Category Archives: ageing

Find out about ageing and natural health. bodykind’s qualified nutritionists discuss the benefits of natural health and diet in relation to ageing through studies, tips and advice.

Magnesium supplementation boosts physical performance in older women

A new study published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that magnesium supplementation can improve physical performance in older women (1).

Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance
“Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance”

A focus on healthy ageing is paramount because the UK population is getting older. Currently one-in-six of the UK population is aged 65 and over. By 2050, this number will reach one-in-four. Life expectance is steadily increasing. Unfortunately ‘healthy life expectancy’, or years free from disability, is not increasing at the same rate (2). Good nutrition is a critical component of healthy ageing, allowing us to take charge of our health and remain fit and independent in later life.

This particular study tested the effect of magnesium on older women’s ability to carry out everyday functional movements such as lifting and carrying, alongside other measures of strength and balance.

The researchers studied a group of 139 healthy women with an average age of 71. Each of the women underwent a gentle 12-week exercise programme. While half of the women were given a placebo pill, the remainder of the group were given a daily magnesium supplement.

At the beginning and end of the study, each of the participants were tested for measures of physical performance. Simple functional movements, such as getting out of a chair and balancing tasks, were assessed. Compared with the placebo group, the magnesium group made significant improvements in all measures of physical performance.

The magnesium group also made ‘substantial’ improvements in walking speed compared to the placebo group. This result was of particular interest to the researchers because walking speed is an independent predictor of adverse health events.

The benefits of supplementation were most pronounced in those women whose diets were deficient in magnesium. However, improvements were also noted in those whose magnesium intake met the Recommended Daily Allowance.

As we age, we have a tendency to lose muscle mass. This degenerative loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, robs older people of independence by limiting mobility and the ability safely to carry out simple functional movements. “These findings suggest a role for magnesium supplementation in preventing or delaying the age-related decline in physical performance, particularly in magnesium-deficient individuals”, wrote the researchers.

Magnesium is involved in more physiological processes than any other mineral. It plays a critical role in energy production, bone and tooth formation, muscle function, cardiovascular health, bowel function and blood sugar regulation.

Unfortunately the average women in the UK does not manage to obtain the recommended amount of magnesium through her diet, and older women are even more at risk of deficiency (3). Eliminating refined grains, sugar and other processed foods from the diet goes a long way towards ensuring a good intake of magnesium. Magnesium supplements, and increased intake of magnesium-rich leafy greens, beans and lentils, can also help address deficiencies.

This particular study used magnesium in the form of magnesium oxide, at a dosage of 300mg elemental magnesium. While magnesium oxide is cheap, it is not the most bioavailable form of magnesium. Magnesium citrate or magnesium malate, which demonstrate superior bioavailability, are often considered more helpful by nutritionists.

References

  1. Veronese N, et al. Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on physical performance in healthy elderly women involved in a weekly exercise program: a randomised controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Epub 9 July 2014
  2. Cracknell R (2010) The ageing population. Key Issues for the New Parliament. House of Commons Library Research.
  3. Food Standard Agency. (2011) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults over 65 years.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 Health Benefits of Using Pure Oxygen

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.

Untitled-1
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.

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Five Ways to Fight Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process and is part of our immune system, helping to heal injury and protect us from infection. Unfortunately inflammation can sometimes get out of control. Modern living appears to encourage chronic low-grade inflammation. For example, when the body is under stress, from poor diet, excess weight, pollution or even simply through ageing, inflammation can be triggered.

Once inflammation is triggered, it can become a chronic problem. Professor William Meggs, chief of toxicology at East Carolina University explains: “Once inflammation begins, it sets off a series of physiologic reactions that cause additional inflammation and the body’s reactions become more and more difficult to turn off” (1).

Conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, periodontal disease, premature ageing, inflammatory skin conditions and allergic reactions are all examples of chronic low grade inflammation. Achieving optimal health means taking measures to control your inflammation risk. Below are some simple dietary guidelines for controlling and reducing levels of inflammation.

