Category Archives: mineral

Sun Chlorella: Gorgeous Summer Skin Starts from Within

Glowing, youthful skin
We all want glowing, youthful-looking skin, especially at this time of year. Good skincare isn’t just about what you put on it – looking after your skin from the inside out is also vital for a fresh, healthy complexion. That’s where chlorella comes in. One of the world’s best-kept beauty secrets, it’s a single-cell green algae packed with high levels of nutrients, and can nourish your skin in a number of unique and powerful ways.

Concentrated in chlorella’s nucleic acids is a unique substance called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which is what makes the plant grow so rapidly. CGF – even in small amounts – is known to stimulate tissue repair. The result? Chlorella can help your cells mend and protect themselves, leading to fresh, rejuvenated skin.

Youth-boosting superpowers
Chlorella’s major skin benefit lies in its unusually high levels of nucleic acids, substances that help the body’s cell walls to function efficiently. Chlorella is rich in two forms of nucleic acid called DNA and RNA. Our natural production of these slows as we get older, which can contribute to signs of ageing. Dr Benjamin Franks, a pioneering researcher into nucleic acids, found that a high intake of dietary nucleic acids led to improvement in lines and wrinkles and smoother, more youthful skin. Chlorella is one of the best ways to get nucleic acids into your diet as it’s extremely high in RNA and DNA.

The ultimate cleanser
Chlorella can also help keep your skin clear – that’s down to its high levels of chlorophyll, the green pigment all plants use to absorb energy from sunlight. Research has found taking chlorophyll supplements can help support bowel function. As healthy digestion is vital for clear skin, chlorophyll can have direct benefits for your complexion. Chlorella is the richest known source of chlorophyll in the plant world.

A holistic all-rounder
Chlorella also contains a range of other nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, folic acid, fibre and essential fatty acids, all known to help promote healthy skin. Its broad spectrum of nutrients makes it ideal for supercharging your overall wellbeing and energy levels – perfect for making the most of summer!

Why Sun Chlorella?

Sun Chlorella® is produced in a special way that ensures your body gets the most from all the nutrients. Chlorella has a very tough cell wall, which stops us from digesting it properly. Sun Chlorella® innovated a special process to solve this problem, using the DYNO®-Mill, a machine that breaks the cell walls so you can digest and absorb it efficiently.

There are different ways to get the benefits of Sun Chlorella®. For the ultimate easy health boost on the move, try Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ Tablets, or add them to smoothies (see recipe, below). You can also apply the goodness of chlorella direct to your skin with Sun Chlorella® Cream, a unique and indulgent moisturiser which harnesses the power of CGF. And you can add Sun Chlorella® ‘A’ Granules to drinks.

Top Recipe – For the ultimate deep cleanse, try this delicious treat:

Sun Chlorella Drink Recipe

  • 300ml water
  • 80g cucumber
  • 80g spinach
  • 40g rocket
  • 40g celery
  • 20g kale
  • 5-15 Sun Chlorella® tablets
  • 20-40g avocado
  • 1 slice of kiwi fruit – optional

Whizz the ingredients together and drink half before breakfast. Store the rest in the fridge and drink before lunch.

For your chance to win almost £150 worth of Sun Chlorella beauty goodies, simply visit us at bodykind.com and answer one simple question.

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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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Choosing the Best Supplements: Part One

Choosing the right kind of supplement is extremely important, and yet the choice available can create lots of confusion. I am frequently asked about how to select the most suitable type of supplement. Will the supplement be absorbed properly, and is a ‘natural’ form always better than a synthetic form? Are capsules better than tablets? Which brand is best? Some simple pointers can help you to choose the right supplement for you.

Is Natural better than Synthetic?

Many people prefer to take vitamins in their natural form as they believe that nutrients derived from plants and other natural materials are more effective. Although this is not always the case, there are certainly instances where this belief holds up. Vitamin E, for example, is almost 40% more potent in its natural form that in its synthetic form. The natural form of Vitamin E is called d-alpha-tocopherol and this natural form, usually derived from wheat germ or soya oil, is undoubtedly superior.

