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Whilst it is important to monitor your health all  year round, health awareness months’ are a great reminder that we need to take care of ourselves and those around us. In the month of June, corresponding with Father’s Day, we have Men’s Health month.

With the likes of Movember, which falls in December, to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer, we are all keen to back incentives to get the men in our lives to help them be in the best possible health.

Men's Health - Movember Awareness - Vitamin Bears

The reason for the poor state of men’s health are numerous and complex and include:

  • Lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face

  • Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling

  • Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well

  • Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health

  • Stigmas surrounding mental health

All of the above warrant health awareness campaigns, such as Men’s Health month to allow us to tackle issues, like those listed above, head on.

Key Nutritional Requirements for Men

Men and Women have very different nutritional requirements, therefore it is important to note those that are important for Male Health.

  • Zinc

Zinc is one of the single most important nutrients for men’s health. It is needed for the production of testosterone, with Zinc stores rapidly being used used for this task daily. A low intake of zinc or deficiency can lead to a drop in testosterone levels in a matter of weeks. Zinc also has an important role to play in sperm motility, so is an essential nutrient to top up on if you are thinking of starting a family.

It is also vital for immunity and skin health. The white blood cells of the immune system use zinc to code genes that regulate the way in which they respond to specific stimuli, such as pathogens. Zinc is relevant to the skin as it regulates the activity of the sebaceous glands. If the skin is too oily, then adequate dietary zinc can reduce sebaceous secretions. Likewise, if the skin is too dry, zinc seems to increase sebaceous gland activity.

Good Food Sources: Meat, Shellfish, Dairy (Cheese),  Pumpkin Seeds

  • Selenium

Selenium is a mineral with a long and interesting history. Discovered in 1817, it was considered a poison during much of the 19th century! No longer considered toxic, selenium is the active ingredient in many therapeutic shampoos. But the greatest potential for selenium is as a supplement to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Selenium, an antioxidant, has an important role to play in the metabolism of sperm (spermatogenesis). Numerous studies have documented the positive benefits of Selenium on male sexual health and fertility. Many clinical studies have shown positive benefits for sub-fertile men resulting in successful conception.

Other benefits of Selenium supplementation include reducing oxidative stress (removing free radicals), supporting normal thyroid function, healthy hair & nails.

Good Food Sources: Brazil Nuts, Shiitake/White Button Mushrooms, Lima/Pinto Beans, Chia, Brown Rice, Seeds (Sunflower, Sesame, and Flax), Broccoli, Cabbage, Spinach.

  • Fish Oil (Omega-3)

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and is derived from the tissues of fatty, cold-water ocean fish such as tuna, cod liver and salmon.

  • Promotes heart health
    Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health calculated that eating about two grams per week of omega-3 fatty acids (equal to one or two servings of fatty fish) reduces the chances of dying from heart disease by more than one-third. Omega-3 fats protect the heart against the development of erratic cardiac rhythm disturbances, help break up blood clots and lower cholesterol, tryglicerides, LDLs and blood pressure. The fats also increase good HDL cholesterol.
  • Protects against cancer
    Studies have found that fish oil can help prevent three of the most common forms of cancer: breast, colon and prostate. The fatty acids stop the alteration of a normal healthy cell to that of a cancerous mass and cause the death of some cancer cells. Researchers are currently digging deeper to see how fish oil can play a larger role in cancer survival and prevention.
  • Improves mental health
    Researchers at the University of Sheffield have found that fish oil supplements can alleviate the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. On a seemingly related note, a Chinese study of 100 suicide-attempt cases found diets low in fishy meals to be a common factor. Other studies report that depressed patients who take omega-3 fatty acids in addition to prescription antidepressants had a great improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone.
  • Helps prevent degenerative disorders
    Researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans found the presence of omega three fatty acids in the diet prevent proteins from misfolding and forming a gene mutation in degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Other recent studies have shown that people who eat a lot of fatty fish score better on memory tests and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Relieves pain and fight arthritis
    There have been many studies reporting improvements in morning stiffness and joint tenderness with the regular intake of fish oil supplements for up to three months. One study performed at Albany Medical College even suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis who take fish oil may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Improves IQ Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients aren’t the only ones to get a memory boost from fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. A 2009 study of healthy adults—55 and older—found that those who took a fatty acid supplement for six months had almost double the reduction in errors on a test that measured learning and memory skills compared to those who took a placebo.

