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All about Magnesium – Which Form Works Best?

Magnesium
The ever-popular mineral, magnesium, is needed in over 300 of our daily metabolic reactions. Our bodies rely on magnesium to regulate muscle and nerve function, keep blood sugar levels balanced, make up strong bones and ensure proper liver detoxification. On the other hand, when magnesium stores are low, the risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraines increases. Why do We need Magnesium Supplements? Magnesium is primarily found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. This is because magnesium occurs naturally in garden soil. Today, these foods are grown in soil that is no longer the same as it was decades ago. Conventional agriculture practices include heavy use of imbalanced crop fertilization and potassium addition, which decrease magnesium levels. Heavy rainfall and aluminum runoff can also decrease magnesium stores. The suboptimal growing environment of crops leads to lower magnesium content in crops – even when we eat magnesium-rich greens and grains, it may not be enough. Plus, it is estimated that 34% of Canadian adults do not consume enough magnesium in their diets. The combination of both these factors results in a large portion of the population being magnesium deficient. The Benefits of Magnesium Supplements Because most of us are deficient, magnesium is one of the safest minerals to supplement. The advantage of supplementing with magnesium lies in its many forms – it is easy to choose the perfect one depending on your individual needs! Magnesium Citrate (magnesium + citric acid) One of the most common and cheapest forms of magnesium, this form is often taken to relieve constipation. Magnesium citrate can relax the bowels and pull water into the intestines so that the stool bulks up and is easier to pass. It’s a gentle laxative that will not cause dependency, unlike some herbs. Options: Natural Factors Tropical Fruit 250g, Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon 16 oz. Magnesium Malate (magnesium + malate) Is there anything that magnesium can’t do? This amazing mineral can help improve energy and metabolism on a cellular level. If you are chronically fatigued or have aching muscles, magnesium malate is a great option. Those with high inflammation will also benefit from this form. Options: AOR Mag Malate Renew 240 cap, CanPrev Magnesium Malate 120 cap Magnesium Taurine (magnesium + taurine) To improve your overall cardiovascular health, magnesium taurine is the best choice. Both magnesium and the amino acid taurine can improve blood pressure levels and keep heart contractility normal. It protects the heart from calcification and heart attacks.   Options: AOR Mag + Taurine 180 cap, CanPrev Magnesium + Taurine 120 cap Magnesium Glycinate (magnesium + glycine) As one of the most popular forms of magnesium, this form can work wonders for many people. Magnesium glycinate (or bis-glycinate) is highly absorbable without causing laxative effects. It is safe to take at high doses and is commonly used for muscle tension, cramps, migraines, and to improve sleep quality. When taken before bed, it helps to calm the mind and body to ensure a good night’s rest. Options: Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate 180 cap, CanPrev Bis-Glycinate 240 cap Are Magnesium Supplements Suitable for Anyone? Though magnesium supplements are relatively safe for most people, it is possible to take too much. If you experience stomach pain or diarrhea after increasing your dose, it may be a sign your body has already absorbed sufficient amounts. In this case, you may need to decrease your dose. If you are taking prescription medications, make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before proceeding. Author Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.

Slippery Elm: Healer or Hype?

