Visual Wonderland

Like to look at statistics but get bogged down by the numbers or can’t understand the charts, well have I found a treat for you. Look at the pictures and grasp the idea in a glance. These interactive graphs make understanding so much easier.
For the interactive version of this visual look at foods see more at informationisbeautiful.

data

©www.informationisbeautiful.net

For the interactive experience of consciousness see more at informationisbeautiful.

consciousness

©www.informationisbeautiful.net

Vitamin D this time for a map of the world and how much sun we need. Written from a Northern Hemisphere perspective. To read more see here.

vitamind

©www.informationisbeautiful.net

 

 

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Ebola, Ebola, Trust the doctors

Listening to this song makes my heart sing. It makes me feel light and I am so in awe of the talent and the dignity of the artists.  The theme of the song is a heavy one but it handled with so much care, Ebola the invisible enemy. To spread awareness about Ebola in song is the perfect medium to educate people and encourage people to visit a doctor.

I saw Salif Keita in concert in New York at the Apollo Theatre a few years ago. Seeing Salif Keita in the video brought back those memories. I remember walking to the theatre not realising that walking a hundred and ten blocks would take so long. I know!  At the time I didn’t really think of the distance in terms of more than a hundred blocks more like just a little further than the top of Central Park and on the map it looked a fair distance. In fact it was far, much too far. We like walking and New York is a fantastic place to walk usually. Anyway we got to about 100th Street and admitted defeat. We were running out of time and energy. We hailed a taxi and got dinner on the way at Zoma, an Ethiopian restaurant then taxied the rest of the way to the Apollo Theatre. It was a truly memorable concert. Salif Keita is a Malian singer songwriter and is well known in Europe as a successful “African star of world music.” (Salif Keita does a solo starting at 2:00 on the YouTube video)

MUSIC
Africa Stop Ebola – Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, Barbara Kanam and rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus (from the band Banlieuz’Arts) and Mokobe
(with English subtitles)

Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12

Along with my folate supplement I have been looking into B12 and finding out what this vitamin does for us. Turns out it is rather vital to our everyday function.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin needed for
metabolism,
brain function,
maintaining the nervous system and
forming red blood cells.

b12

©A.D.A.M.

The half life of B12 is 6 days but it can hang around in the liver for up to 400 days. Excess B12 is excreted in urine. Many people show a B12 deficiency. Vegetarians cannot get B12 from their food unless it is fortified in cereals or soy products. Supplements are the other choice unless you eat meat, fish or dairy.

Foods with high levels of B12:
Shellfish:  Clams, Oysters, Mussels
Liver:  Beef, Chicken (pate)
Fish: Mackerel, Smoked Salmon, Herring, Tuna, Tinned Sardines
Crustaceans: Crab, Shrimp, Lobster
Fortified* Soy Products: Tofu, Soy milk
Fortified* Cereals
Red Meat: Beef, Lamb
Cheese: Swiss, etc…
Eggs: Chicken, Goose, Duck
Dairy: Nonfat yoghurt, Skim milk
*Fortified with B12

b12a

©A.D.A.M.

Low levels of B12 can cause:

Anemia
Loss of balance
Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs
Weakness
Diarrhea or constipation
Rapid heartbeat and breathing
Stomach upset and weight loss
Easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums

How to check your B12 level?
The vitamin B12 level(serum levels) is a blood test that measures how much vitamin B12 is in your blood.
Normal values are 200 – 900 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL)in the US. Yet in Japan and Europe 500 – 550 pg/mL is considered a low B12 level. In Australia 150–221 picomoles per litre (pmol/L) or (200–300 pg/mL) is considered low.

