Tag Archives: vitamins

Vitamin C with Bioflavinoids Bonus Size ~ Natural Factors

When taking Vitamin C, always ensure you are taking a supplement that also contains bioflavinoids, which enhance the absorption of Vitamin C. Together the two help strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries, provide assistance for varicose veins, their anti histamine effects help to prevent allergies, minimize bruising and inflammation.

Vitamin C with bioflavinoids can be a useful supplement for women experiencing hot flushes.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, essential for enhancing immune system function and increasing resistance to infection, balancing cholesterol.

Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of collagen and is necessary for the maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, gums, skin and blood vessels – in convenient tablet form.

Aspirin, antidepressants, analgesics, steroids, anti coagulants, tobacco and oral contraceptives all reduce the levels of vitamin C in the body leading to an increased need of supplementation. Regular size 180 for $ 23.79 While supplies last bonus size 210 tablets ON SALE here.

 

The Calcium Controversy: Does milk really do a body good?

By Melissa Furneaux, B.Sc., HHC, RHN

Most of us have grown up with the firm belief that milk is an important part of a balanced diet, and absolutely necessary for strong bones and teeth. This idea is so ingrained in our culture that most of us do not so much as question it; it is common thought that if we want to avoid osteoporosis in our later years, we need to drink hefty amounts of dairy now. But is this really the case? Like so many nutritional controversies, it turns out that this situation is rather complicated. So let’s begin with the basics…what exactly is calcium, and what does it do in the body?

Calcium is a macro-mineral, and it is also the most abundant mineral in our bodies, accounting for about 1.5-2% of our body weight. Almost all of it, around 98%, is in our bones; another 1% is in our teeth, and the final percent is in and around our cells. While calcium is certainly best known for its role in bone health, it is actually involved in many functions throughout the body, including muscle contraction and heart regulation, nerve conduction, cell communication, blood clotting, and enzyme regulation, just to name a few. There’s no denying that we need adequate amounts of calcium to stay healthy. However, is the commonly recommended 2-4 servings of dairy each day an appropriate guideline?

Without going into detail, let’s just say that the influence of the dairy industry is far-reaching, its pockets vast, and their advertisements psychologically brilliant. The “Got Milk“ campaign, for example, is one of the most successful, long-running advertising campaigns of all time. If we step back from the politics, however, and take a look at the science, we can see that it is quite well-documented that greater dietary calcium intake does not correlate with stronger bones. On the contrary, if we look at global dietary consumption of dairy, we will find an inverse relationship between osteoporosis and dairy consumption. Yes, you read that correctly…as a general rule, the nations that drink the most milk also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. In addition, researchers have consistently found a direct correlation between animal protein intake and loss of bone mass. While we must be cautious to not make any conclusions based on this correlation alone, it does suggest that perhaps there is more to bone health than meets the eye.

As with all nutrients, it is not simply a matter of how much calcium you have in the body, but rather what your body is able to do with it. We know that our society isn’t lacking in calcium. So how can these counter-intuitive facts be explained? It seems that what we have is not a problem of calcium deficiency, but one of calcium absorption. The human body is complicated and dynamic, with systems and substances working synergistically…nothing occurs in isolation. Our bodies are constantly trying to maintain stable levels of calcium in the blood. If our bodies become too acidic, due to excess animal protein, stress, a high intake of carbonated soft drinks, or any variety of other reasons, calcium will be leached from our bones to help buffer acidity in the rest of the body. In effect our bones act as somewhat of a “mineral bank.”

There are many diet and lifestyle factors that either promote or inhibit calcium absorption, and unfortunately when it comes to the so-called “Standard American Diet, the scales are definitely tipped against us. A few common substances that interfere with absorption include: caffeine, soft drinks, diuretics, excessive meat/protein consumption, refined sugar and concentrated sweeteners, alcohol, cigarettes, other intoxicants, and excess salt. Many of these substances are high in phosphoric acid, or other acidic substances that create imbalance in the body. In addition to these substances that hinder absorption, there are other factors that must be present for absorption to take place at all. Most notably, these include vitamin D, magnesium, healthy parathyroid hormone functioning, and another hormone called calcitonin. The situation is even further complicated by the fact that vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning that the calcium in fat-free products is more difficult to absorb.

I am commonly asked “If I give up milk, where will I get my calcium from? As it turns out, there is a huge variety of non-dairy sources available, primarily our “beans and greens.” Many leafy greens are excellent sources, particularly kale, mustard greens, and bok choy. There are a few greens, such spinach and collards, that while being excellent sources of calcium, should be cooked to increase calcium bioavailability (due to the presence of oxalic acid). Many legumes are also excellent sources, including soy beans, tofu, adzuki beans, peas, and pinto beans. Sea vegetables, such as hijiki, nori, kombu, wakame, and kelp are also excellent sources. Other foods that contain calcium include brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, bones (either eaten directly or used to make soup broths), and some dried fruits such as apricots. Many people choose to supplement their diet with calcium, although in my opinion this is somewhat missing the mark, again focusing on quantity over quality.