Slippery Elm
If you’ve ever looked for a natural treatment for heartburn, sore throat, or constipation, you may have come across slippery elm. This large elm tree often flies under the radar, but its inner bark has a slippery mucilage, meaning it contains a polysaccharide that becomes a useful gel when mixed with water. It can be added to teas, supplements, and medicines to soothe skin and mucosal membranes and help facilitate movement in the digestive tract. Mucous membranes exist throughout our bodies. They are the lining of the respiratory cavities (e.g., nose, mouth, and throat), and digestive and urogenital tracts. These membranes can become inflamed after spicy meals or when you’ve picked up the latest daycare virus. With inflamed mucosal linings, you may experience symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, a sore throat, and congestion. Soothing these concerns is often a target for natural treatments like slippery elm. Psoriasis A collection of case studies using nutritional modifications and slippery elm in patients struggling with psoriasis found that all subjects saw improvement in their symptom ranking over a six-month trial, as well as a reduction in markers for intestinal permeability. Many of the studies that mention slippery elm are small and outdated at this point, but new studies are assessing its benefits in digestion and cholesterol, and the results are exciting! Digestion: Constipation  Stress is a significant issue seen in healthcare today that can impact the health of your digestion. One condition often associated with stress is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People struggling with this can experience abdominal symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort, as well as changes in bowel movements (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, or both). Because of its connection to stress and brain function, healthcare providers lean on psychotherapy to address these concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis may all be worthwhile investments if you are struggling with IBS. Natural options, like slippery elm, may also work.  The fibre content in slippery elm is a bulk-forming laxative which may help with constipation. In patients with constipation-type IBS, the slippery elm formulation was found to significantly improve bowel habits and reduce other side effects. Another small study associated slippery elm with improved digestive symptoms, including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence. On closer inspection, the stool of participants also showed improvements in healthy bacterial populations and reduced markers for leaky gut. “Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.” The same soothing effect slippery elm provides for people struggling with IBS can also be used to treat heartburn and sore throats. This demulcent coats the throat, easing irritation and coughing symptoms. Some older anecdotal evidence suggests that slippery elm has the ability to soothe inflammation and swelling, improve mucosal irritation, and ease laryngitis and acid reflux—but more investigation is required to understand the mechanism of action and effectiveness. Cholesterol High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a very common issue in Canada, with 28 percent of people aged 18–79 fulfilling the criteria for diagnosis. While lifestyle changes are helpful recommendations in the management of high cholesterol, many people require medication therapy to bring cholesterol into the normal range and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The first line of treatment is a drug family called statins. As with any medication, statins are not without side effects that may impact results. Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.  A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that patients with untreated high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) who received 500 mg of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance (large-fruited elm) daily for 12 weeks showed a greater decrease in LDL and total cholesterol in comparison to the placebo group. In addition, none of the participants reported any notable adverse events. Having an effective treatment option for managing a prevalent health concern like hypercholesterolemia—without side effects—is very exciting! How To Use Slippery Elm  Slippery elm comes in convenient capsules and teas, but you can also add the powder form to a smoothie or try making your own soothing lozenges. Regardless of the form, always take doses a couple of hours apart. Lozenges Ingredients » ½ c slippery elm powder  » 6 Tbsp honey Instructions Combine the slippery elm powder in a bowl with your favourite honey and mix well.  Roll the mixture into small balls using your hands (use about ½ tsp for each ball).  Roll each ball in a little extra ...

Lycopene – The Natural Red Pigment that Can Help Prevent Disease

Lycopene to Prevent Disease
You probably know that the pigment which lends bold color to certain veggies (tomatoes and pumpkin, for example) is linked to powerful antioxidants – called carotenoids. Most people probably don’t consider taking these carotenoids as individual supplements for overall longevity and improved health.  The benefits of carotenoids like lycopene are vast; including enhanced respiratory, vision, and cardiovascular health. Lycopene is also useful for men experiencing BPH or prostate issues.  What is Lycopene? Beyond Tomatoes In Western countries, tomatoes make up the predominant intake of lycopene, accounting for close to 90 percent. Lycopene is the carotenoid that lends vegetables and fruit (namely tomatoes) their bright red pigment.  Beta-carotene is another popular carotenoid, known for lending a bright orange color to carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.  Research clearly demonstrates carotenoids as being healthy for us, and reducing the risk factors for all-cause mortality – lycopene specifically offers its own unique health benefits that make supplementing with it worth it.  Lycopene is an exceptionally affordable supplement, with very low risk/interactions and is tolerated well by most people. You won’t be able to get the same amount from food sources that you would in the form of a supplement, even if you consumed tomato-based products with every meal.  The Health Benefits of Lycopene: Prostate Health, Cardiovascular Health, and More Lycopene appears to protect sperm cells – improving count, and motility, and reducing oxidative damage.  Higher blood plasma levels of lycopene were associated with fewer cardiovascular events, strokes, and heart attacks. Conversely, lower levels of lycopene were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  Other observational studies seem to indicate lycopene as protective against atherosclerosis – the primary risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  Intake of only ~25mg per day of lycopene was shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.  Other observational studies indicate that an increased tomato or tomato product intake was correlated with better blood vessel function, better artery function + better arterial health, and lower LDL cholesterol levels.  There is an apparent connection between lycopene intake and prostate cancer. Those with the highest amounts of lycopene intake were noted as having 15%-20% lower occurrences of prostate cancer.  Lycopene appeared to prevent earlier cognitive decline in rat study models, by reducing oxidative damage to the brain in those with diabetes and/or Parkinson’s Disease.  Lycopene appeared to prevent memory related deficits and depression, by reducing inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus.  In women, lycopene supplementation appears to reduce pelvic pain symptoms, and the pain associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also reduce diabetic nerve pain by reducing the amount of circulating inflammatory compounds. 