1. Aim for 9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
Phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables have both anti-inflammatory and antiallergic agents. Studies have found that increased fruit and vegetable intake lowers markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (2). Aim each week to eat at least one of these top inflammation-fighting foods from each of the following categories:

fruit
9 servings of fruit and vegetables can help aid inflammation

Cruciferous vegetables:
Bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, watercress
Leafy green vegetables:
Collards, chard, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach
Legumes:
Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, peas, pinto beans, soybeans
Berries:
Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
Beta-carotene-rich foods:
Apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mango, pumpkin, sweet potato

2. Increase levels of omega 3.
The best sources of omega-3 are oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, sturgeon, anchovy, herring, trout, sardines and mullet. Better still, choose those with lower levels of mercury contamination such as sardines, salmon and North Atlantic mackerel.  Fish oil suppresses anti-inflammatory cytokines, reducing inflammation (3). Alternatively, fish oil supplements can be added to your diet. If you are vegetarian, you should include a tablespoon of good quality flaxseed oil daily.

3. Decrease levels of omega 6.
While omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects, omega-6 is usually pro-inflammatory. A good balance between the two is essential for optimal health. Unfortunately the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in the modern diet tends to be too high. In the UK, our ratio of omega 6 to 3 is around 20:1 whereas the ideal ratio of omega 6 to 3 is thought to be nearer to 4:1 (4). Limiting processed and fried foods containing vegetable oils and reducing foods high in arachidonic acid, such as red meat, may help to reduce levels of undesirable inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

4. Add olive oil to your diet.
Olive oil improves cholesterol levels and contains powerful antioxidants. This oil plays a huge part in the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to longer life expectancy and lower rates of cardiovascular disease. A recent study found that adding just 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil daily for one week reduced levels of LDL cholesterol (5). Try using olive oil as a salad dressing, or substituting the oil for your usual margarine.

5. Watch your AGE.
Highly processed foods and meats cooked at high temperatures are likely to have high levels of Advanced Glycation End products. AGE products increase inflammation, and are caused by prolonged processing such as heating and sterilising. Fortunately there are several ways to reduce AGE products. Cooking using a lower temperature, using moist heat, and adding acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar will help (6). If you are making a stir-fry, the best way to reduce AGE products is to include plenty of vegetables with a small amount of protein. You can also try steaming fish and seafood, simmering chicken in a sauce and braising red meat in liquid.

References

1. Meggs WJ (2003) The Inflammation Cure. New York: McGraw Hill.

2. Root et al (2012) Combined Fruit and Vegetable Intake Is Correlated with Improved Inflammatory and Oxidant Status from a Cross-Sectional Study in a Community Setting Nutrients 4(1): 29–41.

3. Calder PC (2002) Dietary modification of inflammation with lipids. Proc Nutr Soc Aug;61(3):345-58.

4. Erasmus U (1993) Fats the Heal, Fats That Kill. Canada: Alive Books.

5. Stark AH (2002) Olive oil as a functional food: epidemiology and nutritional approaches. Nutr Rev 60(6):170-176.

6. Urribarri J et al (2010) Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc.  Jun;110(6):911-16.e12.

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Lack of Vitamin D a worry for the frail

Vitamin D has received a lot of attention both in research and in the media recently, and I recently wrote about the importance of this vitamin for expectant mothers and their children. It is becoming clear that adequate levels of vitamin D are critical at all stages of life. A new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that low levels of Vitamin D can increase the risk of death in frail, older adults (1).

Sunshine
Sunshine is one of the best sources of Vitamin D

The study, which analysed data on 4300 adults over the age of 60, found that inadequate Vitamin D levels increased risk of death from all causes by 30 percent.

‘Frailty’ is defined as a decrease in physical function, marked by symptoms such as slow walking, muscle weakness, low physical activity and unintentional weight loss.

