Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness And How To Slow It

 Every wonder what causes guys to lose their hair?  It starts to recede by the temples or in the back and from there it’s just downhill.  It’s mostly genetic.  And it’s also a sex linked genetic pattern.  That means if you want to tell if a guy is going to go bald early in life, you need to look at his mother’s father and see what his hair was like.  Did he lose it early?  If the answer is yes, the guy in question probably will too.  What actually causes male pattern baldness is excess testosterone gets converted to a molecule called DHT.  DHT is what starts the cascade and makes individual hair follicles start to fall out. 

It’s starting to be a fad in the US that males are getting tested to check their testosterone levels.  If it’s low, physicians who jump on the health trends band wagon are putting them on extra testosterone.  Testosterone comes in a shot form, cream, and it recently just came out in a under the arm deodorant like application tube.  To be on extra testosterone, it has to be by prescription.  A side effect of giving men extra testosterone is that there is more of it for the body to convert to DHT.  And remember how DHT causes a male’s hair to fall out?  A side effect for some men of putting extra testosterone in their body is an increase in hair loss.  A lot of them don’t make the connection between the testosterone and their increasingly thinning hair, but you need to be cautious of side effects if you go on prescription medication. 

Luckily, there is a way to slow male patterned balding.  There are a lot of quackery remedies out there, so be extra careful when you shop.  If you can stop testosterone from being converted to DHT, you can prevent a male’s hair from falling out.  There are only a few ways to do this.  Rogaine is basically a medicated shampoo that helps slow testosterone from being converted to DHT.  It has a chemical called Minoxidil in it that prevents hair from being lost and stimulates hair growth.  There are several prescription medications that do the same thing.

With both the Rogaine and the prescription medication,  it’s best to start to use it when hair is just starting to thin out.  Once the hair is lost, it’s very difficult to grow any of it back because the hair follicles are no longer active.  If you wait too long, it will be impossible to grow back.  Rogaine is expensive and the prescription medication can be too if you don’t have good health insurance.   For most guys, it’s definitely worth the investment.  But in reality, this is the only way to go if you really want to starve off male patterned baldness.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cloth Diapers Protect a Baby Boy's Reproductive Future

Cloth diapers rock for many reasons.  I was lucky enough to be a cloth diaper baby.  A few years ago, almost all the mom’s I knew used plastic disposable diapers.  Now, cloth diapers are becoming more and more common.  Cloth diapers save families money, cut back on diaper rash for sensitive skin, and reduce the excess waste produced from plastic diapers piling up in landfills.  Some parents claim that cloth diapers enable their babies to be potty trainer faster.  Cloth diapers also spare exposure to some of the harsh chemicals that are in plastic diapers.  The most important reason to use cloth diapers is it helps preserve a baby boy’s reproductive potential.

As adults, men who had cloth diapers as babies have higher sperm counts than men who were diapered in plastic disposable diapers.  When a boy baby is diapered in a plastic disposable diaper, it insulates the scrotum area pretty well.  It can get very hot inside his diaper.  The testicles were made to be in the scrotum outside the body because they need to be kept 2-3 degrees cooler than body temperature.  When the testicles of a baby are insulated in a diaper and start to heat up for long periods of time, it begins to damage the sperm making “machinery” inside the scrotum.  Once the tubules that produce the sperm are damaged, they can’t be repaired.  The more the area heats up to a higher temp, the more sperm making machinery is destroyed.  When this baby boy grows up and becomes a man, his sperm count is lower than it could have been if he hadn’t had some of the tubules that made his sperm destroyed by heat early on in life.  Overall, if parents want to give their son the best reproductive future possible, cloth diapers are the way to go.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What To Give Trick Or Treaters For a Healthy Halloween

October may be the month that kids consume the most sugar.  For a youngster, the high point of Halloween is dressing up in a costume, collecting candy, and consuming it until they put themselves in a sugar coma. I Loved to trick or treat when I was little.  I looked forward to Halloween night all year.  My thrill came from running to house to house and collecting what they were handing out.  When I was a youngster, the houses that handed out something different than candy are the houses I like the best.

With the obesity crisis facing the United States, do kids these days really need more candy?  I don’t think we should load them up with candy when a lot of kids already don’t eat enough good fruits and vegetables.  Most parents appreciate their children getting stickers or a glow bracelet instead of one more chocolate bar or sucker they have to confiscate and ration out to the child later (or consume themselves).

Instead of handing out candy, try something new this year.  You could hand out quarters, a small sheet of stickers, or glow sticks.  If you handed out glow sticks, the kids would think your house was the coolest house on the block.  It’s such a new and novel idea, chances are, your neighbors won’t have thought of it yet. 