In the end, it is safe to say that this issue is complicated, and that the debate over milks purported health benefits and consequences will likely not be ending anytime soon. While milk is an excellent source of calcium, it is becoming increasing clear that their are a number of potential problems associated with milk and dairy intake as well…we have not even touched on the fact that approximately 70% of the world is lactose intolerant, that it is one of the most common dietary allergens in North America, and that it is not appropriate for many people due to ethical or religious reasons. Ultimately, however, it comes down to personal choice. If you choose to include milk in your diet, try to buy local and organic, if possible, as the quality of the product will be much better, and you will also be supporting more sustainable farming methods in your community.

Melissa Furneaux , Registered Holistic Nutritionist is available for workshops and private consultations at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver BC.

Quercetin: The Anti Allergy Supplement

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Known as THE anti allergy supplement, Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in the white material beneath the peel of citrus fruits. Quercetin is the ideal supplement for individuals experiencing seasonal and chronic allergies and helps to inhibit the bodies manufacture and release of histamine, strengthen cell membranes and prevent the formation of other allergic compounds, which all contribute to the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

  • An antioxidant and anti allergy remedy, used to minimize symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
  • Quercetin can be used as a safe alternative to anti histamine drugs (and does not cause drowsiness) or can be used in conjunction with other treatment to strengthen the bodies natural resistance to allergies.
  • Quercetin may benefit asthma suffers by suppressing two inflammatory mediators, histamine and leukotrienes.

Tips for using Quercetin:

Best taken with Bromelain, Pineapple or digestive enzymes for enhanced absorption and elevating its anti inflammatory effects.

Dosing for allergies and asthma suffers: The adult dose of Quercetin is at least 750-1000 mg of Quercetin taken in divided dosages throughout the day. To order Quercetin, click here:

Why Bioflavonoids?

 ~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

During winter months it is common for people to begin using their Vitamin C supplement for both cold and flu prevention and to enhance immune system function.

Unbeknownst to many, bioflavonoids taken together with Vitamin C actually enhance the absorption of the Vitamin C supplement, increasing its benefit to the body. Bioflavonoids, also known as Vitamin P, are used to enhance the absorption and therapeutic effects of Vitamin C. Some types of Bioflavonoids include quercetin, rutin and hesperetin. Not supplied by the body, we must obtain the benefits of these nutrients from the foods that we eat and through nutritional supplements.

Bioflavonoids work together with Vitamin C to:

  • Strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries.
  • Help to prevent and minimize bruising.
  • Help treat varicose veins and promote circulation.
  • Enhances white blood cells response to Vitamin C,  offering increased resistance to infection, and enhancing Vitamin C’s anti viral and anti bacterial effects in the body.
  • Help to prevent vision problems associated with intraocular pressure and assist in cataract prevention.
  • Help to treat gum disease, heal swollen bleeding gums and retard plaque buildup.
  • Strengthens the collagen structures in the arteries, helps to lower total cholesterol levels and raise HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels.

Bioflavonoids are found in peppers, buckwheat, apricots, the white rind inside of the peel of citrus fruits, berries, rosehips, blueberries, grapefruits, watercress, kale, elderberries, paprika, garlic and onions. Ensure that your choice of Vitamin C, contains bioflavonoids (as many excellent quality supplements, combine them together) or take an extra supplement of mixed bioflavonoids with your vitamin C to enhance the absorption.

Understanding Vitamin D…

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

During the winter months of limited sunlight exposure or in the case of individuals who rarely are exposed to sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies may be prevalent.

Known as the sunshine vitamin and manufactured on the skin, Vitamin D is converted by the liver to an inactive storage form called calcidiol (25-hyrdoxy vitamin D) and then converted again by the kidneys into the biologically active form 1,25-dihydroxy Vitamin D (also known as 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferal), which is stored in fat calls and also circulates through the bloodstream.

Vitamin D is involved in the production of numerous proteins and enzymes used to fight disease, repair muscles, strengthen bones and maintain overall health. Vitamin D works with Magnesium to stimulate the absorption of Calcium into the bones and works best taken together with these minerals.

When outdoors and before application of a sunscreen, exposure of the arms, legs and face to the suns ultraviolet rays for 15 minutes daily will likely ensure adequate levels of Vitamin D synthesis into the body.

