Weekly Health Watch with nutrition essentials for babies, a warning on buying surgery from daily deal sites, a fitness tip and more.

Playtime and interactive toys are important for parents looking to give their children a head start in life. But these products aren't the only way to help stimulate a baby's brain and eye development –– nutrition is important, too.


During the critical time of brain and eye development, lutein and DHA are important nutrients, yet lutein has gone virtually unnoticed by parents. It is found in foods such as leafy greens, certain fruits and eggs. Emerging science demonstrates that lutein helps protect important cells in the eye.


New research from Tufts University demonstrates for the first time that lutein is not only present in the eyes, but it is also present in the infant brain. The regions of the brain where Lutein is found are associated with memory and learning.


Prior to the introduction of solid foods, babies can get lutein from a few sources, including breast milk and lutein-enhanced baby formula.


"Expecting and breastfeeding mothers alike should eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods with lutein like leafy green vegetables and eggs," said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician and mother of two children. "And parents who formula feed should look for an infant formula that contains lutein, as well as DHA."


Here’s a list of foods that are good sources of lutein: spinach, kale, zucchini squash, yellow squash, green beans, corn, kiwi, eggs, apples.


-- Family Features/ Similac


New Research: Americans consume twice the sodium


The report notes that the average person consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, not including any salt added at the table, which is more than twice the recommended limit for about half of Americans and 6 of every 10 adults.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.  The recommendation is 1,500 milligrams per day for people aged 51 and older, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, and African Americans.


-- CDC


Did You Know?


Ten types of foods are responsible for more than 40 percent of people’s sodium intake, including breads, lunch meat, pizza, soups and cheeseburgers. – CDC


Health Tip: Walk to clear congestion


If you're suffering from congestion or low energy, exercise may help you feel better. A brisk walk can unclog your sinuses better than an afternoon on the couch. And gentle exercise can rev up your circulation to counteract that sluggish, run-down feeling. If you're running a fever, however, put off exercising until your temperature returns to normal.


-- Life Fitness


Number to Know


6,000: The government’s Let’s Move! initiative has committed to placing 6,000 salad bars in schools nationwide.


Children’s Health: Are they getting enough sleep?


In a recent study, researchers track more than a century's worth of advice regarding children's sleep, comparing it to data on how much children actually slept over the years. On average, age-specific sleep recommendations declined about 0.71 minutes per year between 1897 and 2009. The rate of decline is almost identical to the decline in actual sleep duration of children, about 0.73 minutes per year. Actual sleep was consistently about 37 minutes less than recommended sleep.


-- American Academy of Pediatrics


Senior Health: Buying discount cosmetic surgery?


Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are offering medical and cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction and dental implants, at deep discounts. But Liz Weston with AARP says to be extremely careful because a botched surgery can carry real dangers like scarring, deformation or residual pain. These websites won’t tell you if a procedure is risky or if the doctor is competent, so it is up to you to do the proper research.


GateHouse News Service