Xymogen’s ProbioMax DF – 30 & 100 Billion CFU Probiotic Formulations for Gut Health

Xymogen’s ProbioMax
Both Daily DF probiotic supplements contain the following clinically tested strains of probiotics to support a healthy gastrointestinal system: Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus plantarum  Bifidobacterium longum  Bifidobacterium longum Strain is well known to be tolerated by humans and safe for consumption. It is extremely resistant to bile salts/stomach acid and can tolerate a low-pH environment. This makes it quite well suited to the intestinal environment, and one of the better options when supplementing with probiotics to replenish healthy gut flora.  Lactobacillus plantarum Strain is isolated from plant material, and is well-known as being a component of lactic acid fermented foods. This includes sauerkraut and kefir. Like Bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus plantarum is resistant to bile salts and well tolerated in a low pH environment. This means a much higher level of efficacy and adhesion.  Lactobacillus acidophilus This is perhaps one of the more popular and commonly supplemented probiotics on the market. It is widely used in probiotic supplements, and found in fermented milk-based products like kefir and yogurt. It is present in the human mouth and intestinal tract. This particular strain in Xymogen is of human origin and completely safe for use.  Bifidobacterium lactis This was first discovered in the late 1890’s and plays a significant role in the human digestive system throughout the lifespan of a person from infancy to adulthood. This particular patented strain (HOWARU HN019) has shown the ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal system and proliferate. This strain has long been studied and documented, with an excellent safety profile and proven efficacy.  These probiotics by Xymogen do not need to be refrigerated. They are completely shelf stable. After opening, simply store them in a cool, dry place.  ProbioMax DF is a vegetarian, dairy, GMO, and gluten-free probiotic formulation that comes in either 30 billion CFU capsules, or 100 billion CFU capsules.  Each individual capsule is protected by being sealed in a nitrogen-purged aluminum blister pack to prevent degradation from heat, moisture, and oxygen.  These four clinically researched strains provide proven health benefits, and each has a well-established and well-known safety profile. In addition, to help further support the resistance to stomach acid when consumed, Xymogen utilizes gastro-resistant capsules to help ensure the beneficial bacteria make it to the small intestine.  These specially designed “DRcaps” are formulated to help slow the exposure of acids to active bacteria and ensure a more targeted and therapeutic release once ingested. 

Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR (Controlled Release) – Healthy Serotonin Levels and More Restful Sleep

Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR
Available in a 60 Tablet formulation  Supports the normal biosynthesis of serotonin  Supports a normal and regulated appetite Supports a more restful and healthy sleeping pattern Supports a normal, healthy mood  Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR is a formulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan in a controlled release tablet. 5-HTP is well known as a precursor to production of serotonin. Within the body, the amino acid tryptophan converts to 5-HTP and subsequently to serotonin to elevate extracellular serum levels. Supplementing with 5-HTP or tryptophan bypasses the limited amount of conversion that occurs from dietary amounts of the amino acid being converted to 5-HTP.  Dosage and Recommended Use of 5-HTP (CR) Dosage may depend upon the use in mind for supplemental 5-HTP. Doses of 150 mg are commonly used/studied in trials to help regulate hormone levels and sleep patterns, while a high dose 300 mg is often used to regulate appetite or control weight.  We generally always recommend only using one tablet (100 mg) two times per day (taken with a meal) unless monitored by a healthcare professional, naturopath, or physician.  Given the ability of 5-HTP to impact serotonin levels and regulate brain activities, it is important for those that are on any prescription drugs for mood disorders (depression, BPD, etc.) or other psychiatric disorders completely avoid use unless cleared by a professional. 5-HTP is not for use by children or those under 18 years of age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid the use of 5-HTP.  Each tablet contains 100 mg of 5-HTP and 27 mg of calcium (dicalcium phosphate dihydrate). This product does not contain any wheat, gluten, animal products, dairy products, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.  5-HTP CR for Regulating Mood, Hormone Levels, and Sleep Xymogen’s formulation of 5-HTP releases it slowly and steadily over a more prolonged period of time compared to traditional 5-HTP supplements that may cause a ‘peak’ and ‘valley’ rise + fall in serotonin levels. This 5-HTP is a completely prescription drug free product, derived from the amino acid content contained in a plant.  This 5-HTP will naturally increase the levels of serotonin within the body, which play a vital role in emotional regulation, mood, behavior, sleep, and appetite.  5-HTP has been demonstrated to effectively cross the BBB (blood-brain barrier) and displays efficacy when orally ingested without being degraded by the enzymes that degrade tryptophan.  Serotonin production is important for regulating norepinephrine and dopamine levels, and plays a role in normal mood and behavior. Normal levels of serotonin are commonly associated with being calmer and more relaxed.  Published scientific studies support a dosage of 100 mg – 600 mg per day for supporting healthy hormone levels, mood, and restful sleep.  Given that serotonin can also be converted to melatonin (sleepy after that turkey dinner – this is why) to help support longer REM sleep and a more peaceful sleep.

