Vitamin K: the unknown nutrient that boosts your blood and bones

Poor old vitamin K barely gets a mention in most health advice articles, but this essential nutrient is the key to keeping your blood and bones in optimal health.

Read on to find out how vitamin K supports your overall wellbeing; how to spot a vitamin K deficiency; and what you can do to boost your levels.   

What role does vitamin K play within the body?

Vitamin K is essential to maintaining overall wellbeing, but is most often associated with promoting heart health, bone density and oral health, as well as reducing cell mutations and infection rates.

Bone mineralisation

While most of us turn straight to calcium to boost bone health, vitamin K is a far more potent and long-term solution. Vitamin K tops up the level of the protein that maintain calcium levels in your bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and even stopping bone loss in people already afflicted by osteoporosis, according to some studies. People with the highest intake of vitamin K are also 65% less likely to suffer a hip fracture than those with the lowest intake levels.  

Heart disease and blood clotting

Vitamin K plays a key role in preventing the calcification of your arteries, which is one of the primary causes of heart disease. The vitamin carries calcium out from the arteries before it has a chance to form a hard plaque. It also activates the protein that enables blood to clot, reducing the risk of infection.

Cancer

Studies have shown that people with a higher intake of vitamin K may be less likely to develop cancer. Further research is underway to try to discover the root of this correlation.

What are the health risks and symptoms of deficiency?

When the body’s levels of vitamin K are low, it will eventually switch into ‘emergency mode’ and start shutting down any non-essential functions. This accelerates a whole host of health nasties, including the ageing process, neural decay and cell mutation (which could eventually lead to cancer).

These are some of the potential health problems that make it so important to fine-tune your vitamin K levels:

Arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease and varicose veins Osteoporosis
Tooth decay Cognitive degeneration
Infectious diseases (such as pneumonia) Cell mutation (potentially leading to cancer)

A recent study found that only 50% of people that consume a typical western diet are getting enough vitamin K.

Here are some of the signs that could indicate you have a vitamin K deficiency:

  • Sensitivity to bruising
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding when passing water

Replenish your levels with the right diet and high-quality supplements

There are two natural types of vitamin K, helpfully labelled ‘K1’ and ‘K2’. K1 is found in vegetables, while K2 (also known as menaquinone) comes from dairy products and is found naturally in your gut.

Balancing your intake of both K1 and K2 is the best way to maintain your natural vitality, although K2 has been found to be more potent at topping up levels and possess additional health benefits.  

We all need vitamin K in order to keep our bodies running like clockwork, however some people do carry an additional risk of becoming deficient. You might be at an increased risk if you:

  • Are on a long-term course of antibiotics or medication to decrease fat absorption
  • Suffer from gastrointestinal problems, liver disease or gallstones
  • Take cholesterol lowering medication, anticoagulants (such as warfarin) or synthetic oestrogen
  • Have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis or cholestasis
  • Have an excess of vitamins A and E

Diet

Vitamin K Food Groups

Here’s the top 10 food groups that can help you combat vitamin K deficiency:

  1. Green leafy vegetables
  2. Herbs
  3. Salad vegetables
  4. Brassica vegetables
  5. Hot spices
  6. Stalk vegetables
  7. Cucumber
  8. Soybeans
  9. Olive oil
  10. Dried fruit

There are also a couple of golden rules to help optimise your vitamin K intake, such as avoiding hydrogenated vegetable oils that block absorption and topping up the levels in your gut with a probiotic.

The role of high quality supplements

If you’re in one of the ‘at-risk’ groups or just can’t consume enough vitamin K through your diet, it might be worth considering introducing a high-quality supplement into your daily routine.

While vitamin K is fat soluble, there are no known problems with toxicity should you go a little over your recommended amount. The only proviso is to avoid supplements if you’re taking anticoagulant medication.

Vitamin K might not be quite as glamourous as vitamins C or D (found in citrus and sunshine respectively), but that’s no reason to forget about a nutrient that’s so crucial to keeping your heart and bones healthy. Follow the simple tips in this article and discover your natural balance.

Is B12 deficiency stopping your blood from breathing?

