Vitamin E

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 

Vitamin D

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

Happy Brain, Happy Tum

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

Our 10 Top Tips for Digestive Comfort

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

Digest This!

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