How supplements can help you beat Blue Monday
Monday 15 January is said to be the most depressing day of the year with the festive season a distant memory, resolutions being broken and two more months of winter to go. Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at Pharma Nord UK, looks at how to beat the blues the nutritional way.
Many of us may be feeling a little ‘down’ at this time of year, but while things like mindfulness and exercise can help boost your mood, ensuring you get the nutrients you need via diets, or the right supplement choices, can be equally beneficial – and often overlooked.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been headline news for the past few years, especially for their effects on mood, concentration and brain health. Omega-3 covers a range of fatty acids including eicosapantaoneic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), both of which found in plentiful quantities in oily fish. EPA and DHA are important in the maintenance of brain cell membranes while DHA is associated with transmission of important mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
As a result, low levels of omega-3 in the body are associated with mood disturbance, cognitive issues (such as mental processing speeds and memory),depressive symptoms and low energy (1, 2). The good news is that many trials show supplementation can help reverse this, improving mood, cognitive function and elevating energy levels (3, 4). This is particularly important in the UK, as the standard British diet lacks the oily fish intakes that are ever-present in east Asian or Mediterranean diets.
Fish oil supplements offer a convenient way to supplement with omega-3 without consuming weekly oily fish. Pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements ensure low levels of heavy metals and dioxins adding more peace of mind, especially for pregnant woman or those trying to conceive.
Vitamin D insufficiency is a global issue, with over 1 billion people worldwide experiencing some sort of inadequacy. Though we can obtain vitamin D from sunlight exposure, various hurdles stand in the way including an increased use of sunscreens and naturally low levels of sun exposure experienced in the UK. This has led to the Government suggesting everyone should consider supplementing with vitamin D, especially in darker months.
Vitamin D supplements show great promise for supporting mental health and mood, not to mention a plethora of other benefits including immunity and muscle function. Vitamin D may work by altering the quantity of mood-regulating substances such as serotonin and how they operate (5).
This has shown to have a positive effect on mental health. In a randomized, double-blind control trial, vitamin D was shown to reduce depressive symptoms associated with major depressive disorder (MDD), having an overall positive effect on mental health. (6)
The European Food Safety Authority states that, “A decline in magnesium status is associated with various symptoms such as depression...”. Magnesium is responsible for the production and use of over 300 enzymes in the body, many of which are vital for the normal function of our brain chemistry. Most of us don't achieve the magnesium levels we should be, and the result can be detrimental to mood and mental health. Known as the relaxing mineral, trials show (7, 8) that supplementing with magnesium can:
• Decrease anxiety and anxiety symptoms
• Decrease depressive symptoms
• Improve serotonin levels in the brain
Many other studies also link magnesium to an anti-anxiety effect, important as anxiety and related disorders are rising in prevalence worldwide. (9)
An article published in the Journal of Neuroscience describes how magnesium supplementation can improve the ability of the brain to recognize and form new connections, affecting everything from how we think to how we learn and recall. Interestingly, this enhanced brain plasticity could also benefit anxiety and related disorders, such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorders (10).
Studies have also found that magnesium reduces the severity of insomnia, improves the length of sleep and decreases the time taken to achieve a full sleep.
Other tips: Cultivate healthy habits
Meditation - The practice of 'mindfulness' (an accessible form of meditation) is growing in popularity for its effectiveness as a treatment tool for various mental health issues. The principle premise of mindfulness is awareness of your thoughts, surroundings and feelings (both physically and mentally).
Exercise - Many studies link low activity levels to feelings of low mood and poor self esteem. Exercise can be anything that gets us moving such as getting off the bus one stop early before we get to work and walking the rest of the way, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or popping out for a stroll when we can.
Being social - Keeping in contact with loved ones such as family and friends can be a massive boost to mood and can can include a text message or even stopping by for a visit. Meeting new people can also be a great mood boost; try a new evening class, join a hobby group or even volunteer at your favourite local charity.
Mental health is a complex subject, with a multitude of approaches to tackle conditions that can affect us all from time to time, such as stress, anxiety and low mood. Through the benefits of nutrition and with appropriate supplement choices, you can contribute to your own positive health which is ultimately its own reward.
1. Su KP. Mind-body interface: the role of n-3 fatty acids in psychoneuroimmunology, somatic presentation, and medical illness comorbidity of depression. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr (2008) 17(Suppl 1):151–7.
2. Sublette, M., Ellis, S., Geant, A. and Mann, J. (2011). Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) in Clinical Trials in Depression. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 72(12), pp.1577-1584.
3. Fontani, G., Corradeschi, F., Felici, A., Alfatti, F., Migliorini, S. and Lodi, L. (2005). Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 35(11), pp.691-699.
4.Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Belury, M., Andridge, R., Malarkey, W. and Glaser, R. (2011). Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 25(8), pp.1725-1734.
5.Kjærgaard, M., Waterloo, K., Wang, C., Almås, B., Figenschau, Y., Hutchinson, M., Svartberg, J. and Jorde, R. (2012). Effect of vitamin D supplement on depression scores in people with low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: nested case—control study and randomised clinical trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 201(05), pp.360-368.
6. Sepehrmanesh, Z., Kolahdooz, F., Abedi, F., Mazroii, N., Assarian, A., Asemi, Z. and Esmaillzadeh, A. (2015). Vitamin D Supplementation Affects the Beck Depression Inventory, Insulin Resistance, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Nutrition, 146(2), pp.243-248.
7. Tarleton, E., Littenberg, B., MacLean, C., Kennedy, A. and Daley, C. (2017). Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLOS ONE, 12(6), p.e0180067.
8. Eby, G. and Eby, K. (2010). Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: A review and hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 74(4), pp.649-660.
9.Dowbiggin, I. (2009). High Anxieties: The Social Construction of Anxiety Disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(7), pp.429-436.
10. Abumaria, N., Yin, B., Zhang, L., Li, X., Chen, T., Descalzi, G., Zhao, L., Ahn, M., Luo, L., Ran, C., Zhuo, M. and Liu, G. (2011). Effects of Elevation of Brain Magnesium on Fear Conditioning, Fear Extinction, and Synaptic Plasticity in the Infralimbic Prefrontal Cortex and Lateral Amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(42), pp.14871-14881. January 2018
The many benefits of vitamin D3
Vitamin D has hit the headlines lately, and is being hailed as one of the most important supplements everybody should be taking.
A fat-soluble nutrient, Vitamin D is essential for many facets of human health. While many know it for its ability to help strengthen bone structure, research is showing that it does much more.
The body produces vitamin D if it gets enough UVB light from sun exposure - obtaining vitamin D from the diet alone is prohibitively difficult. Factors influencing how much vitamin D we produce from the sun include:
• Age (synthesis slows as we age)
• The amount of sunlight we get (less in the UK/Ireland, particularly in autumn and winter)
• Skin pigmentation (those with darker skin require more exposure)
• Regular use of sunscreen
• Covering the skin for religious reasons
A clinical review found almost 1 billion people worldwide may have insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a recent rise in rickets cases in the UK.
Vitamin D supplementation can help correct insufficiency and is associated with a wide range of other health benefits.
Vitamin D is vital for a normal, healthy immune system. A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal concluded that not only is vitamin D supplementation safe, but it also helps protect against respiratory tract infections (this covers everything from colds and flu to pneumonia).
Reduction in cardiovascular risk
Vitamin D has been linked to the reduction of cardiovascular events by cutting the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure, reducing inflammation of the cardiovascular system and reducing the risk of arterial calcification.
Reduction in fall risk and bone fractures
As we age, accidental falls are more likely to lead to bone fractures. Vitamin D supports muscle function, consequently reducing the risk of falls, particularly in elderly people.
A meta-analysis shows that in a range of studies, people experienced a 29% reduction in falling and fracture risk. Vitamin D also plays a well established role in maintaining bone structure, producing the protein osteocalcin which is vital for bone remodelling.
