Frequently asked questions about minerals

Isn’t it Ionic? And other questions about minerals

What’s a macromineral? Do you need mineral supplements if you eat a healthy, wholefood diet? Find the answers to these and other questions.

Why do we need minerals?

Although they are essential nutrients needed every day, our bodies cannot produce minerals. They must come from food we eat or fluids we drink to support hundreds of biological processes.

We lose about two or three cups of body fluid per day just by living and breathing, sweating, urination and other bodily functions.

If our output is greater than our input, and we’re not taking in enough minerals or absorbing them properly, our bodies must take this mineral content from our cells, tissues, organs and eventually our bones.

This will eventually cause a mineral deficiency and health will be compromised.

Smiling woman taking liquid mineral supplements.
Our body cannot produce minerals – they must come from our food or water.

On a more positive note, if we can correct a mineral or other nutritional deficiency, common health problems can often be reversed, and we can lead healthier lives.

Frequently asked questions

Skybright ionic liquid minerals are naturally sourced, and the minerals are ionically charged and are in Here are some questions we’re often asked about minerals, plus the why and how to incorporate them into your daily routine.

Isn’t it ionic?

Skybright ionic liquid minerals are naturally sourced, and the minerals are ionically charged and are in precisely the same proportion as healthy human fluids. They are in perfect electrical balance with one another, and it is the same formulation that we’d find if drinking water from a pristine mountain spring, which is packed full of natural minerals and elements.

The unstable ionic state allows the mineral to bond with water, enabling it to be absorbed by the body and supply it with nutrients.

Will they sink to the bottom?

They are ionic and colloidal, which means they are continually suspended in water, so they won’t sink to the bottom of the glass.

What are macrominerals and microminerals?

The macrominerals are calcium, phosphorus (phosphates), magnesium, sulphur, sodium, chloride and potassium. The body requires 100mg or more of these each day. The trace elements (microminerals or trace minerals), are required in much smaller amounts of about 15 milligrams per day or less, and include chromium, iodine, iron, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.

Woman slicing apples in kitchen.
If the minerals are not in the soils, they will not be present in the food we eat.

I eat a healthy, wholefood diet. Don’t I get enough minerals from my food?

Laboratory tests prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs, and even the milk and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago.

This is due the declining quality of our soils in which our food is grown.

For decades, intensive farming has focused on production rather than nutrition. Minerals have been brought to the top of the soil, then washed away, leaving the soil depleted of natural minerals. Synthetic fertilisers are often used, containing macrominerals but few of the microminerals required for human health.

Minerals are constantly being depleted from the soil. 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.

Therefore we need to replace, replenish and remineralise.

I take a multi-vitamin, is that enough?

Citric acid is added to our iron liquid mineral to enhance absorption, but there are no flavours, sweWe need to build a foundation of all minerals, not just the key vitamins and macrominerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Man holding glass of water with added mineral supplements.
Purified water is added, to make it a 100% bioavailable ionic liquid supplement.

Which minerals are we lacking here in New Zealand?

Iodine, selenium and zinc are known to be lacking in New Zealand soils. We know that our soils are low in magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency affects up to two-thirds of all adults in the USA, and up to 90% of the elderly aren’t getting their Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of magnesium.

woman holding water bottle. Add you minerals and sip throughout the day to enhance absorption.
Add the drops to your water bottle and sip throughout the day to help with absorption.

Are there any other ingredients or additives at all?

Citric acid is added to our iron liquid mineral to enhance absorption, but there are no flavours, sweeteners, preservatives, or additives used in any of our minerals.

Purified water is added, to make an ionic liquid supplement that is 100% bioavailable.

Our modern, busy lives place huge demands on our stores of vitamins and minerals.

What do they taste like?

They are highly concentrated, with a strong taste that’s not always pleasant. But you only need 1 or 2ml a day, diluted in a glass of water or juice. With iodine, it’s as little as two drops a day.

Diluting the drops into a large glass of water or adding to your water bottle and sipping throughout the day can negate this strong taste and make them even palatable – without making them any less efficient in the body.

Which mineral should I take?

We recommend a multi-mineral concentrate, which is high in magnesium but contains more than 70 minerals and trace elements that your body needs each day. Taken regularly, you can notice increased energy levels, improved immune system and digestive function, decreased brain fog, and better sleep.

Our busy lives place huge demands on our stores of vitamins and minerals.

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. Most of us can benefit from more of these nutrients in our diet.

Do they contain heavy metals?

Our mineral supplements are free of synthetically produced compounds or deadly heavy metals. The raw ingredients for all minerals come from our suppliers with a CoA (Certificate of Analysis) and are tested for purity and heavy metals.

Our minerals are compliant with European Pharmacopoeia (Ph Eur), United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) and Food Chemicals Codex (FCC). Each batch is fully tested and verified to comply with these standards. As such we can confirm that heavy metals meet the requirements of the test.

As with all other ingredients, packaging, and raw materials, these are checked by our QA team.

Man filling glass of water from kitchen tap
Many of us drink filtered water, which keeps the nasties out, but also the important trace elements. 

The minerals are then manufactured in a GMP facility using a proprietary process that transforms pure mineral crystals into a fully hydrated 100% bioavailable liquid ionic supplement. They are not tested after manufacture, but retention samples are taken.

