If the short, cold, dark winter days leave you feeling lethargic and energy-depleted, then you may be suffering from the winter blues, or its more severe form, seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Other symptoms include carbohydrate cravings, irritability, weight gain and the desire to avoid social situations.
The winter blues are triggered by a lack of sunlight – as the number of daylight hours decreases, levels of ‘feel-good’ hormones in our body begin to drop. The symptoms can appear in late autumn and don’t normally lift until the brighter days in early spring. Fortunately there are simple measures that can help to alleviate these troublesome symptoms.
There is certainly a link between low Vitamin D levels and seasonal affective disorder, although it is unclear whether there is a causal connection. A recent review of existing studies concluded that treating Vitamin D deficiency offers a simple way to improve mental health (1). It would seem sensible for those feeling the effects of the winter blues to test their Vitamin D levels, and to address any deficiency. Sunlight and supplementation are likely the fastest way to address deficiencies, although fatty fish, fortified milk and egg yolks will also help to boost levels.
Other studies have shown that omega-3s appear to help maintain healthy levels of the ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Healthy cells membranes, which require good levels of omega-3 fats, are required for the brain to respond to serotonin and dopamine. A recent large double-blind trial of more than 400 adults supports its use in treating depression (2). Based on these results, ensuring adequate omega-3 intake is certainly a sensible approach for those affected by seasonal changes.
Studies investigating the effectiveness of supplements such as St John’s Wort and 5-HTP have had mixed results, though some studies have found that supplementation improves symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety and lethargy in those with SAD (3,4).
Dietary changes may also help to relieve symptoms. According to Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet, a well-timed snack can help to relieve symptoms. Dr Wurtman led a study looking at the SAD-carb connection, concluding that a low-protein snack providing about 30 grams of carbohydrate was enough to provide a serotonin boost. A warm bowl of leek and potato soup in the evening might well provide that much-needed serotonin-boosting carbohydrate.
Light therapy is a non-invasive, natural, effective and well-researched treatment approach for those with SAD
The most effective natural intervention, however, is probably light therapy. Light therapy is a non-invasive, natural, effective and well-researched treatment approach for those with SAD. Specially designed light therapy devices mimic the effects of sunlight to regulate levels of melatonin and serotonin. A recent meta-analysis concluded that light therapy works as an effective treatment for SAD no matter what time of day it is used, so long as it is used at least once daily (5). Dawn simulation is especially useful, and studies have found that this approach is more effective in alleviating SAD symptoms that standard bright light therapy or placebo, alongside additional benefits such as less morning drowsiness (6).
Those looking for a natural way to address the winter blues may benefit from the following approach:
1. Ensure that you are getting sufficient amounts of omega-3 and Vitamin D. You can have your levels checked by a nutritional therapist.
2. Exercise regularly. Try a 30-minute run or brisk walk in the daylight.
3. Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast, but try a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack in the evening. Good options are sweet potato, brown rice, lentils, rye bread and butternut squash.
4. Try a light therapy lamp or a dawn simulation device, making time to use the device at least once each day for the best results.
Written By Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.
1. Anglin RES et al (2013) Samaan Z, Walter SD and McDonald SD. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br-J-Psych 2013, 202:100-107.
2. Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. (2011) The efficacy of Omega-3 supplementation for major depression: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 72:1054-1062.
3. Ghadirian AM et al (1998) Efficacy of light versus tryptophan therapy in seasonal affective disorder. J Affect Disord 50:23-7.
4. Wheatley D. (1999) Hypericum in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Curr Med Red Opin 15:33-7.
5. Golden RN et al (2005) The Efficacy of Light Therapy in the Treatment of Mood Disorders: A Review and Meta-analysis of the Evidence. Am J Psychiatry 162(4):656-62.
6. Avery DH et al (2001) Dawn Simulation and Bright Light in the Treatment of SAD: A Controlled Study. Biol Psychiatry. 50:205-216.
Pure oxygen has been used by hospitals to improve our health for over 200 years and has been recorded to improve our exercise performance since as early as 1928, although the first famous figure was Sir Roger Bannister, who published a research paper about the benefits of using pure oxygen in 1954 (the same year he broke the 4 minute mile).
Whilst not new, the use of pure oxygen is becoming more widely accepted and more widely understood for the health benefits it can provide. Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.
