Archive for July, 2013

Probiotics Offer Benefits to Most

By the NEEDS Wellness Team166674176

Probiotics are microorganisms that exert beneficial effects in humans and have been the subject of many recent scientific studies. They benefit us in wide variety of ways, including averting harmful organisms from growing (such as yeast), preventing food and environmental allergies, enhancing the immune system, assisting in the digestion of foods, and promoting the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body. Also, probiotics have been shown to prevent and inhibit the growth of colon, liver, and breast cancer. The health benefits of these organisms are so profound; it is one of the few supplements we recommend that almost all people include as part of their daily regimen.

Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. However, most of us can’t or don’t eat these foods in sufficient enough quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life. The proper balance of these microflora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Also, constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in the food supply also readily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms.

So, supplementation is necessary. There are many probiotic products to choose from.

Someone who has difficulty swallowing capsules should consider the tiny Acidophilus Pearls from Enzymatic Therapy; because these do not need to be refrigerated, they are also great for when you travel.

Ideally, infants and toddlers should have primarily Bifidobacterium in their intestines to help prevent and stop diarrhea and to aid in the prevention of allergies. Supplementing with a powdered form of Bifidobacterium, either by itself or with a small percentage of Acidophilus, is easy with infants by dipping your fingertip in the powder and having your child suckle it. Adding one-eighth teaspoon to food, such as applesauce, is a great way to provide the Bifidobacterium to toddlers. Children older than two can be given combinations with higher percentages of Acidophilus.

In order to acquire the most significant benefits that probiotics can provide, maintenance is essential. For maintenance, we suggest the use of products that have a multitude of probiotic strains present to provide broad coverage, such as Flora Biotic Plus from Nutrineeds or Garden of Life‘s Primal Defense.

One of the principal foundations of good health is maintaining a vigorous digestive tract. Probiotics are fundamental to this and have been shown to have so many immediate and long-term positive health effects. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins, stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanism – the immune system, and help make vitamins needed by the body. With all of these outstanding health benefits, you should consider the importance of working them into your daily routine.

July 30, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

The Most Superior Forms of Minerals

By Jennifer Morganti, ND137063159

Are you looking for the best multivitamin available, but just don’t know where to start? In our previous blog, we covered the optimal forms of vitamins that you should look for on the supplement facts panel. Here, we will cover the forms of minerals with the best bioavailability.

Magnesium is an important mineral because so many of us are deficient. The amount found in a multivitamin may not be adequate because this mineral takes a lot of volume; therefore, you may need to supplement with an extra magnesium pill. When looking for the best form, you’ll notice that magnesium is always bound to another nutrient for the sake of stability. Some nutrients that are bound to it release the magnesium into its single form easily, and some hang on tighter, making it less absorbable. Magnesium carbonate, sulfate, hydroxide, gluconate, and oxide are forms that are least absorbable into the tissues. This means that they are more likely to have a laxative effect, which may be desirable in some situations. Better absorbed forms are magnesium citrate, taurate, glycinate, and threonate. Citrate is one of the more common forms and is very cost-effective. Magnesium threonate is the newest form of magnesium, and has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. This makes it an excellent choice to prevent dementia and other cognitive problems. However, this form is not found in any multivitamin.

Calcium is another mineral that is not found in adequate doses in a multivitamin because of its bulk, so it may need to be taken as an additional supplement. Calcium carbonate is commonly found in multivitamins because it is cheaper and less bulky, but it is poorly absorbed and not ideal for building bone. Instead, look for calcium citrate, hydroxyapatite, or Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite Concentrate (MCHC).

In general, the true mineral chelates are well absorbed, but there is some controversy over which ones are authentically chelated. Albion brand chelated minerals are an example of a true chelate, so their presence indicates a high quality formula.

Beyond the chelates, zinc picolinate is preferred over the sulfate or gluconate form.

For selenium, selenomethionine is a common and well-absorbed form; it is considered superior over selenium yeast, and sodium selenite. Chromium picolinate is recommended over nicotinate, yeast, and chloride forms.

When looking for a high-quality multivitamin, it may not be possible to find the optimal form of every single nutrient. The key is to find a formula that has a good amount of nutrients in the best forms, in the quantity that you need, at a price you can afford. If you need assistance finding a product to suit you, you can always call the NEEDS wellness team for a complimentary consult!

July 23, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

The Most Superior Forms of Vitamins E, D, B-12, and B-6

By Jennifer Morganti, NDWhich Drug?

One of the most common questions I have been asked over the years is that regarding the difference between the multivitamins found at the drugstore or big-box store, and the type of multivitamins found at NEEDS and high-quality health food stores. After all, they seem to have the same vitamins listed on the supplement facts panel, right?

On the surface, they do all appear the same. But there are big differences in the actual forms of each nutrient in terms of absorption and the way the body uses them. As a general rule of thumb, the cheaper materials are the least effective and the biggest waste of money. So it really pays to know what forms are the best and to spend a little extra money on the ingredients that work best.

