Over 5 million people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma with over a million children. The NHS spends around a billion pounds a year treating this. On average there are around 3 children in every classroom with asthma and the UK has some of the highest prevalence worldwide. Many sufferers also experience eczema and hayfever.
Ask any parent or primary school teacher and they will tell you that we are facing an allergy epidemic. From staff room cupboards filled will inhalers and epi-pens to nuts being banned in school lunch boxes, there is no doubt that we have reached a bit of a crisis in our children’s health. Surely what we need to be asking is why.
With increasing numbers of true food allergies and also 1 in 3 children with one or multiple food sensitivities, lasting long into teens for many children we need to shine a spot light on what could be happening to the immune system.
As Functional medicine practitioners we are trained to look for root cause in all things and we often talk about three key areas that are affecting out immune systems.
1. Damage to the gut microbiome, especially in infancy and early years. (Exposure to antibiotics being a significant one).
2. The western diet is highly processed and lacks the fibre to feed the microbiome and also the much needed micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that we need to optimise immune function. It's also packed with sugars and sweeteners which are not gut/immune friendly.
3. High exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals in the home, cleaning fluids, toiletries etc. Match that with poor detox pathways in individuals due to genetics and poor bowel function and we begin to set up the perfect storm.
Babies would normally be exposed to mums microbiome as they pass through the birth canal and this sets up the immune system from birth. However, babies born by c-section don't have this early exposure which protects them and are as a consequence five times more likely to develop allergies than those born vaginally. Also many section babies have also received antibiotic exposure through mum due to c-section and also Group B strep treatment.
C-sections can’t always be prevented but fortunately there’s lots we can do to offset this lack of microbial diversity the first being to give baby a probiotic from birth.
The Swansea Study
This was a large study by the University of Swansea Medical School with 454 mother/baby pairs who were given Lab4b probiotics containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria both during the final month of pregnancy and the first 6 months of infancy to evaluate whether this would prevent allergy in children. The results showed that versus placebo, the probiotic groups did indeed confer a protective effect on prevention of eczema and also prevention of allergic reaction to common allergens including pollen, cows milk, eggs and dust mites.
Prof. Steve Allen, concluded the following key message from the trial: ‘Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria administered to pregnant women and infants aged 0-6 months prevented atopic sensitization and atopic eczema.
The babies given the Lab4b probiotics were 57% less likely to develop atopic eczema than those receiving the placebo.
The babies given Lab4b were 44% less likely to develop allergic reaction to common allergens, including pollen, cow’s milk, egg and house dust mite.
These are fairly impressive numbers and such a simple strategy that all mums to be would be well advised to take probiotics during the pregnancy and then continue giving to baby after birth.
Introducing food allergens
It is advised to introduce between 6 and 12 months while continuing to breasted during and beyond for an additional 6 months. It is also wise where possible to avoid antibiotics, PPI’s (eg omeprazole) and NSAID’s (ibuprofen) as these set the scene for allergies through damage to the gut lining and microbiome. For babies struggling with symptoms of colic or reflux always seek advice from a baby reflux specialist to establish root cause to avoid these pitfalls.
Eat the rainbow
Eating the rainbow is important as it ensures that we provide a full range of nutrients and also fibre for our microbiome. Snacking on carrot sticks or other veg or pieces of fruit is better than highly processed foods. Be choosy about sugars and avoid unnatural sweeteners. Instead look for raw honey or maple syrup and use sparingly. Drink lots of water in place of sweetened drinks and introduce children to natural sweetness in lemons and limes etc to flavour water or add a herbal tea bag to their water.
Key nutrients for asthma
Vitamin A: Brightly coloured carotenoids like root veggies and sweet potato provide the basis for vitamin A. A study of 68000 women showed that those who consumed the most of these foods had lower rates of asthma and vice versa. Fruit and vegetable intakes and asthma in the E3N study | Thorax (bmj.com)
Vitamin C: Studies suggest vitamin C consumption reduces wheezing.
Magnesium: Magnesium is helpful in bronchial smooth muscle relaxation supporting easier flow of air.
Omega 3: mostly found in oily fish, flax and chia seeds and walnuts this is a nutrient which is commonly deficient in children and adults. Omega 3 can help lower incidence by reducing airway inflammation and dampening down immune system reactivity.
Vitamin D: A Cochrane study which looked at 435 children and 658 adults with mild to moderate asthma showed that those taking vitamin D had fewer asthma attacks, required less use of oral steroids and reduced need for hospital admissions. High quality evidence suggests Vitamin D can reduce asthma attacks | Cochrane
Food Intolerance and Allergy
Food and environmental allergens also play their part. We work with clients through both elimination diets and testing can be done for both IgG food intolerances and IgE food allergies and also environmental allergens.
Essential oils can be really comforting with immediate benefit especially eucalyptus and peppermint. These can be diffused in bedrooms to aid breathing. Come and speak to use about options and how best to use.
