Have You Had Taken Your Vitamins Today?

By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

Vitamins and minerals are critical for several important bodily functions. Often referred to as micronutrients, vitamins and minerals are not produced in the body. Instead they are commonly consumed through food or supplements (CDC, 2022).

The berry of the black elder tree, or Sambucus nigra, known as elderberry, is full of antioxidants that we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Although it is native to Europe, the black elder tree can also be found in North America, some regions of Asia, and Africa. Elderberry has been used in traditional medicine to promote general health for years. Whether it is used as an extract or juice concentrate from the whole fruit, elderberry is now frequently used in dietary supplements. Products containing elderberry are primarily marketed to support immune health. It also helps alleviate symptoms of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.

There are several different formulations of elderberry supplements; including syrups, pills, and lozenges. Numerous goods are sold expressly to children, notably those that come in chewable or gummy form. Additionally, some products combine the berries with other components of the black elder tree, most frequently elderflower. Elderberry may be hazardous if improperly prepared.

The stems and leaves of the elder tree, as well as unripe elderberries, contain cyanide-producing substances that can be poisonous if consumed. These chemicals can be eliminated through cooking, but many homemade elderberry recipes do not call for enough heat to completely evaporate all toxins, making them more likely to have negative effects than over-the-counter remedies. 

There have been more complaints of elderberry products recently being contaminated. If you’re thinking about taking an elderberry supplement, please talk to your doctor first make sure the product you choose has received third-party certification.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 1). Micronutrient facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from

Are We Really What We Eat?

By Angela Wilson | Community Health and Human Services Intern

I am sure we have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”, (Ludwig). But what does this phrase really mean? In short, it means that we must eat foods that benefit our bodies so that we can be healthy and fit. Heart disease, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases disproportionately affect the African American community so it is imperative that we examine the benefits of consuming certain fruits which may significantly lower our chances of getting these diseases. This commentary will address the health benefits of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

         Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and are an excellent source of vitamin C , manganese, folate, and potassium. Vitamin C strengthens the body’s defense and protects it from free radicals ( harmful molecules),  which has been linked to many chronic diseases. Manganese is an element that assists in building bones, wound healing, and reproductive health. Folate and Potassium are important for normal tissue growth, cell function, and essential bodily functions such as regulating blood pressure. Strawberries are 91% water and have a very low carb content. They also have a significant amount of fiber, (approximately 26%), which improves digestive health by feeding the friendly bacteria in your stomach. Lastly, evidence suggests that strawberries lowers the spike in blood sugar after consuming a meal, thereby aiding in blood sugar regulation.

        Blueberries contain some of the highest anti-oxidant levels which contribute to their ability to neutralize some of the free radicals that cause damage to your DNA. They also protect cholesterol in your blood from becoming damaged.  Bad cholesterol (LDL), increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Blueberries are strongly linked to reduced levels of LDL, which makes them very good for your heart. Anthocyanin, one of the powerful antioxidants in blueberries has significant beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.  This plays an instrumental role in reducing inflammation and aiding in the protection of conditions like cancer and diabetes.

        Raspberries are very low in sugar and are considered to be antioxidant powerhouses because of their high vitamin C content.  One 100-gram portion of raspberries provides 23 milligrams of vitamin C, which is approximately 30% of the recommended daily allowance for women.  They are associated with a lower risk of chronic stress related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Raspberries support good digestive health due to their high fiber content and they also reduce the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels.

As you can see, these fruits are key components to good health and well being and should be incorporated into our diets as we strive to become healthier, stronger, and happier while protecting our bodies from chronic diseases and illnesses.

Bjarnadottir, A. (March 2019). Strawberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. https://www.healthline.com. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
Ritcher, A. (January 2023). 10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries. https://www.healthline.com Retrieved February 27, 2023.
Sachdev, P. (September 2022). Health Benefits of Raspberries. https://www.webmd.com Retrieved February 27, 2023.

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | July 5, 2021

by Jun Wang, Intern and UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Title: Immune Aging and How to Combat It

Brief Description: The human immune system becomes less effective at tackling infection or inflammation and less responsive to vaccinations as we age. This increases the risk of all age-related sickness. Fortunately, regular exercise, maintaining a moderate weight, and adopting the right diet may help a person maintain a healthy immune system throughout life and into old age.

