Autoimmune Disease Explained

orangeimmunecells bursting outThe relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience.

These are very delicate times we are facing, especially with our health. And more specifically, because the coronavirus virus (COVID -19) has hit hard. To make things a little more clearer, we really need to understand the relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience. This, at least, may help people with autoimmune diseases feel a little more secure about the whole COVID-19 situation.

So, autoimmunity… and why does the body attack itself?

In my previous blogs I talked about immune tolerance and immune resilience. However, it’s important to understand that having an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean to say it will weaken immune resilience. But we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at what autoimmunity really is.

Autoimmunity, to describe it in medical terms, is a disorder where the immune system erroneously destroys and attacks body tissue. Put simply, it is the immune system going slightly crazy (it’s gone into ‘tilt mode’) and mistakenly eats, destroys, and attacks body tissue. As an example, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, where the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland; or rheumatoid arthritis, where the body mistakenly attacks the joints. Other examples of autoimmunity are type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, alopecia, vitiligo, etc.

Under normal circumstances the immune system is able to tell the difference between foreign (nonself)cells and your own (self) cells. And protect against germs like bacteria and viruses, sending or releasing, an army of fighter cells, natural killer cells, etc, to attack the foreign invader.

When we look at autoimmune disease, however, the immune system erroneously thinks parts of the body, such as the thyroid, joints, skin, etc, are foreign. Your immune system is in ‘tilt mode’, and sends out, or releases autoantibodies that then attack healthy cells.


How does autoimmunity affect your chances of contracting an illness – viral, bacterial or otherwise?

Well, that depends. When we talk about autoimmune disease and immune resilience we need to look at how well your immune function is working in relation to your autoimmunity. To put it another way, different people may have the same autoimmune disease but either a higher or lower immune state. And in fact, autoimmunity can either heighten or dampen immune resilience.

As an example, some people with Hashimoto’s may have a high white blood count and some a low white blood count. Some may have different levels of natural killer cells, T-cell regulation, and B-cell activity, etc. Everyone is different, just because you have the same autoimmune disease doesn’t mean your immune status will be the same!

What this means is some people with autoimmunity alone may have a heightened immune status, meaning they have a high immune resilience. One way to tell if your immune resilience is strong is if you haven’t caught a cold or flu over the last 5 years or so. Even when, at the same time, heightened immune activity may exacerbate autoimmune attacks against bodily tissues. This may seem a little complicated but really it isn’t. A good way to look at it is, we should think of autoimmunity and the immune resilience as two functioning processes that can harm us or protect us. Autoimmunity is a disease which harms us, whereas immune resilience, which can be built or broken depending on your lifestyle habits. When immune resilience is strong we will be less likely to catch get ill. And less prone to chronic disease.

Do people with autoimmunity need to be cautious when taking botanicals?

Well, yes and no!

Let me explain. Because autoimmunity instigates such a diversity of immune responses in each and everyone of us that have it, we need to think before we start taking any herbs, medicinal mushrooms, or other botanicals that can influence the immune system. Of course, it is always best to speak with a qualified functional/restorative doctor before commencing any regime.

If we take a look at the immune-stimulating botanicals such as echinacea or maitake mushrooms in some autoimmune people, they can fire up the immune system and make their autoimmune symptoms even worse. Again, botanicals that actually delay or slow immune response, such as antibody production, can also make autoimmune people worse. We need to be very careful here. Talk to your qualified functional/restorative physician or doctor.

The best way to modulate the Immune system and improve resilience with autoimmunity

So, let’s cut to the chase. If you are one of those people who finds it difficult to balance your immune system, or measure chronic disease, your lifestyle picture should be looked at. As mentioned in my previous blog they make a world of difference. These lifestyle strategies include:

Of course, there are many other healthy lifestyle habits you can take on which help balance immune function. But just start off slowly and you’ll see, you’ll get there. The key is to understand how important your life is…and your health. We only get one shot at this, and we only have one body. You can’t buy a new one, it’s not like a car or fancy dress. Take care of yourself and learn to love yourself. Remember you are the best thing that ever happened to you 🙂

You can find previous blogs here:

Healthy Immune System – Healthy You

The Immune Reset

To your health

Jill:) xx

The Immune Reset

Hand Blocking Green Immune Cells Bursting out from Black background

5 Ways to support immune resilience and improve immune tolerance.

Click here if you missed my previous blog about immune tolerance and immune resilience. And where we spoke about how important it is to strengthen immune tolerance (when it is low) in order to support immune resilience, which in turn promotes a healthy, well-functioning immune system.

Below are the five lifestyle strategies I mentioned in my previous blog, that we need to follow to strengthen immune system health. And to make your life and heart full again. To make you healthy and strong. Here’s to a happy, healthy life. Of course, there are other strategies you can do as well, but these are your starters.

  • Good sleep
  • Proper diet and nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Physical activity at appropriate levels
  • Emotions

Good Sleep

One of the most neglected and misunderstood strategies to improve immune function, immune resilience and to avoid infections is good sleep. Certain immune system cells (natural killer cells and T-cells) that are used to fight infection are boosted and activated when we sleep. When we sleep the body repairs itself and we are at peace. When we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, it’s a sign that we have had adequate sleep. When we are grumpy and bumpy, groggy and cranky, that’s a sure sign we didn’t get enough sleep. The day ahead will be long. Adequate sleep is fundamental to a well-working immune system and immune resilience.

Go to bed early. Try to sleep at least 7 hours a night. It is well known that people who sleep less than 7 hours are more prone to heart attack. And 90 minutes before bedtime, turn off all devices and televisions. Let your mind breath…and relax. I know it’s easy to say go to bed early when all you want to do is watch some television or stay on your computer because you feel as if your day has been all work and no play. It seems unfair. But start off by doing it a few nights a week, try reading a book in bed for ten minutes to relax and wind down. You’ll soon see that you’ll get into the habit of it, and start feeling much better.

Remember that there is not a single tissue within the human body and not one process within the brain that is not enhanced with adequate sleep (minimum 7hrs per night), or in the other case, impaired without enough sleep (less than 6hrs per night).

Proper Diet and Nutrition

What is nutrition, is it simply food that fills us up without giving us any health benefits, or is it food that is overflowing with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, etc, that helps us grow, develop, renew, and stay healthy? You guessed it, it’s the latter.

