Braces? Make Sure You're Getting Enough of These Vitamins and Minerals!

Sharon Williams

Your mouth is one of your most overlooked body parts, and just like the rest of your body parts, it
needs regular maintenance and the right diet containing the necessary minerals and vitamins to keep performing optimally. Are your teeth missing essential vitamins and minerals due to braces?

Orthodontic treatment with braces will help your teeth come into alignment and improve your smile and the way you chew your food, as your teeth move into their optimal positions.

Most patients are able to consume most foods within a month of getting braces, but there are certain food restrictions you will have to follow during your orthodontic journey, which can range from a few months to a few years.

Your teeth will respond better to your orthodontic treatment if your diet contains the following vitamins and minerals:


Calcium is renowned for protecting your teeth against decay and preventing gum disease. It also helps in keeping your jaw and other bones strong as well as helping with growth and development.

Calcium-rich sources: Dairy products; oysters; legumes; almonds; sardines; broccoli; green, leafy vegetables; and dietary supplements.


Magnesium helps with the healthy formation of your gum tissues, teeth, and jaws.

Magnesium-rich sources: Dark chocolate; bananas; whole grains; fish; seeds; nuts; green, leafy vegetables; and dietary supplements.


A healthy intake of iron helps maintain high red blood cell counts at all times, which increases your body’s immunity and helps it fight gum disease and oral infections.

Iron-rich sources: Green, leafy vegetables; mineral-rich breads and cereals; red meats; seafood; eggs; and dietary supplements.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is necessary for keeping your mouth’s saliva flowing, which washes away any stuck food particles and destructive bacteria. It also helps maintain healthy mucous membranes, which protect your gums and cheeks from disease.

Vitamin A–rich sources: Carrots; green, leafy vegetables; sweet potatoes; peppers; orange fruits; fish; egg yolks; and dietary supplements.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 helps prevent mouth fissures.

Vitamin B2–rich sources: Almonds, spinach, mushrooms, bagels, pasta, lean steaks, dairy products, and dietary supplements.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C keeps the connective tissues of your gums strong, holds your teeth securely in place, and fights gum disease.

Vitamin C–rich sources: Strawberries, guava, most citrus fruits, many vegetables, and dietary supplements.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D deficiency can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and underdeveloped teeth. You can get vitamin D in your body by simply exposing yourself to direct sunlight for 15 minutes every day.

Vitamin D–rich sources: Cereals, cod liver oil, fish, eggs, milk, and dietary supplements.

I hope that the article was useful and helps you provide your teeth with the above essential nutrients and vitamins they need. It is best to consult an orthodontist to monitor the health of your teeth and follow up by scheduling regular appointments with your orthodontist.

Visit the Life Extension Guide to Oral Health to learn about the latest oral health research.

About the Author: Sharon Williams handles digital marketing for Koch Orthodontics in Loganville, GA. With a flair for creating compelling content that clears the clutter and connects with the audience in an instant, she writes about dental topics to educate and help her readers. 

Sharon truly believes that a genuine smile can win a million hearts and talks to her readers about improving their smiles and overall dental health, as well as enhancing their overall lifestyle. In her free time, she likes to organize small meets in her neighborhood where she brings people together to discuss various topics that she writes about.



Keep Your Joints Healthy During Summer Exercise

Holli Ryan RD, LD/N and Life Extension Staff

Keeping Your Joints Healthy This Summer

The sun is shining and you’ve dusted off your old running shoes… now what? Whether you are resuming a fitness routine this summer, planning on playing some outdoor sports, or just keeping up with your existing routine, it’s important to nourish your body in order to yield the best results from being physically active and avoid injury.

Playing high-impact sports is a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis. Also, being of the female gender is in itself a risk factor. 1,2

If you are looking for some nutrients to help ensure you maintain joint health, read on!