Link to resource: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/immune-aging-and-how-to-combat-it

Title: Get the Facts on Healthy Aging

Brief Description: For most older adults, good health ensures independence, security, and productivity as they age. Yet millions struggle every day with health and safety challenges such as chronic disease, falls, and mental health issues—all of which can severely impact quality of life. Get the facts on healthy aging and older adults: Chronic disease, falls, physical activity, oral health, and behavioral health are all topics older adults should learn about to ensure health and wellness as they age. The National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging provides chronic disease management, falls prevention, and other initiatives.

Link to resource: https://www.ncoa.org/article/get-the-facts-on-healthy-aging

Title: What to Know Before Your Second COVID-19 Vaccines

Brief Description: Understand the do’s and don’ts of the two-dose coronavirus vaccination regimen. To be fully immunized, it’s critical to get that second shot. Your side effects will likely be stronger after the second dose. You should avoid taking pain relievers before your shot, but feel free to take them afterwards. The timing between doses does not need to be exact, though avoid getting the second dose too early; it can be given up to six weeks after the first. Your second dose should be from the same manufacturer as your first. A rash at the injection site is not a reason to skip your second dose. You should temporarily avoid all other vaccines. Full immunity is not immediate and won’t kick in till two weeks after your second dose. You still need to wear a mask as there is a small chance you could get sick or carry the virus and silently transmit it to others.

Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/what-to-know-before-second-vaccine-dose.html

Title: 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Brief Description: Early detection matters. If you notice one or more of these signs in yourself or another person, be sure to get checked.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgement
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality.

Link to resource: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | March 5, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Tristan Le on Pexels.com

Title: Working Longer Cannot Solve the Retirement Income Crisis 

Brief Description: One of the warning signs of the oncoming retirement crisis is how often people are told to work longer. You work longer if you have not been able to save enough or your savings are wiped out by any other expenses. Studies overestimated benefits of working that only 26 percent of people could maintain their pre-retirement standard of living if they retired at age 62. However, 72 percent could reach financial security if they waited until age 70 to retire. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, job loss exacerbates the retirement saving crisis that nearly 5 million workers age 55 to 70 lost their jobs in the recession resulting from the virus.  

Link to resource: https://generations.asaging.org/working-longer-cant-solve-retirement-crisis 

Title: Hispanic Older Adults at Greatest Risk of Poverty from COVID-19 

Brief Description: The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, is warning that while the financial hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the economic security of all older adults, it will disproportionately hurt Hispanics over age 60. The NCOA Senior Director, Research and Evaluation Dr. Susan Silberman says, “All groups over age 60 will experience significant decreases in total net wealth, but without question, the Hispanic population will experience the most dramatic declines.” Hispanic older adults are more vulnerable due to lower and non-growing household incomes and having multiple chronic conditions. Dr. Silberman says it is very important to maintain a strong social safety net and undertake policies that focus on narrowing financial disparities across racial and ethnic lines. 

Link to resource: https://www.ncoa.org/news/press-releases/hispanic-older-adults-at-greatest-risk-of-poverty-from-covid-19/ 

Title: 15 Lessons that Coronavirus Pandemic Has Taught Us 

Brief Description: From the past year, our country has been going through a lot: a pandemic, an economic meltdown, and a political transition. AARP collected all the shared deeper lessons of the past year on older Americans. Here is what shared by the older Americans: Family matters more than we realized, Medical breakthroughs, Self-care matters, Be financially prepared, Age is just a number, Getting online for good, Working anywhere, Restoring trust, Gathering carefully, Isolation’s health toll, Getting outside, Wealth disparities’ toll, Preparing for the future, Tapping Telemedicine, and Cities are changing.  

Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/lessons-from-covid.html?intcmp=AE-HP-TTN-R2-POS2-REALPOSS-TODAY 

Title: Stages of Alzheimer’s  

Brief Description: Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses slowly in three general stages: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). It affects people in different way and may experiencing the symptoms differently. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors. Changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s begin years before any signs of the disease. This time period, which can last for years, is referred to as preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. 

