Electrolytes and hydration

Woman drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle.

Electrolytes and hydration.

Hydration should be simple. If you feel thirsty, drink some water. But while drinking enough water on a daily basis can be half the battle against dehydration, electrolytes, carbohydrates and other minerals are important when it comes to helping your body to retain fluids and to promote recovery.

Staying hydrated is important to keeping yourself healthy, helping your both your mental and physical performance. Chronic dehydration is common, and if you suffer from severe vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, mineral and electrolyte imbalances can occur that can compromise your health. 

Drinking water is especially important as we get older. At birth, our body is about 75 to 80% water. By the time you’re an adult, the percentage drops to approximately 60%. The volume of water in your body continues to decrease as you age.

Man drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle.
Drinking water is especially important as we get older.

With our increased consumption of distilled, filtered or purified water, coupled with the depletion of minerals from the soil used to grow the fruits, vegetables and grains we eat, it is harder to get the nutrients our body needs to function properly. That is why we often need to supplement our water with added electrolytes to optimise our hydration, enable our muscles to function properly and convert our food to energy. 

A simple remedy is to add sea salt to your water, which contains sodium obviously, but is also enriched with iodine and other minerals found in sea water. You can also try coconut water, which contains a variety of electrolytes and is low in sugar. If it’s more than water you’re after, cow’s milk is a rich supply of electrolytes, and also contains carbohydrates and protein, which will help muscle recovery and refuelling after a workout. Try to avoid commercial sports drinks that are marketed as electrolyte drinks, but are often packed with sugar, flavours and other filler ingredients that can actually be detrimental to your health.

Woman running
Sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost in sweat.

The key electrolytes 

Electrolytes are the charged substances that result when dissolved in water. These positive and negatively charged ions can conduct electricity, and are therefore referred to as “electrolytes.” The most important electrolyte for the human body is salt — also known as sodium chloride — but the body also uses potassium, and magnesium to regulate its recovery process.

Sodium and chloride

Sodium and chloride are the major extracellular electrolytes in the human body, sodium providing the positive charge and chloride the negative charge. In addition to providing balance to one another, these ions are essential for maintaining blood volume and pH (Schauss). Sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost in sweat. Outdoor activities such as long-distance running, cycling and construction work will require replacing not only fluids but also electrolytes (especially sodium and chloride) to maintain a healthy balance.

Therefore, adding sodium and chloride to the water of individuals who regularly sweat a lot will not only replace the these essential electrolytes, but will also help maintain proper blood osmolality, assuring thirst and kidney mechanisms to maintain adequate blood volume and hydration (Maughan and Shirreffs, 1997). 

Potassium

Potassium works with sodium, magnesium and calcium to support the regulation of normal blood pressure, proper heart rhythm, blood sugar regulation and transmission of nerve impulses. It is necessary for cellular contraction and for the proper balance and delivery of glucose into cells.

The normal functioning of the human body depends on an intricate balance of potassium and sodium concentrations. Potassium plays a critical role in nerve impulse transmission, maintaining cellular fluid volume and pH, muscle contraction, heart function and tissue growth and repair. 

Additionally, potassium helps our body hold onto calcium, while excessive sodium leads to both potassium and calcium loss (Rhoades and Pflanzer, 1996; Schauss, 1998).

Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzyme actions in the body. It is necessary for supporting normal heart function, nerve impulse transmission, muscle relaxation and calcium management. 

Symptoms of deficiency include muscle tiredness, stress and anxiety, mood imbalance, tension and fatigue. Magnesium can support a restful night’s sleep and can help alleviate muscle cramps at night. 

We need a large amount (more than 100mg) of magnesium per day to keep healthy. But it can be hard to get enough magnesium since it is not as prevalent in our diet as other nutrients. Our water supply is often lacking in this mineral, and significant food sources such as green leafy vegetables and legumes are not as prevalent in our diet as they used to be.

These key electrolytes are involved in countless activities essential for life, including energy production, heart rhythm, nerve transmission and muscle contractions. The human body is great at self-regulation and has a number of mechanisms in place to maintain proper electrolyte balance, but if you’re exercising often, working in hot environments or prone to sweating a lot, you may need to take more of these key electrolytes on board, as well as drinking water, to stay properly hydrated.

Man cycling and cooling himself from water bottle
If you’re an athlete or you exercise often, or in hot conditions, you’ll need to add minerals and electrolytes to your water to replenish what’s lost in sweat, which will enable a faster recovery.

How much water should you drink per day?

The amount of water we need can vary by individual, but it’s generally recommended to drink between 8-10 glasses, or more than 2 litres of water a day. Some people require more or less fluid for hydration depending on various factors, such as body mass, food intake, how much they exercise and the intensity of the training, temperature and other environmental conditions.

Drinking plain water on its own isn’t the most effective way to hydrate. When compared to other beverages like orange juice and milk, our bodies aren’t able to retain plain water as well.

Woman drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle
Some people require more hydration depending on factors such as body mass, food intake, how much they exercise and the intensity of the training, temperature and other environmental conditions.

Macronutrients and electrolytes play a role in helping our body absorb and retain any of the water we take in. If you’re trying to stay hydrated, drink your water with a meal or a snack so that there are other nutrients present to help you retain more of the water.