B12 is a super-vitamin that keeps you feeling active and is key to a whole host of your body’s most important functions, including the formation of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your system.

Falling below your optimal B12 levels can cause or exacerbate a range of serious health complaints. Here’s our top tips about B12, to help you stay naturally full of life:

What role does B12 play within the body?

Vitamin B12 is a complex chemical that contains the mineral cobalt, and is often referred to as the ‘energy vitamin’.

It helps to prevent fatigue and build energy stores by supporting thyroid function and cellular methylation. However, its effects go far beyond an energy boost – the following processes are all reliant on the vitamin:

Red blood cell formation Cellular energy
Memory Nutrient absorption
Adrenal gland support DNA synthesis
Nerve and brain regeneration Reproductive health
Digestive health Carnitine metabolism

Why do we become deficient and what are the signs?

B12 deficiency is generally caused by one of two things: either a lack of B12 in your diet, or (more likely) an undiagnosed secondary condition such as ‘leaky gut’ that prevents you from properly absorbing it into your system.

Damaged stomach lining (known as leaky gut) can cause ‘Pernicious anaemia’ (or vitamin B12 anaemia), preventing you from absorbing the B12 that is a natural part of your diet.

Am I at risk?

The latest research suggests that we’re all potentially at risk. The Framingham Study indicated that up to 40% of the UK and US population have lower than optimal levels of the vitamin.

People don’t generally notice symptoms until they’re in their 30s, and the average age for a deficiency diagnosis is 60.

The following people are particularly at risk from B12 deficiency:

  • Aged over 50
  • Vegans or vegetarians
  • Sufferers from digestive issues (e.g. diarrhoea, IBD)
  • Those with an H.pylori bacterial infection or stomach ulcer
  • Post-weight loss surgery
  • Afflicted by acid reflux

Also, people taking the following forms of medication are at an increased risk of becoming B12 deficient:

  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure control
  • Birth control pills
  • Cholesterol-related drugs
  • Diabetes medications
  • Anti-psychotic drugs
  • Antacids (which decrease the amount of B12 absorbed from food, but not from supplementation)

What are the warning signs?

While the symptoms are likely to be pronounced, they are often attributed to other causes. Here’s some of the signs to watch out for:

Fatigue Lack of focus
Tension in muscles Poor memory
Emotional fluctuations Lack of motivation
Infertility Digestive issues (diarrhea, IBD)
Lack of energy Hypothyroidism

How to increase your B12 levels

Diet

Unlike most of the vitamins in our diet, B12 is not primarily produced by plants or animals. It’s mainly produced by a cocktail of bacteria in the gut.

Here’s some of the top foods to help boost your B12 supply:

Beef /chicken liver (organic) Sardines (wild) Salmon (wild)
Tuna (wild) Cod (wild) Lamb (organic)
Scallops (wild) Beef (grass-fed/ organic) Yogurt
Venison (organic) Raw milk Turkey (organic)

B12 can be killed off by overexposure to heat. So, try cooking these foods as medium rather than well-done, to maximise B12 intake.

As most B12 is stored in meats, vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk from B12 deficiency, so they could increase their dietary intake with probiotic and fermented foods, and particularly supplements.

Supplements

As you’re able to generate some B12 in your gut, you should think about supplementing both your B12 levels directly, and boosting your digestive system as a whole.

For B12, methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin are recommended over cyanocobalamin as they can be absorbed more easily. Desiccated liver tablets are another completely natural supplement that can help to boost B12.

A balanced combination of natural supplements to boost your B12 intake would include:

  1. Natural Vitamin B12
  2. Live Probiotic Supplement

Because ‘B’ vitamins are water soluble, they leave the body quickly and so should be taken twice per day. The recommended daily dosage is 400 – 500mcg, however it’s always best to speak with an expert in restorative medicine in order to finely tune your B12 intake.

The health benefits of balanced B12 levels

It might sound a little complicated, but once you know how, it’s really easy to re-discover your natural B12 balance. And the health effects can be life-changing.