Here are 7 Health benefits of using pure oxygen:
1. Slow down ageing skin
From wrinkle creams to moisturising gels to facials, we all want to slow the ageing process. Getting rid of those crow’s feet, laughter lines or frowning tell tale marks, the beauty industry offers every type of product and solution that our heart’s desire. Pure oxygen is starting to break onto the scene to help us in the fight against ageing. Try canned oxygen as part of your daily beauty regime.
2. Stressful lives
The 9 to 5 is a challenge for all of us. Trying to get more done in the same amount of hours is best described by the ‘Carrot and Donkey’ fable. From getting to work, wanting to achieve more, dealing with more than one person should, followed by trying to fit enough house time, family time, and me time, can have us at breaking point several times per week. We all know that when we are stressed someone normally suggests ‘taking a deep breath’. Pure oxygen can help you take a moment, get pure oxygen into your bloodstream and help you tackle the road ahead with a little more ease because pure oxygen can help to reduce stress.
3. Think faster
A study by the Human cognitive Neuroscience Unit in Northumbria experimented with pure oxygen and concluded that those breathing pure oxygen remembered up to 20% more words, from a given list, than those that did not breathe pure oxygen. If you are struggling some days to focus, get things done, then breathing pure oxygen can help make those tasks that bit easier and quicker.
4. That jetlag feeling
Flying on long haul is challenging enough with not enough leg room and then arriving to feel as though all your energy has been left on the plane. The reasons for this are to do with the change in time zone, obviously the long travel, and also the increased pressure in the airplane cabin, which means that less oxygen enters your blood stream. Using pure oxygen will help you to overcome jetlag quickly and help you to enjoy your holiday sooner.
5. Speeds up recovery
Footballers, rugby players, and runners, to name a few, are breathing pure oxygen to help them speed up their recovery. Of course, when you earn tens of thousands per week and your team depend on you, or you just want to get back to winning again, speed of recovery is key. Breathing pure oxygen has been prescribed by hospitals for recovery and now breathing pure oxygen can help everyone that is looking to recover more quickly from injury, a minor operation or a period of being unwell.
Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.
6. The great detoxer and cleanser
According to many health gurus the great body cleanser and detoxifier is oxygen. Our lifestyle is less physical than our ancestors and so we are not oxygenating our blood as well as they did, which leads to our bodies carrying more toxins than we did generations before us. Breathing pure oxygen can help to reduce those toxins that we carry in our bodies, in turn helping us to be healthier.
7. Booost the immune system
Our immune system helps us to fight infections, diseases, coughs & colds, and helping it do its job is key to living more healthy. There are a number of ways you can maximise your immune system, like eating healthily, exercising regularly, moderating your alcohol, and breathing pure oxygen is another way of helping you to help your immune system to help you.
Written by the team at booost Oxygen.
Thousands of men across the UK are sprouting moustaches this month, in aid of Movember, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of men’s health issues.
Men are less likely to visit their GP when ill, less likely to access disease screening services and less likely to seek support with healthy-living initiatives such as stop smoking schemes. Consequently, serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes tend to be diagnosed later in men than in women. This is why raising awareness and encouraging a dialogue about men’s health issues is particularly important.
Prostate cancer is a particular focus for the Movember campaign because this disease can be difficult to spot in its early stages. In addition, one in eight men in the UK will develop prostate cancer, making this the most common type of cancer in men.
For those who do not eat oily fish regularly, it may be prudent to supplement with a good quality fish oil supplement.
The prostate, found only in men, is located below the bladder. Its function is to produce fluid to nourish and protect semen. The prostate often enlarges as men get older, causing troublesome symptoms for some men.
Symptoms of all prostate problems include:
- needing to urinate often, especially at night
- difficulty starting to urinate
- straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
- pain when urinating or during sex
There is plenty of research suggesting that dietary changes help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Studies have found that men with a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in their body had a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Omega-3 is present in oily fish and in smaller amounts in flaxseed and some plant foods. One study of more than 6000 men found that men who regularly ate oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel had a reduced risk of developing this condition. The men who ate no fish were more than twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who ate moderate to high amounts. For those who do not eat oily fish regularly, it may be prudent to supplement with a good quality fish oil supplement.
High dairy consumption is linked to an increase risk of prostate cancer as evidenced by a number of studies in this area. One study found that men who consume two and a half serving of dairy each day have a 40 per cent increase in prostate cancer risk (2). This is probably because eating diary raises levels of Insulin like Growth-like Growth Factor which can promote growth of cancer cells. A recent meta analysis reports that soya consumption, on the other hand, is linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (3), and so replacing cow’s milk with soya milk is likely to be a helpful measure.
