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Posted on June 2, 2018 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (634)


Besides wearing sunscreen when you visit the beach or take a dive in your swimming pool, how important really is sunscreen? Well, up to 90% of the visible damage on your skin can be attributed to sun exposure. In addition to aging the skin, sun exposure substantially increases the likelihood of developing skin cancer, the most common cancer in humans. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 people develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. People who hope to maintain their skin's youth and protect it from cancer, should seriously consider wearing sunscreen regularly.

Sunscreens are usually a white, creamy color, though they can sometimes be slightly tinted. Their primary use is filter out variant forms of UV light. Specifically, they prevent UV lights A and B from penetrating the skin and causing damage. This is why the FDA requested that it be called "sunscreen" rather than "sunblock."

Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a long wavelength, allowing it to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, causing skin damages such as wrinkles (photoaging) and mutagenic effects in our DNA that can lead to skin cancer. UVA persists throughout the entire day, and can go through glass and clouds, so remember to wear your sunscreen before a drive, even on a cloudy day! 

Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are strongest between the hours of 10AM-4PM. They're responsible for inducing the production of melanin in your skin, a protein that acts to protect the skin from photodamage. This is also what induces the tanning effect by essentially burning the superficial layer of the skin. Too much exposure to UVB can increase your risk of your skin cancers. 

Nevertheless, not all sunscreens are made alike. For instance, many sunscreens can potentially disrupt hormonal balance and are hazardous to our ocean's wildlife. Additionally, a significant percentage of people are vitamin D deficient, and they need exposure to the sun to produce vitamin D in their bodies. This is why it is important to find a sunscreen that only protects from UVA and UVB. So let's discuss what to look for in your sunscreen: 

What is SPF (sun protection factor)?

Each sunscreen should have an SPF number. This number indicates what ratio of UV light can still penetrate through your skin while the sunscreen is being used. To further explain, an SPF of 30 means that theoretically only 1/30th of sun rays can still penetrate through your skin. An SPF of 15, then, means 1/15th of rays can still penetrate through your skin. In other words, SPF 15 blocks 94% of UV light, while SPF 30 blocks up to 97%, SPF 45 blocks up to 98% and so on. 

Look for a “ broad spectrum sunscreen,” which blocks both UVA and UVB.

There are several types of UV sunscreens, such as chemical (organic) and non- chemical (inorganic). Be cautious of the word “organic,” which has a different implication here then what we're used to in our food. Here, organic is used to discuss organic chemicals versus inorganic minerals.

Organic sunscreens use chemicals manifactured in a lab that absorb the UV rays and convert it into heat. They usually contain one or more of the following ingredients: Oxybenzone, abvobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and/or octinoxate. Inorganic sunscreens, on the other hand, are mineral-based. 

Mineral (Inorganic) Sunscreens

Inorganic sunscreens are actually chemical free, natural sunscreens, which reflect and scatter the UV radiations.

They contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients.

Which to choose and why?

Mineral (inorganic) over chemical (organic). Mineral sunscreens are usually less irritating to the skin and are considered safer. Chemical sunscreens could potentially disrupt the estrogen hormone, and the chemical oxybenzone widely used in most chemical sunscreens can be disruptive to ocean wildlife.

Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is the best mineral-based sunscreen so far. It prevents UV lights better than titanium dioxide, and it's a critical mineral nutrient in many vitamin supplements. Zinc oxide is very safe for the skin, and the FDA has actually approved the use of zinc oxide in creams for babies with diaper rash, 

It has also been studied that zinc oxide has several other benefits to the skin. For example, tt is antiseptic, absorbs moisture, and especially useful for severe eczema. It also been approved to be used in facial skin redness as a soothing preparation.

Several important considerations on sunscreen and sun exposure:

For most people, it only takes 5 to 10 minutes to burn without sunscreen, however it depends on the UV index, skin type, severity of the sun, etc. However, it may take hours to see the manifestation of the burn, even though the damage to skin occured much earlier.