Keep a track of how much water you drink, or fill up a large (reusable) water bottle or two to sip on. It serves as a constant reminder throughout the day. If you’re an athlete or you exercise often, or in hot conditions, you’ll need to add minerals and electrolytes to your water to replenish what’s lost in sweat, which will enable a faster recovery.

It’s also best to spread out your water consumption to help your body with absorption. Start your morning off with a glass of water, maybe with added sea salt and lemon, and make sure you’re consistently drinking water throughout the day. Consistency is key; it’s not a good idea to drink more than a litre in an hour since your kidneys can only remove about a litre of water per hour from the body. Drinking too much water can also lead to what is known as hyponatremia, a condition where the sodium levels in the blood become dangerously low.

For athletes, optimal hydration will help with performance and recovery. For everyone else, hydration is key to health and wellness, and simply feeling good.

Skybright Performance Electrolytes. 50 servings per bottle. No sugar, more energy.
Skybright Performance Electrolytes. No sugar, more energy.

Conclusion

As we increasingly drink filtered or purified water, and consume convenient, processed foods, we are struggling to meet our body’s need for electrolytes, both for performance, and everyday health and wellbeing. This combined with the depletion of minerals from the soil in which we grow our food, has even seen imbalances and dehydration in people who eat a wholefood diet, drink water and lead a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to add things like leafy greens, tomatoes, watermelon and cucumbers, which contain a high water content, this will all count toward your fluid intake and help to restore and replenish electrolytes.

By making good habits with hydration, drinking water enriched with electrolytes, and including more water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet, you can avoid dehydration and the negative impacts it can have on your health.

Sources:
Schauss, Alexander G. Minerals, Trace Elements, & Human Health. Life Sciences Press. 1995
Maughan, R. J. and S. M. Shirreffs (1997). “Recovery from prolonged exercise: restoration of water and electrolyte balance.” J Sports Sci 15(3): 297-303.
Rhoades, R. and R. Pflanzer (1996). Human Physiology. Ft Worth, Saunders College Publishing.

A to Zinc: A handy guide

A to Zinc

Acne: Zinc is an important component for healthy skin, and in particular for sufferers of acne. It can control the production of oil in the skin and help balance some of the hormones that can lead to acne. Many skin disorders can be attributed to insufficient zinc.

Bioavailability: The bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal- based foods such as lean red meat and poultry, although many grain and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc.

Common Cold: Much research has been done around zinc and its capacity to combat the common cold. Although studies examining zinc treatment on cold symptoms has shown varied results over years, it appears to be beneficial under certain circumstances. The Cochrane Report concluded that taking it within 24 hours of developing symptoms and has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms in healthy people by up to a third. It does this by directly inhibiting the rhinovirus binding and replicating and suppressing inflammation.

Depression: Virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain involves zinc, and low levels have been linked to anxiety and depression.

Eyesight: Research has suggested that zinc and antioxidants may delay the progression of age- related macular degeneration and vision loss, possibly by preventing cellular damage in the retina.

Food sources: Lean red meat is an excellent dietary source, and it is also highly bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb it much more readily. Poultry, nuts, seeds, and lentils are other good sources. Green leafy vegetables and fruits contain modest amounts of zinc.

Grains: Wholegrain breads, cereals and other grains contain zinc, but these foods also contain phytates, which can bind zinc and therefore inhibit its absorption. While these plant-based options are good dietary sources, the bioavailability is often lower than animal-based products.

Hair loss: In severe cases zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and a dry flaky scalp.

Immune system: Zinc is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system, and enables protein synthesis and cell growth.

Job: Zinc is often seen as the gatekeeper for your immune system, to ward off bacterial and viral infections like the common cold.

Kids: Zinc supports normal growth and physical development during pregnancy, and this continues through childhood and adolescence.

Low zinc content in our soils: Plants, like our bodies, cannot make minerals. They instead extract them from the soil. Like many other mineral and trace elements, if they are lacking in the soil they will be lacking in the plants we eat or the animals that are grazing the fields and providing our much-need protein. If certain crops aren’t rotated, it can seriously deplete the soils of these minerals, leading to deficiencies in our diet.

Magnesium: Both zinc and magnesium help protect the brain and the eyes from excitotoxin additives that are common in foods today. In New Zealand, deficiency of both of these minerals is common due to soil depletion.

Nutrients: As well as being involved in hundreds of processes within the body, zinc helps us absorb and utilise nutrients from our food.

Oysters: Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food.

RDI for zinc is higher for pregnant and lactating women.

Pregnant women: Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers may require bigger intakes, as there are high foetal requirements for zinc, and lactation can also rapidly deplete mineral stores. For these reasons, the RDI for zinc is higher for pregnant and lactating women, and supplementation is often recommended.

Quote: “Just about all skin disorders improve if you build up your zinc stores.” Dr Robert Atkins

RDI (Recommended Daily Intakes): Common RDIs for zinc are as low as 5mg for a child, 7mg for a teenage girl, 13mg for a teenage boy. For adult woman it is 8mg, increasing to 12 mg when breastfeeding or pregnant, and 14mg for adult males.

Stress: There is evidence that zinc levels decrease following physical stress or injury. It is one of the few minerals lost in the urine following acute or chronic physical stress.