The study found that those who had lower vitamin D levels were more likely to be frail. It also found that frail adults with low levels of vitamin D also had triple the risk of death over people who were not frail and who had higher levels of vitamin D.

The effect of Vitamin D on muscles and bones has indeed been known for some time. When Vitamin D receptors are activated within the cell, this stimulates new protein synthesis which affects muscle growth (2). In fact a prospective study found that Vitamin D supplementation increased the number of fast-twitch muscle fibres and improved muscle function in elderly women with osteoporosis (3). This is particularly interesting as it suggests that the protective effect of Vitamin D on fracture risk is not solely a result of its effect on bone mineral density. It may also be a result of improved muscle strength leading to better physical function and lower numbers of falls.

The study does not prove whether Vitamin D plays a causative role. In other words, it is not clear whether Vitamin D deficiency contributed to frailty, or whether frail adults were more likely to develop the vitamin deficiency because of health problems.

“If you have both, it may not really matter which came first because you are worse off and at greater risk of dying than other older people who are frail and who don’t have low vitamin D,” says study leader Ellen Smit. “This is an important finding because we already know there is a biological basis for this. Vitamin D impacts muscle function and bones, so it makes sense that it plays a big role in frailty.”

The researchers suggest that older adults should be screened for Vitamin D levels, and that they should spend more active time in the sun. A carefully managed diet can also help to boost levels. For example, oily fish such as salmon or mackerel can provide 350iu per serving, so try to include this a couple of times each week. Eggs can help too, with a single egg supplying 20iu of Vitamin D. For elderly people who spend little time outdoors it may be wise to supplement Vitamin D in order to ensure adequate levels, especially during the winter months. Sunlight is of course the best source, and just 20 minutes outdoors between the hours of 10am and 2pm will provide around 400iu of the vitamin.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

 References

1. E Smit, C J Crespo, Y Michael, F A Ramirez-Marrero, G R Brodowicz, S Bartlett, R E Andersen (2012) The effect of vitamin D and frailty on mortality among non-institutionalized US older adults. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

2. Boland R. (1986) Role of vitamin D in skeletal muscle function. Endocr Rev 7:434-48.

3. Sorensen OH, Lund B, Saltin B, et al. (1979) Myopathy in bone loss of ageing: Improvement by treatment with 1 alpha-hydroxycholecalciferol and calcium. Clin Sci (Lond) 56:157-61.

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Echium Seed Oil – Beauty from Within

Composed of several types of tissue, and functioning to protect the body from the everyday environmental barrage of abuse, the skin serves as our largest organ. The outer layer, known as the epidermis, is made up of a fibrous protein called keratin and numerous types of fat, including various omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some of which are important for skin health and others not so. Though ‘biologically dead’ the epidermis remains active, with its fatty acid composition playing a key role in the health and appearance of the skin’s surface.

The skin lacks important enzymes to reconstruct omega-3 and omega-6 fats from food, so our skin’s makeup is a direct reflection of our diet. This may be good news if you eat plenty of oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados and avoid refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils. If your plate typically resembles Western diet patterns, your skin will likely contain an abundance of omega-6 fats such as linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA) – the latter being linked directly with inflammation and inflammatory-based skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Igennus Echiomega
Igennus Echiomega is made from echium seed oil and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Echium seed oil is a natural plant oil renowned for its unique profile of skin-supporting fatty acids. Especially rich in a rare form of omega-3 called stearidonic acid (SDA), as well as anti-inflammatory omega-6 GLA and omega-9, it provides the skin with an ideal balance of fats to regenerate cells and reduce inflammation.

Well known for its anti-ageing potential, echium seed oil is a popular ingredient in many skin creams and beauty products but only recently has it become available in supplement form to nourish the skin from within. Oral supplementation offers enhanced benefits over topical products (though a combination of both would offer synergistic benefits) due to more efficient absorption, enabling the beneficial fatty acids to be incorporated directly into skin cells to target inflammation beneath the skin’s surface.

