Tag Archives: Minerals


Beyond the Brazil Nut: The Benefits of Selenium

What Is It?

Selenium is a trace mineral naturally occurring in the soil, in certain foods, and very small amounts can be found in natural water sources.

Selenium’s main role is acting as an antioxidant and has many benefits to the body. Selenium is also a chief component of the molecules which are necessary for your body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones, called ‘selenoproteins’.

The top health benefits of Selenium include:

  • regulating the thyroid
  • boosting immunity
  • reducing asthma symptoms
  • supporting fertility for both men & women
  • defending against heart disease, cancer, and oxidative stress
  • increasing longevity

Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium are key in facilitating the phase I and phase II detoxification processes in the liver.

Selenium also plays an important role in prostate health, helping to maintain healthy levels of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) which is the marker for prostate cancer.

More on the Benefits of Selenium

→ ANTIOXIDANT POWER, IMMUNE-BOOSTING & CANCER PREVENTION

Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant and defends against oxidative stress. There is also a strong correlation between serum levels of Selenium and a reduced risk of several types of cancer.

Studies show that foods high in Selenium may prevent cancer by helping with DNA repair, preventing cancer cells from replicating and by reducing free radicals in the body [1].

This mineral is such an important factor in supporting the immune system that it’s a key ingredient in our Immuno Multi formula.

→ HEART HEALTH & REDUCED INFLAMMATION

Selenium-rich foods (and the selenoproteins that they help form) can also prevent platelets from aggregating (which improves blood flow), prevent oxidative damage to cells (e.g. prevent the oxidative modification of lipids) thereby reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease [1].

People with low levels of serum Selenium have been shown to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, experts have suggested that Selenium supplements could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or deaths associated with cardiovascular disease.

→ REGULATES THYROID FUNCTION

Selenium is probably most well-known for its role in maintaining thyroid health since it works together closely with Iodine – another important trace mineral.

Concentrations of Selenium are higher in the thyroid gland than anywhere else in the body. It helps to regulate and recycle our Iodine stores and is needed to produce the critical thyroid hormone T3, which regulates metabolism.

‘Selenoproteins’ protect the thyroid gland when we are under stress. They help flush out oxidative and chemical stress, and even social stress – which, as most of us have experienced, can cause many negative reactions in our body. 

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Selenium Deficiency

A selenium deficiency is generally observed in areas where the soil does not contain much of it and the mineral content in soil can differ dramatically depending on location.

Even in food sources, the amount of Selenium is largely dependent on soil conditions that the food grew in. Therefore, even within the same food, levels of selenium can vary widely, and the mineral’s benefits may be more prominent in crops grown in certain locations more so than others.

Health Experts are becoming increasingly concerned as evidence suggests that a decline in blood Selenium levels is occurring in parts of the U.K. and other European Union countries. The worry is with several potential health implications that can result due to a deficiency in this mineral.

Selenium deficiency signs & symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Discolouration of hair or skin
  • Whitening of the fingernail beds
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infertility in men and women
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline

While Selenium deficiency is very rare in Canada and the United States (unlike other nutrient deficiencies that are more common) it is certainly wise to ensure you’re getting enough.

There are some people who do, in fact, have a Selenium deficiency due to a poor diet and conditions like Crohn’s disease that impair absorption of the nutrients your body needs to heal and thrive.

Additionally, many studies tell us that having Selenium levels above the RDI (recommended daily intake) is when it starts to have therapeutic effects, like lowering PSA for example. 

Best food sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts (just 1-2 per day provides you with enough Selenium!)
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Turkey
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Mushrooms
  • Soybeans

While it’s important to try to acquire Selenium through quality food sources, you may not be getting enough (except if you’re eating a Brazil nut a day!) – and supplementation may be a wise choice.

Sources & Referenced Content:

[1] National Institutes of Health “Selenium: Fact Sheet for Professionals”

[2] The Lancet Journal 2012 “Selenium and Human Health”


CanPrev Recommends:

6 Essential Nutrients For The Athlete

Optimizing nutrition when you’re an athlete (or even if you workout regularly) can make a significant difference in your health and performance on the court, field or at the gym.

Just like exercising your muscles through cardiovascular workouts or strength training is important, so is fueling your body properly through your diet. Unfortunately, when this doesn’t happen it can negatively affect performance, and in some cases, impair immune function. [1] [2]

Increased Energy and Nutrient Needs

Focusing on some key nutrients can not only increase endurance in the athlete but also improve overall health by bolstering the immune system, improving bone health and minimizing oxidative stress.

