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Posts Tagged "supplements"

National Heart Month

As February is officially National Heart Month, this is a great opportunity to look at how we can look after this vital organ through diet and natural supplements. The heart is part of the cardiovascular system, which also includes miles of blood vessels which run through the body. These vessels consist of veins and arteries which transport blood to the heart and to other organs. The health of the blood vessels is also important in maintaining a healthy heart. The best way of maintaining a healthy heart is keeping to a healthy diet, regular exercise and lowering stress levels. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds provides important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that are important for heart health. The Mediterranean diet, which consists of plenty of vegetables and fruits, has long been considered the ideal diet for a healthy heart. Smoking, high sugar and salt intake, regular heavy drinking (or binge drinking), inactivity, high (saturated) fat foods are all factors in causing hypertension, heart failure and poor circulation. For example, smoking is a known cause of atherosclerosis, which causes narrowing of the arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure and angina. Heart disease and diabetes are illnesses that are on the increase, especially in younger people. These conditions are very much linked, as one can lead to another. The rise in the number of people who are obese is another risk factor for the heart, as well as diabetes. The number of prescriptions that are written for hypertension is constantly on the increase, but there are a number of natural remedies for maintaining a healthy heart and keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Magnesium, vitamin C, l-arginine, co-enzyme Q10, omega 3 fatty acids and garlic are a few supplements that can improve cardiovascular health.  ...

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Top Tips For Keeping Healthy This Year: Part 2

3. Diet (continued). Foods that can give you energy and help your circulation include fruit and vegetables, whole grains and goods oils such as olive oil, flax seed, fish oils and coconut oil. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and lentils in your diet will also help you to lose some extra weight and benefit your immune system. Red meat and fats from fried and junk food also produce free radicals in our body. These free radicals have been linked with causing a number of diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Cutting down on fizzy drinks is also a must in your new health plan. These drinks are full of sugar and regular intake can be harmful to general health. The sugar free versions of these drinks are actually more harmful, as the artificial sweeteners have been linked with a host of illnesses such as osteoporosis and digestive problems. Water has many health benefits. You should aim for 8 glasses a day (1-1.5 litres). It is important to remember that water is also present in fruit juices, salads and certain fruits. Fluid intake is a must for a healthy body. A good way to start you day is to have hot water with lemon and ginger. This healthy drink has the benefit of boosting immunity and stimulating your liver to kick start the detox process. 4. Health Supplements. You can easily include some health supplements as part of your daily routine to improve your immunity and general health.  The number one supplement that I would recommend is a good quality probiotic. This will provide you with essential good bacteria, which is required for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics also help to support and boost the immune system. You can take the probiotics throughout the winter months to aide digestion as well as help fight the winter bugs. Essential fatty acids from either fish oils or flax seed oil is another food supplement that will help your general health. These essential oils are required for a healthy cardiovascular system, brain function and they are excellent at reducing inflammation in the body. These fatty acids also help to maintain healthy joints. Antioxidants are required to “mop up” the free radicals that...

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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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Theanine Supplements for Anxiety

Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found green tea leaves. This amino acid has gained in popularity over recent years as a supplement to aide relaxation and calmness, without the negative side effect of drowsiness or impairing reflexes or concentration. Theanine has been found to increase levels of GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is an amino acid that is found in the central nervous system, mostly in the brain, where its main action is to calm down an excited nervous system.  Theanine has also been reported to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which act to enhance mood and improve cardiac function. This amino acid has been found to increase alpha brain wave activity which results in increased relaxation and reduced anxiety. This is a similar model to how meditation works. Studies have found that theamine improved learning, memory and attentional performance and reaction times in students with anxiety. Another randomised control trial found that theanine reduced irrirabilty, anger and mood swings during PMS. This supplement could be used as a safe alternative to sleeping tablets or addictive anti-anxiety medication. This claim would require clinical trials before being recommended, but mild cases of anxiety or nervousness may be helped by this amino acid. Other potential benefits include supporting the immune system and preventing colds, coughs and influenza. The recommended dose is 200mg once or twice a day. It is best taken on an empty...