Glow sticks are totally safe and a lot of fun.  They glow in the dark and once on the child’s wrist, around their neck, or attached to their costume, it helps keep track of them in the dark as they run.  To get them ready, you take them out of the package and slightly bend them until you hear a slight cracking sound, then they start to glow.  You can put them in a basket and let the Trick or Treaters pick what color they want.  The glowing will usually last the night.  My favorite as a child was the glow stick necklaces.  If you have over 50 trick or treaters, you may want to consider the glow stick bracelets.  If you buy glow sticks, you will want to open the box and start getting them ready maybe 25 minutes before the Trick or Treating starts.   This year, they have tri-color mixed glow necklaces, which are the coolest yet.  What’s best of all is handing out glow bracelets or glow necklaces can sometimes cost less than handing out candy!

The key to handing out something other than candy is getting it ready ahead of time.  15 minutes of planning a few weeks before Halloween is all it takes.  I admit I’ve waited until Halloween evening to get a pumpkin carved, but as life has gotten hectic, I know planning brings success.  Take some time this week and get a plan for what you’re going to hand out to Trick or Treaters.  You’ll save yourself the last minute rush to the store to purchase candy and instead be the one house on the block that parents appreciate.

I added a link to the glow stick bracelets and necklaces below.  Each bracelet is a different color and the necklaces are tri-color.  Depending on where you live, they can be really hard to find in stores.  Because the links are to Amazon, it’s the lowest price I’ve seen.  Whatever you end up doing this Halloween, get ready early and have fun!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Benefits of Co-Sleeping With Baby*

Co-sleeping with baby is a hot topic.  Either parents are highly in favor of it, or they’re very against it.  Some people cite it as being a dangerous practice.  And it can be unsafe, if not done the right way.  As long as you use common sense and take care to co-sleep with the correct precautions, co-sleeping with baby can be beneficial for both the baby and the mother.

The one thing most parents who co-sleep do wrong is they don’t have the bed arranged correctly.  If you co-sleep with baby, parents should be really and willing to make some lifestyle changes to ensure their child’s safety.  The best way to co-sleep is to take the top mattress off the bedframe and put it on the floor.  Put the bed frame into storage for 6-9 months, or for the duration of you’re baby’s co-sleeping career.  I know this is a lifestyle change, but it’s worth the benefit.  It also helps to have a large mattress.  If parents don’t want to put the top mattress on the floor and only pull the sheets up to their waist, then the baby needs to go in a crib.  Parents have the top mattress on the floor and then line the sides with pillows.  That way, baby can sleep between the parents or on the side of the bed by the mother.  As soon as the baby is old enough to roll over, he or she will need to sleep between the two parents.  If the top mattress is on the floor and the sides are lined with pillows, in the event the baby does slide off the edge, he or she only falls a few inches onto a pillow.  At this point, the baby usually wakes up and alerts the mother. 

The other very important key to co-sleeping is to have the bed sheets only pulled up only to waist level.  A lot of co-sleeping parents sleep with a top sheet and they tuck it in really tight at waist level.  This way, the sheets won’t ride up in the night and cause the baby to suffocate. 

Co-sleeping also cuts down on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  SIDS is most common between 3-6 months of age.  So if mom is going to co-sleep with the baby, she should make sure to do it at least through 6 months of age. 

Lastly, when a mother co-sleeps with the baby, studies have shown that they begin to synchronize sleep cycles.  People cycle through different sleep cycles.  You need to get through most of a full sleep cycle for it to have a restorative effect.  People will go through a sleep cycle about every 2-4 hours while they are sleeping.  As soon as they’re done with one cycle, their body begins the next one.  REM is the part of the sleep cycle where people dream; it’s the part of sleep just before they wake up.  When mother and baby co-sleep, they begin to come out of REM sleep around the same time.  That way when the baby naturally wakes up and needs to nurse, the mother is in a part of her sleep cycle where she also easily wakes up.  If the baby were in a crib, mother and baby would be on different parts of their sleep cycles.  This means that when the baby woke up and began to cry, the mother would get wrenched out of a deep sleep and have to get up and tend to the baby.  If mother and baby synchronize sleep cycles, the mother doesn’t feel as tired during the day.

Most health professionals are against co-sleeping, and for good reason.  If done incorrectly or carelessly, it could have dire consequences.  You will always find parents who refuse to put the mattress on the floor, insist they need to use a full comforter, etc, and claim everything turned out fine for them.  They’re lucky.  Infant deaths have resulted from suffocation and fractures due to incorrect co-sleeping with a baby.  It’s not worth the risk.  Co-sleeping has to be done right for it to be a safe practice.  As long as co-sleeping is done done with care, it can be good for both the mother and the baby. 
*As with any advice in regards to children, consult your pediatrician before making lifestyle changes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Does Your Child Need a Multivitamin?

Some people say that as long as a child eats a variety of foods, they don’t need a multivitamin.  But are you sure that you give your child enough Vitamin A, D, E, K, calcium, iron, B12, B6, riboflavin, ect daily?  Most healthcare workers say there is no harm in giving a child a children’s multivitamin.  Giving a child a children’s vitamin daily ensures they get all the vitamins and minerals their body needs to develop and grow.  If they already have enough of certain vitamins, the extra nutrients will just wash through their body and not be absorbed.  A children’s vitamin really doesn’t have much in it.  It’s very watered down.  As long as you use a good brand, I recommend a child taking a children’s vitamin once each day.  If you schedule is really busy, then giving it to them more days than not is good too.  It’s only beneficial.