Anatomy of the Joints

The bones of the human skeletal system are connected by a complex series of joints, which connect two or more bones and allow for a wide variety of movements that would otherwise be impossible. The synovial fluid found between some joints supports elasticity and absorbs shock from rapid movements. In order to facilitate smooth joint movement, the surfaces of joints are lined by a low-friction, load-distributing, wear-resistant tissue called articular cartilage. 3

Nutrients and Lifestyle Choices for Joint Health

The nutrients that you choose should focus on supporting the joint structure itself and easing both inflammation and any discomfort of the joints.

1) Supplement with herbal blends

Herbal blends naturally work via multiple mechanisms to help ease inflammation and uphold healthy joint function and mobility.

Research has shown that a blend of Chinese skullcap, cutch tree, and white mulberry helps to provide superior cartilage protection and joint comfort. 4,5, 6

2) Supplement with krill

Scientists have formulated a powerful trio of krill oil, astaxanthin, and hyaluronic acid to support healthy joint function.

Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in the joints, where it acts to lubricate and cushion against repeated physical impacts. Because it forms a major component of cartilage and soft tissue, it is widely used to promote joint health. 7 Krill oil is a natural source of the antioxidant carotenoid astaxanthin. 8 Astaxanthin works in multiple ways, including suppression of free radical activity, thereby easing inflammation. Similarly, krill itself eases inflammation, as it is a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

3) Stay hydrated with fluids and electrolytes

We lose electrolytes though our sweat, and sometimes water just doesn’t cut it when it comes to replenishing minerals. Did you know that our articular cartilage is composed of 65 to 80 percent water (by its wet weight)? 3

4) Avoid high intakes of foods that promote inflammation

Examples include: meat (especially non-grass-fed meats), dairy products, sugar, and soda.

5) Consider low-impact exercises

If you've had injuries in the past that have impacted your joints, try swimming or water aerobics.

For more info on how to fuel your activities this summer, 

About the author: Holli (Lapes) Ryan RD, LD/N is a Social Media Content Specialist at Life Extension. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the South Florida area. Holli believes that quality dietary supplements are an essential tool that have a variety of applications from maintaining good health to managing chronic disease.



Spearmint as a Brain-Boosting Beverage (Caffeine-Free)

Holli Ryan RD, LD/N and Life Extension Staff

What do you turn to when you need to focus? Many people turn to caffeine, especially from coffee.

While coffee (and caffeine) have been shown to be beneficial to our health, there are some caveats and therefore it may not be the best option for everyone across the board.

One issue with stimulants such as caffeinated coffee is that it may interfere with sleep, especially if consumed later in the afternoon and evening. So what else is out there for those who need a boost?

Spearmint Tea

Scientists have developed a stimulant-free instant spearmint tea supplement that has been shown in human clinical studies to support aspects of mental focus such as attention and concentration.

Now, when we say spearmint, we’re not talking about those commercially available flavorings. Sorry, chewing on gum all day won’t have the same effect!

The spearmint used in the instant tea supplement from the research studies contains an array of beneficial phytochemicals, one of which is rosmarinic acid. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that have biological activity in the human body.

The spearmint drink is an herbal beverage, which, technically, is not a true tea as it is not derived from Camellia sinensis. Rather, it is a spearmint extract in a powdered form that has been standardized to ensure a beneficial amount of one of the active compounds found in spearmint, the aforementioned rosmarinic acid. As you can tell from the name, rosmarinic acid is also found in rosemary, but it also naturally occurs in several plants within the same family.

How It Works

The clinically studied spearmint supports working memory and spatial working memory.

Working memory is a part of your short-term memory that allows you to store information and manipulate it while working on another mental task. Controlled by the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, working memory helps maintain attention, focus, and concentration and may enhance movement and reaction times.

Also important for cognitive function is spatial working memory. This is the ability to know where items are arranged in space, such as the layout of your house or how to get around town. Both working memory and spatial working memory are necessary for fully functioning cognitive ability.

Human Studies Show Spearmint Supports Mental Focus

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the spearmint extract was shown to improve both working and spatial memory. These were statistically significant improvements that indicated enhanced alertness of brain function. Additionally, this study even found benefits to mood and sleep!

