Who Needs Nutritional Supplements?

It has been noted that affluent nations are over-fed, as food is affordable and plentiful to the point of intoxication, yet as far as healthy eating is concerned, the general population are somewhat undernourished, as food often lacks essential nutrients, namely antioxidant nutrients. However, this could be overcome through the use of food supplements which encompass vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes, herb, fibre, bee products, pro-biotic and phytoeostrogens. Nutritional supplements come in various forms and formulations including tablets, capsules, powder, liquids and herb extracts.Many of us think that we eat a healthy diet that provides plenty of vitamins and minerals, but modern methods of animal farming, food production and cooking methods may significantly influence the nutritive value of food we finally have in the plate. In addition, canning, freezing, chopping, peeling, boiling and the use of food preservatives are known to deplete some essential nutrients. In turns, air pollution from car exhaust and chemical plants as well toxicants in food may put extra demand on nutrient needs especially for micronutrients.There is a question of efficacy, safety and risk of toxicity surrounding the area of dietary supplements. All these factors are related, at least in part, to the supplement source, purity, dosage and the possible interaction between different supplements / ingredients, and / or elements in the diet and most importantly prescribed medication. This is compounded by the availability of enormous range of supplements from various sources.To avoid such drawbacks one should ask the following questions: What supplements to take? Why and what for? Which brand name? How long to take them for? How best to take them? How much and how long a supplement should be taken for? Is there any interaction with any medications currently been taken? And what are the contraindications if any?Self-prescription of nutritional supplements is a common phenomenal of our modern age. Friends or relative recommendations is good enough evidence for the majority of the population for taking a supplement without any attention being given to individual differences, nutritional status, physiological needs or medical history. This is a dangerous practice, despite the fact that most of the dietary supplements available in the market today are controlled by stringent procedures. It is the consumer non-intentional duplication or over dosing, which is a cause of concern, especially if a supplement is taken on large dosages and/or for a prolonged period of time without any input or direction of a healthcare professional.People should be aware of the fact that the need for supplements is usually governed by a multitude of factors; among them are: poor dietary habits, frequent dieting, modern methods of farming & production, reliance on convenience food, level of stress, the degree of environmental pollutants, over-dependence on certain medications e.g. antibiotics and steroids, dietary restrictions brought about by moral and religious beliefs, cultural / ideological factors and the presence of chronic or debilitating diseases. In addition, habitual diet, exercise routine, alcohol over consumption, smoking, social and work environment all have direct or indirect influence on vitamin and mineral requirements. As already stated, preparation and cooking methods, storage, refining / processing, additives, toxicants, pesticides and other chemical are all factors affecting the nutrient values of foods.It is now well known that the main causes of nutritional deficiencies are poor dietary habits, inadequate dietary intakes, mal-absorption, increase losses and/or increase requirement for nutrients. To some extend we no longer suffer from classical symptoms of vitamin deficiencies such as scurvy due to vitamin C deficiency, beriberi brought about by a lack of vitamin B1, pellagra which is caused by lack of vitamin B2, rickets caused by deficiency of vitamin D and Keratomalacia caused by vitamin A deficiency. However, there is a wide spread of mild nutritional deficiencies at blood or tissue level often referred to as sub-clinical nutritional deficiencies. In my opinion these are the major contributory factors to many of the chronic illnesses of today including coronary heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and arthritis.The main symptoms of sub-clinical deficiencies may include headache, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, digestive problems and susceptibility to infections. But, some of these are often confused with symptoms of food allergies and intolerances which appears to be quite fashionable nowadays especially among those who consider themselves to be health conscious. The groups most vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies are pregnant and lactating women, children, adolescents, elderly and dieters due to increased physiological demands as well as those with long term chronic or debilitating illnesses.At present the need for supplements can easily be assessed by a number of techniques including computerised ‘Nutritional analyses. This is based on diet history and a food record diary over several days, typically one week. Blood testing is another technique for assessing the need for individual supplements in a more accurate fashion. Above all what is more important is a prior evaluation by a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge and expertise in the area of nutritional supplements.