Studies indicate that deficiencies of Vitamin D can be a contributing factor in the development of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, infectious disease, and inflammatory bowel disease and auto immune dysfunction such as: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. Research is also indicating that daily Vitamin D supplementation offers protection against the development of rickets, osteoporosis, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer. Supplementation with Vitamin D cannot guarantee the development of these disorders; however it is certainly one of many nutrients known to protect the body from onset of chronic disorders.

Food sources of Vitamin D include salt water fish, egg yolks, dandelion greens, sweet potatoes, tuna, vegetable oils, salmon, halibut, sardines, herring, mackerel, parsley, nettle, horsetail and alfalfa.

Individuals suffering from malabsorption problems such as celiac disease or crohn’s may not be absorbing adequate amounts of Vitamin D; certain medications such as some cholesterol medications, antacids, mineral oil, steroids, cortisone and thiazide diuretics can also interfere with absorption of Vitamin D.

In supplement form, there are 2 types of Vitamin D: Naturally occurring and the most active form, D3 or cholecalciferol (from fish oil, eggs, organ meats, sheep’s wool, cod liver oil and plant sources)and the synthetic, irradiated D2 or ergocalciferol, (less biologically active) and found in fortified foods, fortified milkand some supplements.

Ensure you take only the naturally occurring pure Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), as the body assimilates this in the same way that it uses Vitamin D formed from sunlight. Avoid ingestion of the synthetic Vitamin D2, as similar to many synthetic products, the synthetic Vitamin D has been shown to be toxic in high dosages.

Determine your need for supplementation with Vitamin D before you take it. A lack of vitamin D will contribute to many chronic illnesses however like many fat soluble vitamins, Vitamin D is stored in the body thus taking too much is not desirable; request a calcidiol 25-hydroxyvitamin D (or a 25(OH)D) blood test from your doctor to determine if you are deficient. Ideal calcidiol [25-hydroxy vitamin D] levels are between 35-65 ng/ml [87-162 nm/L], year around.

Individuals with sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, or lymphoma should avoid the use of Vitamin D supplementation without first consulting a health care professional.

For more reading please click on the following Vitamin D links:

The Cholecalciferol Council

How To Choose A Quality Multi Vitamin

When starting a health program, most people feel inclined to begin with a multivitamin. While a multi vitamin does not contain a high enough dosage of any one nutrient to be considered ‘treatment’ for any specific health concern; a multi vitamin is still a useful supplement. I consider a multi vitamin essentially a ‘peace of mind pill’; providing nutrients that one may be lacking in a less-than-optmial diet.

Just as there are various brands and qualities of automobiles on the market, the same is true for brands of nutritional supplements. Marketing plays a big role in sales…What brand names come to mind when you think of multi vitamins? Now go and check their labels! Sadly, just because a brand has been ‘marketed’ successfully does not necessarily mean that it provides the best nutrient value or is the cleanest supplement.

To help guide you in the right direction of a quality multi vitamin, keep your eye on the following:

1. I am a big advocate of label reading, beginning with the non-medicinal ingredients. The non medicinal ingredients can very quickly shed light on the quality of the supplement you may be considering.

A quality multi vitamin should always be free from sugar, lactose, sucrose, wheat, dairy, artificial colourings and chemicals.

I recommend choosing a multi vitamin that is free from synthetic additives such as: propyl ethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, FD & C colorings, cotton seed oil, mineral oil, aspertame, sorbitol, carmel color, corn starch, methylparaben, dl’alpha tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E), propylparaben, hydrogenated oil, sunset yellow FCF coloring and sodium lauryl sulfate.

These agents are an extra burden for your body and should be avoided in all supplements.

2. Check out the amount of B vitamins provided in your supplement.

B1-thiamin, B2-riboflavin, B3-niacin, B5-pantothenic acid, B6-pyrodixine, B12 -cyanocobalamin, folic acid and biotin are all part of the vitamin B group. B vitamins are essential for healthy nervous system function, supporting our bodies during times of stress and used for concentration, energy and endurance.

The B vitamins are water soluble, which means that they are not stored in the body. When under stress our bodies require higher amounts of this group of nutrients. I like to see at least 25 mg, and ideally 50 mg or higher of most of the B vitamins in a multi-vitamin.

3. Ensure that the vitamin E contained in the multi is from a natural source. The body utilises and absorbs synthetic products very differently than a natural source vitamin. You can tell the difference by reading the fine print. Synthetic vitamin E is identified as: dl’alpha tocopherol. The presence of the ‘L’ means that it is synthetic. A natural source vitamin E is identified as d’alpha tocopherol and ideally contains mixed tocopherols such as beta, delta and gamma tocopherol for enhanced benefits.

4. Choose a supplement that contain Vitamin D3 in the form of cholecalciferol, which is easier for the body to use than its alternative -ergocalciferol.