Bonus: Long-Term Brain Health Benefits

Medical science once believed that humans stop growing new brain cells after adolescence. However, modern research has shown this to be untrue. Yup — it IS possible to generate new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis.

As scientists look into the effects of spearmint, early lab and animal data suggest that it delivers significant support for neurogenesis.

Also, the compounds in spearmintprotect existing brain cells and positively impact the blood vessels that support and nourish them.

Last, but certainly not least, the phytochemicals present in spearmint inhibit acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down the vital memory-associated neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

The Bottom Line

Spearmint tea has been shown to be a great option to support mental focus and offers benefits beyond the immediate boost.

What goes hand in hand with a need for quick results? Convenience. You can take these packets with you on the go. These aren’t tea bags but rather a powder that dissolves best in hot water. For more information, call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-800-226-2370.

About the author: Holli (Lapes) Ryan RD, LD/N is a Social Media Content Specialist at Life Extension. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the South Florida area. Holli believes that quality dietary supplements are an essential tool that have a variety of applications from maintaining good health to managing chronic disease. 


  1. Herrlinger KA, Nieman KM, Sanoshy KD, et al. Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-Associated Memory Impairment. J Altern Complement Med. 2018;24(1):37-47.
  2. Fonseca BA, Herrlinger KA. The effects of a proprietary spearmint extract on neurogenesis rates in rat hippocampal neurons. Paper presented at: Neuroscience2016; San Diego, CA.
  3. Farr SA, Niehoff ML, Ceddia MA, et al. Effect of botanical extracts containing carnosic acid or rosmarinic acid on learning and memory in SAMP8 mice. Physiol Behav. 2016;165:328-38.
  4. Nieman KM, Sanoshy KD, Bresciani L, et al. Tolerance, bioavailability, and potential cognitive health implications of a distinct aqueous spearmint extract. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. 2015;5(5):165 of 87.
  5. Boldrini M, Fulmore CA, Tartt AN, et al. Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists throughout Aging. Cell Stem Cell. 2018;22(4):589-99.e5.

Health Benefits of Black Ginger and the ED - CVD Connection

New research suggests that man’s best friend may not be the tail-wagging Canis familiaris but rather Kaempferia parviflora, a plant that could help with male sexual health.  

Historical Use

Kaempferia parviflora is a plant from the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family that is native to Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo Island, and Thailand, where its rhizome has been used in folk medicine for centuries. Traditional uses of K. parviflora include the treatment of hypertension and other disorders. The herb has increasingly become the subject of scientific studies in recent years.

A Variety of Health Applications

A research study revealed that a K. parviflora extract may protect against gastric ulcers.1 Other research has shown an antiviral effect for flavones derived from K. parviflora.2 And in a comparison of extracts and oils of 6 Zingiberaceae plants, an ethanolic extract of K. parviflora exhibited the most potent anti-allergic activity.3

Sexual Health

However, K. parviflora’s best known use is that of a sexual enhancer. In 2008, researchers in Thailand reported that 4 weeks of an orally administered alcohol extract of K. parviflora led to a significant increase in the blood flow to the testes of rats and a decrease in the time required to mount and ejaculate.4 Subsequent investigation utilizing rats rendered diabetic by the administration of a chemical compound found an increase in sperm density and recovery of sexual behavior after K. parviflora treatment.5

Vascular Health

Early research revealed that an extract of K. parviflora rhizomes relaxed contracted aortic rings and ileum tissue derived from rats, indicatinga potential to support healthy blood vessels.6 In rats that received the extract orally for 4 weeks, K. parviflora wasfound to decrease oxidative stress and increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide (a molecule used by the inner lining of the blood vessels known as the endothelium to signal the surrounding smooth muscle to relax).7 Other research has demonstrated that K. parviflora rhizome improves blood fluidity.8 K. parviflora was also shown to increase the production of nitric oxide in human endothelial cells. This, according to the researchers involved in the investigation, represents a great potential for its use to promote vascular endothelial health.9