Good Food Sources: Cold-water oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.

Vegetarian/Vegan sources: olive oil, Flax seed, Chia Seeds,

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#vitaminbears #menshealth #malehealth #supplements #nutrition #zinc #selenium #fertility #prostate

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Probiotics and Healthy Chocolate? YES PLEASE!!





Gut Health is an ever increasing area of research and popularity for consumers. With gut related ailments such as colon cancer on the increase we are all too aware of how our diets and lifestyles can affect our health, with our gut suffering from almost all negative social factors.


One way we have been custom to looking after our gut health, is with probiotics, or friendly bacteria.

In the simplest terms, a probiotic is a living beneficial micro-organism; it can be a bacterium or yeast. Certain micro-organisms living in the human intestinal tract are essential for good health.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “Live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”

The word probiotic comes from the Greek and means ‘fit for life’ or ‘pro-life.’ While much of the progress against disease over the past two centuries has involved the discovery and use of antibiotics, public health and medical researchers now foresee revolutionary progress on a similar scale for probiotics.

Probiotics, when ingested, induce health benefits by beneficially affecting the balance of the intestinal microflora (or microbiota). While interest in the health promoting aspects of probiotics goes all the way back to the start of the 20th century, scientists have made huge progress in recent years in identifying their potentially beneficial roles in health.

Billions of bacteria inhabit the human digestive system. These bacteria are referred to as the gut flora. Some of these are beneficial, yet others are potentially harmful. A balance between the two is vital for good health and well-being. There should be a balance of 85% good bacteria in the digestive system vs. 15% bad – if this balance is altered symptoms occur.

Dietary and lifestyle factors destroy good bacteria and can cause an imbalance. Those factors include:

  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Prescription medications (e.g. Antibiotics)
  • Digestive aids
  • Sugar
  • Carbonated beverages

Since 70% of the body’s immune system dwells in the digestive tract, maintaining balanced digestive health is crucial to the body’s overall well-being. The most natural way to get more “good” bacteria and maintain healthy balance of intestinal microflora is to take a probiotic supplement. Now for the innovation…..

There are capsules, powders, milks, yoghurts, little drinks….. and now PROBIOTIC CHOCOLATE!

Combining the delicious daily treat with the goodness of probiotics, we surely have a winner. But does it work and does it survive the passage to out gut…?

YES! Probiotic Chocolate has been proven to survive the harsh environments of the stomach and reach the gut alive. This has been proven in a study conducted by chocolate experts, Barry Callebaut who reported:

“…The coating of the probiotics in chocolate is an excellent solution to protect them from environmental stress conditions and for optimal delivery.”

The above mentioned study tested the viability of a mixture of coated Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum embedded in a chocolate and milk matrix during passage through the stomach and small intestine. In addition, the results were compared with the survival of the bacteria present in a popular yoghurt drink.
The conclusion was clear – the chocolate matrix offered superior protection. In contrast, the bacteria in the milk matrix were negatively affected by stomach acidity (4-times lower end-counts), whereas hardly any negative effects were observed in the chocolate matrix.

Bacteria in the yoghurt drink were also negatively affected with only 20% surviving the passage through the stomach and small intestine. Survival rates in the milk matrix and yoghurt drink were found to be 3 times lower than in chocolate.

Probiotics in chocolate ensure the survival of up to 4X as many good bacteria as those contained in dairy and without having to be refrigerated!

Good news for chocolate lovers that want to look after their gut health. Look out for those with Dark Chocolate so you get the benefit of the high polyphenols as well to look after your heart!


S. Possemiers, M. Marzorati, W. Verstraete, T. Van de Wiele, Bacteria and chocolate: A successful combination for probiotic delivery, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 141, Issues 1-2, 30 June 2010, Pages 97-103. Full text.

J Burgain, C Gaiani, M Linder, J Scher, Encapsulation of probiotic living cells : From laboratory scale to industrial applications. Journal of Food Engineering (2011) Volume: 104, Issue: 4, Pages: 467-483. Abstract and preview.


#chocolate #probiotic #guthealth #digestion #immunity #prebiotic #goodbacteria #healthy #supplements