Likewise, the natural form of Vitamin D, cholecalciferol or D3, has a more sustained effect on Vitamin D levels in the body than its synthetic counterpart Vitamin D2.

Generally, however, the natural and synthetic forms of most vitamins and minerals tend to behave in similar ways. Synthetic forms of some nutrients, such as Vitamin C, can in fact work out cheaper and can be more concentrated.

Perhaps the most important consideration is that vitamin supplements derived from natural sources may well contain as yet unknown nutrients that help increase their effectiveness. Vitamin C, for example, is more effective when taken alongside bioflavonoids, and these nutrients are almost always found together in nature. Supplement manufacturers can utilise this natural Vitamin C ‘boost’ by combining a potent synthetic Vitamin C supplement with additional bioflavonoids. By replicating this natural combination manufacturers can improve the supplement’s potency.

Improving supplement absorption

Getting the best out of your supplements also means making sure that you are taking them correctly. There are a number of lifestyle and dietary factors that can affect supplement absorption. Supplements should always be taken separately from alcohol, especially if the supplements contain magnesium or B vitamins. Alcohol lowers levels of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, meaning that supplements may not be broken down and digested (1). Alcohol also damages the cells lining the stomach and intestines, impairing absorption (2).

Cal-mag
Calcium and magnesium are better absorbed alongside proteins

As smoking influences the absorption of minerals such as calcium, it is not recommended to smoke during meal times, especially if you are taking your supplements with a meal.

Stress is another lifestyle factor that can hinder supplement absorption. As stress can effectively shut down digestion, it would be wise to try to take your supplements after a leisurely meal rather than on the run during a busy day.

To ensure maximum absorption, most vitamin and mineral supplements are best taken immediately after a meal. Calcium and magnesium are better absorbed alongside proteins. Vitamins A, E and D are all fat-soluble, and so are best taken alongside a meal containing fats or oils.

Other important factors when choosing a nutritional supplement include bioavailability, the form of delivery (tablet or capsule) and the manufacturing standards of the supplement company.

References

(1) Korsten, M.A. Alcoholism and pancreatitis: Does nutrition play a role? Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):232-237, 1989. 

(2) Feinman, L. Absorption and utilization of nutrients in alcoholism. Alcohol Health & Research World 13(3):207-210, 1989. 

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Eating food rich in vitamins and minerals may impact perceived hunger levels

In September I wrote about the importance of eating a high-quality, healthy, nutrient dense diet when attempting to lose weight or restrict calorie intakes.  Now a new study (1) has indicated that eating such a nutrient dense diet, rich in vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) may influence hunger and satiety.

The study (1) was set up in order to analyse the changes in experience and perception of hunger before and after individuals changed from their usual diet to a high nutrient density diet.

The study is important since hunger can cause people to overeat and consume more calories than their bodies require, hence leading to overweight and obesity over time. 

 

The research involved over 700 participants who had changed their dietary habits from a low micronutrient diet i.e. one that was low in vitamins and minerals, to a high micronutrient diet.  Participants completed a survey rating various dimensions of hunger (physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, and location) when on their previous usual diet versus the high micronutrient density diet.   Highly significant differences were found between the two diets in relation to all physical and emotional symptoms as well as the location of hunger (1). Hunger was not an unpleasant experience while on the high nutrient density diet, was well tolerated and occurred with less frequency even when meals were skipped. Nearly 80% of respondents reported that their experience of hunger had changed since starting the high nutrient density diet, with 51% reporting a dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger.

 

The authors of the study conclude that

A high micronutrient density diet mitigates the unpleasant aspects of the experience of hunger even though it is lower in calories. Hunger is one of the major impediments to successful weight loss. Our findings suggest that it is not simply the caloric content, but more importantly, the micronutrient density of a diet that influences the experience of hunger. It appears that a high nutrient density diet, after an initial phase of adjustment during which a person experiences “toxic hunger” due to withdrawal from pro-inflammatory foods, can result in a sustainable eating pattern that leads to weight loss and improved health. A high nutrient density diet provides benefits for long-term health as well as weight loss. Because our findings have important implications in the global effort to control rates of obesity and related chronic diseases, further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary results”.