Can I take more than one, such as zinc and magnesium, at once?

Yes, you can take both together at once in a glass of water.

In fact, certain minerals are best taken together, such as iodine and selenium, as selenium enhances the absorption of iodine within your body.

Taking a multi-mineral supplement, which contains macrominerals such as magnesium and sodium, as well as microminerals and trace elements such as zinc and selenium, can be the best way to stay in balance and prevent mineral deficiencies.

Do I keep them in the fridge or the cupboard?

There is no need to keep them in the fridge, as they contain no bacterial growth, and do not lose potency over time. Minor crystallisation may occur, but this doesn’t affect the safety or efficacy of the product.

Keep them in a cool, dry placed like a kitchen cupboard. The amber glass bottle will help protect them from sunlight too.

Can I add them to my food?

With most minerals, adding them to your water bottle in the morning and sipping it throughout the day is the best way to enhance absorption and maintain a good mineral balance.

You can add them to water, or juices, teas, smoothies and even foods such as porridge or risottos. This can help disguise the taste and enable you to make them part of your daily routine.

Women drinking liquid mineral supplement while working on computer.
An ionic liquid mineral supplement is the best way to ensure absorption.

Can I apply them topically?

Many minerals can be applied topically. Magnesium can assist with muscle soreness and zinc is well-known for wound healing for example.

We recommend taking them internally to take advantage of the bioavailability and absorption into the bloodstream, that can supply the nutrients to all parts of the body. For example, magnesium is responsible for more than 300 enzyme reactions, and plays crucial roles in the health of our heart, muscles and brain.

What time of day should I take them?

With most minerals, adding them to your water bottle in the morning and sipping it throughout the day is the best way to enhance absorption and maintain a good mineral balance. 

Or you could take them at mealtimes, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Think of them as one of your food groups, like raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and protein.

Having a good mineral balance and optimal gut health can help you absorb more vitamins and other nutrients from your food.

Ideally, we should be getting it from our water as well, although the water we drink is often filtered, which keeps the nasties out, but also the important trace elements.

Taking magnesium at night can often alleviate leg cramps and can lead to a more restful sleep. When talking iron supplements, leave a two-hour gap after coffee as this can affect absorption. (See below.)

What do I need to know absorption and bioavailability?

Absorption is key to maximising the benefits of mineral-rich foods and taking supplements. Your body mostly absorbs minerals in the small intestines.

As food passes through, minerals are absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the intestines.

This transfer can only occur if the minerals are ionically charged. Therefore, an ionic liquid mineral supplement is the best way to ensure absorption throughout the body.

Can caffeine decrease iron absorption?

When you eat foods that are high in iron or take an iron supplement, avoid taking it with coffee, tea, eggs, dairy, and soybean products, as these can reduce the amount of iron that is absorbed into your system.

It’s best to leave a two-hour gap after coffee, to ensure maximum absorption.

How much elemental zinc is there in Skybright Zinc Liquid Mineral?

Our zinc contains 15mg zinc sulphate per 2ml. Zinc sulphate contains 23% elemental zinc, so 3.45mg of our 15mg is elemental zinc.

Is it Potassium Iodide, or is it like Lugol’s?

Our iodine contains potassium iodide only, along with purified water.

Have another question for us?

If you have any further questions regarding the use of minerals or queries relating to a specific product, we’d be happy to help. Send us an email, phone us on 0800 200 707 or message us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Disclaimer
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 


Get back into balance with Potassium

Get back into balance with Potassium

Potassium is the most important dietary electrolyte. We require huge amounts compared to other nutrients. Potassium is necessary for a regular heartbeat and the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It helps regulate the electrolyte balance in our cells, maintain an optimal acidity (pH), and deliver blood glucose into our cells to convert to energy.

We source most of our potassium requirements from our diet. The body is able to absorb potassium from a wide range of foods, especially fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, and even drinks such as milk, tea and coffee. Almost all of the body’s potassium, up to 98%, is held inside our cells. It works with other electrolytes such as sodium, calcium and magnesium to maintain our electrolyte balance and absorb minerals from the food we eat.

✔️ Regulates normal blood pressure

✔️ Maintains fluid balance in our cells

✔️ Maintain the correct acidity (pH) of our blood and cells.

✔️ Helps convert blood glucose to energy

✔️ Helps the body absorb minerals from food

Doctor taking woman's blood pressure reading.
Potassium is necessary for a regular heartbeat and the maintenance of normal blood pressure.

Sodium and Potassium for balance

The relationship of sodium to potassium is important for your overall health. A low-sodium diet enhances potassium conservation, whereas a high-sodium diet promotes potassium excretion. Studies have shown a connection between high potassium intake and healthier blood pressure. This in turn can help prevent cardiac arrest or the chance of a stroke.

Potassium works with sodium to regulate the flow of nutrients in and out of the trillions of cells in the body. If this flow is thrown out of balance, cells can quickly die and blood pressure is affected and our heart can not function correctly. Numerous studies have shown that a low potassium/high sodium diet plays a role in the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI) in the USA is much higher than in New Zealand. According to current guidelines, American adults require 4,700mg of potassium, and 1,200mg of sodium daily, or a ratio of nearly four-to-one. However, studies indicate that the average American intake is almost one-to-one, due to excess salt in the diet.