If you look the word nutrition up in the oxford dictionary, it is the “process by which living things (including humans ) 🙂 receive the food necessary for them to grow and be healthy.” Without good nutrition we cannot possibly be healthy and we cannot possibly have a robust immune system.

This, I believe, is what most people in today’s world don’t understand. The foods we eat build us up or tear us down. They build our immune system and push hormone production – hormones, in turn, support a healthy and robust immune system and really improve our immune surveillance…killer cells at work!

So what should we do? Firstly, we need to cut out processed sugars, and concentrated sugars from your diet. That would include concentrated fruit juices, sweets, boiled sugar sweets, candy, etc. Anything that has a high amount of concentrated sugar in it needs to disappear from your diet. Plus they are empty calories that don’t provide you with any nutrition, at all!

We need to eat lots of colourful and varied fruit and vegetables which are high in flavonoid antioxidants, which really help our overall immune system strength. Another major helper is to diversify our microbiome. In other words, we want to have as many different healthy bacterial species in our gut. A healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system. In fact, believe it or not, approximately 80% of our immune system is found in the gut. Eat multiple kinds of vegetables, but try to change the vegetable you eat. Don’t eat the same fruit and vegetable all the time…change them, this way you will really improve your immune resistance, by improving your gut microbiome.

Last but not least cut out inflammatory foods. Avoid such things as fried foods, processed foods, high floury carbohydrates (eg pasta, breads, pizzas), which cause insulin surges, make you tired (it’s the insulin surge that makes you tired), and they also deplete antioxidant reserves.

Also, avoid partially hydrogenated fats which deplete our antioxidant reserves – they usually come in packets or boxes. Read the labels on the foods you buy.

HYDRATION

Hydration…what is hydration? Again, in the Oxford dictionary hydration means, “The process of making something/somebody take in and hold water.” Water is the key word!. Drink lots of water throughout the day…drinking tea, coffee and alcohol can actually worsen the ‘hydration situation’ as these beverages act as diuretics, so we basically become dehydrated just from that. Please drink water and avoid sugary drinks. Another key to building immune resilience is to stay hydrated all the time. Don’t let yourself get thirsty.

When we are dehydrated the immune system goes into default, and we become more prone to infections. The immune system dysregulates and, interaction and communication (yes our immune system communicates…it talks to our body 🙂 ), and immune signalling becomes compromised. In other words, when we are dehydrated the immune system becomes less efficient. Another thing, dehydration impacts blood volume and can cause miscommunication (yes our body is talking again) between the lymphatic system and the immune system.

If you have an infection or feel you are about to get one, you definitely need to stay hydrated and drink (water!) all the time, as this helps clear the infection quicker.

Of course, you need to cut down on salt intake if you want to stay hydrated. High salt intake makes you urinate more often to try and get rid of the sodium and regulate osmotic pressure.

Physical activity at appropriate levels

Although this might sound strange the immune system communicates throughout the whole body – it has to, to enable us to have optimal immune function, and optimal immune resilience. So, throughout our body and throughout the trillions of cells we have in the body, we have different types of immune cells, from macrophage to antigen-presenting cells. What these cells do is test and sample whatever is coming into the immune system…so when a pathogen, viral, bacterial or other microorganism that causes disease, comes in, they check it out by sending an immune messenger. When a pathogen is detected they (immune cells) let the immune system know that it now needs to manufacture antibodies to protect it from this pathogen. T cells now need to switch on and our natural killer cells need to attack and deal with this infection. To achieve the best immune response this message has to reach the whole body as quickly as possible.

To quicken this process movement of any kind is important…but how much movement, when and how?

Movement promotes better blood flow, circulation, and lymphatic exchange of fluids. When you increase your heart rate, the blood flow and circulation enhances and when you pump those weights, and release and contract, it helps the lymphatic system to work more efficiently, and move fluids throughout the body at a greater speed. If you want to improve, support and/or build overall immune function, it is critical that you do some kind of movement/motion. However, the question is how much?

If you are healthy and have no immune challenges, strenuous exercise is fine, and can actually help release opioids, which have an incredible impact on immune cells like T cells, natural killer cells, and B cells, which of course, will strengthen immune system function and make it much more able to respond to any type of pathogen appropriately.

Instead, if you have an infection and are fatigued it’s best to slow down. Take it easy. High, intense exercise burns up antioxidants and reserves, which will really dampen our immune system. If you are not feeling too good or getting sick a brisk walk is just as good, it’s important not to fatigue yourself. Even a slow walk will activate your lymphatics and immune system function.

So, the key thing here is…

Any kind of movement, whether it’s high intensity or a gentle walk in the park, are critical to vascular dynamics (blood flow and exchange), to help push immune messengers throughout our body. If you want to improve your immune resilience and support tolerance, exercise, movement and motion are critical factors.

Emotions (Laughing and crying)

Really? Yes, really. These emotions can greatly impact immune resilience which help us to fight off infections and be less susceptible to infections that are going around.

Laughing actually triggers a release of opioids, that is of course, why we feel so relaxed and happy after a good laugh. As mentioned previously, opioids greatly impact immune system function by activating key cells such as T cells, natural killer cells and regulatory T cells that help the immune system to be more efficient in dealing with any type of pathogen. So, remember to laugh a lot and watch comedy films rather than tragedy. Laughing can have a profound impact on the immune system. ‘Be Happy – Laugh More – Stay Healthy’.

So what about crying? Hmm! Crying, believe it or not, this also helps us release opioids. For instance, in a critical situation or a crisis many of us cry. If you think about it we feel better after we’ve cried…it seems to relieve us somehow. When we start to cry opioids are released to act as a safeguard, and help dampen stress. In short, they help protect us from dealing with the stressor, which impacts the immune system.

So even crying significantly impacts the immune system by way of opioid release. Think about this next time you want to cry…just cry…and Be Happy!

I know we are all resistant to change, and yes, old habits die hard. But it’s your health we are talking about…it’s your life and the quality of it, no one else’s. Try these changes and see how it can change your life and your health. And if it helps to motivate you…these changes may even help you lose weight.

However, remember rebuilding a strong immune system doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. You need to be consistent…you need to stick with it. Make yourself a New Years resolution, even if it’s not New Year…who needs New Year to make a new resolution? Start now and your summer will be off to a super start. Remember, the longer you leave your immune system to breakdown the longer it will take to repair.

