Are Supplements for You?

More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and can come in a pill, powder or liquid form.   People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to improve their health.  But not everyone needs to take supplements.  “It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietician. “But supplements can be useful for filling in the gaps in your diet.”

Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines.  Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions.  You should discuss the supplements you are taking with your doctor.

While manufacturers cannot claim that supplements can cure, treat or prevent disease, there is evidence to suggest that taking certain supplements can enhance health in different ways.  The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C, and D.  Calcium support bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.  Vitamins C and E are antioxidants—molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health.

Vitamin B12 keeps nerve and blood cells healthy.  Vitamin B12 mostly comes from meat, fish, and dairy foods, so vegans may consider taking a supplement to be sure to get enough of it.  Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health.  The National Institute of Health reports that of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use.

Many supplements have mild effects with little to no risks.  But…..use caution with some supplements.  Vitamin K, for example, will reduce the ability of blood thinners to work. Ginkgo can increase blood thinning, and St. John’s Wart can speed the breakdown of many drugs, such as antidepressants and birth control pills, making them less effective.

Just because a supplement is promoted as “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe.  It’s important to know the chemical makeup, how it’s prepared, and how it works in the body, especially if you are dealing with herbs.

Scientists still have much to learn, even about common vitamins.  The scientific community once thought that taking Vitamin E would reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer, but a recent large study of more than 29,000 men found that taking vitamin E actually raised, not reduced, the risk for prostate cancer.

It’s always wise to talk to your doctor about the supplements you should or should not be taking.  The National Institute of health has fact sheets on dietary supplements at  http://ods.od.nihgov/factsheets/list-all/


Do You Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Portrait of businessman closing eyes while working late at night on black background with copy space

As the seasons change from fall to winter, many people find themselves experiencing symptoms of the “winter blues.”  Prone to simply brush these symptoms off as just being in a “funk”, many people think they just have to “tough it out” and wait for the sun to shine more brightly again.  What these people may be experiencing is a form of depression called “seasonal affective disorder“(SAD).  In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.


Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping or having trouble sleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Experts believe that a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, might play a role in SAD.  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may depression.

Some of the factors that increase your risk of SAD include:

Being female    Women experience SAD more than men, but the symptoms tend to be more severe in men.

Family History  People with family members who suffer from depressive disorders are more likely to be affected by SAD.

Having previously been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms may get worse during the winter months.

Living far from the equator  SAD appears to be more common in people who live far from the equator

Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if you seek treatment before your symptoms get bad.   You can seek help from your family care provider.  In addition, you can try the following:

Make your environment sunnier and brighter  Open blinds and trim heavy tree branches away from windows.

Get Outside  Even if you’re worried about the slick roads and sidewalks, you can sit on a bench at the park or on your porch.

Exercise regularly  Exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety and it helps raise serotonin levels.

Take a trip  Even if it’s not a trip to a sunnier climate, getting out of the house seems to help many people who suffer from SAD.




Volunteer for the Health of It!

Donating time or resources benefits both the giver and the receiver. Studies have shown that giving releases similar chemicals to when you eat a great meal or falling in love. Other benefits include: Developing new skills and experiences (especially if you have been out of the workforce for a while), keeps the mind and body active and occupied warding off effects of age, and finally can make you feel wealthier and like you have more time.

No one ever regrets time spent serving others. Though giving often goes unrecognized, those that freely share their talents with others see that being acknowledged and praised isn’t why they do it.   Patience and kindness go a long way in helping others. Through serving others, we gain understanding; we concentrate less on our own short comings; and we have more opportunity to grow as individuals. Here are a couple ways you can start:

  • Reach out to organizations that interest you. It will be easier to relate to those involved and stay motivated in different projects if you genuinely care about the cause.
  • Start out slow! It’s easy to burn out with too much involvement. Attend meetings or groups as an observer first. It’ll be easier to volunteer when you truly understand where the need is and how you can help.

Service is simple. It can be challenging to get motivated but like many things it takes time and practice to develop.  For opportunities and more information about volunteering locally contact Lott Crockett, Director of Volunteer Services for Bear Lake Memorial Hospital at 847-4445 or apply online at

Protecting Yourself from the Sun – Dr. Jacobson

DRJacobsonDr. Jacobson‘s office is located in the Physician’s Clinic.

Being out of doors means being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, even on cloudy days.

UV rays from the sun, an invisible form of radiation, can damage skin and ultimately cause skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.

Sunburn results when UV rays exceed the ability of melanin to protect the skin. People with fair skin can sunburn very quickly , less than 15 minutes, in midday sun exposure. The first signs of sunburn may not appear for a few hours, with the full effect to the skin taking 24 hours or longer to become evident.  Symptoms of sunburn are usually temporary, but the skin damage is permanent and can have long-term effects. By the time the skin starts to become painful and re, the damage has been done.  Pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after sunburn.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your skin protected from the sun:

  • The sun’s rays are strongest during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sun’s rays are also strongest at higher altitudes and lower latitudes.  Reflection off water, sand, or snow can make the sun’s burning rays stronger.
  • Infants and children are very sensitive to the burning effects of the sun.
  •  Some medications can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn.
  • There is no such thing as a “healthy tan” ,  including tans obtained by use of tanning beds.   Unprotected UV exposure, from the sun or tanning beds, causes early aging of the skin.
  • Skin cancer usually appears in adulthood, but is caused by sun exposure and sunburns that began as early as childhood.


Sunburn is better prevented than treated.  Ways to prevent sunburn include:

  • Use a  broad spectrum sunscreen with and SPF of 30 or higher.  Broad spectrum sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
  • Apply sunscreen in generous amounts and fully cover skin.  Reapply every 2 hours!
  • Apply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, even in cloudy weather.
  • Wear a hat and other protective clothing.  Light colored clothing is best.
  • Stay out of the sun during midday hours.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.

Severe sunburns can cause second or third degree burns.  You should seek medical attention if:

  1. Extreme pain lasts for more than 48 hours
  2. Severe sunburn covers more than 15% of the body
  3. Dehydration occurs
  4.  Fever of 101 degrees or higher develops



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