It is estimated that a third of our body and brain energy is used in maintaining the balance of potassium and sodium, controlling water balance and distribution, muscle and nerve cell function, pH balance, and kidney and adrenal function.

Man sitting against gym wall with water bottle after exercise.
When suffering from low energy or fatigue, supplementing with both potassium and magnesium can restore energy levels, often within a few days.

Magnesium and Potassium for energy

These two important electrolytes are important for energy production, and if you are lacking both potassium and magnesium, you may suffer from low energy levels, and in some cases chronic fatigue syndrome.

When suffering from low energy or fatigue, supplementing with both potassium and magnesium can replace lost minerals, achieve optimal balance throughout the body and restore energy levels, often within a few days.

Signs of Potassium deficiency

Some of the warning signs of a potassium deficiency include fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, weakness, headaches, muscle cramps, problems in nerve conduction and muscle contraction and heart disturbances. People with Type 2 diabetes are often low in the mineral.

Potassium is mostly lost through urination. As the body flushes out excess sodium, a large amount potassium goes with it, as the sodium quickly links with potassium during digestion. 

It can also be lost through excessive sweating or vigorous exercise, so it’s helpful to replace and replenish by eating raw fruit or an electrolyte drink during or after a workout.

Excessive fluid loss, and the use of diuretics and laxatives are the most common causes of deficiency. As fluid retention can be a symptom of low potassium status, it may help to supplement with potassium instead of opting for diuretic drugs, but you should of course consult your health professional first before undergoing supplementation.

Sugary drinks and alcohol can also deplete potassium stores. 

Low-carb diets are becoming increasing popular, and if you’re struggling for energy or losing muscle, it may be due to a lack of potassium, which is commonly sourced from carbohydrate-rich fruit and vegetables, as well as other carbohydrates such as bread. 

A diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and low in sodium should help maintain optimal potassium levels.In a study of vegetarians and non-vegetarians, significantly lower blood pressure was found in vegetarians across every age group. Only 2% of the vegetarians had hypertension, compared to 26% hypertension in the non-vegetarian group. While other factors may be at play, this study shows that obtaining good levels of potassium from a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can play an important role in the regulation of blood pressure and may protect against the development of cardiovascular disease.

Food sources of Potassium

Potassium is found in the cells of a wide variety of plant and and animal foods; meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

Leafy green vegetables and fruits that grow on vines such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and pumpkin are the best sources.

Food sources of Potassium: Green leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes and kūmara (sweet potato).
Food sources of Potassium: Green leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes and kūmara (sweet potato).

Root vegetables such as potatoes, kūmara and taro contribute the most potassium in our diets according to the latest New Zealand Nutritional Survey. Milk, coffee, tea and other non-alcoholic drinks also provide good sources in the New Zealand diet.

When boiling vegetables, you can lose up to 50% of the potassium, but this can be retained if the cooking water is consumed.

Aren’t bananas a good source of Potassium?

As brazil nuts are associated with Selenium, bananas are often the first foods to come to mind when thinking about potassium. However, it’s estimated that only 40% of the potassium in a banana is absorbed, due to the lack of chloride in the fruit. This lack of absorption is often not allowed for when estimating mineral intake in food tables. This can explain why potassium chloride is often recommended when looking to supplement, as it helps with absorption.

Bananas on a blue background
Bananas are a good source of potassium but not all of it is absorbed due to the lack of chloride in the fruit.

Supplementing with Potassium

Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI) in New Zealand are lower than other countries, and range from 2,500mg for young females, to 3,800mg for adult males. As the permitted level of potassium allowed in supplements is only 100mg, it’s important to access as much from your diet as possible by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and moderating your salt intake.

Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride as a replacement for the sodium chloride in salt. The potassium content can vary widely, so for those on medication or with kidney disease it’s best to talk with your health care professional before taking salt substitutes because of the risk of hypokalaemia.

When supplementing, do not exceed recommended dosage and keep potassium supplements out of reach of children. People with heart, adrenal gland, kidney disease or should consult with a health care professional before use. Potassium may interfere with some prescription and non-prescription medications such as diuretics so seek advice on what’s best to take and when.

Woman drinking water with Potassium Liquid mineral added.
Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI) in New Zealand are lower than other countries, and range from 2,500mg for young females, to 3,800mg for adult males.

Summary

As a rule, all of us generally need a lot more potassium in our diets and a lot less sodium. The simplest way of achieving this is eating plenty of fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables and avoiding salty snacks, fast foods, and ready-made cakes and biscuits and other heavily processed options, which contain significant amounts of sodium.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

The many roles of Magnesium

Woman sitting on beach – The many roles of magnesium article

The many roles of magnesium

We should never underestimate the importance of magnesium, and the roles it plays in our general wellbeing. It is one of the more well-known and most available minerals available in supplement form, but there are still widespread defiencies across the population, particularly among older adults.

Although there a no comprehensive studies monitoring the New Zealand population and its magnesium status, we know that our soils are low in magnesium. In the USA it’s estimated that two-thirds of all adults, and up to 90% of the elderly are not getting their Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of this essential mineral.

