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).
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.
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
Cracknell R (2010) The ageing population. Key Issues for the New Parliament. House of Commons Library Research.
Food Standard Agency. (2011) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults over 65 years.
Feeling sluggish after the excesses of the festive season? Do you have permanent fatigue, sore or achy muscles for no reason, skin breakouts, bad breath and plummeting energy levels or do you just feel less vibrant than you should?
A detoxification diet is seen as the ultimate health and beauty boost, especially during January post party season.
As far as detoxification is concerned the primary organs responsible are our liver and bowels. The liver and gut work together removing unwanted toxins from our body. Detoxification is the key function of the liver but it also known as the secondary organ of digestion, as it produces bile which is used to aid fat digestion. The liver needs to be able to detoxify toxins, so that they are ready to be released into the bile and the bowel needs to be healthy and moving regularly to enable these toxins to be excreted via a stool.
There are many food and supplements that can help support both these organs to do their job effectively. Eliminating the foods and drinks that challenge them is a good start and will help you move towards a healthier lifestyle. For example, fizzy drinks, cordials, caffeine and alcohol and cleaning up your diet by removing wheat, sugar, dairy, and processed foods and not forgetting drinking lots of water. The good news is that our liver is capable of regenerating itself so with a good diet, lifestyle and the right supplements there’s no reason we cannot maintain our liver function at any age.
Choline foods that are high in sulphur compounds such as onions, garlic, leeks and eggs are supportive for the liver. Eggs and soybeans are also rich in, a ‘lipotropic’ agent which in essence has a de-congesting effect on the liver and prevents the accumulation of fat, therefore helping to keep the liver functioning efficiently. Supplement formulas containing choline and other lipotropic agents are commonly used to help with liver detoxification. (1)
A human study in 2007 on adults given a choline deficient diet for up to 42 days proved that when deprived of dietary choline 77% of men and 80% of women developed fatty liver. (2)
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which speed up the liver’s ability to detoxify. You may wish to juice some green vegetables, rich in chlorophyll, along with your apples and ginger or make a green breakfast smoothie and add some chlorella. Add turmeric to soups and stews and cinnamon to stewed fruit or porridge as both of these spices encourage the production and flow of bile to help excrete fats from the liver.
Also we must not forget the importance of keeping the bowels clean and regularly emptied, so as not to build up toxic waste. If you have a diet low in fibre then the muscles of the colon can become weak and lazy which over time can lead to chronic constipation. Refined sugars found in cakes and biscuits and white floury goods such as white bread can ferment quickly in the gut and lead to bloating, constipation and the formation of unhealthy bacteria which will impair your overall digestion. Try natural ‘live’ yoghurt to populate the gut with good bacteria. Red and processed meats, melted cheese and processed foods have a long transit time though the bowel and may block you up so avoid these when trying to detox. Make sure you eat a blend of soluble and insoluble fibre to keep things moving such as oats, barley, pears, apples, lentils, prunes, oat bran and pulses are good forms of soluble fibre. (3) Flaxseeds are a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre and will therefore stimulate the bowel and bulk the stool to encourage elimination. If you break them up in a blender or grind them they are more effective. Not forgetting to drink plenty of water! This time of year is a great time to focus on revitalising our bodies for the year ahead.
Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver function.
Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline.
Fischer LM, daCosta KA, Kwock L, Stewart PW, Lu TS, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Zeisel SH.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1275-85.
Barley and Oat grain, Wheat bran and Rye fibre all contribute to an increase in faecal bulk. Also Wheat bran fibre contributes to an acceleration of intestinal transit.
Canned oxygen has actually been around for many years. booost Oxygen have focused on the sporting benefits derived from inhaling almost pure oxygen. Their mantra is that they help sports people “get through the wall.”
The science isn’t that complicated – having a higher concentration of oxygen in your blood gives you more energy, and as Dr John Brewer from the Lilleshall Human Performance Centre says: “Extra oxygen enables you to recover more quickly from exertion. It allows someone to train and then exercise again.”