Colloidal Silver – Is it Safe, and Does it Work for Infections?

Colloidal Silver for Infection
First of all, yes, it does work for certain infections – colloidal silver has proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  This is promising news, considering the harm and dangers of antibiotics + antimicrobial resistance. Silver has long been used to address bacteria / bacterial infections for centuries, and has known active properties against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.  Colloidal silver presents an effective treatment option for those looking to deal with a bacterial or viral infection – of course, this should always be done after consultation with a healthcare practitioner and should not be used to replace antibiotics in more serious bouts of illness or infection.  Now, is colloidal silver safe?  Most information out there online regarding colloidal silver seems to be conflicting and confusing at best – there are countless testimonials from people claiming silver helped them through severe infections or the first sign of illness. At the same time, there are plenty of well-known health sites or regulatory bodies that warn about safety concerns (like the FDA).  First, let us establish that colloidal silver is a “solution” of water that contains the suspended silver in nanometer-sized particles that are readily absorbed. The total silver content of the solution should be expressed on the supplement you purchase as “ppm” or parts per million. This is the same as mg of silver per liter of water (mg/L). Silver has been used as an antibiotic up until the early 1940s – this is thanks to various processes that occur once silver is ingested. Silver nanoparticles enter bacterial DNA, attach to bacterial cell membranes directly, and block the cellular process known as cellular respiration within the cells of organisms.  Ionic silver is not the same as true colloidal silver. Always ensure you purchase true colloidal silver when looking for a supplement – these do not contain additives, and the solution should only contain nanometer-sized silver particles and purified water.  Colloidal Silver is Safe for the Gut and Does Not Destroy “Good” Gut Bacteria After ~28 Days of Use As for colloidal silver being safe, there is plenty of debate online surrounding the use of silver internally. Those noting adverse effects like argyria (turning blue) are often not referring to pure colloidal silver, but rather low-quality, inexpensive products that contain silver that is not a nanoparticle.  Generally, when used for 10-14 days internally, it was not shown to cause any adverse side effects, nor was it shown to alter the gut microbiome. This means that even after 28 days of reported use, the diversity of “good” gut bacteria was not altered, destroyed, or changed by colloidal silver. This is a huge deal, especially when compared to the impact of traditional antibiotics on the microbiome.  Our stance is that colloidal silver will absolutely work as a potential antibacterial supplement, but it needs to be used/implemented short-term (10-14 days ideally; maximum of 28 days) on a strict dosage as indicated on the product.  Dosing Colloidal Silver, and a Word of Caution When it comes to dosing colloidal silver, most supplements are sold as a liquid tincture with a dropper. Depending on the condition, colloidal silver will be applied differently – generally, most practitioners will recommend against taking it for more than 14 consecutive days at a time.  Dosages may range depending on the concentration of the suspension itself. Always check/consult with the bottle or container for the most accurate dosing instructions.  2-5 drops can be applied topically to the skin for infections, wounds, and irritation.  5-10 drops can be taken internally, per day, for immune system support or to combat an infection. 1-2 drops can be placed in the eye directly for cases of pink eye.  Colloidal silver is always sold as a solution of purified water that contains nanometer particles of suspended silver. While silver has been demonstrated as safe, long-term or excessive prolonged use of colloidal silver may lead to some undesirable side effects – stick to recommended dosages, and only use it for the duration or period of time you need it for (I.E., recovery from a viral infection).  Colloidal silver can be applied topically or ingested internally – ensure to opt for a high-quality pure silver product, such as those sold on our website. 

