Vitamin K Is (Finally) Having A Moment

When you think of vitamins, you probably start at the beginning of the alphabet. A, B, C—you get the picture. But something weird happens after vitamin E: We skip straight to vitamin K.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, vitamin K has long been considered last—and least. Yet despite its lack of limelight, K is still important for your health.

For starters, there are actually two types of this fat-soluble vitamin: vitamin K1 (a.k.a. ‘phylloquinone’), which supports blood clotting after injury, and vitamin K2 (a.k.a. ‘menaquinone’), which promotes strong bones and a healthy heart. The bacteria in our gut produce some vitamin K2, and we get the rest of our Ks from food.

The Benefits

Wound healing. “Without the clotting benefit of vitamin K1, a simple paper cut could cause massive bleeding,” says Maria Zamarripa, M.S., R.D., owner of FoodFarmacistRD. Why? Our bodies need vitamin K to produce the proteins that help blood clot. That’s why it’s used when a patient on prescription blood thinners experiences an uncontrolled bleeding incident, and is even given to newborns who don’t yet have enough vitamin K in their bodies for proper blood clotting, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Strong bones. Ever wonder why you see K2 in bone support supplements? “K2 can boost bones’ absorption and utilization of calcium,” says Zamarripa. This supports stronger bone density, which is key in preventing osteoporosis, fractures, and injury as we age. In fact, one study found that postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who took 45 milligrams of vitamin K2 with 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day saw a significant increase in lumbar bone mineral density.

Heart health. Because vitamin K2 activates an enzyme that shuttles calcium into the bones, it also promotes heart health by preventing calcium from building up in the arteries, says Zamarripa.

How Much K Do You Need?

This is where things get a little confusing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 90 micrograms of total vitamin K per day for women and 120 micrograms per day for men. However, since testing vitamin K levels (particularly K2) is difficult and there’s not enough data to determine how much K is best for most people, this recommendation is based only on the K1 levels already seen in healthy people

That’s why the research organization believes that the current recommendations are insufficient for the optimal function of the proteins in our tissues (like bones and blood vessels) that depend on vitamin K. “Our concern is that there is a current RDA for K1, but none for Vitamin K2—so the population is not receiving its bone and cardiovascular benefits,” says Katarzyna Maresz, Ph.D., President of the International Science and Health Foundation, the independent international research consortium that created

For now, the NIH asserts that vitamin K is only of concern for people who take blood thinners or have bleeding disorders—but Maresz’s organization suggests it’s also important for newborns, children, adults over 40, and people with kidney issues, intestinal disorders (like IBS), and cystic fibrosis, who may all be lacking in that bacteria-produced K2.

The organization also posits that the typical Western diet contains insufficient amounts of vitamin K2—an issue that’s only worsened by our frequent use of antibiotics, which “can kill the good bacteria in our gut, potentially reducing our vitamin K2 levels,” Zamarripa says.

How To Up Your Intake

You’ll find the more-common vitamin K1 in dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, such as kale (531 micrograms per cooked half cup), spinach (444 micrograms per cooked half cup), broccoli (220 micrograms per cooked cup), Brussels sprouts (219 micrograms per cooked cup), and Swiss chard (299 micrograms per raw cup).

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The elusive vitamin K2, meanwhile, is found in pasture-raised animal products such as full-fat dairy, egg yolks (six micrograms per egg), and ground beef (six micrograms per three-ounce serving). It also has another lesser-known, more potent source: a Japanese dish called ‘natto,’ which is made from fermented soybeans and packs a whopping 850 micrograms per three-ounce serving. A study of elderly Japanese men even links habitual intake of natto—and its vitamin K2—with increased bone health.

To make sure you’re gettinbg adequate K2, Maresz recommends taking a high-quality K2 supplement—45 micrograms a day for children and 180 micrograms a day for healthy adults. And, “if your doctor prescribes antibiotics, make sure eat plenty of dark leafy green vegetables and fermented dairy products like yogurt, or take a supplement, to replenish your vitamin K,” says Zamarripa, (We like The Vitamin Shoppe brand 100mcg Vitamin K2.)