Each Igennus Echiomega capsule provides 500mg echium seed oil, with just two capsules daily providing ideal levels for skincare. Offered in a capsule shell derived from seaweed, Echiomega is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Written by Dr Nina Bailey from Igennus Healthcare Nutrition

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The antioxidant advantage – introducing a new standard in Rosehip Oil

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is here!

Our busy daily lives see us constantly exposed to free radicals – microscopic organic molecules responsible for ageing and tissue damage. Pollution, sun exposure, diet and stress are just some of the sources of free radicals we deal with every day. They attack skin cells, causing them to break down and so affecting the health and the appearance of our skin.

Trilogy Rosehip oil Antioxidant+
Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is a red berry seed oil blend which provides intensive nourishment.

Antioxidants provide a counter attack, helping stop free radical damage and providing protection for the skin. This ensures the integrity of healthy cells and helps to maintain a youthful, radiant complexion.

While our main source of antioxidants is through diet, the body is so hungry for these useful molecules that most of them are absorbed into our systems before they reach the outer layer of the skin. Choosing skincare with high antioxidant content ensures that the skin receives its own supply.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ contains red berry super antioxidants, such as lycopene from tomato and phytosterol from acai berry, providing powerful protection from free radicals and helping to prevent visible signs of premature ageing. Combined with Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, which is high in Essential Fatty Acids and delivers intensive nourishment and hydration to replenish softness and elasticity, these ingredients create the perfect skincare product, one which helps to repair yesterday’s damage and protect from tomorrow’s for healthier younger looking skin.

Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ is a 100% natural, certified organic red berry seed oil blend – the ‘everything-your-skin-needs’ beauty oil.

Written by Corinne Morley at Trilogy

About the Author:

Corinne Morley is Global Sales and Marketing Manager for New Zealand natural skincare brand Trilogy. A passionate international industry expert, she has a comprehensive beauty background encompassing marketing, sales, training, research and product development, and management roles.


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The health benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil has recently become increasingly prevalent both in the media and in current research which has found that many of its contents can be extremely beneficial to health.  For example, one recent study (1) published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine this year reported on its vast medicinal aspects, as it has been found to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antioxidant, immunostimulant (supports the immune system), and the list goes on.

The health benefits of coconut oil
Current research has found that coconut oil can be extremely beneficial to health. (8)

Additionally, another study (2) comments on previous research reporting on the many health benefits of coconut oil. These include preventing illnesses and diseases, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, aiding digestion and helping to keep skin elastic and silky, keeping wrinkles at bay.  This can be attributed to its numerous nutrient contents including being rich in medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid which has shown to inhibit harmful elements (pathogens) within the body which can help to slow the effects of ageing (3).  This study (3) also found that virgin coconut oil had greater antioxidant activity than the refined oil and another study (4) suggested that coconut oil intake is associated with beneficial lipid profiles which promotes healthy cholesterol levels due to its high density lipoprotein content.  An all round health booster!

Also, you may have seen the recent article in the Daily Mail (5) that reports on the use of coconut oil by supermodel Miranda Kerr (wife of actor Orlando Bloom), where she is quoted as saying that she credited her glowing clear skin and shiny hair to the oil.  One study (6) also reported on the oils beneficial effects to the skin saying that it had shown to have antimicrobial effects on fungi and viruses which can inhabit atopic dermatitis.  In this study, published in 2008 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society, patients topically treated with virgin coconut oil (by rubbing the oil into their skin) reported significantly reduced scores for dryness and related conditions.  Therefore you may find some relief from rubbing this oil into your dry spots on your elbows, knees and ankles or even see if this helps with sunburn or any other problem skin areas.

Also, another study (7) identified the superior effects of coconut oil when applied (topically) to hair before conditioning compared to mineral oil and other vegetable oils such as sunflower oil. They reported protective effects to both undamaged and chemically treated hair.  They attributed this effect to the ability of coconut oil to access the hair cuticle and lubricate it, which reduces water retention and swelling.  You may also find that coconut oil can help with split ends.

