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Vitamin E is one of your most powerful fat-soluble vitamin which relies heavily on fat absorption to get sufficient blood levels. The majority of vitamin E is stored in your fat cells with smaller amounts found in the heart, muscles, reproductive organs, and the adrenal and pituitary glands. D-alpha-tocopherol is the natural form, and the most abundant and biologically active form of vitamin E (the synthetic version of vitamin E is less biologically active).

Vitamin E contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.* Vitamin E is a key player in the body’s antioxidant network where it prevents free radical damage and oxidation from occurring, and once it has been used to neutralise free radicals, it can be recycled over and over again with the help of other antioxidants such as curcumin, coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, glutathione and alpha Lipoic acid. 

Short term high doses of vitamin E can be useful in treating deficiency and a number of health problems which are caused by oxidative damage to a variety of body cells.

* EU REGISTERS ON NUTRITION AND HEALTH CLAIMS 

Can selenium help with men’s fertility?

Infertility is a major clinical concern, affecting 15% of all reproductive age couples. It is a well-known fact that selenium helps out men with normal spermatogenesis; the production of sperm,* but how does it do this?

Male factors, including decreased semen quality, are responsible for 25% of infertility cases. Currently, the cause of suboptimal semen quality is poorly understood, and many physiological, environmental, and genetic factors, including oxidative stress, have been implicated. Selenium is important for reproductive functions such as testosterone metabolism and is a constituent of sperm capsule selenoprotein.

The administration of selenium to sub-fertile patients can induce a statistically significant rise in sperm motility. This is because selenoproteins participate in sperm structure, integrity and maintenance. Sperm capsular selenoprotein has an important structural role in spermatozoa in the form of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px). Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) decreases fertility because ROS attacks the membrane of the spermatozoa, decreasing their viability. Increasing selenium encourages antioxidant GSH-Px activity, thus decreasing ROS and leading to increased male fertility.

Another study included 690 infertile men with abnormal sperm motility and morphology. They received supplemental daily selenium (200 µg) in combination with vitamin E (400 units) for at least 100 days. There was 52.6% (362 cases) total improvement in sperm motility, morphology, or both, and 10.8% (75 cases) spontaneous pregnancy in comparison with no treatment. No response to treatment occurred in 253 cases (36.6%) after 14 weeks of combination therapy. Therefore combination therapy with oral Se and vitamin E was effective for treatment of abnormal sperm motility and morphology and induction of spontaneous pregnancy.

Treatment of deficiency is easy, so if a couple is having fertility issues, perhaps it is a good idea for the male to get their selenium level checked.

* EU REGISTERS ON NUTRITION AND HEALTH CLAIMS

Statistics show that 1.25 million deaths are caused by road traffic accidents per year, 3.5 million are caused by diabetes, and 7 MILLION are the consequence of air pollution.  (Reference, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.)

 

Shocked?

 

Environmental pollutants are a global health problem, associated with the development of many chronic diseases. Exposure to pollutants may increase our chances of serious illness, thanks to the effects of pollutants on the parts of our cells linked with inflammation, cardiac injury and oxidative damage.

There is a growing body of evidence based research to show that the food we eat can both positively and negatively influence the toxic effects of pollutants on our health. Recent studies suggest that nutrients like EGCG in green tea can protect against the inflammation caused by pollutants. Increasing our intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fats, like Omega 3 oils, may help manage chronic conditions like asthma. This is especially important if you live in a high-risk area and eat a lot of processed foods.

For those of us who live and exercise in polluted cities, or eat fish products from polluted seas and rivers, specific nutrients to help combat this damage could have real benefits. ‘Personalised nutrition’ is on the horizon, and pollution exposure will soon form part of lifestyle assessments. You can start to personalise your own nutrition now by changing your diet to help fight the effects of pollution.