To Your Health

Jill 🙂

How Probiotics Boost Immunity, Protect Your Intestinal Tract and Improve Brain Function

Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Protecting your Heart and your Head

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is known for its strong benefits for brain health ― improved neuron health, plus mental energy, alertness and function ― but did you know that the L-carnitine part of this compound also provides potent heart protection?

ALCAR gives you a true two-for-one benefit!

Unlike L-carnitine, ALCAR contains acetyl, which enables it to cross the blood/brain barrier. The acetate molecule in ALCAR is especially important in producing a neurotransmitter that facilitates many of your brain’s cognitive functions. It is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and is a potent antioxidant that protects the brain’s neurons from corrosive free-radical damage. Plus, it offers better bioavailability than L-carnitine.

But thanks to its L-carnitine component, ALCAR, an amino acid, it also plays an especially important role in heart function, helping to transport this vital organ’s preferred long-chain fatty acids to its cells’ mitochondria, where they’re used to produce energy.

In April of 2013, we learned a great deal about how carnitine can help your heart beat longer and stronger. The Mayo Clinic released a massive analytic research review that documented huge benefits to heart health for those who supplement with L-carnitine.

This study, which examined 13 controlled trials with a total of 3,629 participants, put to rest any doubt that L-carnitine is a friend to your heart.

L-Carnitine Improves Angina and More…

Myocardial infarction is when cells in an area of the heart die due to oxygen deprivation caused by obstruction to the blood supply. In other words, a heart attack. When this happens, the supply of carnitine in diseased heart tissue can plummet to a very low level.

The Mayo Clinic review found that L-carnitine supplementation of heart attack patients resulted in 65% less ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal, irregular heartbeats), while patients with angina (chest pain) who had had a previous heart attack had a 40% reduction in symptoms.

These results were attributed to improvement of several mechanisms:

  1. Improved mitochondrial energy metabolism: Carnitine helps convert fat into energy within the mitochondria portion of cells.
  2. Decreased myocardial ischemia: Carnitine improves blood flow to the heart.
  3. Improved left ventricle function: Carnitine enables the chamber on the lower left side of the heart to more efficiently pump blood out to the rest of the body

Authors of the Mayo Clinic study concluded that carnitine is an inexpensive therapy that has an “excellent safety profile.” Evidence suggests it can be regarded as a promising therapy for heart attack, prevention and treatment of secondary heart attacks, and support for heart attack victims at risk for angina.

Carnitine Lessens After-Effects of Cardiovascular Events

In the wake of a heart attack, many people experience angina. One controlled study of 200 people with angina found that the vast majority of those who took L-carnitine not only had less chest pain but also saw improvement on several measures of heart function and shrinkage of damaged heart tissue.
The status of the heart muscle is critical for heart patients. Damage to the heart muscle from heart attacks and heart failure can impair the heart’s ability to metabolise energy from fats. Energy from fat accounts for around 60% of the energy your heart must have to function.

Carnitine levels are particularly low in patients with damaged heart muscle caused by heart attacks and heart failure. The good news is that carnitine supplementation can strengthen the heart and even reverse the ill effects of carnitine deficiency.

One study found that heart attack survivors given 4 grams of L-carnitine for 12 months had significant drops in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improved blood lipids, compared with those on placebo. They also had a much better death rate ― only 1.2% for the year, compared with 12.5% for those not on L-carnitine. Most of the deaths were due to recurrence of heart attack.

Carnitine supplementation also prevents progressive damage to heart muscle in those who have congestive heart failure. For those at risk for angina with physical exertion, it can improve exercise tolerance.

The Takeaway?

You need energy production in your heart, but that’s not all. You need to generate energy in your mitochondria body-wide. Consequently, L-carnitine deficiency is a serious matter. Just think what your life would be without energy!

Red meat is the primary source of carnitine, but, depending on your diet, you may not get enough. What is more, you can develop carnitine deficiency for a number of reasons. Plus, carnitine production naturally declines with age.

Here’s the thing: A carnitine deficiency leads to widespread destruction of mitochondria, which is likely to hasten death.

Heart attacks don’t announce their arrival, so you will be wise to plan ahead. If you’re low on carnitine when a heart attack hits, you’ll be even less prepared to recover. Supplementing with L-carnitine is a little like buying insurance: It gives you a bit of added protection ― a leg up, so to speak, on recovery.

Since L-carnitine is included in acetyl-L-carnitine, which also provides superior brain protection, it’s a great way to build your store of heart-protective L-carnitine.

SOURCES:

Bronwell, L. Carnitine Restores Cellular Function. Life Extension Magazine. Mar. 2013.

Faloon, W., Joyal, S.V., et.al. REPORT: Rebuttal to Attack Against Carnitine. Life Extension Magazine. Aug. 2013.

Scaglia, F. Carnitine Deficiency. Medscape. Mar. 20, 2017.

Seher, C. L-Carnitine Linked to Cardiac Health ― Research Suggests This Amino Acid Could Help Cardiac Patients. Today’s Dietitian. Vol. 15, No. 9., p. 76., Sept. 2013.

Shan. Does L-Carnitine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine Help Improve Heart Health? HealthResource4U.

Three Key Supplements To Fight Hot Flushes With

Vitamin E, Folic Acid and Krill Oil: Good for Hot Flushes – and a Lot More

Vitamin E, folic acid and krill oil are three supplements that have all been shown to help ease the miseries of hot flushes ― but when you take them for menopausal symptoms, surprise! You get lots of wonderful health benefits as a bonus.

Here are a few. . .

Vitamin E: A Power Antioxidant

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s a key player in organ, enzyme and brain function. It helps with vaginal dryness as well as hot flushes. But it also:

Fights free radicals:

Take, for example, cholesterol. You’ve probably been told, and wrongly so, that cholesterol is bad for you. Unfortunately we are not being given the full picture here.

Read my book The Cholesterol Puzzle and get the truth and a full understanding of cholesterol and its benefits.

Cholesterol has many, many important functions in the body and is a necessary building block of just about every system in the body. In other words, it is a major part of what keeps the human infrastructure up and running correctly. It is essential to keeping your hormones, cells and nerves healthy and functioning properly.

It’s only when free radicals (rogue molecules) oxidize cholesterol that it can become harmful. Once oxidized it can more easily slip through the endothelium (innermost layer of the arteries). Oxidation is the damage ― something like rust ― caused by free radicals. We call that oxidative stress.

