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Health Supplements

Supplements for the Party Season

With Christmas and New Year’s celebrations just around the corner, most of us will be enjoying plenty of food and the odd drink. The down side of the festive fun is that our bodies generally take in more calories than normal, and our immunity and detoxification organs are put under extra pressure. The good news is that there are a few natural supplements that can help maintain a healthy immune system to help get through the party season. Milk thistle is commonly used as a liver tonic. This herb is found as an ingredient in many modern detox supplements. This is mainly due to its effect on the liver, as the liver is one of the main organs for natural detoxification. The liver is the main organ for processing food, nutrients and fats. It is also a vital organ for neutralising toxins, from pollution, food, alcohol, drugs and medication. Milk thistle helps the liver to neutralise these toxins. The liver is continuously detoxifying but excessive alcohol intake can slow down the process by depleting levels of glutathione. This herbal remedy works by preventing the breakdown of glutathione. Glutathione is a peptide that acts as an enzyme in the natural detoxification process of the liver. Milk thistle works by supporting the natural detoxifying action of the liver. Studies have shown that Milk thistle can increase glutathione levels by over 30%.   Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the most widely known and used nutritional supplement. This vitamin is known for its immune boosting effects and is also required for healthy adrenal function, which helps the body cope with stress. Vitamin C sales are generally at their highest in the autumn and winter months. This is partly down to the immune boosting effects and the wide spread marketing by vitamin companies. There is no harm in taking extra vitamin C throughout the winter months and studies have shown that a dose of 1000mg vitamin C a day can shorten the duration of colds. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants that we have at our disposal. This vitamin is our main water soluble antioxidant, and can help to fight damage caused by free radicals (e.g. from fried foods and alcohol)...

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What is Serrapeptase?

as a dietary supplement, serrapeptase is becoming much more popular, but what is all the fuss about? This enzyme was initially discovered by the German scientist Hans Nieper over 20 years ago. Serrapeptase has been promoted to treat many health conditions. What is Serrapeptase? This enzyme was originally found in the intestines of the silkworm, but is now prepared synthetically in the lab through the fermentation process. It is main action is a strong anti-inflammatory response, without gastrointestinal side effects of conventional NSAID’s (non steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Serrapeptase is thought to work by helping the body to break down protein. Hans Nieper used this supplement to treat clogged arteries in his patients. The scientist also reported that Serrapeptase dissolved blood clots and reduced varicose veins. Other potential uses of Serrapeptase: Sinusitis Sore throats Ulcerative colitis Crohns disease Osteoporosis Back pain Osteoarthritis Migraines  It must be stated that more studies are required to back up these potential uses of this supplement.   The long term safety of Serrapeptase has not yet been determined, but short term treatment of up to 3-4 weeks seems to be ok. It is best avoided in pregnancy and if breast feeding, as there is not enough information regarding safety. There is also a potential interaction with medications that help to prevent blood clots such as anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin) and anti-platelet drugs (e.g. aspirin and clopidrogel). If you are taking these medications, it is best to avoid this supplement. The recommended dosage for Serrapeptase ranges from 10mg (20,000 units) to 60 mg (120,000 units) three times a day on an empty stomach (one hour before meals or 2 hours after a meal).   Please consult with your pharmacist or nutritionist before starting this...

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Chlorella: A natural supplement to enhance sports performance?