Eating adequate amounts of micronutrients and vitamins is vital to muscle building and recovery from the physiological stress of intense activity or playing sports. Nutrient needs are increased when metabolic and biochemical pathways are taxed via exercise which is used to repair lean tissue.

Supplements can help but the idea is to make food your primary source of nutrients because your body utilizes food differently than supplements. [3]

Food also includes fibre, other vitamins and essential nutrients that work together to create energy and fuel cells.  These important components in the diet are more depleted in athletes that don’t consume adequate calories and/or restrict or eliminate food groups.

The 6 Most Essential Nutrients For Athletic People:

Zinc

Individuals who are athletic are especially susceptible to being low in zinc mainly because they aren’t eating enough rich food sources of this mineral.

Zinc plays a part in immunity, protein utilization, and metabolic efficiency as well as thyroid function, and all of these affect athletic performance in some way.

Foods that are high in zinc include meat and poultry, whole grains, oysters, milk and dairy, legumes and fortified breakfast cereals.

Those that are most at risk for a deficiency are vegetarians who don’t eat enough whole grains or meat. It must be noted that overdoing zinc supplementation can result in a copper deficiency. Be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner to discuss supplementation.

Iron

Iron is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fat as well as its capacity to carry oxygen.  A deficiency may inhibit endurance as well as immune and cognitive functions.

Foods that are high in iron include red meat, fortified cereals eaten along with fruit or vegetables that are high in vitamin C.  This vitamin will enhance iron absorption and improve iron status in an individual.

Calcium

Calcium aids in muscle contraction and nerve impulses, as well as bone growth and increasing bone mass. Poor calcium intake can lead bone-related issues such as stress fractures.

Foods high in calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, spinach, collard greens, almonds, sardines (with the bones!), fortified cereals and juices.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is needed for adequate calcium absorption in the gut, to control serum calcium and phosphorus and to build strong bones.  It also contributes to a well functioning nervous and skeletal system.

If a person lives in an area with little sunlight and they spend most of their time indoors, and because there aren’t many foods that contain vitamin D without fortification, they’re at a greater risk of having low Vitamin D – in this case, supplementation may be prudent.

The best sources are fatty fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel, and eggs. Fortified milk offers most of the vitamin D in the average diet with fortified orange juice beverages and certain cereals contributing a small amount. Again, supplementation is a wise choice!

Magnesium

Magnesium aids in more than 300 biochemical processes in the body that include:

  • helps produce ATP, essential to the metabolic activities of every cell
  • protein synthesis for muscle building
  • relaxes muscles and nerves
  • calms the mind
  • aids in calcium absorption
  • regulation of blood pressure & heart rhythm

All of which are concerns to an athlete!

Sources of Magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, meat and dairy. Some breakfast cereals are also fortified with Magnesium.

However, as we explained in “Nutrient Deficiencies: Why Nearly Everyone Has Them!”, the composition of what we eat and the quality of our foods has drastically changed over the past hundred years, and this has made it difficult to get enough of many key minerals, especially magnesium.

DOWNLOAD MAGNESIUM: The Complete Primer or go to Magnesium.ca

B Vitamins

B vitamins all play a rather large role in energy metabolism and blood health along with building and repair of muscle tissue.

A deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness and apathy along with poor cognitive function. Meat, fish and poultry, as well as enriched grains, are good sources of B vitamins.

The bottom line on essential nutrients for everyday athletes: 

Regular exercise and sports participation increases the turnover and loss of nutrients from the body, so greater calories, vitamins, and minerals are needed to cover these losses through the diet and in some cases supplementation.

Eating a wide enough variety of foods from all the major food groups is what is needed for proper functioning of muscles, a strong immune system, and optimal performance during athletic endeavours.

Referenced content: 

[1] Science Direct. Vitamin and Mineral Status: Effects on physical performance, Elsevier Volume 20, Issues 7–8 (July–August 2004)

[2] Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Nutritional Strategies to Minimise Exercise-Induced Immunosuppression in Athletes (2001)

[3] JAMA Network. Essential Nutrients: Food or supplements? Where should emphasis be? (July 2005)

The Top 5 Natural Supplements For Women Over 50

For many women, turning fifty is a milestone. It might be a time of transformation: from children leaving the family home to career shifts, or finding a new approach to your health and well-being.