So as well as being a healthy oil when consumed on salads, used as a cooking oil or even a spoonful in your green tea just like Miranda Kerr, you can also benefit from using this oil topically on skin and hair.

P.S.  A top tip may be to rub some into your shoes to soften them which may prevent any irritation they may cause you, as well as making your feet smell like coconuts!

Written by Lauren Foster

 

References

(1) DebMandal, M. & Mandal, S. (2011) Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 241-247.

 (2) Arenillo, S.A (2008) Yield and Quality of Virgin Coconut Oil Using Varieties of Coconuts. Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research, Vol. 5, No. 2, 190-198.

 (3) Marina, A.M., Che Man, Y.B. & Amin, I.(2009) Virgin coconut oil: emerging functional food oil. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20, 481-487.

 (4) Feranil, A.B., Duazo, P.L., Kuzawa, C.W., Adair, L.S. (2011) Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women in the Philippines. Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 20, (2):190-195.

 (5) Daily Mail (2011) Victoria’s Secret? Coconut oil… Sales boom as model Miranda Kerr reveals daily dose of ‘healthy fat’ is key to her beauty. Mail Online. (Online):   (Accessed 5/9/2011).

 (6) Verallo-Rowell, V.M., Dillague, K.M., Syah-Tjundawan, B.S. (2008) Novel Antibacterial and Emollient Effects of Coconut and Virgin Olive Oils: Methods, Dermatitis, 19(6):308-15.

 (7) Rele, A.S. & Mohile, R.B. (2003) Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 54(2):175-92.

(8) Image courtesy of pixomar.

 

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Healthy skin the light therapy way

The health of our skin is often the first thing people notice when we speak to them.  It can tell the tales of the past whether it be sun damage or pigmentation from enjoying just that little bit too much sunshine, or wrinkles and age spots just because of the inevitable ageing process.  It can also display some of the more confidence-sapping conditions such as rosacea, eczema or acne.  Like it or not, we can often be judged on our appearances and the health of our skin and if it isn’t looking or feeling its best it can make us feel insecure.

Skin Light Therapy
Of late, more people are turning to light therapy to help their skin regain its natural balance.

There are all sorts of lotions, potions and treatments out there to help improve the appearance of our skin, some more natural than others.  Many people don’t fancy botox or collagen injections in search of eternal youth or want to take high strength prescription medicines to dry out their acne vulgaris.  Often these prescriptions have negative side effects sometimes associated with these treatments, such as digestive complaints or further skin inflammation.  Of late, more people are turning to light therapy to help their skin regain its natural balance and help improve the appearance of wrinkles, spider veins, acne and roseacea the natural way.  Light therapy is the exposure to specific wavelengths of light for a specific amount of time in order to treat a particular disorder, problem or concern.

Daylight is a vital ingredient for our existence and since time began humans have responded to their natural environments.  We feel happier in sunny months and our skin is often healthier when the sun is out for longer with more natural daylight available.  Light lamps emitting red and/or blue wavelengths are often used for those with skin concerns such as acne vulgaris, p.acnes, rosacea, spider veins, wrinkles or inflammation.  Blue wavelengths are used for anti-bacterial treatment, while red wavelengths are best for reducing inflammation, pigmentation and fine lines.

Britebox Dermaclear
Models such as the Britebox dermaclear now combine both red & blue wavelengths in order to reduce both bacteria and inflammation.

Blue wavelengths are primarily used for the treatment of acne and to reduce bacteria, however many models such as the Britebox dermaclear now combine both red & blue wavelengths in order to reduce both bacteria and inflammation and for better, faster results.  Infrared and red wavelengths are primarily used for skin pigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines, roseacea, spider veins and age spots.

Treatment times vary between models and can range from 3 minutes to 30 minutes per day with results being seen from anything between 24 hours and 8 weeks – depending on severity of the skin concern.