Sports nutrition is continually turning to natural suplements as this is now proving to be more effective and in harmony with the body. Many synthetic supplements and protein powders are often difficult to digest and can also be difficult to absorb. There are recent studies and claims that a natural supplement to enhance sports performance is chlorella. Chlorella is a single cell green algae food supplement. It is full of vitamins and minerals such as chlorophyll, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, carotene and iron. These are all essential nutrients to improve athletic performance. Chlorella is a very good source of protein, which is very important for repair and growth of muscles after intensive work-outs. Supplemental protein is essential for an athlete, as this helps the body to recover and nourishes muscles with amino acids. Protein drinks are now consumed by professional athletes as well as people who exercise a few times a week. Our bodies cannot absorb high amounts of synthetic protein, and this can be eventually converted into fat. The advantage of chlorella is that the body is able to break it down easily into amino acids that can be absorbed. Many well known athletes and sportsmen / sportswomen take chlorella as part of their daily supplement routine. Companies who manufacture chlorella supplements claim that it can:   Improve oxygen transportation throughout the body, which can increase muscle mass. Chlorella is also claimed to increase aerobic activity by increasing the oxygen – carbon dioxide exchange. Chlorella is claimed to facilitate the expulsion of toxins from the body. This enables the body to function in its optimum level. The high chlorophyll content of chlorella has been suggested to greatly reduce inflammation and muscle fatigue after work outs. Chlorella has been promoted to boost the immune system. This is claimed to be beneficial to athletes who need to avoid taking time off with sickness. The calcium and magnesium content of chlorella is required to regulating muscle and nerve function which prevents muscle fatigue and cramp.   Independent studies are required to verify these claims, but due to the vitamin and mineral content of chlorella, the health benefits seem quite...

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Health Benefits of Copper

Health Benefits of Copper

The financial value of copper is constantly on the increase, but this essential mineral also (and more importantly) has many health benefits ranging from the production of blood cells to the formation of bone. This mineral is required for production of red and white blood cells. so what else are the health benefits of copper? Copper is not as popular a supplement as zinc or iron but it is a mineral that is involved in many essential processes in the body. Copper is not made naturally in the body so it needs to be taken in the diet. Copper is required for: Bone health. Copper is required for the formation of both inner and outer bone. This mineral can be used as part of a treatment for osteoarthritis. Heart and circulation. This mineral plays a role in maintaining a healthy heart. Controlling cholesterol levels. Studies have found that copper can reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Brain stimulant. The levels of copper need to be in the correct balance as too much can be unhealthy for the brain. Iron absorption. Copper helps the body to absorb iron. This is essential in preventing anaemia, weakness, tiredness, dizziness and mental fatigue. This is a good example of how minerals work together in health processes. Cellular health. Copper is required for cellular respiration. Every cell in the body contains a substance called mitochondria. These mitochondria are responsible for producing cellular energy and respiration (removing toxins). Copper is essential for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which produces energy. Thyroid health. A healthy copper balance is required for a healthy functioning thyroid gland. It is important not to take too much copper or zinc as excessive doses of one mineral can cause low levels of the other. Antioxidant. Copper has antioxidant properties that help slow down the ageing process, and can help to prevent illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes. Collagen. Copper is required for the formation of collagen, which is an essential protein in the make-up of bones, skin and connective tissue. Arthritis. The potential benefits of copper in the treatment of arthritis are well known as copper bracelets and jewellery are very popular. Many naturopaths recommend drinking water from a copper...

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Resveratrol – Good for the Heart?

Resveratrol – Good for the Heart?

Resveratrol has been branded as the next big natural supplement, but does it stand up to all of the hype? This antioxidant has been touted as a miracle supplement in the treatment of illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease. These are very bold claims, and I have come across some studies which back up the claims, but others that refute them. This leads to a confusing situation for the public. Resveratrol is famously known for being a component of red wine. It is thought to be responsible for the health benefits that are widely associated with red wine. The buzz around this supplement started as a possible answer to the low incidence of heart disease in French people, who have a relatively high fat diet and regularly drink red wine with their meals. This is of course a very general observation, and other possible reasons for the low incidence of heart disease could be eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lower stress levels and more exercise. Resveratrol is naturally found in the skin of red grapes. It is also found in plants such as eucalyptus and lily, and in foods such as cranberries, blueberries and peanuts. Resveratrol is also found in red grape juice, so in theory you can get the same health benefits as drinking red wine. Red wine (in moderation) has long been hailed as being good for the heart and in helping to lower cholesterol levels. Red wine contains certain antioxidants that can help to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  It is worth noting that these benefits have been with one glass of red wine, not a bottle! Too much alcohol will bring about a host of health problems. Resveratrol might be the beneficial component in red wine that helps the cardiovascular system, but unfortunately all of the research on this supplement, at the present time seems to have been done on animals, and not humans. Another concern is that the amounts of resveratrol in foods, grape juice and red wine vary widely. Many health and vitamin companies produce resveratrol supplements, but there are questions over their ability to be absorbed by...