Satiety and hunger are influenced by many different factors.  In terms of nutrition and satiety I have previously written about the effect of fibre, prebiotics, probiotics, cinnamon, omega 3 fatty acids and low GI foods and their impact on satiety.

The nutrient quality of the food we eat is very important since a high quality diet will provide the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (bioactive plant nutrients) that are essential for our health and wellbeing.   Vitamins and minerals are essential for the efficient functioning of the body, including the brain.  Eating enough vegetables, fruits, beans/pulses, wholegrains, unprocessed meats/fish, nuts and seeds is a good way to ensure adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals.  These kinds of foods are nutrient dense. 

Supplements should never be considered as an alternative to a healthy diet, however if you are not regularly consuming vegetables, fruits and other nutrient dense foods you might want to check with your doctor about the suitability of a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, together with an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, to provide for any shortfalls. 

(1)Joel Fuhrman  J et al.  2010.  Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet.  Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:51doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-51.  Published 7th November 2010.

Written by Ani Kowal

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Study finds that a dietary supplement may help reduce the symptom severity of the common cold

Many people are experiencing the symptoms of the common cold this winter, sniffles, runny nose, sore throat, stuffy ears.  I have previously written about diet and dietary supplements for the prevention of the common cold however, investigations with supplements are, as yet, inconclusive and results inconsistent.  Having a healthy diet which provides the body with abundant nutrients may be helpful in the prevention of the cold since a good diet helps keep the immune system functioning effectively.

The common cold is the most frequent acute illness in industrialised societies (1).  It is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract, caused by a variety of viruses.  The leading symptoms include sneezing, runny or congested nose, sore throat, headache and coughing, typically lasting for about 5–10 d.  On average, adults experience two to four colds per year.  Frequency of common cold infections increases in the UK in the autumn and winter (1).

Since there is no causal treatment for the common cold, therapy focuses on symptom relief. In addition, preventive strategies for the common cold include lifestyle measures such as avoiding infected people and regular hand washing during the winter. As mentioned above dietary supplements including herbs and vitamins have been suggested in the prevention of the common cold, but previous investigations have proven inconclusive.

A recently published study(1) was designed to determine the preventative effect of a dietary supplement made from a concentration of fruits and vegetables on common cold symptoms.  The study was well designed, a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.  It involved over 500 healthcare professionals, mainly nursing staff aged 18–65 years, from a university hospital in Berlin, Germany.  The individuals involved in the trial received the supplement or a matching placebo daily for 8 months.  The number of days with moderate or severe common cold symptoms within 6 months was assessed by diary self-reports.

Results (1) found that the average number of days with moderate or severe common cold symptoms was reduced in the supplement group compared to the placebo group, intake of the dietary supplement was associated with a 20 % reduction of moderate or severe common cold symptom days.  This is significant since the individuals involved in the study were healthcare professionals who were particularly exposed colds through patient contact.  It is important to note, however that the average number of total days with any common cold symptoms was similar in both groups. 

The results are interesting since the supplement helped to reduce the severity of the cold symptoms, even though the total number of days with symptoms was not reduced.  Reducing the severity of symptoms is important since it may mean that individuals don’t take time off work and can carry on with their days as normal.  Although colds are not really serious conditions, they are a leading cause of absence from work and doctor visits (1).   In the current study the group taking the dietary supplement had fewer days with intake of common cold medication and a trend towards fewer days absent from work due to the common cold.

The authors of the study write “ To our knowledge, it is the first randomised investigation focusing on the benefits of juice powder concentrate in subjects particularly exposed to patient contact. The confirmation of the present findings in other populations could contribute to the growing scientific basis of assessing the clinical importance of dietary supplements from fruits and vegetables. In conclusion, intake of Juice Plus þ w was associated with fewer number of days with at least moderate common cold symptoms. Whether long-term intake of Juice Plus þ w could further reduce severity or even the frequency of common cold symptoms and the possible underlying mechanisms should be assessed in future studies

Many supplements made from concentrated fruit and vegetables are now available.   Such supplements may be considered as a short term measure especially if your diet is consistently falling short of fruits and vegetables.  Supplements, however, can never be seen as an alternative to a healthy diet and it is always best to check with your medical doctor prior to starting a new supplement regimen.   Eating a diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains will help to provide vitamins, minerals and flavonoids that may help to keep the immune system functioning optimally.