5. Calcium. The recommended daily allowance of calcium is between 1000 mg-1200 mg daily for a women aged 30-40. This dose is not possible in a multi vitamin, simply due to the size of the pill required to provide that dosage unit, thus supplementation with extra calcium will be useful. That said, you can ensure that you are taking a multi vitamin containing calcium CITRATE for best absorption.

6. You can find multi vitamins in tablet, capsule, liquid and chewable form. It is likely that liquids and chewable vitamins contain additional sweeteners, so read the fine print for details.

7. To best utilise the benefits of the nutrients and for added energy throughout the day, take a Multi Vitamin with your morning meal.

Choosing The Best Calcium Supplement

Choosing the best calcium supplement requires the skill of filtering through endless marketing choices coupled with some basic education on calcium terminology.

Calcium is a mineral required for the activation of several enzyme functions throughout the body and optimal function of all body processes. Calcium is known as a coenzyme required for regulating the heartbeat and blood pressure, the normal contraction of muscles, prevention of cardiovascular disease, for conduction of nerve impulses, is involved in blood clotting, maintaining strong healthy bones and teeth and helps to prevent the absorption of lead.

Calcium is blended with other compounds to form a pill, There are numerous types of calcium on the market, from bone meal, oyster shell calcium and calcium carbonate, coral calcium, chelated calcium, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate and calcium citrate; even TUMS has been marketed as a calcium supplement….whoooah..overload!!! Which type does one choose?

Types of Calcium in Supplements

  • Calcium citrate is currently the best type of calcium on the market and is easily absorbed. It can be taken anytime during the day, even on an empty stomach, although I generally recommend taking Calcium Magnesium pills at bedtime to enhance sleep and relaxation.
  • Oyster shell calcium, bone meal and dolomite: these naturally occuring calciums may contain heavy metals, including lead, and have a low absorption rate.
  • Coral Calcium has been associated with many cure-all claims, (to me, this is always a sign to be a little wary) and is essentially a calcium carbonate supplement, one not well absorbed by the body!
  • Contrary to brilliant marketing…TUMS is not an adequate calcium supplement. In fact, this is a terribly misleading claim…First, the calcium found in TUMS is a carbonate source, not well asorbed by the body; plus TUMS is an antacid (antacid= it decreases the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach), ironic though… that our body requires adequate levels of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) for any calcium absorption to occur. So even though TUMS contains calcium, be-it a source already poorly absorbed, the fact that TUMS functions to neutralise stomach acid renders the calcium almost useless to the body.
  • Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate: These products contain a low content of elemental calcium. Thus large dosages of these products are required to meet the daily recommended allowance.

Other Minerals in a Calcium Supplement?

1. Always take Calcium together with Magnesium.The mineral, magnesium, is a catalyst enzyme used to ensure that all the calcium absorbed into the bones, stays in the bones…A lack of magnesium interferes with nerve and muscle message relay and deficiencies can cause muscle weakness, muscle twitching and symptoms of PMS. A high consumption of meat, increased amounts of Vitamin D and Zinc all increase the bodies need for magnesium.

2. Vitamin D: known as the sunshine vitamin, one of the only vitamins the body cannot manufacture on its own.Stimulates absorption of Calcium.

3. Zinc: a mineral involved in the absorption of Calcium.

4. Boron: A trace mineral used for healthy bones and muscles, assists the metabolization of calcium and magnesium. Studies indicate that boron can help prevent post menopausal osteoperosis and build muscle.

These trace nutrients can assist the absorption of calcium, helping this mineral stay in strong healthy bones -where it belongs.

How Much Calcium to Take?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Acadamy of Sciences recommend the daily allowance (RDA) of calcium at 1000-1200 mg daily for adult men and women.

For a pill to contain this dosage unit, it would be very large and difficult to swallow, thus it is necessary to take 3-4 pills per day to meet the recommended daily allowance.

Fast Facts on Elemental Calcium

Always identify the amount of elemental calcium, (found by reading the fine print on the label) when choosing a calcium pill.

Labelling is often misleading, the elemental calcium is the actual amount of calcium that your body can absorb, and it is always lower than the total calcium. Avoid getting mislead by labels, some manufactures do not even identify the elemental calcium amount on the label and unless you are educated about the elemental calcium level, it would appear that you are getting a higher amount of calcium than you actually are.

If the product label does not identify the elemental calcium levels, then choose another brand!

For example, a pill containing 500mg of Calcium Carbonate provides 200mg of elemental calcium. Hence one pill, in this example, only provides 200mg of calcium, not 500mg… Meaning that you would need to take 5-7 pills daily (not 2-3 pills) to reach the daily RDA of 1000-1200 mg.

For more information on quality calcium magnesium supplements visit our online holistic health market at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist