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The End of 2013 Research Review Comments Off on The End of 2013 Research Review

Well, here we are rushing towards the end of 2013, and I must apologise for the lack of posts in the latter part of this year, but I’m pleased to say that it’s for good reasons and we’ve just been very busy!

This is the first one of these we’ve ever done so I’m not sure how the format will work, so I’ll start with the slightly annoying news and then pick some subjects and tell you about some interesting studies that didn’t quite make it to the blog posts throughout the year!

So, the annoying stuff first;

Which? Food Supplements Attack!
Back in August, Which? claimed that all health food manufacturers, including some pretty large players like Boots, were deliberately misleading consumers with unsubstantiated health claims. The industry came out all guns blazing, as this just simply isn’t true. As an industry we are controlled and regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and have to follow strict guidelines on what we are and are not allowed to say.

This being said, come 1st January 2014, we will be subject to a new EU law called the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR), which allows us, as an industry, to use prescribed claims for specific ingredients and products. This law has universally been slammed as it’s trying to make natural products fall under the same scrutiny as medicines, which is really a ‘hammer to crack a nut’ case of over-legislation, and seems to take no account of thousands of years of natural usage.

But, it’s here, so we will of course as always comply with the law, so you may over the next few months be seeing some subtle label changes, but rest assured it’s the same great value product in the pot!

That’s it for the negative stuff (thankfully). What follows are a few of the great pieces of research done over the last year, but which we didn’t quite have time to write about before!

Heart Health and the Cardiovascular System
This section covers quite a lot of research as it’s one of the biggest killers in the Western World, with about one death every 39 seconds, so it gets a lot of attention and funding, so here’s a brief synopsis of a few of the stories:

Vitamin C good for blood pressure!
Recent findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition combined several research studies and has come to several conclusions: Vitamin C supplementation has been associated with significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. When the data was limited just to people with high blood pressure the reduction was even greater, which has lead the researchers to consider a bigger and longer study on the positive effects of vitamin C on hypertension, one of the greatest causes of heart disease.

Flaxseed shows blood pressure lowering potential!
A daily dose of 30g Flaxseed (flour/ seeds) has been associated with a significant decrease in blood pressure, according to researchers from the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM), based at St. Boniface Hospital.

“This is the largest decrease in blood pressure ever shown by any dietary intervention – including the Mediterranean Diet and low-sodium diets,” said lead researcher Dr Grant Pierce. “We expect that this kind of improvement in people with hypertension could reduce their incidence of heart attack and stroke by 50%.”

Mayo Clinic review links L-Carnitine to multiple heart health benefits!
A systematic review by the Mayo Clinic has said that L-Carnitine can reduce mortality, abnormal heart rhythms and angina development in patients experiencing a heart attack. The analysis reviewed 13 controlled trials involving 3,629 people and concluded that L-Carnitine had multiple cardiovascular benefits. “Compared with placebo or control, L-Carnitine is associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmias, and a 40% reduction in anginal symptoms in patients experiencing an acute myocardial infarction.”

Selenium + CoQ10 supplements may slash cardiovascular mortality!
A new study from Sweden has indicated that long-term supplementation with a combination of selenium and co-enzyme Q10 may decrease cardiovascular mortality by about 6%. The study took place over four years supplementing with 200mg/day of co-enzyme Q10 plus 200µg per day of organic selenium yeast, with significant improvements in cardiac function. Generally throughout the word selenium intakes are below optimal levels because levels in the soil are low. Duffy MacKay, ND, VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said that this is the type of evidence that the industry needs to be producing to show how nutrition contributes to health and wellness.

Pregnancy and Baby Development!
This section covers just a few interesting items aimed at pregnant women:

EFSA (finally) backs folate supplements for neural tube defects!
The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) has now joined other international authorities in backing the use of Folic Acid supplements to help prevent Neural Tube Defects like Spina Bifida and Hydrcephalus occurring during foetal development. Mandatory fortification has been promoted in about 75 countries around the world, but until now Europe have been somewhat behind.

NTDs are estimated to afflict about 300,000 births per year globally, with studies showing adequate folate intake can reduce these by about 70-75%, so this is very welcome news.

Maternal microbiota passes directly to newborns!
A mother’s gut microbiota may transfer and colonise newborn infants intestines in the first few days after birth. The data suggested that maternal bifido bacteria are an important component in the development of their baby’s microbiota during early infancy. “We found the exact same bifido bacterium strains from the mother’s intestines in the intestines of the neonate.” said, Dr Kenj Oishi, science director. This seems to be an important contribution to the new born’s digestive development as well as their immune system, further supporting the need for probiotics during pregnancy.

Pregnant women who take folic acid could reduce their child’s risk of autism by 40%!
Women who take folic acid supplements early in their pregnancy may reduce their child’s risk of autism by 40%, a recent study has found. But, mothers-to-be should start taking them four weeks before conceiving and up to 12 weeks afterwards to get the full benefit for their unborn child. The timing of taking prenatal supplements is critical, scientists warn.

Folic acid is required for DNA synthesis and repairs and while best known (as previously mentioned) for protecting against spina bifida and other neural tube defects, this new research proves its importance at other developmental stages.

And, finally a quick review of some of the research about a particular ingredient, Resveratrol:

Resveratrol may support healthy blood circulation in obese adults!
Daily supplements of resveratrol may boost blood flow and support a healthy heart, according to a new study reported in the Journal of Hypertension. This daily intake was associated with a 23% improvement in flow mediated dilation (FMD) of blood flow around the body. The effect immediately after taking the supplement was even greater with a 35% improvement observed. Resveratrol is a powerful polyphenol and anti-fungal chemical, found in grapes and red wine, which has often been associated with the so called ‘French Paradox’, which describes the low instance of heart disease and obesity amongst the French, despite their relatively high-fat diet and levels of wine consumption.

Resveratrol could help in cancer treatment!
US researchers have discovered that the antioxidant compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins and red wine, makes certain tumour cells more susceptible to radiation treatment. The study, which was carried out at the University of Missouri, focused on melanoma cells. The scientists found that 44% of melanoma cells were destroyed when treated with resveratrol alone. However, when a combination of radiation and resveratrol was used together 65% of the cancer cells were destroyed, with the results being published in the Journal of Surgical Research.

So that’s it, that’s the end of my 2013 (no so) quick round up! Hopefully there’s something of interest to you in there, and all that remains for me to do is wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mail Online: Published 12/2/2013
Your Healthy Living Magazine: November 2013 issue

Are you ready for the big freeze? Comments Off on Are you ready for the big freeze?

The sudden cold snap that has hit the UK seems to have taken many people by surprise, including us!

But to help try and keep you all in good health over the next coming weeks, I would recommend strengthening your immune system!

As always I would recommend a good basic vitamin & mineral nutritional foundation, heavy on the antioxidant to help stimulate the immune system. In the Health Plus range there are really two ways to go here, firstly Protection Plus for a one-a-day single tablet for men, or All Purpose Multivitamin for women, which contain antioxidant nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, Selenium and Zinc.

Once you have this basic foundation there are many other supplements you can take on top of these to really boost your immune system and improve general health and fitness! These include Co Enzyme Q10, Echinacea, Mushroom Complex and many other products found in our Antioxidant website section. But, of course if you don’t want to take a multivit then we would always recommend Vit C and Zinc.

And in other news, not totally related!

Study Unlocks Pycnogenol®’s Skin Health Mechanism!
A daily supplement of an extract from the French Maritime Bark, called Pycnogenol, may boost skin elasticity by 25% and skin hydration by 8%, according to a new study!
Twelve weeks of supplementation with Pycnogenol was associated with increases in skin elasticity and hydration, and an increase in the production of hyaluronic acid in skin by 44%, according to findings published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. These increases have now been associated with a 3% reduction in skin wrinkles, said the researchers from Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (IUF) in Dusseldorf, Germany.

This is not the first time that Pycnogenol has been linked with skin health benefits, with the study being carried out on a group of healthy women aged between 55 and 68.


Omega-3 – Latest Breaking News! Comments Off on Omega-3 – Latest Breaking News!

The end of February saw a sudden rush of Omega-3 based studies, I’m not sure why but there you go! So I’ve sifted through them and these are, I think, the most interesting three.

The Vegan Diet requires an omega-3 and vitamin B12 boost!
A recent review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluded that although meat eaters are known to have a significantly higher combination of cardiovascular risk factors than vegetarians, people following a strict vegetarian and vegan diet are still not immune from risk, as their diets typically lack several key nutrients, including selenium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3.

By following a vegan lifestyle which is low in omega-3 and vitamin B12, people may have a high risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis – both of which increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. As such, the author of the paper suggests that people following such a diet should increase their dietary intake or supplement omega-3 and vitamin B12, together with a good multivitamin to make sure they receive the correct nutrient balance to alleviate such risks.

There are many great vegan supplements available of vitamin B12 and omega-3 (usually as Flaxseed Oil), together with multivitamins.

Omega-3s May Counter Degenerative Muscle Loss!
Daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may boost the production of muscle protein in older people, and so reduce the risk of degenerative muscle loss.

Recent findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that four grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids for eight weeks were found to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis associated with an increased supply of amino acids and insulin.