Taste test: There is a simple test you can take to measure your zinc status, which can often be provided by your local health shop. It involves taking a tiny amount of zinc sulphate, dissolving it in water and then tasting as little as a spoonful. This test works because zinc is required for your taste buds to function. If you notice a bitter, astringent taste you are not deficient. If this bitter taste is delayed by more than a few seconds, you need more zinc in your diet. If there is a much longer delay or if you don’t notice the bitterness or it tastes like water, you may have a deficiency and will need to restore your zinc levels.

Ultimate nutrient: Zinc is responsible for hundreds of processes within our brain and our body, and is one of the most important minerals for our health throughout our life. There are more roles in the body for zinc than any other nutrient.

Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc.

Vegetarians: Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc than non-vegetarians. Zinc can be sourced from whole-grain breads, cereals, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, but these foods also contain phytates, which can bind zinc and therefore inhibit its absorption. While these plant-based options are good dietary sources, the bioavailability is often lower than animal- based products.

Vitamin C: With the help of vitamin C, zinc has been used in research into improving age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After an average follow-up period, supplementation with antioxidants plus zinc (but not antioxidants alone) significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD and reduced visual acuity loss.

Wound healing: Zinc is critical for wound healing, whether it is a small cut, or helping the skin recover from surgical procedures. It also helps prevent scar formation.

EXcessive zinc: A over-large intake of zinc may result in side effects with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Intake of 50 to 150 milligrams per day of supplemental zinc may cause minor intestinal distress occurring within three to 10 hours after ingestion. Single doses of 225 to 450 milligrams of zinc usually cause nausea and induce vomiting.

Yellow fungus growth on toenails: Many skin disorders are related to insufficient zinc, including abdominal stretchmarks after childbirth, split fingernails with white specks, as well as yellow toenails and/or fungus growth.

Zinc: There are more roles for zinc than any other nutrient. It is one of the most important elements for our health yet one of the most deficient in our diet, especially here in New Zealand. This is due to the quality of our soils and the impact of the foods we eat, and the water we drink.

Why is Zinc essential?

Why is Zinc essential?

There are more roles for zinc than any other nutrient. It is one of the most important elements for our health, yet one of the most deficient in our diet, especially here in New Zealand.

The chronic lack of zinc in Aotearoa is due to the quality of our soils and the impact of the foods we eat, and the water we drink.

Here’s an overview of the critical roles this mineral plays in our bodies. Also see our handy guide: A to Zinc.

Zinc’s Role

Zinc is involved in hundreds of processes within the body, and it helps us absorb and utilise nutrients from our food.

It plays a role in immune function, helping repel and overcome bacterial and viral infections like the common cold. It assists with growth development, protein and DNA synthesis, and is effective in wound healing.

Zinc is essential for the brain and neurological function as well as the maintenance of vision, taste and smell. It nourishes the scalp and helps maintain strong and healthy gums, hair, skin and nails. It can help avoid hair loss, which can be a symptom that you may be deficient. Zinc can control the production of oil in the skin and help balance some of the hormones that can lead to acne. Many skin disorders can be attributed to insufficient zinc.

Zinc is important to our health and wellbeing throughout our life. It supports normal growth and physical development during pregnancy, and this support continues through childhood and adolescence.

There is almost no part of the body that zinc doesn’t benefit, either inside or out.

It is key to both male and female reproductive health and is vital as we grow older, as it helps maintain bone density and muscle bulk.

However, zinc can be harder to access through diet for both women and men as they age, as the body doesn’t have the ability to store minerals. New Zealand surveys have shown that 52% of middle-aged men aren’t getting enough zinc each day, and that figure increased to 90% for men aged over 70.

Zinc has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms.

Zinc and the Common Cold

Much research has been done around zinc and its capacity to combat the common cold. Although studies examining zinc treatment on cold symptoms have shown varied results over years, it appears to be beneficial under certain circumstances.

The Cochrane Report concluded that taking it within 24 hours of developing symptoms has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms in healthy people by up to a third. It does this by directly inhibiting the rhinovirus binding and replicating and suppressing inflammation.

More research is needed to determine the optimal dosage, formulation and duration of treatment before a recommendation for zinc in the treatment of the common cold can be made.

Some of us need zinc more than others.

Studies have shown that New Zealand men have lowered zinc status, especially as they age. Men require an RDI of 14mg just to prevent deficiency.

Several New Zealand studies have suggested that many adolescent girls aren’t getting enough zinc and this may be affecting their growth and development. This could be due to changing diets, less red meat and seafood being consumed, as well as the prevalence of processed foods, which are often refined and lacking minerals and other nutrients.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers also require bigger intakes, as there are high foetal requirements for zinc, and lactation can also rapidly deplete mineral stores. Breast milk provides enough zinc (RDI 2mg) for baby for the first six months, but zinc needs to be acquired from food sources as the child grows. Supplementation of zinc has been shown to improve the growth and development of some children who have exhibited a mineral deficiency.

Zinc has limited storage capacity with our body, so a deficiency can develop quickly if we’re not restoring and replenishing.

Diagnosing Deficiency

Blood tests are not a reliable method for detecting zinc deficiency as most of the zinc in our bodies is retained in our cells rather than in our blood. However, there is a simple test you can take to measure your zinc status, which can often be provided by your local health shop.