As a powerhouse antioxidant, vitamin E combats oxidative stress, not only to cholesterol but to cells throughout your body. Less free radical damage means less risk of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

  • it improves your resistance to disease:

Vitamin E’s ability to prevent cellular damage and inflammation helps prevent cancer (lung, esophageal, colorectal, etc.) as well as heart disease, and it naturally helps slow the ageing process.

Researchers have also found vitamin E’s ability to reduce oxidative stress promotes better blood glucose control. The result is improved blood sugar balance, which, if not controlled, can lead to type 2 diabetes, a key player in cardiovascular disease.

What is more, vitamin E keeps your immune system strong and disease-resistant by combating viruses and harmful bacteria.

Further, clinical research shows that while vitamin E may not prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it slows functional decline better than a commonly prescribed Alzheimer’s drug. This effect may be due to its role in synthesizing acetylcholine, a primary neurotransmitter for memory and cognition that has been shown to be at low levels in Alzheimer’s patients.

Folic Acid: The Multi-Purpose Vitamin

A 2010 article in Gynecological Endocrinology reported that folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the number and intensity of women’s menopausal hot flushes. It also lowers risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Great news for women, but folic acid does much more.

Activated folic acid assists with DNA synthesis, prevention of birth defects, immune and nervous system function, and mucous membrane tissue health (digestive tract, cervix and vagina). In addition,

  • it reduces homocysteine:

Homocysteine, an amino acid, is an inflammatory marker linked with hardening and thickening of blood vessels. If your levels are high, it doubles or triples your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Folic acid improves heart health by lowering homocysteine levels, thereby lessening atherosclerosis and reducing arterial wall thickening. Research shows that patients who are most successful in decreasing homocysteine levels have the greatest reduction in cardiovascular risk.

Homocysteine is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease, brain atrophy, hearing loss, osteoporosis, cervical cancer, migraines and even macular degeneration.

Krill Oil: The Super Omega-3

Canadian studies show that krill oil can reduce your number of hot flushes, the effects of stress and menopause-related depression. It also improves inflammation, joint function, energy metabolism and blood glucose levels. As if that weren’t enough,

  • it protects your heart:

In multiple studies, krill oil has proved to be more effective than fish oil at lowering high triglycerides ― a primary risk factor for heart disease.

Krill EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) also quell inflammation in your blood vessels.

In addition, krill oil lowers blood pressure. Its anticoagulant effect helps to prevent atherosclerosis and blood clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes (although people on blood thinners should use krill oil only under a doctor’s supervision).

  • it nourishes your brain:

Sixty percent of your brain is fat, so the EPA and DHA long-chain fatty acids of omega-3s are critical to brain health, especially the DHA of krill oil. DHA alone makes up about 15–20 percent of your brain’s cerebral cortex.

The DHA in krill oil differs from that in ordinary fish oil in that it binds to phospholipids ― a particular form of fat that allows increased uptake of DHA into the brain. This is important because low DHA may result in memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.

In recent years, researchers discovered that supplementation with krill oil in elderly people resulted in significant improvement in memory, verbal fluency and rate of learning.

In short, these three remarkable supplements ― vitamin E, folic acid and krill oil ― provide research-tested relief from menopausal symptoms, but their wide-ranging benefits give you plenty of reasons to take them at any time of life.

SOURCES:

Manning PJ, Sutherland WH, Walker RJ, Williams SM, De Jong SA, Ryalls AR, Berry EA.Effect of high-dose vitamin E on insulin resistance and associated parameters in overweight subjects. Diabetes Care. 2004 Sep;27(9):2166-71.

Barrington, R. Vitamin E and Insulin Resistance. RdBNutrition. Nov. 26, 2015.

Estrogen Metabolism Diet. YourHormones.com.

Hormone Balance ― How to restore it or maintain it. Amazing Wellness Magazine. Nov. 1, 2012.

Hot flashes reduced by folic acid. Life Extension Update. Life Extension Magazine. Dec. 17, 2010.

Jenkins, J. Information on Supplements That Help Neurotransmitter in Brain. LIVESTRONG.com. Nov. 17, 2015.

Mercola, J. A Daily 900 mg Dose of Omega-3 Fats Helped Reverse Memory Loss. Mercola.com. Feb. 6, 2012.

Mercola, J. Vitamin E May Offer Benefits for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Mercola.com. Jan. 23, 2014.

Phillip, J. Folic Acid for Heart Health. Nutrition Digest. Vol. 38, No. 2.

Torda, C. and Wolff, H.G. Effect of vitamins on Acetylcholine Synthesis. The Apparently Specific Action of Vitamin E. Experimental Biology and Medicine. Vol. 58, Issue 2, 1945.

Vitamin E. MedlinePlus.gov.

Wright, Y.L. and Swartz, J.M. Secrets About Bioidentical Hormones!

Discover the Value of Valerian Root

Sound Sleep and a Serene Mind

It’s estimated that above 70% of Americans and 50% of Britons suffer from insomnia, and it’s certainly a common complaint among women going through the stages of menopause. In the UK, the percentage for women goes up to 75%.

The Guardian also reports that, according to the Office for National Statistics, anxiety or depression affects nearly one in five adults.

Are you one of those people? If you’re desperate for a little peace of mind and respite from wakeful nights, valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) ― often called “nature’s valium” ― just might be your answer.

It’s been used for centuries to reduce anxiety, promote serenity and lull people off to a deep, restful sleep.

Sound good?

Valerian’s name, which comes from the Latin word valere, means to be strong or healthy, which we firmly believe includes getting a great night’s sleep . . . every night.

How does Valerian work to combat stress?

Valerian root, which contains valerentic acid, isovaleric acid and a number of antioxidants, works to affect GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels in your brain. GABA inhibits your brain’s nerve transmissions and calms anxiety.

This supplement works much like Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam), without, of course, the side effects of those drugs. It suppresses the breakdown of GABA, which increases your brain’s GABA level. Increased GABA causes a sedative effect and increases your feelings of tranquility and well-being,

The antioxidants linarin and hesperidin, also found in valerian root, have calming and sleep-improving properties.

In addition, valerian’s ingredients may also help quiet an overactive amygdala. That’s the part of your brain where feelings of fear and anxiety are processed. Treating mice with valerian showed that it raised their levels of serotonin, which improved their responses to physical and psychological stress.