Since vitamin K can affect the effectiveness of blood thinners, talk with your doctor before adding a supplement—or even more leafy greens—to your routine if you’re on medication.

5 Nutrients That Are Good For Your Heart—Other Than Fish Oil

As inconvenient as fish burps may be, they’re well worth the heart health benefits that omega-3s offer. After all, these fatty acids bolster our immune system, support artery function, and play a crucial role in our cell membranes and receptors.

Loading up on salmon, taking your fish oil, and penciling in those cardio workouts aren’t the only things you can do to take care of your heart, though. “The food you eat is the most important factor that directly impacts your heart health,” says Rebecca Lee, R.N., creator of natural health and wellness site Remedies For Me. In addition to a balanced diet of lean proteins, unsaturated fats, vegetables, and fruits, there are a number of specific nutrients (like omegas) out there that help keep your ticker ticking on strong. Make sure they make it onto your plate regularly, or consider adding a supplement to your daily routine.


1. Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial to many processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function, and blood sugar and blood pressure regulation. “Higher magnesium intake has been associated with lower blood pressure, and helps stabilize the cardiac membrane,” says Amnon Beniaminovitz, M.D., cardiologist at Manhattan Cardiology.

We need 310 (women) to 400 (men) milligrams of magnesium daily, which is found in leafy greens, like spinach (78 milligrams per half cup) and Swiss chard, cashews (74 milligrams per ounce), black beans (60 milligrams per half cup), avocados (44 milligrams per cup), edamame (50 milligrams per half cup) and dark chocolate (41 milligrams per ounce).

To supplement with magnesium, you can stir powdered magnesium citrate into water and sip throughout the day or pop a magnesium tablet or capsule.


 2. Turmeric (Curcumin)

Turmeric, the yellow spice used in Indian curries, has been a star in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and your Instagram feed because it contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin, which supports our cardiovascular health by bolstering our body’s immune response. The antioxidant helps promote blood flow and blood vessel wall function.

Related: 12 Tasty Ways To Eat Turmeric (Other Than Golden Milk)

Experts recommend pairing turmeric with black pepper, since piperine, the active compound in black pepper, increases our absorption of turmeric’s curcumin. Look for a turmeric supplement that contains both curcumin and black pepper, or brew yourself some golden milk with coconut milk, two and a half teaspoons of turmeric, and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper.


3. Vitamin D

Not only does vitamin D regulate how much calcium makes its way to our bones, but it’s also crucial for our immune and cardiovascular systems. While we can get some vitamin D from egg yolks, fatty fish, and fortified dairy, between 50 and 90 percent of our vitamin D should ideally come from the sun, says Lee. Given the limited time many of us spend outside—especially in the wintertime—most of us fall short.

Lower concentrations of vitamin D are associated with a number of cardiovascular issues, while higher concentrations appear to support overall cardiovascular health.

Our vitamin D needs increase as we age and there’s a lot of back and forth about just how much D we need to reduce disease risk. Doctors now recommend as much as 1,000 to 2,000 IUs—but too much of this vitamin can damage our kidneys, so the National Institutes of Health recommends adults get 600 IUs of vitamin D a day. If you’re concerned about your D levels, talk to your doctor about testing your levels to find the right dose for you.


4. Red Yeast Rice

Made from a strain of yeast that’s grown on rice, red yeast rice is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese cuisine. Its heart health benefits come from a compound called monacolin K, which helps support healthy cholesterol—particularly that LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, says Beniaminovitz.

Since red yeast rice isn’t a staple in the American diet, Dr. Beniaminovitz suggests supplementing with 600 milligrams daily after checking with your doctor. (It can interfere with certain medications.)


5. CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 (a.k.a ‘CoQ10’) is a naturally-occurring compound found in organ meats, chicken, sardines, cauliflower, and broccoli, that acts as an antioxidant and helps cells produce energy. Research suggests CoQ10 has a number of cardiovascular benefits, including supporting healthy blood pressure.

