Krill – a better form of Omega 3?

The health benefits of Omega 3 are well known for helping with cardiovascular and cholesterol support as well as anti-inflammatory properties which may help arthritis and joint pain and is linked to improvements in memory and brain function.

If you already are a convert then you certainly have a huge variety of supplements to choose from and here is a new one from Silvertown Health and their source is pure Antarctic Krill.

The Krill population of the world has been estimated as outweighing the human population of the world which certainly came as a surprise to me, as the only thing I really know about krill is that it is a favourite food of whales. This particular variety of small crustaceans is found in the Antarctic peninsula and apparently, their Omega-3 oils are in a phospholipid form which is suggested as far more beneficial and potent than the triglyceride structure found in normal fish oil supplements.

Krill oil, unlike fish oil, also contains Astaxanthin, one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man (or indeed woman) and said to be 300 times more powerful than the antioxidant vitamins A & E and 34 times more powerful than Co Q10.
Antioxidants are vital in supporting the immune system and reducing DNA damaging free radicals.

It seems that Silvertown Health Krill Oil is harvested ethically by a leading European krill oil harvester (though I would have thought that the whales had first claim on that as it is one of their most essential forms of food) and has Novel Food Approved status-whatever that may be. I would have thought anything that was essential to health was hardly novel, but perhaps the krill are great readers.  However, as they are monitored by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Marine Stewardship Council to ensure strict environmental standards that probably balances itself out.

If you want to try Krill oil you should be able to find it in most good health stores and you only need one 500mg capsule a day to feel the effects. If you want to go the ethical route as well – buy it online from Silvertown here: Krill Oil

Zinc Can Help Prevent Pneumonia In Over Sixties

August 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing, Vitamins & Supplements

Zinc is certainly an essential ingredient in your diet for fighting infection and something that I supplement with every winter to keep colds at bay and now my anecdotal experience has been medically validated.

That is probably a first, but a new report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that zinc plays a very important role in health maintenance, particularly for the over 60s. Simin Nikbin Meydani, DVM, PhD of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Massachusetts studied over 600 people from 33 different nursing homes in the Boston area.

What they found was that those with healthy blood levels of zinc are 50 percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with sub-par levels. The study was a follow-up to a previous one which found that people given 200 international units (IU) of vitamin E every day for one year are 20 percent less likely to develop upper respiratory infections, including common colds. But after a follow-up, the trial also revealed that a majority of those same participants had low levels of zinc in their blood. As we saw in the previous item, zinc is a necessary mineral for maintaining immune health, regulation of blood pressure and the mineralization of bone and as well as being essential For the eyes and prostate.

The study’s conclusion is that daily zinc intake can help nursing home residents who are susceptible to pneumonia as it can reduce the risk of developing pneumonia by about 50%. Plus – bearing in mind the previous item – not only did those participants have a higher risk of developing pneumonia when they did become sick, they did not recover as quickly and required a longer course of antibiotics.

Another factor to bear in mind is that they also found that those who were taking regular zinc supplements also had a 39% lower rate of deaths from all causes than a comparable group who were not taking supplements.

Food sources:

Best sources of zinc are the protein foods including beef, lamb, pork, crabmeat, turkey, chicken, lobster, oysters, clams and salmon. Other good sources are dairy products, yeast, peanuts, beans, and wholegrain cereals, brown rice, whole wheat bread, potato and yogurt. For vegetarians and vegans pumpkin seeds offer one of the most concentrated non-meat food sources of zinc.

If you have a good and varied diet then your body getting enough zinc, the RDA for adults is around 11 mg a day, but the actual amount your body can absorb may be as little as 15 to 40% but you can improve this if you are taking Vitamins C, E and B6 and minerals such as magnesium as they can increase zinc absorption in the body.

How To Reduce Winter Flu by 50%

August 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing, Vitamins & Supplements

Given that we seem at the moment, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, to be experiencing any combination of the four seasons in one day I thought it would be useful to give you a heads up on avoiding Winter flu the natural way. Before you head off to the doctor for your antique flu jab you might like to know that recent research has proven that a vitamin D supplement is more effective at reducing the risk of flu infection than vaccines or antiviral drugs.