Cancer is known to be triggered by damaging molecules known as free radicals. Antioxidants ‘mop up’ these free radicals and so it seems sensible to ensure that the diet is abundant in rich sources of these nutrients. Men who eat four servings of vegetables a day have a 35 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those who eat just two servings. In addition, vegetarian men have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than meat eaters.
Two supplements that have been widely studied in relation to prostate cancer risk are selenium and saw palmetto. Selenium has antioxidant properties and aids DNA repair, and a recent meta-analysis showed a potential inverse association between toenail, serum, and plasma selenium levels and prostate cancer risk (4). Selenium is present in most multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. Alternatively, just two Brazil nuts each day will fulfil your daily requirement of this mineral.
Saw palmetto is often used for its protective benefits. This nutrient is anti-inflammatory and also helps to prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, an agent that promotes prostate cancer (5). Large studies have found saw palmetto supplementation to be beneficial in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) or non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate (6). While more research need to be done in this area, saw palmetto appears to be safe to supplement and has no known drug interactions, making it a worthy of consideration in supporting prostate health.
Written By Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.
1. P Terry et al, Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer, The Lancet (2001), vol 357 (9270), pp 1764-1766
2. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
3. Hwang YW, Kim SY, Jee SH, et al.: Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 61 (5): 598-606, 2009
4. Brinkman M, Reulen RC, Kellen E, Buntinx F, Zeegers MP. Are men with low selenium levels at increased risk of prostate cancer? Eur J Cancer 2006;42:2463-71.
5. W H Goldmann et al, ‘Saw palmetto berry extract inhibits cell growth and Cox-2 expression in prostatic cancer cells’, Cell Biology International (2001), vol 25(11), pp 1117-24.
6. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Rutks I, MacDonald R. Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Public Health Nutr. 2000 Dec;3(4A):459-72.
We are often told that we should eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement, but why? When? Which one do you choose?
Why do you need fish oil?
Although maligned by the weight loss industry, dietary fats exist for a reason. They are present in plant and animal tissue because they perform vital functions for those organisms and, when we consume them, they do the same for us. The body needs to ingest or synthesise a ready supply to maintain health. Some lipids are even essential because they cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained through diet. There are many different forms of lipids, one of the most crucial subsets are the essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3 and omega-6.
Some anthropologists believe consumption of omega-3 fats lead to profound changes in the human brain. We probably evolved on a 1:1 ratio of omega 3:6 in our diets (1). Post agricultural and industrial revolutions, this has dramatically switched in favour of omega-6 and is now closer to 16:1. Balancing omega-3 and 6 fats is crucial for the management of many chronic diseases. Oils from cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel have been the subject of thousands of research papers, showing efficacy for a number of conditions. They provide a rich source of the active omega-3 fats, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vegetarian sources of omega-3 require further conversion in order to metabolise EPA and DHA.
The most obvious way to tackle the shortfall in dietary omega-3 is to consume more oily fish. Individual taste is often a barrier. Furthermore, the beneficial long chain omega-3 fats can be damaged by cooking and the larger fish such as salmon can contain high levels of heavy metals and other contaminants. Therefore fish oil supplementation presents a practical way to increase omega-3 intake, but not all fish oil products are created equally.
When choosing a product it is important to be sure that it has been produced with due regard to environmental impact, has an exemplary quality profile and is effective.
How much do you need?
The omega-3 essential fats, EPA and DHA, are mostly found in oily fish such as sardines and anchovies
To maintain healthy levels of essential fats, the government recommends that we all eat at least two portions of oily fish each week but this can be difficult to achieve through diet alone, especially if you don’t like to eat fish! A good quality fish oil supplement can be a great option to ensure levels are high enough to maintain good health.
How do you know if a supplement is good quality?
Here are a few tips when looking for a good quality fish oil supplement:
- Look for a fish oil supplement that is produced from small fish such as anchovies and sardines as the levels of essential fats within these fish are naturally more concentrated. You will therefore get better quality oil.
- Look at where the fish are sourced. Small fish sourced from areas such as the clear pacific waters will drastically minimise the level of pollutants. This will mean you will get cleaner, more pure oil.
- Look for oil that has had minimal processing. Fatty acids are delicate and can become damaged when put through aggressive production methods. If minimal heat and chemicals are used, the oil will be closer to its natural form.