There are two types of CoQ10 supplements out there: an active form called ubiquinol and an oxidized form called ubiquinone. Most of the CoQ10 found in our bodies is in ubiquinol form, and some studies have found it to be more bioavailable, though you’ll find supplements containing both forms. Most CoQ10 supplements offer about 100 milligrams a pop, but check with your doctor before supplementing if you’re on blood thinners.

Pin this handy infographic for heart health reference!

Got Back Pain? Here’s What To Do About It

If you find yourself dealing with back pain on the regular, you’re in the majority, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In fact, 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain at least once in their lives. But why?

The most common causes of lower back pain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, include sprains and strains, intervertebral disc degeneration, herniated discs, sciatica, spondylolisthesis, traumatic injuries, spinal stenosis, and skeletal irregularities (think scoliosis).

Dr. Raj Gupta, a chiropractor and founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center, says that pain often results from being sedentary, too-heavy and improper lifting, and just from getting older.

“Since every segment of your spine is freely movable (enabling us to have full range of motion), pain can arise as a result of trauma like a sports injury, car accidents or slip-and-fall accidents that knock a joint out of place,” Gupta says. “Should a vertebrae become misaligned and stay that way, degenerative changes (arthritis) begin and cause pain too.”

Dr. Gupta explains that with each step we take, our pelvis rotates back and forth and the iliac crest (which is on the top of each hip) oscillates within a track on our sacrum (a bone between the hipbones and pelvis). This track, called the sacroiliac joint (or, SI Joint, for short) is where most people get back pain.

According to Dr. Gupta, there are some more natural ways that may help ease (or even potentially prevent) pain:

1. Proper Posture

Did your mother ever tell you to sit up straight? Of course she did! And she was right. In one study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, people with a slouching habit reported the highest levels of lower back pain. How to stop slouching? You’ll want to be mindful of how you hold your body, says Dr. Gupta—that goes for when you’re standing, sitting, or doing anything else.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can do a wall test to help assess your posture: First, you’ll want to stand against a wall so your head, shoulder blades, and butt touches it. Your heels should be two-four inches from the wall. Slide your hand between the small of your back and the wall. If there’s too much space (there shouldn’t be), draw your belly in toward your spine. If there’s too little space, arch your back just a bit so you can place your hand between the wall and your back. Walk away, but retain that posture.

2. Weight and Workouts

“I also suggest that patients lose weight and add resistance training exercises to their routine,” says Dr. Gupta. Participants in the aforementioned study who did not exercise regularly were found to have higher pain levels compared to those in participants who exercised regularly. Also, extra weight can put pressure on your joints and bones—leaving you feeling achy.

According to the study, after the eight-week exercise program for posture correction, the participants’ pain levels decreased after the exercise program—specifically in the middle and lower back.

It’s important to strength train at least two to three times per week. You can pair strength training with cardio and other fitness routines, like yoga or pilates, during the rest of the week. And if you’re only doing strength training a few times a week, be sure to do full-body workouts that feature large, compound movements (like squats and push-ups).

3. Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin—supplements taken together and used to support joint health—are naturally-occurring structural components of cartilage (the tissue that cushions your joints).

According to a review in the International Journal of Rheumatology, the supplement can help promote cartilage regeneration. And, the National Institutes of Health says the supplement can interfere with certain anticoagulant drugs, like Coumadin—so be sure to speak with your doctor before taking it.

4. Appropriate Footwear

If you have a job that keeps you on your feet all day, consider choosing shoes with supportive insoles. A study in the European Spine Journal on the effect of insoles (on people on their feet all day) showed that insoles could promote improvement of low back pain.

5. arnica montana

Arnica montana (which comes from a flowering plant in the sunflower family) is used as a homeopathic remedy for analgesic and anti-inflammatory purposes. Many people use arnica montana pellets (as well as cream and oil made from arnica) for everyday muscle stiffness and strain-related aches and pains—and, according to an abstract in the American Journal of Therapeutics, it’s also able to promote relief in cases of post-operative and post-traumatic pain.

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6. Sleeping Positions

Postural health isn’t just about sitting or standing—how you sleep can also cause major back pain. The Mayo Clinic suggests that side-sleepers should draw their legs up slightly toward the chest and put a pillow between the legs (to keep the spine aligned) while those who sleep on their backs should place a pillow under the knees to help maintain the normal curve of the lower back.

Related: Should You Be Using Melatonin For Better Sleep?

7. Turmeric

Turmeric, one of the trendiest (and healthiest!) spices out there, has been used as a healing remedy for centuries, particularly around joint health support. Its power-player ingredient, Curcumin, has been known to help promote relief from exercise-induced joint pain.

8. Omega 3s

Omega 3, found in fish like salmon and mackerel (as well as in fish oil supplements, if you’re not keen on eating fish) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. The body produces some, but you need more through your diet—and that’s because they’re good for your cell membranes and receptors, and they also help to regulate artery function Just a reminder: “Of course, if back pain comes on suddenly (acute pain) and is severe, it is important to see a medical professional immediately as pain may be indicative of a more serious condition,” concludes Dr. Gupta.

6 Things You’re Not Doing For Your Eyes But Should Be

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but they’re also windows into your health.

“Many systemic conditions—such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis—have adverse effects that can be seen during a routine eye examination,” says Dr. Deana LaBrosse, founder and primary optometrist at Evanston Eye Wellness, a practice based outside of Chicago. “Changes to eyesight may be the first signs of some of these conditions.”

Just like any other organ in your body, your eyes require certain nutrients and healthy practices to function properly. So it’s not surprising that the effects of a poor diet, technology, sun exposure, and smoking can have a cumulative effect on our eye health, as well—even though these effects may not be realized until later in life.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t following healthy eye-care practices—and that’s because it’s easy to take eye health for granted when nothing is wrong right now. Let’s explore six things—besides an annual eye examination—that you should be doing for your eyes tomorrow, starting today:

1. Protect your eyes from blue light  

Thanks to modern society’s use of technology (cue everyone staring at their iPhones!) and artificial lighting, the American Optometric Association says our eyes have increased exposure to retina-damaging high-energy blue light—which wasn’t an issue in centuries past.

“Excess blue light may cause deep tissue damage in the eye and lead to increased risk of macular degeneration later in life,” says Dr. LaBrosse. “Too much blue light may also disrupt circadian rhythms, making it difficult to sleep after a long day on the computer.”

She recommends wearing glasses with blue-light filters, while also supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that build pigment in the macula, which act like an “internal sunscreen” to protect delicate photoreceptors.

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2. Protect your tear film

The standard American diet is low in omega 3 fatty acids, according to the journal Nutrients. “These acids are necessary components for a complete tear film,” says Dr. LaBrosse.

More than that, environmental stressors—like our computers—cause our blink rates to decrease. “This leads to a down regulation of the oil production in the eyelids and atrophy of the meibomian glands (these prevent the evaporation of the eye’s tear film).

Supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids is necessary for many people to ensure a healthy tear film. Look for a product (like this Nordic Naturals Omega 3) that can get you to 1,000 mg of EPA + DHA omega 3s daily.

3. Clean your eyelids

Your eyelashes don’t just exist for batting—they’re actually a natural reservoir for debris and oils. But those materials can create crusts and biofilms that coat the base of the lashes and create eyelid and eye inflammation, and may lead to chronic dry eye issues, according to the American Optometric Association.

Dr. Lacrosse recommends daily eyelid hygiene with a mild, non-foaming cleanser, along with using a Jojoba cleansing oil—which has a similar composition as our eyes’ natural oils—to break up stubborn debris.

4. Maintain good computer visual hygiene

If you spend a lot of time on digital devices, it’s wise to take frequent blink breaks. The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests using the 20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break to blink and shift focus to an object 20 feet away before resuming close-up work. This will help prevent digital eyestrain and keep your focus flexible.

5. Use artificial tears

“Our tear layer is the first thing light goes through before it enters the eye,” says Dr. LaBrosse. “Therefore, if your eyes are dry, your vision will be blurry or fluctuate.”

She recommends supplementing your tears during computer use or during low humidity times. Unlike a commonly perpetuated myth, using artificial tears will not cause you to become dependent on them, according to the Cochrane Database.

6. Know your family history

As with most things, prevention is key. Certain sight-threatening conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, have a genetic component. “Knowing your genetic predisposition can help you employ preventative lifestyle changes to lessen your risk of visual changes later on,” says Dr. LaBrosse. If you know of family members with these issues, be sure to make this clear to your doctor.

7. Eat Well

“Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important in reducing the risk of all diseases, including those of the eyes. In addition, stress reduction and exercise may help reduce overall inflammation in the body and eyes,” Dr. LaBrosse says.

If you worry your diet might be lacking in fruits and vegetables, she suggests taking a multivitamin or supplementing with antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E.

“If we can detect changes early and before they impact eyesight, patients have the best overall outcomes no matter the age,” concludes Dr. LaBrosse. “If your eyes don’t look good, feel good, or see good, see your optometrist immediately.”


This Everyday Spice Doubles Turmeric’s Power

Move over, salt—pepper has a new best friend. We’ve even got a celebrity name for them: Pumeric!

That’s right, pepper and turmeric make the perfect, health-boosting power couple. Read on for the pairing’s three major benefits.

Dynamic Duo: A Botany Lesson

If you’re a fan of Indian food, then you’re probably already familiar with turmeric. Like curry, it’s a saffron-colored spice that packs a ton of flavor. But turmeric’s allure goes far beyond the taste buds, thanks to its many potential healing properties.

Turmeric is a plant that comes from the ginger family. It’s native to India and Southeast Asia and has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. That’s because it contains curcumin, a chemical compound with health-promoting properties. However, taking it alone won’t yield all the benefits you desire.

“Curcumin has a low bioavailability, meaning that it’s not absorbed well in the body,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of, best-selling author of Eat Dirtand co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. “To really take advantage of the potent health benefits of turmeric, it’s recommended to pair turmeric with black pepper. The active ingredient in black pepper, piperine, helps increase the absorption of the curcumin found in turmeric.”

Black pepper—which comes from a flowering vine native to South India—is cultivated for its fruit, which is dried and ground into the seasoning you may already have in your kitchen. Much like turmeric, black pepper has been used for thousands of years due to its distinct flavor and ability to increase the absorption of certain nutrients.

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In one study, adding just 20 mg of piperine to 2,000 mg of turmeric increased its bioavailability by 154 percent. Yep, you read that correctly. Clearly, these two ingredients go hand-in-hand, so make sure you’re enjoying them together for maximum benefit. (You’ll see that turmeric products like Gaia Herbs’ Golden Milk include black pepper as well.)

There are a few core reasons why you should consider adding turmeric and black pepper to your daily routine:

Reduces inflammation

Curcumin has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidant compounds available, which can help fight free radicals (found in pollution). Free radical damage can lead to health risks, says Dr. Axe, which is why he recommends doubling up with turmeric and black pepper as a way to potentially promote health. “Taking black pepper with turmeric can increase its bioavailability and enhance the benefits,” he says.

Reduces Joint Pain

Curcumin has been known to help promote relief from exercise-induced or arthritic joint pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, it was traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine as a way of blocking joint pain-causing inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Plus,  a study in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that it’s not only efficient, but it’s generally safe to use.

It Could Make Your Food Healthier

According to a study in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, black pepper and turmeric could have powerful effects on the lipids (or fats) in certain meats we eat. The study concluded that during preparation of high-fat foods, turmeric and black pepper reduced fat and increased antioxidant activity. 

How to Add This Power Duo to Your Life

Besides cooking with turmeric and pepper, or drinking golden milk, you can also supplement with turmeric and piperine. Dr. Axe recommends aiming for 500-1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day. For piperine, you’ll want to aim for up to 20 milligrams per day.

“Taking turmeric extract is an easy way to get in a concentrated dose, but be sure to look for a brand like Doctor’s Best, which contains piperine, to boost absorption and take at whatever time is most convenient for you,” Axe says.

For each teaspoon of turmeric, there are about 200 milligrams of curcumin. Aim for at least 2.5 teaspoons per day and pair each teaspoon with about 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

Related: What Happened When I Drank Golden Milk For 30 Days Straight

4 Supplements That Can Help Get Your Joints In Check

Oh, my aching [fill-in-the-blank]! It hardly matters what body part you name—joint pain can be debilitating, impacting the ease of everyday life and the physical activities you want to participate in.

Millions of Americans (nearly 22.7 percent) experience joint pain. So it’s no wonder people are looking for safe, natural ways to promote joint health. Luckily, there are a variety of joint supplementation options available.

Related: Shop supps for joint health. 

1. Glucosamine and chondroitin

The most common joint supplements contain glucosamine or a blend of glucosamine and chondroitin. “Glucosamine is believed to stimulate cartilage production in the joints and chondroitin is a component of cartilage and attracts water to the tissue, which helps it stay elastic, and also blocks the action of enzymes that break down cartilage tissue,” explains Joseph Feste, M.D., FACOG, AACS, AACG,  medical director at Natural Bio Health, a Texas-based integrative medicine practice.

Something called MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), a natural sulfur compound found in all living things, is sometimes added to the formula. The body needs sulfur for healthy connective tissue and joint function, says Feste.

According to the International Journal of Rheumatology, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are essential components of the cartilage metabolism, stimulating important cartilage regeneration processes.

2. Vitamin D

“Many people are chronically low in vitamin D,” says Feste. “Research shows that correcting low vitamin D levels can provide support for patients with knee, hip and other joint pain.” If you think this could be you, get tested by your doctor.

According to Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, patients who needed joint replacements were often vitamin D deficient.

Since the two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements (because it’s difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from food sources), supplementation may be your best bet—especially if you don’t spend much time outdoors or live in a sunny state. You can find them in gummies or chews if you don’t like swallowing capsules.

3. Fish Oil

Fish oil is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can help support your immune system and promote healthy joints, says Feste. In fact, patients taking dietary fish oil supps in a double-blind study done by Arthritis and Rheumatism exhibited improvements in their tender joints.

More reason to love fish oil? The omegas in fish oil promote a healthy heart, brain, skin, and gut. To get even more joint benefits, consider eating a mostly Mediterranean diet, which is chock-full of omegas. That means lean meats, fish, avocados, olive oil, fruits, and veggies.

Related: Want To Try The Mediterranean Diet? Here’s Exactly What To Eat

4. Turmeric

Turmeric isn’t just responsible for your Golden Milk’s glow—it’s got a bunch of health-supporting qualities. According to Feste, that most certainly includes joint health, mostly due to turmeric’s ingredient curcumin, which has been shown to promote healthy immune system function, according to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects.

Make your own Golden Milk:
Ingredients: non-dairy milk (like coconut milk), a cinnamon stick, a piece of turmeric, a piece of ginger, a tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of coconut oil, a teaspoon of peppercorn, and a bit of cinnamon.

Related: What Happened When I Drank Golden Milk For 30 Days Straight

Pour it all into a saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer until everything is smooth. This should take about 10 minutes. You can store this for about five days and reheat later, too.

Should You Combine Your Collagen With Your Whey?

There’s a lot of buzz right now around collagen, and for good reason: Collagen is the most common protein found in the body and it’s a vital building block for skin, hair, nails, bones, and joints. It’s found in tendons, fat, organs, and ligaments, working hard to keep your skin looking young and your joints working smoothly.

But as we age, the body produces less collagen, leading to joint pain, decreased muscle mass, and saggy skin. “Collagen is a connective tissue protein,” says Chris Hollingsworth M.D., a surgeon with NYC Surgical Associates.

The good news: Collagen comes in supplement form—and when combined with a whey protein supplement, your joints hit the jackpot.

How It Works

According to Hollingsworth, the amino acids glycine and arginine in protein improve our skin, bone, and joint health. Because of this, collagen-enhanced protein powders provide a one-two punch to help your body recover from a hard workout while helping to keep your joints healthy enough for the next one.

Related: I Drank Collagen For 30 Days—Here’s How It Turned Out

“Our bodies work most efficiently when they are building and repairing themselves,” says Hollingsworth. “Collagen whey benefits us by keeping our body in an anabolic state (where proteins are being built, instead of being broken down).”

If you experience pain, decreased motion, and stiffness in your hands, hips, or knees, collagen whey may also help to promote functionality. According to Current Medical Research and Opinion, patients with certain kinds of arthritis saw improvements with the use of collagen. And another clinical study suggests that the ingestion of 10g of collagen hydrolysate daily helped to support joint health in patients with knee or hip issues.

Increased Muscle Strength

“It becomes harder to maintain lean muscle mass as we age and our metabolism changes,” says Hollingsworth. But that’s where collagen whey comes in, yet again:  “Collagen whey supplementation has been shown to counteract these age-related decreases in muscle mass, as well as fight some of the effects of aging.”

Related: Shop collagen whey products. 

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that, compared with placebo, collagen peptide (a type of easy-to-digest collagen found in collagen whey) supplementation in combination with resistance training further improved body composition by increasing fat-free mass, muscle strength, and loss in fat mass. The study subjects underwent a 12-week guided resistance-training program and were supplemented with either collagen peptides or a placebo. Following the training program, the effect was significantly more pronounced in subjects receiving collagen peptides.

Younger-Looking Skin

According to the Cleveland Clinic, collagen makes up 75-80 percent of your skin, so it’s no wonder this protein may help to ward off wrinkles, sag, and even cellulite. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food investigated the results of collagen peptides on the cellulite treatment of normal and overweight women, and the results showed that the regular ingestion of collagen over a six-month period led to a clear improvement of the skin appearance.

Similarly, collagen peptides have been shown to help with skin dryness—a common sign of aging skin. Other anti-aging effects, like improved skin elasticity, have also been observed.

If you’re already taking a whey protein supplement, consider exploring one that offers the additional benefits of collagen (we recommend Vital Proteins Collagen Whey Protein). Your joints, muscles, and skin will thank you!

9 Quick Ways To Crush Your Cravings

Cupcakes! You suddenly started thinking about their sweet, frosty goodness and now you want—no, you need—to have one. But seeing as you had a satisfying lunch and don’t make a habit of eating sugary snacks every day, you can’t help but wonder how this torturous temptation popped into your mind. Even more pressing: How do you get it out?

“First and foremost, be mindful of your why,” says Erin Clifford, J.D., a Certified Holistic Health Coach. “Are you really hungry or is it something emotional? Are you lonely? Bored? Stressed? Pay attention to your patterns and figure out an alternative plan for when your cravings hit.”

We all know that unnecessary constant snacking (a snack once in a while is totally normal and fine!) interferes with your weight loss or weight-maintenance goals, but it also makes you sluggish and irritable, which, in turn, sets up a never-ending cycle of even more sugar and carb cravings.

Related: Shop appetite-control products. 

Since the trick is to avoid your triggers and recognize when you’re teetering on the edge, these tips, straight from Clifford’s playbook, can help you shift your focus away from those midday cupcake cravings.

1. Stop the Cycle

If you always reach for a bag of cookies after a stressful day at work, call a friend and hit up a yoga class instead. Redirect the energy you’re giving your craving toward something positive. Once you do the work, you’re less likely to destroy it by bingeing on junk that rewinds your progress.

2. Change Your Environment

If you’re bingeing on caramel-coated popcorn while you’re Netflix-and-chilling, get off the couch, pop a Crave Crush lozenge (which blocks sweet taste receptors), and go take your dog for a walk. If you give yourself a time out, the cravings will usually subside.

3. Aim for Satiety

Including protein at every meal (lean meat, beans, eggs, nuts, yogurt, etc.) will boost your energy levels and keep you feeling satisfied—which should keep your cravings at bay. According to the Nutrition Journal, high-protein snacks improve appetite control and satiety, and reduce subsequent food intake.