There are a number of reasons for this. These include the depletion of minerals in the soils through intensive farming, the prevalence of processed foods which further strip away the mineral content, inadequate diet and lack of exercise, and increases in stress and anxiety. The increased use of antibiotics, antacids and prescription medication can also have a detrimental effect in terms of magnesium absorption.

✔️ Calm nerves and anxiety

✔️ Reduces inflammation

✔️ Helps regulate blood sugar levels

✔️ Supports deep sleep patterns

✔️ Relieves muscle aches

✔️ Heart regulation

Magnesium is required for many biological functions within the body, including more than 300 enzyme reactions. Below are some of the benefits of magnesium and the crucial roles it plays in the health of our heart, our muscles and our brain. There are reasons why we need more magnesium when pregnant or when placing significant demands on our bodies in terms of physcial activity. It also explains how we can get more magnesium into our diet through the foods we eat and what we should consider when looking to supplement.

Magnesium for your heart

Adequate levels of magnesium are required for maintaining the function of the nervous system and neuromuscular transmission and activity. It helps with heart muscle contraction-relaxation and regulating the heartbeat. Along with other macro minerals such as calcium, sodium and potassium, magnesium affects the muscle tone in the blood vessels, which enables optimal blood pressure control, with a decreased risk of erratic heartbeat and coronary artery disease.

Man looking out at ocean
Populations with high intakes of magnesium have a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease.

Our nerves depend on magnesium to help keep our arteries relaxed, and free from inflammation, which is the main cause of cardiovascular disease. This allows for good circulation, healthy arteries, and to ensure sufficient blood flow to all parts of the body, including our brain.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in three deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease. Populations with high intakes of magnesium have a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arrhythmia and hypertension compared to those with insufficient levels. Magnesium supplementation programmes have shown to have a significantly postive effect on the treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease, and researchers have advocated for a higher RDI of this essential nutrient for many years.   

Magnesium for muscles and sleep

Magnesium can relax the muscles, our nerves and the mind. It also helps to avoid muscle cramps, headaches and can lessen the effects of stress, leading to a better quality of sleep. 

People with low magnesium status can be tense and irritable, and suffer from cold hands and feet due to poor circulation. They can find it hard to calm the mind and relax, and get a proper night’s sleep.

Woman sleeping in a bed. Magnesium can assist with alleviating muscle cramps at night.
Magnesium is best taken at night as it contributes to physical and mental relaxation.

The best I’ve had. I feel the difference almost immediately. No digestive problems with this. Helps me sleep and relax in general.”

Lauren

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, especially at night, as well as fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart disturbances.

Magnesium is best taken at night as it contributes to physical and mental relaxation, lessens the effects of stress, and when paired with a consistent night-time routine it can greatly assist with getting a restful night’s sleep.

Magnesium for your brain

Along with metabolic health and muscular function, magnesium is critical for brain health. It can help support cognitive function, especially among older adults who are at greater risk of deficiency.  

It is also essential for both short and long term memory, enables concentration and learning, and helps with mood, behaviour and healthy aging.

Our brains require an enormous amount of energy – up to 20 percent of all the body’s energy. This requires a constant supply of magnesium, and the trillions of neural networks and synapses within the brain need magnesium to process information. 

Magnesium is essential for brain function.
Magnesium is essential for brain function and acts on receptors which help brain development.

Magnesium has been shown to regulate the receptors in the brain associated with learning, memory, mood regulation. Abnormal NMDA receptor activity has been present in patients presenting with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease as well as depression and anxiety.

“Brilliant product. Sleeping much better compared to other magnesium products that I’ve tried. And my few muscle cramps have disappeared. Though the taste isn’t great, I choose to swallow it straight as the taste soon disappears, so it’s no problem.”

Miranda

Low magnesium status has been linked to anxiety, fibromyalgia, age-related memory loss and depression. In addition, the various medications used to treat depression can further contribute to decreased magnesium levels.

In 2017, to assess the effects of magnesium supplementation, an open-label, randomized, cross-over trial was done with 126 adults who had been diagnosed with mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression. (6) Supplementation was undertaken with 248mg of magnesium chloride per day for 6 weeks, compared to 6 weeks of no supplementation. It led to a clinically significant improvement in mood and anxiety scores, and positive effects were observed within two weeks. The magnesium chloride was also well tolerated, and 61% of participants reported they would use magnesium in the future.

In another study of more than 1,000 older individuals who were followed for 17 years, those with higher intakes of electrolytes such as calcium, potassium and magnesium had a lower risk of developing dementia. (7)

Magnesium for performance

As magnesium helps with regulating the heart and muscle contraction and movements, it is crucial for physical performance, and should be a part of any sports nutrition progamme. 

Woman running on New Zealand beach. Iron for energy.
Supplementation can avoid muscle cramping and even migraines during exercise.

Along with potassium, sodium, chloride and calcium, magnesium is an electrolyte, and is able to hold an electrical charge to supply these macro minerals to our cells accordingly.

Magnesium is depleted in the body through excessive sweating, and supplementation can be required to avoid muscle cramping and even migraines during exercise. As good quality sleep is so important to performance, maintaining sufficient levels of magnesium in the cells is necessary for athletes to enable recovery of both mind and body.

Athlete stretching on running track. About 60% of the magnesium in your body is found in bone, with the other 40% found in muscles.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. About 60% of the magnesium in your body is found in bone, with the other 40% found in muscles, soft tissues and fluids. 

