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A vitamin B7 deficiency can cause brittle fingernails. Sandi Rutar / Moment / Getty Images

With all the quick eats out there these days, it’s easy to slip into a diet with few nutrients to nourish your body. Everyone needs a processed snack now and again, but if you don’t have enough vitamin intake, you can start to experience symptoms that will hold you back.

If you recognize the signs, you can make dietary changes that will right the nutrient balance in your body and get you back on track.

With all the quick eats out there these days, it’s easy to slip into a diet with few nutrients to nourish your body. Everyone needs a processed snack now and again, but if you don’t have enough vitamin intake, you can start to experience symptoms that will hold you back.

If you recognize the signs, you can make dietary changes that will right the nutrient balance in your body and get you back on track.

1. Brittle Nails and Hair

While there are many factors involved in brittle hair and nails, one of the big ones is a decreased level of biotin, otherwise known as vitamin B7.

Brittle, thinning and splitting hair and nails can indicate a lack of B7, along with chronic fatigue, muscle pain and cramps, and tingling in the extremities. If you are pregnant, a heavy smoker or drinking or have a digestive disorder, you are at higher risk for this deficiency. If you are using anti-seizure medication or antibiotics over a long period of time, your risk level is increased as well.

Be careful about eating raw egg whites, too, because they contain a protein that binds to biotin, reducing its absorption in the body.

To get your B7 levels up, eat egg yolks, fish, meats, dairy, seeds, broccoli, sweet potatoes, whole grains or bananas. There are also supplements available, but there are few studies which verify the benefits of such supplements.

2. Hair Loss

If your hair is falling out, that can indicate a shortage of a number of nutrients, including: iron, zinc, linoleic acid, and niacin (B3), in addition to biotin (B7). Iron helps because it is involved in DNA synthesis, particularly that in hair follicles. Too little of it and hair can stop growing or fall out. Zinc works with protein synthesis and cell division, both of which are needed for hair growth.

Meat, fish, eggs, beans and dark leafy vegetables can fortify your zinc and iron levels, and also increase biotin and niacin. Nuts, seeds and whole grains can also replenish these nutrients.

Hair loss is actually quite common; up to 50 percent of people report losing some hair by the time they reach age 50. Watch out for hair loss supplements, though. Some have vitamin A and selenium added, both of which can add to hair loss.

3. Dandruff or Patchy Scalp

Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis typically affect infants, teens going through puberty and those in mid-adulthood. They present as dry, itchy, flaking skin because they affect the oil-producing areas of the body.

These symptoms again can indicate low zinc or niacin levels, or possibly low riboflavin (B2) and pyridoxine (B6). To increase your levels of these nutrients, try eating whole grains, poultry, meat, fish, eggs, dairy or starchy vegetables.

4. Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome affects nearly 10 percent of Americans, and women are twice as likely to experience it as men. Usually, the symptoms spike during times of rest or sleep. It stems from a nerve issue causing uncomfortable sensations in the legs, and an automatic urge to move them.

More study is needed, but initial reviews show that there may be a link between RLS and low iron levels. The symptoms can often start during pregnancy, when women’s iron levels are likely lower than normal.

Supplementing with iron can help with iron deficiency, and this generally decreases RLS symptoms, but the effects do vary from person to person. 

To naturally increase your iron levels, try eating meat, poultry, fish, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. If you combine these foods with foods high in vitamin C, you’ll be pulling more iron into your system and increasing your absorption of it as well.

5. Mouth Lesions

Canker sores and other mouth ulcers also could be linked to iron deficiency, or low levels of B vitamins. Twenty-eight percent of patients with mouth sores had B1, B2, or B6 deficiencies according to one study.

Just like the previous section, you can improve your levels of these vitamins and minerals with meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. A diet full of these foods can help assuage many nutrient shortages, so keep that in mind. The B vitamins can be increased also with starchy vegetables and eggs.

6. Bleeding Gums

Mouth health is extremely important, and there are many factors to keeping your gums healthy, including brushing and flossing regularly, but if your diet has very little vitamin C in it, that can cause your gums to bleed.
Since we don’t make our own vitamin C, diet is the only way to keep your levels up. Low vitamin C levels are common, with 13-30 percent of people having low levels, and 17 percent of people qualifying as C deficient. Bleeding gums aren’t the only symptom of vitamin C deficiency. People can also experience nosebleeds, slow wound healing and dry skin.