I thought I would put together a summary of the best suggestions to support our immune health based on some of the information and concerns that have come to light during the pandemic. I consider some of the research that has been done over the last year and highlight some of the studies on both general immunity and also reference some more COVID specific support supplements.
Over the past year, government advice has primarily been around simply avoiding the virus by preventing contact and behavioural recommendations around hand washing, sanitisers, keeping surfaces clean etc. However none of these address the issue of building our innate immune defence should we fall prey to the virus. In addition although the mainstream media has talked about high risk groups as the elderly, those with other co-morbidities and the immunosuppressed, it hasn't given much more detail than that or looked at this from a much bigger lens so that is what I am going to do today. Another cause of confusion and fear is that there have sadly been deaths among younger people and those who on the surface don't have any health challenges. However, we don’t know what is going on underneath. If we see health as merely the absence of ‘disease’ we will be confused by this. What we need to know is how robust that person's health was which means understanding their nutrition, nutrient deficiencies, stress levels, sleep, weight, metabolic challenges. All of these can compromise immunity and all of these can be present as significant risk factors in the absence of diagnosed conditions. In addition one of the problems with ignoring these risk factors is that as soon as life goes back to normal if we don't examine our health now and correct any risk factors or deficits nutritionally we are going to remain in the high risk group not just for this virus but for anything else that comes along. Now is the time to build resilience, so that if we do become infected our immune systems will kick into action and we will make a good recovery. We live as part of a virome. Viruses have always been present and always will be and therefore the only intelligent strategy to build resilience is to support the host environment, in other words you and me! We can not always control for the existence of viruses but we can learn to live with them and for that we need to support our immune health.
First up, stress! We know that stress suppresses our immunity and right now we have a very strange and unpredictable world and 24/7 coverage of all things COVID along with changes in family and working life, loss of jobs and income. While some are enjoying the lifestyle changes and time with children and are talking about time for reflection, others are feeling trapped, hopeless and completely overwhelmed. Wherever we are, there are always stresses in life and we can only do our best to manage these. The trick is to acknowledge this and to set aside time as part of our daily routine to actively do stress relieving activities such as walking, breathing techniques, meditation, drawing, relaxation music ( I use this a lot!) We can’t always change the stress but we can change how we respond to it. Interestingly, adaptogen herbs can not only help modulate the stress response and build resilience but also have immune modulating effects. Panax ginseng ‘as a dietary supplement modulates the immune system and comprises a complex network of different cells and proteins that protects the body from infections.’
Interestingly, an Ayurvedic herb called Ashwagandha may have promise as a prophylactic for covid. The Narendra Modi government is leading a study to consider whether ashwagandha could be offered as an alternative to hydroxychloroquine as a potential covid preventive.
This has a massive effect on immune function. Whatever you do, do not compromise on sleep. Simple strategies include removing caffeine, turning off screens as the blue light effect can stay with us for 2 hours! Using special blue light blocking glasses can help and putting flux.com to your computer to dim the light. Ensure a cool bedroom, use blackout blinds, eye masks, and avoid all light emitted in the room including plugs etc to support melatonin. We can boost our melatonin by walking in daylight which raises serotonin and this converts to melatonin when it is dark to prepare us for sleep. Melatonin levels also influence our immune function so we really need to get this one right. There are supplements you can take to help this along if required.
‘During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep.’
For more tips on how to support sleep head over to our youtube video …. and also have a listen to this great podcast….. But whatever you do don't take short cuts with sleep!
Moderate exercise has been shown to raise white blood cells and antibodies to fight infection. Exercise also helps increase circulation and decreases stress hormones so it is an all round win win. Seated and adapted movement can also be helpful so don't feel left out. Studies have shown that just 20 mins of moderate exercise per day can improve immune function.
Getting just enough exercise is also important, finding that sweet spot between not too much and not too little as too much exercise can compromise immunity as much as too little.
We know that good nutrition is essential for supporting immunity, but how many of us are eating optimally? Recent evidence has shown that certain nutrient deficiencies have led to increased risk of covid, with zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D being widely reported. It has also been reported that those with increased risk of dying from Covid are those with metabolic health challenges eg diabetics and those overweight. Even more interesting is that high blood sugar is also a risk factor for poor prognosis even in non diabetics! A study of 11,000 C-19 patients in Spain found that even among those who were not critically ill when they got to hospital. having elevated blood sugar because a risk for death.
Obesity and metabolic risk
We have major health challenges in the UK now as processed foods represents over 50% of the diet. More and more research is pointing to metabolic disease as representing many of the high risk groups.
This highlights where we should be focussing our efforts in supporting people with obesity and metabolic challenges.
“According to a recent study led by University of North Carolina nutrition professor Barry Popkin, obese COVID-19 patients were more than twice as likely to require hospitalization than non-obese patients, about 1.75 times more likely to require a stay in an intensive-care unit, and 1.5 times more likely to die. But why? “Fat cells are active,” Popkin explains—they generate low-grade chronic inflammation that compromises the immune system. Obesity often brings with it breathing troubles like reduced lung capacity and sleep apnea, as well as a propensity for blood clotting.