Does Valerian really improve sleep?

Studies have verified that valerian helps you get to sleep faster and sleep more soundly. Your overall quality of sleep improves, enabling you to get more high-quality, restorative sleep.
Out of 27 young and middle-age adults who took 400 mg of valerian root, 24 said they slept better and 12 judged their sleep to be “perfect.”

An important part of restful sleep is slow-wave sleep, which is necessary to repair and recharge your body so you wake up feeling energetic. In one study, a single dose of valerian allowed subjects to get to deep sleep faster and stay in it longer. (This is the experience of most people, although around one in ten will have the opposite effect, causing people to feel energized rather than sleepy. This suggests that you should start with the minimum dose.)

A 2011 study focused on postmenopausal women. After taking 530 mg of valerian twice daily for four weeks, sleep quality improved for 30 percent of study participants.

Are there any side effects?

It’s important to note that clinical studies have found no serious adverse side effects from use of valerian. It has not been found to negatively affect mental or physical performance.

In comparison, sleeping pills have been shown to affect following-day alertness, reaction time and concentration.

At the same time, you should take certain precautions when taking valerian. For example, you shouldn’t take it with any kind of drug or herbal supplement with sedative effects, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, narcotics, antihistamines or alcohol.

Also, don’t drive or use machinery for several hours after taking valerian, take it if you’re pregnant or have liver disease, or give it to children younger than three.

What else can Valerian do?

There isn’t a great deal of scientific research on Valerian root beyond its ability to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. It has, however, been shown to:

  • lower blood pressure, which aids in reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke
  • relieve menstrual cramps by suppressing muscle spasms and acting as a natural muscle relaxer
  • significantly reduce severity and modestly reduce frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women
  • improve symptoms of restless legs syndrome
  • increase antioxidant levels and decrease inflammation in Parkinson’s patients

Supplementing with Valerian root provides you with a simple, safe means of simultaneously decreasing stress and anxiety levels, and getting the sound, restorative sleep you need ― along with several potential bonus benefits.

SOURCES:

Anxiety or depression affects nearly one in five UK adults. The Guardian. June 19, 2013.
Insomnia: Britons’ health ‘at risk’ as 50% fail to get enough sleep. The Guardian. Nov. 12, 2011.
Mercola, J. Can Valerian Root Help You Sleep Better? Mercola.com. May 4, 2017.
Spritzler, F. How Valerian Root Helps You Relax and Sleep Better. Authority Nutrition.

Telomeres: How to Help Prevent Them from Shortening

In my previous blog, I discussed the importance of telomeres to the ageing process and our bodies. Naturally, telomere length, and their impressive health benefits are now gathering more and more interest… the race is on! How do we preserve telomere length in normal cells, which in turn, sustain healthy cellular youth and functionality?

The Answer? Vitamin Supplementation

Over the last few years, scientists have gathered a tremendous and convincing amount of evidence, demonstrating that one way of supporting telomere health and length is to include a daily regime of certain vitamins in adequate amounts including, B vitamins (including vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid), vitamin D3, vitamin C, and vitamin E (in particular Gamma-tocotrienol which prevent, and may even reverse telomere shortening), and the vegetable carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, high levels of which have been seen to promote significantly longer telomeres.

Fish oils have also demonstrated they can significantly impact telomere length. One study showed that by reducing blood levels of omega-6 fats, and increasing omega-3s (from fish oil), the outcome was increased telomere length. This was due to a reduction of inflammatory molecules (cytokines) and oxidative stress, which was brought on by higher levels of omega-3s in relation to the pro-inflammatory omega-6s. There is a specific ratio between omega-6s and omega-3s that has to adhered to, to help prevent excess inflammation and for us to remain healthy. It is important to have both these omegas present in the body, so long as they are in the correct ratios.

An Important Note for Women

Women who consume a diet lacking in antioxidants tend to have shorter telomeres and present a moderate risk of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene have been linked to longer telomeres and a lower risk of breast cancer.

I mentioned previously about hormone deficiencies and decline, and the influence they have on the shortening of telomeres. Hormones decline with age, but supplementing with bioidentical hormones can aid telomere length. Oestrogen – 17 beta oestradiol – and testosterone activate telomerase which plays a key role in telomere length. However, estrogen blockers such as those given to women who have been found to have cancer, turn off or inhibit telomerase, as do androgen (synthetic male hormone) blockers.

So to help maintain telomere length… remember to take your antioxidants and vitamins, and for an even better outcome… bioidentical hormones as well!

References

Zhu H, Guo D, Li K, et al. Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation in overweight African Americans. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012;36(6):805-9.

Chiappori AA, Kolevska T, Spigel DR, et al. A randomized phase II study of the telomerase inhibitor imetelstat as maintenance therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. Ann Oncol 2015;26(2)354-62.

Pusceddu I, Herrmann M, Kirsch SH, et al. One-carbon metabolites and telomere length in a prospective and randomized study of B- and/or D-vitamin supplementation. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Xu Q, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(6):1857-63.

Shin C, Baik I. Leukocyte Telomere Length is Associated With Serum Vitamin B12 and Homocysteine Levels in Older Adults With the Presence of Systemic Inflammation. Clin Nutr Res. 2016;5(1):7-14.

Min KB, Min JY. Association between leukocyte telomere length and serum carotenoid in US adults. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Dorling MW, Hales CN. Early growth determines longevity in male rats and may be related to telomere shortening in the kidney. FEBS Lett. 1999 Apr 1; 448(1):4-8.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Nutritional, oxidative damage, telomere shortening,  and cellular senescence: individual or connected agents of aging? Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Mol Genet Metab. 2000 Sep-Oct; 71(1-2):32-42.

Xiong S, Patrushev N, Forouzandeh F, et al. PGC-1alpha Modulates Telomere Function and DNA Damage in Protecting against Aging-Related Chronic Diseases. Cell Rep. 2015;12(9):1391-9.

Pusceddu I, Farrell CJ, Di Pierro AM, et al. The role of telomeres and vitamin D in cellular aging and age-related diseases. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2015;53(11):1661-78.

Zhang D, Sun X, Liu J, et al. Homocysteine accelerates senescence of endothelial cells via DNA hypomethylation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015;35(1):71-8.

