Daily Archives: March 17, 2020

Zoltan Istvan: The Transhumanist Candidate – Roads and Kingdoms

Posted: March 17, 2020 at 4:46 am

This week on The Trip podcast: Zoltan Istvan has come from the future with a message New Hampshire doesnt want to hear.

Here they are in the New Hampshire Secretary of States office, paying their thousand dollars to be on the official primary ballot. They are the lesser-known candidates, the dramatic fringe of each presidential primary election up here. And they are the stars of my quadrennial quixotic reporting project with photographer Shane Carpenter. And listen, they arent like Tom Steyer lesser-known, theyre like Vermin Supreme lesser-known, Mary Maxwell lesser-known, Zoltan Istvan lesser-known. Almost nobody knows these people, but theyre running anyway. This is the fifth primary that Shane and I have spent ducking out of mainstream campaign press events to track down the people who are just obsessive, idealistic, or imbalanced enough to think they should run for president, often with no money, no support, sometimes no platform really. Of course, the idea of a non-politician becoming president was distinctly more laughable before 2016, and now it doesnt seem that funny at all. But these candidates are something different, a wild bunch, far more entertaining and thought-provoking even than the scripted candidates. Shane and I just published a feature on the lesser-known and their radical approach to democracy on roadsandkingdoms.com; I hope youll take a look. But for now, in this episode, Ive got one of the most composed and compelling of this years fringe candidates, writer and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan. We drank some 15 year old Dalwinnie Scotch and talked about exoskeletons, being escorted at gunpoint from a megachurch, and why he let someone jam a horse syringe into his hand to give him a permanent bio-chip implant.

Here is an edited and condensed transcript from my conversation with Eva. Subscribers canlisten to the full episode here. If youre not on Luminary yet, subscribe and listen (and get a 7-day free trial) by signing uphere.

Nathan Thornburgh: What is transhumanism?

Zoltan Istvan: Transhumanism is a social movement, now of many millions of people around the world, that want to use science and technology to radically transform the human body and transform the human experience. Anything from exoskeleton suits to brain implants to even driverless cars. But whatever it is, its kind of the top 10% of the most radical technologies that are affecting the human race.

Thornburgh: You say there were many millions. Are these people who would actively knowingly define themselves as transhumanists, or you think its just aligned with the way that they look at the world?

Istvan: I think there are now probably millions that would say, if you ask them are you a transhumanist, they would now say, yes I am. When you ask them, is that what they consider themselves? Thats a little bit more challenging of a question. Google, for example, is probably the most transhumanist of all the companies out there, and they have the largest, what we call life extension company, a company worth billions of dollars, that wants to overcome aging. Its specifically designed to make people essentially live indefinitely. So we are getting to a point when you can now say millions and likely tens of millions who are supporters of the idea. Chinas probably leading the transhumanist movement in terms of innovationthey have the first designer baby babies and stuff like that. So there might be even many more.

But the word is just an umbrella term for many other ideas. Cryonics, singulariatism. Cyborgism. Singularity is the concept of transhumanists where they believe that AI will become so sophisticated that our human brains wont even be able to understand its sophistication. And at that point we get left behind.

The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology.

Thornburgh: The word itself, can you just break it down for me?

Istvan: Well, the Latin would say its beyond human.

Thornburgh: Okay, got it. All of our limitations are physicalchronological aging, mortality. Those are the things that youre going to supersede through technology.

Istvan: Basically, yes. And nobodys really sure like exactly what transhumanism means in terms of the specific agenda. Is it when a primate picked up a rock and made an axe millions of years ago, or is it a robot taking over a workers job, which of course is increasingly happening. Is that transhumanism, or is it brain implants? Nobody really knows, but whatever it is and it radical science is, is sort of changing the human species and the core of it is the microprocessor. It keeps evolving exponentially and we even have things like quantum computing now happening where, you know, that could revolutionize again, the microprocessor. So anything that applies to the human being, in terms of merging us with machines, is a transhuman event.

I think whats very important is that there are various versions of transhumanism. There are socialist transhumanists, there are libertarian transients like myself, and there are transceivers party transhumanism. Of course, Im, Im the founder of the transceivers party, but Im also now running as a Republican. But Ive also run as a libertarian, Ive said openly, I might run as a Democrat in the future. For me, its about the seed of transhumanism. You can take it whichever political way you want. Theres also Christian transhumanism, theres Buddhist transhumanist. So we want a worldwide movement. I want different factions. I want a decentralized idea of it. And I hope to influence it in terms of it grows and grows and grows. Because you have to understand about 80% of the worlds population believes in an afterlife. The main goal of transhumanism is overcoming death with science and technology. Were fighting 80% of the population. So its very important that we coalesce together as a movement that says we need to change that 80%. We need to change their mindset. And thats really where the cultural reform comes in, and why its so important to have a huge movements like environmentalism, where the trajectory is that one day we also become a billion person movement that really wants to move beyond our cultural heritage.

Thornburgh: So lets, lets posit success and you reach those 80% and flip them into transhumanists. What will that actually mean? Does that mean that they will vote for people who pour more resources into death-defying technologies or pass laws? What, practically, would having people be fired up about transhumanism do?

Istvan: Thats the best question. The great question. Thats exactly what Im trying to do. My main goal here with running for office and my main goal of spreading transhumanism is to get more money into the hands of the scientists who are making the movement happen. You have to understand, right now our United States Congress, all 535 members, all nine Supreme Court justices, believe in an afterlife, and they say they believe in God, so they have no real reason to pass laws to put money into the hands of the scientists who want to end aging and live indefinitely and upgrade ourselves to this new bionic future. Now the problem with that is if the entire government doesnt want to give money to it, it doesnt happen. Really only private industry does it. We need an American culture on board with transhumanism.

I run for office in hopes of saying, look, instead of giant military fighting warrants in Afghanistan and Iraq, were going to take that money and put it into creating a science-industrial complex in America dedicated to ending aging and upgrading the human being. Its a very different kind of way. Im interested in American healthcare, in terms of eliminating disease. And thats a very transhuman idea that our president right now doesnt share. A president whos cut the budget of the National Institute of Health.

Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: Youre running as a Republican. This is your opponent.

Istvan: You gotta you gotta hit them hard on that. One thing Trump has done that hasnt been great is hes not only cut the budget of the National Institute of Health, but he hasnt made a culture where science really thrives. In China, its thriving. Chinas our main kind of competitor at this point. So probably within five years, China lead the world in AI and genetic editing. Its game over for America in terms of leadership, and who wants not authoritarian nation to be leading the world and in science and technology. So this is where I really fault Trump. In fact, this is why Im running. This is the singular reason Im running because, ultimately, I think that Trump has failed the most important part of America: the science and innovation part.