“We’ve known that processed food is dangerous, but we’ve always assumed it was for chronic diseases,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “What we didn’t know, until this pandemic, is that chronic disease also sets you up for morbidity and mortality from acute diseases” like COVID-19.”
Practical tips for respiratory care
Good old fashioned salt water gargles help loosen mucous and are antibacterial. Raw honey in hot water is soothing and healing. chamomile and peppermint teas are soothing for sore throats and mint tea in particular can be helpful for mucous reduction. Ensure plenty of hot drinks for mucous breakdown.
For respiratory congestion and sinus problems, try neti pots as these can be helpful for nasal irrigation. Vaporisers and diffusers can be very helpful with essential oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, menthol or frankincense. Repeated sinus infections can be exacerbated when there are food intolerances or allergies. In addition, yeast overgrowth can also contribute so if you do have repeated infections this is something to look into to prevent the need for endless round of antibiotics which add to the vicious circle.
NAC or N-Acetyl cysteine
For problems with mucous production, again allergies and food intolerances need to be identified. However an excellent supplement for breaking up stubborn mucous can be NAC or N-acetyl cysteine. One of our go to supplements for clinging and stubborn mucous in a range of conditions is NAC or N-Acetylcysteine.
NAC actually has a fascinating history and has been well researched for health challenges other than mucous.
“NAC, which appears to work by reducing the thickness of mucus, has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for chronic bronchitis.
A review of 39 clinical trials of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) found that 400 to 600 mg per day was a safe and effective treatment for chronic bronchitis. NAC supplementation was found to reduce the number of aggravations of the illness in almost 50% of people taking the supplement, compared with only 31% of those taking placebo. Smokers have also been found to benefit from taking NAC. In addition to helping break up mucus, NAC may reduce the elevated bacterial counts that are often seen in the lungs of smokers with chronic bronchitis. In another double-blind study, people with chronic bronchitis who took NAC showed an improved ability to expectorate and a reduction in cough severity. These benefits may result from NAC's capacity to reduce the viscosity (thickness) of sputum. “
Other studies have shown benefits in COPD and also bronchiectasis
“Treatment with N-acetylcysteine, a mucus-dissolving and anti-inflammatory agent, reduces the frequency of acute worsening episodes and improves the quality of life of patients with bronchiectasis, results from a randomized trial in China show.”
There are a number of botanicals and supplements which have been shown to boost immunity, give symptomatic relief and shorten illness. Some of these have been researched with reference to Covid-19
It has been highlighted that Covid can be deadly due to its ability to attack part of the immune system called the inflammasome leading to a release of cytokines and a cytokine storm. This can cause severe and sometimes irreversible damage. The SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to activate something called the NLRP3 inflammasome. A 2016 review article which looked at natural compounds which can regulate this showed that supplements such as quercetin, curcumin, resveratrol and green tea can modulate this.
This has been regarded as an important tool in prevention and management of covid and this study gives a helpful overview to understand why that might be. “Interestingly, most of the risk groups described for COVID-19 are at the same time groups that were associated with zinc deficiency. As zinc is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry, for a balanced function of the immune system and the redox system, zinc deficiency can probably be added to the factors predisposing individuals to infection and detrimental progression of COVID-19. Finally, due to its direct antiviral properties, it can be assumed that zinc administration is beneficial for most of the population, especially those with suboptimal zinc status.”
You can test your zinc with this simple taste test and all the family can do this for a bit of fun at home.
Vitamin C of course is well known for supporting immune health. This paper examines the link between deficiency and risk of reparatory infection and Covid and also its efficacy as a part of the toolbox for treatments. “This literature review focuses on vitamin C deficiency in respiratory infections including COVID-19; the mechanism of action in infectious disease and adrenal function supporting the anti-inflammatory actions of glucocorticosteroids: its role in preventing and treating colds and pneumonia and its role in treating sepsis and COVID-19. The evidence to date indicates that oral vitamin C (2-8g/d) may reduce incidence and duration of respiratory infections and intravenous vitamin C (2-24g/d) has been shown to reduce mortality, Intensive Care Unit and hospital stays, time on mechanical ventilation in severe respiratory infections.”
Vitamin A is an important micronutrient for regulating cellular immune response, modulation of T helper cells, secretory IgA and cytokine production. Studies have shown a reduction of symptom duration in viral infection. Early supplementation with vitamin A was associated with reduced mortality in patients with Ebola.
In children vitamin A has been shown to be particularly helpful when combined with zinc and this study of 826 preschool children concluded that when combined together significantly reduced the duration of Upper respiratory tract infection.
To order a good child’s immune supplement which includes both vitamin A plus vitamin D, vitamin C and probiotic have a look at this one for toddlers and this one for older children.
As most of you know, 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, therefore it is unsurprising that that the gut plays a central role in optimising immunity. We can enhance our good bacteria by avoiding sugars and sweeteners and by increasing the diversity of colour and fibre in our diet. This large meta analysis of 23 trials and 6269 children indicated that children supplemented with probiotics has fewer days off school and reduced duration of illness.
