word" -- did the trick.

    The new study might fly in the face of what the mainstream has been saying about lowering your melanoma risk, but the research has shown for years now that the sun isn’t the real cause of most of these cancers.

    And one of the biggest risk factors of all might be completely out of your control: genetics.

    In other words, blame your ancestors -- not the sun. And if you have a history of the disease in your family, you might want to make an A supplement your top priority.

    Just don’t overdo it, since it’s possible to get too much of a good thing-- and too much vitamin A can cause liver damage, hair loss, and skin conditions.

    The level used in the study (1,200 mcg a day) is more than what’s recommended by federal guidelines, but perfectly safe for most people.

  2. Fish oil and vitamin A can save your vision

    Some two million people around the world suffer from a serious degenerative eye disease that literally has no treatment at all beyond "cross your fingers and hope for the best."

    But if you're suffering from the gradual -- and ultimately total -- loss of vision that marks retinitis pigmentosa, you don't have to cross your fingers anymore.

    New research led by Harvard University shows an easy way to stop this frightening condition in its tracks -- and it's not a new drug with side effects or an operation with risks.

    It's an ordinary vitamin mixed with a little bit of fish.

    Three clinical trials show that megadoses of vitamin A -- 15,000 IU a day -- combined with 0.2 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids can slow the loss of vision by between 40 percent and 50 percent.

    In real numbers, that could add up to an extra 18 years of vision.

    The researchers don't know for sure why roughly two servings of fatty fish a week can have such a powerful impact on all that vitamin A, but they've got their eyes on one omega-3 fatty acid in particular: DHA.

    Your retina is already loaded with DHA (which is why fatty fish -- not carrots -- is what you should be eating for good vision even if you're healthy). And in the case of retinitis pigmentosa, the researchers believe extra DHA is needed to help carry the vitamin A from the photoreceptor cells that have it to those that don't.

    The result isn't a cure for retinitis pigmentosa, but it could dramatically change the prognosis.

    Right now, someone with this condition can expect to go blind by the age of 60. With vitamin A and fish oil, that might be delayed until they're almost 80 -- or right around our actual life expectancy these days.

    Since too much vitamin A can interfere with vitamin D and may even increase your risk of osteoporosis, don't try treating yourself on this one -- talk to your doctor about the best and safest way to raise your A levels.

    And don't forget to add the fish oil -- because along with helping to slow retinitis pigmentosa, omega-3 fatty acids can also slash your risk of both the "wet" and "dry" forms of macular degeneration.

  3. Kids skip sunscreen

    It's hard to think of sunburn when you're battling sub-zero February temperatures every day -- but summer will be here soon enough. And when it arrives, you can bet that two things will happen: You'll hear a lot of mainstream noise about the supposed importance of wearing sunblock... and kids will get sunburned anyway.
  4. The flu shot hoax revealed

    Flu shots don't work... but your friends in the media want you to get one anyway. A new study finds the scantest of all possible benefits from the most heavily hyped vaccine of all time -- benefits so small you have to wonder if they even exist at all.
  5. Step into the sun

    Despite what you've heard, the only protection from the sun your skin really needs is a little common sense.
  6. Seaweed for heart health

    But in Asia, this nuisance is on the menu -- and with good reason, too: Seaweed is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and a new review of the research finds it can boost your heart health like nothing else.
  7. Hidden dangers in sunscreen

    Here's some bitter irony for you: A key ingredient in many sunscreens can actually cause the very cancers they're supposed to prevent.
  8. Flu shots versus 'magic'

    Do you believe in magic? Raise your hands if you believe in the power of a strong immune system and good hygiene--because apparently, that's what passes for magic these days. A new survey finds that 43 percent of Americans don't plan to get a flu shot this year... with a third of all mothers saying they don't plan to get...
  9. Vitamins may help you ditch your inhaler

    A study shows a connection between nutritional deficiencies and asthma.

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