It involves taking a tiny amount of zinc sulphate, dissolving it in water and then tasting as little as a spoonful. This test works because zinc is required for your taste buds to function.

If you notice a bitter, astringent taste you are not deficient. If this bitter taste is delayed by more than a few seconds, you need more zinc in your diet. If there is a much longer delay or if you don’t notice the bitterness or it tastes like water, you may have a deficiency and will need to restore your zinc levels.

In this case, you may already be experiencing some common symptoms of a low zinc status such as frequent colds or infections, weak sense of smell and taste, hair loss, slow wound healing or skin disorders and inflammation.

You may be advised to supplement with zinc for a period and look to include more zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as lean red meat, dairy, seafood, poultry, or whole-grains, beans and legumes.

Getting Zinc into Your Daily Diet

The best source of zinc is rock oysters, which contain significantly more zinc than red meat and grains but are often not a regular part of our diet. Fats, which contain very little zinc, also tend to dilute zinc from the diet.

Lean red meat is an excellent dietary source, and it is also highly bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb it much more readily. Green leafy vegetables and fruits contain modest sources of zinc.

There is almost no part of the body that zinc doesn’t benefit, either inside or out.

Some animal-free options include whole-grain breads, cereals, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, but these foods also contain phytates, which can bind zinc and therefore inhibit its absorption. While these plant-based options are good dietary sources, the bioavailability is often lower than animal- based products.

Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc than non-vegetarians.

Note that techniques such as soaking beans and grains in water for several hours can reduce this binding of zinc by phytates and thus increase bioavailability.Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc than non-vegetarians.

Studies from New Zealand nutrition surveys and overseas research suggest most of us are accessing only half of the daily zinc we require from our diet.

Zinc Deficiency Inhibits Absorption

Once you become zinc deficient, it can be very difficult to improve zinc levels purely through food alone, as your body’s absorption often depends on having enough zinc in the first place.

In addition, if you are recovering from an operation, have suffered emotional stress, or been over-exercising, your body will look to use all the available zinc on offer in an effort to heal. Zinc is one the few minerals lost rapidly in the urine after suffering acute psychological stress.

Gastrointestinal surgery and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease can decrease zinc absorption. Other illnesses associated with zinc deficiency include chronic liver disease, alcoholic cirrhosis, anorexia nervosa, chronic renal disease, diabetes, malignancy and sickle cell disease. Diarrhoea can also lead to excessive loss.

Supplementation may then be required to achieve good zinc status and you will then be able to maximise your zinc from food sources once again.

Summary

While we should be getting our important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food we eat, there are often factors that prevent this from happening.

Soil depletion, the prevalence of processed food and bouts of illness can lead to mineral deficiencies that prevent the nutrients reaching the cells in our body and enabling the hundreds of processes that keep us healthy.

It is important to be aware of some simple things we can do to restore and replenish these minerals, to maintain optimal levels and supplement when needed to avoid larger health problems.

References:
Coory, David. Stay Healthy by supplying what’s lacking in your diet. 1992
Schauss, Alexander G. Minerals, Trace Elements, & Human Health. Life Sciences Press. 1995
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper,
Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001
Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011
Prasad AS. Zinc deficiency: its characterization and treatment. Met Ions Biol Syst 2004

Are you getting enough Iodine?

Are you getting enough iodine?

When you hear the word iodine, you may think of the tablets used to disinfect water on camping trips or the yellow liquid used for disinfecting cuts and grazes when we were younger. Or you may just remember it from the periodic table in chemistry class.

Iodine is one of the most important life-sustaining elements. For more than 100 years, it has been known as the element that is necessary for thyroid hormone production. However, it is so much more than that.

Iodine is found in each and every one of the trillions of cells in the body, and responsible for the production of all the other hormones in the body.

It is a powerful antibiotic, and has potent antibacterial, antiviral properties.

It has strong anti-inflammatory effects by neutralising free radicals and is necessary for proper immune system function. Working together with other minerals like Selenium, it has many therapeutic benefits for a range of modern illnesses and diseases.

It is estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that more than half of the world’s population live in an area of iodine deficiency, and that this has risen 400% in the last few decades due to soil depletion and an increase in environmental contaminants that have replaced it.

Our body does not make iodine, so we need to access it from the foods we eat. But if the nutrients are not in the soil to begin with, it cannot be in the food we eat, and this can lead to common deficiencies.

Iodine deficiency in New Zealand

Soil in coastal areas are naturally iodine-rich, as are the dairy products produced by the cows that graze there. Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables that are grown in coastal areas are also rich in iodine.

Despite being a coastal nation, New Zealand soils are low in iodine, and this is reflected in our locally grown produce.

This can be due to intensive farming, lack of crop rotation and the use of fertilisers. Coupled with changes to our diet, the reduced use of iodised salt in the household, the prevalence of processed foods, many New Zealanders are now lacking important nutrients such as iodine that are key to good health.

The WHO’s research has suggested deficiencies in both Australia and New Zealand are re-emerging, when they were previously thought to be iodine sufficient.

This research suggests that we may be consuming less than 60% of what is recommended. While we all need iodine, it is especially important for women who are trying to fall pregnant, are currently pregnant or who are breastfeeding, as the body demands more during this time due to increased thyroid hormone production, and the requirements of the developing baby.