To get enough vitamin C, eat at least two servings of fruit and three portions of vegetables a day.

7. Poor Night Vision

Vitamin A is necessary for vision, particularly at night or in low light. The vitamin helps produce rhodopsin, a pigment in the retinas that helps people see at night. But it doesn’t stop there. If you have continued night blindness, it can lead to cornea damage and vision loss at all times. The symptoms, however, can disappear with vitamin A replenishment.

How can we replenish? Yellow and orange colored vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes can really help. Also, organ meats, dairy, eggs, fish, and dark leafy vegetables can increase your levels.

Just make sure you don’t overdo it. Too much can cause vitamin A toxicity, with nausea, headaches, and joint pain.

8. Anemia

Anemia symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, pale skin, and numbness in extremities. The cause is unhealthy red blood cells that are too large and don’t carry oxygen as efficiently as they should. Red blood cell development requires vitamin B12 and folate, which can be added to your diet through supplements.

Conclusion

The human body is dependent on nutrients we take in from our nutritional choices every day. You’ve probably noticed that most of the deficiencies can be solved through the same types of healthy and varied food groups: protein, produce, dairy and grains. Keep your diet full of fresh ingredients from those food groups and you should experience some relief from these conditions.

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Fires in the Amazon and the Arctic, hurricanes in Europe, volcanic eruptions and polar vortexes ... Extreme weather events are becoming much more widespread and routine, but we don’t have to be terrified. There is so much we can still do to stop the march of climate change. Many thoughtful activists, educators and leaders are working non-stop to fight the climate crisis. In 2022, it’s our time to learn and advocate, and these podcasts lead the way. Here are the top 10 environmental podcasts you should listen to this year

True to its name, this podcast put out by the Environmental Law Institute is an eclectic mix of stories dealing with all aspects of the changing environment from the lens of the law. It puts an emphasis on listener advocacy and engagement, providing actionable steps people can take to improve our world. In doing so, you can listen, learn and actually help create a sustainable world with every episode. Now in its fourth season, the podcast focuses on the intersection of regular people and the environments in which they find themselves, with policy and legal expert interviews.

Fires in the Amazon and the Arctic, hurricanes in Europe, volcanic eruptions and polar vortexes … Extreme weather events are becoming much more widespread and routine, but we don’t have to be terrified. There is so much we can still do to stop the march of climate change. Many thoughtful activists, educators and leaders are working non-stop to fight the climate crisis. In 2022, it’s our time to learn and advocate, and these podcasts lead the way. Here are the top 10 environmental podcasts you should listen to this year

1. People, Places, Planet Podcast

True to its name, this podcast put out by the Environmental Law Institute is an eclectic mix of stories dealing with all aspects of the changing environment from the lens of the law. It puts an emphasis on listener advocacy and engagement, providing actionable steps people can take to improve our world. In doing so, you can listen, learn and actually help create a sustainable world with every episode. Now in its fourth season, the podcast focuses on the intersection of regular people and the environments in which they find themselves, with policy and legal expert interviews.

2. Sustainable World Radio – Ecology and Permaculture Podcast

Hosted by environmental educator and film director Jill Cloutier, the Ecology and Permaculture Podcast interviews teachers, designers, environmentalists and activists who work within nature. Originating in 2004, the podcast focuses on solutions, not problems, with many episodes using a how-to format: how to create a hydroponic garden, etc. The episodes range in topic from plants and herbal medicine to earth repair, regenerative farming and ethnobotany. There is something for everyone.

3. Hot Take – Critical Frequency

This podcast takes environmental media coverage and puts it through a “feminist and race-forward” lens. It is media literacy, criticism, and environmentalism all in one, hosted and created by climate journalists, Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt. Hot Take is an intersectional show that includes frequent guests and interviewees and concentrates on the larger issues facing the planet today.

4. Broken Ground

Broken Ground is put on by The Southern Environmental Law Center, and, therefore, focuses on environmental stories in the southern U.S. The show uses multiple hosts to look deeply at environmental justice. This season, the show is focusing on women on the front lines of the fight for that justice. The episodes empower listeners to take action across their own communities, creating small changes to shift issues on a large scale.

5. The Big Switch

The Big Switch is a quick listen — a five-part series on how our energy system is being rebuilt to address climate change. Not only how it is being rebuilt, but how it could be rebuilt by transforming our industrial landscape to get to a net-zero energy system in the coming years. Hosted by Dr. Melissa Lott who is the research director at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, this podcast explores our current power grid and the ways we can change it to benefit our society moving forward by interviewing experts in the field.