Nicotine and alcohol don’t help absorption of B12 into the body. Excessive Vitamin C intake, Antacid tablets, insulin enhancers for Type 2 diabetics, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), antidepressants, anti-hypertension drugs also zap B12 levels.  Think you may be showing signs of being Vitamin B12 deficiency? To read more visit b12d.org

How much B12 do I need?
“Recommended dietary amounts (RDAs) are 2.4 micrograms daily for ages 14 years and older, 2.6 micrograms daily for pregnant females, and 2.8 micrograms daily for breastfeeding females. Those over 50 years of age should meet the RDA by eating foods reinforced with B12 or by taking a vitamin B12 supplement. Supplementation of 25-100 micrograms daily has been used to maintain vitamin B12 levels in older people.” (Mayo Clinic)

Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 come in these forms: Cyanocobalamin, Hydroxocobalamin,  Methylcobalamin, Adenosylcobalamin.

B12 Supplements
For B12 supplements Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 or Sublingual(under the tongue) Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 are suitable for vegetarians and are Kosher. I prefer to steer clear of the Cyanocobalamin form of B12 to avoid the chance of cyanide poisoning. Check your labels.

B12 deficiency: a silent epidemic with serious consequences by Chris Kresser LAc, a licensed acupuncturist and functional medicine practitioner.
For article READ MORE

BBC Documentary about B12 and Dr Joseph Chandy
(aired 2006) (length: 9min45sec)

Note: I am not a medical professional. This blog post is for information purposes only. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

MUSIC
Aretha Franklin – Think

I was just saying…

DSC05381
I was in the car, it was a Sunday afternoon. We were driving to a marina to look at boats. It was a blustery day with pockets of rain. We were on the motorway and I was just saying how much better I was feeling. I had been down for several days. Meanwhile the road construction was beginning to annoy me. When the line markers have been removed and the indentation is left and the sound of the tyre going over it, mile after mile…. The noise grated on me. I was either driving along the indents or too close to the new lane markers. It felt all wrong. The confining construction walls didn’t help. It made it feel like the lanes were narrower. So I was just saying how much better I was feeling then within about ten minutes I was feeling a full on panic attack while driving. I haven’t really felt one before, definitely not while driving. How did it go?

I felt like it was hard to breathe. So I tried to breathe deeply. It wasn’t helping. I really wanted to get off the motorway. I wanted to cry. I wanted to not be there. Trying to calm myself didn’t seem to work. My mouth went dry. I kept smacking my lips together trying to get moisture. I kept trying to deep breathe. I sighed a lot. Meanwhile hubby was sitting next to me. Silently trying to work out why on earth I could suddenly be feeling so distressed after moments earlier saying how good I was feeling.

Is it weather? Pockets of barometric pressure dipping? Is it low blood sugar? Is it hormones? I don’t know.

I had three lows yesterday and during them they weren’t pleasant at all. I could recognise that they were lows. So what part of me says. How helpful is that? Is recognising how you are feeling helpful? I suppose it is. Is being able to describe how you are feeling helpful? I suppose so. How? I’m not sure yet.
My hubby drove the next leg of the trip. I felt better with him behind the wheel. I’m sure he felt the same.

This was me last month in a moment. An anxiety moment.

How is it that when you are in an anxious moment you can feel the world crushing you but in fact it is just your perceived idea of reality? A warped one at that. Perception is everything. When someone tells you that your anxiety is not that bad or your depression is not that bad, it’s just mild. When you are in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel too mild. It irks me when I hear this. It doesn’t help me at all. From the light at the end of the tunnel it might not have seemed so bad after all but in the middle of the tunnel it is dark, forbidding and with no end in sight.

Today I feel like I’m standing in bright sunlight. Eyes closed face to the sun. My head feels clear. The clouds have departed. I have clarity of mind. It’s a wonderful feeling.

MUSIC
Jay Z and Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

Filling up the car

We were on a road trip camper van-ning for the first time and we were watching the price of petrol as we travelled up the country. There was a price difference of 18 cents per litre. This was without factoring in the supermarket discount coupons. (Buy x amount of groceries at a certain supermarket and they will give you from between 4- 40 cents off per litre at a participating petrol station. ) There was also talk in the newspaper of charging a $2 road toll charge for driving on Auckland motorways to increase revenue so that they could improve the infrastructure. Yes, we have motorways but they are all free apart from the one road toll north of Auckland and I think that is it for the entire country. The road conditions are pretty good considering the small budget that the country has to contend with. We enjoyed the break away from the everyday.