Research suggests that we may be consuming less than 60% of what is recommended.

Properly evaluating and treating iodine deficiency will help people support thyroid health and immune system function, increase their energy levels, and help improve general health and wellbeing. This can be achieved by some simple changes to their diet or daily supplementation in consultation with their health practitioner. It can be as little as a couple of drops of potassium iodide in a glass of water each day to get you feeling better, and help you avoid some of the common but serious health problems we are seeing today in New Zealand and around the world.

The best results are seen with a holistic approach, and increasing the intake of important vitamins, minerals and electrolytes through a wholefood diet.

The hungry thyroid

The thyroid is often referred to as a ‘hungry’ part of the body, in reference to its high nutritional demands.

This butterfly-shaped endocrine gland surrounds the windpipe and is important for metabolism, regulating digestion and your heart rate. It facilitates energy production and mental agility. The thyroid also helps with fat burning too, by determining how quickly and efficiently kilojoules are burned up, and it assists in the breakdown of proteins. Thyroid function also assists the suppleness and strength of our hair, skin and nails.

Iodine is an essential ingredient in all thyroid hormones, including T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). It is important to maintain sufficient amounts of iodine, and they are required to be synthesised in adequate amounts. In a low thyroid state, known as hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. The metabolic state is therefore reduced which can lead to weight gain.

When the thyroid gland is releasing excess amounts of thyroid hormone, it is known as hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive or elevated metabolic state which can result in fatigue, irregular heartbeat, unexplained weight loss and brain fog.

When you have an adequate intake of iodine, your body contains 20-50g, and 75% of that amount is stored in the thyroid. However large amounts are also stored in other parts of the body, including the salivary glands, the breasts, ovaries, and the brain. In the brain it concentrates in the substantia nigra, the part of the brain that is associated with Parkinson’s disease.

One of the first signs of deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland.

The lack of iodine causes the gland to expand in an attempt to extract as much iodine in the bloodstream as possible. If your iodine intake is low, this will be reflected in low levels of thyroid hormone. You may then experience fatigue, dry skin, constipation, systemic inflammation, a hoarse voice, delayed reflexes and some cognitive impairment.

It is best to consult your doctor or health professional should you identify any of these symptoms. Anybody taking thyroid medication should always discuss their condition with a health professional before taking supplementary iodine.

The role of selenium

Selenium, another important mineral and antioxidant, plays a significant role in regulating thyroid function and iodine metabolism. The thyroid contains more selenium by weight than any other organ in the body.

Selenium is a required component for the production of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which protects the body from damage with antioxidant capabilities.

Without this enzyme, the thyroid gland is susceptible to damage from oxidants, there would be no activation of thyroid hormone without selenium.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women require more iodine.

The need for iodine before pregnancy

The consequences of iodine deficiency are most serious for women who are trying to fall pregnant, who are currently pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Thyroid hormones balance the function and development of the body’s major organs and influence the progress of the developing baby.

Research has shown that a lack of iodine can cause fetal and neonatal mental disabilities and growth problems, along with speech and hearing issues. Cognitive function and neurological development can be impaired when iodine levels are low.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women also require more iodine due to increased thyroid hormone production.

It is recommended that women take iodine supplements from the point of planned pregnancy and through the full duration of pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. Avoid kelp or seaweed supplements as they may be contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury. Multi-vitamin, multi-mineral and pre-natal supplements may or may not contain enough iodine, so it’s best to check.

Women with pre-existing thyroid conditions should always check with their health professional before taking a supplement.

How do I know if I’m deficient?

Under most states of iodine sufficiency, approximately 90% of dietary iodine eventually is excreted in the urine, with exception being the lactating female due to iodine excretion in the breast milk. Because of this, urine is the best biological fluid to use for assessment of deficiency.

If you are concerned there may be deficiency, you could undertake an iodine-loading test, otherwise known as a urinary iodine concentration (UIC) where you take a prescribed dose of iodine, then collect 24 hours of urine to undergo analysis with a health professional.

The principle of this test is that if you’re iodine sufficient, most of the dose will be excreted, and if there is a deficiency present, it will be instead be absorbed by the body.

Can I get enough iodine from salt?

Iodised table salt was implemented in many regions and countries around the world when iodine deficiency was recognised. In New Zealand in the 1920’s, the government allowed manufacturers to voluntarily add iodine to table salt. This was mainly to safeguard against thyroid enlargement (goitre) and the severe mental retardation of cretinism, although the incidence of these conditions was very rare in New Zealand.

Unrefined, unprocessed sea salt is a better option than table salt.

In recent decades we have seen people consume less salt due to health concerns, while some avoid salt entirely. Salt used in processed foods is often non-iodised to save on costs, so is not a source of iodine despite the sodium content.

In recent times we are seeing a prevalence of sea salt, or kosher salt, promoted as a healthier alternative. However, sea salt is a poor source of iodine, and we should look for unrefined, unprocessed sea salt, with some products now enriched with New Zealand sea kelp. The iodine in salt is not very bioavailable in our bodies, it is better absorbed through liquid and food sources. 

Other sources of dietary iodine

It can be difficult to identify sources and the quantity of iodine in most foods. However, it is naturally present in seawater, so therefore seafood is a good source, especially seaweed, shellfish and saltwater fish. It’s also naturally present in soil, and found in eggs and dairy, including yoghurt, cow’s milk, ice cream and cheese.