Thornburgh: What is your background? Take me way back.

Istvan: My career really began after I graduated from Columbia University, and I went into journalism at National Geographic. And so for five years I traveled around the world and I wrote something like 50 or 60 articles for their website, and also was on their National Geographic Today, show, doing a lot of documentary work. It was a great time in my life. I was in my twenties, I covered a lot of conflict zones, so saw some horrifying things. In Vietnam I was covering the demilitarized zone 20, 30 years after the war. And theres a bunch of rice farmers that now dig up bombs that were dropped in Vietnam from Americans, but theyre unexploded. They sell the metal. But to get there you have to go through these landmine-infested jungles. And I almost stepped on one. It freaked me out because my guide had to throw me out of the way and pointed to the ground. And after covering war zones for a while kind of gets in your head. And it was that moment in Vietnam when I said, you know, Im going to stop being a journalist and Im going to do something to try to overcome death. And of course transhumanism has been an ongoing movement since the 90s, and thats their primary job. Their primary purpose is to use science to overcome death.

Istvan: So I came home, joined the movement, wrote a novel, the novel did really well. It was called The Transhumanist Wager, became a bestseller, and it launched my career as a public figure. And because I was a journalist, I began writing some of the very first transhumanist columns. So Ive had an ability over six years to write over 230 opinion pieces and essays for major media, almost cheerleading transhumanism. Up until that point, no one had ever been optimistic about it. People had been kind of skeptical.

Thornburgh: That literally came from a near-death experience that you had.

Istvan: Its based on two or three years of covering other conflicts. Id covered the Sri Lanka conflict. I covered the Kashmir conflict between Pakistan and India. Id been doing some pretty harrowing stories and it made me, I think it kinda got in my head, I dont want to say its PTSD, but really it made me think, What if we could overcome death? And when it hit me that I could do this, I realized that this is why I want to dedicate my life to.

Thornburgh: Does transhumanism have any rights or rituals or holidays?

Istvan: Its secular. Its a very decentralized movement. A lot of the life-extension people are not interested in the robotics people, because life extension people want to biologically live longer, where the robotics people want to become machines and upload themselves. So even though they are both transhumanist and I like both groups, they dont really talk to each other. Then there are the biohackers, who are mostly young, tattooed people that are putting chips in. I have a chip in my hand. It opens my front door, starts a car, it sends a text message.

Thornburgh: You have this right now?

Istvan: I have it right now. You can touch it. Its right there. Push. Youll see. Youll feel a bump. Its a glass-enclosed microchip.

Thornburgh: Does that hurt when I press your chip?

Istvan: No. Its tiny. Its the size of a grain of rice. When you get these chip implants, you use a horse syringe you just put it in. Its kind of painful. But the chip itself is about the size of a grain rice.

Thornburgh: But that wasnt sexual what we just did?

Istvan: No. Its just a chip.

Thornburgh: How do you program this chip? Is this like a radio-frequency identification?

Istvan: Yeah. Unfortunately, the technology doesnt work with Apple phones, but it works with all Android. And so if you have an Android phone, you will actually be able to put it against my hand and then get my serial number. Of course, that freaks people out, because who has a serial number? But you can also put in medical information. So if youre unconscious and they find you, they can scan it. But in my case, Im a surfer and a jogger and when you go surfing you have to always hide your keys, and what a pain in the butt that is, because then someone can steal it when youre surfing and take your car. So in my case, its just great because all my keys are embedded into my hand and you can even do things like hold Bitcoin on it, but you cant pay it Starbucks yet.

Listen to the full episode at Luminary.

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The Fight against Socialism Isnt Over – National Review

Posted: at 4:46 am

Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a news conference in Burlington, Vt., March 11, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)Bernie Sanders isnt a relic. Hes a preview of things to come.

Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief. Joe Bidens victories on Mini Tuesday make his delegate lead all but insurmountable. Bernie Sanderss electoral weakness, compared with his performance four years ago, has dulled the fear of an incipient socialist takeover of the worlds oldest political party. The left is said to have talked itself into believing its own propaganda and helped President Trump equate Democrats with socialism. Victory in the primary did not come from pledges to eliminate private health insurance or impose wealth taxes. It followed from the perception that Biden is the candidate best able to defeat Trump.

Dont write off the socialist revival just yet. Sanders might not win the Democratic nomination. But this outcome does not mean the forces that propelled him to second-place finishes in the two most recent Democratic primaries will vanish overnight. Abandoning the intellectual fight against socialism, both inside and outside the Democratic Party, would cede the field to an increasingly sophisticated and networked band of ideological activists whose influence in media and politics is greater than their numbers. Such ambivalence could have devastating consequences for American society.

The resurgent left has pushed Biden far beyond where he stood as vice president. And a socialist infrastructure guarantees the philosophys longevity. Aspiring Democratic politicians must at least deal with, if not pay obeisance to, groups such as the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. Especially if they inhabit a deep-blue district ripe for picking by the Squad.

Fashionable, lively, radical, and controversial outlets, including Jacobin, Current Affairs, the Young Turks, Chapo Trap House, and Secular Talk, complement popular Instagram and Twitter accounts. And the New York Times magazines 1619 Project shows that the mainstream media is responsive to, and willing to participate in, the latest trends in anti-Americanism.

The most obvious reason not to dismiss the Sanders phenomenon is demographic. On Super Tuesday, Sanders won 30- to 44-year-olds by 18 points, and 18- to 29-year-olds by a staggering 43 points. He defeated Biden by nine points among Hispanic voters and by 25 points among Asian voters. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. Hispanics are second. Sanderss protege, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 30-year-old woman of Puerto Rican descent, represents this ethno-generational cohort. Their place in American life will not be denied.

Right now, socialism is unpopular. Last month, only 45 percent of adults told Gallup they would vote for a socialist for president. Last year, a 51-percent majority said socialism would be a bad thing for the United States. But Gallup also found that the number who said socialism would be a good thing had risen to 43 percent in 2019 from 25 percent in 1942. A majority of Democrats have held positive views of socialism since 2010. A willingness to adopt the socialist ideal is most pronounced among the young. A YouGov poll conducted last year for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 70 percent of Millennials are either somewhat or extremely likely to vote for a socialist.

It is the decline in institutional religion that drives the resurgence of socialism. Gallup found that church membership among U.S. adults has dropped precipitously over the last two decades, to 50 percent in 2018 from 70 percent in 1998. Why? Because the percentage of adults who profess no religious affiliation has more than doubled. It has gone to 19 percent from 8 percent. The Millennials exhibit the lowest percentage of church membership among generations. Pew says the number of Americans who identify as Christians fell more than ten points over the last decade as the number of religiously unaffiliated spiked. Here too the largest falloff was among Millennials.

