Selenium to support your 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.

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 drink water. 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.

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.

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
Selenium and iodine supplementation: effect on thyroid function of older New Zealanders. Christine D Thomson,  Jennifer M Campbell,  Jody Miller,  Sheila A Skeaff, Vicki Livingstone. 2009
Fairbain, 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

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

What is Colloidal Silver?

Woman holding her arms out asking the question "What is Colloidal Silver?"

What is Colloidal Silver?

Ionic Colloidal Silver is very fine particles of 99.9% pure ionic silver suspended in purified water. It supports the immune system when the body is under attack and micro organisms cannot build up resistance to it.

Quite simply, silver interrupts the bacteria cell’s ability to form the chemical bonds essential to its survival.

It is often used as a natural alternative to antibiotics, as it has antimicrobial properties, which means it’s antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Colloidal silver has proven effective in killing many stubborn bacterial infections (including cold viruses) without the side effects of a pharmaceutical antibiotic.

Your immune system’s best friend

Colloidal Silver is suitable for the entire family, including pets, and there are no known interactions or side effects if taken as directed. Silver is a naturally occurring trace mineral found in our bodies and does not interact with any medication. It has been proven to promote the growth of new cells, enabling wounds to heal faster. Unlike other metals with antimicrobial properties, it is non-toxic.

Colloidal silver is suitable for the entire family. A must-have in your bathroom cabinet.

Batch verified

Manufactured to less than or equal to 10ppm (parts per million). Medsafe New Zealand requirements stipulate that Colloidal Silver liquid products contain a silver concentration of 10ppm or below. Skybright independently tests every batch to ensure our Ionic Colloidal Silver meets this requirement.

Antimicrobial properties

Ionic Colloidal Silver supports the immune system when the body is under attack. Silver has antimicrobial properties that work by disabling the specific enzyme that many forms of bacteria, viruses and fungi use for their own oxygen metabolism.

“This is my go-to product for use with the whole family including the animals. I’m certain it has saved us a number of trips to the doctor with early application. Great to have around the house, in the first aid kit and in your handbag.”

— Cara

Colloidal Silver FAQ’s

Have a question for us?

We’d be happy to answer any questions you have regarding Colloidal Silver.

Send us an email, phone us on 0800 200 707 or message us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

How do I take it?

Colloidal Silver can be either taken internally or applied topically to the skin. When feeling unwell or in need of an immune system boost, take 5ml of liquid three times a day for five days, then 5ml per day thereafter. Children under 8 years of age take half adult dose. This will assist your body’s natural defences against bacterial or viral infections such as colds or flu.

Always use a plastic spoon as metal affects the positive charge of the silver ions. Do not store in a refrigerator, near a magnetic field or an electronic device.

Colloidal Silver can be used in conjunction with other medications and supplements. It is extremely safe when used as directed, and suitable for all the family, including pets.

When feeling unwell, take 5ml of colloidal silver liquid three times a day for five days.

Applying Colloidal Silver to your skin

Colloidal Silver can be applied topically to help prevent infection or fight an existing condition. It is suitable for use on broken skin and can be used as an antibacterial application for wounds, cuts, grazes, insect bites, minor burns and fungal infections. As it’s non-stinging, it’s great for use on kids to prevent infection on any cuts or wounds and aids fast healing.

Spray onto the affected area, allow to dry, then apply Skybright Colloidal Silver Cream, which has the additional antimicrobial benefits of mānuka oil and mānuka honey. Or apply Skybright Colloidal Silver Aloe Vera Gel, which is regenerative, soothing, cooling and calming for the skin and particularly effective on minor burns and sunburn. 

Spray colloidal silver into the mouth to soothe a sore throat.

Colloidal Silver Spray for sore throats

Spray Colloidal Silver into the mouth several times a day for sore throats, laryngitis, dry coughs, mouth ulcers, gum infections or after dental work. Alternatively, use the liquid like a mouthwash and gargle – it can be safely swallowed afterwards.

Colloidal Silver Nasal Spray while flying

When flying, you can often be plagued by blocked sinuses and exposed to infection in the flight cabin. Use Colloidal Silver Nasal Spray as often as you like while flying to soothe your sinuses and breathe easy. Just 1 or 2 sprays into each nostril.

“We use it for all sorts of things. It works well to get rid of a sore throat. When I notice it coming on I spray my throat and it goes before it gets worse. I also use it for skin irritations and drink a teaspoon or two for general health.”

– Jenny

Natural healing for all the family

Ionic Colloidal Silver is all-natural, odourless, tasteless, vegan-friendly, gluten free dietary supplement.