If you don’t have access to shellfish or other seafood, or if the soil is deficient due to intensive farming, you’ll need to access it from other sources.  

Iodine levels in milk can vary according to the soils in which the animals have grazed and factors such as the groundwater used in irrigation, fertilisers used and the feed for the livestock. Interestingly, organic milk is estimated to contain roughly 30-40% less iodine than conventional milk, owing to alternative processing methods.

It is difficult for most people to obtain adequate iodine by eating foods that are natural sources of iodine.

That said, in 2009, Iodine fortification of bread became mandatory with the exception of organic bread, non-yeast-leavened bread and bread mixes. When salt was iodised in the 20th century, this significantly improved the iodine levels within the New Zealand population, but recently deficiencies have again become apparent, hence the need for the fortification of foods.

Iodine dosage guidelines

There is no single dose of iodine that is effective for everyone. The best approach is working with a health professional that is knowledgeable about iodine.

If you eat seafood and other iodine-rich foods, use iodised salt, take a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement, you may be able to obtain adequate levels.

Recommended daily allowances range from 100-250mcg a day, with the exception of pregnant or breastfeeding women, who may require more than 300mcg per day due to increased hormone production in early pregnancy, increased urinary iodine excretion, and the transfer of iodine to the fetus or the nursing infant when feeding.

Some leading iodine experts suggest significantly larger daily doses, even up to 12mg. In Japan, the average daily intake is 12-13 milligrams due to increased consumption of seaweed and other seafood.

Just 2 drops a day = 255mcg of Potassium Iodide

Summary

Iodine is one the most basic elements of all life on earth, it is present in the ocean, marine life and in every one of the trillions of cells in our body. The role it plays in our everyday wellbeing cannot be overstated. As our bodies can’t produce iodine, there are simple steps we can take to make sure we can rebalance and replenish our mineral levels, and avoid deficiencies.

  • Iodine Liquid Mineral

    $27.90
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  • Selenium Liquid Mineral

    $27.90
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References:
Brownstein, MD. D. Iodine. Why You Need It And Why You Can’t Live Without It. 2014
Reader’s Digest. The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals & Herbs. 2000
Schauss, Alexander G. Minerals, Trace Elements, & Human Health. Life Sciences Press. 1995
Kohrle J. The Trace Element Selenium and The Thyroid Gland. Biochimie. 1999
Smallridge RC, Ladenson PW. Hypothyroidism In Pregnancy: Consequences To Neonatal Health. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001
Iodine. Ministry of Health Manatū Hauora Website.
Editors: de Benoist, Bruno. Andersson, Maria. Iodine status Worldwide. WHO Global Database on Iodine Deficiency. World Health Organisation, Geneva. 2004
Ministry of Health Manatū & Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. 2006, updated 2017.

Remineralise: Put back what’s missing

Woman drinking water with Skybright Concentrated Mineral Drops added.

Remineralise – and put back what’s missing from our food.

Over the past few months, many of us have taken the chance to evaluate our lifestyle and our health and wellbeing, especially with regard to strengthening our immune system and enhancing our ability to fight off infections during the winter months.

Getting enough sleep, exercising often and eating a balanced, whole-food diet are all important factors in nurturing our health, for both mind and body. But often we’re lacking important minerals, that are not present in either the foods we eat, or in the water we drink. 

This is due to intensive farming techniques, which strip these minerals from the soil in which our food grows. If the minerals are not in the soils in the first place, they will not be present in the plants and therefore in the food we eat. Many of us drink filtered or bottled water, which removes the essential minerals and trace elements we need, as well as unwanted pathogens and toxins that make it safe for drinking.

These practices can lead to mineral deficiencies, which then lead to common complaints such as fatigue, irregular heartbeat, depression, and sleep issues. This also ultimately compromises our immune system, and makes us vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Skybright Remineralise: we need to put back the minerals and vitamins that are missing from our food.
Remineralise: we need to put back the minerals and vitamins that are missing from our food.

The importance of minerals.

In today’s modern, fast-paced society, supplying our bodies with the minerals they require is difficult. The lives we lead often put increasing demands on our stores of the nutrients. The harder we push ourselves, the more we need. In times of stress, our body uses more vitamin B, vitamin C and magnesium and zinc in particular.

Minerals such as such as magnesium, potassium, iodine and selenium are the catalysts for all the vitamins and other nutrients your body uses for developing and maintaining good health.

Every second of every day the human body relies on these minerals and other trace elements to conduct and generate billions of tiny electrical impulses. Without these impulses, not a single muscle, including your heart, or your brain would be able to function.

Think of your body like a circuit board. Ionic minerals conduct electricity throughout the body, bringing energy where it needs to go in order for each cell and system to work. Without these minerals, your heart couldn’t beat, your muscles couldn’t contract, your brain couldn’t function and your body couldn’t absorb nutrients.

The human body cannot produce minerals like calcium and magnesium as they cannot be made by living organisms. We have to obtain them from the food we eat, or the water we drink. Obtaining them from water is optimal, as it helps with the bioavailability of these minerals, enabling them to be more effectively absorbed into our system. 