(1) Stephanie Roll S et al.  2011.   Reduction of common cold symptoms by encapsulated juice powder concentrate of fruits and vegetables: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.  British Journal of Nutrition (2011), 105: 118-122

 

Written by Ani Kowal

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Nutrient supplements might impact brain function

 Nutrition impacts all aspects of health and the body.  What we eat can impact brain function and our mood and new research is constantly being released which indicates that having a good diet and a good supply of nutrients can impact our mental state.

Recently a double-blind placebo-controlled study (1) was conducted to investigate the effect of a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement on cognitive (brain) function and fatigue in over 200 healthy female individuals aged between 25 and 50 years old.  The participants were tested before and 9 weeks after starting the multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.  The tests that the women underwent included brain function tests and tasks related to mood and fatigue.   The group taking the multi-vitamin and mineral supplement had improved multi-tasking performance and better accuracy across the tasks compared to the placebo group.  The women taking the supplements also did better in terms of their mood and fatigue levels after performing the brain function tests.  The authors conclude that “These findings suggest that healthy members of the general population may benefit from augmented levels of vitamins/minerals via direct dietary supplementation”.

Another recent study (2) looked at the cognitive and mood effects of a high dose B-vitamin and mineral supplement in 215 men aged 30-55 years old.  The men completed assessments and tests prior to and on the last day of a 33-day supplement period.   Those men taking the supplement, compared to those taking the inactive placebo, had significant improvements in ratings on the stress test and the general health questionnaire as well as certain aspects of the mood test.  The men taking the supplement also rated themselves as less ‘mentally tired’ both before and after completing a cognitive (brain function) test.  The authors of this test conclude “Healthy members of the general population may benefit from augmented levels of vitamins/minerals via direct dietary supplementation. Specifically, supplementation led to improved ratings of stress, mental health and vigour and improved cognitive performance during intense mental processing”.

The authors of this study also write “Taken together with previous results showing beneficial effects of vitamin/mineral supplementation in healthy children and adults, these findings further suggest that augmenting vitamin/mineral levels in healthy, normal populations may provide beneficial effects in terms of brain function. It is unclear whether these effects represent a an offset of impairment due to marginal deficiencies or an improvement due to sub-optimal levels that would not, under current guidelines, be classed as deficiency. However, given that a large section of the population are unable or unwilling to eat the adequately balanced diet that would satisfy their micronutrient requirements, it seems that supplementation with multi-vitamins/minerals may be a useful and possibly necessary option for this portion of the population

This research is certainly interesting but further larger trials are be needed before making any recommendations for nutrient supplementation in order to enhance brain function and mood.  Always check with your medical doctor prior to taking any supplements.  Supplements should never be seen as an alternative to a healthy, balanced diet, however they can be useful to cover any shortfalls.  This research certainly highlights how nutrition can impact the brain and mood states.  Optimum functioning of the brain is dependent on a wide range nutrients and as the authors state, many people do not eat healthy balanced diets and may therefore be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Eating a nutrient dense diet which is rich in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed meat and fish, especially oily fish, nuts/seeds, beans and unprocessed wholegrains is a great way to ensure a plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to the body and brain.

 

(1)Haskell CF et al.  2010.  Effects of a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement on cognitive function and fatigue during extended multi-tasking.  Hum Psychopharmacol. 25(6):448-61.

(2) Kennedy DO et al.  2010.  Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males. Psychopharmacology (Berl).   211(1):55-68.

 

 

Written by Ani Kowal

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Sun protection through nutrition

Summer seems to have come to an end here in the UK but many people escape the autumn and winter months by going away to hotter, sunnier climbs for a holiday.  In 2008 I wrote two blog posts about being safe in the sun and how nutrition can help.  In those posts I mention antioxidant nutrients and omega 3 fats from oily fish.