The Drawbacks of Lifestyle Funds or ETFS

Lifestyle funds or ETFs offer advantages for many people, but they also can have unwanted repercussions or even leave you short of money in your retirement.The concept of letting a manger handle your retirement account and allocate your investments based on your age sounds like a terrific idea… kind of like a one-stop, one-item market that fits all your needs. But does it?The concept behind Lifestyle funds is simple: diversify your money into different stocks so your risk is spread out and then allocate it further based upon growth, stability and income producing stocks or bonds.In this manner a young person would see his money going primarily into stocks or ETFs with substantial growth potential and a minor amount into income producing bonds.A middle age investor investing in a Lifestyle fund would have his money spread out between growth, dividend producing stocks and bonds on an almost equal level.A retiree would have her money primarily in bonds or other very secure stocks with high dividends levels so her balance remains stable while producing some, not a lot, but some income that at least comes close to or matches inflation. Of course, the actual balance of this account will now diminish as money is withdrawn to fund his or her life.The danger with a lifestyle fund, in my opinion, is that you can actually end up short of money in retirement. Perhaps not at first, but as time goes by the Lifestyle ETF or fund is not growing, it is diminishing as you withdraw money while earning, hopefully an amount equal to inflation. But as we tend to live longer and longer, into our 80′s and 90′s, perhaps over a 100, a Lifestyle account that stopped growing, stopped holding growth stocks or ETFs when you first hit retirement age may run out of cash before we die.Years ago, life expectancy after retirement was only 10 maybe 15 years, now we are seeing a retirement life that is approaching almost as many years as our “working life” span.In order to be sure you have enough funds to support you in retirement an investment strategy needs to remain fairly aggressive for many, many years after you retire.Obviously there are a number of ways to grow your retirement account and to keep it growing and viable throughout your life: Use investment software to manage your account, even Lifestyle funds
Use Lifestyle Funds or ETFs
Retain an Investment AdvisorUsing Investment software and self-directing your retirement account for safe profitable investing is something everyone is capable of doing as long as you have the desire.Using Lifestyle Funds or ETFs can be the answer as long as you realize that you may have to pick funds that expire further out in years than when you plan to retire so your money continues to grow during your retirement years.The other pitfall of locking into a Lifestyle Fund is that when the market declines the allocation and diversification may not protect you from major losses as the fund is ‘locked into its allocation’. In other words these funds rarely incorporate a Market Exit signal for when the market dives. This type of feature is something a good investment software program offers.The choice of using Lifestyle Funds or ETFs is tempting as long as you understand the drawbacks. Monitoring them with an investment software program or a brokers evaluation system to compare one against another and against the market trends can help make these a viable choice for those with limited time to manage their future.

Where Do You Get Financing For Your Small Business?

“It takes money to make money.” That saying is somewhat true. To create or expand your business empire you will need some funding to cover your expenses until your income comes in. That may take 2 months or 2 years, and it may require $200 or $200,000. The money can always be found, one way or another, but you need the right method for you.Money comes from three sources, each with its own benefits, dangers, and costs. You will likely use two, if not all three of these types over the course of your enterprise — and you must understand each to evaluate which will work for you today, tomorrow, and 5 years from now.#1 Method: Self FinancingWhen business owners have cash on hand, they typically look to their own bank account first as a simple form of financing. Self financing can be broken down two different ways, each with their own considerations. First, there are two types of self financing: lump-sum and bootstrapping. Second, self-financing can come from you, personally, or can come from your current business that finances another business, venture, service, or product line.Lump-sum financing is when you have a fixed amount of money from the sale of a business or investment, an inheritance, personal savings, 401(k) cash-out (rarely a good idea) or other amount of cash that can be used to finance a business venture. The amount you have available is relatively fixed and can be viewed and tracked as a one-time investment.Bootstrapping is constantly used by most small businesses, usually without conscious knowledge. Bootstrapping is where you pay for the new or expanding business through cash flow coming in from another source. The other source may be your day job, your spouse or partner’s job or business, a profitable business or product line, or passive investments (real estate, mutual funds, and bond).Self-financing works when you need a small amount of money, when you have a large amount of money available, when you are comfortable with risk, or when you need money quickly. It also works when a profitable business can absorb investing in a new venture until the new venture takes off; assuming adequate cash flow projections and tracking has been done to ensure the new venture is not a never-ending profit leach.#2 Method: Debt FinancingDebt financing is obtaining money that must be paid back to the lender, usually with interest. Similar to self-financing, debt financing may include both using your personal credit as well as the credit and security of the business to obtain a loan or line of credit.Personal debt financing is readily available to most business owners. If you have a decent credit rating, you can obtain credit cards, a home equity line of credit, or a loan, without informing the bank about your business. You may obtain a loan from a family member or friend who knows about your business venture but who may not demand as rigorous standards as a formal bank.Businesses may also obtain credit cards, lines of credit, and loans from banks and credit unions. Loans that are secured by the Small Business Administration (SBA) are available through banks providing lines of credit to small businesses that may not be able to obtain credit without the SBA guarantee. Alternative debt financing options such as Prosper.com enable individuals and businesses with lower credit ratings to obtain financing from diverse sources. But these private loans will typically be at interest rates higher than SBA loans.#3 Method: Equity FinancingEquity financing is giving away ownership (equity) in your business, and potential future profits, in exchange for money (capital) today.Investors can come in the form of silent partners, family, friends, or private investors who speculate in new companies. Angel Funding, wealthy individuals and groups who invest in small, high growth companies, typically buy stakes in companies for a few hundred thousand dollars. Venture Capital firms and Investment Banks typically are looking for companies where they will invest millions of dollars.If you are planning to seek private investors, Angel Funding, Investment Banks, or Venture Capital, you will likely need more sophisticated financial reporting than is covered in this book. You will also need more lawyers and accountants.How do you decide which type of financing to pursue?Most likely, one type of financing is obviously not right for you now. You will probably use two or even all three types of financing for any one business, and your choice may change over the life of the business as you expand and add new ventures. You may be able to weed out certain choices because they are not available — you don’t have cash or another income source (self), you don’t have a good personal credit rating (debt), or your business has no exit plan (equity).For each decision, you must track the benefits (Return on Investment), and the costs (interest, fees, and lost profits) of each type of financing. As your business grows, you may need to add or switch financing as prior financing methods become too expensive, are exhausted, or do not produce a sufficient return.