It’s a fantastic alternative to antibiotics when you’re feeling unwell, suffering from an infection, or in need of an immune boost as it supports the body in natural healing. You can take it internally or apply it topically to the skin.

A must-have in your bathroom cabinet, as it’s suitable for all the family, including pets, and can be used for wide range of applications. There no known interactions or side effects if taken as directed.

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. 

Love your gut with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar 

Love your gut with Skybright Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Woman making heart with hands.

Love your gut with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar 

Skybright Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is made from from delicious, organically-grown New Zealand apples. Unlike other brands that have come halfway around the world, by buying this product you are supporting local farmers, growers and producers, and organic production methods.

It is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised, and aged for at least 12 months to give it a noticeably smoother taste. The sediment contains naturally occurring amino acids and antioxidants and gives the product a cloudy appearance. It is known as the ‘mother’ – strands of proteins and friendly bacteria that promote digestive health, immune support and overall wellbeing.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar contains pectin, a soluble fibre found in high levels in apples.
ACV contains pectin, which is a soluble fibre found in high levels in apples.

Packed with goodness

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar contains pectin, which is a soluble fibre found in high levels in apples. It is a storehouse of essential amino acids and enzymes and important minerals including potassium, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur, iron, fluoride and silicon. You’ll get a good dose of the fibre which is great for proper digestion as it will slow down sugar release, leading to a steady stream of energy. It also has cleansing properties, and can help to lower blood sugar levels and boost energy levels.

Buy local 

By buying local, you’re supporting local growers, producers, and their families. Aotearoa is the perfect place to grow an apple, and then process into Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. So that makes it great for the local economy, great for the environment, and great for your health.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is aged for at least 12 months to give it a noticeably smoother taste.
Aged for at least 12 months to give it a noticeably smoother taste. 🍎

Dilution is good

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is of course very acidic. It’s best to always dilute it in a large glass of water – and you could always drink it through a (reusable) straw to avoid too much contact with your pearly whites. Then rinse your mouth with water afterwards.

✔️ With the ‘mother’

✔️ Promote gut health

✔️ Smooth digestion

✔️ Balance cholesterol

✔️ Boost energy

✔️ Gluten free

✔️ Vegan friendly

✔️ BioGro certified organic

“Absolutely delicious – This is by far the nicest Organic Apple Cider Vinegar I’ve ever tasted!”

– Jude

Using Organic Apple Cider Vinegar everyday

A zesty salad dressing 
Get some zesty flavour into your salad by adding little bit of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to the dressing. The acetic acid in the vinegar also increases your body’s absorption of important minerals and nutrients from the leafy greens and salad vegetables.

Green smoothie containing Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Add it to your smoothie
Take a good handful of spinach, 1 peeled orange,  ½ banana, (sliced into chunks), ½ avocado, 1 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, some frozen berries, and a blob of plain greek yoghurt. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  

Home made bone broth containing Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

Homemade bone broth
Sipping on bone broth is a great way to improve your gut health. Add Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to the bones, the water and seasonings half an hour or so before boiling. This helps pull more minerals from the bones and enhances the nutrition of the broth.

Hand holding teacup containing Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with lemon and ginger.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar tea
Try adding a tbsp of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to some hot water (or green tea for added antioxidants) with sliced lemon and ginger. Delicious and nutritious.

Athlete drinking Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to help turn carbs into energy.

ACV for athletes
Athletes often drink Organic Apple Cider Vinegar before they carb-load prior to competition, as the acetic acid can help your muscles turn carbs into energy. ACV provides the gut with a healthy mix of electrolytes that can help in preventing muscle and gastrointestinal cramping. 

 “I have tried several different brands of ACV. Then I tried Skybright ACV. OMG!! This is amazing. Its smooth taste is a delight. The BEST by far of all the ACV’s I have tried and tested. Highly recommend this 100%”

– Josie
BioGro Certified Organic Logo

BioGro certified Organic
Our Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is BioGro certified Organic. BioGro is New Zealand’s largest and best-known certifier of genuine organic products and the world’s most secure and impermeable traceability system. Every single BioGro Certified Organic product can be traced back to its origin. ⁠

⁠Our certification process involves an Organic Management Plan, annual audit, and visits to our facility to ensure our practices meet BioGroʻs organic standards and requirements. Many products claim to be organic but when it carries the BioGro logo you know you’re really buying organic.

The Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Daily Tonic

Take the daily tonic each morning. Just add a couple of teaspoons to a large glass of water. Dilution is good!

We don’t recommend you take it straight – as Apple Cider Vinegar is very acidic, it can be harsh on your oesophagus if you take it as a shot.

Take it first thing in the morning before breakfast, or before any meals to aid digestion, regulate blood pressure, balance cholesterol, help lower blood sugar levels, boost nutrient absorption and increase your energy levels.