Combined with vitamin C, D, Zinc and A as per previous studies and recommendations would therefore seem a sensible option across the winter to decrease incidence of Upper respiratory tract infections in children. Some great options here for different ages.
As we are talking about the importance of gut health you may have seen recent reports on research from South Korea and Hong Kong on the influence of gut bacteria on Covid severity. “Each person has a unique assortment of bacteria in their gut which play a variety of roles, including in modulating the immune response.
Research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found people suffering with Covid-19 had a 'significantly altered' microbiome composition.
Separate research from South Korea found people with a poorly functioning gut are more likely to develop severe Covid-19 because the lack of healthy microbes makes it easier for the virus to infect cells in the digestive tract”
This was actually reported months ago when I interviewed Dr Christine Bishara MD about her research into this very subject and her research team highlighted the protective role of probiotics in the gut in prevention and management of Covid. You can listed to our podcast here.
If you’ve been following us a while you’ll know of the research being done by the NHS in conjunction with Southamptom University into this impressive ayurvedic herb as a treatment which could be used for URTI. Even more exciting it was recently reported that Thailand’s health ministry has approved the use of Andrographis to treat early stages of Covid as a pilot programme. It's something we always have in our medicine cabinet!
Well known as an antiviral it has been good to see this herb being studied in UK hospitals! From vitamin D to vitamin C, zinc, andrographis and now elderberry the list of nutraceuticals and botanicals being used and researched in conventional medicine settings is growing to support the current virus. So encouraging to see more and more UK hospitals using a bigger lens and realising the much bigger medicine cabinet they have available to them.
‘Ms Jessica Evans, director of research and innovation at the East Kent Hospitals Trust, said: “We are all very excited to have been given approval to start this trial, which could have huge implications for the treatment of coronavirus.”
“A previous study with flu patients showed people who took the extract had significant improvements in their symptoms within two days, compared to six days for those who did not.” Order here
Last but not least, everyone's favourite when it comes to the immune system and that is our good old sunshine vitamin! As a clinic we test vitamin D every day and it is deficient in over 50% of our clients. As we only get around 10% from food, more on this in our blog, we really need some unprotected sunshine to convert into vitamin D which is an essential in our immune function. Vitamin D has always been well documented for immune protection and in particular for upper respiratory conditions. If the government had recommended essential supplementation a year ago the evidence from many studies over the last 12 months suggests we would have prevented significant illness and mortality from the Covid virus. To not supplement is simply a no brainier in my view and that of countless scientists across the world. Below are just some of the studies into vitamin D that have come to light over the past 12 months.
When the endocrinology and respiratory units at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS foundation trust made an informal recommendation to its clinicians to prescribe vitamin D, the decision was considered unusual. “Our view was that this treatment is so safe and the crisis is so enormous that we don’t have time to debate,” said Dr Richard Quinton, a consultant endocrinologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.”
“In the Newcastle hospitals, patients found to be vitamin D-deficient were given extremely high oral doses of the nutrient. Of the first 134 coronavirus patients given vitamin D, 94 had been discharged, 24 were still receiving inpatient care, and 16 had died. The clinicians hadn’t clearly associated vitamin D levels with overall death rates, but only three patients with high levels of the nutrient died, and all of them were frail and in their 90s.”
A 2020 study from the Division of clinical epidemiology and ageing research in Heidelberg Germany has suggested that vitamin D insufficiency may account for almost 9 our of 10 covid-19 deaths. “Evidence from observational studies is accumulating, suggesting that the majority of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infections are statistically attributable to vitamin D insufficiency and could potentially be prevented by vitamin D supplementation. Given the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, rational vitamin D supplementation whose safety has been proven in an extensive body of research should be promoted and initiated to limit the toll of the pandemic even before the final proof of efficacy in preventing COVID-19 deaths by randomized trials.”
Boston University found that vitamin D sufficiency reduces infection and impact of covid-19. “Patients with sufficient levels of vitamin D are less likely to experience complications and die from COVID-19, according to a new study in the US, while another has found it also reduces infection rates.
Vitamin D sufficiency was linked with a significantly decreased level of inflammatory markets, and higher blood levels of immune cells, in new research from Boston University's school of medicine.”
I would also like to share a very encouraging study which is the first randomised controlled trial of vitamin D in C-19. Expressed as relative risk vit D reduced the risk of ICU admission 25 fold. So it eliminated 96% of the risk of ICU admission. More analysis on this study on this interesting article
Hope you have enjoyed this summary of some of the available evidence which is considerable and growing. We are especially delighted to see more of these nutraceuticals and botanicals being used and researched in a range of settings. Perhaps what we really need is for those of us with an interest in natural medicine to get together and raise funds for further independent study in this vital work.