UV light can damage skin cell DNA via production of destructive ‘free-radical’ molecules.  Antioxidants may help to ‘quench’ the destructive free radical molecules and therefore protect against photo-damage.  A diet rich in colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will provide plentiful amounts of antioxidants.  UV light can cause damage to the skin and contribute to photo-ageing through the initiation of inflammation.  The long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) found in oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel  are used by the body for the production of potent anti-inflammatory chemicals.  Including these omega 3 fatty acids in the diet may help to reduce sun induced inflammation, UVB skin sensitivity and may also help in the prevention of sunburn.

A review paper (1) has now been published which emphasises the importance of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids for the protection against sun damage to the skin.  The author of the paper, Dr Niva Shapira writes about how in Mediterranean regions the rate of melanoma skin cancers are low even though the solar radiation is high, Dr Shapira speculates that much of the protection against sun damage comes from the diet.  She writes that “The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies, alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention”.  She suggests that more studies need to look at “dietary/nutritional  supplementation for lifelong internal support of sun-protection mechanisms, which could complement external strategies

The paper concentrates on the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet which is rich in fish, wholegrains, beans/pulses, vegetables, fruits and olive oil and how this, coupled with regular application of sunscreen and appropriate body coverings such as hats and clothing could be really useful in preventing skin cancers.

Dietary antioxidant and fish oil supplements might be useful but they cannot be viewed as an alternative to a healthy diet, they should be viewed only as a potentially useful adjunct.  It is always best to check with your medical doctor prior to taking any nutritional supplements.  Diet is highly important since nutrients in foods work together ‘synergistically’.  Dr Shapira says “In foods, many vitamins and various antioxidants and bioactive ingredients work to support one another and the body’s natural protective mechanisms. Synergies between the nutrients in your food, which make a significant contribution to health, may contrast with the relative isolation of a vitamin supplement.” (2)  If you do decide to take a supplement then it might be worth considering a low dose, broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral (which will provide many nutrients that work together) supplement together with a fish oil supplement to provide omega 3 fats, rather than single nutrient supplements. 

The research is getting attention, and for the first time, the Israeli Cancer Association has included the nutritional information as part of their “Smart in the Sun” advisories (2).

(1)Shapira N.  2010.  Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies.  Nutrition Reviews.  68:75-86

(2)Press release American Friends of Tel Aviv University (2010, August 16). SPF on your plate: Researcher connects the Mediterranean diet with skin cancer prevention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/08/100816122206.htm

Written by Ani Kowal

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Study finds that dieting individuals might need to watch their vitamin and mineral intakes

 

A study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1) has found that weight loss diets that focus on the amount of food consumed and the proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (the so called macronutrients) might be lacking in essential minerals and vitamins

The study researchers wanted to look at the intakes of vitamins and minerals (the micronutrients) of 4 popular diets being undertaken by overweight or obese women.  They note in their study that information on the micronutrient quality of weight loss diets is very limited and this is worrying considering the importance of vitamins and minerals for health.  Dietary data was collected from women following the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition), and the Ornish diet.  There were about 70 women following each diet plan for 8 weeks.  After 8 weeks there were significant differences observed between groups for all macronutrients and for many micronutrients.  Energy (calorie) intakes decreased from baseline in all 4 groups but was similar between groups.  After 8 weeks a significant proportion of individuals in all groups shifted to micronutrient intakes associated with risk of inadequacy:

*In the Atkins group for thiamine, folic acid, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium

*In the LEARN group for vitamin E, thiamine, and magnesium

*In the Ornish group for vitamins E and B-12 and zinc

*In the Zone group for vitamins A, E, K, and C

The authors conclude that “Weight-loss diets that focus on macronutrient composition should attend to the overall quality of the diet, including the adequacy of micronutrient intakes”.