Magnesium when pregnant or breastfeeding

When pregnant or breastfeeding, your body requires even more vitamins and minerals, especially iodine and selenium, and also magnesium, all of which are in short supply in the New Zealand soils. Magnesium plays a big part in the baby’s development and growth, and the health of the mother during this important time.

Higher amounts of magnesium have been shown to relieve pre-eclampsia and hypertension in women during the latter stages of pregnancy, and pregnancy-induced leg cramps.

The RDI for Magnesium in women is 310mg per day, but increases to 360mg when pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to get more magnesium into your diet

Through eating a balanced, whole-food diet, you can obtain good levels of magnesium from food sources. The less processed foods you eat the better. For example, approximately 80% of magnesium is lost when wheat is refined into white flour, and all magnesium is lost in the refining of white sugar.

Green leafy vegetables and raw, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts) and seeds (pumpkin/sunflower) sweetcorn, dates, beans and bananas are the best plant-based sources of magnesium. Other foods such as wheat bran, quinoa, dark chocolate and seafood such as shrimps and pipis contain good levels of the mineral.

How to get more magnesium into your diet with these foods. Green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sweetcorn, bananas, dark chocolate and almonds are all good sources of magnesium.
Green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, sweetcorn, bananas, dark chocolate and almonds are all good sources of magnesium.

Gut health plays a significant part in the absorption of minerals and vitamins from our food, and so too with magnesium. If you experience digestive issues, your body may not be able to utilise the magnesium found in your foods.

“Couldn’t be without it. Have used this for years now. Great for headaches and deep sleep. Take it in a small amount of water just before bed and I always sleep peacefully.”

Lorna

Stress, excessive alcohol intake, excessive sweating, the use of prescription drugs, and advancing age are all factors that can lead to magnesium deficiency. If you’re unable to access sufficient levels from your diet, supplementation may be an option. Magnesium supplements can be found in many forms – capsules, tablets, epsom salts, and liquid mineral formulas.  

Supplementing with magnesium

When considering supplementation, you should look for highly bioavailable options. These inlude organic forms such as magnesium citrate, or ionic liquid mineral supplements, which are more easily absorbed and tolerated by the body.

To generate magnesium ions, the compound must dissolve in water, but common supplements such as magnesium oxide do not dissolve and therefore cannot deliver magnesium ions into the bloodstream, and then into your cells and bone where it needs it most. 

The RDI for magnesium is 310mg for females, increasing to 360mg when pregnant or breastfeeding. The RDI for adult males is 420mg.

When should I take it?
While it’s best taken at night as it contributes to physical and mental relaxation, it can be taken at any time.

Individuals with kidney disease, severe heart disease or on prescription medication should consult their health practitioner before taking a magnesium supplement.  

Summary

Most of us could benefit from topping up our magnesium stores, and the health benefits it provides. Whether we’re taking it for our heart, our brain, to get more energy or improve the quality of our sleep, magnesium is responsible for more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, so there’s hardly any part of the body that doesn’t benefit.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

Selenium to support your immune system

Middle-aged woman smiling. Takes Selenium to support her immune system.

Selenium to support your immune system

Selenium is an important trace element. It plays a positive role in supporting immune system function by helping fight off bacterial infections and viruses.

Selenium is known as a micronutrient and is required in very small amounts by the body. As a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which is a powerful antioxidant, it can help protect the brain, heart, and kidneys against free radicals and environmental toxins.

It maintains the health of male and female reproductive systems, regulates mood, blood pressure and assists with optimal thyroid function as well as cardiovascular health.

There is growing research to suggest that it can help with anti-ageing, by preserving skin elasticity and supporting brain function as we age.

As with zinc and iodine, New Zealand soils have been shown to have low levels of selenium, leading to deficiencies and predisposing us to certain illnesses, especially as we age. Selenium is now often added to foods such as bread in the form of imported selenium-rich wheat as well as added to animal and poultry feed on the farm.

Woman embracing young grand-daughter. There is growing research to suggest that selenium can help with anti-ageing.
There is growing research to suggest that selenium can help with anti-ageing.

Selenium was only recognised as an essential trace element for human health in 1990. Since then, we have learnt a great deal about its role within the human body, and the benefits it can provide.

The lack of selenium

New Zealand soils have low levels of a number of important minerals, including zinc, iodine and selenium. If these nutrients are not in our soils, they are not in the foods we eat.

In the NZ Nutrition Survey in 2009, the average dietary intake of selenium had improved, and was measured at 67mcg, up from 52mcg from the previous survey. Men and women over 71 years of age, and young women aged between 15-18 years had the lowest selenium intakes.

Essential as we age

Selenium activates the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which help mitigate the effects of ageing by removing environmental toxins from the body.

These toxins, or ‘free radicals’, can lead to inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cataract formation and a higher risk of various cancers.

A selenium-rich diet can also protect against premature ageing of the skin, by preserving the elasticity of arteries and our skin as we get older. It alleviates sun damage and age spots, helping to maintain a youthful appearance to the skin.

In females, research suggests adequate selenium status may reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are often a product of our lifestyle, (such as excessive alcohol or smoking) or exposure to heavy metals and toxins in our environment. This exposure can occur through the water we drink, the foods we eat, or the air we breathe, as well as substances that come into contact with our skin.