Link to resource: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/stages

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 26, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

Title: The Intersections of Inequity in Aging
Brief Description: As the urgent issue of racial injustice took center stage, “Generations Today” highlighting for the aging advocacy community how aging, identity, and racial equity intersect. Women, in particular women of color, face significant barriers to economic security as they age. Older women represent nearly two-thirds of the more than 7 million people older than age 65 living in poverty today. What can be done to fix the systems that created the inequities. We could raise up and explicitly value women, and the work that women do, at all ages. If we make the right choices now, we are not only heling the older adult women today, but also bring the generations of women.
Link to resource: https://generations.asaging.org/intersections-inequity-aging

Title: 8 Things to Know Before Your Second COVID-19 Vaccines
Brief Description: Understand the do’s and don’ts of the two-dose coronavirus vaccination regimen. Your side effects will likely be stronger. You should avoid taking pain relievers before your shot. The timing between doses does not need to be exact. Your second dose should be from the same manufacturer as your first. A rash at the injection site is not a reason to skip your second dose. You should temporarily avoid all other vaccines. Full immunity is not immediate. You still need to wear a mask.
Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/what-to-know-before-second-vaccine-dose.html

Title: Chef’s persistent symptoms at last lead to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosis
Brief Description: Our story character Shawn Lewis was sick for four painful, frustrating years and received diagnose of heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the ER. She has an advice for others with HCM that “take it seriously and try to control it to the best of your ability. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart muscle, or myocardial, a disorder that cannot be explained by another cardiac or systemic disease. In some cases, people with HCM at greater risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms or other cardiac problems. HCM can cause fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, or heart palpitations.
Link to resource: https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/chefs-persistent-symptoms-at-last-lead-to-hypertrophic-cardiomyopathy-diagnosis

Title: 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Brief Description: Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementia: Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Confusion with time or place. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. New problems with words in speaking or writing. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Decreased or poor judgment. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Changes in mood and personality. A recommendation is to get checked and early detection matters.
Link to resource: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/10_signs

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 19, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

Title: Heart Health Superfoods
Brief Description: When it comes to heart health, you probably know what the American Heart Association (AHA) offers as its top diet advice: Eat a good balance of fresh, fiber-rich fruits and veggies; whole grains; and healthy proteins, such as nuts, skinless fish and poultry. But recent studies have also named specific cardiovascular all-stars that are worth adding to your rotation. Here are a few standouts to add to your grocery list: beets, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, tofu, olives/olives oils, Garbanzo beans, oatmeal, Salmon, blueberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and chili peppers.
Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/heart-health-foods.html

Title: Overthrowing Ageism
Brief Description: There are many major life milestones that represent change and growth. It is all about ageism! Growing older is not a milestone that comes with bragging rights or a celebratory rite of passage. Unlike in many other countries, aging is considered an inevitable and unfortunate decline from life’s supposedly higher points. Getting older, losing stamina, or needing some help is make some elderly feel ashamed. As social creatures, seeking out support from others that bring each other closer and can get through together. Let’s practice what can be preached and not be afraid to share in our own social cycles.
Link to resource: https://generations.asaging.org/overthrowing-ageism

Title: Middle-Age Obesity Linked to Higher Odds for Dementia
Brief Description: Being obese at mid-age appears to increase the risks of dementia. People who are obese at midlife have a 31% higher risk for dementia than middle-aged people whose weight is normal. The risk of dementia was even higher (39%) for women with abdominal obesity while both men and women are obese. There is no association between abdominal obesity and dementia was found among men. The good news is losing weight may significantly lower the odds. A healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of dementia.
Link to resource: https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/obesity-health-news-505/middle-age-obesity-linked-to-higher-odds-for-dementia-758936.html

Title: How to Stay Active with Winter Walking
Brief Description: According to a study of American Journal of Human Biology, among a group of 53 hikers burned more calories in cold weather than warm, leading to weight loss for both men and women. To keep the low-impact way to stay active during cold weather that we need to weatherproof the winter walking routine. Here are some expert tips for staying warm and motivated as temperature drop. The first is to perfect your winter wardrobe. Laying up is the key and do not neglect the extremities. Avoid cotton socks and clothing that trap moisture from sweat or snow and leave you feeling wet and chilly. Always start slow and stay safe. Consult the doctor if you have a preexisting condition or have recently recovered from an event like a heart attack or surgery.
Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/winter-walking.html

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 12, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Dimitri Dim on Pexels.com