Here are some quick facts that might surprise you:
Roger Bannister, the famous 4 minute miler used medical oxygen
Oxygen gives us 80% of our energy, and food just 20%
The brain, which is only 2% of your body by weight, uses 20% of the oxygen you inhale
Before the industrial revolution oxygen levels on earth were as high as 38%. In some places now, they are down to 10%
Oxygen is used as the first stage of treatment for victims suffering from any trauma
The product is being used by people in all areas of sport. Squash champions Amr Shabana and Daryl Selby are regular users, as is the UK’s strongest man, Eddie Hall. Professional rugby league teams are customers, as are triathletes, boxers and Muay Thai fighters. Team GB triathlete Mark Buckingham, who recently won his first world title, uses booost as an important part of his swim training program.
booost Oxygen is available in a “super tank” size, which provides up to 100 shots and now also comes in a “travel tank” size which provides over 20 shots – this was originally developed for cyclists to fit into their jerseys, but is also convenient for runners and will easily fit into the smallest handbag. The tanks contain 99.5% oxygen, with a natural peppermint flavouring which leaves the mouth feeling fresh.
In many ways, oxygen is a great sports supplement – it has no calories, no sugar and no caffeine, and it provides an energy burst which can enable athletes to lift more, go faster or just keep going.
We’ve all heard the expression to “take a deep breath” when we’re stressed. We know that we yawn when we’re tired. And we all understand that we breathe harder when we exert ourselves.
In every case, it’s the body demanding more oxygen. Oxygen fuels our brain and our muscles and actually provides 90% of our nutritional energy.
Here are some interesting facts about oxygen:
Two thirds of the mass of the human body is oxygen
Oxygen concentration in our blood is around 60% to 70% – anything below 52% and life becomes extinct
Before the industrial revolution oxygen levels on the planet were as high as 38% – in some places now they are as low as 10%
Oxygen is colourless, odourless and tasteless. But as a liquid or solid, it’s pale blue
Canned oxygen is becoming increasingly popular – celebrities like Simon Cowell and Lady Gaga are using it, and sports stars are increasingly incorporating oxygen into their training and nutrition plans, both to help peak performance and to aid recovery.
One way to think about oxygen is to imagine it like an energy drink – it really does give you that kind of boost, both mentally and physically. But the big benefit is that unlike most energy drinks, oxygen has no calories and no sugar in it, and you don’t suffer from a post caffeine “low” in the same way as you do with most concoctions.
bodykind has recently teamed up with British company booost Oxygen to offer their product to their customers. You can find booost on the bodykind website.
They recommend a few “shots” if you’re feeling tired or lethargic. For exercise, they suggest up to 5 beforehand, as many as are needed during the workout, and 5 more at the end during your recovery phase.
As well as booost focusing on the sports benefits of using oxygen, there are many other uses for canned oxygen:
There’s plenty of research that headache symptoms (particularly so called “cluster” headaches) can be relieved
Oxygen is well known as being helpful for hangover symptoms
People living in areas of high pollution may certainly benefit from breathing pure, clean oxygen
It’s helpful at altitude, so anybody visiting high places for skiing, snowboarding or hiking could use the product
Canned oxygen is no substitute for medically administered oxygen, but for scuba divers, when there is no alternative, puffing canned oxygen can help until any decompression symptoms are being properly treated
Although it can’t help with weight reduction, using it to keep you motivated whilst exercising could contribute to a weight loss programme
The sun has finally got its hat on across the country this week, and with temperatures reaching well over 20° C, many of us will be rushing outside to make the most of it while it lasts.
Sunshine is a great mood booster as well as being a fantastic energiser, so we feel more inclined to get out and about. Walking the dog doesn’t seem like quite the chore it sometimes might and jobs like sweeping the drive or mowing the lawn somehow have more of an appeal.
The sun is the key place our bodies get our vitamin D stores from, so if we don’t get out in the sunshine very much, we’re likely to be deficient during the winter months and then again into the following summer time period. It’s been drilled into us to wear sun protection throughout the year now and especially in the sunnier months. Whilst it’s crucial to protect our skin from burning to help avoid diseases like Cancer, a little bit of sunshine is actually very beneficial for the skin and the body’s vitamin D reserves.
Vitamin D is beneficial in many ways, such as for the prevention of rickets, supporting eye and bone health, immunity and a healthy pregnancy. Getting outside in the sunshine for a good few minutes without sunscreen on is a great way to supplement your vitamin D stores. However, depending on your skin colour, the time of day and the longitude of your location also depends on the levels of vitamins D your body can make. A great way to supplement your vitamin D stores is by taking a vitamin D supplement, such a BetterYou DLUX which is a sublingual spray and available from 400iu right up to 3000iu in strength.