One vitamin that you want to pay close attention to is vitamin E. The most important concern is that the product contains d-alpha tocopherol, the natural form of this fat-soluble vitamin, instead of dl-alpha tocopherol, the synthetic form that should be avoided entirely. If you really want to reap the benefits of vitamin E, you should look for all four forms of tocopherol: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocopherol. There are also four forms of the tocotrienol part of vitamin E (the same four prefixes as the tocopherols), but it is quite rare to find all eight isomers in a multivitamin formula due to the expense. At a minimum, be sure to avoid the synthetic vitamin E, which is common in TV-commercial type multivitamins.

Another important fat-soluble vitamin is D. Cholecalciferol, known as D3, is the one better utilized by the body, as compared to D2. D2 is the form that can be toxic to the liver in high doses, but D3 is far less likely to cause a reaction. D3 is typically derived from lanolin and is very affordable, so most manufacturers have converted to using this form exclusively.

In the water-soluble B vitamin family, there are a few basic things to consider. B12 can be found as hydroxyl-, methyl- and cyano-cobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is the least effective but most common form found in a multivitamin. It is not a form found in nature and isn’t utilized effectively by the body. A high-quality multi will offer the hydroxyl or methyl-cobalamin forms which offer superior activity.

Vitamin B6 is usually found in the basic form of pyridoxine. A superior and more active form is pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, also known as P5P, but you are less likely to find this in a multivitamin.

Up next: what forms of minerals you should look for in a multivitamin!

July 16, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High Quality – Part II

156209448

By the NEEDS Wellness Team

NEEDS is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of looking at how the raw materials in a supplement are sourced. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement in question.

THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS

What part of the herb is used? Is it the same part shown in studies to contain the active ingredient? Is the final product tested for potency? Some less-than-ethical companies actually buy the “straw” left over from an extraction process to make tinctures, then encapsulate the spent herb, label it, and sell it as a regular herbal supplement.

Some nutrients and herbal compounds are best rendered with solvents. Is the final product tested for solvent residue? If present, these residues must be detoxified by the body—not always easily accomplished. Also, does the company test the final product for microbial contamination, such as bacteria or mold?

Several nutrients are derived from substances such as corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, to which some may be sensitive. Many can tolerate small amounts of these substances, others require an ultra-clean product that is either highly purified or extracted from a more expensive agent.

If you take fish oil, how is it prepared? Is it extracted and packaged in an oxygen-poor environment to help prevent rancidity? Most quality fish oil manufacturers will test their final products for rancidity.

If probotics such as Acidophilus and Bifidus are part of your regimen, does the company who makes them guarantee that there are live, viable organisms in their product? How long will they be stable and at what temperature? What was the growth media for the probotics? If a person is sensitive to dairy, it may be best to use a probotic grown on beets or chicory, for instance.

THE ADDITIVES

Finally, what are the physical characteristics of the tablet or capsule? Are the binders, fillers, flowing agents, colorings, etc., nutritive or benign? Can they result in negative side-effects? Yellow Dye #5 and Red Dye #1, for instance, have been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and migraines, as well as many other conditions. Tablet or capsule, dissolution rates are also of paramount importance; both must dissolve at the precise time in order for your body to use the nutrients.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of supplement ingredients and qualities available. If you have adequate stomach acid or assimilate nutrients well, you may be fine taking a medium-grade supplement. On the other hand, if you do have certain health conditions or sensitivities, you will want to use physician-grade supplements.

July 9, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High-Quality – Part I

156209448

By the NEEDS Wellness Team

NEEDS is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

We’ll embark on this series by discussing what constitutes a high-quality supplement. Not all supplements are created equal. The form of nutrient or part of the plant used, the process of extracting compounds from plants or oil from fish, and the fillers, binders, and other stabilizers used are just some of the factors that determine how well your body may utilize or tolerate your supplements.

So, the first question you want to ask is:

WHAT IS THE THE QUALITY OF THE RAW MATERIAL(S)?

Where did the raw material(s) originate? If it’s an herb, is it organic or does the company test for pesticide and herbicide residues? Is the plant harvested when the active ingredients are at their peak? Is the material screened for dirt or other residue?

If it’s a fish oil product, what is the source of the oil? How were the fish raised: farmed or wild? Is testing or purification performed to make sure the oil is free of pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, and other pollutants?

If it’s a nutritional supplement, are the nutrients made or derived according to United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) standards? Are the nutrients in a form easily used by the body? For instance, it is easier for your body to use the calcium from calcium citrate than from calcium carbonate. Also, magnesium oxide, while great for constipation relief, is poorly broken down and absorbed across the intestines. We will discuss the most easily absorbed forms of a variety of nutrients in a later blog.

In our next supplement series blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement.

July 2, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment


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