Disclaimer: This blog is provided for educational purposes only. If you are taking any medication or have a medical condition please check with a registered Nutritional Therapist or your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
Having spent over 5 years working with babies (and being a Mum myself!) I've seen a lot of colicky wee ones. Trapped wind can contribute to colic and reflux so making sure they get their burps up can make a huge difference in making them more comfortable. Sometime babies can be really difficult to burp so I thought I would share my favourite techniques. Often rotating through them can be really helpful when baby just won't burp!
1. Over the knee burp - Lay baby carefully tummy down, over your knees and pat or rub with an upwards motion up babies back.
2. The squatting burp - lift baby up and then carefully squat them down on your lap allowing their knees to tuck up against their chest. Then holding/leaning them against you rub their backs with an upward motion.
3. Sitting on your knee burp - Perhaps one of the most commonly used burping techniques is to sit baby on your knee and rub their back with upward strokes. In younger babies make sure to support their head and neck. In older babies with good neck control you can often get lots of good burps up by applying gentle pressure to the tummy while rubbing their back.
4. Massage Burp - Lay baby down on their tummy with their head to one side. Massage from the base of the spine upwards with a gentle but firm pressure.
5. Over the arm burp - Lay baby over your arm, supporting their head with your forarm/elbow. Hold them at a slight angle so their tummy is lower than their head. Pat or rub their backs.
6. Over the shoulder burp - Another classic burping position but there's a reason for it! Place baby over your shoulder and gently pat or rub in an upwards motion on their back.
7. The German Mama Burp - This one is very similar to the over the shoulder burp but this time you position baby so that your breast is gently pressing into their tummy. Then start tapping/rubbing from the lower back and moving upwards to the upper back and repeat.
8. The cross body burp - Hold baby with their head on one shoulder and their feet towards the opposite side. Pat/rub in an upwards motion. Then swap and do the same again on the other side.
Another position that can be really helpful to soothe unsettled babies is Tiger in a Tree a.k.a Cat in a Cradle (and one or two others!). Make a cradle with your arms and lie baby on it's front so that it's head is being supported by your elbow/arm and their tummy is lying on your hands. Let their arms and legs dangle a little. You can then apply a slight pressure to their tummy, and/or pat/massage around in a clockwise motion.
I hope these techniques will help you and your baby to produce lots of burps.
This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat any specific conditions. Nor is it designed to replace the advice of your healthcare provider.
Have you been told that your baby has reflux? Are you trying to get your head around what that means and what to do next? I'm here to help.
What is infant reflux?
Firstly let me say that for the purposes of this blog when I talk about infant reflux I'm also including GORD (GERD), GOR, Silent Reflux, the symptoms of allergies/intolerances and what may have been dismissed as "colic".
In simple terms a reflux action is when something moves from the stomach to the oesophagus. It is a natural process that our bodies are designed to do for a number of reasons, e.g. to remove excess air from our stomach - burping or vomiting to remove food/bacteria. The body's ability to reflux is completely normal and is one of the body's ways of protecting itself from pathogens etc.
What's not normal is when this action is happening over and over again especially when it is causing obvious pain and discomfort. It is not normal for stomach acid to be oesophagus all the time and it's certainly not normal for babies to be in distress.
The good news is that there is always a reason for your babies symptoms and we can work together to figure it out.
The most common causes of reflux
1. Build up of gas.
Those of us who can remember back to physics lessons at school will remember that things will move from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. If you blow up a balloon and then let go of it, it will deflate as the air moves from high pressure (inside the balloon) to an area of lower pressure (outside the balloon).
The same thing happens inside a baby's stomach. When the pressure inside the stomach is too great the body will try to regain balance by sending the gas into a lower pressure environment. In this case the oesophagus. The pressure level will determine the force of the regurgitation with higher pressure leading to projectile vomit and lower pressure as silent reflux.
The question we need to answer is where does the air come from?
More often than not it's because baby is swallowing too much air. Babies can swallow air when they cry, laugh, eat, drink (especially if there are issues with latch to breast or bottle), when they swallow saliva and if there are air bubbles in their milk.
2. Food Allergy or Intolerance.
Our digestive system plays a key role in immunity as you may have seen if you've read any of our posts on probiotics. One of the roles of gastric acid found in the stomach is to kill pathogens and prevent them reaching the small and large intestine. However, the infant digestive system is very immature and sometimes it's ability to perceive pathogens is a little off. For example, it may, rightly or wrongly, identify that a protein in cows milk, gluten, soy or any other food is a virus and trigger a reflux reaction to protect itself by vomiting out what it has perceived as a threat.
In these cases, reflux is a symptom of the allergy or intolerance.
There are of course other causes of reflux including pyloric stenosis, galactosaemia, intestinal blockages, etc which is why it's important that we assess each case individually.
If you're ready to start figuring out what's causing your little ones reflux then start with this free download to track all of their symptoms.
If you'd like more tailored 1:1 support you can find full details of my packages here.
Want to know more about why I started supporting babies with reflux? You can read my story here.
I truly hope I can help you on your journey to a reflux free life.