The study was conducted by researchers from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition based on a double-blind, randomized study on 354 children between the ages of six and 15 during the winter of 2008-2009. Half the children were assigned to take a daily supplement of 1,200 IU of vitamin D, while the other half were given a placebo pill.

After one month, influenza infection rates in the two groups remained the same, but by the second month those who had been given vitamin D were 50 percent less likely to become infected than participants in the control group and this drop in infection rate corresponded with an increase in their vitamin D blood levels.

In contrast, antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir and zanamivir reduced rates of infection by only 8 percent. Even vaccines had success rates significantly lower than the 50 percent achieved by vitamin D.

When the analysis excluded children who were being given vitamin D supplements at home, the results were even better and supplementation was found to reduce the risk of infection by a staggering 67 percent.

Because vitamin D is an essential nutrient, it normally has no side-effects if taken in normal doses but at very high doses can raise calcium levels in the blood.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which plays an important role in having a well-regulated immune system, and an overall lower risk of infection, heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Before supplementing you should check with your doctor if you are taking any over-the-counter items such as magnesium-containing antacids or mineral oil or prescription medication particularly barbiturates, digoxin, phenytoin, verapamil D. Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.

The best way to get good Vitamin D levels is to have safe and limited exposure to the sun as that is how it is naturally synthesized by the body. Using very high factor sunscreen and more limited sunlight in winter can play a part in the majority of people in the UK being deficient so if you want to add extra, without supplements, then oily fish and eggs are two of the best sources. Personally, I also always start taking Echinacea tincture in September in order to boost my immune system in preparation for the winter.

The Benefits of Krill the Crustacean – and a Vegetarian Alternative

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Vitamins & Supplements


I almost said the thrill of the kill, but that would’ve been a pun too far! Maintaining good levels of EPA and DHA, the fatty acids which play a key role in heart and brain health and lowering the risk of depression. What the latest buzz is from across the pond, these watery metaphors have got to stop, is that a good if not the best source of these elements is to be found in a tiny crustacean in Antarctica. The krill is a mini powerhouse of nutritional benefit and when its oil is harvested it delivers a potent blend of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and phospholipids.

I am always wary of the phrase ‘super food’ but this does seem to be a new way of getting the benefits of fish oil in supplement form and without the corresponding fishy smell or taste. CardioRedTM has a pure high-strength krill oil that is sourced from sustainable live krill harvests using the latest eco-friendly technology – and with 100 per cent traceability it comes from a single source, euphausia superba. –

Unlike traditional fish oils, the lipids in CardioRed Krill Oil capsules take the form of bound phospholipids, which are more easily absorbed by the body. They also contain astaxanthin, a powerful natural antioxidant. You should be able to find CardioRed Krill Oil capsules, in your local health store that if you have any difficulty go to their website at

For vegetarians, add plenty of walnuts to your diet as they are a rich plant source of omega-3s, the fatty acids also found in cold water fish like salmon and krill. Also men who are concerned about their prostate, should include walnuts as part of a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables as they have been shown to help reduce the risk and help to treat the condition.

Take supplements? Then take action

October 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Vitamins & Supplements


I have mentioned before the potential disaster that could affect your ability to buy the vitamin and mineral supplements that you want for your health. There is great pressure from France and Germany to set very low levels on supplements and the UK will be forced into line if this goes through.

If you value your health, then first sign the petition at and then write a personal letter today to Jos Barroso, the president of the European Commission. Patrick Holford, Founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, has drafted an outline letter you can use, and feel free to adapt it to suit yourself. If you don’t register your dissatisfaction then no excuses when you have to buy vitamin C in 25mg doses – it’s the same restriction put on aspirin that you have to look forward to.

Draft letter

Jos Barroso
President of the European Commission
1049 Brussels


Dear President Barroso


Setting Maximum Levels for Vitamins & Minerals

I am most concerned about the EU proposals for dietary supplements, particularly vitamins and minerals that will be covered by the Foods Supplements Directive. My family and I are all users of dietary supplements to keep ourselves well and maintain good health; we have been watching the progress of the Food Supplements Directive with interest.