The results of the study indicate a need for dieters to really attend to the quality of their food intakes and not just the quantity in order to get enough vitamins and minerals daily.  Eating enough vegetables, fruits, beans/pulses, wholegrains, unprocessed meats/fish, nuts and seeds is a good way to ensure adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals.  These kinds of foods are nutrient dense.  Vitamins and minerals are essential for the efficient functioning of the body.  Only one of the diets, the Atkins diet, recommended that participants take a vitamin and mineral supplement, though only 3 women in the study followed the advice.  Supplements should never be considered as an alternative to a healthy diet, however if you are following a diet at the moment and are not regularly consuming vegetables, fruits and the other foods listed above you might want to check with your doctor about the suitability of a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to provide any shortfalls.

(1)Christopher D Gardner CD et al.  2010.  Micronutrient quality of weight-loss diets that focus on macronutrients: results from the A TO Z study. Am J Clin Nutr.  E-Pub (June 23, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29468

 

Written by Ani Kowal

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Low levels of vitamins and minerals may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease

From the 16th-19th June 2010 the World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions were held in Neijing, China .  New data presented there (1) and released to the press via the World Heart Federation has demonstrated that multiple micronutrient levels can predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).

The World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions is the official congress of the World Heart Federation and is held every two years. Through the Congress the World Heart Federation offers an international stage for the latest developments in science and public outreach in the field of cardiovascular health. The World Congress of Cardiology places emphasis on the complementary nature of science and public outreach and strives to spread the message that through individual, community and patient-care interventions, the growing epidemic of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented(1)

The data (1) showed that reduced multiple micronutrient, vitamin and mineral, intakes were associated with a 1.4 times higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in White Americans, 1.3 times higher risk in African Americans and 1.6 times higher risk in Mexican Americans.  The study involved over 9, 400 participants aged 45 and older.  Dr. Longjian Liu, MD, PhD, FAHA, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, USA said: “This study is the first to demonstrate that multiple micronutrients have significant predicting effects on the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality among White Americans and minority populations,”, he went on to add that “These data suggest that people should ensure that they are maintaining healthy micronutrient levels to help reduce their future risk of CVD.”  (1)

Vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) are vital for health and are involved in the efficient functioning of all body processes, including heart function.  Inflammation plays a major role in cardiovascular diseases and it seems that a good micronutrient status is important in keeping inflammation in the body low, probably by reducing oxidative stress  in the body.  Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains daily is important since they contain a huge array of vitamins, minerals and bioflavonoids (bioactive plant chemicals).  Many of the vitamins and bioflavonoids found in these foods act as antioxidants in the body and this may be one way that that prevent disease.  Antioxidants protect the body from attack by destructive molecules known as ‘free radicals’, they protect against ‘oxidative stress’ in the body.  It has been noted in previous studies (e.g. 2)Healthy subjects of any age with a high daily intake of fruits and vegetables have higher antioxidant levels, lower levels of biomarkers of oxidative stress, and better cognitive performance than healthy subjects of any age consuming low amounts of fruits and vegetables. Modification of nutritional habits aimed at increasing intake of fruits and vegetables should be encouraged to lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in later life(2)

Eating a healthful, balanced diet is important for the prevention of many conditions.  Providing the body with good, nutrient rich, food will help to ensure that all the nutrients needed for its efficient functioning are present.  Supplements can never be seen as an alternative to healthy eating but if you feel that your diet consistently falls short of nutrients you might wish to consider taking a high quality, low dose multivitamin and mineral supplement.  It is always best to check with a medical doctor prior to starting any supplementation regimen.  

About the World Heart Federation:
The World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the global fight against heart disease and stroke with a focus on low- and middle-income countries via a united community of more than 200 member organizations. With its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle cardiovascular disease – the world’s number one killer. It is a growing membership organization that brings together the strength of medical societies and heart foundations from more than 100 countries. Through our collective efforts we can help people all over the world to lead longer and better heart-healthy lives. For more information, please visit www.worldheart.org(1)

(1)Press release.  LOW VITAMIN AND MINERAL LEVELS INCREASE RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE.  18.06.2010.  08:30.  http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/press-releases/detail/article/low-vitamin-and-mineral-levels-increase-risk-of-cardiovascular-disease/

(2) Polidori MC et al. 2009.  High fruit and vegetable intake is positively correlated with antioxidant status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects. J Alzheimers Dis. 17:4

Written by Ani Kowal

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