“Although the exact mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis during hyperinsulinemia-hyperaminoacidemia remain to be resolved, our study provides compelling evidence of an interaction of omega-3 fatty acids and protein metabolism in human muscle and suggest that dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation could potentially provide a safe, simple, and low-cost intervention to combat sarcopenia,” wrote the researchers.

“A major cause for the loss of muscle mass with advanced age is the inability of aging muscle to adequately increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis in response to nutritional stimuli (eg, amino acids and insulin),” explained the researchers.

Sarcopenia is a condition that affects the older generation, and is linked to a loss of lean body mass, strength and function.

In the US, some 45 percent of over-65 year-olds are thought to be impacted by the condition. A person in their 20s will have muscle that is up to 60 percent fat-free mass, whereas this drops to less than 40 percent for a 70 year-old.

So to help combat muscle degeneration as we age we would recommend an Omega-3 supplement, which also has so many other health benefits!

Omega-3 May Improve Depression in Seniors!
Researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences have reported that six months supplementation of both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both found in Omega-3 supplements, resulted in significant improvements in depression scores, as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale-15. This suggests that omega-3 fatty acids could be used to help control mild to moderate depression.

The link between omega-3 and mood seems to be very complex, with quite a few contradictory studies. However this study seems to confirm a few other reports, including one in Norway that showed that long-term intake of fatty acid rich cod liver oil may protect people from the symptoms of depression, and another published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, which found that the prevalence of depressive symptoms was 29% lower in regular cod liver oil users.

Together with these cognitive benefits omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help maintain memory, and health joint function.

I sincerely hope that you found these studies as interesting as I did!


In The News! Comments Off on In The News!

Two stories again today I’m afraid, the first quite important and the second a little more light hearted!

Selenium may ease the symptoms of asthma!

Recent research has shown that asthmatics are more likely to have low levels of selenium than people who are not, and that the use of a daily supplement may reduce the symptoms. In the study patients were given daily selenium supplement or a placebo for 14 weeks. Those taking the supplement had reduced symptoms by the end of the study!

Selenium is a trace mineral – found naturally in meat, fish and eggs, and as an antioxidant may help to combat tissue-damaging molecules, which may help to reduce the inflamed airways associated with asthma.

Milk The Key To Stopping Garlic Breath!

In tests with both raw and cooked garlic cloves, milk significantly reduced the levels of sulphur compounds that give garlic its flavour and pungent smell!

In the trial, mixing the milk with the garlic in the mouth before swallowing had the greatest odour neutralising effect, and full-fat milk worked better than skimmed milk or just water. The milk appears to counteract the allyl methyl sulphide or AMS, which cannot be broken down in the gut during digestion, causing it to be released from the body on the breath or in sweat.

It’s very often the fear of the smell that prevents people from taking garlic and so missing out on it’s many health benefits, but if you don’t fancy eating it and having to have it with a glass of milk, why not try our fantastic Odourless Garlic, for all the benefits without the smell.

BBC News – Health:
The Daily Mail: Daily Mail, 21 September 2010, Page 42, Daily vitamin pill relieves asthma.

Swine Flu, Naturally! Comments Off on Swine Flu, Naturally!

According to government figures, there have now been over 2,500 reported cases of Swine Flu in the UK! With the WHO now calling it a Pandemic and governments the world over stocking up on anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu, what are the natural alternatives.

Well, Swine Flu, just like Bird Flu and others are all strains of Influenza, each of differing severity and contagiousness, but nevertheless flu.

Tamiflu has been shown to reduce recovery time by between 1 and 1.5 days if started within 40 hours of the symptoms starting.

Recently there have been three studies using between 6 and 8 grams of vitamin C daily, showing that if taken within 24 hours of the symptoms beginning, this recovery time can be reduced by as many as three days! The anti-viral properties of vitamin C and many other antioxidant nutrients are comparable to many conventional drugs.

For any serious infection we would recommend taking vitamin C to ‘bowel tolerance’. Start with 2 grams (2000mg) every 3 to 4 hours. Some people find Ascorbic Acid (the most common Vit C source) too acidic, in which case I would recommend a combination including Sodium Ascorbate.

Other nutrients that have anti-viral activity and are a great addition to vitamin C include; Selenium (at least 50µg), Zinc (15mg), vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin D. From a herbal prospective one of the very best anti-viral and health giving products is Mushroom Complex and of course the old favourite Echinacea!

The trick with any infection is not getting it in the first place, so always keep your immune system strong. But if the Swine Flu pandemic really does break out then always keep a stock of vitamin c and other antioxidant near by!

Direct Gov UK:
Natural Products: Natural Products Magazine – June ’09 issue
Centre for Disease Control:

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