“Soil is the basis of all human life and our only hope for a healthy world… all of life will be healthy or unhealthy according to the fertility of the soil”

Dr. Alexis Carrel, (1873-1944) winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912

New Zealand soils and mineral deficiencies.

As a country, New Zealand is still very young, and it has young soils. Where once they were rich in nutrients, our agriculture and farming over the years has stripped the topsoil of important trace minerals and elements. 

With the use of common fertilisers, there has been an increase in the growth rate of foods and an increase in yields, but we’ve also seen a steady decline in the nutritional value of the foods we eat over the past decades. This has lead to well-known deficiencies in our soils, including selenium, iodine, zinc, chromium and boron. 

Up to 91% of New Zealanders are said to be deficient in iodine, an essential trace element that supports energy production and plays an important role in supporting immune function. The biggest groups at risk are pregnant mothers and people with autoimmune issues. You can get iodine from seaweed or miso soup or by simply adding sea salt to your drinking water or sprinkling it onto your food. 

Selenium levels are also low in New Zealand soils. It’s estimated that many of us are only getting as little as 10-20% of the daily amount we require. Selenium is an antioxidant and also supports immune system function, as well as reproductive health, mood, thyroid function and cardiovascular health. Often supplementation is required but you can get it from eating beef, fish or a few brazil nuts.

Zinc is an important trace mineral, especially in New Zealand due to soil depletions. It’s a a powerful antioxidant, and great for skin, eye and hair health. Seafood is a rich source of zinc, as well as red meat. Studies suggest that supplementing with zinc may have the potential to improve immunity in the elderly, and in healthy individuals with marginal zinc deficiencies, supplementation can enhance the immune response, and may reduce the length of the common cold.

Producers are paid on the weight of their produce rather than how mineral rich the vegetables and fruit are. The processing of foods, such as peeling, extracting, heat-treating and early picking for storage and transportation across the country can further diminish the nutrient value in the foods we eat.

Until we are able to put trace minerals back into the soil through regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming, we must look to other methods to obtain the full spectrum of minerals and trace elements that we need for optimal human health.

In our efforts to drink ‘pure water’ this filtration eliminates the harmful substances, but also removes the important trace elements and minerals we need every day.

The water we drink.

Water can and should be a significant source of trace minerals and elements that can maintain our health and wellbeing. 

With concerns about the quality of public water supply in some areas of New Zealand, we often resort to drinking bottled water or filtered water, (reverse osmosis, distilled) which can eliminate virtually every mineral the body requires to maintain good health. In our efforts to drink ‘pure water’ this filtration eliminates the harmful substances, but also removes the important trace elements and minerals we need every day. Reverse osmosis water filters can also harbour harmful bacteria if not adequately maintained.

We need to remineralise.

Eating a plant-rich diet, while essential for good health, isn’t enough on it’s own to provide you with all the minerals and nutrients you need, as modern farming has stripped the soils of its mineral content. This has lead to significant deficiencies across the population which are increasing with our modern lifestyles, added to the prevalence of processed and convenience foods, and an ageing population.

Eat organic and seasonal where you can, eat leafy greens with every meal or at least daily. Grow your own if you have the space at home or shop at local farmers markets to ensure freshness as well as supporting the local producers and economy. 

We are all aware of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle, but with regard to nutrition, we need to rebalance, replenish and remineralise. Minerals and trace elements are vital to our everyday health and wellbeing. We need them to strengthen our immune system, stave off infections and feel more energised.

Adding minerals like sea salt or liquid mineral drops which contain more than 70 minerals and trace elements to your drinking water may be the best place to start to feel good and get back into balance. These little changes are easy to implement into your daily routine and can make a big difference to your health.

  • Zinc Liquid Mineral

    $27.90
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  • Magnesium Liquid Mineral

    $27.90
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  • Performance Electrolytes

    $29.90
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  • Concentrated Mineral Drops

    $49.90
    Read more

Sources:
Schauss, Alexander G. Minerals, Trace Elements, & Human Health. Life Sciences Press. 1995
Heinerman, Dr. John. The Uses of Trace Minerals and Elements Found in Concentrace®. 2001
Lauritzen, Rhonda. Minerals and Immune Function. MRI, 2020
Lauritzen, Rhonda. Trace Mineral Deficiency – 9 Facts You Need to Know. MRI, 2020

Silica: Understanding this important mineral

Woman stretching in yoga studio.

Silica: Understanding this important mineral.

Minerals such as such as magnesium, potassium and iron are the catalysts for all the vitamins and other nutrients your body uses for developing and maintaining good health. Our bodies can’t produce these minerals, so we have to obtain them from the foods we eat. In addition, we now know that New Zealand soils are often deficient in iodine, selenium and zinc due to intensive farming techniques.

Of all the minerals we need to stay healthy, silica is perhaps the least known and the least understood. It plays an important role in strengthening our skin tissue and bone as well as providing a number of other benefits. It is the seventh most prevalent element in human tissue, after calcium, which it works with to maintain healthy bones. Although silica is one of the most abundant substances in the body, as we age we retain less and less, and our intake tends to decrease with age, so it’s important that we maintain good levels through our diet and supplement if required.

Of all the minerals we need to stay healthy, silica is perhaps the least known and the least understood.