These free radicals are molecules that have lost an electron and have become unstable. They go looking for an electron by attacking other cells within our body.

This causes damage to our cell walls and cell tissues, which impairs the function of the cell. This damage can then lead to degenerative diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and decreased thyroid function.

The antioxidant glutathione peroxidase attaches to the free radicals, providing the missing electron they need – which can prevent lasting damage to the body.

Woman drinking Skybright Selenium liquid mineral supplement.
Our body doesn’t produce selenium, so we must access it through our diet.

Maintaining mineral levels

As our body doesn’t produce selenium, concentrations of the mineral decline with age. Therefore, we must continue to access it through our diet, or look to supplement.

Low levels have been associated with age-related declines in brain function, possibly due to decreases in selenium’s antioxidant activity. More evidence is required to determine whether supplementing with selenium may help prevent or even treat cognitive decline in elderly people, which is a big issue facing this growing segment of the New Zealand population.

How much is needed?

In New Zealand, the recommended daily intake (RDI) for selenium is 60mcg for women and 70mcg for men. However, some nutritionists suggest a much higher RDI of 200mcg, temporarily increasing to 400mcg when fighting a viral infection, inflammation or a known heavy metal build-up.

While supplementing with selenium, other minerals such as iodine (from fish, shellfish) as well as vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts) should also be part of the diet, as these nutrients all work well together to fight infection and inflammation.

Man drinking water with Skybright Selenium liquid mineral. In New Zealand, the recommended daily intake (RDI) for selenium is 60mcg for women and 70mcg for men.

In New Zealand, the recommended daily intake (RDI) for selenium is 60mcg for women and 70mcg for men. 

It’s important to remember that like some minerals, excessive selenium can be toxic, especially when supplementing in large quantities. When consuming more than 800-1000mcg (inorganic selenium) per day for long periods, you may experience symptoms of selenium toxicity, such as numbness in the hands and feet, a metallic taste in your mouth and bad breath.

In extreme cases, it can also cause skin rashes, gastrointestinal disturbance, brittleness and loss of fingernails, alopecia, irritability and nervous system abnormalities.

How to get selenium into your diet

It is well known that you can get your daily requirements of selenium from eating just a few brazil nuts. But this obviously depends on the selenium content in the soil in which they grow. The mineral content of the nuts can vary from as little as 10mcg to up to 100mcg in selenium-rich soil.

As with iodine, seafood provides a good source of selenium. Organ meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, cereals and unrefined grains are also good.

Unrefined grains, and Brazil nuts are good sources of dietary Selenium.
Unrefined grains and brazil nuts are good sources of dietary selenium.

Fruits and vegetables such as broccoli can contain selenium but again, only if they are grown in selenium-rich soils, which is often not the case in New Zealand. Soil pH, the amount of organic matter in the soil, geographic location and whether the selenium is in a form that is conducive to plant uptake are all factors.

For those on vegan, gluten-free, ketogenic or low-protein diets, selenium can be even harder to access. Selenium levels are often low if you suffer from malabsorption, diarrhoea or inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). Eat a whole-food diet where you can and try to limit foods and drinks that are high in sugars, saturated fats, and salt.

For those on vegan, gluten-free, ketogenic or low-protein diets, selenium can be even harder to access.

A hair mineral analysis test or a blood test can provide you with not only information on your current selenium status, but a range of other minerals that may be at low levels, due to diet or pre-existing conditions.

Iodine and selenium for thyroid health

Due to changes in diet and environmental factors, there has been an increase in thyroid disorders.

Both iodine and selenium are required for optimal thyroid function and work well together to support the health of the thyroid gland.

The antioxidant glutathione peroxidase is highly active in the thyroid gland, protecting it from oxidative damage. Low levels of selenium have been associated with reduced thyroid glutathione peroxidase activity and supplementation has in turn been shown to increase glutathione peroxidase activity. This protects the thyroid from excess iodine, and its potentially toxic effects.

Glutathione peroxidase is highly active in the thyroid gland, protecting it from oxidative damage.
Glutathione peroxidase is highly active in the thyroid, protecting it from oxidative damage.

In cases of iodine deficiency, selenium supplementation may too be of value, as deficiencies of selenium and iodine commonly co-exist.

There have been suggestions that selenium be added to table salt along with iodine, but table salt is not recommended as part of a healthy diet.Instead, unrefined sea salt is a better option as it contains many minerals and elements your body needs in trace amounts.

For more information, see our article Are you getting enough iodine?

Vitamin C to aid absorption

Vitamin C, often taken to assist our immune system, is another nutrient that works well with selenium. An intake of 600mg of Vitamin C has been shown to increase dietary selenium by nearly 100 percent.

Woman eating oranges while pregnant. An intake of 600mg of Vitamin C has been shown to increase dietary selenium by nearly 100%.
An intake of 600mg of Vitamin C has been shown to increase dietary selenium by nearly 100%.

Summary

Selenium works with a number of other nutrients, including iodine, vitamin E and vitamin C, to support our immune system and help tackle infections and inflammation.