Woman drinking Organic Apple Cider Vinegar daily tonic. Love your gut
Try The Daily Tonic for a month and feel the effects of its amazing health benefits.

For more information, try these other resources: Find the answers to your questions in Organic Apple Cider Vinegar FAQ’s, or try one of our Recipes with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

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.

Swedish Bitters: A herbal tonic

Young woman stretching outdoors. Better digestive health with Swedish Bitters.

Swedish Bitters for digestive health

Swedish Bitters is a 400 year-old European herbal formula made popular through the well-known Austrian herbalist Maria Treben in her book “Health through God’s Pharmacy”. It is well proven over the years to be an outstanding digestive, liver and gallbladder tonic and is capable of supporting a huge range of body systems.

The bitter taste has a very important part to play in the effectiveness of the formulation. The liver, the keeper of balance in the body, is stimulated by the bitters in Swedish Bitters and will then produce fluids required for proper and complete digestion and drive toxins out of your system. 

It is very important to cleanse your body of toxins and unwanted substances. This helps to revitalise the entire circulatory system, which may help to regulate blood sugar levels, improve blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.

Skybright Swedish Bitters. Woman and herbs.
Swedish Bitters is made from medicinal herbs and taken in small doses.

What are Swedish Bitters?

Swedish Bitters is a herbal tonic made from medicinal herbs and alcohol which helps extract the benefits of these plants. This tincture has a bitter taste, and is taken in small doses.

Why the bitter taste?

Bitters are an important class of botanicals that help support efficient digestive, assimilative, and eliminative functions. The primary function of Swedish Bitters is to help with digestive complaints like bloating, flatulence, sluggish digestion and constipation. Bitters stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, which in turn stimulates intestinal peristalsis and promotes nutrient absorption. By enhancing digestion, Swedish Bitters are a great help in cases of bloating, flatulence and gas.

“These bitter substances have almost been completely eliminated from the modern diet. This has caused some disturbance with our digestive system.”

Austrian herbalist Maria Treben in her book “Health Through God’s Pharmacy

Bitters have the ability to improve kidney and liver function, reduce bloating and improve metabolism. They can encourage toxin elimination, restore natural acid balance in the stomach, stimulate circulation and act as a gentle laxative.

When used externally, it can alleviate inflammations of all kinds if applied to spots, wounds, bruises, and scars.

The ingredients in Swedish Bitters:

As the herbs in Skybright Swedish Bitters are sourced from different countries around the world, all herbs are tested in a pharmacy lab to make sure they are free from contamination before they are used in the formula. It is a gluten-free formula, and suitable for people with lactose intolerance.

Skybright Swedish Bitters – Aloe Vera plant & Carline Root
Aloe Vera (left) and Carline Root

Aloe Vera & Carline Root
Aloe Vera soothes and cleanses and helps decrease irritation in the stomach and intestines, aiding proper digestion. Carline Root supports healthy immune, respiratory, reproductive muscular systems, and normal bladder function.

Skybright Swedish Bitters – Myrrh and Saffron
Myrrh (left) & Saffron

Myrrh & Saffron
Myrrh helps to build up the body’s defence mechanisms and is effective in keeping the digestive, sinus and respiratory organs healthy. Aids in maintaining healthy skin. Saffron supports healthy sleep patterns. It’s also good for the health of the uterus and digestive tract.

Skybright Swedish Bitters Camphor and Rhubarb Root
Camphor (left) & Rhubarb Root

Camphor & Rhubarb Root
Camphor is a bitter herb that can reduce inflammation and help to ease pain and spasms by supporting joint mobility and normal muscle function. It can also enhance digestion and kill intestinal parasites. Rhubarb Root aids healthy intestinal motility, and assists the skin’s natural barrier.

Skybright Swedish Bitters – Zedoary & Angelica Root
Zedoary (left) & Angelica Root

Zedoary & Angelica Root
Zedoary supports healthy digestive organs and is commonly used for colic, spasms, loss of appetite, and indigestion. Angelica Root aids proper digestion by flushing out toxins and maintains the respiratory system. It supports a healthy bladder, joint mobility and helps the skin eliminate toxins.

Skybright Swedish Bitters – Gentian & Theriaca Venezian 
Gentian (left) & Theriaca Venezian 

Gentian, Manna & Theriaca Venezian 
Gentian is used for digestion problems such as loss of appetite, bloating and heartburn. Manna helps to maintain proper bowel movement. Theriaca Venezian has diuretic, digestive and antiseptic properties.