Mechanism of Action

It has been determined that K. parviflora extract’s positive effects on nitric oxide signaling in the heart are similar to those of sildenafil citrate (Viagra).10 Sildenafil citrate acts by inhibiting phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), an enzyme that promotes the degradation of cGMP, which regulates penile blood flow), and 7-methoxyflavones from K. parviflora have been demonstrated to inhibit this enzyme. “This finding provides an explanation for enhancing sexual performance in the traditional use of Kaempferia parviflora,” the authors remark.11

Human Studies

And indeed, a study published in 2012 in which men whose age averaged 65 years were given one of two doses of K. parviflora rhizome extract or a placebo for two months resulted in a significant improvement in erectile function among men who received the higher dose of K. parviflora.12

These and other promising research results led to an exciting pilot study involving healthy men with mild erectile dysfunction (ED) that was sponsored by Life Extension®.13 Thirty days of supplementation with KaempMax™, a K. parviflora extract, significantly improved erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, and International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) scores. “Men taking 100 mg/day of KaempMax™ for 30 days reported improvements in their overall sexual health,” Richard A. Stein, MD, PhD and colleagues conclude. The generally healthy 50 to 68-year old men enrolled in the study had self-reported mild ED, yet they reported statistically significant increases in their mean IIEF scores, erectile function, and intercourse satisfaction.

“Results from our study together with those previously published suggest that K. parviflora extract may benefit male sexual health and provides an option for those seeking nonprescription alternatives,” noted Andrew Swick, PhD, who is the Senior Vice President of Product Development and Scientific Affairs for Life Extension and a co-author of the newly published study.

The ED – CVD Connection

Erectile dysfunction is now known to be an early manifestation of cardiovascular disease. Endothelial dysfunction is at the center of the shared pathology between the two conditions. K. parviflora has been used to support cardiovascular and male sexual health, and research has shown that it also supports endothelial function.6,7

A recent study, reported in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation on June 11, 2018, concluded that erectile dysfunction is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events. The study followed more than 1,700 men between the ages of 60 to 78 for a little less than 4 years. Subjects who reported ED were about twice as likely to experience a heart attack, cardiac arrest, cardiac death, and fatal or non-fatal stroke than men who did not have ED15. “Our results reveal that erectile dysfunction is, in and of itself, a potent predictor of cardiovascular risk,” stated senior investigator Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, who is an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore16. He also pointed out the need to more aggressively manage other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, in men with erectile dysfunction.

The Bottom Line

By targeting the endothelial dysfunction underlying erectile dysfunction, K. parviflora extracts could improve cardiovascular as well as sexual health–both major health concerns in aging men. Larger clinical trials are anticipated to contribute further evidence in support of K. parviflora’s potential to significantly benefit a large portion of mankind.


  1. Rujjanawate C et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 31;102(1):120-2.
  2. Sookkongwaree K et al. Pharmazie. 2006 Aug;61(8):717-21.
  3. Tewtrakul S et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Feb 12;109(3):535-8.
  4. Chaturapanich G et al. Reproduction. 2008 Oct;136(4):515-22.
  5. Lert-Amornpat T et al. Andrologia. 2017 Dec;49(10).
  6. Wattanapitayakul SK et al. Fitoterapia. 2008 Apr;79(3):214-6.
  7. Malakul W et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 27;133(2):371-7.
  8. Murata K et al. J Nat Med. 2013 Oct;67(4):719-24.
  9. Wattanapitayakul SK et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Apr 4;110(3):559-62.
  10. Weerateerangkul P et al. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2012 Sep;60(3):299-309.
  11. Temkitthawon P et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Oct 11;137(3):1437-41.
  12. Wannanon P et al. Online J Biol Sci. 2012;12(4):149-155.
  13. Stein RA et al. J Integr Med. 2018 May 26.
  15. Uddin SMI et al. Circulation. 2018 Jun 11.