Silica helps with collagen formation, joint function, strong bones, teeth and gums, gastrointestinal issues and is great for hair, skin and nails. Modern diets are lacking in silica due the refinement of the grains we eat and the filtering of the water we drink. The body needs to compensate for the lack of minerals by taking it from the healthy reserves in our bone and muscle, thus leaving our system deficient and vulnerable to problems that can get worse as we age. When we are young, silica levels in our body are high and our bones and joints are flexible, but as we get older, these levels decline and this can lead to muscle degradation, soreness, lack of mobility, injuries, and longer healing times when injuries do happen.

Silica has been shown to support hair growth, healthy skin, and strong nails.
Silica has been shown to support hair growth, healthy skin, and strong nails.

The many benefits of Silica.

Healthy Skin: One of the primary functions of silica is to maintain healthy skin tissue by boosting the production of proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. Collagen is the tissue which holds our cells together and is the major component of everything from our bones to our skin. It is the most plentiful protein, making up 75-80% of the skin. Elastin, along with collagen, is responsible for giving structure to the skin and can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and make the skin feel supple. Keratin strengthens hair follicles, nails, and the surface layer of the skin.

Hair, skin, nails: Silica has been shown to support hair growth, healthy skin, and strong nails. It also strengthens teeth and gums. Many toothpastes include silica as an ingredient, and it can help with inflamed and bleeding gums.

Immune system support: As the skin is the largest organ in the body, it is the first line of defence against naturally occurring bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Strong, healthy skin can help guard against infection. Silica can also assist in the fast healing of burns and other wounds, as it stimulates rapid re-growth of damaged tissue. You can apply it topically to the affected area and feel relief within seconds.

Joint support: Silica assists joint function by the strengthening of connective tissues, ligaments and muscles. This in turn can also improve overall flexibility. It may also reduce swelling of joints caused by injury which can help speed up the recovery process.

Bone formation: Silica promotes bone formation, as it manages calcium usage and storage throughout the body. It enhances calcium absorption, and these two minerals work together to help strengthen your bones. It is impossible to form bone without both calcium and silica. It is thought that supplementation of silica, rather than calcium is what’s needed for maintaining strong bones and enhance longevity.

Digestive Health: Gut health is top of mind these days, and silica helps to maintain the tissues that are found along the digestive tract. Most disorders of the stomach involve a degradation of the lining in the gastrointestinal tract, and silica is an essential element involved in rebuilding and maintaining these tissues.

Aluminium detoxification: Silica has shown to be a good eliminator of aluminium. Aluminium is a proven neurotoxin, and has been implicated as a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Silica naturally reacts with aluminium, thereby forming aluminosilicate. This reaction between silica and aluminium can occur within the body, and is believed to be an important mechanism for aluminium detoxification. Aluminosilicates are nontoxic and are eliminated by the kidneys via the urine. This may help inhibit your body’s absorption of aluminium, meaning that it is able to help decrease the amount of aluminium build-up that is found in the brain’s tissues.

Silica Liquid Mineral. Each 2ml contains: Silica Dioxide 375mg, Purified Water. 100% bioavailable
Each 2ml contains: Silica Dioxide 375mg and purified water. 100% bioavailable.

Silica deficiencies 

It is common these days for deficiencies to occur. We are simply not getting enough of this mineral in our diets to the depletion in our soils, as well as the availability of processed foods and the refinement of grains. The husks of grains are where we have historically obtained our dietary intake of silica. But with invention of the combine harvester, husks were automatically removed to create more refined flour and grains. Bread once contained many minerals, but the prevalence of white bread and white flour has seen these minerals disappear and manufacturers try to add the minerals back in with additives. These additives are often a poor substitute.

These days, we often drink filtered or purified water, which take out potentially harmful chemicals but also strip the essential minerals that we need too. Unless we are able to replenish and replace these minerals, our body will continue to take them from our reserves that are stored in our bones and muscle, making us deficient and vulnerable to weakened tissue, sore joints and skin issues.

Foods containing the mineral Silica.
Silica is found in whole grains, oats, corn, beetroot, asparagus and avocados.

How to get more Silica in your diet

Silica doesn’t occur naturally in a lot of foods, but is found in husks of whole grains, natural oats, barley, wheat, corn, beetroot, asparagus, alfalfa sprouts and potato skins. It is also present in lettuce, cucumbers, avocados, strawberries and onions. The less refined and the less processed the foods are the better.

Like a lot of other minerals, as we age, the human body retains less and less silica, so there may be a need to supplement. While silica is essential for good health, and we are now aware of the benefits, no RDI has yet been established. A daily, therapeutic dose of 375mg is recommended, and taking it in liquid form is best for optimal absorption and bioavailability. 

References:
Lemmo, E.Q. 1998 Silica. Keats Publishing
Kaufmann, I 1992 Silica: The Amazing Gel. Canada: Alive
Ralph K. Iler. 1979 The Chemistry of Silica. John Wiley and Sons

Skybright Product Manual

Skybright Product Manual

Feel free to download our full Product Manual as a PDF. Inside, you’ll find full technical information on all of our products.

It includes information on when to take them, dosage, active ingredients, product features and benefits and any precautions or side effects.

We will continue to update the Manual as we add new products and develop the Skybright range.

Skybright Product Manual – Updated May 2021