 

We all need vitamin D, not only to live but to help prevent a variety of medical conditions and diseases including osteoporosis, depression, brain functioning problems, bowel inflammation and related issues. If people exposed their skin to daily sunlight there would be no need for a dietary or supplementary intake, however as our skin ages, consumption is more and more important as skin becomes less able to react to sunlight.

Our current European recommendation is to consume 5μg of vitamin D3 a day, however the new draft from the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition guidelines suggest that everyone should take 10μg as a supplement every day, that’s 400IU of vitamin D3. It is possible to overdose and people should not exceed around 10,000 IU per day.

Although supplements supply a guaranteed whack of vitamin D, other sources that are promoted most frequently are fish because of their beneficial oils. Does anyone really know how much is in a fish and what fish to choose though?

Fish and fish products are regarded as the major dietary source of vitamin D. National food composition databases show values in the range of 0 to over 300 μg/kg of fish and fish products. A fish liver has the highest content with some as high as 1200 μg/kg of vitamin D.

The highest non liver amounts were found in fresh eel and shiokara, a Japanese fish product. The lowest are seen in highly processed fish. The vitamin D-3 content of the frozen fish and fish products ranged between <2 (shrimp) and 196 μg/kg (roe of vendace)

Contrary to general belief, vitamin D content may depend on the diet (i.e., the vitamin D-3 content of zooplankton and there is no significant correlation between fat and vitamin D content of fish ie it doesn’t matter how ‘oily’ the fish is!

So how much fish would you need every day to get the newly recommended 10 μg /400IU extra vitamin D3 per day?

  • ½ tsp codliver oil
  • 1.5 ounces of pink canned salmon
  • 2 ounces of cooked fresh swordfish
  • 2 ounces of fresh mackerel
  • 2.5 ounces of rainbow trout
  • 3 ounces of fresh sockeye salmon
  • 6 ounces of canned tuna, drained
  • Over 8 ounces of cod
  • 17 sardines, canned in oil and drained

So have a look at the above and you’ll see it’s quite hard and also expensive to attain extra vitamin D! This is probably why the government state a supplement and not food!

#reduceyourrisk

Hops have been known for their calming abilities for centuries. This is thought

to be partly due to the xanthohumol it contains, which induces mental and physical wellbeing, and enables sound and healthful sleep*.

Menopause, also known as the second puberty, is an important stage of women’s life associated with various complaints and distresses. Vasomotor symptoms (VMS), such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and fatigue, are the most common menopause symptoms affecting about 50% to 80% of middle-aged women. Although VMS generally subside after five-seven years, some women have to deal with these symptoms for much longer.  Along with psychological and physical effects, menopause can also cause VMS and these symptoms can affect the quality of life. Obviously, these symptoms, resulting from oestrogen deficiency during menopause, can exert negative effects on women’s health and quality of life and thus require to be managed through approaches such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, according to the Women’s Health Initiative and other clinical trials, HRT can increase the risk of various health issues in postmenopausal women. Oestrogen deficiency is associated with complaints that may increase the risks for both illness and early death, including increased cognitive changes and osteoporosis. For this reason HRT for menopausal women seems the most appropriate answer. However, other health conditions may result during its use.

During the past decade, growing attention has been paid to the use of herbal medicines for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Many herbal treatments for menopausal symptoms contain hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and its components such as 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN; a potent phytoestrogen), 6-PN and isoxanthohumol (two well-known flavanones), and xanthohumol (a prenylated chalcone). The high oestrogenic potency of 8-PN has the ability to interact with oestrogen receptors. For this reason it must be avoided by anyone with an oestrogen receptor breast cancer. On the other hand 6-PN showed a very weak estrogenic activity as isoxanthoumol did, while xanthohumol is inactive.