View our Skin Health Light Therapy Comparison chart here

We have many other blog posts on supporting the health of the skin written by Ani Richardson RNutri. For further reading, see her posts here.

Written by Katie Guest

References

*Extracts taken from bodykind’s Light Therapy Knowledge Base

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Healthy skin spotlight – Our top 5 supplements for skin health

This blog post looks at some of the key nutritional supplements for supporting and maintaining healthy skin.  Follow our top five tips and your skin will be looking healthy and radiant all through natural choices and healthy diet without the need for beauty products that contain harmful chemicals.

Natural skin care
Support your skin care through nutrition and a healthy diet (1)

1. Fish Oils

Fish oils are essential fatty acids which means that they are not made by the body and have to be consumed (either eaten or supplemented) in order to provide the body with their fantastic benefits.  Fatty acids have been recognised for their ability to improve the skin through their anti-inflammatory activity which may also reduce the development of eczema psoriasis, acne and rashes.  They can also help to firm the skin and potentially reduce lines and wrinkles.  Read more about the power of fish oils for skin health in previous blog posts here.  Overall a top skin care provider!

2. Antioxidants:

Oxidative damage from free radicals (unstable molecules) is the primary cause of premature skin aging as they can interfere with DNA and breakdown collagen which contributes to the formation of those dreaded wrinkles.  Antioxidants have been found to help prevent this damage and protect the body from their harmful effects.  Antioxidants, such as alpha tocopherol, beta carotene, lycopene, and lutein, have also been identified to protect against UV damage (photoaging) which causes the most harm to the skin (3).

3. Multivitamin

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and wholegrains helps to provide the body with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other essential components to help the body to function optimally and keep the skin in its best condition.  Adding a multivitamin (which are natural nutrients that are essentially consumed as the body can not produce them itself) to this regime can offer a great boost to your body’s balance of health and support the health and appearance of the largest organ in your body, your skin.  Again multivitamins that include the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E are great skin supporters, and also B3, D and K have also been identified as protecting against the biggest skin ager, photoaging (4).

Higher Nature Aeterna Gold
Having a healthy diet with lots of vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, can help to encourage collagen production

4. Collagen

As we age, our collagen stores steadily decrease which reduces the elasticity in our skin and causes lines and wrinkles, so supplementing collagen may help to limit these effects.  Also having a healthy diet with lots of vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, can help to encourage collagen production and its use within the body, which may assist in keeping the skin bright and youthful.

5. Probiotics

Probiotics are non digestible foods that can promote health by stimulating the activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut.  They have been found to assist with the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract which then allows the nutrients to fully benefit the skin.  Additionally, probiotics have also been recognised for stimulating the microflora of the skin and protecting the skin through the immune system (6).  Therefore these friendly bacteria are perfect little protectors of youthful skin so make sure you include them in your daily routine.

A top tip for supplementing would be to include probiotics with your supplements to ensure that your digestive system is optimal and you are absorbing the necessary nutrients from the supplements you are taking.

P.S. You may also wish to consider using light therapy as an alternative to help keep skin beautiful, as they have been found to kill the bacteria that causes acne and also to reduce the inflammation in the skin caused by acne.  They do this through the combination of wavelengths which also assist facial lesions, scars and many other conditions.  They have also shown to be very effective at brightening the skin tone (7,8).  Therefore they may be worth considering if you are suffering from a skin complaint.

Written by Lauren Foster

References

(1) Image courtesy of  photostock.

(2)De Spirit s et al. (2009) Intervention with flaxseed and borage oil supplements modulates skin condition in women. British Journal of Nutrition, 101:440-445.

(3) Evans, J.A. & Johnson, E.J. (2010) The Role of Phytonutrients in Skin Health. Nutrients, 2, 903-928.

(4) Zussman, J., Ahdout, J. and Kim, J. (2010) Vitamins and photoaging: Do scientific data support their use? American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. 63, No. 3.