Maintaining optimal levels can reduce the risk of your health being affected in the following ways:

Anemia Asthma
Depression Fatigue (adrenal fatigue and CFS)
Kidney disease Macular degeneration
Memory loss Migraine headaches
Multiple sclerosis Neuropathy
Shingles Tinnitus
Decreased levels of oestrogens (women) Decreased progesterone levels (women)
Increased cortisol levels Insomnia and irritability

And those are just the direct benefits. Optimal B12 balance is also linked to preventing these serious health concerns:

  • Brain damage
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Cancer

There’s so much at stake with B12 deficiency, it helps to stay one step ahead and maintain your natural balance long-term. Follow these simple steps to re-discover the real you and maintain optimal health for many years to come.

Am I too old for iron deficiency? Why this is a myth and what to do about it.

Iron is a crucial mineral that promotes a wide variety of functions within the body, but its deficiency can often be misdiagnosed.

Optimal levels depend on your age and gender; however, medical knowledge focuses more on some specific demographics’ susceptibility to deficiency. Doctors are keenly aware that women of reproductive age lose iron as a result of their menstrual cycle, and even more so if they are pregnant or breastfeeding – but what about the rest of us?

Iron requirements decrease as a result of the menopause, but a base level is still needed – you’re never too old to be deficient. And, because many of the symptoms of iron deficiency match those of the menopause, doctors can often mislabel symptoms. So, if you’re feeling listless, here’s how to make sure that your iron levels are in balance, to promote top health and rediscover your spark.

What role does iron perform within the body?

We generally have 3 – 4g of iron in our body at any given time, with a large portion stored as haemoglobin and the remainder spread between the liver, spleen, your bone marrow and muscle tissue.

Iron is a wonder-nutrient, helping us to perform a whole host of daily functions. Most crucially, it helps generate the red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body, and it also plays an important role in metabolising proteins.

Why do we get deficient?

A low level of iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the US, with over 10% of women falling below recommended levels.

Women are the more likely sufferers of iron deficiency as they lose the mineral as part of the reproductive cycle – but anyone can be affected, through excessive blood loss, poor diet, or conditions that prevent iron absorption.

Research shows that the following groups are especially at risk of an iron deficiency:

Vegetarians/vegans Fitness fanatics
Pregnant or breastfeeding women People who have lost or given blood
People undergoing dialysis Sufferers of GTI disorders, such as Crohn’s
Regular takers of antacids People with ulcers

What are the warning signs?

The number one symptom of an iron deficiency is anaemia, which means that your body isn’t creating enough red blood cells to carry oxygen round the body.

If you can’t carry enough oxygen, your brain and muscles will be denied the nutrients that they need, and you’ll start to feel weak and lethargic. Iron promotes general wellbeing and helps to boost energy levels, and is also involved in the enzymatic functions that control your metabolism and help you digest foods properly. Optimising your levels will improve brain and heart health, boost energy levels, and make your skin, hair, nails and waistline look better.

Many signs of an iron deficiency match up to the symptoms of a hormone deficiency. Here are the main warning signs to look out for:

Anaemia or increased blood sugar Changes to appetite or weight
Chronic fatigue Decreased immune function
Pale or yellowing of the skin Cough
Shortness of breath Low concentration or memory
Abnormal heartbeats or increased body tension Sores on your mouth or tongue
Muscle weakness or restless leg syndrome Mood changes

How to use supplements to naturally restore your iron levels

Fortunately, iron deficiency can be identified by a simple blood test and treated easily with the right diet and supplements.

In terms of diet, look out for whole-foods with high iron levels, such as

  • organic/grass-fed meat,
  • poultry,
  • eggs,
  • dairy products,
  • fruit,
  • veg (dark greens particularly)
  • whole grains.

And, iron is more easily absorbed when eaten with certain other foods, so, for example,  try pairing foods rich in vitamin C (leafy salads and citrus fruits) with pulses for a better iron hit. Other substances that increase iron absorption are: cysteine, folic acid, Vitamin b6, and zinc.