One teaspoon (5ml) contains:
Aloe Vera 33.3mg, Gentian 33.3mg, Camphor 33.3mg, Manna 33.3mg, Theriaca Venezian 33.3mg*, Rhubarb Root 33.3mg, Zedoary Root 33.3mg, Angelica Root 33.3mg, Carline Root 16.5mg, Myrrh 16.5mg, Saffron 0.7mg. In a base of 40% medicinal alcohol and purified water.

*Theriaca Venezian is a herbal blend that contains Angelica root, Diptam Root, Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon (Cassia), Bistort Root, Myrrh, Zedoary Root & Valerian Root.

How to take it

Shake bottle well, and take 1-2 teaspoons or 10ml in a shot glass after meals. May be taken in water, herbal tea or juice to dilute it. It will help soothe the stomach after eating, stimulate digestion and alleviate indigestion.

In Europe, bitters are taken in a shot glass before or after meals to stimulate digestion, settle the stomach before eating and neutralise the damages of alcohol. After a heavy meal, Swedish Bitters can be quite helpful against indigestion, as well as to relieve bloating and gas. 

Keep out of reach of children. Do not use if pregnant, breastfeeding, or if vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea or abdominal pains are present.

Skybright Swedish Bitters. All-natural, Vegan-friendly and Gluten-free.

Warning: Contains alcohol

Swedish Bitters is produced in a base of 40% alcohol. This helps extract as much as possible from the herbs, while also preserving the shelf life of the tincture. To evaporate the alcohol, add 5-10ml to a cup of hot water and allow to cool.

The alcohol used in Swedish Bitters is gluten free. It is sourced from whey protein and is made in New Zealand. It is medicinal alcohol.

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. 

Deer Antler Velvet

Skybright Deer Antler Velvet to strengthen, protect and restore

Deer Antler Velvet to strengthen, protect and restore 

Deer Antler Velvet comes from the antlers of male deer, and is the name  given to the softer new growth that is covered in velvety hair. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for over two thousand years for its health giving properties. 

It is rich in amino acids, essential fatty acids, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, omega 3 and omega 6, and many other important vitamins and minerals. These work together to help strengthen the immune system, support healthy blood pressure, boost energy levels, aid joint mobility, promote recovery, reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health and function.

Deer antlers can grow up to 2cm per day.
Deer antlers can grow up to 2cm per day.

A renewable resource
The antlers regenerate swiftly every spring (up to 2cm per day), and because of this quick growth, they are a rich source of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The antlers are removed before they harden into bone.

Made in New Zealand
This process is done by trained and accredited farmers and veterinarians here in New Zealand, who ensure minimum discomfort to the deer. The velvet is then freeze dried to preserve the nutrients and ground to a fine powder.

Traditional uses
The uses of Deer Antler Velvet are many and varied, but they tend to fall into the general categories of support for: body strengthening, blood cell production, the immune system, healthy joint function and cardiovascular health.

Our Deer Antler Velvet capsules are an authentic 100% natural, sustainable New Zealand product of the finest quality. 

Immune system support
Deer Antler Velvet has the ability to strengthen the body’s natural immune system, counter the effects of stress, and promote rapid recovery from illness. It is also used at the onset of winter to ward off infections.

Sore joints?
Deer Antler Velvet is a natural source of anti-inflammatories such as chondroitin and glucosamine sulphate. It helps inhibit the breakdown of cartilage, and supports healthy joint structure and function.

Recover faster
Widely used by athletes to support improved sports performance, Deer Antler Velvet is an excellent promoter of recovery after physical activity and aids injury recovery time along with also being an injury preventive.

“I’m 68 years young and have been taking this product for four years and I have not noticed any reduction in suppleness in my joints”

— John

Blood circulation
Research has shown that Deer Antler Velvet supports the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, facilitating healthy blood pressure and circulation. Blood pressure reduction is due to its ability to increase dilation of the peripheral blood vessels.

Back into balance
Men and women of all ages can benefit because it supports the body’s ability to adapt to and resist stress, diseases, degeneration and toxins. Deer Antler Velvet helps bring the body’s systems back into balance.

Are there any concerns?
As with all dietary supplements, you should not exceed the recommended daily dose and should consult your healthcare professional if you are on prescription medication.

Skybright Deer Antler Velvet 500mg capsules are Made in New Zealand from the finest grade Deer Antler Velvet.
Each capsule contains 500mg of pure, finest grade Deer Antler Velvet.

Directions: 

Take two high-strength 500mg capsules daily or as directed by your healthcare professional. All doses to be taken with food. Not for use in pregnancy. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Each jar contains 100 Capsules. Each capsule contains 500mg of pure, finest grade Deer Antler Velvet from New Zealand Red Deer.

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.