Religion not only offers answers to the most powerful, definitive, and ultimate questions of human existence and purpose. It anchors individuals in a particular authoritative tradition defined by doctrinal orthodoxy and refined through multigenerational practice. People released from these bonds are capable of believing anything. Thus, socialism has returned at the same time as climate apocalypticism, transhuman and transgender ideology, anti-vaccination movements, anti-Semitism, conspiracies, and ethnonationalism. In this climate of relativism and revisionism, where the most outlandish theories are a Google search away, both Marxism and utopian socialism seem credible. Nothing is too absurd.

Irving Kristol said that it is easy to point out how silly and counterproductive and even deadly socialism has been, in so many respects, but difficult to recognize its pull as an emotional attachment. The love of equality and progress makes for a special and durable political passion. Socialism, wrote Irving Howe in 1954, is the name of our desire. In the absence of an intellectually coherent and morally compelling account of the inequalities inherent to liberal democracy, so will the desire remain.

This piece originally appeared on the Washington Free Beacon.

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Sleeve Into Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game – Nerdist

Posted: at 4:46 am

Based on the 2002 novel Altered Carbon, the self-proclaimed neo-noir cyberpunk series is expanding into a tabletop roleplaying game. The Netflix show just launched its second season. Combining a healthy mix of Bladerunner, Total Recall, and Transhumanismthe setting rocks as an RPG. Apparently, the Kickstarter did too, raising over 1000% of their funding goal and hitting over 3,900 backers by the end of its run. Hunters Entertainment (Outbreak: Undead) headed up the design with an amazing team of people, so its no surprise that this Kickstarter slew expectations.

The Kickstarter page contains the vital information any prospective player could need. We still wanted to take a moment to highlight some things that are unique to a world in which you cant die. Imagine the prospects for a moment. Villains can be killed only to return later, potentially wearing the face of the partys friends. A full TPK can happen, and the adventure continues with the consequences of that folly. Or bar fights suddenly become far more bone-breaking. Not only does this concept present interesting ideas for storytelling but Altered Carbon RPG is also flipping our dice on us.

Using the Hazard system, the game encourages you to roll natural 1s. Which is frankly, glorious blasphemy. I think this gameplay difference is important to differentiate the setting and game for long term roleplaying game players. If youve been rolling D20s for a while, changing the dice mechanics on your table does work as a tangible reminder of the new world.

For as long as Ive been a storyteller; Ive often been running Cyberpunk, Transhumanism, or modern settings as long-term campaigns. I love high-tension, cheeky, dystopian conspiracy games so naturally Altered Carbon stole my interest. But every group needs one person to take up the mantle of Gamemaster. Lets take a look at how two major aspects of storytelling in a Transhuman or Cyberpunk setting in order to inspire other storytellers!

In this transhumanist world, the human mind is Digital Human Freight. Stored in a small, diamond-hard device at the base of the skull, everyone calls a cortical stack it. Some people have their brains sliced and scanned in layer-by-layer while others take a more digital approach. The end result is the same: you can re-sleeve your entire consciousness into a new body. With remote digital back-ups, needle casting your mind to other planets, or having a variety of custom bodies on handyou can become an immortal god. The ability to change bodies or sculpt your frame like an automobile is a dream for many.

Permanent death is possible for anyone whose stack is destroyed, but namely, you focus on an uplifting style of storytelling. Re: The characters backstories. Create elaborate backstories with wonderfully fleshed-out characters with full narratives by spending time with your players. The concept of a session zero is infinitely more important in settings like AC. Once created, weave those delicious backstories together into one yarn-ball of a plot. Since characters can be hundreds of years old, its okay to hop a few decades. Long-term gameplay in a transhumanist setting isnt going to be about TPKs, rather, about the parties choices around that ball of yarn. Some threads will get tugged, others will get knotted, and at least one will be hacked with a chainsaw. Meanwhile, villains at the beginning of the game can become allies later on. Only to swap sides again later. Embrace this fluidity as a storyteller.

Since the characters and NPCs will remain under the campaign spotlight for a long time, time invested into them is well spent. This also opens several new tactical options for both sides of that storyteller screen. For example, if the party knows they will resleeve they might consider one-way-ticket missions with no extraction. Nothing says a salty faction cant strike at the partys prized bar in the same way.

Cyberpunk worlds are both storytelling gold and a daunting task of finding where to start. Altered Carbon gives us a major campaign focal point called Bay City. Focused into three, easy to identify, and easy to dabble in factions: The Ground, the Twilight, and the Aerium. Poor, middle, and methuselah godlike rich respectively. Narrowing down a multi-planet cyberpunk setting to former San Francisco is exactly what gamemasters need to focus on a campaign. I couldnt be happier with the QuickStart guide for doing exactly that, and I really want to give a special shout out to the designers for making that call.

Well done chaps.

To prevent getting lost, shine a spotlight on local beats. Basically, in a setting with billions of people teeming on top of each other location bloat can be a major design problem. Its easy to fall into the pit of infinite information, and your players suffer from the noise. Cities are nearly infinite in story, filled with vast sprawling segments, and can make the PCs feel tiny. Unlike fantasy campaigns, the pulse of an urban fantasy or cyberpunk campaign beats inherently different. Less territory control or nation wars, and more investigation and fights containedjust out of sight.

Keeping everything setting wise sorted into factions or companies creates instant bonding with players. The Meths and the Grounders are easy factions to grasp onto and weave into a story. For added flair, toss in some company products and branding on your player characters weapons and youve seeded your immersion. Instead of having named NPCs, simply use faction representatives. If a pair or duo of them keeps recurring, feel free to start fleshing them out a little more. By keeping motives and goals orientated around the faction or company, you can brand it, and use that branding in the world. Plus your party will naturally start to separate the employees, from the company. Pelican Corp is an evil weapons manufacturer, but Debbie in shipping is a heckin saint.

Have you tried the Altered Carbon RPG yet? Try the Quickstart Guide here and let us know your adventure in the comments!

Featured Image: Altered Carbon The Role-Playing Game

Image Credits: Altered Carbon

Rick Heinz is a storyteller with a focus on D&D For Kids, and an overdose of LARPs, and the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn. You can follow RPG or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at [emailprotected]

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How Amazing Pictures Like Thus Have Shaped Our Views of Human Existence – The National Interest

Posted: at 4:46 am

It is 1950 and a group of scientists are walking to lunch against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. They are about to have a conversation that will become scientific legend. The scientists are at the Los Alamos Ranch School, the site for the Manhattan Project, where each of the group has lately played their part in ushering in the atomic age.

