Vitamin Bears™ Nutrition & Healthy Living

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Long Winter causing Vitamin D Deficiency?

With the long drawn out winter, the recent breaks of sunshine we’re experiencing are better for us than many of us may realise.

Our bodies produce the sunshine ‘Vitamin D’ from direct sunlight on our skin. Vitamin D is also produced in much smaller quantities from oily fish, eggs and meat. Sunshine being the preferred supply.

Vitamin D helps with the absorption of Calcium from the diet. We all know how important Calcium is for our bones, hence why deficiency in Vitamin D leads to weakening and softening of bones. In children this leads to Rickets, an old victorian ailment which is now on the increase. Adults can develop Osteomalacia, the adult form of Rickets, which causes bone pain and tenderness.

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and we get most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunlight


Those most at risk are the over-65s, pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, people with darker skin and anyone who wears clothing that covers their skin or spends a lot of time indoors — as most of us now do. Also with the extra demands of today’s hectic lifestyles, leaving for work early and arriving home after dark, and juggling everything in-between, our time spent outdoors can be limited. I don’t think we can help wanting to be inside with the sub zero temperatures many of us around the country are experiencing.


Dr Oliver Gillie, founder of the Health Research Forum, says recent weather patterns mean many of us will be ­dangerously low on this vitamin.

“Vitamin D deficiency is a major problem because of our climate and because this past summer was so bad for sunshine, there was little chance to build up reserves to last us through this winter.

“Sunbathing can increase a person’s gain in vitamin D substantially during the ­summer putting him or her in the best condition to avoid chronic disease, but that has been impossible.”

An international authority on vitamin D deficiency, Dr Robert Moy, agrees: “An awful summer increases the risk of deficiency, which is reckoned to contribute to a whole range of conditions such as cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

“What is not really known is at what sort of level these risks increase but we probably ought to be supplementing our intake for six months of the year, from October to March.”


Sunbathing seems to be the best idea – laying out in the sun, there is nothing that can compare right? But how many of us can get away to tropical climates to sit out in the sun to get our Vitamin D fill. Also with the scares of skin cancer many of us choose to cover up in the sun, rightly so, but at an expense to our Vitamin D production.


Supplements are always an option, and are particularly important when sunshine isn’t an option.

The Department of Health recommends at-risk adults have a daily top-up of 10 µg (200% RDA) – try Boots or Holland & Barrett for a supplement.

All children under five can take a daily supplement of 7-8.5 µg, unless they drink formula milk, which is fortified with vitamin D. 

Also with recent developments in food technology, eggs contain 70% more Vitamin D than they did 30 years ago. Breakfast cereals are now also starting to introduce fortification of Vitamin D alongside their B vitamins. But on average, a healthy well balanced diet is unlikely to afford us enough of the sunshine vitamin. Food provides around 10% of our Vitamin D intake.

Your GP can prescribe Vitamin D on the NHS for those in the at risk category.

But as a recent study showed, many so called healthy individualise were unknowingly deficient. This was reported in the Daily Mirror and cited by the British Dietary Association.



Recent Vitamin D Studies

A Danish study of 10,000 people last year found low levels increased the risk of dying from heart disease by 81%, while US Department of Health ­researchers reported that high levels cut the risk of stroke by 11%.

A Canadian study of 1,200 women found those who regularly took a vitamin D supplement cut their cancer risk by 60%.

There was also evidence of protection against breast, lung and bowel cancer — the three most deadly forms, which claim 62,400 lives in the UK annually.

Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s disease are some of the health problems linked to low levels.

Patterns of disease also point to the importance of vitamin D. Multiple ­sclerosis (MS), a degenerative neurological condition which affects on average 100,000 people in the UK, is much more common in northern ­climates, where lack of sunlight means vitamin D deficiency is common.

In England and Wales it is estimated that MS affects about one in 1,000 people, but in Scotland it is twice that and in Orkney, one of the most northerly parts of the UK, four in 1,000 people have MS — the highest incidence in the world.