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Alternative Treatments for Back Pain

Alternative Treatments for Back Pain

Back pain is an issue that plagues many people. Did you know that an astonishing 80% of all people in the UK will bring up their posture or their back issues to their GP at some point? That is an astounding figure that could be much lower if more people were aware about alternative treatments. Here, we will explore more about alternative treatments for back pain.   Yoga One of the main alternative treatments for back pain is yoga and stretching. One of the largest studies conducted showed that those with moderate pain could manage their issues with on-going yoga and stretching workouts because the exercises involve the strengthening of the core muscles. Massage Therapy One of the best short-term natural remedies for back pain is massage therapy. Once again, studies have shown that when combined with stretching, massage is one of the most cost effective cures for sub-acute and chronic non specific low pain. Diet Many people are unaware that the food we eat can affect pain, which is why it is essential that we make sure we take the right supplements. Nutrition and pain have been linked for a long time. According to a 2005 report published in the British Medical Journal vitamin D supplements may lead to a clinical improvement in back pain symptoms. Other studies have shown that vitamin B12 and magnesium supplements also have an effect. Omega 3 oils are also effective natural ways to reduce inflammation and pain. Anti inflammatory herbs When faced with inflammation,a lot of us will just take ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs .However, in 2007, white willow bark and devil’s claw were proven to both have chemical compounds, which were found to possess anti-inflammatory properties.Therefore, there are alternative solutions. If you are taking regular medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal medicines. Herbal medicines should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. Homeopathy Homeopathic remedies such asRhus Tox, Arnica, Ruta Grav and Kali Carb are regularly prescribed for back pain. Homoeopathic remedies are prescribed on the individuals specifics symptoms. These remedies, if correctly prescribed can be very effective at reducing back pain. As you can see from the above,there are many alternative treatments for back pain. This...

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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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Supplements for Male Infertility

Health supplements can be very effective in many cases of infertility in men. These supplements can help men at any age as male fertility is not age dependent, unlike females, whose fertility declines after the age of 35. There are a number of supplements for male infertility available. You should consult your doctor before starting treatment with any supplement. This is important a low sperm count could be a due to an underlying illness. The supplements mentioned below should be taken regularly for up to three months. The amino acid arginine, is essential for creating and maintaining an erection. It works in a similar way to the drug Viagra, by enhancing the action of nitric oxide, which causes the smooth muscle to relax. This results in improved blood flow to the penis. The drug Viagra works by breaking down the enzyme which destroys nitric oxide, whereas arginine helps to produce nitric oxide. This amino acid has also been shown to increase both the sperm count and quality. Avoid this amino acid if you have a history of developing cold sores. Selenium is usually combined with vitamin C and vitamin E. This combination is a very effective antioxidant that can help to prevent damage that is caused by free radicals. Free radicals can affect the production and quality of sperm. Omega 3 oils such as fish oil and flax seed oil are essential for the production of healthy sperm. These oils are also important for the healthy development of the reproductive system. Zinc increases levels of testosterone and semen levels, resulting in increased sperm counts. High doses of zinc (more than 25mg a day) can reduce levels of copper in the body. You should only take high doses of zinc under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist. Vitamin E has been found to increase male fertility and sperm counts in men. Consult your doctor if you are taking any anticoagulant medication. Carnitine is another amino acid that is needed for sperm production. Studies have found that carnitine supplementation may be of value in improving sperm count and sperm motility. Vitamin B complex should be taken over a period of two to three months. This vitamin has the added benefit of...

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Weight Loss Supplements: Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid that helps the body turn fat into energy. This amino acid helps to move fat that lives outside the cells inside the cells, where it is used for burning to produce energy. Due to this property, it is not surprising that carnitine has become a popular weight loss and sports supplement. Carnitine is required to carry long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria (part of the cell which is required for energy production), so that they can be metabolised into energy. Carnitine is an important supplement for the heart as this organ uses fatty acids as a source of energy. This amino acid is not considered to be essential, as it is produced in the body, although a number of conditions can lead to a deficiency. A deficiency in carnitine can occur when there is a lack of the amino acids lysine and methionine in the diet. People who are lacking in vitamin B6, C and iron are also likely to be deficient in carnintine. Recent studies have found that carnitine is important in converting stored body fat into energy, reducing angina attacks, improving heart health, lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining liver health. Carnitine deficiency has been related to a number of heart conditions including angina, arrhythmia and heart failure. This amino acid may also benefit general heart health by reducing the build up of fatty acids. These fats build up within the cell and bloodstream as triglycerides and cholesterol. Supplementing with carnitine can greatly reduce levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, while improving the ratio between HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. The increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels is an important factor in preventing heart disease. Carnitine also promotes the antioxidant action of vitamins C and E. It can therefore be used as part of an anti-ageing programme alongside these vitamins.  Carnitine can be obtained from food, but mainly from meats, and other animal sources. It is not found in vegetable protein. Vegetarians are therefore likely to be deficient in this amino acid. The typical daily dose of carnitine (available as l-carnitine) is between 500-1000mg. This should be taken on an empty stomach for maximum benefit. Please consult your doctor if you are...

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