Harley CB, Liu W, Flom PL, et al. A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program: metabolic and cardiovascular response. Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(5):386-95.

Borras M, Panizo S, Sarro F, et al. Assessment of the potential role of active vitamin D treatment in telomere length: a case-control study in hemodialysis patients. Clin Ther. 2012;34(4):849-56.

Makpol S, Zainuddin A, Rahim NA, et al. Alpha-tocopherol modulates hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage and telomere shortening of human skin fibroblasts derived from differently aged individuals. Planta Med. 2010;76(9):869-75.

Tanaka Y, Moritoh Y, Miwa N. Age-dependent telomere-shortening is repressed by phosphorylated alpha-tocopherol together with cellular longevity and intracellular oxidative-stress reduction in human brain microvascular endotheliocytes. J Cell Biochem. 2007;102(3):689-703.

Makpol S, Abidin AZ, Sairin K, et al. gamma-Tocotrienol prevents oxidative stress-induced telomere shortening in human fibroblasts derived from different aged individuals. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2010;3(1):35-43.

Sen A, Marsche G, Freudenberger P, et al. Association between higher plasma lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C concentrations and longer telomere length: results of the Austrian Stroke Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(2):222-9.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2013;28:16-24.

Gonzalez-Suarez I, Redwood AB, Grotsky DA, et al. A new pathway that regulates 53BP1 stability implicates cathepsin L and vitamin D in DNA repair. Embo j. 2011;30(16):3383-96.

Liu JJ, Prescott J, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma vitamin D biomarkers and leukocyte telomere length. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(12):1411-7.

Kim YY, Ku SY, Huh Y, et al. Anti-aging effects of vitamin C on human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. Age (Dordr). 2013;35(5):1545-57.

Li Y, Zhang W, Chang L, et al. Vitamin C alleviates aging defects in a stem cell model for Werner syndrome. Protein Cell. 2016;7(7):478-88.

Farzaneh-Far R, Lin Jue, Espel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, et al. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. Jama 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250.

Masood A. Shammas. Telomeres, Lifestyle, Cancer and Aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Jan; 14(1): 28–34.

Jing Shen, Gammon MD, Terry MB, Qiao Wang, et al. Telomere length, oxidative damage, antioxidants and Breast cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2009 Apr 1;124(7):1637-43.

Calado RT, Yewdell WT, WilersonKL, Regal JA, et al. Sex hormones, acting on the TERT gene, increase telomerase activity in human primary hematopoietic cells. Blood 2009 Sep 10;114(11):2236-2243.

Do I Need Vitamin D3?

You absolutely need Vitamin D3

In fact, it’s a critical part of maintaining good health.

To begin, vitamin D3 is essential to bone health.  Without it, the body can’t absorb calcium efficiently. If you are low on vitamin D3,  your body can only absorb a tenth to a fifteenth of the calcium you take in.

In addition, vitamin D3 naturally combats cancer. Optimal vitamin D3 levels are thought to reduce the risk of many types of cancer including: colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Vitamin D3 is also an anti-inflammatory agent that protects the heart. Researchers have found that patients with low levels of vitamin D3 demonstrate a 60% percent increased risk of heart disease. In addition to this, studies have shown that inadequate levels of vitamin D3 may triple the risk of hypertension.

And that’s just the beginning of vitamin D3’s abilities. It even helps to stave off diabetes, depression, multiple sclerosis, and the flu. Pretty amazing, right?

The difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3?

However, make sure you are taking the correct vitamin D. Often  milk and other foods are fortified with vitamin D but unfortunately, it is of the synthetic form, and is known as ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2. On the other hand, vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol, is produced in the skin with sunlight exposure – making it natural to the human body, and a perfect match. To emphasise! Make sure to choose vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). You should avoid vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) at all costs. I can’t stress this enough.

The reason? Because vitamin D2 is not natural to the human body. Vitamin D2 is a compound produced by irradiating yeast with ultraviolet light – it is not natural! The body does not recognise it, and therefore, works only half as well! In fact, vitamin D3 is at least three times more potent than vitamin D2, is more stable, safer, and more useful in the body. And importantly, vitamin D2 has been linked to various health issues, one of which is irritation of the lining of the blood vessels.  

Why deprive your body of true D3 when you can get it so easily? From the sun, through supplementation, and from certain foods! Vitamin D3 however, can not be found in many foods, in fact, just  about 10 percent of the vitamin D3 we get, comes from the foods we eat.

Remember this when you’re shopping: look for the top nine vitamin D rich foods: sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, caviar, eggs, mushrooms, and cod liver oil. And don’t forget sunlight promotes the synthesis of vitamin D from cholesterol. Also, an authentic, high quality, vitamin D3 supplement enables your body to recognise, understand, and use it appropriately. Basically speaking… let your body do what it does best with what it knows best! In short, give your body what it recognizes. Always, always follow nature.  

However, beware of prescription vitamins, they are, more often than not, vitamin D2 rather than vitamin D3, and are therefore, not the best for your health.

Did you know that vitamin D3 isn’t really a vitamin?

Strange concept, interesting fact.

The truth is that vitamin D3 is a steroid hormone. It can’t be a typical vitamin because the body can – and does – make it on its own.

As mentioned previously, sunlight promotes vitamin D3 synthesis from cholesterol. But let’s take a closer look at this miraculous feat!

When sunlight meets your skin, the body undergoes a symphony of sorts. It produces a substance called 7-dehydrocholesterol. You might not have heard of it, but it is the start of an incredible process undertaken by your body.

7-Dehydrocholesterol then turns into cholesterol (yes, you heard that right), which converts into a healthy supply of vitamin D3. All you have to do is spend about twenty minutes in the sun without sunscreen- et voila! Your body has naturally supplied itself with this essential nutrient. However, vitamin D3 synthesis declines with age, mainly because the concentration of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin declines. This is where supplementation is important.

I personally advocate the use of supplements if you’re vitamin D deficient. If you’ve read my books, you’ll definitely understand why. 

My books (The Cholesterol Puzzle and The Menopause Cure) and are available to buy on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

The Menopause Cure | Menopause Woman

The Menopause Cure

Is vitamin D deficiency rare?

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is not rare. Recent official figures show that in the UK, 23% of adults, 21% of the elderly and 22% of teenagers have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Astonishing, and deeply troubling figures that highlight how big an issue vitamin D3 deficiency is.