(5) Zouboulis, C.C., Makrantonaki, E. (2011) Clinical aspects and molecular diagnostics of skin aging. Clinics in Dermatology, 29, 3–14.

(6) Krutmann, J. (2009) Pre- and probiotics for human skin. Journal of Dermatological Science 54, 1–5.

(7) Babilas, B. (2010) Light-assisted therapy in dermatology: The use of intense pulsed light (IPL). Medical Laser Application, Vol. 25, 61–69.

(8) Lee, S.Y., You, C.E. & Park, M.Y. (2007) Blue and red light combination LED phototherapy for acne vulgaris in patients with skin phototype IV. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 39:180–188.

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High levels of vitamin D associated with reduced risk of developing early age-related macular degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 50 in the UK.  Previously  I have written a lot about omega 3 fatty acids in relation to AMD, now a new study (1) published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has found that high levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream appear to be associated with a decreased risk of developing early age-related macular degeneration among women younger than 75 years.

Age Related Macular Degeneration
A new study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has found that high levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream appear to be associated with a decreased risk of developing AMD (3).

To recap from previous posts: The macular is the light sensitive area in the centre of the retina that controls visual field and the ability to see colours.  AMD is caused by the deterioration of the macular.  As this happens the peripheral, outer, vision remains intact as the centre field of vision becomes slowly blurry, grey or filled with a large black spot.  Two forms of AMD exists: the dry form which develops slowly, accounting for 90% of all cases; and the wet form which causes rapid deterioration of central vision.

The exact causes of AMD are unknown although free radical damage, where unstable oxygen molecules damage the eye cells, is strongly implicated.  Tobacco smoke and sun exposure can increase the level of free radicals in the body and both are a risk for AMD.  High blood pressure and diabetes are also risk factors as these conditions can limit blood flow to the eyes.

The scientists (1) conducting this study wanted to look at the relationship between blood levels of vitamin D (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D)) and the prevalence of early age AMD in over 1000  women.   It is noted in the research paper that  “Serum 25(OH)D is the preferred biomarker for vitamin D status, as it reflects vitamin D exposure from both oral sources and sunlight.”  (1)

The initial (1) analysis found that no significant relationship was found between vitamin D status and early or advanced AMD.  However, when further analysis was done it was found that in the (968) women who were younger than 75 years old higher levels of serum vitamin D was associated with a significantly decreased risk of early AMD, in women 75 years and older (319), higher levels were associated with only a borderline statistically significant increased risk (1).

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It is likely that many people in the UK have low blood levels of vitamin D.

It was also found (1) that among women younger than 75 years, intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was related to decreased risk of early AMD but no relationship was observed with self-reported time spent in direct sunlight.  Women who consumed the most vitamin D (from food and supplements) had a 59% decreased risk of developing early AMD compared with women who consumed the least vitamin D. The top food sources of vitamin D in the sample were milk, fish, fortified margarine and fortified cereal.  The authors conclude that (2)”This is the second study to present an association between AMD status and 25(OH)D, and our data support the previous observation that vitamin D status may potentially protect against development of AMD,” “More studies are needed to verify this association prospectively as well as to better understand the potential interaction between vitamin D status and genetic and lifestyle factors with respect to risk of early AMD.”

As stated this is just an association study and more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn as to whether vitamin D can protect against the development of AMD.  As you can see from all my previous posts on vitamin D there is no set recommendation for daily supplement use and it is likely that many people in the UK have low blood levels of this important vitamin.  If you decide to take vitamin D supplements it is always best to check with your medical doctor first, especially if you are considering high doses (over 2000iu daily).

(1) Millen AE et al.  2011.  Vitamin D Status and Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Postmenopausal Women.  Archives of Ophthalmology.  129 (4): 481-489
(2) Press release.  JAMA and Archives Journals (2011, April 11). High levels of vitamin D appear to lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in young women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 12, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2011/04/110411163817.htm

(3) Image courtesy of  Jeroen van Oostrom

Written by Ani Richardson

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