6. The Energy Gang

From a newbie to an oldie — The Energy Gang was one of the first environmental podcasts on the scene, and it remains one of the most popular. Focused on cleantech, hosts Stephen Lacey and Katherine Hamilton explore various avenues of renewable energy with humor, wit, and intelligence. Former host of the show Jigar Shah now heads the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan programs and Hamilton is a former researcher at the Renewable Energy Laboratory.

7. The Climate Pod

Two brothers just having a conversation that happens to be about climate change. That’s what The Climate Pod sounds like. But Ty and Brock Benefiel are skilled interviewers who bring on a litany of leading climate activists to talk about climate policy, particularly its intersection with big money. Each topic is discussed for about an hour, giving an in-depth look at all angles before letting listeners go.

8. Columbia Energy Exchange

Environmentalism is inextricably tied to politics and money and in the Columbia Energy Exchange, listeners enjoy intelligent discussions about the intersection of these important but diverging interests in the energy field. Hosted by Jason Bordoff, the former special assistant to the president on Energy and Climate during the Obama administration, and Bill Loveless, an energy journalism educator, the show interviews hard-hitting experts and powerful energy leaders in our international political landscape.

9. Climate Changers

In Climate Changers, they focus not just on the climate problems and initiatives themselves, but on the people working to fix those problems through those initiatives. In recent episodes, host Ryan Flahive has been focusing on sustainable food and regenerative farming, but earlier episodes set the scene by giving these issues a broad base in the contextual backdrop of all climate issues.

10. Breaking Green Ceilings

Breaking Green Ceilings gives the important perspective of marginalized and underrepresented populations in the fight against climate change. So often, global issues affect people with less privilege in a more dire way, and their circumstances are individually harmed. Leaders can have trouble seeing these problems, and the most important thing society can do is to listen to the lived experiences of those on the ground and those working to help them.  Host Sapna Mulki is a second-generation Kenyan Indian with an M.A. in sustainable international development.


These are just a small sample of the smart, witty, interesting climate and environmental podcasts available. And the more you listen, the more you’ll know. And the more you know, the more you can act, create your own change, and help the planet. Happy listening!

Darlena Cunha is a freelance writer and a professor at the University of Florida, with degrees in communications and ecology.

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8 Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Resolutions for the New Year

Join the eco-revolution in 2022.

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Now more than ever, it's important to include the planet in our resolution plans. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

As we welcome in the new year, many are thinking about resolutions – for ourselves, our families, our health, our lifestyle. Now more than ever, it's important to include the planet in our plans. Over the past 50 years, humans have more than doubled our consumption of natural resources, particularly in the United States.

Losing our resources is directly linked to our own health as well, as the World Health Organization reports that 13 million deaths annually and nearly 25 percent of disease worldwide are due to environmental causes. Climate challenges impact health issues like asthma, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

As we welcome in the new year, many are thinking about resolutions – for ourselves, our families, our health, our lifestyle. Now more than ever, it’s important to include the planet in our plans. Over the past 50 years, humans have more than doubled our consumption of natural resources, particularly in the United States.

Losing our resources is directly linked to our own health as well, as the World Health Organization reports that 13 million deaths annually and nearly 25 percent of disease worldwide are due to environmental causes. Climate challenges impact health issues like asthma, cardiovascular disease and stroke.


So, how can you do your part and live your best life while ensuring future generations will be able to live theirs?

1. Food Choices

Buying food locally will decrease costs and environmental impacts like production, processing, packaging and transportation. If you buy local food, not only will it be more fresh and packed full of nutrients, but you’ll also be saving the world from unnecessary fossil fuel use and excess packaging that will end up in a landfill.

Food that has to travel thousands of miles to reach your community has a large carbon footprint, due to plane travel, boat travel and truck trips. Buying locally ensures you reduce that impact while also supporting your area and its workers.

Meat production, specifically, destroys our environment by using massive amounts of water, polluting the air, emitting greenhouse gases and pulverizing natural wild habitats. This is why reducing your meat consumption is one big way to help the planet.

But it’s not just farm animals we need to be wary about. Seafood should be caught wild and not overfished. Avoid fish that comes from overpacked, farmed fisheries.