Here’s some iron-rich foods to consider on your next shop:

iron food sources table

The number one symptom of an iron deficiency is anaemia, which means that your body isn’t creating enough red blood cells to carry oxygen round the body. Iron requirements decrease as a result of the menopause, but a base level is still needed – you’re never too old to be deficient.

 

Iron supplements are also a great fix for deficiency, especially if you’re in one of the ‘at risk’ groups. However, side-effects of an iron overload (more than 45mg per day) include nausea and constipation, and intake can be altered by calcium supplements or medication for conditions such as Parkinson’s or cancer. All in all, it’s best to speak to an expert in restorative medicine to make sure your levels stay perfectly balanced.

Could an iron boost be the key to rediscovering your natural vivacity? Follow our simple suggestions and find out.

Why is zinc deficiency often misdiagnosed? How to identify and fight it

Zinc is an essential trace element and mineral that’s found in all living beings. It’s known as ‘essential’ for a reason: it has a major effect on your overall health. In fact, it performs more biological roles within the body than all other elements combined.

However, your body has no means of producing or storing the mineral, so it’s tough to regulate your intake – the World Health Organisation estimates that 31% of people globally are zinc deficient.

Ensuring that your levels are optimised will help you maintain your natural sparkle.

Why are we just starting to notice how common zinc deficiency is?

Though known as a crucial element for plants and animals since the early 1900s, it took another 60 years before scientists began to investigate zinc’s effect on humans, and clinicians focused more on the effects of iron deficiency. The mineral was finally identified as essential only in 2009.

You get zinc mainly from your food. But even if you eat three balanced meals a day, it’s not quite that simple – modern food doesn’t contain as much zinc as our cavemen ancestors ate, for two key reasons:

  1. Industrialised food processing rinses out up to 50% of zinc through mechanical and chemical processes.
  2. Cooking habits – we don’t often risk eating raw meat or veg today, but cooking to well-done fries essential minerals to a crisp, preventing them from being absorbed by your body.

So now, up to 2 billion people globally have a marginal zinc deficiency – but this is not severe enough for them to realise their condition, or for it to be easily diagnosed because symptoms are common to many other conditions.

How would I notice if I was zinc deficient?

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with enzymatic reactions, binding to electron-rich cell proteins to interact with amino acid side chains. But what does this actually mean for your general health and wellbeing? You might notice some of the following if you become deficient:

  • a loss of appetite
  • occasional moodiness
  • numbed smell and taste
  • immune system compromised: for example, getting a lot of colds
  • diarrhoea or ‘leaky gut’
  • increased allergies sensitivity

If you notice these symptoms, you should have your doctor check your zinc levels, and they can then prescribe a specific dosage of zinc for you if needed.

Here are just some aspects of your health that zinc can help to maintain:

LiverOysters
Crimini mushroomsPumpkin seeds
SpinachBeef
Sea vegetablesGreen peas
Raw milk and cheeseBeans

Try to get these in an organic, unprocessed form. Also, try boiling, poaching and steaming (and avoid microwaving, frying and charbroiling) to ensure that the zinc is still absorbable when you eat.
Also, note that smoking can cause zinc deficiency, so it’s another really good reason to quit!

Restoring your zinc levels to their natural optimum can boost your bodily functions and help prevent health conditions. And, it’s so easy to achieve: with simple diet improvements and nutritional supplements, you could find a whole new lease of life!

 

Why magnesium deficiency makes you ill – how to spot the signs and what to do

women magnesium deficiency
Just look around the room; chances are that almost everyone in your eye-line is suffering from magnesium deficiency in one form or another. But, with symptoms so common that they’re often attributed to other ailments, and a lack of relevant clinical research, most of us don’t ever realise why we’re suffering.

Why magnesium is crucial for your general health

The fourth most common mineral in the body, magnesium is both a mineral and electrolyte that helps pass electrical signals along the nerves in your body. You may have seen sports drinks adverts that claim electrolytes are lost through sweat, resulting in cramp: but this is just the tip of the electrolyte-impact iceberg.