Title: CDC: 2 Face Masks Protect Better Than One
Brief Description: With the discovery of new, faster-spreading coronavirus strains in the U.S, it might be time to double down on face masks literally by wearing two at a time. Layering a cloth mask over a disposable medical procedure mask significantly boosts your protection against the coronavirus by ensuring a tighter fit against your face, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows. The CDC recommends that choose a mask with a nose wire which prevent air from leaking out along the top. The mask should fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin. Also consider a KN95 mask but do not wear another with it.
Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/double-masking-against-covid.html

Title: Substance Use Is a Critical Health and Mental Health Issue for Older Adults
Brief Description: The magnitude of the pandemic’s mental health toll on families and communities has increased. The year’s events underscore the importance of focusing on substance use, a critical health and mental health issue for older adults. Based on recent data, a jump of 11.9 percent from 2012 to 2017 in substance use in adults age 65 and older. The rate of prescription for many medications, including opioids for chronic pain are highest as 26.8 percent for people age 65 and older. In 2020, the frequency of alcohol consumption in adults during the pandemic increased by approximately 14 percent along with report of anxiety and depression.
Link to resource: https://generations.asaging.org/substance-use-critical-health-issue-elders

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 5, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

Title: Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Brief Description: Pay attention to your body and catch the signs early. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Call 911 if you experience chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness. Men and women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but the women are more likely to experience some other common symptoms than men. Do not hesitate to call 911 while experiencing any symptoms. Minutes matter and fast action can save lives.
Link to resource: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/warning-signs-of-a-heart-attack

Title: CDC Stresses COVID-19 Safety Ahead of Super Bowl
Brief Description: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on attending Super Bowel celebrations or watch parties, though what is recommends most is that people stay home rather than risk exposure to the coronavirus. For snacks, the CDC recommends people bring their own food and drinks, and avoid self-serve or buffet-style food options. Use disposable utensils and single-wrapped packets of salad dressing and condiments. The CDC advises that limit alcohol consumption to protect self against COVID-19. The CDC also advises that an outdoor event is likely safer than an indoor gathering, and that the fewer people who attend, the better.
Link to resource: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/cdc-discourages-super-bowl-parties.html

Title: Why older adults should quit tobacco and how they can
Brief Description: There are proven health benefits in quitting tobacco use in older adult smokers. Quitting tobacco use can lessen the risk of cognitive decline and brain atrophy, and prevent polypharmacy arising from the management of complex morbidities associated with smoking. Healthcare staff play an important role in helping older adult smokers to abstain from smoking. Multiple approaches can be used to deliver evidence-based tobacco cessation treatments to the geriatric population. With ongoing support from healthcare teams, older adults who smoke can improve their chance of successfully quitting tobacco use, resulting in better quality of life.
Link to resource: https://generations.asaging.org/older-adults-should-quit-tobacco-how-they-can

Title: Coronavirus precautions for patients and others facing higher risks
Brief Description: Older people with coronary heart disease or high blood pressure are more likely to contract the coronavirus and develop more severe symptoms. According to data from several cities and counties, the black people had higher death rate from COVID-19. Many black people are already vulnerable to cardiovascular and stroke risks. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the best way to do that is to stick to the simple things we know can stop the spread of the coronavirus: wear masks or cloth face covering, social distancing, hand washing, etc.
Link to resource: https://www.heart.org/en/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19-resources/coronavirus-precautions-for-patients-and-others-facing-higher-risks 

Title: U.S. commemorates 57 consecutive American Heart Month in February
Brief Description: February is the American Heart Month that spotlights heart disease over the nation. The heart disease is still the No. 1 killer among American. This year, the federally designated event is more important due to the impact of the coronavirus on the public’s heart health, including potential harmful effects on the heart and vascular system. Due to this pandemic, many people have delayed or avoided going to hospitals for heart attacks and stroke which caused poorer outcomes. The AHA creates “Don’t Die of Doubt,” a national awareness campaign that reminds people that hospitals are the safest place to go when you have symptoms. Heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle in most cases.
Link to resource: https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/february-is-american-heart-month

Title: Combination of healthy lifestyle traits may substantially reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk
Brief Description: Combining more healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with substantially lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease in a study that included data from nearly 3,000 research participants. Those who adhered to four or all of the five specified healthy behaviors were found to have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The behaviors were physical activity, not smoking, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, a high-quality diet, and cognitive activities. Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, this research was published in the June 17, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Link to resource: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/combination-healthy-lifestyle-traits-may-substantially-reduce-alzheimers-disease-risk