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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.

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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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Iodine deficiency in Pregnancy may lower IQ in children

Lower IQ’s and reading scores have been observed in primary school pupils whose mothers had too little iodine whist pregnant  the new study published in the Lancet journal of over 1,000 families in the UK.

The Research 

Researchers from Surrey and Bristol Universities measured iodine in urine samples taken in the first three months of pregnancy from 1,040 women.

These women were more likely to have children with lower IQs, and it was found the lower the iodine the lower the IQ and reading ability.

Professor Margaret Rayman of the University of Surrey, who led the study, said: “Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasise the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient.”

Adjusting the results for external factors likely to affect these scores, such as parental education and breast-feeding, the researchers found that children of women in the iodine-deficient group were significantly more likely to have low scores of verbal IQ, reading accuracy and reading comprehension. The lower the mother’s concentration of iodine, the lower were the average scores for IQ and reading ability in the children.

Prof Rayman said: “Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasise the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient.”


Where do we get Iodine from?

Dairy products and fish sources are the richest sources of Iodine.

One way to achieve this is to drink more milk whilst pregnant to ensure you are obtaining enough Iodine. Fish is also another option, but many are a not advised during pregnant so this option can pose a more difficult option over increasing dairy intake.

Some reports have suggested that Organic milk has a lower iodine content than non-organic milk, therefore less ideal.


Even a mild deficiency during pregnancy could have detrimental effects on children’s brain development, according to new studies.



Importance of Iodine – Pregnant and breastfeeding women need about 250mg of iodine a day.

Why aren’t we getting enough Iodine?

Although milk and dairy products are good ideal sources of iodine, supplying more than 40% of dietary intake, reports suggest that fearfully many pregnant women shun them in pursuit of a low fat diet – even though the iodine content of skimmed milk is the same as the full-fat version.

It is very common for many so called health conscious consumers to shun dairy products for their fat content, but ignore the other benefits like Iodine and Calcium which are important Micronutrients for the body.
Ensuring adequate micronutrient intake during pregnancy is vital to ensure healthy and able children. New research is forever in favour of supplementing the diet and ensuring we all have a balanced diet and lifestyles to give our kids the best start in life.

Do it for the kids!


#lancet #pregnancy #newstudy #iodine #IQ #deficiency #kids #children #health