Without magnesium, your heart would stop beating, your muscles would seize up and your brain would stop processing information. A co-factor of an astonishing 300+ bodily reactions, magnesium helps regulate your temperature, maintain energy levels, form bones and teeth, and fight cardiovascular disease. Magnesium levels are reduced by stress factors, which can subsequently initiate or worsen chronic illnesses.

Why the symptoms of deficiency are very common and hard to diagnose

Conventional medicine has struggled to identify magnesium deficiency because of its reliance on blood tests. Magnesium in blood is crucial to ward off heart attacks, so your body will supplement any loss in the bloodstream by robbing reserves in bone or muscle tissue. Therefore, all blood tests typically show similar levels. However, 99% of our magnesium reserves are in muscle and bone tissue, which aren’t usually tested. So a deficiency can go completely under the radar.

Over 3,750 magnesium binding sites have now been found within the human body, meaning that a deficiency of this under-loved electrolyte could trigger or exacerbate a whole host of conditions, including:

OsteoporosisAsthmaAnxiety
Insomnia Blood clots Depression
Muscular and back pain Bowel disease Lethargy
Muscle crampsCystitis Impaired cognitive ability
SeizuresDiabetes Foggy memory
Constipation Cardiovascular disease Fatigue
Headaches HypoglycaemiaTendonitis
Migraines Kidney and liver disease Aggression
High blood pressure (Hypertension) Musculoskeletal conditions (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain, etc.) Obstetrical/gynaecological problems (PMS, infertility, and pre-eclampsia)
Nerve problems Tooth decay Tension

Any of these sound familiar? Women may be particularly prone, because excess oestrogens, present during the early stages of the menopause (or perimenopause), also create a magnesium deficiency.

Beating magnesium deficiency for improved health and wellbeing

There’s so many simple ways that you can boost your magnesium levels and recover your natural balance. Here’s just a few:

  1. Start by supplementing with high quality magnesium: your doctor trained in restorative medicine can prescribe these for you as part of a general health rebalance.
  2. Change to an organic diet featuring magnesium-rich food (including dark chocolate!)
  3. Slather yourself in magnesium oil
  4.  Take a long soak in an Epsom salt bath – it will boost your sulphur levels too
  5. Try to avoid prolonged stressful activities
  6. Reduce sugar intake – it takes 54 molecules of magnesium to metabolise one sugar molecule
  7. Stay away from synthetic oestrogen compounds

The changes might start subtly, but you should definitely notice when your magnesium levels start to fall back in line. When your balance is restored, the stress which can cause magnesium deficiency is reduced, along with the potency of chronic symptoms.

Restoring your natural optimum magnesium levels doesn’t just fight or eliminate the conditions listed above: because many of the remedies are part of a generally healthier lifestyle (such as improved diet and a calmer outlook), you could find your general health and energy is stronger than ever before.

Should we take vitamin supplements?

Some of the many questions women ask me are, should we take vitamins and other nutrients or not? In what amounts should we take them, which supplements are the most effective and which vitamins or nutrients should we take for a specific illness or chronic disease?

Yes, admittedly, it can be very confusing, especially as there are so many on the marketplace… some pure and some not so pure, but that is for another discussion!

The guidelines

Answering this question is important to our health and longevity – but as we know, there are so many differing viewpoints regarding nutrition and nutritional supplements, it is difficult to know in which direction to move. The RDA, recommended daily allowance, and the RDI, reference daily intake, were developed so they could be used as a guideline for our daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. However, these dietary recommendations are only suggestions, which are often rigidly followed by well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, these guidelines are way below the levels that restorative medicine would call sufficient (optimal) to help people achieve optimal health – which is its goal. Also, the RDA and RDI recommendations do not consider that every individual is different and therefore their requirements for vitamins, mineral, and other nutrients will be different. T0 enable them to gain full health benefits, nutritional intake needs to be considered.

Of course, stress, age, lifestyle, genetics, medications, soil depletion, vitamin interaction, and whether there is a need for more antioxidants, also all need to be considered. Just because your healthy neighbour or friend is following a certain nutritional plan doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

What does your body need?