If you or someone you know suffers from migraines you’ll know it is a pretty nasty and often debilitating condition, sometimes lasting days or even longer. Believed to be the third most common disease in the world, it affects 3 times more women than men and many women cite hormones as a trigger. In the UK estimates suggest that we lose 25 million days from work or school due to migraine. Absenteeism from work costs £2.25 billion and NHS prescription costs around £250 million per year. It is thought that less than 50% will consult their family doctor and that most self medicate for migraine.
In addition to pain, migraine can include
Tension headaches are considered to be non vascular while migraine is a vascular headache involving excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head. Migraine attacks can often be preceded by visual disturbance, blurring of vision, bright lights , anxiety, disturbed thinking, mood swings, numbness and tingling.
So what causes them?
There is a genetic component here which many of you will identity with and I do see this in my clients. In my own family, it is common down the female line and has been a very debilitating condition for many over the years.
Blood vessel instability
Research supports a link between blood vessel instability and migraine headaches With excessive constriction being followed by rebound dilation. There does seem to be an inherited tendency here as some have an abnormality in their constriction and dilation of blood vessels.
The platelets of some migraine sufferers have been found to be different from normal platelets during and between attacks. Platelets are the cells involved in clotting and migraine sufferers can have an increase in platelet aggregation which means a clumping together. Interestingly it is thought that the amount of serotonin released by patients in response to a serotonin stimulation (eg food allergy/intolerance) can rise leading to a migraine. Another interesting phenomenon related to platelets is that migraine sufferers have been shown to have a twofold increase in mitral valve prolapse, with this leaky valve causing damage to blood platelets. Research has shown 16% migraine patients to have a mitral valve prolapse
Even more interesting to me is that mitral valve prolapse is also three time more prevalent in those who are deficient in magnesium, since I find that many of the sufferers I see in clinic are also magnesium deficient. Indeed, in practice I find that a combination of dealing with food allergies/intolerances and supplementing magnesium to correct deficiency can be the most helpful means to prevention and the above challenges in some part explain some important links here.
Serotonin deficiency Syndrome
Another hypothesis is that migraines are linked to serotonin deficiency state. Research going back to the 1960’s found a serotonin breakdown product in the urine (5-HIAA) during a migraine. New research suggests this is due to increased breakdown of serotonin from increased activity of monoamine oxidase. The link with low serotonin levels has been the basis of many prescription drugs for migraine e.g. sumatriptan a serotonin agonist. Numerous studies have also shown a link between supplementing with 5HTP and prevention. It should be noted that this works best of taken for at least 6 months.
Keeping a migraine diary
It can be very helpful to notice what is happening around the time of migraine attacks to look for repeated patterns. There may be an accumulation of stressors over time which come to a head and that domino effect begins to happen which results in a headache. Susceptibility may be due to reduced tissue serotonin and changes in platelets and a build up of histamine and other inflammatory mediators.
Factors that trigger migraine
What can we do about it?
Firstly find your root cause and eliminate where possible or avoid the build up of triggers. We can Test for food intolerances/allergies, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances. Modern drug treatment is inadequate because it fails to address root cause. In the 1980’s it became apparent that using analgesics on a regular basis could backfire and actually lead to increased frequency of attacks and many doctors were talking about analgesic rebound headaches. Another interesting point to note here is that regular use of NSAID’s like ibuprofen can suppress ovulation and also cause damage to the gut contributing to intestinal permeability which puts us at risk of food intolerance and poor absorption of nutrients therefore feeding into the problem.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory. It is therefore commonly used for period pain, joint pain as well as headaches and migraines. Dosing from 400-600mg but take advice from a Nutritional therapist on any dosing. Magnesium is a common deficiency which is well researched in migraine. Also, 50% of Migraine sufferers have been found to have reduced concentrations of iodised magneisum. Levels are depleted by stress, poor diet, excess alcohol, high oestrogen, certain drug meds among others.
Vitamin B2 can help many reduce the number of migraines they have. As a preventative it needs to be taken for more than one month to see an effect and ideally for 3 months. It can also be depleted by the oral contraceptive pill. This study showed a 68% reduction in attacks after 3 months at a 400mg dose
5HTP has been shown in several studies to be effective in prevention of migraine attacks and has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceuticals but without the side effects in prevention of migraine. 5HTP works by regulating serotonin levels. Do not take this if you are taking antidepressants.
Turmeric is well known as an anti-inflammatory and can be incorporated into the diet regularly in both food and as a warm drink. It is useful when having an acute attack and some supplements are combined with ginger which is another anti-inflammatory.
Ginger can rival NSAID’s as an analgesic and can be used regularly in the diet, as a tea or supplement. I normally recommend this combined with turmeric for the best results. For example turmeric active. Studies have shown ginger to be as effective as commonly prescribed sumatriptan for migraine relief
Omega 3 are essential fatty acids found commonly in oily fish. They lower inflammation and can help with hormone balancing. Aim for 3 servings of oily fish per week or supplement. Flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts also provide omega 3 as do organic grass fed meats and chicken. We can test omega 3 levels for you to help us identify any deficiencies.