I got curious as to how much tax we were paying for the petrol we were buying. This is what I found out. See the pie chart below for details.
petrol-tax
MUSIC
The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

MTHFR gene and Methylfolate

 

folate

©bloodwork.com

After reading Everyday Asperger’s  blog post here about the MTHFR gene and methylfolate I got in the car almost immediately afterwards and drove to the late night supermarket to hunt for methylfolate. Being a supplement I thought I had a slight chance of it being available. No luck. Only folic acid. We then went further afield and looked for the all night pharmacy. We drove past it but couldn’t see it as it was too dark. We took a chance and drove to another pharmacy that we thought might be 24 hours open. It wasn’t. Although a disappointing result I felt victorious. I had taken action to find something to aid in my combat tool kit for depression and general mental health.

Day 2 in the search was little better. The first pharmacy said no immediately but recommended another pharmacy down the road. We wandered a little further. No stock but they could order it from the States. I got their contact number and said I would call if i didn’t have any luck. By this time I was tired of looking. It was suggested to me that calling ahead might be a better use of time. A sensible suggestion. But sometimes you just want to run around like a headless chook.

Day 3 I called back the pharmacy and ordered methylfolate (Metafolin).  I was in a pharmacy, another one and asked about methylfolate. The pharmacist there hadn’t heard of it, but she showed curiosity and a willingness to learn. She said she would look it up and I also mentioned the MTHFR gene too. She initially thought I was looking for folic acid but I said no, not everyone can absorb it.
I am very surprised at the lack of access to methylfolate. I cannot wait to try it and see if it helps me. I am very hopeful.

I waited patiently…

The order arrived four days later. I got a phone call from the pharmacy I was in the car in time before it closed for the day.

Two weeks later….

I feel like my head is clear and I have more energy and want to be active. I feel brighter. The difference after taking methylfolate (Metafolin) is dramatic. At the same time I am slowly improving my diet and eating more vegetables especially ones rich in minerals and vitamins. I have self diagnosed this need for folate. If I want to confirm that I do in fact have a mutant MTHFR gene then I can order a gene kit. See below if you want to find out more about your DNA.

(Update:
Four weeks later….
I am really beginning to feel like my old self again. Enjoying being me again. Energy levels much greater than without folate. Will look at adding Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 to my daily routine.)

So what is MTHFR?
methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (NAD(P)H)
For detailed information go to Genetics Home Reference.

MTHFR Support Australia (40 minute recorded youtube talk with visuals)

folate_absoprtion

©lef.org

What is Folate or Methylfolate? Is it the same as Folic Acid?
‘Folate is Vitamin B9 and is NOT the same as folic acid. (Folic acid is synthetic and is not found in nature.)‘* See the number of transformations that folic acid must go through in order to be useful to the body. However if you have a mutant MTHFR gene then folic acid supplements won’t ever help. Folate supplements on the other hand can be absorbed into your body right away without the need to transform into something else before being useful.
Folate = L-methylfolate = Metafolin = 5-MTHF = L-MTHF = L-5-MTHF = MTHF

How is FOLATE labelled?

Calcium salt based:
L-MTHF, L-5-MTHF, MTHF, L-Methylfolate
Metafolin®: Merck, medical food (NeevoDHA, Metanx, Cerefolin and Deplin)
Extrafolate-S®: Gnosis, dietary supplement available over the counter
Generic/racemic formulas, dietary supplement available over the counter

Glucosamine salt based:
Quatrefolic®: Gnosis, dietary supplement available over the counter’**

**www.methylpro.com

How much do you need daily?
800mcg folate is recommended daily. You might see results with 400mcg folate.

*MTHFR Support Australia

DNA Kit
To check whether you have a mutant MTHFR gene you can order a DNA Kit from 23and Me.
Cost is US$99. You send them a sample of saliva and they return a printout of raw genetic data. You will not find out about future health issues or your likely time of departure.

Note: I am not a medical professional. This blog post is for information purposes only. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

MUSIC
London Grammar – Metal and Dust