They are laughing about a recent cartoon in the New Yorker offering an unlikely explanation for a slew of missing public trash cans across New York City. The cartoon had depicted little green men (complete with antenna and guileless smiles) having stolen the bins, assiduously unloading them from their flying saucer.

By the time the party of nuclear scientists sits down to lunch, within the mess hall of a grand log cabin, one of their number turns the conversation to matters more serious. Where, then, is everybody?, he asks. They all know that he is talking sincerely about extraterrestrials.

The question, which was posed by Enrico Fermi and is now known as Fermis Paradox, has chilling implications.

Bin-stealing UFOs notwithstanding, humanity still hasnt found any evidence of intelligent activity among the stars. Not a single feat of astro-engineering, no visible superstructures, not one space-faring empire, not even a radio transmission. It has been argued that the eerie silence from the sky above may well tell us something ominous about the future course of our own civilisation.

Such fears are ramping up. Last year, the astrophysicist Adam Frank implored an audience at Google that we see climate change and the newly baptised geological age of the Anthropocene against this cosmological backdrop. The Anthropocene refers to the effects of humanitys energy-intensive activities upon Earth. Could it be that we do not see evidence of space-faring galactic civilisations because, due to resource exhaustion and subsequent climate collapse, none of them ever get that far? If so, why should we be any different?

A few months after Franks talk, in October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes update on global warming caused a stir. It predicted a sombre future if we do not decarbonise. And in May, amid Extinction Rebellions protests, a new climate report upped the ante, warning: Human life on earth may be on the way to extinction.

Meanwhile, NASA has been publishing press releases about an asteroid set to hit New York within a month. This is, of course, a dress rehearsal: part of a stress test designed to simulate responses to such a catastrophe. NASA is obviously fairly worried by the prospect of such a disaster event such simulations are costly.

Space tech Elon Musk has also been relaying his fears about artificial intelligence to YouTube audiences of tens of millions. He and others worry that the ability for AI systems to rewrite and self-improve themselves may trigger a sudden runaway process, or intelligence explosion, that will leave us far behind an artificial superintelligence need not even be intentionally malicious in order to accidentally wipe us out.

In 2015, Musk donated to Oxfords Future of Humanity Institute, headed up by transhumanist Nick Bostrom. Nestled within the universitys medieval spires, Bostroms institute scrutinises the long-term fate of humanity and the perils we face at a truly cosmic scale, examining the risks of things such as climate, asteroids and AI. It also looks into less well-publicised issues. Universe destroying physics experiments, gamma-ray bursts, planet-consuming nanotechnology and exploding supernovae have all come under its gaze.

So it would seem that humanity is becoming more and more concerned with portents of human extinction. As a global community, we are increasingly conversant with increasingly severe futures. Something is in the air.

But this tendency is not actually exclusive to the post-atomic age: our growing concern about extinction has a history. We have been becoming more and more worried for our future for quite some time now. My PhD research tells the story of how this began. No one has yet told this story, yet I feel it is an important one for our present moment.

I wanted to find out how current projects, such as the Future of Humanity Institute, emerge as offshoots and continuations of an ongoing project of enlightenment that we first set ourselves over two centuries ago. Recalling how we first came to care for our future helps reaffirm why we should continue to care today.

In 1816, something was also in the air. It was a 100-megaton sulfate aerosol layer. Girdling the planet, it was made up of material thrown into the stratosphere by the eruption of Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, the previous year. It was one of the biggest volcanic eruptions since civilisation emerged during the Holocene.

Almost blotting out the sun, Tamboras fallout caused a global cascade of harvest collapse, mass famine, cholera outbreak and geopolitical instability. And it also provoked the first popular fictional depictions of human extinction. These came from a troupe of writers including Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley.

The group had been holidaying together in Switzerland when titanic thunderstorms, caused by Tamboras climate perturbations, trapped them inside their villa. Here they discussed humanitys long-term prospects.

Clearly inspired by these conversations and by 1816s hellish weather, Byron immediately set to work on a poem entitled Darkness. It imagines what would happen if our sun died:

I had a dream, which was not all a dreamThe bright sun was extinguishd, and the starsDid wander darkling in the eternal spaceRayless, and pathless, and the icy earthSwung blind and blackening in the moonless air

Detailing the ensuing sterilisation of our biosphere, it caused a stir. And almost 150 years later, against the backdrop of escalating Cold War tensions, the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists again called upon Byrons poem to illustrate the severity of nuclear winter.

Two years later, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (perhaps the first book on synthetic biology) refers to the potential for the lab-born monster to outbreed and exterminate Homo sapiens as a competing species. By 1826, Mary went on to publish The Last Man. This was the first full-length novel on human extinction, depicted here at the hands of pandemic pathogen.

Beyond these speculative fictions, other writers and thinkers had already discussed such threats. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in 1811, daydreamed in his private notebooks about our planet being scorched by a close comet and still rolling on cities men-less, channels riverless, five mile deep. In 1798, Mary Shelleys father, the political thinker William Godwin, queried whether our species would continue forever?

While just a few years earlier, Immanuel Kant had pessimistically proclaimed that global peace may be achieved only in the vast graveyard of the human race. He would, soon after, worry about a descendent offshoot of humanity becoming more intelligent and pushing us aside.

Earlier still, in 1754, philosopher David Hume had declared that man, equally with every animal and vegetable, will partake in extinction. Godwin noted that some of the profoundest enquirers had lately become concerned with the extinction of our species.

In 1816, against the backdrop of Tamboras glowering skies, a newspaper article drew attention to this growing murmur. It listed numerous extinction threats. From global refrigeration to rising oceans to planetary conflagration, it spotlighted the new scientific concern for human extinction. The probability of such a disaster is daily increasing, the article glibly noted. Not without chagrin, it closed by stating: Here, then, is a very rational end of the world!

Before this, we thought the universe was busy

So if people first started worrying about human extinction in the 18th century, where was the notion beforehand? There is enough apocalypse in scripture to last until judgement day, surely. But extinction has nothing to do with apocalypse. The two ideas are utterly different, even contradictory.

For a start, apocalyptic prophecies are designed to reveal the ultimate moral meaning of things. Its in the name: apocalypse means revelation. Extinction, by direct contrast, reveals precisely nothing and this is because it instead predicts the end of meaning and morality itself if there are no humans, there is nothing humanly meaningful left.

And this is precisely why extinction matters. Judgement day allows us to feel comfortable knowing that, in the end, the universe is ultimately in tune with what we call justice. Nothing was ever truly at stake. On the other hand, extinction alerts us to the fact that everything we hold dear has always been in jeopardy. In other words, everything is at stake.