It's usually recommended that you reapply sunscreen every 120 minutes after initial proper application. Apply again after swimming, sweating, and towel wiping. Use water resistant sunscreen if swimming.

How long a person can stay in sun with sunscreen application

You can calculate the time by multiplying the SPF by 6. For example, in the case of SPF 30, the maximum time one can stay under the sun steadily with sunscreen without burning is 180 minutes. Reapplication of the sunscreen does not prolong this time. Meaning, after about 3 hours, people with fair skin should try to get out of the sun. 

Getting to Know Your Vitamins

Posted on April 18, 2018 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (164)
Vitamin A

Vitamins save lives, literally. Interestingly enough, however, the average person tends to know so little about them, and how they help our body. For instance, beauty magazines and blogs rave about the benefits of Vitamin A for vision and skin benefits, but people actually have the greatest risk of toxicity for Vitamin A. Now, this doesn't mean everyone is safe to assume their Vitamin A intake is adequate, but it does indicate that the manner at which people approach obtaining their vitamins could be incorrect. To specify, Vitamin A toxicity from diet alone, is incredibly unlikely, as food sources don't have enough concentrated levels of Vitamin A. Where the problem lies is the inproper use of Vitamin A supplements.

Nevertheless, this is why having a proper diet is so important, so let's start with what exactly Vitamin A is. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in the promotion of healthy vision, skin, and neurological function. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant, which is essential in immune health. Vitamin A can primarily be found in 2 forms, as "active Vitamin A," more commonly referred to as retinol or as "provitamin A," the most common and essential being beta-carotene. Retinol can be found from animal products and beta-carotene is most commonly found in colorfule fruits such as carrots and mangos. If I haven't convinced you of the importance of obtaining Vitamin A properly in your diet yet,  I'm going to give you 4 reasons to convince you to do so: 

1. Eye/Vision Health 

Vitamin A is an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors. Additionally, beta-carotene can help prevent macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of vision loss in aging individuals. 

2. Skin Health & Cell Growth 

Vitamin A is necessary for wound healing and skin regrowth. It is especially needed by the epithelial cells, which are very prevalent in the skin, blood vessels, and organs. Vitamin A also helps in the formation of collagen, which can help limit lines and wrinkles in the skin, causing it to slow aging. Moreover, it can aid in the prevention of acne and skin cancers. 

3. Immune System Support 

The genes involved in the immune response system are dependent upon Vitamin A. As such, Vitamin A is not only important for fighting the common cold, but also for the autoimmune system and the prevention of cancers. 

4. Prevents Inflammation 

Vitamin A neutralizes the free radicals in the body that can cause tissue and cell damage. It's been scientifically proven that reduced inflammation is correlated to a reduced risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. 

Vitamin A deficiences are very common in low-income areas and countries. It is especially important in children, and Vitamin A deficiences can lead to severe issues such as blindness and even death. Alcoholics are also at great risk for Vitamin A deficiences. Signs of Vitamin A deficiences can include vision impairment, dry skin, diarrhea, and respiratory probems. 

Two of the very best sources of Vitamin A are carrots and sweet potatoes. Nonetheless, several other foods contain heart amounts of Vitamin A such as kale, eggs, tuna fish, mangos, squash, beef liver, etc. With a balanced diet, having a sufficient amount of Vitamin A should be easy! 

Getting to Know Your Vitamins

Posted on April 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (85)
Vitamin B

Vitamins save lives, literally. Interestingly enough, however, the average person tends to know so little about them, and how they help our body. For instance, Vitamin B wasn’t discovered until years after the disease Beriberi caused an epidemic in the late 19thcentury. Beriberi is essentially a disease caused by a thiamine deficiency (a Vitamin B1 deficiency). It was the national disease of Japan in the 19thcentury, primarily because the population depended heavily on refined, white rice rather than a whole grain diet (like brown rice, which contains the amine groups).