Currently we take [explain what supplements you take and why you do so - keep this list short and give examples of vitamins & minerals only]

I understand that key officials at the Health and Consumer Protection division have reached the final stages of the regulations – and that we can expect to be informed of their proposals for the setting of dose levels in a matter of weeks. We have heard conflicting stories about this – not least that the officials are under pressure from some Member State Governments, France and Germany have been mentioned, plus a number of lobbying organisations from mainland Europe to set very low, restrictive maximum dose levels.

I firmly believe that the only way forward is for decisions to be made on the basis of sound science only. It would be unthinkable to have low levels imposed – when millions of consumers like me and my family have been using the specialist higher safe doses for many years. There really is a wealth of scientific information available supporting the products as both safe and beneficial.

Like all sensible consumers, we want quality products, accurately labelled and properly certified as safe. But please don’t allow the levels to be set artificially low; please provide clear and accurate information and allow us to make own informed choices.

I appeal to you for help and a commonsense approach to this matter. Thank you.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name and address]


At current postage rates it will cost you between 1.52 for 100g letter by airmail. That small investment in maintaining personal choice doesn’t seem too much to me.

Successful dieting depends on vitamin D

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Fitness & Sport, Vitamins & Supplements


The Endocrine Society reported at their AGM of 12 June that if you are planning on a low calorie diet to get in shape for those summer clothes then you need to have good levels of vitamin D in your body at the start if you want it to succeed.

The study was reported on from a study at the University of Minnesota and although we associate Vitamin D deficiency with obesity, it’s never been clear as to whether low levels of vitamin D causes obesity or the other way around. The study put their test subjects on a diet that provided 750 calories a day less than they actually felt they needed. Most of their people had low levels of vitamin D at the start, but surprisingly even low levels were able to predict how successful the diet would be. The more vitamin D in their blood, then the greater the weight loss – and vice versa.

Probably of more interest before you shimmy into that swimsuit is the fact that higher baseline levels of vitamin D levels also predicted there would be a greater loss of fat from the abdomen – the prime target for most dieters.

Just taking vitamin D as a supplement won’t help you lose weight on its own. Sadly the same advice applies as usual – eat less, exercise more and focus on healthy foods rather than saturated fats and alcohol. Liqueur chocolates are probably the worst combination, so wait until Christmas!

Do you need an alibi?

July 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Vitamins & Supplements


Not for anything criminal you understand, but in order to help you to better health? I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the importance of probiotics in helping our overall health, and the rise of a new focus on prebiotics that are designed to help your body’s natural defence system perform at its best. The newest way to take these is in a product called Alibi that you will find in the soft drinks section of your supermarket or health store and it works by combining a blend of 17 body cleansing ingredients including vitamins, amino acids and herbal extracts. The herbs include milk thistle, gingko, shchizandra and last weeks featured weed – dandelion! If you are tired of throwing down supplements, then Alibi looks and tastes like any other refreshing soft drink and you can get it in two flavours, though personally I prefer the pomegranate. It is claimed to help keep you healthy and has associated itself with a campaign, POM354, which persuades farmers in Afghanistan to replant opium poppy fields with pomegranates. So they shouldn’t run out of ingredients any time soon.

Alli – All it’s cracked up to be?

July 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Diets, Vitamins & Supplements


This is the time when the diet industry is maximising it’s advertising as we approach the season of maximum exposure. Great if you are body confident, but the statistics show that the vast majority of women are unhappy with their weight, so the advent of a new ‘miracle’ diet product is greeted with delight, but is it justified?

Alli is on sale at pharmacies like Boots and has been highly featured in magazines as a ‘miracle’ weight loss product, but it is a drug and ought to be treated with caution.

What and how

The pills contain Orlistat that has been used for years but only on prescription to treat obesity. It works by attaching itself to some of that fat in your food and blocking it from being broken down by your body’s natural enzymes. It then passes the fat through your digestive system, into your intestines and eventually out through your bowels. So most of the fat you eat isn’t being absorbed by the body, so those calories aren’t heading for your hips. So what’s the problem?