It is an essential cofactor for glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme and antioxidant that helps protect us from damage caused by a range of pollutants and toxins that can be present in our environment, our food, and the water we drink. Our soils often have low levels of selenium, long with zinc and iodine, especially here in New Zealand.

Man holding glass of water. Taking selenium in liquid form increases bioavailability, enabling effective absorption of the mineral.
Taking selenium in liquid form increases bioavailability, enabling effective absorption of the mineral.

If we are unable to access the required amount of selenium due to diet or other factors, we can look to supplement, by taking just a few drops in a glass of water.

Taking selenium in liquid form increases bioavailability, meaning your body can quickly and effectively absorb the mineral. This can help boost your immune system and support your natural defences when tackling an infection.

It’s best to consult with your health professional before undergoing supplementation. They can also help you with assessing your mineral status through a blood test or by hair mineral analysis.

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
Christine D Thomson,  Jennifer M Campbell,  Jody Miller,  Sheila A Skeaff, Vicki Livingstone. Selenium and iodine supplementation: effect on thyroid function of older New Zealanders. 2009
Fairbairn, K. Serious about Selenium. Otago Daily Times. 2018
Medsafe. Selenium, Prescriber Update. 2000
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Selenium. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated 2021

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

Iron: Get back your energy

Woman smiling at Man. Skybright Iron Liquid Mineral.

Iron: Get back your energy

Iron is essential for energy production. It is found in the haemoglobin of our red blood cells to transport oxygen from our lungs to every cell in our body. It’s also present in myoglobin, a protein found in skeletal muscles and the heart. At the cellular level, iron is used to fuel enzymes and make energy.

Iron is responsible for more than 200 processes in the body, and key to thyroid function, hair growth, mood regulation, cognitive function, building and maintaining strong bones and optimal immune system maintenance.

Iron is found in the haemoglobin of our red blood cells.
Iron is found in the haemoglobin of our red blood cells to transport oxygen to every cell in our body.

There are any number of reasons we can feel tired or lacking energy. Not enough sleep, too much work, or several key nutrients missing from our diet. 

Low iron status is one of the most common deficiencies in the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two billion people in both developing and industrialised countries are iron deficient. This is also true in New Zealand, especially for women. 

In the last New Zealand Nutritional Survey (all the way back in 2009!), 34% of girls aged 13-19 were deficient in iron, and that figure was 49% for Māori and Pasifika teenage girls. It is estimated 20-30% of women of child-bearing age in New Zealand are iron deficient.

When iron levels are low you are essentially depriving your cells of oxygen. Symptoms can include low energy, weakness, fatigue, pale skin, poor concentration, brain fog, and cold hands and feet. Low immunity to infection, and slow recovery from sickness is also common. In more severe cases, when haemoglobin levels are low and red blood cells become paler in colour, anaemia develops. This can cause a host of serious health issues including shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness.

“This iron liquid supplement has helped so much with energy levels, sleep and breathlessness. Can highly recommend.”

– Inger
Woman smiling after taking Skybright Iron Liquid Mineral

While low iron or anaemia occurs more frequently than any other micronutrient deficiency, too much iron can be just as dangerous. The symptoms for excess iron are often the same, such as low energy or cognitive issues. 

Haemochromatosis, or iron overload, is a genetic condition that affects 1 in 200 New Zealanders, mostly of European descent. It’s thought to be the most common genetic disorder in the world. The iron slowly builds up in the body, especially your liver, heart, and pancreas. Eventually, these organs can be permanently damaged by the excess iron.

A balanced wholefood diet can play a big part in restoring and maintaining sufficient iron levels, and a well-nourished person is able to regulate their iron levels effectively, depending on what their body requires.

However, if you think you require more iron, it is recommended that you consult a health professional before commencing supplementation.

Iron absorption and bioavailability

While there is often enough iron in our diets, absorption of the mineral can be problem. This comes down to bioavailability, and how our body can access the iron from our food.

The role of healthy gut

Maintaining a healthy and happy gut is key for getting all the nutrients from your food and your overall wellbeing. Simple things like chewing your food well can help stimulate acid production, and friendly gut bacteria and probiotics such as lactoferrin play a vital role. 

Man holding stomach. Friendly gut bacteria and probiotics such as lactoferrin play a vital role in iron absorption.
Friendly gut bacteria and probiotics such as lactoferrin play a vital role in iron absorption.

Food sources of Iron

Dietary sources of Iron can be broken up into two main types: Haem iron and non-Haem iron. 

Haem iron is found in red meats such as beef and lamb, as well as fish, shellfish and poultry, and is readily absorbed by the body. For many reasons, including health, we’re eating less red meat than we used to, and therefore missing out on one of the best sources of iron.

Non-Haem sources include lentils, legumes, wholegrain fortified cereals and tofu. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, brussel sprouts can also provide small amounts of iron.

Here in New Zealand, non-Haem sources such as wheat form a considerable portion of dietary iron; 40% according to the 2009 New Zealand Nutritional Survey (animal protein accounted for 18%). However, non-Haem or plant-based sources are not as bioavailable and often poorly absorbed. To assist with absorption, it can be paired with Haem iron foods such as red meat, fish or poultry. 

Vitamin C can be hugely beneficial. By eating citrus fruits, kiwifruits, capsicums and brassica vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, it can enhance the absorption of non-Haem iron, and increase iron status. Many iron supplements contain forms of vitamin C for this purpose.