Extinction was not much discussed before 1700 due to a background assumption, widespread prior to the Enlightenment, that it is the nature of the cosmos to be as full as moral value and worth as is possible. This, in turn, led people to assume that all other planets are populated with living and thinking beings exactly like us.

Although it only became a truly widely accepted fact after Copernicus and Kepler in the 16th and 17th centuries, the idea of plural worlds certainly dates back to antiquity, with intellectuals from Epicurus to Nicholas of Cusa proposing them to be inhabited with lifeforms similar to our own. And, in a cosmos that is infinitely populated with humanoid beings, such beings and their values can never fully go extinct.

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Experts advise healthy eating to boost immune system – The Star Online

Posted: at 4:45 am

PETALING JAYA: With fears over Covid-19 taking centre stage, nutritionists and health experts say people should revert to the basics of healthy eating, managing stress and exercising to boost their immune system.

Holistic medical practitioner Datuk Dr Rajen Manicka (pic) said the type of food and supplements consumed affects ones immune system.

We believe that a high intake of turmeric, which Indians take daily, and onions, which is rich in quercetin, are foods that boost your immune system, he explained.

Rajen said a high sugar intake will be detrimental to ones health, adding that people should consume more protein and water daily.

It is important to also take a lot of protein, it doesnt matter what type, be it fish or eggs, because protein is a very important component in the immune system, he said.

After water, glutathione small protein molecules produced by every single living cell is the second most important component that the human body needs.

Rajen said people who are low in glutathione have low immune system.

Older people suffer more because they dont have enough glutathione. You can take supplements that supply the body with glutathione or one that allows the body to make more glutathione.

Weve also done clinical trials, where glutathione is shown to have been able to boost the immune system against the Zika virus, he said.

However, nutritionist Dr Tee E Seong does not recommend taking supplements for the average healthy individual but encourages the practice of traditional dietary guidelines of the food pyramid.

For people who are sick and have undergone surgery, or old people who cannot eat well, supplements will help.

But for the average person, the 35-year-olds who are physically active or young children, there is no evidence to say supplements will help, he said.

Tee said should a person need to take supplements, it is best to seek the advice of a nutritionist.

For vitamins, it does not mean that if we consume more, it will be better for us.

There are limits of intake for vitamins and minerals, so if you want to take supplements at these times, it is better to talk to a nutritionist, he said.

Commenting on claims of turmeric and garlic intake as a combatant for viruses, Tee said although the spices may be an important source of antioxidants, singling out one food item alone is not going to help fight viruses.

To boost the immune system, we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The immune system should have been built up over the years, not just now, but we need more antioxidants now, and fruits and vegetables are the best source.

Colourful vegetables and fruits such as carrot, tomato, colourful grapes and cabbage have a lot of antioxidants, he said.

Tee also noted that antioxidants in vegetables are not destroyed in the process of cooking, unlike the vitamins in them.

Drinking a lot of water, at least eight glasses a day and a balanced diet, is a must to build up the immune system, Tee advised.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Food Science and Technologys Prof Dr Azizah Haji Hamid said another important factor is to reduce stress as it causes poor immunity.

Everyone has a different approach to dealing with stress.

We can each do what works for us and it can be as easy as taking a walk, sightseeing or prostration, she said.

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Vegans & Vitamin B12: Everything You Wanted To Know (But Were Afraid To Ask) – Plant Based News

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Vitamin B12 deficiency can have severe consequences (Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an essential vitamin, which means we cannot live without it and have to obtain it through diet.

It is needed for nerve cells maintenance, DNA formation and red blood cell production.

We only need a tiny amount but its crucial that we do get it. In the UK, the recommended intake is 1.5 g (micrograms) of B12 daily, in the US its 2.4 g and the European Food Safety Authority suggests an adequate intake of 4 g.

The liver stores B12 and this stock lasts up to three years. Therefore, you cannot become deficient in a week or even a month but theres no point in risking a deficiency.

When it develops, it can have severe consequences so its important to ensure regular B12 intake.

The main symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, lack of energy, muscle weakness, pins and needles sensation, depression and cognitive problems (trouble remembering things, understanding and decision making).

Deficiency can also result in raised levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

At the other end of the spectrum are high B12 intakes you can take a high daily dose of this vitamin without any side effects but it shouldnt be more than 2,000 g (2 mg), according to the NHS (2017).

Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the soil and water. Before sanitation, we used to get it from contaminated fruit and vegetables, and other plant foods.

Not only do we wash produce nowadays (and for good reasons), but most fruit and vegetables are pre-washed anyway so there's not a trace of B12 left. In addition, thanks to intensive farming practices, even the soil is depleted and lacking in these bacteria.

Some foods like nutritional yeast are fortified withVitamin B12(Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Animal products contain Vitamin B12, whilst most plants do not, and some people use this as an argument against veganism - but things are not so clear cut.

Farmed animals are given vitamins with their feed, which is why their flesh and secretions contain B12. People who consume animal foods effectively consume recycled B12. Isn't it better to go straight to the source and just take the supplement?

Studies show that insufficient B12 intake is a worldwide problem, with some populations having 30-40 percent of people with inadequate B12 levels (Allen et al., 2018). *

The truth is, its hard to get enough vitamin B12 from foods alone, even if you eat animal products.

For us, vegans, there are two options fortified foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is produced by growing bacterial cultures and extracting it from them (Fang et al., 2017). The process is the same whether its B12 for supplements or food fortification.

Fortified foods include some breakfast cereals (check the ingredients label), yeast extracts (eg Marmite or Meridian Yeast Extract), nutritional yeast with B12, vegetable margarines, some meat alternatives and plant milks and yogurts.

If you have these foods on a daily basis, it may be sufficient but taking a supplement is a safer bet. You can take it daily, every other day or a larger dose once a week. B12 supplements usually come with much higher amounts than the 4g we need so its easy to get enough.

Some vegans opt to take vitamin B12 in droplets form, which you can buy here(Adobe. Do not use without permission)

There are several forms of B12 and the debate over which is the best is rife. The most common forms are cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the inactive form of B12, which needs to be activated in the stomach by binding with a compound called intrinsic factor. Thats a natural process and most people can rely on cyanocobalamin to cover their B12 needs. Cyanocobalamin is used in the more affordable supplements and fortified foods.

Methylcobalamin is the active form of Vitamin B12 and doesnt require any activation. However, its less stable and more expensive.

Then, there are two other forms of active Vitamin B12 adenosylcobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.

All four forms of B12 are effective at topping-up your stores. If you are healthy, cyanocobalamin (the cheap one) is perfectly sufficient (Obeid et al., 2015). Some people prefer to take one of the active forms, as they are ready-to-use by your body and thats perfectly fine.