In fact, the only known US health epidemic occurred from the 1920s to the 1960s due to a Vitamin B3 deficiency which caused the disease Pellagra. Thousands died every year from Pellagra, experiencing symptoms such as broken, dry skin and causing delirious behavior (so badly so that tens of thousands of people were put into insane asylums).

So what’s my point, am I trying to say that a lack of knowledge about Vitamins is going to cause you to contract a terrible illness? No, but hopefully throughout the series of vitamin blogs, I am able to convince you of the power vitamins have to keep your body healthy. There’s an incredible amount of valuable information that could be helpful to your everyday health just waiting to be revealed, and I’m going to begin this journey by discussing Vitamin B.

There are 8 different water-soluble Vitamin B vitamins that make up what we like to call the B-complex. These vitamins are primarily responsible for aiding in metabolic processes such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat synthesis. They aide in the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA, and they can help maintain healthy skin and muscle. Since these vitamins are water soluble, they are easily excreted from the body, so they need be replenished almost daily. This isn’t too much of an issue, considering Vitamin B is so readily available in a balanced diet. However, the issue is so many of us don’t have a balanced diet. With the fast pace of everyday life, and the extensive amount of hip, dessert-like pop up stores coming out with new food trends, it’s easy to skip the basic essentials. With that being said, lets cover the B-complex, one vitamin at a time!

  • Vitamin B1: Thiamine
    • Thiamine is generally responsible for converting food to energy, and it can also have neurological benefits (who doesn’t love a healthy brain!)
    • Some of the best sources for thiamine are whole grains, milk, and eggs.
    • Fortunately, Thiamine deficiencies are rare in the US because even processed grains tend to be fortified with Thiamine.

  • Vitamin B2: Riboflavin
    • Riboflavin is also responsible for helping to convert food to energy, and it has the added benefit of being great for your vision and skin health!
    • The best sources for this vitamin are similar to those of Vitamin B1 and include whole grains, milk, and eggs.

  • Vitamin B3: Niacin
    • Niacin helps convert carbohydrates, fats, and alcohols into energy, while aiding in proper digestion and a healthy appetite. It can also help your skin maintain its health!
    • Some of the best sources of niacin include chicken, fish, liver, red meat, and whole grains.
    • Deficiencies in niacin are not commonly seen in the US because people tend to love their meat

  • Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid
    • Pantothenic acid is especially important for the breakdown of fatty acids, along with carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
    • Some easy, popular ways to get pantothenic acid into your diet is to eat avocados and yoghurt (a favorite of many!)
    • Some studies have shown that pantothenic acid ointment on the skin can help shorten the healing time of wounds and reduce scar tissue.

  • Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine
    • Pyridoxine helps the body turn food into energy, and it can also help the body fight infections.
    • Pregnant/Breastfeeding women need more pyridoxine to help their baby’s brain function.
    • The best sources include tuna, salmon, chicken breast, watermelon, spinach, potatoes, ground beef, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin B7: Biotin
    • Biotin is needed for energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and glycogen synthesis.
    • There is usually no worry for a deficiency of Biotin; however, bodybuilders who consume a lot of raw egg whites can have deficiencies because a protein in egg whites inhibits biotin absorption. This can lead to dry, cracked skin, hallucinations, depression, hair loss, and muscle pain.
    • High biotin uptake, on the other hand, can lead to high cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B9: Folate/Folic acid
    • Folate fosters the growth of red blood cells.
    • Some simple sources include red meats, whole grains, citrus fruits, fish, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B-12: Cobalamin
    • Cobalamin helps regulate the nervous system and plays a role in the growth and formation of red blood cells.
    • The best sources of Cobalamin can be found in meat & dairy products (vegans likely need B12 supplements).

With a balanced diet, having a sufficient amount of Vitamin B should be easy! However, note that because the B-complex is water soluble, excessive intake of alcohol can inhibit the absorption of the B vitamins.