How to Learn Digital Photography in 5 Simple Steps

The title of this article is actually a bit of a misnomer because there really is no such thing as digital photography. It’s a bit like saying there is a major difference between pencil writing and pen writing. Writing is writing and photography is photography. Digital is just the method of recording. So it really gets down to learning photography in a digital world.If you can drop the term digital and concentrate on photography you are then back at the basics which hasn’t changed in 50 years. An slr is an slr whether digital of film. It may be easier to use digital and even easier to learn photography using digital but still it is the same old same old, photography.Where do you start? You have your camera, instruction manual and a few accessories. What do you do with it?1. Familiarise yourself with your cameraKey to any learning process is to get to know the tools of your trade. Find out everything you can and how the camera functions, its settings and how to actually take an image with it. This is essential to progressing along your photographic journey. Learning the basics of your camera is like practising your scales on a piano. You need to go over and over the settings and features until you can use them competently. Once you know it you can concentrate on technique without the camera controls interrupting your thought process.2. Practise, practise, practiseGary Player, international golfer and winner of every major title over five decades always said that the harder he practises the luckier he gets. Human nature is not predisposed to practise or exercise. Anything that becomes hard work we seem to shy away from. If you want to get good at what you are doing then practise is essential. No one likes stretching or exercising those out of shape muscles. The tedium of exercise is what prevents more healthy and fit people in the same way as practise does with your camera. If you don’t bite the bullet and commit to practising you won’t amount to much with your photography.3. Learn the principlesBy learning just a selection of the basic principles of photography you will improve your photography a hundredfold. Simple things like the rule of thirds, composition, aperture, shutter speed and ISO will leapfrog you ahead of you peers. You don’t need to focus on megapixels and memory cards. They don’t help your photography. Get a book, subscribe to a photo newsletter, join a club or enroll in a photography course. Do something constructive about learning photography. You don’t need anything too in depth, just something to start you on the path to great images.4. Learn techniquesThere are several basic techniques that are key to great photos, like mastering depth of field, learning to pan moving subjects and how to focus sharply. Nothing too difficult but, if you master these they will add dimensions to your images that will raise them head and shoulders above the competition.5. Review your workFirstly, look at the images you have taken over a period of time and reflect on whether they include the principles of photography. Have you mastered the various techniques and have you gained a competency in using the settings and controls of your particular camera? Simple questions but vital if you are to move on to the next level in your photography. Secondly, you need to have your images reviewed by others. If you’re part of a photography club then you don’t have a problem. Other ways are to join photographic forums and submit your images to galleries for review by other forum members. Key to this point is finding ways to get feedback, positive and negative, on your images so that you can work at improving them. Review starts the cycle again because you will need to go back relearn the things you need to come to grips with.To learn digital photography may appear to be a simple process, but if you aren’t committed to the journey then you won’t grow while on your photographic journey. Put these keys into practise and you will become a competent photographer. Happy shooting!