And no matter what you are eating, make sure you eat all of it. Nearly 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste. Plan your shopping so that you consume all you purchase for more sustainability.

This year, when you think about filling your plate, choose foods that support rural communities, give animals a good life, provide farmers with fair pay, don’t include additives, and don’t harm the environment.

2. Conserve Water

With populations soaring, water use and demand is at an all-time high. And it’s not only dry, arid areas experiencing water shortages. In recent years, there have been shortages in suburbia as well, and even metro areas. Lawn maintenance, golf course production, and even use within the home, can cause shortages in your own neighborhood.

One weird way to combat this, resolution style, is to upgrade your yard and driveway with permeable pavements. These have porous surfaces, which catch rainwater and runoff, store it in their reservoir and slowly allow it to travel back to the soil. This establishes a hydrological balance, and reduces runoff volume, which increases ground water amounts and retention.

Other than that, shut water off between uses, hand water your lawn sparingly without an irrigation system, minimize your laundry by wearing clothes and using towels more than once.

3. Shop Less

Fast fashion results in cheap, throw-away clothes which litter our landscape and don’t break down. Making these garments creates a carbon footprint, through pollution produced during manufacturing. The fast fashion industry also fuels a human rights crisis —the cheap garments come at a heavy cost.

Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you actually need it, and if you do, does it need to be new, or can you buy a gently used version?

4. Alternative Transportation

In 2022, we’re looking at more electric cars on the road than ever. If you’re still driving gas, consider an upgrade because, as we know, car emissions are not only polluting the air at advanced rate, they are also warming the planet and atmosphere. They are also incredibly bad for our health, causing diminished lung function, asthma symptoms and cardiac problems.

While the federal government works to put laws into place to curb this pollution, you can change your own transportation choices. Cycle to work, or walk, and if you are too far, try using public transportation, carpools or working from home if it’s available.

If you do have the means to go hybrid or electric, you’ll save money on gas, in addition to minimizing your carbon footprint.

5. Green Home Updates

Green isn’t just for cars. Sustainable homes will cost you less money in the long run and help save our planet. Now more than ever, people are switching to solar panels for homes to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. To save energy around your house, make sure it is well insulated. While it will cost a little upfront, you’ll save on heat and air-conditioning too. Set your heat and cooling on only when you are home. Waterproof your home with caulk, seals or weather strips. Aerate your shower heads and faucets.

Consider vertical gardening for the outside of your home. Plants purify the air and reduce the ambient temperature. They also act as sound barriers. Homes surrounded by plants use on average 1/3 less air conditioning, too.

6. Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Do you really need to carry your groceries in a plastic bag, or sip that smoothie through a plastic straw? Nearly 50 percent of the solid waste worldwide is from single-use plastics.

Right now, plastics are swirling in our oceans, making up 40 percent of the sea surface. Thousands of marine creatures die by ingesting it or getting tangled in it. Seventeen billion pounds of plastic continue to leak into our waterway every year. And it never goes away.

But there are easy alternatives that can change your life in the new year. Beeswax wraps and bamboo cutlery are more easily degraded and reusable bags and water bottles could cut our waste down by a lot. Every year, 500 billion plastic bottles are sold. Imagine if they weren’t.

7. Recycle Electronics

In the 2020s, it’s impossible to imagine life without electronics and the information highway they allow us to access every day. But electronics have a negative impact on our health and our environment. Making them and shipping them creates industrial waste and uses massive amounts of water and energy. When we are done with them, if we throw them out, they end up in a landfill where their batteries and other hardware can leak toxins into the soil. To ensure safe disposal, hand your old electronics back to specialized centers that will recycle them, or return them to the original manufacturers.

8. Help Change Legislation

One of the biggest ways a single person can make a difference is by making their voice heard in their government, where decisions are made on a large scale for entire populations. Vote for representatives and leaders who will enact strong environmental legislation that will be sustainable for decades to come. Invest in future education, and policies that limit greenhouse gas emissions, protect wildlife, and solidify family planning services.

And don’t let it end with your vote. Follow up with your politicians in office. Remember, they were elected to serve you, and they base their decisions off what they think their constituents want.

This year do your best to join the eco-revolution. Remember that corporations and governments hold the greatest responsibility and the greatest ability to shift the planet away from climate destruction. However, with enough individuals making climate-forward lifestyle changes, we can reach the point of critical mass and potentially sway global leaders in business and government to change for the better as well.

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