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Essential minerals: The benefits of magnesium

The health benefits and the actions of magnesium have been well documented recently. I have talked to various nutritional experts who are using more magnesium supplements in their practice in recent years. The updated RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 375mg a day. According to data produced by Lamberts Healthcare 72% of women and 42% of men in the UK fail to consume enough magnesium.  Read on for more about the heart benefits of magnesium… These numbers are quite staggering although they make sense once we look at some of the signs of magnesium deficiency. Many common health conditions can be attributed to a lack of magnesium in the diet. Magnesium deficiency can cause:         Muscle Cramps         Migraines         Fatigue         Weak bones……osteoporosis         PMS symptoms         Hypertension         Insomnia         Constipation         Mild Depression As you can see these symptoms are very varied, which indicates that magnesium is involved in many bodily processes and underlines how important it is to us.  The good news is that magnesium is found in many foods, although not all of this can be absorbed.   Foods that contain high amounts of magnesium:         Flax seeds         Whole grains         Brazil nuts         Spinach and other green leafy vegetables         Okra         Mung beans   Refined foods such as white rice, white flour and white bread have considerably less magnesium than whole foods. A diet high in refined and processed food will inevitably lead to magnesium deficiency as well as other health conditions. Magnesium supplements area available in many forms, but the organic forms (citrate, gluconate, malate) are generally better absorbed. The daily dose can vary between 150mg to 600mg a day, although higher doses should be taken under the supervision of a nutritionist. Mild side effects of magnesium supplementation include loose stools, which usually only lasts for a few days. This is because magnesium has a detoxifying action on the body. If you are taking higher doses, you should split the dose throughout the day to maximise absorption. We hope you enjoyed our health article “essential minerals: The benefits of...

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How would an iron deficiency affect me?

This is one of the most important minerals in the body. Iron is the most commonly prescribed mineral by doctors and is regularly monitored by blood tests. This mineral plays a number of important roles in the body so there would be many knock on effects of an iron deficiency. The most important function is in the production of haemoglobin and oxygenation of red blood cells. This helps to carry oxygen around the body and keep tissues and muscles healthy. Sportsmen and women, and athletes require more iron, as they are using more energy. Pregnant women also require additional iron, and this is usually included in many “pregnancy multi-vitamin” preparations.   As the body loses iron through bleeding, menstruating women often have low levels. This is especially the case if they have prolonged periods or short cycles. Many prescription medications can cause a dip in iron levels. Indigestion remedies such as antacids can cause iron deficiency.If you have been taking antacids for a prolonged period, please consult with your doctor or pharmacist, as you may need iron supplements. Iron also plays an important role in supporting the immune system and in the production of energy. Iron deficiency can cause various symptoms: Anaemia Weakness Tiredness Dizziness Fallinghair Mental fatigue Weak nails   The body usually gets enough iron from food sources. Supplementation is only required when symptoms of deficiency are  present or if you are on an exercise programme. The vegetarian diet can however lead to an iron deficiency, although a diet rich in a variety of vegetables (especially green leafy) will provide enough iron. Iron is found in various foods such as: Eggs Fish Red meat Green leafy vegetables, e.g. spinach,broccoli, …. Whole grains Avocados Almonds Lentils Dried fruits, e.g. raisins Iron is usually prescribed in the form of Ferrous Sulphate, although this is generally not tolerated very well. Many people find this type of iron very difficult to digest as it commonly causes constipation and indigestion. A more absorbable form is iron bisglycinateor citrate, which is usually better tolerated and doesn’t have the side effects associated with ferrous sulphate. Iron supplements should be taken with vitamin nC for maximum absorption....