Sleep and pain
A recent review study found low vitamin D levels were associated with elevated pain (in rheumatic disorders and fibromyalgia) as well as irregular sleep patterns. The study author concluded vitamin D supplementation is associated with the therapeutic improvement of sleep and the prevention and treatment of chronic pain conditions.
A study from the Journal of Diabetes found children with low levels of vitamin D were also more likely to develop type 1 diabetes through islet autoimmunity. This is when the body's own immune system begins to attack the islets of langherans (found in the pancreas), an event which acts as a precursor to the development of type 1 diabetes.
Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. A study led by the University of Birmingham compared the ability of immune cells in blood from inflamed joints in people with rheumatoid arthritis to respond to vitamin D. Tissue that was not diseased responded well to vitamin D, suggesting it could be effective at preventing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis
Taking vitamin D supplements with traditional asthma medication can reduce the occurrence of serious asthma attacks by around 50%. A study led by Queen Mary University of London showed vitamin D supplementation was involved with:
• a 30% reduction in asthma attacks requiring some treatment
• a 50% reduction in asthma attacks requiring A&E/Hospitalization
Vitamin D is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and this is the proposed mechanism for its ability to reduce asthma attacks as well.
Pharma Nord Vitamin D3
Pharma Nord’s Bio-Vitamin D3 range is fast becoming the preparation of choice because:
• It is dissolved in cold pressed olive oil – the most absorbable form for an oil-based vitamin
• The capsules are extremely small (7mm diameter), making them easy to swallow
• It has documented quality and is supplied to hospitals
• It is highly bio-available, meaning more Vitamin D enters the body
• It is manufactured to pharmaceutical standards, ensuring precise dosage
• It is blister packed to retain freshness and prevent exposure to the atmosphere
• It comes in five different strengths – 400IU, 800IU, 1000IU, 5000IU and 20,000 IU – to suit a range of requirements
* References available on request December 2017
Pharma Nord at leading heart conference
NUTRITIONAL supplements specialist Pharma Nord took part in one of the UK’s leading conferences on heart health and cardiac issues.
Representatives from the company attended the two-day British Society for Heart Failure’s 20th Annual Autumn Meeting in London.
Over 800 delegates from across the UK, including cardiologists, nurses, researchers and other healthcare professionals, gathered at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre for the event.
Pharma Nord UK was the only supplement company represented at the conference and interest was high in the company’s Coenzyme Q10 supplements.
Coenzyme Q10 is essential for the normal functioning of all tissue in the body, particularly in the heart. Pharma Nord’s Bio-Quinone Q10 supplement was used in two clinical trials – the KiSel10 and Q-SYMBIO studies – which showed remarkable results in heart patients.
In the KiSel10 study, Swedish researchers recorded a 50% reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease in a group of elderly people who regularly took Bio-Quinone Q10 while in the Q-SYMBIO trial, amongst a group of Danish people who had suffered severe heart failure, death rates were reduced by 43% among those who regularly took Bio-Quinone Q10.
Pharma Nord’s Bio-Quinone Q10 is also the reference product used by the International Coenzyme Q10 Association.
This impressive track record had many delegates at the British Society for Heart Failure’s 20th Annual Autumn Meeting interested in finding out more about Bio-Quinone Q10 and Pharma Nord.
Bent Henriksen, managing director at Pharma Nord UK Ltd, said: “This was the third year in a row that we have attended the conference and our appearances always generate a lot of interest – this year being no exception.
“We talked to a lot of people at our stand about the benefits of our CoQ10 supplement - delegates were keen to take as much information as possible as well as leave details so we can visit their hospitals and conduct a presentation about it.
“There was also a lot of interest in some of our other products, such as Bio-Gluco Control which assists with blood sugar management, and supplements addressing other health conditions.