Some experts have suggested that nearly half of the global population is deficient.  And because of a decrease in production with age, your risk of deficiency is even higher. Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D3 is essential to your overall health and wellbeing.

Is vitamin D3 linked to osteoporosis?

The answer is yes.

Vitamin D3 is required for the absorption of calcium into the bones and to help keep them strong. Again, production of vitamin D3 declines with age, without sufficient vitamin D3 the bones will become soft and weak. Taking professional-grade supplements may help protect against osteoporosis. Other nutrients that may also help are magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2 (as menaquinone), zinc, selenium, collagen, and silicon.

Will my vitamin D3 levels fluctuate with the seasons or based on location?

This depends on how far you live from the equator. Here are some rather interesting vitamin D3 statistics:

  • If you live in the UK, your body will struggle to produce sufficient vitamin D3 from October to March.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, the schedule flips. For example, citizens of Buenos Aires won’t produce much vitamin D3 in June.
  • Scotland is particularly vulnerable to vitamin D3 deficiency. This is why experts recommend supplements throughout the year – especially during autumn and winter months.

Is there anything I should know about vitamin D3 and the menopause?

Ensuring that you have optimal vitamin D3 levels is one of the most important steps towards managing the menopause and staying healthy. Think of it like this: bones need calcium for strength. After menopause sets in, the body can’t make vitamin D3 as easily so it often needs a little assistance to reach optimal vitamin D3 levels. Doing this now can help prevent osteoporosis and other menopause-related health issues in the future.

What should I do next?

You owe it to yourself to get your levels of vitamin D tested. A doctor can perform a very quick and easy procedure to help you find out your levels. The best possible strategy you can employ is to be proactive and help prevent a vitamin D3 deficiency.  

Note: Always supplement with magnesium when taking calcium – magnesium is a natural calcium blocker, therefore is heart-healthy. Magnesium has the ability to block the channels by which calcium enters the cells; when magnesium is low, intracellular calcium rises. Magnesium can help avoid a buildup of calcium in the arteries.

References:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/2/491S.full

www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/

www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/vitamin-d-and-your-health

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002405.htm

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/128762-overview

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176941.php

www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2010/1/startling-findings-about-vitamin-d-levels-in-life-extension-members/page-01

www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/vitamin-d-and-osteoporosis/

www.prevention.com/health/symptoms-vitamin-d-deficiency

www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/vitamin-d-and-osteoporosis/

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/%23!po%3D1.18110&source=gmail&ust=1481664140371000&usg=AFQjCNFqbC9sm6NZ3B2f_lHGqjWCfO8OtQ

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Healthy-Living/Food-Health/vitaminD

www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3945536/From-preventing-flu-helping-live-longer-doctor-reveals-follow-Government-s-advice-pop-vitamin-D-winter.html

8 reasons everyone’s talking about omega 3

Ever wonder why people in Okinawa, Japan, lead the longest and and highest quality lives in the world? Or, why Greenlandic Inuit have a rate of heart disease 85% lower than that of the US? The answer: they’re the biggest consumers of omega 3.

Read on to find out why everyone’s talking about omega 3, and how you can feel the benefits by adjusting your intake to the correct level.

What is omega 3 and how does it affect the body?

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that plays a crucial role in the health of your heart, brain, skin, hair and much, much more. The effects can be even more pronounced for women, with omega 3 helping to generate certain prostaglandins (hormones) which in turn affect inflammation, decrease menstrual cramps and increase immune system functionality. As the body can’t generate its own omega 3, we must consume it as part of our diet or in the form of a high-quality supplement.

Omega 3 is inherently linked with another essential fatty acid; omega 6, again, must be consumed in food or supplements. Like omega 3s, omega 6 fatty acids are vital to good health, they assist your body in making prostaglandins, and have many other bodily functions. However, the typical western diet contains a much higher rate of omega 6s and a lower rate of omega 3s, than that of our ancestors. This can lead to chronic inflammation and many health problems. It is important that the intake of omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids maintain a specific ratio. Overall, you should be aiming for a ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1 (in favour of omega-6). However, most people tend to maintain an average well above recommended levels at a ratio of between 10:1 and 25:1. This is due to high consumption of processed carbs, vegetable oil, and baked products. It is, therefore, advantageous to your health to try and reduce your intake of omega 6 and increase your intake of omega 3.

The typical Mediterranean diet contains more omega 3 fatty acids and less omega 6 fatty acids. The trick in not to eliminate omega 6 fatty acids but to decrease them, making sure they are balanced with the correct amount of omega 3 fatty acids.  

Food sources of omega 6s occur in meats and other animal products, mother’s milk, black current seed, borage oil, and evening primrose oil, flax oil, hemp, pumpkin, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, and walnut.

Here are just some of the positive health benefits that you can gain from omega 3:

Increase energy Weight loss Improve fertility
Healthy skin Ease anxiety Decrease inflammation that leads to heart disease
Slow the signs of ageing Enhances insulin function Boost immune system
Improve memory and focus Lessen joint pain/arthritis Reduce symptoms of ADHD
Decrease cardiovascular risk Reduce risk of eczema, psoriasis, dandruff – perhaps even wrinkles   Reduce risk of eye disorders
Lowers blood pressure Decrease risk of blood clotting in inappropriate places Decrease risk of depression

While omega 3 from the right type of fish oil (containing Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic) can help you with everything listed above, those based on red meat or flaxseeds (containing Alpha Lipoic Acid) are not quite as potent.   

Why is everyone talking about omega 3?

Omega 3 can boost your defences against a host of illnesses, such as:

1. Cancer

Omega 3 has been found to have a positive effect on various forms of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast. Docosahexaenoic can be taken alongside tumor necrosis drugs to boost their effect.

2. Cardiovascular health and stroke risk

Omega 3 plays an important role in protecting against cardiovascular disease and stroke as it has anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Alzheimer’s Disease

The fatty acids in omega 3 that support brain functionality also help prevent brain atrophy, which slows cognitive degradation and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

4. Digestive health

Research points to a correlation between adequate omega 3 intake and conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease, as well as potentially reducing proportions of bodily fat – especially around the belly!

5. Mental health

Omega 3 may play a role in improving mood disorders for some people, including depression and anxiety, support ADHD treatment and improve defences against Parkinson’s Disease.