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Health Benefits of Vitamin A

There are many health benefits of vitamin A. It is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy eyes. This vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Vitamin A is also known as retinol, as it essential to the health of the retina. This vitamin helps us maintain vision, especially night vision. It helps our eyes to adjust when coming in from outside. Vitamin A helps the eye from adjusting from bright light to darkness. Vitamin A is not just important for the eye health. It is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and healthy skin.  Vitamin A is also vital for the reproductive system, and for healthy growth and development. Vitamin A helps to prevent infections, sore throats, colds and flu. It is therefore a good vitamin to take throughout the winter months. Vitamin A helps to promote the supply of immune cells that line the airways and the digestive tract. This vitamin has strong antioxidant action. It can help to prevent the cells from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis.  Vitamin A can also prevent heart disease and stroke, and help lower cholesterol levels. The vitamin has benefited people who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatment. This essential vitamin has the added benefit of slowing the ageing process. Vitamin A is added to many skin creams to reduce wrinkles and to help fade age spots. It is also used to treat acne. Food sources Vitamin A is obtained from animal livers, fish, egg yolks, butter and milk. Beta-carotene, which the body makes into vitamin A in the body, is available in many fruits and vegetables. Good sources of beta-carotene are Broccoli Carrots Garlic Peaches Pumpkins Red Peppers Spinach Papayas Dose The recommended dosage of vitamin A varies, depending on what you read. A general guideline is 800mcg a day. This vitamin should be taken with or after food. The absorption of vitamin A is increased if taken with vitamin E, vitamin D or zinc.  If you do start to take a vitamin A supplement, be aware that many foods also contain this vitamin, so higher doses are not always required. Cautions Vitamin A consumption should be monitored closely in pregnancy. You should not...

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Benefits of Vitamin C: The Ultimate Vitamin!

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the most widely known and used nutritional supplement. This vitamin is known for its immune boosting effects, but vitamin C has a number of other properties that might surprise you.  It is involved in most metabolic functions of the body, including tissue growth and repair and healthy gums. Vitamin C is also required for healthy adrenal function, which helps the body cope with stress. This essential vitamin plays an important role in transporting haemoglobin around the body, and allowing the body to absorb iron from foods. A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to scurvy. This disease causes poor wound healing, bleeding gums, weakness and weak blood vessels. Scurvy has also been linked with heart disease. Luckily, this disease is not very common, although a healthy diet and supplementation are essential to prevent scurvy. Health Benefits: Colds Vitamin C sales are generally at their highest in the autumn and winter months. This is partly down to the immune boosting effects and the wide spread marketing by vitamin companies. There is no harm in taking extra vitamin C throughout the winter months, but there is no clear evidence that suggests that this vitamin can prevent colds. Vitamin C can however shorten the duration of a cold. Studies have shown that a dose of 1000mg vitamin C a day can shorten the duration of colds. Antioxidant Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants that we have at our disposal. This vitamin is our main water soluble antioxidant, and can help to fight damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals have been linked with a number of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Vitamin C can help to provide protection against these illnesses by neutralising the free radicals. This vitamin works synergistically with vitamin E. These two vitamins work more effectively when taken together as opposed to taken individually. This effect makes them very powerful antioxidants as vitamin E is fat soluble and vitamin C is water soluble. This results in antioxidant action in both water soluble and fat soluble cells. Heart Disease A deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to heart disease. Several studies have shown that a lack of vitamin C...