“Our aim in attending this event and similar conferences not only to generate interest in products like Bio-Quinone Q10 but also to provide evidence-based literature that people can take away and learn from.
“As a company, we believe in the science of supplements – our products are manufactured to strict pharmaceutical standards and are developed using a constantly updated database of over 9,000 scientific studies.
“Pharma Nord products have also been used in over 300 different clinical trials, including landmark studies such as KiSel10 and Q-SYMBIO.
“As a result of this strong evidence-based foundation, we found that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals attending the British Society for Heart Failure’s Annual Autumn Meeting were keen to ask questions, take information away and also invite us into their wards to present further information regarding the importance of Q10 in cardiology.
“We look forward to working with them and a range of other practitioners over the coming months as we look to bring the benefits of our work to people across the UK.” November 2017
Pharma Nord helps Strictly star’s latest show to keep dancing
Nutritional supplements specialist Pharma Nord is putting a spring in the step of former Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff’s latest show.
The company – one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of dietary supplements – is providing vitamin supplements to the cast and crew of Dance To The Music throughout the show’s 39-date nationwide tour.
Choreographed by and starring Kristina Rihanoff alongside fellow ex-Strictly Come Dancing professionals Robin Windsor, Oksana Platero and Jason Platero from So You Think You Can Dance, the production takes audiences on a journey of dance through the decades from the 1920s right up to today.
As official vitamin supplier to the show, Pharma Nord will be helping the cast of dancers, singers and crew to cope with the rigours of an extensive two-month tour, which starts in January and takes in locations from Scotland to the south coast.
Bent Henriksen, managing director at Pharma Nord UK, said: “We are delighted to be linking up with Kristina Rihanoff and the stars of Dance To The Music as they take their spectacular show across the country.
“We know that Kristina has been feeling the benefits of Pharma Nord products for a number of years so it is terrific that we can help her and the rest of the cast and crew to keep on top form as they entertain audiences in theatres in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Performing night after night in different venues and locations does put a strain on the body, particularly during winter time when illnesses are more prevalent, so getting access to a wide range of supplements and vitamins will hopefully keep everyone involved in the show at their best throughout the tour – and of course for Kristina and friends to keep dancing!”
Kristina Rihanoff, who is also co-producing Dance To The Music, said: “This is our most spectacular show yet and we are all really looking forward to wowing the crowds across the UK.
“The demand from audiences has been so strong that we will be performing at over 30 different venues throughout January and February.
“It’s great that so many people will be able to come and see us, but with such an extensive tour, it’s important that everyone keeps fit and healthy throughout the two months.
“That’s why it’s great to get the support of Pharma Nord for this tour. I’ve been taking their supplements for over three years and have really felt the benefits both in terms of my energy and recovery levels when I am working and in my overall health.
“I feel sure the rest of the cast and crew will benefit from Pharma Nord’s help and advice over the coming months as we take the show on the road.”
Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at Pharma Nord UK, said: “Dancers put their bodies under a lot of stress both during rehearsals and in performances.
“Whilst a well balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals and a good night’s sleep will help their bodies to recover, neither of these are guaranteed, especially when you’re out on the road in an extensive touring production.
“Taking the right supplements, such as Bio-Quinone Q10, Vitamin D3 and Bio-Magnesium, will help to support the cast and crew of Dance To The Music throughout their tour and beyond.”
Pharma Nord has been producing and supplying pharmaceutical quality vitamins and dietary supplements to consumers, health food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners in the UK for over 25 years.
Based in Morpeth, Northumberland, the company’s products include co-enzyme Q10 supplements for heart health and energy, Pycnogenol supplements for improved skin condition and circulation and a full range of vitamins to tackle tiredness and boost natural immune systems.
As well as the dancing talents of Kristina, Robin, Oksana and Jason, Dance To The Music also features singers Chris Maloney (an X-Factor finalist) and Beth Sherburn with music edited by Strictly music producer Ed Howes.
Tickets and further information on the production can be found at www.strictlytheatreco.co.uk November 2017