Archive for the ‘Supplements’ Category

Are you getting enough of the get-slim vitamin?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Medical researchers make important discoveries about the connection between healthy eating and weight loss all the time and then every now and again they stumble across something really significant. That’s what happened when Brazilian researchers from the University of Sao Paulo set out to prove that fruits and vegetables speed weight loss; along the way they discovered just how important vitamin B6 is for sustained weight loss. They found that for each extra mg of B6, people can lose up to 3 pounds (1.36 kg).


B vitamins are associated with metabolism, stress reduction and reducing triglycerides stored in fat – all of which are essential for weight loss and B6 in particular has properties that can significantly boost weight loss. This is because B6 helps metabolise foods and turn the calories into energy, so when B6 levels are low more calories are stored as fat. However, when B6 levels are good more calories are burned as instant fuel. B6 has also been shown to help us sleep better and studies have shown that a good night’s sleep can increase the production of the hunger-killing hormone leptin by up to 15 percent and decrease production of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin by 15 per cent. Moreover, levels of cortisol are also lowered by a good night’s sleep – cortisol is the stress hormone that promotes excess abdominal fat by up to 45 per cent according to University of Chicago experts. Finally, without enough vitamin B6 your body can’t make enough feel-good brain chemicals, like serotonin, which are linked to an improved mood and an increased sense of well being – all of which are factors that are linked to a decreased risk of comfort eating.


To boost your chance of weight loss aim to eat foods rich in vitamin B6, e.g. bananas, brown rice, sunflower seeds, baked potatoes and oily fish and you can also include a supplement of vitamin B6 (total 50mg per day including whatever is in your multivitamin and mineral). Always get the B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (rather than the cheaper form of pyridoxine) because this is the biologically active form of B6 and your body can use it more efficiently. (See the Resources Page for information on how to get a good vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate).

In the News: Vitamin B12 supplements reduce risk of depression

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Scientists at the University of Western Australia found that adults who took regular does of vitamin B12 supplements were less likely to suffer mental health problems in old age.

It seems that the supplements lower the amount of homocysteine in the blood, high levels of which have been linked to heart disease and mood swings and other disorders. This can be reduced fairly quickly by taking B12 supplements or by eating food rich in vitamin B12, such as oily fish, eggs, yogurt and cheese. Researchers questioned 3,752 people aged 70 and above on past and present symptoms of depression and found that those with the highest levels of homocysteine were 70 percent less likely to suffer from it. The researchers believe that lowering homocysteine can reduce the risk of depression in the elderly by about 20 per cent.


Homocysteine can be easily tested with a finger prick test that is performed at home then sent to the lab, so contact my clinic if you would like your homocysteine measured. 

Boosting fertility with vitamin E

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Discovered in 1922 during experiments on rats, this powerful antioxidant contains tocopherols, a Greek word meaning to bear children. Scientists discovered that rats without vitamin E in their diet became infertile. In a preliminary human trial, infertile couples given vitamin E (200 IU per day for the female and 100 IU per day for the male) showed a significant increase in fertility.  Vitamin E’s beneficial role in female reproductive health has since been backed up by more recent research and it has even been suggested that it may reduce age related ovarian decline (where the numbers of eggs are less because the woman is older).

For men, like other antioxidants, vitamin E combats free radicals. High levels of free radicals can lower sperm count, so it is important to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants, especially vitamin E. Research suggests that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E may make sperm more fertile. An interesting study looked at men with good sperm counts but low fertilisation rates during IVF treatments. These men were given vitamin E each day. One month after starting treatment the fertility rate increased from 19 percent to 29 percent.


If you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility I recommend that you and your partner take vitamin E supplements. If you have had a miscarriage you should also both take a vitamin E supplement because it can help prevent abnormal clotting. Studies have shown that giving vitamin E to both partners can result in significant increases in fertility.


Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include irritability and anaemia. You and your partner should take 200-300 ius of natural rather than synthetic vitamin E a day. Normally natural and synthetic vitamins are of equal value but vitamin E is different because the natural and synthetic forms are structurally different. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effect of giving both natural and synthetic vitamin E and found that the absorption rate of natural vitamin E was more efficient than the synthetic. The natural version of vitamin E is called d-alpha-tocopherol and the synthetic is called dl-alpha- tocopherol.  (The Fertility Plus for Women and Fertility Plus for Men supplements I use in the clinic both contain 240ius of natural vitamin E – see the Resources Page).