However, its best to combine them with cyanocobalamin once in a while your body can make any form it needs from cyanocobalamin, which is not the case with the active forms (Thakkar and Billa, 2015).

If you have a B12 deficiency, then a combination of cyanocobalamin with one of the active forms is advisable to increase your levels quickly (Obeid et al., 2015; Thakkar and Billa, 2015) and the same applies if you have a specific condition affecting your B12 metabolism (Paul and Brady, 2017).

Absorption of B12 may be hindered by several factors - tobacco smoking, kidney disease, older age, general anaesthesia, some medications - Metformin (for diabetes), anticonvulsants, antacids and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

In these cases, its best to take methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin but your doctor may also suggest B12 injections. As for the age question, if youre over 50, you need some extra B12 as our bodies are simply not as efficient at extracting it from foods alone.

Heating food and drinks in a microwave or longer-than-very-brief cooking can also reduce the amount of vitamin B12 available from them.

For example, if you always heat your fortified plant milk in a microwave before using it, you may not be getting enough B12 if that's your only source of it. Its a good idea to supplement your B12 a couple of times a week if you normally only rely on fortified foods.

It is a type of B12-related anaemia, where the body doesnt have enough vitamin B12 to make red blood cells. It is not caused by a lack of B12 but rather by a deficiency of the intrinsic factor in the stomach needed for B12 to be activated.

This can happen if your stomach lining is weakened due to a condition like gastritis, autoimmune disease or when you have had a procedure that removed a part of the stomach.

In these cases, B12 injections or sublingual methylcobalamin sprays/powders are recommended to avoid deficiency.

The bacteria in our guts actually produce Vitamin B12 but unfortunately, its of no use to us.

These bacteria live in the colon, which is too far down the digestive tract for us to be able to absorb the vitamin.

There are lots of myths about seaweed and Vitamin B12(Adobe. Do not use without permission)

There is a lot of (mis)information about food containing Vitamin B12. There have been claims that certain seaweeds contain it as well as fermented foods such as miso, tempeh, kombucha and sauerkraut.

Spirulina - a popular green algae powder claimed to be bursting with nutrients. Thats true but it has one big problem - it contains something called B12 analogues. They are compounds with a structure similar to Vitamin B12 so they bind to B12 receptors in the human body but do nothing and block access for the real B12. It can become an issue if you have spirulina every day, as it can have a negative impact on your B12 levels.

Nori - seaweed that comes in sheets or as flakes to be sprinkled on meals. Research shows it may be the only non-animal source of Vitamin B12 (Watanabe et al., 2014) but more data are needed to confirm this.

Fermented foods - this is a broad category including tempeh, miso, natto, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut and more. Its true that the bacteria used for fermentation do produce some B12 so these foods may provide tiny amounts. However, the amounts can be so negligible that it is advised not to rely solely on these products for vitamin B12.

There are some emerging foods that may be natural B12 sources, such as a specific type of duckweed. However, they arent mass-produced yet and there isnt enough data confirming we can truly obtain enough of the vitamin from them.

The awareness of the need to watch Vitamin B12 in our diet is increasing. If youre worried about your intake, you can ask your GP for a blood test. Its nothing uncommon and when you mention that youre vegan, they wont object.

A varied vegan diet supplies almost all we need but theres no getting around the B12 issue we do need a little extra help from supplements or fortified foods. We are not alone, many other population groups have low intakes and the elderly may be deficient even if they eat meat three times a day.

As our food production systems change, so do our lifestyle habits and theres nothing wrong with accepting that we need to add a tiny amount of a bacteria-produced vitamin to our diets.

Allen LH, Miller JW, de Groot L, et al. 2018. Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development (BOND): Vitamin B-12 Review. Journal of Nutrition. 148(suppl_4):1995S2027S.

Fang H, Kang J, Zhang D. 2017. Microbial production of vitamin B12: a review and future perspectives. Microbial Cell Factories. 16(1):15.

NHS. 2017. Vitamins and minerals B vitamins and folic acid [online]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/

Obeid R, Fedosov SN, Nexo E. 2015. Cobalamin coenzyme forms are not likely to be superior to cyano- and hydroxyl-cobalamin in prevention or treatment of cobalamin deficiency. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 59(7):13641372.

Paul C, Brady DM. 2017. Comparative Bioavailability and Utilization of Particular Forms of B12 Supplements With Potential to Mitigate B12-related Genetic Polymorphisms. Integrative Medicine (Encinitas). 16(1):4249.

Thakkar K, Billa G. 2015. Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency-methylcobalamine? Cyancobalamine? Hydroxocobalamin?-clearing the confusion. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 69(1):12.

Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T and Teng F. 2014. Vitamin B12-containing plant food sources for vegetarians. Nutrients. 6 (5) 1861-1873.

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What’s the Best Time to Take Magnesium? – Healthline

Posted: at 4:45 am

Magnesium is an important mineral thats involved in many aspects of your health.

In fact, studies show that it may help improve blood sugar control, prevent migraine attacks, reduce blood pressure levels, and protect against depression (1, 2, 3, 4).

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) the intake thats sufficient for nearly all healthy individuals for magnesium is 310420 mg daily for adults. While most people can meet their needs through food sources alone, supplements may be necessary in some cases (5).

This article helps determine the best time to take magnesium to maximize its effectiveness.

Regardless of whether youre taking magnesium to improve your mood, decrease anxiety, or enhance sleep quality, the benefits of magnesium supplements are all associated with their long-term use.

For example, one study in 130 people with migraine found that taking a supplement containing magnesium decreased migraine frequency, with participants reporting fewer migraine days over the course of the 3-month study (6).

Another study noted that supplementing with magnesium improved symptoms of depression in 112 adults, with noticeable benefits occurring after 2 weeks (7).

Whats more, a study in 46 older adults also showed that taking 500 mg of magnesium daily for 8 weeks improved several measures of insomnia, including total sleep time and sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes to fall asleep (8).

Therefore, magnesium supplements can be taken at any time of the day, as long as youre able to take them consistently.

For some, taking supplements first thing in the morning may be easiest, while others may find that taking them with dinner or just before bed works well for them.

The most important thing is to set a schedule and stick to it to ensure that youre getting your daily dose.

The benefits of magnesium are associated with long-term use, and supplements can be taken at any time of the day, depending on what works for you.

Although magnesium supplements are generally well tolerated, they may be linked to several adverse effects.

Some of the most common side effects associated with magnesium supplements include digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (9).

If you experience any of these side effects, taking magnesium supplements with food could help prevent them (10).