Are Purple Foods Healthier? Unexpected Purple Foods

Holli Ryan RD, LD/N

Many foods including fruits, vegetables, and even some grains, are purple in color are due to naturally occurring pigments called anthocyanidins. Anthocyanidins are polyphenol flavonoids that act as antioxidants in the body. Anthocyanin and cyanidin are two types of anthocyanidins that give foods their purple color.

Since the nomenclature can get a bit confusing, here is the flow: Phytonutrients > Polyphenols > Flavonoids > Anthocyanidin > Anthocyanin.

You’ve heard of “going green,” but maybe it’s time to “go purple,” too! According to an August 2017 study in the Journal Food & Nutrition Research, anthocyanins have antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-obesity effects, and they also maintain cardiovascular health.1

When you think of purple foods, purple grapes or purple cabbage may come to mind. We are used to having a choice of colors with foods such as grapes or cabbage, but when it comes to the seven foods listed below, it’s not as commonly known that there purple varieties are available.

7 Common Foods You Didn’t Know Were Available in Purple


Purple rice is commonly referred to as black rice. The uncooked grain appears to be black, but upon cooking it becomes deep purple in color. Purple rice should not be confused with wild rice, which is blackish-brown in color. Sometimes called “forbidden rice,” purple or black rice is rich in anthocyanins.


Depending on the variety, the purple potato may or may not be sweet. Here are a couple of research snippets that may be of interest: One study showed that purple sweet potatoes are 3.2 times higher in antioxidant activity than blueberries.2 Another study showed that purple potatoes are protective against acetaminophen-induced liver toxicity in mice.3


Purple tea is grown at high elevations of 6,000 plus feet, where cooler conditions are present, and in close proximity to the equator, where intense ultraviolet light causes the plant to produce protective anthocyanins. Yes, plants produce these compounds to protect themselves, and then we consume the plant and receive the same protective properties. Nature is amazing!


Cruciferous vegetables such as purple or white cauliflower are rich in sulfur-containing compounds such as glucosinolates, which, among other benefits, have powerful system-wide anti-inflammatory effects.4 The purple variation, of course, adds the anthocyanin antioxidant.


An article in a scientific journal suggests that a tri-colored carrot that included purple may be our healthiest bet. The article explains that the most novel carrot produced to date is an orange–purple–red variety, which contains provitamin A activity as α‐and β-carotene, as well as anthocyanins and lycopene, which are powerful antioxidants.”5


Purple corn is commonly referred to as blue corn. Like the purple sweet potato discussed above, purple corn was also found to have a higher antioxidant capacity when compared to blueberries.6

Related Article: Is Blue Corn Healthy?


According to a specialty produce resource, purple asparagus has a twenty percent higher sugar content than other asparagus varieties. This may sound like a deterrent, but the anthocyanin pigment has been shown to improve glycemic control.7,8

Here are even more foods that contain anthocyanins!

The Bottom Line

One inconvenience is that these purple foods may not be as readily available in all stores as their non-purple counterparts. You may need to check specialty stores and markets, but it’s worth it. The purple pigment equates to added benefits for our health in the form of greater antioxidant value.

The celebrity Mariah Carey has been reported to be following a “purple foods diet”.9 This is something I would not suggest, since it’s important to “eat the rainbow”. Each color/pigment offers its own nutritional benefits, so you’ll want to include a variety of naturally colorful foods in your diet, too – not just the purple ones!

So, back to our original question: Are purple foods healthier? When it comes to rice and potato, I am inclined to say yes. But it also may depend on the specific type of food. For example, orange carrots and green asparagus are still up to par when it comes to nutrient density: the orange pigment offers us beta-carotene, while green veggies provide chlorophyll.

About the author: Holli (Lapes) Ryan RD, LD/N is a Social Media Content Specialist at Life Extension. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the South Florida area. Holli believes that quality dietary supplements are an essential tool that have a variety of applications from maintaining good health to managing chronic disease. 



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