Inositol: A ‘Sugar’ For Diabetes, PCOS, PMS, and Anxiety

Inositol Sugar
Inositol is essentially a form of ‘sugar’ that can influence the way the body processes insulin. It is often referred to, incorrectly, as “Vitamin B8.” Inositol is not a B-Vitamin, nor is it a vitamin of any kind. Inositol is a compound that is naturally found in fruits and plant-based foods (beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) and is also sold as a supplement. It is also naturally produced by the body from the foods you eat. In supplement form, the term ‘inositol’ is actually a broad signifier. Usually, most supplements will be in the form of “myo-inositol” “IP6 – inositol hexaphosphate” and “D-chiro-inositol.” Inside your body, inositol plays several important roles related to the action of insulin and impacts serotonin and dopamine. Structurally, inositol is most similar to the sugar ‘glucose,’ and is involved in signaling between cells. While the benefits of inositol have been reported in doses of over 10 grams a day, the standard amount consumed through dietary means is a dramatically lower 1 gram. With higher doses, inositol is used to typically address concerns such as insulin resistance, PCOS, depression, anxiety, and PMS. How Inositol Works – and What It Can Be Used For So, how does inositol (or Myo-inositol) work, and does which form of inositol you choose to matter? Ultimately, which form of commercial inositol as a supplement you purchase does not matter – they will generally be in two forms and both have been studied for their protective benefits. As inositol(s) help the transduction of hormones and neurotransmitters, any sort of reduction in the amount of inositol or defective metabolism of inositol can help implicated in things like PCOS, anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance. In studies where women with PCOS were given either myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol – markers of abnormalities and reproductive symptoms were improved. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can cause hormonal imbalances in women from the ovaries producing too many androgens – male sex hormones that women also have, but in much smaller amounts. Small cysts form in the ovaries. PCOS can lead to irregular or painful periods, infertility, and high blood sugar/cholesterol markers. In those with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, inositol may help with the balance of certain chemical signals and hormone production – including serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, inositol was found to be helpful for metabolic disorders. These markers include things like higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and high “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). In a study involving taking 4 grams of inositol for over a year, women with metabolic disorders saw an improvement in reduced cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar. This was without changing any other sort of behavior or dietary habits.   Inositol is linked closely to the function of insulin in the body, and as such, appears to be highly beneficial for addressing type 2 diabetes. Is Inositol Safe?  Generally, inositol is extremely well-tolerated. It is a supplement that has been used at a fairly high dose for prolonged periods of time (years) without any reported side effects or adverse effects in multiple studies. It is also naturally obtained from food and produced by the body – just in smaller amounts. At dramatic doses of 10 grams or greater a day, some people do report nausea, gas, or upset stomach. As with any sort of health supplement, always do your independent research prior, and ensure you consult with a health care practitioner or naturopath prior to use. Generally, the dosage will depend on what symptoms you are trying to directly address. For PCOS, a dose of 2 grams twice daily for 6 months or greater is recommended, while for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, 2 grams twice daily for up to a year is recommended. In those with mental health conditions, up to 10 grams once daily (as tolerated) is recommended for a shorter duration of time while self-monitoring. 

What are Collagen Peptides and are they the same as Gelatin?