You might notice that your body changes when you hit fifty. Staying up late and traveling, for example, might affect you differently than they used to. But your fifties and beyond can be a time of vibrant health and fulfillment.

Read on to learn about the main health concerns for women over fifty, plus which natural supplements should be on your radar.

What are the main health concerns for women over 50?

For women over fifty, one of the main health concerns is the transition of menopause. Altered hormone levels that come from the end of the reproductive years can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and lower libido. Other health concerns as you move into this decade include heart disease and bone density. Finally, to enjoy your fifties and beyond, you want to support brain health and keep your mind sharp.

Here’s the great news: you can reclaim your health and enjoy yourself in the process. How? Address your health concerns with the right natural supplements.

Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50

Herbs for hormone balance

Medicinal herbs are widely used to support hormonal health during menopause. Herbal allies for women over fifty include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, maca, and sage.

Black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors and works by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Preparations of black cohosh root have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, along with improving mood.

Chasteberry (also known as chastetree or Vitex) shifts hormone production toward more progesterone and less estrogen through its effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Several studies showed chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms.

Dong quai is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been called female ginseng for its energy and mood boosting properties. Dong quai is recommended for irregular bleeding.

Maca, a Peruvian adaptogen, benefits the endocrine and reproductive systems. Preparations made from maca root boost the production of sex hormones and increase energy and sex drive. In studies, maca supplementation was associated with a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort in early postmenopausal women.

Finally, sage is used to alleviate hot flashes, sweating, and other menopausal symptoms as a general tonic. A clinical trial showed the efficacy of sage over a two-month treatment period.

Find these herbs as dietary supplements in such forms as a powdered whole herb, liquid extracts, and dried extracts in pill form, or a convenient all-in-one herbal blend like Meno-Prev.

Vitamins & minerals

Sufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals is essential for thriving in your fifties and beyond. You’ll want to supplement your diet with the following: calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K.

Calcium supplements help make up for lowered assimilation from food sources as you age. Calcium is needed by every cell in your body and is especially important for women over fifty to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis risk.

Working in synergy with calcium, magnesium helps promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure (not to mention its sweet stress-busting properties).

Fat-soluble vitamins D and K play a crucial role in calcium metabolism. Controlled trials have shown the benefits of vitamins D and K on postmenopausal osteoporosis with a study duration between 8 weeks and 3 years. Try a formula like Osteo Prolong to fill your nutritional needs.

Fiber

Fiber is one of the top supplements for women over fifty, thanks to its massive amount of health benefits. Think enhanced blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better gut health from curbing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. What’s more, fiber helps regulate hormone levels during menopause. Look for a dietary fiber supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for best results.

Inflammation fighters

Women over fifty become more prone to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation. To stay healthy throughout your fifties and beyond, fighting inflammation is your go-to action plan. Try turmeric, or better yet, highly bio-available Curcumin. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation, so you can count on the time-tested Ayurvedic remedy to keep you feeling healthy.

Mind boosters

Keep your mind sharp and curb depression and memory loss with natural supplements like gingko biloba. Clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of gingko biloba on cognitive function (especially concentration and memory). Try the Mind-Pro formula to fuel your brain as you enter what can be the best years of your life.

References: 
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800090/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764641/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5413815/
https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/chasteberry
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21630133
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621390/
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h10
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613455/

Taking A Closer Look at Bone Health

Bone tissue is very dynamic because it is constantly being remodeled by dissolving and replacing minerals to keep the bones healthy. Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone is dissolving and losing minerals faster than it can be replaced making the bones hollow, porous and very susceptible to fractures.

Vitamin K for directing calcium 

It is common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D3 are needed for increasing bone health, both of which are fairly prevalent in North American diets. Yet magnesium, boron, zinc, vitamin K1 and K2 are equally important in proper bone maintenance to make sure calcium is directed to the bones and not deposited elsewhere in the body such as the heart.

Can Prev’s Osteo Prolong and Vitamin D3 + K2 are formulated with these nutrients so they work together synergistically in absorbable forms to help maintain bone health but also muscles, teeth and skin.