Hops containing terpenoid, flavonoid glycoside and catechin are widely used to treat tension, headache, sleep disorders (through impact on the central nervous system), activating the stomach and appetite. Other beneficial effects of this plant are for reducing joint pain, anxiety and nervousness, thus reducing and effect on kidney’s. Despite its confirmed benefits, the mechanisms through which hops relieves menopausal symptoms are not clearly understood. Considering possible negative effects of HRT, prenylated flavonoids extracted from hops can serve as a useful alternative treatment for the alleviation of sleep problems during the menopause.

*EFSA Article 13.1 botanicals on hold list.

Aging is associated with a deregulation of biological systems that lead to an increase in oxidative stress, among other effects. Xanthohumol is the main preylated chalcone present in hops, whose antioxidative properties, amongst others, have been shown in recent years.

In the most recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, the possible protective effects of xanthohumol on liver alterations associated with aging were evaluated. Half the artificially aged mice were treated with 5mg/kg/d of xanthohumol. A significant increase in protein levels of oxidative stress and proliferative markers were shown in old non-treated mice. The mice treated with xanthohumol did not have these changes associated with liver ageing. An earlier study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science investigated xanthohumol as a skin anti-aging agent via its beneficial regulation of matrix surrounding skin cells. When Xanthohumol was applied to skin cells, it showed potential to improve skin structure and firmness: it simultaneously inhibits the activities of elastase- the enzyme that breaks down the elasticity of skin, and stimulates the biosynthesis of fibrillar collagens, elastin, and fibrillins.

Other studies such as that published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry are now showing that xanthohumol treatment modulated the biological processes, exerting a protective effect on brain damage induced by aging.

The antioxidative properties of xanthohumol strengthen body cells in fighting oxidation induced aging*.

* EU Registers on nutrition and health claims and EFSA Article 13.1 botanicals on hold list.

Katie Murray is Altruvita’s nutritionist. Read her full bio on our About page.

Katie Murray is Altruvita’s nutritionist. Read her full bio on our About page.

Katie Murray is Altruvita’s nutritionist. Read her full bio on our About page.

Katie Murray is Altruvita’s nutritionist. Read her full bio on our About page.

Have you ever tried to get rid of a turmeric stain from clothes or your kitchen counter? It resists the fiercest scrubbing. But it may be some consolation to know that the power of turmeric is not limited to its colour.

Part of the ginger family, turmeric has been used for generations, not only to boost flavour in cooking, but also to support wellbeing. The success of turmeric in treating ailments is believed to be thanks to curcumin, a natural chemical compound found in it. And the more we get to know about it, the more evidence seems to support the choice of curcumin for a boost to mind and body.

Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to have benefits for the bowel, breast, pancreas and liver. Antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body, which damage cells and contribute to disease. Many studies have revealed that curcumin also works with the nervous system, including the brain, and there has been further research to see whether curcumin could be used to treat depression.

While turmeric, and therefore curcumin, is common in Indian and South Asian cooking, the typical Western diet could benefit from more. We know that, for curcumin to be absorbed into the body effectively, it’s best either eaten with fat or heated in oil before it is eaten. Mixing it with small amounts of olive or rapeseed oil (high in essential fats) is probably the best option. However, for curcumin to have an impact in our bodies, we need to keep enough of it in the blood and it can be difficult to get this much from diet alone.

Scientists continue to study curcumin to try and understand the full extent of its promise. In the meantime, the nutritional evidence firmly supports the inclusion of curcumin in our diets, especially where we have specific health concerns.

Altruvita Curcumin+ contains use CurcuWIN® a form of curcumin that is 46 times more absorbable than standard curcumin**.

If you’ve ever uttered the words, ‘I’ve got a gut feeling about this’ or ‘I’ve got butterflies in my stomach’, you’ll understand the connection between your gut and your brain. What you may not know is that there is a real biological link between them.

The gut is home to an important part of the nervous system, and contains over 100 million nerve cells. These line the gastrointestinal tract, and help digest food and control blood flow. They are the reason we can ‘feel’ what is happening in the gut.