Collagen
What is Collagen? Collagen and collagen peptides are often used interchangeably but may not necessarily mean the same thing. Liquid collagen, on the other hand, is often in the processed form of collagen peptides – just in a liquid format. Read on as we explore the differences between the various Types (I, II, III) of collagen, the different forms (liquid collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin), and what they actually offer consumers in terms of health benefits.  First, what exactly is collagen?  ‘Collagen’ in the broadest sense of the term, is the long-chain amino acids that are found in our tissues, skin, joints, and bones. They are the most abundant protein in the body.  At the same time, they cannot be obtained directly through diet unless supplemented. Instead, our body naturally produces collagen out of pre-cursors: these are things like vitamin C and amino acids, which can increase collagen production in the body. However, as we age, the production naturally declines and this is why we see the ‘results’ of aging both internally and physically. These include fine lines, wrinkles, joint pain and inflammation, and arthritis.  In traditional, unhydrolyzed full-length form, collagen is not effective as a supplement, as the long chain is difficult to break down by the stomach during digestion. This needs to be further broken down and processed, so we can utilize it optimally in the forms of supplements – this is where we hear the terms “collagen peptides” and “hydrolyzed collagen” from, as these are processed forms of collagen that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body.  What about ‘Gelatin’ – Is it the Same as Collagen Peptides? What about gelatin? Gelatin is a form of collagen that has undergone ‘partial hydrolysis,’ which gives it that ‘gel-like consistency. These partially hydrolyzed chains in gelatin cause the gelling due to the water content – this is why it is often used as a thickening agent for soups and other recipes.  ‘Bone Broth’ is similar to ‘gelatin’ in this sense and is essentially the same thing. Bone broth, like gelatin, is made by slowly cooking bones and connective tissue in water – and the gelatin dissolves into the bone broth. The actual ‘benefits’ of bone broth, which are compared to that of collagen, are actually from the gelatin content of the bone broth. Bone broth does not have the same beneficial properties that collagen peptides do.  Liquid Collagen and Collagen Peptides: How to Choose the Best Option So, clearly, collagen peptides are what we want to be supplementing with. But what exactly are ‘peptides’ and how is this collagen produced?  Collagen peptides, also known as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen hydrolysate” is a form of collagen that has simply been broken down first so it is useable by our bodies. The process of hydrolysis (where water molecules disrupt the bonds in an enzymatic process) breaks down the collagen into smaller chains of protein – these are what we know as “collagen peptides.” Almost all commercially available collagen will thus be hydrolyzed to be processed and for consumers to be able to dissolve it in water. At the same time, any “liquid collagen” you purchased is already hydrolyzed by nature of it being dissolved in water in a pre-manufactured product. The questions are then – are collagen peptides actually useful and do they have health benefits?  The literature and studies clearly tell us that yes, collagen peptides, when supplemented, do offer and confer numerous health benefits when used for a prolonged period of time.  Collagen supplementation is noted to help improve skin elasticity, and hydration of the skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, help with joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, improve bone loss in those with osteoporosis, and improve the health of nails, hair, and teeth.