However, if symptoms persist, consider consulting a trusted healthcare practitioner to determine the best course of treatment for you.

Taking magnesium supplements with food can help prevent side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Magnesium supplements can interfere with the absorption of several other types of medications, potentially reducing their effectiveness.

Other medications may also increase the excretion of magnesium through urine, which can increase your risk of deficiency.

For example, antibiotics should be taken at least 2 hours before or 46 hours after magnesium supplements to help maximize effectiveness.

Meanwhile, those taking bisphosphonates to prevent bone loss should be sure to take magnesium supplements at least 2 hours before or after other medications.

Additionally, if youre taking diuretics or proton pump inhibitors, you should consult a healthcare professional to determine the best schedule for your supplements (5).

Magnesium can interact with certain medications, which may require you to adjust the timing of when you take the supplement.

Taking magnesium supplements with food may help prevent some of their adverse effects.

The timing may also be important if youre taking certain types of medications, such as antibiotics or bisphosphonates.

However, because the benefits of magnesium supplements are associated with long-term use, taking your supplement consistently each day is more important than the timing.

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Global Bioactive Ingredients Market 2020-2024 | Growing Adoption of Health and Wellness Food Products to Boost Growth | Technavio – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 4:45 am

The global bioactive ingredients market is expected to post a CAGR of almost 7% during the period 2020-2024, according to the latest market research report by Technavio. Request a free sample report

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200316005272/en/

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Bioactive Ingredients Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

The geriatric population is vulnerable to various diseases and disorders such as poor visibility, joint pains, and weakness of bones. This has increased the consumption of dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals among the geriatric population to reduce the prevalence of such disorders. These factors are encouraging supplement manufacturers to provide specialized products to cater to the growing demand from the geriatric population. With the rising geriatric population, the growth of the global bioactive ingredients market will gain momentum during the forecast period.

To learn more about the global trends impacting the future of market research, download a free sample: https://www.technavio.com/talk-to-us?report=IRTNTR40012

As per Technavio, the growing adoption of health and wellness food products will have a positive impact on the market and contribute to its growth significantly over the forecast period. This research report also analyzes other important trends and market drivers that will affect market growth over 2020-2024.

Global Bioactive Ingredients Market: Growing Adoption of Health and Wellness Food Products

Over recent years, consumers have increasingly become concerned about the quality of ingredients used in foods and beverages. Also, the growing prevalence of risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, stress, and high blood pressure has compelled consumers to adopt better dietary habits to stay healthy. These factors are encouraging vendors to introduce innovative products with high nutritional value, which is positively influencing the growth of the global bioactive ingredients market.

"The shift in demand from synthetic to natural beta-carotene and the increasing adoption of organic and natural ingredients will further boost market growth during the forecast period", says a senior analyst at Technavio.

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Global Bioactive Ingredients Market: Segmentation Analysis

This market report segments the global bioactive ingredients market by geography (APAC, Europe, MEA, North America, and South America), type (fibers, vitamins, omega-3 PUFA, plant extracts, minerals, carotenoids and antioxidants, probiotics, and other types), and application (dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages, personal care, and animal nutrition).

The APAC region led the market in 2019, followed by North America, Europe, South America, and MEA respectively. During the forecast period, the APAC region is expected to maintain its dominance over the global market. This is due to the increasing consumption of bioactive ingredients, such as probiotics in the region.

Technavios sample reports are free of charge and contain multiple sections of the report, such as the market size and forecast, drivers, challenges, trends, and more.

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Request a free sample report

Some of the key topics covered in the report include:

Market Landscape

Market Sizing

Five Forces Analysis

Market Segmentation

Geographical Segmentation

Market Drivers

Market Challenges

Market Trends

Vendor Landscape

About Technavio

Technavio is a leading global technology research and advisory company. Their research and analysis focuses on emerging market trends and provides actionable insights to help businesses identify market opportunities and develop effective strategies to optimize their market positions.

With over 500 specialized analysts, Technavios report library consists of more than 17,000 reports and counting, covering 800 technologies, spanning across 50 countries. Their client base consists of enterprises of all sizes, including more than 100 Fortune 500 companies. This growing client base relies on Technavios comprehensive coverage, extensive research, and actionable market insights to identify opportunities in existing and potential markets and assess their competitive positions within changing market scenarios.

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Technavio ResearchJesse MaidaMedia & Marketing ExecutiveUS: +1 844 364 1100UK: +44 203 893 3200Email: media@technavio.com Website: https://www.technavio.com/

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If You Want More Energy, Eat These 10 Foods Rich in This Essential Vitamin – Yahoo Lifestyle

Posted: at 4:45 am

Abalanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy body and trying to avoid any health issues. We talk about what to eat if you want good skin, better focus, a healthier heart, and so much more. But do you know if you're getting enough of a crucial nutrient: vitamin B12?

"Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a major role in DNA synthesis, nervous system function, and red blood cell formation," explains Claire Virga, MS, RDN, of Rooted Wellness. "We need vitamin B12 to keep our nerve and red blood cells healthy and to create new DNA. Our bodies can't make vitamin B12 so we must get B12 from dietary sources and supplements."

The thing is, you might not know you have a deficiencystraight off the bat. "You could have low B12 for years before an actual deficiency symptom shows up," says Robin Foroutan, MD, RDN, HHC, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

A deficiency can lead to anemia and nervous system complications that cause symptoms like fatigue, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath as well as cognitive complications like memory loss and depression, Virga adds. And if left untreated for a long period of time, it can lead to severe, irreversible nerve damage in some cases.

Since vitamin B12 is found in meat, seafood, and dairy, there are some people with dietary restrictions who are more susceptible to a vitamin B12 deficiencyvegans and vegetarians, for example. "It's probably the most-difficult-to-absorb vitamin, and it's not found everywhere in food," Foroutan says. "Mostly animal foods are sources of B12, but because it's so difficult to absorb, a lot of people end up with low levels even if they might be eating the right amount of B12 foods. The people who are most at risk for B12 deficiencies or chronic low-grade insufficiencies are the vegetarians and vegans, anybody avoiding red meat and people who take acid-blocking medication or routinely take antacids."

Since absorption can be difficult with this vitamin, people withdigestive problems orinflammation in the digestive tract might not be able to absorb it fully. Not to mention as you get older, your ability to absorb B12 decreases. Additionally, pregnant and lactating women may need more vitamin B12 to support the cognitive development and healthy growth of their baby. "A B12 deficiency during pregnancy can cause developmental abnormalities, neural tube defects, preeclampsia, and other complications," Virga says. "Pregnant women should look for a prenatal multivitamin containing vitamin B12."