The pH balance in the body is another factor important to bone health that is not usually addressed or well known. The reason this is important is that the blood needs to stay at the pH level of  7.0-7.4. This is a very tightly regulated system in the body so if the body is undergoing an acidic state (i.e. smoking, stress, nutrient-poor diet, and pharmaceuticals etc), the body will draw from the bones to get the minerals needed that are alkaline in nature.

The alkaline nutrients that are helping to buffer the blood are calcium, potassium and magnesium, the very nutrients we want to stay in our bones!

Can Prev’s pH Pro is a formula containing sodium bicarbonate, spirulina, magnesium bicarbonate and potassium, all nutrients that are alkaline to decrease acidity and keep those precious nutrients in the bones. In each bottle of CanPrev pH Pro there are pH test strips so you can check your pH using urine or saliva. If you tend to be acidic, then start increasing your alkalinity by taking 1 or 2 caps of this formula.

Prevention – start early 

The prevention of osteoporosis actually begins in childhood and adolescence to gain as much bone density as possible by the age of 20 – 30 and then to maintain that density for the rest of adulthood. Having a youth’s diet full of healthful nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, K1 and K2 and zinc from a varied diet is essential in providing the building blocks for the bones to grow and be maintained.

Nutrition 

Beverages such as soft drinks and energy drinks are popular among youth should be limited. They contain both phosphoric acid and caffeine which increase the amount of calcium lost from the bones. Caffeine causes about 6 mg of calcium to be lost for every 100mg of caffeine ingested. About 2 cups or a 16 oz of coffee contain 320 mg of caffeine which can leach about 20 mg of calcium from your body.

Processed foods are usually very high in salt, which is another substance that should be limited because every 2.3g of salt consumed about 40 mg of calcium is lost in the urine.

In adulthood multiple factors start to add up that can deplete bone minerals such physical inactivity, smoking, stress, alcohol, recreational drugs, increase of salt, caffeine and sugar, pharmaceutical drugs such as corticosteroids and proton pump inhibitors and hormonal changes in women.

Bone health for moms to be 

Even pregnancy can leave the female depleted in many nutrients, as the requirement for calcium is very high due to the developing skeletal frame and formation of teeth, thus taking Can Prev’s Prenatal Multi ensures that the mother is receiving the therapeutic amounts of bioavailable calcium and vitamin D3 for the baby.

For those at risk of developing health conditions related to mineral deficiency, or those looking to increase mineral intake and absorption, speak with your natural healthcare provider about what supplements might be right for you.

Sweating it out – why crucial vitamins need replacing after exercise

An average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 litres of fluid per hour of exercise. Most endurance athletes might already be aware of the crucial vitamins they lose through sweat, but many non-competitive athletes may think it’s only water (and salt) they’re losing through their pores.

Regardless of whether you’re a casual or professional athlete, it’s always good practice to replace water soluble vitamins like C and the range of Bs that sweat carries out during intense training. Here are some ways to help restore important nutrients post-workout.

B vitamins play a role as coenzymes in the energy production of cells. Exercise appears to especially increase the loss of thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6. In fact, the body might need to take in twice the daily recommended amount of these vitamins to replace what the body sweats out through exertion.

In the case of vitamin C, multiple studies have found blood and plasma levels of vitamin C to be lower in those who exercise, since stores are used to combat exercise-induced oxidation in muscles and other cells, which is brought on by physical activity. Vitamin C also plays an important role in muscle growth, as it’s essential for building collagen, the connective tissue that helps repair tissues and tendons.

Research shows that vitamin C may even help reduce post-exercise pain and inflammation due to it’s ability to help repair the tiny tears in our muscle fibres that can result in muscle soreness and pain after workouts. Proper vitamin C supplementation both pre and post-workout can be effective in helping prevent deficiencies and promote faster muscle recovery.

Although there is evidence that exercise increases the demand for these vitamins, supplementation does not appear to have an enhancing or ergogenic effect. The general consensus among sports nutritionists is that most athletes and active individuals would be able to meet these increased nutrient demands by eating a balanced diet.

Individuals at greatest risk for exercise-induced vitamin deficiency are those following a low-fat or low-calorie diet, and those who don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In these individuals supplementation of the above key nutrients to prevent deficiency is crucial.

CP-blog-sweating-it-out-rehydrationSource: Marriott, B. M. (1993). The Effect of Exercise and Heat on Vitamin Requirements

How do you monitor mineral loss/maintain your levels during and after a workout? Tell us! Leave a comment in the section below.