In contrast, high levels of calcium, zinc or phytates, which can be found in legumes, rice and other grains can inhibit absorption of both Haem and non-Haem iron. Conversely, high intakes of iron can affect the absorption of zinc, and calcium.  

A range of foods that contain the mineral iron: beef, fish, spinach, legumes, wholegrain bread. Vitamin C helps with absorption of the mineral.
Variety is key, as there are small amounts of iron in many foods.

Variety is key, as there are small amounts of iron in many foods. It’s important to try and keep a good balance to help the body maintain sufficient mineral stores.

Lastly, although iron from plant sources is less bioavailable, if you don’t eat animal-based products, don’t assume you are iron deficient. Many vegetarians utilise iron from their diet very effectively. Again, it is best to take a blood test before undertaking supplementation.

A note about tea and coffee

It is recommended not to consume tea or coffee with iron-rich meals as this has been shown to inhibit absorption due to the tannins present. These tannins can bind to the iron and hinder absorption. Allow two hours before or after eating iron-rich foods or when taking an iron supplement.

Iron in pregnancy

The WHO has estimated that anaemia is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency worldwide, affecting 33% of non-pregnant women, 40% of pregnant women and 42% of children worldwide. Research suggests that 20-30% of women of child-bearing age may be iron-deficient in New Zealand.

Pregnant woman sitting on floor in bedroom. 20-30% of women of child-bearing age may be iron-deficient in New Zealand.
20-30% of women of child-bearing age may be iron-deficient in New Zealand.

Women often require more iron when pregnant and nursing children. A lack of iron can lead to complications in pregnancy such as decreased fertility, reduced birth weight and reduced gestation periods. 

Iron deficiency in children can lead to irreversible effects on brain development, lack of growth, and low immunity to infection. Cognitive development can also be affected if a mother is lacking iron in her last trimester of pregnancy.

The issue of excess iron is rarely found in women of child-bearing age, due to menstrual blood loss. Having children and monthly cycles can often deplete women’s iron stores for many years to follow.

Iron for athletes

Iron can be critically important for endurance athletes. Anaemia or even marginal iron deficiency can impair performance as it reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and inhibits mitochondrial enzyme function in the cell. 

Endurance athletes often deplete their iron stores more rapidly through sweat loss, red blood cell destruction, and gastro-intestinal blood loss.

Male athlete running on track. Iron liquid mineral for energy.
Endurance athletes often deplete their iron stores more rapidly through sweat loss.

Some athletes have difficulty meeting their iron needs due to factors such as calorie restriction, avoiding animal-based products and a high carbohydrate intake. Those training for more than six hours per week are more at risk and should have their iron status checked at least once a year. 

When to supplement

At certain times of life, there is an increased need for iron. In infancy, experiencing growth spurts in childhood, adolescence, when pregnant and breastfeeding, and exercising often.

Woman taking care of her daughter with minerals supplements
Iron deficiency in children can lead to irreversible effects on brain development, lack of growth, and low immunity to infection. Cognitive development can also be affected if a mother is lacking iron in her last trimester of pregnancy.

“Really easy to use, and noticed a big difference within a couple of days in my daughter.”

– Becky

Elderly men often have low iron status or anaemia due to weak stomach acid. Try to avoid or limit the use of antacids, heartburn or stomach acid lowering medication that can prevent absorption of iron and other minerals. 

Iron supplementation should only be recommended following a consultation with a healthcare professional, especially for those on medication. They may suggest a test which measures haemoglobin levels, determining the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood cells. An additional serum ferritin test measures the amount of iron stored in the body.

Iron deficiency can develop slowly and correcting it can also be a slow process. A supplement may be required for at least a few months to replenish your iron levels. Always use as directed and keep out of reach of children. 

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
WHO guidance helps detect iron deficiency and protect brain development. 2020
Ministry of Health ­– Manatū Hauora. Iron overload (Haemochromatosis). 2018

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

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.

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.

Summary

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.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

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.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

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.

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.
52% of middle-aged men aren’t getting enough zinc, increasing to 90% for men aged over 70.

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

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

Are you getting enough Iodine?

Woman holding mug and looking out to sea. 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.

Woman smiling and leaning on fence in countryside.
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 woman lying on bed. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require more iodine.
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.

Closeup image of unrefined, unprocessed sea salt. A better option than table salt.
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.

Iodine Liquid Mineral: 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.

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.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

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, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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.

Man holding glass of water.
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.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

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 is often known as the ‘beauty mineral’ as it promotes the production of collagen and is has been shown to support hair growth, healthy skin, and strong nails. 

While there’s no scientific evidence that silica can reverse the effects of hair loss, it’s been found to deliver essential nutrients to your scalp and hair follicles and it may help strengthen hair and prevent hair breakage.

It also strengthens teeth and gums. Many toothpastes include silica as an ingredient, and it can help with inflamed and bleeding gums.

“I had trouble with my hair falling out and it had stopped growing. After the first month of taking this every day my hair had started to grow again, and stopped falling out at the rate it had been. I’m on my third bottle now, but I only take it every second or third day. REALLY pleased with this product.”

—Tina

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, whole grains, oats, corn, beetroot, asparagus and avocados.
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. 

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 


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