#supplement #vitamind3 #deficiency #sunshinevitamin #rickets #sunbathe #eastersun#welovesunshine #vitaminbears


Learning File: MENOPAUSE


Every woman will experience menopause in her own unique way. For some women, menopause will be a gradual phase that is hardly noticed. For others it can be marked with severe symptoms that make going about your daily life close to unbearable.

Menopause literally means the last monthly period of a woman’s life. However, it is confirmed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. The gradual decrease in the ovaries production of oestrogen during this time is simply the body’s natural evolution from the fertile child-bearing years to a whole new stage of life.

For most women, menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 to 55 years and for UK woman the average age is 51 years. It’s clear that not all natural menopause therapies are the same – but just how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff when there are so many alternatives out there?



Isoflavones are phytoestrogens with a chemical structure similar to natural human oestrogen. When oestrogen levels start to decline, a woman can feel very unlike her normal self.

Asian, Mediterranean and Latin American communities consume on average 30-50mg of isoflavones each day while it is estimated that women from Western countries, such as the UK, consume only a few milligrams of isoflavones daily. Studies now indicate a role for diet in reducing menopausal symptoms, and lower levels of osteoporosis, particularly an Asian diet abundant in Isoflavones.

Incidence of Hot Flushes vs Isoflavone intake

Women from countries with diets rich in isoflavones, such as Asia, experience fewer hot flushes during menopause and have lower levels of osteoporosis.

More than 1,000 isoflavones have been identified in plants. Of these, four specific isoflavones have been shown to possess significant individual and specific biological activity. These are

  1. Genistein
  2. Daidzein
  3. Formonentin
  4. Biochanin A


Red Clover Isoflavones have a wealth of published studies proving its efficacy at alleviating menopausal symptoms. Unlike Soya, Red Clover contains the four standardised Isoflavones: genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin A. The standardised forms also have well established safety data.

A new SAFE 4-point quality code has been developed to help choose the right supplement.

  • Standardised levels of active ingredient

Look for on-pack labelling stating ‘standardised extract’ as a sign of a high quality product. Standardisation takes place during production to ensure that every pack contains the same amount of active ingredient.

  • Absence of drug interactions and contaminants

Many red clover supplements available contain the natural contaminant coumarin – a substance found naturally in the red clover plant that may interfere with other drugs or with blood clotting. It’s always advisable to tell your doctor about any natural supplements that you are taking as well as being aware yourself that drug interactions can occur.

  • Found to be an effective and safe product

As with all natural products, look out for published product-specific information on how effective or safe they are, as well as established safety data,

  • Effective levels of active ingredient

It has been shown in research that at least 40mg of isoflavones are needed daily to effectively reduce hot flushes. The label on soy or red clover menopause supplements should clearly state the amount of isoflavones it contains.


Hormone Fluctuations


For most post-menopausal women, the visible symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and night sweats will ease. However, there are the invisible effects of menopause which remain.

Up until menopause, as well as regulating the reproductive cycle, oestrogen has also assisted the body in maintaining a healthy heart and strong bones. However, after menopause, lower oestrogen levels decrease the ability to absorb calcium and heart health is more difficult to maintain.

Many women are also unaware that decreasing oestrogen levels can have a less obvious but more harmful effect on your body, such as an increased risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) and high cholesterol. Therefore safeguarding your diet to protect your bones and heart health is vital.
Calcium has proven benefits for both of these areas of health.

With fewer women consuming dairy products for the fear of the calories they contain, they are putting themselves at extra risk of fractures and other bone related ailments. A good way to overcome this is to take a Calcium supplement to ensure you are getting your daily requirement and protecting your bones.



Along with Calcium, Vitamin D has a plethora of benefits, one of the reasons why the NHS has issued extensive guidance for specific age groups. The vitamin plays several important roles in the body, including regulating the balance of nutrients needed for strong, healthy bones.

An estimated 70-80% of the UK population have Vitamin D deficiency.

According to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) – a group of experts that advises the government about all aspects of nutrition – some evidence suggests that vitamin D may be important in preventing other diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis, although it points out further research is needed before any definite conclusions can be drawn.

Published. Farrah Malik. (c) Naturally Good Health _Learning File: Menopause_Spring 2013. Target Publishing.

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