On Your Mind... Sleep Apnea, Options, and Vitamin D

Today, we're taking a break from our normal Friday fare and digging straight into some of the questions from our inbox.

Longtime readers know that my team and I read every e-mail you send our way. Whether you have questions, topics you want us to feature, or even criticisms, keep 'em coming... at [email protected].

Now, let's get into the Q&A...

Q: How can a heart problem due to sleep apnea be discovered? Will an EKG do the trick? – C.P.

A: Thanks for the great question, C.P.

If someone has sleep apnea and is worried about their heart, there are a few ways to find out more information...

Sleep apnea may increase the risks of developing an array of cardiovascular issues, like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (where plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart), and left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (where part of your heart doesn't fill with a normal volume of blood while pumping).

So to be thorough and get a wide scope of information about your heart health, you can ask your doctor for a "comprehensive heart and vascular assessment." This is a series of tests that includes the following components:

1. A medical history review to go over your symptoms, family history, and lifestyle factors that may put you at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.

2. A physical examination, which includes taking your blood pressure and checking the sounds in your lungs and heart.

3. Blood tests that investigate various markers of cardiovascular disease, like your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

4. An electrocardiogram (also known as an "EKG" or an "ECG"), which will record the heart's electrical activity and indicate whether there's a problem with its rhythm.

5. An echocardiogram (also called an "echo"), which is an ultrasound showing the heart's structure as well as the flow of blood through the heart and its valves.

6. A stress test, which involves exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike while being hooked up to a heart monitor. This will depict how well your heart handles physical exertion.

7. Imaging tests, which may include a chest X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. These tests will show your heart and blood vessels in great detail.

The results of this comprehensive assessment should give you the information you need to determine whether your heart has an issue and whether you need further tests or treatment.

Q: Hello. Regarding your Retirement Trader service, what is the minimum amount of money that you recommend someone have to in order to utilize the service? Thank you. – M.D.

A: Generally, I recommend people have at least $25,000 to $30,000 in their options account to start trading in Retirement Trader. You can get by with a little less, but each option trade involves 100 shares worth of stock. Depending on the stock's price, that can get costly.

Some trades do require much less than others. We've recently had trades that required as little as $1,250. But we've also had trades that require $10,000 or more. If you're working with less capital and want to diversify, you can wait for some "low priced" trades to come along. Our paramount concern is picking the right stocks at the right time, but we try to include trades with low-priced stocks when possible.

Similarly, you could reduce your diversification if you can't manage five positions, but we wouldn't go below three positions.

For folks who are interested in learning more about my Retirement Trader strategy, click here.

Q: How sunny does it have to be to get a worthwhile amount of vitamin D? Cloudy? – D.R.

A: The answer is a little complicated because it depends on where you live and your skin type.

Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" because our body naturally converts sunlight to vitamin D.

We get about 50% to 90% of our vitamin D from the sun and the rest from our diet.

About 20 minutes of midday sunlight on 40% exposed skin (like wearing a T-shirt and shorts) is just enough to get the vitamin D that you need. Some people may need more time, others less. And it may change with season, location, and how cloudy it is. For example, you'd need more time in the sun in the winter in Boston than you would in Miami in the summer. If you have lighter skin, you'd need less time in the sun, more if your skin is darker. On a fully cloudy day, your body can still make vitamin D, but you'd need about double the time outside as you would on a sunny day.

Sunblock prevents your skin from making vitamin D as well, so try to use a low-SPF sunblock or go out in short periods to avoid sunburn.

Finally, boost your intake of vitamin D-rich foods instead of going straight to a supplement. Fish like salmon, tuna, and herring have a lot of vitamin D. You can also get it in egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified foods like milk and cereal.

For more on how to safely get the right amount of vitamin D, read our issue on it here.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
February 9, 2024