- Look for variety. If fish oil is pure and clean, then it can be made into capsules and liquids that have very little fishy aftertaste. Some fish oils can even be mixed with fruit bases so that adults and children can enjoy taking a daily supplement.
Written by the team at BioCare.
1. Simopoulos AP Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega 6/omega 3 ratio and genetic variation: nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy 60 (2006) 502-507.
This week is National Cholesterol Week, HEART UK’s annual event to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol. Heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer, accounting for around a quarter of all deaths. The good news is that if you have raised cholesterol alongside other markers of heart disease, it can in almost every case be reversed through dietary and lifestyle measures.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance manufactured by the liver and it plays an important role in your body. It is a component in the membrane of every cell in your body. It is also involved in hormone production and helps the nervous system to function properly. When there is inflammation or damaged tissue in the body, cholesterol can accumulate in the areas in need of healing. This may be why raised cholesterol can signify damage in your arteries. LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol is a particular concern because this type of cholesterol can become oxidised, leading to tissue damage and hardening of the arteries.
There are three cholesterol readings that you can have. Total cholesterol, LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. LDL transports cholesterol from the liver through the bloodstream to sites where it is needed. HDL then transports it back again, and so HDL removes unwanted or damaged cholesterol from your arteries. Ideally HDL should make up at least a third of your total cholesterol.
While cholesterol is used as a marker for heart disease, in order to get a clearer idea of your real risk, it’s important to consider this marker alongside other markers such as levels of triglycerides, blood pressure and homocysteine.
If you eat a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates and fried foods, and low in protective fruits and vegetables, then cholesterol is likely to become damaged by oxidation. This type of diet also provides very little soluble fibre which is essential in eliminating excess cholesterol. In general, the best diet for lowering LDL cholesterol is a low GI diet. This type of diet has been found to be particularly effective in reducing LDL and triglycerides and raising HDL (1). A huge benefit of a low GI diet is that it has greater levels of soluble fibre which helps to remove LDL cholesterol from the body. It also provides plenty of antioxidants, helping to combat oxidative damage.
Here are 10 simple ways to reduce your cholesterol level, improve your lipid profile and lower your overall risk of heart disease.
Leafy Greens boost magnesium, helping to relax your arteries.
1. Increase leafy greens and add raw nuts and seeds to your diet.
These boost magnesium, helping to relax your arteries.
2. Drink 8 glasses of water each day.
Proper hydration reduces blood pressure by lowering levels of sodium inside cells.
3. Reduce your salt intake.
Reducing sodium levels can help to relax the arteries.
4. Add plant sterols.
Plant sterols lower ‘bad’ cholesterol by blocking its absorption. They are present in soya beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
5. Increase low GI carbohydrates.
Soluble fibre, in oats, lentils, beans and vegetables, helps to reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Beta-glucans in oats are particularly beneficial.
6. Add antioxidant-rich foods every day.
Antioxidants ‘mop up’ damage within the arteries. Try blueberries, strawberries, plums, tenderstem broccoli and spinach.
7. Boost your omega-3 intake with oily fish, flaxseed oil or omega-3 eggs.
Omega-3 fats help to lower triglycerides, lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase ‘good’ cholesterol.
8. Add garlic, ginger and turmeric to your cooking.
Garlic promotes healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Turmeric and ginger help to relax the arteries.
9. Consider supplementing Co-Q10 and Vitamin C.
These nutrients reduce damage in the arteries and lower blood pressure.
10. Boost your B Vitamins.
Homocysteine is actually one of the strongest predictors of heart disease (2), damaging the lining of the arteries, but B vitamins convert it into a harmless substance. If you have raised homocysteine levels, then supplementing with B Vitamins can help. Try foods rich in folic acid such as broccoli, asparagus and spinach.
1. Stroke Statistics. British Heart Foundation and The Stroke Association. 2009.
2. Jardine MJ et al (2012) The effect of folic acid based homocysteine lowering on cardiovascular events in people with kidney disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012;344:e3533.
As the weather worsens and the season of colds and coughs approaches, our thoughts turn towards ways in which we can support our immune systems to help keep us fighting fit throughout the winter.
A current theory in medicine, known as the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’, states that our obsession with household cleaners and overzealous hand washing with anti-bacterial agents may be to blame for a rise in infections, as well as conditions such as asthma.
Our immune system is designed to fight infection from bacteria, viruses and parasites as well as recognise foreign substances as allergens. As our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past, we no longer have to elicit an immune response. The theory indicates that bacteria can in fact be helpful for supporting our immune systems.
So, how can we use bacteria to help boost our immunity? Health experts suggest we should allow children to be children by letting them play outside in mud and with their friends, and worrying less about them coming into contact with dirt and germs. There is also an increasing body of evidence supporting the use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) for immune support. Our digestive tract functions as a barrier against potentially harmful bacteria and food. It is known that supplementing with probiotics can help mediate our immune response, reducing inflammation and protecting us against exposure to potentially harmful bugs.
OptiBac Probiotics contains beneficial probiotic strains
Here we explore some of the OptiBac Probiotics’ products and their potential benefits for immune health.
OptiBac Probiotics For daily immunity, a blend of probiotics and antioxidants, contains targeted probiotic strains to help support immunity. If you feel you catch colds too frequently, this is a product to consider, or for those who have lower levels of friendly bacteria such as the elderly and those who lead active, demanding lives.
OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing is a daily supplement that promotes a healthy balance of friendly bacteria throughout the entire intestinal tract. For daily wellbeing is suitable for anyone seeking probiotic support on a daily basis (aged over 4 years and over).
OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing EXTRA strength is dairy-free supplement extra strength formula with 20 billion live microorganisms per capsule. It may benefit those with a severe imbalance of good and bad intestinal bacteria, skin conditions, or those with particularly busy lifestyles.
OptiBac Probiotics For your child’s health is a natural symbiotic supplement to support digestion and immunity in infants and children, and pregnant & breastfeeding women. For your child’s health is suitable for babies and children from 6 months of age.
Written by OptiBac Probiotic’s Nutritional Therapist Jo Saunders.
Cazzola, M. et al. (2010) Efficacy of a synbiotic supplementation in the prevention of common diseases in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study; Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease 0(0) pp. 1-8
Rautava, S. et al (2002). ‘Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant’. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Jan Vol. 109 (1), pp. 119-121
CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) is a naturally occurring compound, synthesised endogenously and found in small levels in an average diet. Found predominantly in the mitochondria of the cells, this important enzyme plays a key role in energy production and is vital for ensuring normal everyday functioning. In addition to its role in energy production, CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and is also able to regenerate other antioxidants including vitamin E, vitamin C and lipoic acid. Its ability to quench free radicals is, in fact, key to maintaining the structural integrity and stability of mitochondrial and cell membranes.  CoQ10 levels generally peak around the age of 20-30 and decline with increasing age. Significantly decreased levels of CoQ10 are found in a wide variety of diseases, especially those associated with oxidative stress  as wells in individuals using statins for cholesterol management. Also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, statins treat elevated blood cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol biosynthesis. In doing so, however, they also block CoQ10 biosynthesis, which may lead to symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain (known as statin-induced myopathy). 
Ubiquinone and ubiquinol
CoQ10 exists in two forms, as ubiquinone (the oxidised CoQ10, spent form) and ubiquinol (the reduced and activated, antioxidant form).
CoQ10 exists in two forms, as ubiquinone (the oxidised CoQ10, spent form) and ubiquinol (the reduced and activated, antioxidant form). In order for CoQ10 to play a role in energy production and exhibit an antioxidant effect, the body must metabolise it to its antioxidant form ubiquinol, a process inhibited with increasing age, nutrient deficiency and some health conditions. Taking CoQ10 as ubiquinone is therefore not as effective as taking CoQ10 as ubiquinol (Kaneka QH™) the ‘body-ready’ form which has only been available for use in supplements since 2006. Ubiquinol has numerous advantages over ubiquinone and comparing the two forms in therapeutic outcomes far surpasses its oxidised precursor.
When addressing the issue of therapeutics, at first glance the dose of ubiquinol may seem particularly relevant; however, it is the blood plasma level achieved by supplementation that is the significant factor in determining the effectiveness of a treatment.  As a lipid-soluble nutrient, ubiquinol absorption and bioavailability is generally poor, with as much as 60% eliminated in the faeces.  Whilst the structure of ubiquinol renders it more water-soluble than ubiquinone, most common formulations of ubiquinol (found in powder form or dispersed in oil suspensions) are of relatively low bioavailability.  As clinical outcomes are dependent on increasing the bioavailability, solubilising ubiquinol is the only method to guarantee that therapeutically viable blood plasma levels are achieved.
VESIsorb® for unprecedented bioavailability
Ubiquinol that utilises the VESIsorb® technology offers unprecedented bioavailability to deliver plasma levels superior to all other forms of CoQ10.  When in contact with the aqueous contents of the stomach, this novel delivery system naturally self-assembles into colloidal droplets (micro-emulsion), engulfing the ubiquinol, which is then able to completely dissolve in water. By doing so, ubiquinol is effectively fast-tracked from the gut lumen, through the unstirred water layer barrier that lines the gut wall, directly into the enterocyte cell for immediate transfer to the circulatory system.
Igennus VESIsorb® Ubiquinol-QH
Igennus VESIsorb® Ubiquinol-QH ensures significantly higher plasma concentrations that reach therapeutic levels up to 2 times faster and are sustained for up to 6 times longer than any other delivery system or form of CoQ10. Unlike other delivery forms of CoQ10, this highly advanced delivery system achieves and maintains clinically effective plasma concentrations of CoQ10, supporting cardiovascular function, energy production, reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disease and provide potent antioxidant activity with just one 100 mg capsule daily.
Written by Nina Bailey BSc (Hons) Msc PhD ANutr.
1. Rauchova H, Drahota Z, Lenaz G: Function of coenzyme Q in the cell: some biochemical and physiological properties. Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca 1995, 44:209-216.
2. Potgieter M, Pretorius E, Pepper MS: Primary and secondary coenzyme Q10 deficiency: the role of therapeutic supplementation. Nutrition reviews 2013, 71:180-188.
3. Watts GF, Castelluccio C, Rice-Evans C, Taub NA, Baum H, Quinn PJ: Plasma coenzyme Q (ubiquinone) concentrations in patients treated with simvastatin. Journal of clinical pathology 1993, 46:1055-1057.
4. Shults CW, Oakes D, Kieburtz K, Beal MF, Haas R, Plumb S, Juncos JL, Nutt J, Shoulson I, Carter J, et al: Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early Parkinson disease: evidence of slowing of the functional decline. Archives of neurology 2002, 59:1541-1550.
5. Wyman M, Leonard M, Morledge T: Coenzyme Q10: a therapy for hypertension and statin-induced myalgia? Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine 2010, 77:435-442.
6. Bhagavan HN, Chopra RK: Coenzyme Q10: absorption, tissue uptake, metabolism and pharmacokinetics. Free radical research 2006, 40:445-453.
7. Liu ZX, Artmann C: Relative bioavailability comparison of different coenzyme Q10 formulations with a novel delivery system. Alternative therapies in health and medicine 2009, 15:42-46.
The start of the new school year is upon us, and this can cause worry for some parents whose children seem particularly vulnerable to illness. Coughs, colds, ear and chest infections are commonplace in schools, with the average child catching between 8 and 12 colds or flu viruses each year. This is not surprising when we consider that the school environment is the perfect breeding ground for infection – up to 90% of children with a cold are carrying the virus on their hands, and germs can survive up to three days on surfaces.
Fortunately there are some simple measures that can help support your child’s immune system, helping to lessen the duration of an infection or even avoid illness altogether.
A good night’s sleep
Children need more sleep than adults, with primary school children needing at least 9 hours each night. Any less than this can compromise the immune system. Sleep deprived children have lower levels of germ-fighting T-cells, leaving them vulnerable to infection (1). Tips to improve sleep include keeping a regular bedtime routine, ensuring that televisions are kept out of the bedroom and reducing sources of caffeine such as chocolate and sodas.
Another way to help support your child’s health is to ensure that his or her diet provides plenty of immune-boosting antioxidants. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C boost production of interferon, helping to prevent infection from taking hold (2). Vitamin E and carotenoids help to increase production of natural killer cells, B cells and T cells, increasing antibodies against specific germs (3).
Kiwi fruit and strawberries can provide a welcome vitamin C boost.
Finally, nutrients called bioflavonoids actually work to block cell receptors so that germs cannot get access to cells. Present in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains, flavonoids have been shown to exert both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral activity (4). Flavonoids are not easily absorbed from foods we eat. For the best sources of well-absorbed flavonoids, make sure your child eats plenty of blue and purple fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and red grapes.
If infection has already taken hold, then steps to reduce the length of an infection can be helpful. During an active infection, the body’s requirement for Vitamin C is increased dramatically. A fruit salad made with oranges, kiwi fruit and strawberries can provide a welcome vitamin C boost. During an active infection, taking a vitamin C supplement 3-4 times daily can also be a helpful measure to speed up recovery.
Probiotic supplementation offers a further protective measure for children who suffer with repeated infections. Probiotics reduce the risk of allergies, tummy upsets and diarrhoea, and have recently been found to prevent the common cold (5). They give the immune system a boost by increasing natural killer cell activity and phagocytosis, both important mechanisms for protecting against infection. In children in particular, probiotics work to ramp up levels of mucosal immunoglobulin A, the first line of defence against harmful pathogens that enter the body (6).
Probiotic supplements designed especially for children offer a safe way to support your child’s immune system. Adding some probiotic yoghurt to fruit salad or breakfast muesli can help keep your child’s levels of immune-boosting bacteria topped up.
While children can’t be shielded from every bug in the classroom, these simple measures can help ensure that your child building blocks of a strong immune system and feels fit for the new school year.
Written By Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.
1. Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director, Sleep Center, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
2. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold (Review) Hemilä H, Chalker E, Douglas B. Cochrane Review. 2010. Issue 3.
3. Hughes DA: Antioxidant vitamins and immune function; in Calder PC, Field CJ, Gill HS (eds): Nutrition and Immune Function. Wallingford, CAB International, 2002, pp 171–191.
4. Middleton E (1998) Effect of Plant Flavonoids on Immune and Inflammatory Cell Function. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Volume 439, pp 175-182.
5. En-Jin Kang et al (2013) The Effect of Probiotics on Prevention of Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial Studies. Korean J Fam Med. 2013 January; 34(1): 2–10.
6. Lomax & Calder (2009) Probiotics, immune function, infection and inflammation: a review of the evidence from studies conducted in humans. Curr Pharm Des. 15(13):1428-518.
7. Image courtesy of vanillaechoes.
A robust new clinical trial has shown that Fresh Olive Leaf Extract has significant effects on insulin in men who are at risk of developing type II diabetes. The randomised cross-over double blind controlled clinical trial reveals olive leaf extract offers significant improvement in the action of insulin and the way it is secreted in overweight men. Type II diabetes is highest in overweight or obese people and occurs as a result of insulin not working effectively in the body. The findings, published in an international journal, could help the UK’s ageing and increasingly overweight population or “dia-risk” to help prevent onset of the disease.
The clinical trial was conducted at the Liggin’s Institute, based at The University of Auckland in New Zealand. The scientists monitored 47 overweight males who were at risk of developing type II diabetes. The study used Comvita’s Fresh Olive Leaf Extract, a black liquid which is made from the resilient, bitter-tasting leaves of the olive tree. The trial revealed that a 12 week course of the natural supplement improved insulin action to healthier levels. On average a 28% improvement in insulin secretion and a 15% improvement in insulin action was witnessed in the olive leaf group when compared to placebo.
The research suggests that a daily tablespoon of fresh olive leaf extract (or two capsules) holds promise for the millions of “Dia-risk” individuals in the UK as part of a preventative strategy against the onset of Type II diabetes. A condition which recent research suggests costs the NHS nearly £10 billion.
Fresh Olive Leaf Extract has significant effects on insulin in men who are at risk of developing type II diabetes
Around 1 in 20 people in the UK are Type II diabetics and it is most likely to affect those with a BMI >30, although ethnicity also plays a part. It is also estimated that around 2% of people in the UK have type II diabetes, but are undiagnosed. Further millions of British adults and increasingly teenagers are “dia-risk”, meaning they are likely to develop the condition: such as those with an overweight or obese BMI, older people or those with a genetic predisposition.
Insulin is an essential tool in the body; it allows glucose to pass into the cells of the body to be used as energy. However in Type II diabetes (and to some extent the “dia-risk”) the pancreas cannot produce as much insulin as it needs to or this insulin can no longer be used effectively by the cells (known as insulin resistance). This means the glucose isn’t being used effectively in the body and remains in the blood leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
Diabetes Type II is a serious condition and many UK sufferers rely on prescribed drugs to treat their condition. This is not ideal as many common diabetic medications that are currently prescribed in the UK have been linked to unpleasant side effects such as sickness and diarrhoea – and serious health implications such as increased risk of heart failure.
“We are pleased to report that Olive Leaf was well tolerated by all participants with no major side effects,” Dr Ralf Schlothauer, Chief Technical Officer for Comvita, comments. “The study found on average a 15% improvement in insulin action, a very encouraging result.”
“While we are very excited by the findings of the clinical trial, we would not advise any Type II diabetics to use olive leaf in place of medications prescribed by their doctor,” Simon Pothecary, UK spokesperson for Comvita comments “However the research holds promise for the millions of people who are at risk of developing the disease, perhaps they are overweight or there is a family history of the condition.”
While much research has focused on the health benefits of olive oil, new data regarding olive leaf is emerging. Active compounds found in olive oil called ‘polyphenolics’ have been identified, but the olive leaf contains these in much higher concentrations – around 30-40 times stronger.
Written by the team at Comvita UK Limited.
Serrapeptase, technically called Serratio Peptidase, is a proteolytic enzymes, meaning that it dissolves or digests protein. Serrapeptase was first found in silkworms, as it is this enzyme that silkworms use to dissolve their cocoons. It is now produced as a nutritional supplement through fermentation of plant-grown enzymes.
How does it work?
The reason that serrapeptase has such valuable therapeutic potential is that it dissolves only non-living tissue – tissues that can be a barrier to healing and optimal health. This special enzyme also helps reduce swelling after injury and inhibits the release of chemical messengers that cause pain. Its unique properties have led to a number of studies investigating its therapeutic benefits.
There are five main health benefits associated with serrapeptase:
- It is often used for its pain relieving benefits. Serrapeptase decreases pain by blocking the release of bradkinin and other ‘pain messengers’ from inflamed or damaged tissue (1). Because of this it is often used as an alternative to common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and is especially favoured by those concerned about side effects of long term NSAID usage such as ulcers bleeding in the digestive tract.
- Serrapeptase has been studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits (2). The supplement is believed to improve symptoms related to a whole host of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, migraine and others due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
- The supplement is an effective mucolytic, meaning that it thins mucous. It shows promise as a treatment for those with chronic sinusitis (3). Ear, nose and throat problems also involve uncomfortable symptoms linked with increased mucous secretion. Serrapeptase has also been studied as a potential treatment for these conditions (4).
- Serrapeptase also appears to play a role in healing injury. The supplement has been used to support post-operative recovery, as well as speeding recovery from sprains and other injuries. For example, in a group of patients undergoing knee surgery, those taking serrapeptase supplements showed a 50% reduction in swelling compared to controls (5). Injured joints, ligaments or muscles are coated with fibrin which works to support the injured tissue while it regenerates. Sometimes excess fibrin can form unwanted scar tissue, inflammation and pain. This fibrin takes up valuable space in which living tissue should grow, reducing the motion of muscles and joints. Therefore by dissolving fibrin, serrapeptase offers potential to enhance recovery after injury.
- Because of its ability to dissolve fibrin, serrapeptase has also been used to dissolve arterial plaque, fibrous blockages in clogged or hardened arteries. As serrapeptase only dissolves dead or damaged tissue, this could enable the dissolution of harmful atherosclerotic plaques without causing any harm to the inside of the arteries.
Serrapeptase may help in supporting injuries and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
Studies of serrapeptase supplementation have found positive benefits with a dosage of around 10mg, taken after meals three times daily. No long-term studies of this supplement have yet been conducted, although studies to date suggest that supplementation for a period of 4 weeks seems safe (1,2).
Although preliminary research looks promising, many of the studies have been small or uncontrolled and much of the supporting evidence is anecdotal (6). Serrapeptase does appear to show promise as an agent for reducing pain and inflammation and support recovery. Clearly more research is needed to determine the role and value of serrapeptase in medicine, though studies to date suggest it has some clinical potential.
Written By Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC.
1. Mazzone A et al (1990) Evaluation of Serratiapeptidase in acute or chronic inflammation of torhinolarygology pathology: a multi-centre, double-blind randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 18:379-88.
2. Tachibana M, Mizukoshi O, Harada Y, et al (1984) A multi-centre, double-blind study of serrapeptase versus placebo in post-antrotomy buccal swelling. Pharmatherapeutica 3:526-30.
3. Mizukoshi D et al (1982) A double-blind study of Danzen tablets in the treatment of chronic sinusitis. Igaku Ayumi 123:768-778.
4. Mazzonie C et al (1990) Evaluation of serrapeptase in acute or chronic inflammation of otorhinolaryngology pathology: a multicentre, double-blind randomized trial versus placebo. J Int Med Res 18(5):379-388.
5. Esch VP et al (1989) Reduction of postoperative swelling. Objective measurement of swelling in upper ankle joint in treatment with serrapeptase – a prospective study (german) Fortschr Med 107(4):76-8.
6. Bhagat S et al (2013) Serratiopeptidase: a systematic review of the existing evidence. Int J Surg 11(3):209-217.