It is imperative to understand what the body needs. Only 20 per cent of disease is inherited and 80 per cent is the environment in which we place our body. It is what we personally do to our body that counts. Our health and lifestyle is basically based on lifestyle, environment and nutrition. It is these factors that have a huge influence on the number of years spent in good health. Many studies demonstrate that people with better health habits and nutritional diet survive much longer and with a lesser degree of disability at the end of life.

The Journal of the American Medical Association stated,

“Sub optimal vitamin states are associated with many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. It is important for physicians to identify patients with poor nutrition or other reasons for increased vitamin needs.” Going onto say, “Most people do not consume optimal amounts of all vitamins by diet alone… it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”

What about nutrients from healthy eating?

There are various reasons why it is almost impossible to get all nutrients we need from food:

  • most soil is now depleted of many important minerals, such as magnesium and zinc.
  • selenium, a trace mineral, is also deplete in some areas but can be found in overabundance in other areas. Selenium is good for health in small amounts but is toxic in large amounts – watch out!
  • when fruit and vegetables are not consumed after they are picked, they immediately lose their nutritional value.
  • cold storage continues to destroy nutritional value – grapes lose up to 30 percent of their B vitamins, by the time they arrive at the supermarket. Tangerines that are stored for eight weeks lose more than half their vitamin C.
  • over cooking – the longer you cook fruits and vegetables, the less nutrients there will be left. It is always better to lightly steam them or eat them raw, and if possible as soon as they are picked.
  • processing foods (the foods that most of us eat today) destroy any nutritional value it may have after it has been picked. Food can be processed, blanched, canned, sterilized and frozen – all these mechanisms decrease nutritional value. The milling of grains removes much of its fiber and twenty-six essential nutrients.

In today’s modern society the intake of supplements is fundamental to good health – but make sure you get the right supplements in the right amounts, and clean, pure supplements (no chalk, etc!)

Restorative medicine can design a nutritional programme just for you! Right amounts, clean, pure just for you!

Why is iodine so important?

Why is iodine so important?

Did you know that iodine is the most important trace element for human health and that every cell in your body requires iodine to function correctly? And that a whopping 72% of the world’s population is deficient in iodine? Our glands, especially thyroid, ovaries, testes, pituitary and adrenals need iodine for the production of hormones. Hormones are the essence of life. Without them we could not function.

Iodine deficiency

When there is a deficiency in iodine, the body cannot repair itself because the building hormones, such as growth hormone, IGF and testosterone, all require iodine. Guess what happens? The body slowly breaks down. The body needs iodine for healthy cellular and metabolic functioning, it is almost impossible to achieve optimal health when there is an iodine deficiency.

Today iodine is perhaps the most misunderstood and overlooked mineral but its importance cannot be overstated. Iodine deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, along with ovarian, uterine, prostate cysts and cancers. Iodine signals death to cancer cells. With low iodine breast tissue can become cystic and fibrous and fibroids may occur in the uterus. Women suffering from fibroid cysts respond well to iodine supplementation.

Thyroid connection

The thyroid is a very important gland and cannot function correctly when there is a deficiency in iodine. The primary function of the thyroid is to balance metabolism. When the thyroid gland dysfunctions, it produces less thyroid hormone, a condition known as hypothyroidism. When hypothyroidism occurs, the body becomes sluggish and this is when we see weight gain – oh no, who wants to get fat? Also, with iodine deficiency you may have poor concentration – your job may depend on this! You may feel exhausted and depressed, you may suffer from craving for foods such as carbohydrates and sweets, and you may feel cold when other people feel hot. You may also have dry skin and/or hair loss. All these symptoms are characteristic of women with an iodine deficiency.

When your thyroid suffers, the rest of your body suffers – everything in the body is interconnected. There is a major connection between low thyroid production and low adrenal production. When the adrenals are low, you can be sure your sex life will be on a ‘go slow’ too – that’s because your sex hormones are low as well. Do any of you recognise these symptoms?

How to protect yourself

Be aware of bromide, aluminium, lead, chlorine and fluoride that are found in our drinking water, and mercury fillings that some of you may still have, as any iodine you have in your body will be used up in order to remove these extremely toxic chemicals. Iodine is known to increase the excretion of these toxins.