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Omega 3 Oils – Krill Oil

Krill oil has gained a lot of popularity over the past couple of years. It is currently the fastest growing omega 3 supplement on the market.  This is partly due to the claims that krill oil is a superior source of essential fatty acids and that is free from pollution that can affect fish oil supplements. Krill oil is also promoted as being free from the fishy aftertaste that usually accompanies fish oil supplements. Krill oil is extracted from tiny shrimp-like creatures that live at the bottom of the colder areas of world’s oceans. They are usually eaten by larger fish such as whales. Krill is also part of the diet for the Japanese and Russians. Both krill and fish oil are a good source of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Whilst they are both important for health, DHA is more important for concentration as this essential nutrient is predominantly found in the brain. Manufacturers of krill oil claim that the levels of EPA and DHA are better absorbed than in ordinary fish oil supplements. One of the reasons why krill oil may be better absorbed is that most of the omega 3 in krill oil is in the form of phospholipids. These are fat like molecules that transport fatty acids directly to the body’s cells. The manufacturers of krill oil also claim that due to its greater absorption, less is required than fish oils. Krill oil is also naturally rich in vitamin A and E, and the antioxidant astaxanthin. These antioxidants provide the krill oil with natural protection against oxidation (which produces free radicals). Krill oil is currently much more expensive than high quality fish oil supplements. As yet there have not been many independent studies to back up the effectiveness of krill oil against high quality fish...

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Weight Loss Supplements: Chromium

Chromium is a naturally occurring trace mineral that has gained popularity as a slimming and sports supplement. This mineral is essential for the break-down of carbohydrates and fats. Chromium is also thought to work by increasing the action of insulin, which helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Many vitamin companies promote chromium as a weight loss supplement, by claiming it can suppress appetite, increase metabolism and burn body fat. These claims have been tested in many trials, and the results have been mixed. Some studies have reported significant weight loss, whereas other studies have reported no change in body weight. A sensible approach would be to combine supplementation with a good diet and regular exercise. An area where chromium may be of benefit is in supporting the pancreas and prevention of type 2 diabetes. In this form of diabetes, the pancreas usually produces enough insulin, but the body cannot use the insulin effectively. Insulin is important for regulating the amount of sugar in the blood. If there is insufficient insulin in the body, the blood sugar levels rise, and can lead to diabetes. Chromium may prevent this by supporting the pancreas and allowing the body to use insulin more effectively. This mineral may also help to break down fats and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. These claims have not been confirmed as more evidence is required. Chromium is found naturally in many foods: Whole grain cereals Whole grain bread Potatoes Brewers Yeast Broccoli Nuts Seafood Chromium supplements are usually available in 200mcg capsules. This is the recommended dose for a weight-loss programme or to improve the utilisation of insulin. This dose will require a supplement as this amount will be hard to achieve through diet alone. Chromium should be taken with or after food, as this helps its absorption.  This mineral is also better absorbed when taken with Vitamin C (or a glass of orange juice). Calcium supplement s can reduce the absorption of chromium, so should not be taken together. We hope you found our article on Chromium as a weight loss supplement useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Vitamins for Children

Most children will not require vitamin supplements, as they should be getting the important nutrients from their diet. However, there are situations when you may need to consider supplementing with additional vitamins and minerals. For example, your child may be going through a phase of going off their food, or they may be a picky eater. If your child is vegetarian, you may also need to consider supplementing with additional vitamins for children. Many companies that make vitamins for children market them at sweets. This can lead to dangerous situations as young children might start taking these supplements without supervision. What’s the danger you might ask? Many multivitamin preparations contain iron. An overdose of iron requires urgent medical treatment. So if you are giving your child a vitamin supplement, please keep it out of their reach. A balance diet, which contains plenty off fruits and vegetables, should provide your child with all the relevant vitamins and minerals. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamins, but these also have a high sugar and salt content. Sugar and salt are the two of the worst culprits when it comes to children’s diets. Many convenience foods are loaded with sugar and salt. Both of these ingredients are a big reason behind the growing numbers of obese children in the UK today. A simple way of keeping your child healthy is to cut down how much sugar and salt that you give them. If your child is temporarily off their food you can give them a multivitamin supplement that contains Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and B Vitamins. Omega 3 oils are also an important supplement as many studies have found that these essential oils help to improve concentration and general mental activity. The following companies produce good quality multivitamins for children: Lamberts Viridian Higher Nature Seven Seas We hope you found our article about vitamins for children useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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