The gut is also home to part of the immune system, in the form of gut bacteria. These bacteria also communicate with the nerve cells.

One of the most common causes of discomfort during the digestive process is stress. Typically, once the stressful stimuli go away, your gut will return to normal. But ongoing stress can cause chronic inflammation, increasing the harmful bacteria in your gut.

Inflammation is a leading cause of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, which is why it is so important to control it. The right nutrition can be very helpful in reducing inflammation in the body, but how do you achieve it?

A good place to start is with your levels of vitamin D3. Vitamin D is responsible for the normal function of the immune system, so see your GP for a blood test if you suspect you have changes to your gut health or you don’t get enough sunshine. You may be advised to take a supplement if deficiency is found.

Botanical extracts like green tea are known to have antioxidant properties and may maintain healthy gut flora. It can be drunk as tea, or taken as a green tea polyphenol supplement.

Curcumin, the extract from the Indian spice turmeric may contribute to digestive comfort and is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric, in the form of powder or fresh root, can be added to stews, curries and vegetables, and also to nut milk for a warming, latte-style drink.

Altruvita Happy Tum contains vitamin D, curcumin and green tea. Click here to find out more.

Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

If you’ve ever suffered from bloating after a big meal, you’ll know how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is. Bloating happens when the gut stores up excess gas, produced by bacteria. It can affect anyone, but it needn’t make you change your plans or affect every day activities. Take a look at our top tips to support gut health and digestive comfort.

  1. Trial avoiding vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions and leeks for a week.
  2. Cut back on pulses like dry roasted peanuts, beans and lentils for a week.
  3. Take a probiotic for four weeks: put some lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in your gut.
  4. Avoid sweeteners like glycerol, sorbitol, mannitol or xylitol as gut bacteria love to munch on them!
  5. Slow down and avoid swallowing air! Take at least 15 minutes to eat a meal.
  6. Get tested for vitamin D3 deficiency.
  7. Drink green tea or peppermint tea. Green tea may maintain healthy gut flora.
  8. Try lactose-free milk and dairy products for 2-4 weeks: large doses of lactose may cause wind and bloating in a small amount of the population. 
  9. Add curcumin to your diet: it’s known to contribute to digestive comfort.
  • Don’t go too long between meals or chew chewing gum: an empty stomach produces more gas.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

What we eat affects all our organs, but it’s the gut that has to deal most directly with our dietary choices. A poor diet, high in processed foods, can cause constipation and inflammation, and could lead to more serious conditions.

How do we look after our gut? The traditional Mediterranean diet (without the processed meats) is one answer: high in fruit, vegetables and omega-3 oils, but low in saturated fat, sugar and processed food.

We can also show our gut some love by eating individual nutrients that support gut health.

Curcumin is a compound from the spice turmeric and can reduce inflammation and support digestive comfort. Turmeric isn’t only good in curries – it’s also great sprinkled on eggs and green vegetables, and stirred into milk as a night time drink.

Green Tea contains antioxidant compounds and is a good choice to replace our regular tea or coffee. It may also help maintain healthy gut flora.

Eat a rainbow diet, full of different coloured vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and pulses. Fibre helps the bowel to contract and each colour provides us with different nutrients.

Pre- and pro-biotics: prebiotic foods like onions, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, asparagus and chicory are favourites of the bacteria that live in our guts. And the live bacteria found in probiotic yogurts, drinks and supplements are super-friendly to our digestive systems.

Get more calcium from foods like green vegetables, dairy products and some fish. It’s good for our bowels and strengthens our bones at the same time.

Part of our immune system is in the gut, as gut bacteria. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to immune health. We need more Vitamin D than we usually get from sunlight and we can boost our intake through oily fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products.

And of course…

Don’t forget to exercise.

Physical activity is great because it gets the bowel moving. We might not want to think about it too much, but the longer waste sits in our bowels, the more likely we are to develop problems.

Photo by Taylor Kiser on Unsplash

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