6. Diabetes

Fish oil could help people suffering from type II diabetes by lowering triglycerides and apoproteins.

7. Bone health

Omega 3 has long been known to help with suppleness and movement, significantly decreasing joint tenderness and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis and maintaining or increasing bone mass for people suffering from osteoporosis.

8. Immune system

Omega 3 could give your immune system a real shot in the arm. It has been shown to help prevent the weakening of the system in animal trials, as well as autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and nephropathy.

What dosage you need and how to use supplements to get it?

Consuming foods rich in omega 3 is the first step towards finding nutritional harmony. As mentioned earlier, there’s no magic number when it comes to omega 3 intake. Instead, it’s about finding balance with your omega 6 intake, with an ideal ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1.

These are some of the top performers for boosting your omega 3 intake:   

Salmon Cod liver Mackerel
Sardines Halibut Tuna
Pollock Herring Walnuts
Beef Venison Lamb
Soybean Tofu Shrimp

 

*All fish listed should be wild-caught, while red meat sources should be grass-fed.  

Whether they become part of your daily routine, or are just a stopgap for the days when eating oily fish is just not a possibility, high-quality supplements are a must-have for every medicine cabinet. But, remember; more is not necessarily better, it’s about finding balance.

Some fish oils are heavily processed and so their effectiveness is diminished overall. Fish oils or (preferably) krill oils should contain phospholipid complex in order to increase absorption and reduce triglyceride levels. Vitamin E should be ingested alongside omega 3 to prevent it from oxidising, while vitamins A, B and C, biotin, magnesium, niacin and zinc all help fatty acids turn into usable hormones.

Omega 3 does more than fortify your defences against illness. It’s a boost to your everyday wellbeing that could help you discover a new level of health. Follow these simple steps and see for yourself!

Vitamin C: why you need this healing antioxidant for your immune system

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant that can help to boost your immune system, keep you energised and stave off a whole range of diseases.

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C must be consumed in food or high-quality supplements as it cannot be made in the body. It’s used to generate the protein that makes your skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, and is an ‘electron donor’ that maintains optimal electron flow, fights oxidation and protects vital molecular elements.

All in all, it’s an important part of who we are and too many of us aren’t getting enough of it. This water-soluble vitamin is essential to your health, so make sure you stay at your radiant best by reading through our guide to vitamin C.   

What are the health benefits of vitamin C?

As a co-factor in at least eight enzymatic reactions, vitamin C impacts a whole host of the systems that keep you at your best. These are some of the effects of vitamin C that you just can’t do without:

  1.   Skin and collagen: Studies have shown that higher vitamin C intake is linked to a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and the time it takes wounds to heal. It also contains antioxidants, which is one factor in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
  2.   Mineral absorption: Taking vitamin C alongside iron increases nutrient absorption rates, which in turn helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  3.   Free radical damage: Vitamin C can protect against a build-up of free radical molecules within the body, which might otherwise contribute towards conditions such as cancer, heart disease or arthritis.
  4.   Cold and flu: Vitamin C can shake your immune system from its slumber, helping to fight off colds and flu and therefore prevent further complications, such as pneumonia.  
  5.   Cancer: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and used in high-doses as a supplementary treatment for cancer. Lab tests have shown that it may slow the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver and colon cancer.
  6.   Stroke: A study from the US found that people with the highest concentrations of vitamin C were 42% less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest levels.
  7.   Physical performance: The vitamin might improve muscle strength and oxygen intake during exercise, as well as reducing inflammation for asthmatics.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency

So, now that you know how important it is to stay topped up, here are some of the key warning signs to look out for that might point to a vitamin C deficiency:

Bruising easily Swollen or bleeding gums Slow wound healing
Gingivitis Dry/splitting hair Dry, red skin spots
Rough/dry/scaly skin Nosebleeds Low immune system
Digestive problems Weight gain Swollen/painful joints

Certain factors can increase your risk of becoming deficient in vitamin C, including:

  • Smoking
  • Ageing
  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Birth control pills
  • Cortisone
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • High fever
  • Painkillers
  • Stress
  • Sulfa drugs

If you’re part of any of these groups, it’s recommended that you top up your intake with high-quality supplements.

How to find balance through our diet and supplements

Like all nutrients, you can optimise the amount you take in from your diet by using organic fruit and veg, and consuming either raw or steamed. To help you find your natural balance, try to make sure you’re consuming 2-3 of these vitamin C rich foods every day:

Foodstuff Vitamin C Foodstuff Vitamin C
Guava 1 fruit: 377 mg Blackcurrant 1 cup: 203 mg
Red pepper 1 cup raw: 190 mg Kiwi 1 piece: 164 mg
Green peppers 1 cup chopped, raw: 120 mg Orange 1 large: 82 mg
Strawberries 1 cup: 89.4 mg Papaya 1 cup, in pieces: 86.5 mg
Broccoli 1 cup raw: 81.2 mg Kale 1 cup raw: 80 mg
Parsley 1 cup, fresh: 79.8 mg Pineapple 1 cup, fresh: 78.9 mg
Brussels sprouts 1 cup raw: 74.8 mg Grapefruit 1 cup: 71.8 mg
Peas 1 cup raw: 58 mg Cauliflower 1 cup raw, chopped: 46.4 mg

*Figures courtesy of draxe.com.  

With vitamin C, there’s no chance of overdosing as any excess will be excreted out later. Doses of vitamin C higher than 5000mg can be taken, but may cause diarrhea. Mineral ascorbate and Ester-C are buffered forms of vitamin C that cause less diarrhea. And if taking antacids please remember to take your vitamin C at least four hour beforehand, as antacids inhibit absorption of this important vitamin.

However, as 10% – 20% of us fall below recommended levels of vitamin C through diet alone, you should also consider taking a high-quality supplement to top you up. Taking one 1,000mg high-quality supplement has no real downsides. In fact, it will help to reinvigorate your health and leave you feeling full of life. Vitamin C should be taken two or three times over the course of the day as it is easily excreted from the body. Keeping your levels topped up in this way will ensure that you stay fully protected.

Hemochromatosis happens when the body accumulates excess iron. Vitamin C can increase this accumulation, therefore people with hemochromatosis should avoid the intake of extra vitamin C. Also, people with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, should not have vitamin C given to them intravenously.

Follow these simple steps and find out how optimising your vitamin C levels could help you rediscover your natural vibrancy.