Astaxanthin: Carotenoid Super-Power, and Antioxidant Powerhouse

Astaxanthin
The name may be hard to pronounce, but there is no mistaking the slew of health benefits associated with this powerhouse of a carotenoid.  Before we delve into astaxanthin specifically, first we should understand what carotenoids ‘are’ and their benefit to human consumption. Carotenoids are responsible for the pigments or colors you see in brightly colored fruit and vegetables. These are found in plants, along with other lifeforms like algae and bacteria. Often, these specific compounds are associated with bright reds, yellows, and oranges in plant matter.  All About Carotenoids These carotenoids also act as potent antioxidants in the human body. Dietary intake is associated with benefits due to this antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential for reducing the risk of chronic illness, disease, and oxidative stress. There are plenty of fairly popular carotenoids that are now regularly used as supplements to address a variety of health concerns – lycopene (tomatoes), lutein, beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin are among the most common.  These compounds are fat-soluble and should be consumed with dietary fat. This ensures enhanced absorption and utilization by the body. Often, supplements for carotenoids like astaxanthin or beta-carotene will be in a soft gel capsule that contains oil (fat source) or encapsulation of fatty acids. Carotenoids themselves are associated with a variety of health benefits and protective benefits (cardioprotective and neuroprotective). They are routinely linked to eye health, anti-carcinogenic properties, reducing risk factors for heart disease, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, stroke, and cardiovascular events.  Specifically, we are looking at astaxanthin, which is among the most potent and protective – noted scientifically for the extremely high antioxidant levels it contains, comparable to that of Chaga mushrooms and much higher than that of acai berries. While we know most of these carotenoids come from fruit and vegetables, astaxanthin is derived from a microalga that has a stark red-orange hue. Aquatic life that eats these algae and feeds on it are often noted for their red pigments – salmon, shrimp, krill, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and red trout are all notable examples that display the astaxanthin pigment.  In Europe, it is considered for use as a food dye, and the FDA has approved it as a color additive in animal food products. In general, astaxanthin from natural sources (algae or yeast-derived) or synthetic sources (lab produced) is given the “generally recognized as safe” approval from the FDA for use in supplements.  Astaxanthin’s Rise to Popularity as Powerhouse Supplement While astaxanthin is a supplement that has only more recently begun to be clinically researched and studied (~10 years), there is already a wealth of evidence of its role in human health as a major source of antioxidants that offer protection from liver injury, kidney injury, high blood pressure, poor vision, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and joint pain – to name a few.  The liver is absolutely essential to healthy functioning, given its important role in the body of metabolizing harmful substances and chemicals, toxic by-products, and regulating hundreds of other vital functions. Astaxanthin seems to confer protection from a wide range of liver disease-related conditions by offering extremely potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. Liver fibrosis, liver cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, drug-induced liver injury, and liver ischemia were all accounted for in studies. It exerts protective and therapeutic effects in these cases, offering protection as a preventative measure or therapeutic relief in those with these pre-existing conditions.  Not only is astaxanthin regarded for its antioxidant powers on the liver, but it also appears to help regulate insulin resistance and fat synthesis, and inhibit tumor growth.  If astaxanthin is healthy for the liver, it seems to make sense that it confers a benefit to our other important organs. In studies, kidney health was also positively impacted by supplementation with astaxanthin versus controls. As astaxanthin prevents oxidative stress, several studies have looked at it as a potential therapeutic in addressing kidney injury and function – astaxanthin appeared to prevent necrosis and destruction of the kidneys after oxidative injury in kidney tissue.  Astaxanthin also suppressed cell proliferation of cancerous cells, and this not only applies to the kidneys but our other vital organs. Anti-carcinogenic, it can inhibit tumor growth and cancerous cell proliferation. Astaxanthin and other carotenoids were also found to reduce the risk of kidney disease, along with the severity in sufferers.  Astaxanthin seems to prevent and reduce the replication of H. pylori – the bacterium associated with gastric distress, stomach ulcers, SIBO, and other digestive c ...

Happy Mother's Day from Healthy Planet!

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching! This is the perfect opportunity to treat all the Mama's in your life and even yourself to a few sweet gifts to celebrate this beautiful day. Healthy Planet is currently running an INCREDIBLE Mother's Day Sale, full of pampering and practical products for all Mothers! I have narrowed down my top 4 favourite products that not only do I use, but would make the  perfect Health & Wellness gifts for the Mama's in your life this Mother’s Day!   Organika Collagen – Because healthy skin is always on trend. Collagen has many beautiful benefits that does our body so good - promotes skin health, boost muscle mass, improve ingestive health, burns fat, alleviate joint pains, promotes heart health, and improves cognitive health. Our bodies naturally produce collagen, however our ability to produce it decreases less and less as we age. This is why it is so important to either incorporate foods that contain collagen in our diet or supplement it with a product like, Organika Collagen. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t want beautiful skin? Skin Essence Facial in a Jar – Spoil the Mama's in your life with this multipurpose product. You can either use this as an exfoliator to scrub away dead skin or leave it on as a mask so that the product can absorb all the oils and impurities out of your skin. Either way, this product will leave your skin super soft, supple, nourished and will brighten your overall complexion!   Everyone Hand Soap Coconut Lavender – This is the best naturally smelling hand soap on the market. I really love that it is kind to our earth, cruelty free, gluten free, does not contain synthetic fragrance, and really does a wonderful job at cleansing and moisturizing the skin.   Andalou Naturals Body Lotion Lavender Thyme – You will not catch me without some sort of hand lotion in my diaper bag. With all the diaper changing and constantly washing my hands to avoid catching my toddler’s germs, it strips away my natural oils leaving my skin super dry and cracked. I love this hand lotion not only does it DELICIOUS but it also does a fab job at moisturizing and keeping the skin moisturized for a long period of time. If Lavender Thyme isn’t your jam, they also have a large selection of other scents as well!   Written by Healthy Planet Ambassador @lifestylebycp.  Follow Cherrie as she lives her best life spreading her vision of the Health and Wellness lifestyle with the help of Healthy Planet!