It won’t get rid of any fat you have already stored, just new intake, so you still have to go on a low calorie diet and these are linked to weight re-gain and unbalanced hormones. Also, these pills strongly suggest you seriously restrict the amount of fat intake you have, but when you block fat from being absorbed in the body, you are blocking the valuable nutrients that fat can provide. You will see those effects in the deteriorating condition of both your skin and hair.

If you go over the fat amount recommendations with Alli you get something called “Treatment Effects”. This has been reported by women as meaning that you will spend a lot of time in the loo as your body rushes to expel the fat straight out of your system, and it will be mostly liquid. Effects include leaking, wet gas, and diarrhoea, plus a sense of urgency you could probably live without.

Risk links you don’t need

The National Cancer Institute in the USA reports a study showing significant increase in the incidence of aberrant crypt foci that are widely believed to be a precursor of colon cancer. There also appears to be a link between Orlistat and breast cancer that the FDA reported as being a higher relative risk of between four and seven times than in women not taking Orlistat. There is also a risk of liver damage from the prescription strength version of Alli available in the USA called Xenical. This is currently under FDA investigation and lists hepatitis as one of the side effects.

There is no doubt that Alli is highly effective for some people, but like all supplements and drugs what suits one may not be ideal for someone else. Popping a pill to lose weight is not a healthy option, sadly the only effective way to diet is to eat less of healthy foods, reduce saturated fats, sugar and alcohol and exercise more. Now if I could get that into a pill I would probably make a fortune!

Folic acid can boost birth weight for healthier babies

April 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Vitamins & Supplements, Womens Health


I mentioned a few weeks ago the benefits of Omega-3 for premature babies and now there is further help to boost your baby’s birth weight by over 60 grams – and this is very good news for their long-term health. The British Journal of Nutrition has reported that supplementing the mother’s diet with of 400 micrograms of folic acid during the pregnancy is important for two reasons:

The prime reason is that babies with a low birth weight (defined as less than 5lb 8oz) have an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, ADD and depression later in life and sadly their number is increasing. Secondly, being underweight indicates that they have not had their maximum growth potential in the womb as this is dependent on their receiving the correct balance of nutrients during the pregnancy and folic acid has an essential role to play in the normal production of protein, lipids and DNA. Taking the supplement while already pregnant was seen to result in a 40 per cent lower risk of having a child with low birth weight and in fact was even more marked in women having their second child as when they supplemented before conception they saw a 240g higher birth weight compared with first time mothers who didn’t take folic acid at all.

It is recommended in the UK that women take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily from the time of conception to the 12th week of pregnancy, in order to cut the rate of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This is in addition to the 200 micrograms of folate that should be obtained from a healthy diet from sources like brown rice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, and – interestingly – low calorie beer. Unfortunately, it seems that more than 90 per cent of women looking to start a family don’t have anywhere near this amount and so potentially are putting their children’s’ future health at risk.

Fight mood swings with fish oil


A recent report in the American Journal of Nutrition offers some hope for women – and those who have to live with them – who sufferfrom the hormonal havoc that can occur with PMS and in the time running up to the menopause. It’s not just the hormones of course, other stresses such as work and family life also add their load, plus the emotional challenge for many women of approaching the end of their childbearing years.

Other than hiding in a cupboard during the time when you want to lash out at everyone and everything and no sensible partner is insane enough to ask if you are alright without running the risk of a clip round the ear or a torrent of weeping. Now hope is at hand in the form of supplementing the diet with omega 3 oil.

Two groups of women took part in the eight week study; one being given 1.2 grams of omega-3 from fish oil and the others a placebo of sunflower oil. The group who had the placebo showed no improvement, but those taking omega-3 had definite improvements in their emotional state.

To supplement to the level of the trial you would need 1200mg a day of omega 3 and 1,050 mg of EPA. If you are not keen on taking supplements then you could increase the amount of oily fish in your diet such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies. Or turn to that childhood staple of cod liver oil if you can stand the taste. It contains large amounts of EPA and DHA.

A word of caution, most people can take fish oil supplements safely, but if you are any form of anti-coagulant, such as Warfarin please speak to your doctor. Fish oil supplements can thin the blood so you must check whether they are suitable for you before embarking on adding them to your diet.

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