When your child becomes an adolescent, it’s really important to give them a multivitamin.  The highest prevalence of nutritional deficiencies occurs during adolescence.  During this the teens, your child starts to make more food choices on their own.  They may decide what they eat at school and start getting their own snacks at home.  As your child learns to drive or gets very busy with after school sports practices or dance classes, it easier and easier to just pick fast food up instead of sitting down to a vegetable laden, nutritious and balanced family dinner. Studies have shown that the American adolescent consumes more than one third of their calories as fat, and most of those are saturated fat.  For the average adolescent, French fries make up a full fourth of the vegetables they consume.  It’s no wonder that adolescents are often deficient in calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins A and C.  Above all, it’s very important to keep encouraging your adolescent to make healthy food choices.  Like with a children’s vitamin, make sure you pick a good brand of multivitamin because not all vitamins are made the same.  Having an adolescent take a multivitamin isn’t a substitute for healthy eating, but it helps ensure that that at least get some of the vitamins and minerals they need to keep going strong. 

Upcoming blog post: How to pick a great multivitamin  Also, send me your health questions that you want answered and hopefully we can make it happen!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Deciding If Your Child Needs Fluoride

Dental hygiene and fluoride for a child…there seems to be a ton of confusing information out there.  The current recommendation is that the parent should start examining the child’s mouth at age 6 months and gently brushing gums and any teeth present.  The child should have their first dental exam at a dentist’s office by age 3.  Some states require a child to have had a dental visit by the time they start kindergarten.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the maximum allowable level of fluoride in the community drinking water to range from .7ppm -1.2ppm.  If you and your family drink well water or filtered water, there is probably no fluoride in it.   There has been a movement in the past few years to filter water before drinking and also to start using all-natural toothpaste with no fluoride.  This has led to an increase in cavities in very young children.  If your child is not exposed to any fluoride, they will get cavities. 
I realize most parents filter water to rid it of lead, toxins, and other impurities, but if you filter your water, you have to give your child fluoride from other sources.  It’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Children should use a pea size amount of toothpaste and try not to swallow too much when brushing.  Children can overdose on fluoride, but it’s really rare.  Overdosing on fluoride is hard to do and unless your child craves eating toothpaste by the tube, it probably won’t happen.

What is also important is giving your child fluoride treatments.  Fluoride supplements are available as a liquid for younger children and as tablets for older children.  Parent’s need to get the prescription for the fluoride liquid or tablets from their child’s pediatrician or dentist.  It’s one of the best things your can do to protect their teeth from cavities.  If your child needs fluoride and how much depends on how much is in the drinking water.  I’ve posted the chart below to help parents determine if their child needs extra fluoride supplements:

Recommended Dietary Fluoride* Supplement Schedule

0-6 months
6mo-3 years
.25 mg/d
3-6 years
.5 mg/d
.25 mg/d
6-16 years
1.0 mg/d
.50 mg/d

*Sodium fluoride (2.2 mg =1 mg fluoride ion)

I know this chart can be confusing at first, but once you figure out where your child fits on it, it’s very helpful.  You will have to call your water treatment center, look online, or look at the yearly water report to find out exactly how much fluoride is in your drinking water.  This is key to knowing how much fluoride in the form of a liquid or tablets to give your child, if any. 

For example, if your drinking water has more than .6ppm of fluoride in it, your child has enough fluoride exposure to adequately protect their teeth.  As long as you brush their teeth and use common sense with normal teeth hygiene, they should be fine.

If the fluoride in the water falls between .3 to .6ppm, then when your child reaches 3 years old until they are 6 years old, you give them .25 of fluoride mg/day.   When they are 6-16 years old, you give them .50mg of fluoride/day.

If you child has less than .3ppm of fluoride in their drinking water, or no fluoride, then at 6 months to 3 years of age, you give them .25 mg /day of fluoride.  At age 3-6 years old, you give them .5mg of fluoride/day.  At 6-16 years old, you give them 1mg of fluoride per day.

Hopefully this information will help clear up some of the incorrect information that is floating around about fluoride and how it should be used to correctly prevent tooth decay and cavities.  For your child, it’s best to use multiple sources of fluoride, like fluoride tablets and also fluoride toothpaste.  There are also children’s mouthwashes with fluoride in them.  Always check with your dentist or pediatrician before starting fluoride supplementation treatments.  Parents need to get the fluoride prescription from a pediatrician or dentist anyway.  Depending on your dentist or pediatrician, their dosing schedule may be a little different, but what I’ve posted is the current recommendation at this time.  It’s the schedule I would use.  Nothing can guarantee your child won’t get any cavities, but getting an adequate amount of fluoride will set them on a path to have a healthy mouth and good dental hygiene.