If you do intend on being out in the sun for a while, especially in the middle of the day, then a natural sunscreen in your daily facial moisturiser and over the rest of your body should be considered. Some popular “mass” sunscreens contain chemical filters that can actually trigger free-radical damage (which is bad for ageing and cancer) as well as synthetic preservatives which can seep through the epidermis of the skin. Natural sunscreens such as those from Green People and lavera work by reflecting UV radiation off the skin like a mirror and contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamins A, C & E and Green Tea and Avocado. They definitely don’t include any nasty chemicals such as parabens, phthalates or artificial ingredients which can be harmful to our health and this is something that is becoming increasingly important to the population.
So, take advantage of the lovely weather this week (it may not last long) and remember the benefits the sunshine can have on our overall health, wellbeing, mind and mood – Enjoy!
Simon Cowell, Katy Perry and Madonna all apparently have injections of B12, the nutrient which helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak.
The total amount of vitamin B12 stored in body is about 5mg in adults with around 50 per cent of this being stored in the liver – for several years if needed.
This sounds positive – and it’s fair to say that nutritional deficiency of this vitamin should be rare. But as approximately 0.5 per cent of this is lost per day by secretions into the gut, and not all these secretions are reabsorbed, deficiency is becoming more predominant than ever.
How fast B12 levels change in the body depends on the balance between how much is obtained from the diet and the amount lost.
However the vitamin is very poorly absorbed and the rate of absorption is decreasing rapidly as our modern Western diet moves from one of fresh meats and seasonal vegetables to more processed foods, resulting in our digestive efficiency reducing.
A healthy digestive system will absorb only one per cent of the B12 from our diet. However our ability to produce the acids necessary for absorption is reducing dramatically and deficiency is now being reported more and more, even amongst the most seemingly healthy. Worryingly deficiency in infants appears to be becoming even more prevalent than amongst adults.
The tissue lining of the mouth offers a strong alternative for effective absorption of our nutrients. Vitamin sprays like the BetterYou B12 Boost supplement spray is a good option.
Research carried out by Cardiff University investigating sublingual vitamin absorption found that nutrients are absorbed faster through the sub-lingual membrane – below the tongue and soft palate, and the buccal membrane – the inner lip and cheek area, than any other tissue area, other than the lungs.
Absorption rates were found to vary depending upon the type of the nutrient. B12 offers potentially better absorption rates than other nutrients, as this vitamin is water soluble, entering the membrane tissue more readily.
Are you the type of person that jumps out of bed every morning with a smile on your face as soon as your alarm goes off, ready and waiting to face the day? Do you remain full of energy and on full pelt for the rest of the day before having a great night’s sleep every night? Or are you more likely to hit snooze on your alarm as much as possible before you absolutely have to get up? Then day-dream about your bed as your energy levels drop through the floor throughout the day?! If you are more likely to be the latter, you are most certainly not alone.
A persistent lack of energy is one of the most common complaints in both men and women across the nation. Daylight, and more importantly sunlight, has a great effect on our overall energy levels. Historically we are used to being outside all day benefiting from the effects of sunlight. Modern living, however, results in the majority of us spending large amounts of time indoors, deprived of sunlight and this causes problems with our body’s natural rhythm and well being.
Officially summer comes to an end this weekend with clocks going back an hour. This signals the start of dull days with very limited and less intense sunlight and even less opportunity to benefit from the sun. This can bring about a reduction in energy levels for much of the population and reduced daylight can, in some cases, cause Season Affective Disorder (SAD) – sometimes known as Winter Depression. As a result many people begin to dread the winter months. There are, however, many natural ways to combat low energy and SAD. Balancing your circadian rhythm is a great way to do this.
Below we have drawn up a brief guide on how you can boost your energy levels and prevent the frequent desire for those 3pm snoozes!
Early Morning (approx 6.30am – 9am)
Your Internal Bodyclock is in its “awakening” mode at this stage. Your metabolism is slow and rising. Your body temperature, blood pressure and cortisol levels are all also increasing, signalling to your body to wake up. You may feel ‘groggy’ first thing and crave that morning cup of coffee or a bowl of sweet, sugary breakfast cereal. This may give you a rapid increase in energy, but it will also leave you with an energy slump once the initial effects have worn off. This is where people can fall into the habit of regular caffeine or sugary snacks in an attempt to maintain this feeling.