What triggers a craving, anyway? Check out our Science of Cravings video:


4. Meal Frequency

Eating smaller, more frequent meals was related to lower body mass index (BMI) and maintenance of weight loss in a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only will this approach to eating stabilize blood-sugar levels and keep your energy levels on track, it’ll leave you less likely to give into your cravings.

5. Don’t Skip Meals

Set yourself up for success by sticking to regular meal times. And always have breakfast (you’ll want to reach for a protein-packed morning meal like overnight oats, a goat cheese frittata, or a banana with almond butter).

6. Stay Hydrated

Next time a big craving hits, try drinking a large glass of water. Many times when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually simply thirsty, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A word to the wise: We’re talking about regular ol’ water here—sugary liquid calories from sodas, juices, lattes, sports drinks, or iced teas will spike your insulin and blood sugar levels, causing cravings. Not into plain H20? Add fruit, herbs, or ginger for a special kick. Or, drink tea, unsweetened.

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Aim for 64 ounces (or 1900 milliliters) of water per day.

7. MEDITATE And Breathe Deeply

When you’re feeling the urge to plow through a bag of potato chips, take 10 minutes to center your mind and induce a feeling of calm. Or focus on your breathing, explains Clifford, in the ratio 1-4-2 (inhale for eight seconds, hold for 32 seconds, exhale for 16 seconds). Many devices and apps, like Fitbit and Breathe, have programs to help you meditate or count. Furthermore, according to the Mayo Clinic, practicing mindful eating and remembering that food is actually fuel (and not just fun, tasty stuff) can help prevent overeating.

8. Get Your ZZZs

If you don’t get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, you might feel the urge to eat carbs and sugar, since you disrupted the hormones ghrelin and leptin. According to the International Journal of Endocrinology, hormones like these are closely associated with sleep and circadian rhythm. Ghrelin is the go hormone that tells you when to eat, while leptin is the stop hormone that tells you when you’re full. Thus, more ghrelin plus less leptin equals non-stop cravings. In short: Get enough sleep so that your hormones work appropriately.

9. Brush Your Teeth

When all else fails, pop some gum in your mouth or brush your teeth—mint is a palate cleanser and can help to crush your craving.

Cravings You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

“If you simply cannot help yourself, then stick with foods offering nutritional value, such as non-fat Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit, a handful of veggies and hummus, or a handful (10) of almonds,” says Clifford. And, according to a new study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, walnuts can help as well: The study suggests that these tasty little nuts decrease feelings of hunger and appetite. So, grab a handful of walnuts and munch away.

A few of Clifford’s other favorite go-to snacks:


  • Chocolate smoothie: A scoop of chocolate protein powder, half a banana, and ice. Add 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds or chopped almonds/almond butter for a nutty flavor.
  • 4 celery sticks with 2 tablespoons of nut butter, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cranberries or raisins, and cinnamon.
  • 1 serving of dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon almond butter.
  • ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with ½ cup berries or pineapple.


  • 2 Wasa crackers with ¼ cup hummus or 1 piece of part-skim string cheese.
  • 10 blue corn chips with ¼ cup hummus and salsa.
  • Pizza crackers: 5 flax seed crackers topped with 1 piece of Munster cheese or low-fat Jarlsburg divided and sprinkle with red pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
  • Homemade herb popcorn (makes 6 servings): Pop 3 oz. of popcorn without oil in an air popper, melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil and drizzle over the popcorn with 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, and 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs (rosemary, parsley, thyme, and oregano). Toss to coat.

Conceding to Cravings: A Last Resort

We get it. Sometimes you just need to give in because life is too short.

“If you’re only eating for emotional reasons, then you want to do your best to avoid indulging in your cravings,” says Clifford. “But if you’re craving pizza because you love pizza, then go for the occasional sampling—in moderation. For instance, if you have plans to meet your girlfriends out at your favorite Neapolitan pizza place, be sure to eat clean all day, order a salad to complement your meal, and stick to your clean eating and workout routine the following day.”