So how can you make sure you're getting enough B12, even if you're not exhibiting symptoms of a deficiency? A blood test at your doctor's office will let you know. But if you're looking for more sources of vitamin B12 in your life, both Virga and Foroutan shared some common foods below.

"A three-ounce serving of bluefin tuna contains more than 100% of the daily value (DV) of B12," Virga says. "Tuna is also a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and micronutrients like selenium and vitamin B6."

Virga says most cuts of beef are good sources of vitamin B12, but in particular, the cuts of meat lower in fat (like ground beef and beef short ribs) tend to have higher levels. Foroutan also adds that other sources of meat and cuts, such as lamb and organ meats (liver and kidney) are also high in B12.

The yolk is key here, according to Foroutan. "Two large eggs contain around 40% of the DV for B12," Virga adds. "Hardboiled eggs are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks. Boil eggs at the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge for quick snacks or for adding to salads for extra protein and vitamin B12."

"One three-ounce serving of sockeye salmon contains approximately 200% of the DV for vitamin B12!" Virga says. "Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which we need to support brain and heart health."

Other fish that contain the vitamin include sardines and rainbow trout, according to Foroutan.

These might bea helpful optionfor vegans and vegetarians. "Foods like cereals, non-dairy milks, and vegan spreads are often fortified with vitamin B12," Virga explains. "Fortification of foods involves adding a nutrient to a food that is not naturally occurring in the food."

Anthony's Premium Nutritional Yeast Flakes ($13)

This one's another good choice for vegetarians and vegans. I am neither, but I love using nutritional yeast as a topping on popcorn because it tastes cheesy and nutty. "Nutritional yeast is often fortified with vitamin B12, but the vitamin content varies by brand, so it's important to check the ingredient list to ensure it contains the vitamin," Virga advises.

Virga saysthree ounces of cooked clams contain 3540% of the DV for vitamin B12. And if you don't love clams, Foroutan says other shellfish like oysters and mussels are a good source, too.

"Dairy-based yogurts are also good sources of vitamin B12," Virga says. "Most flavored yogurts have a ton of added sugar, so I recommend going with plain yogurt and sweetening it with fresh fruit."

Horizon Organic 2% Reduced Fat Milk With DHA Omega-3 ($4)

Virga says one glass of cow's milk contains 50% of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B12. Drink up!

Tillamook Swiss Cheese Slices ($5)

Yes, please. "One ounce of Swiss cheese contains 0.9 micrograms of B12, which equates to approximately 38% of the DV of B12," Virga says.

For people who might not be able to get their vitamin B12 intake from what they eat alone because they have dietary restrictions, are older, pregnant, or have another condition, you can turn to supplements for help. You'll want to discuss with your doctor the correct dosage and type or brand of vitamin, but Foroutan has some tips. "When you're looking for supplements, there are a lot of different forms of B12," she explains. "The cheapest and most common is called cyanocobalamin. It is not great. It's not well utilized by your cells. So a better one to use is hydroxocobalamin or methylcobalamin. The other thing is that when you get a B12 supplement, you'll see that it's like 10,000 times the recommended daily allowance, and it gives a lot of people pause, like why is this such a mega dose? It goes back to that vitamin not being well absorbed. So the supplements provide a huge dose knowing that you'll absorb just some of it."

Take a look at a few recommended vitamins below:

Revly Vegan Organic Vitamin Gummies ($14)

Garden of Life Vitamin B12 ($12)

Seeking Health Hydroxo B12 ($20)

Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (Methyl B12) ($14)

Nutricost Vitamin B12 ($14)

Next up: 14 Sneaky Signs You May Have This Common Vitamin Deficiency

This article originally appeared on The Thirty

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The Cashmere crisis in the Himalayan ice desert – BBC News

Posted: at 4:45 am

British photographer Andrew Newey has documented the lives of the Changpa nomads in Kashmir, examining the threats to their Pashmina wool production.

Andrew Newey spent two weeks with the Changpa nomads in freezing conditions in Ladakh, in Indian-administered Kashmir.

To accompany his photo series, Newey also learned about the history of Pashmina wool production, and the threats to the nomadic shepherds' way of life and traditions.

He explains in his own words: "At an altitude of more than 14,000ft, where winter temperatures can fall to -40 degrees Celsius, it is hard to believe anyone or anything can survive in this vast ice desert that is the Changthang Plateau.

"Situated between the Himalayan and Karakorum mountain ranges, it is the highest permanently inhabited plateau in the world, and home to an extremely hardy and rare breed of goat - the Changra, or Pashmina goat.

"The high altitude, freezing temperatures and harsh bitter winds in this unforgiving mountainous region are essential to stimulate the growth of the goats' super-soft undercoat.

"The fibres measure a mere eight to 10 microns in width, making it around 10 times finer than human hair and eight times warmer than sheep wool.

"This luxurious fibre is known the world over as Pashmina, the softest and most expensive type of Cashmere wool in the world.

"For centuries the Changpa nomads, who themselves are as hardy as their animals, have roamed 'the roof of the world', moving their herds of yak, sheep and goats along traditional migratory routes in this high altitude desert every few months, in search of fresh grazing pastures.

"This ancient way of life is now very much under threat from climate change, fake Pashmina imports from China, the need for better education and the desire simply for an easier and more comfortable life.

"The nomads and scientists alike are adamant that climate change is the biggest threat to Pashmina production in the region.

"The Changthang plateau does not usually get much snowfall, and if it does, it begins in January or February.

"However, for the last few years it has been increasingly heavy, starting as early as December, even November.

"As a result, food supplements have to be brought in to prevent the animals dying from starvation. Also, the winters have been getting warmer, which has reduced the quality and quantity of the valuable Pashmina wool.

"Cashmere is expensive, and rightly so. The Changpa carefully comb the hair during the spring moulting season to harvest the downy undercoat, and then the good fibre is laboriously separated from the bad by hand.

"Once the fibres are manually sorted, cleaned and hand-spun, the weaving process can begin, which is equally demanding and painstaking.

"It takes several months to a year for highly skilled artisans to work their magic on wooden looms and weave a masterpiece which will be exported around the world, selling for between 150 ($200) and 1,500 ($2,000) by luxury retailers.

"Another issue of concern is the increasing number of snow leopards in the region, putting their animals at increasing risk of attack. This is a result of the successful conservation efforts over the last decade.

"The threat to Pashmina goat-rearing would mean the end of the livelihoods of about 300,000 people in the Jammu and Kashmir state who, directly or indirectly, depend on Pashmina.

"It would also mean an end to the unique culture of the Changpas; most of them are followers of Tibetan Buddhism, and have an elaborate set of customs centred around their livestock."


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