There are better ways to boost your energy and replenish the low blood glucose levels that have developed during sleep. Try adding a slice of lemon to hot water – this has natural sugars and also helps cleanse the digestive system (having the effect of a bit of a mini detox) ready for the day ahead. Also opt for high fibre breakfasts such as 100% pure rolled porridge oats with a handful of fruit and seeds or a boiled egg with wholemeal toast. These kinds of foods will provide you with a slow and sustained release of energy throughout the morning, keeping you full for longer and reducing those energy slumps.
Try to get out in the daylight as much as possible in the morning as this will wake your body up for the day. The winter days will prevent many people from being able to do this, therefore you may wish to try using a sunrise alarm clock, like the Lumie Bodyclock Starter in the mornings. This will stimulate your brain into waking gradually, balancing your circadian rhythm and your cortisol levels, which has the added bonus of being able to also support your immune system and stress levels.
Morning until Lunch (approx 9am – 2pm)
As your cortisol levels are still increasing you are more alert and efficient and your mental capability has reached its peak of the day. This means your concentration, memory and focus are all waiting to be utilised. So use this time to get all your lingering tasks done!
You could also try using a SAD light for 30 minutes every day for energy stimulation. The effectiveness of SAD Lights is measured in lux, which is the level of light intensity that you would normally get from the sun. A SAD light with 10,000 lux is recommended for those who want to see the most benefits.
Also avoid drinking coffee at this time as this can cause the swift rises and falls in energy levels. Instead you could try green tea, which is packed with antioxidants and contains much less caffeine per cup. Other teas are also great options such as ginger tea, which is good for digestion. Peppermint, fennel and camomile are also good options.
Females should take extra care too. A lack of energy can be due to low iron levels and coffee has been shown to reduce iron stores in the body. Make sure your levels are topped up by eating foods rich in iron such as meats, some fish and leafy greens such as spinach. Consider taking an iron supplement and remember to take this with vitamin C to help its absorption. B vitamins are also great for energy – You could try adding a multivitamin with extra B Complex, such as Viridian High 5 Multi Vitamin to your daily routine.
Another helpful tip is to try to get outside during your lunch break – the fresh air and daylight can do wonders to prevent that mid-afternoon slump. When choosing your lunch, choose slow-release carbohydrates such as brown rice or wholemeal bread rather than refined carbs such as white bread or crisps. Also ensure you have some protein in your meal too – such as lean chicken, fish, beans or pulses.
Afternoon (approx 2pm – 5pm)
Your cortisol levels start to drop which can often lead to drowsiness or that mid-afternoon slump. It’s best to avoid the temptation for biscuits or chocolate for a sugar boost at this time. If you must have a snack, try a small piece of minimum 70% quality dark chocolate or some dried fruit, nuts or seeds. Make sure you prioritise your tasks for the afternoon so you know exactly what you need to achieve before home time. That way you can go home happy and content with the day. ‘A well spent day brings happy sleep’ after all. Also taking in deep breaths is great for energy levels and can help reduce stress and aid concentration.
Evening (approx 5pm – 10pm)
As the evening progresses your melatonin levels start to increase (the hormone that prepares your body for sleep) and your digestion slows. Try to avoid snacking in the evening and heavy meals before bed time. This will require a lot of digestion as insulin is less effective at night. Also your digestive system will struggle to cope with excess amounts of food before bed and this can lead to weight gain as well as disruptive sleep – contributing to an imbalanced circadian rhythm. It is best to avoid all stimulants such as coffee, tea and alcohol as much as possible at this time as these can also disrupt your sleep.
A bad night’s sleep can cause low energy the following day and contribute to reduced mental performance. This can cause stress and lead to a spiral of stress and disrupted sleep which is hard to get out of. If you have trouble drifting off at night, try a sunrise alarm clock with a sunset feature like the Lumie Bodyclock Active. The light gradually dims helping your brain to naturally switch off. If a sunset feature is not for you, then try spraying lavender on your pillow or rubbing some lavender sleep therapy balm on your body to help you switch off.
In addition to these helpful tips, specific nutrients that can support energy levels are:
Magnesium – found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale
Vitamin B Complex – found in brown rice and wholemeal bread. If you supplement this, it is best taken as a “complex” of B Vitamins
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) & Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALC) – Found in green foods such as broccoli, spinach and some red meats
Co-Enzyme Q10 – found in fish, organ meats such as liver and whole grains
Iron – found in a multitude of food sources, such as red meat, beans and pulses, leafy green vegetables, tofu and fortified breads and cereals