CoQ10 used as the active form ubiquinol has been shown in studies to be effective in migraine prophylaxis and has a similar mode of action to riboflavin as it improves energy metabolism and mitochondrial function.
Feverfew is perhaps the most well known herbal preventative for migraine and a number of studies have shown a reduction in frequency and severity including this one published in the lancet
Hydration you probably know about but it’s so easy to forget this one. Remember herb teas also count towards good hydration. How about choosing some turmeric and ginger teas throughout the day and you will tick more than one box!
Essential oils be very helpful especially if you are feeling too nauseas to take annoying else. Peppermint and lavender are good starting points and can be rubbed into the temple with one or two drops or can be diffused.
Acupuncture can be helpful for migraine pain relief and and may have a mechanism involved in normalising serotonin levels.
Massage and Indian head massage are also recommended for regular use to modulate cortisol and reduce muscular tension.
Reflexology is also helpful in modulating cortisol and in hormone balancing
Whatever you decide to try to support your migraines, the key to all things health is prevention and that means finding out your root cause. Otherwise you might just try endless rounds of supplements only to discover that you were shooting at the wrong target. The supplements above will all offer support via different mechanisms of action but if you are still eating your trigger food or you are not answering your body’s need for a regular sleep pattern or reducing screen time etc., then you are just going to go round in circles and get frustrated. In addition, it may be that the dose you are taking is not right for you or maybe you are taking medication that interacts with that particular supplement. It’s never a one size fits all approach and each case is different. There may be multiple factors setting you up for migraine and each one needs to be addressed. Migraine often goes hand in hand with other co-morbidities eg IBS, especially constipation which is often linked to hormonal imbalance. For more information on Nutritional therapy have a look here or arrange a call to discuss your needs. More information on our testing services here.
How did you get in to working with babies?
I have always loved babies. For as long as I can remember if someone had a baby then I would have been there offering to give them a cuddle or play with them. Even now if someone comes in store with a pram, I am straight over to say hello. When I qualified as a Massage Therapist 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to work with babies and so immediately trained as a Baby Massage Instructor.
What made you specialise in reflux support?
When I did my training we covered infant reflux and some of the massage techniques that can be supportive. However, it wasn’t until I actually started teaching and could see the distress being caused to both Mum and baby that I started to dig a little deeper. I had these women in my classes who were exhausted, who felt alone, whose concerns were not being listened to and were being brushed off. They were being told “you’re just an anxious first time mum”, “ reflux is normal”, “it’s not possible for them to cry as much as that”, “they are gaining weight there is nothing to worry about”. For these women, the cup of tea at the end of a class became a safe place for them to share what was happening. I was one of the first people who had listened to them, who believed them when they told me they had 3 hours sleep the night before, who believed that the only place they would settle was in their mothers arms, and who agreed that this was not “normal”.
Having worked alongside our clinically trained Nutritional Therapist Beverley for so long and being steeped in the idea of functional medicine and finding root cause I was watching these babies struggle and wondering why is no one asking WHY do these babies have reflux and WHAT is the root cause? I taught the Mum’s massage techniques to ease abdominal pain, to help them pass wind, to ease constipation which was a common side effect of the medications they had been prescribed for reflux. Those techniques did make a difference, they helped take the edge off but I knew that wasn’t enough. I knew that if I was to better serve these families then I had to learn more about what causes reflux and how to address that root cause.
So, what happened next?
I started to research infant reflux and learn about the infant microbiome. Slowly I built my knowledge and then one day I came across a book that had just launched called The Baby Reflux Lady and I thought YES!!! It was exactly what I had been looking for. Aine Homer had written this book because her children had reflux and she didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what they had. She had painstakingly pulled together her experience and all the research she could get her hands on and written this amazing book. Aine then took that research to the next level and launched a course for professionals called The REFLUX method which I jumped on and was one of the first to train with her.
I devoured that course. Suddenly all the pieces fell into place and I could begin to see what was causing the reflux for so many of the babies in my classes. I would sit with the mums at tea time and ask questions, observing feeding, looking for clues and making suggestions which, in some cases would include making them aware of other professionals who could support them with their specific group of symptoms: osteopaths, the infant feeding team, local breastfeeding groups etc.
Since then I stopped doing general classes and focussed exclusively on supporting babies with colic or reflux and their families in a 1:1 course setting. This allowed me to ask more specific questions and provide more tailored advice and solutions. I have since continued my professional training with Aine and am now a certified Infant Reflux Specialist. I firmly believe that reflux is a symptom of something else. It is my job to help you figure out what that root cause is, and provide you with the solutions so you can begin to work towards a reflux free baby.
You can find full details of my services here.
Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies. It is estimated that 1 billion people globally have Vitamin D deficiency and 50% of the global population have Vitamin D insufficiency. It is estimated that about 90% of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight whilst a small proportion comes from our diet. Individuals with darker skin have increased amounts of melanin in their skin which decreases the efficacy of Vitamin D absorption which is why people with darker skin are at greater risk, particularly in the UK where from October to March, the rays from the sun are not strong enough to enable our bodies to make vitamin D. This is one of the reasons that the Department of Health and the NHS now recommend that everyone in the UK should consider taking a vitamin D supplement from October to March. The elderly, overweight and those living in the Northern Hemisphere are also at greater risk. A 2017 study additionally revealed that shift workers, health care workers and indoor workers are at increased risk of developing a deficiency due to reduced outdoor time and sunlight exposure. Apart from this, malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease, short bowel syndrome, gastric bypass and cystic fibrosis may also lead to Vitamin D deficiency. Medications such as phenobarbital, carbamazepine, dexamethasone, nifedipine, spironolactone, clotrimazole, and rifampin induce hepatic p450 enzymes which speed up the degradation of vitamin D.
Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D's primary and vital function in the body is to maintain blood levels of calcium. It does this through increasing the amount of calcium absorbed from food in the small intestine. This helps the body to form and maintain healthy bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to osteomalacia or rickets. A deficiency of vitamin D also increases the risk of developing osteoporosis and experiencing fractures and broken bones. Apart from this, vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with increased risks of cancer development, particularly breast, colon and prostate cancers. Researchers have found that increased sunlight exposure and circulating vitamin D are associated with reduced occurrence and mortality in many types of cancer. Vitamin D is well known for its impact on the immune system and studies suggest that inflammation is often at the root of many modern autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, digestive disorders and high blood pressure. University of Aberdeen researchers studied patients in the North of Scotland which has the highest rate of MS in the UK who were treated during the winter with UV-B light therapy. Dr Anthony Ormerod, Clinical Reader in Dermatology at the University, said: “Our study shows that UV-B light, which mimics sunshine, can have a striking effect on the immune system of patients."
In addition, a study in 2018 from Trinity College Dublin linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of depression of over 75% over a four year follow up period.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?
There is evidence to suggest that people with vitamin D deficiency are at increased risk of developing health conditions such as osteoporosis, autoimmune conditions, depression and cancer. Symptoms can also include weakness, chronic fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, weakened immune system, inflammation and weak or broken bones. We would recommend that you are tested for vitamin D deficiency if you experience any of these symptoms. Vitamin D tests are available on the NHS and in our Nourishing Insights clinic. This is a simple pin prick blood test which can be done at home. Find out more about Vitamin D testing and order here.
How can I optimise my vitamin D levels?
The main way in which we obtain vitamin D is from exposure to natural sunlight from the sun. When UVB rays land on the skin, a substance in the skin, 7-dehydrocholestrol is converted into vitamin D3. There are two types of supplemental vitamin D; Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. The type of vitamin D our bodies makes naturally is vitamin D3. Whilst the body is able to convert some D2 for use, vitamin D3 is believed to convert 500 times faster than D2 and is estimated to be four times more effective in humans. Most experts suggest spending 20 minutes in the sun without suncream (suncream blocks the absorption of vitamin D) to enable your body to absorb vitamin D naturally without damaging the skin. For darker skinned people, the time recommended increases to around 40 minutes. If you do not want to expose your skin to the sun, you should use a good quality supplement to make sure you are obtaining enough vitamin D to protect your immune system, bones, joints and general health.
Are there any food sources?
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D and it is difficult to obtain vitamin D only from food. However, there are some food sources and research suggests that eating foods which are rich in Vitamin D can help you acquire more. Some of the best sources of vitamin D in foods are halibut, mackerel, salmon, herring, trout and eggs. Mushrooms are one of the only plant sources of vitamin D and they acquire vitamin D the same way the human skin does, through exposure to the sun. The vitamin D content of mushrooms is increased through exposure to Ultra Violet light. The quantity of vitamin D in mushrooms can vary dependant on how they are grown.
Who should supplement and how much should I take?
Current Department of Health recommendations suggest the following ‘at risk’ groups should be using a vitamin D supplement all year round. These include:
From October to March the Department for Health recommends that everyone should supplement with Vitamin D. However, bare in mind that many of us now are spending little time in the sun and when we are we are wearing sun creams or covering up. Even in hot countries where people are going from air conditioned homes to offices and malls with little exposure to sunshine has led to a global epidemic with deficiency. For example, in countries such as Pakistan it is estimated that 80% of the population is deficient. In addition, it is estimated that vitamin D has a half life of about 15 days which would mean that every 2 weeks our levels halve without ongoing exposure to sunshine or supplementation. Therefore, your holiday in the sun in February is not going to help you in April.
Dosages vary according to age, bodyweight and level of deficiency. Testing is recommended to optimise your dose.
Are there other nutrient considerations when supplementing with Vitamin D?
Vitamin D and K2
Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 work synergistically with each other to ensure that calcium is directed out of the arteries and into the bones where it helps improve bone density.
Without enough vitamin K2 calcification within the arteries can occur. We normally advise a combination product of D and K2 for the post-menopausal age group.
Vitamin D and Magnesium
Magnesium plays a key role in determining how much vitamin D our bodies can make. It’s suggested that people whose magnesium intake is high are less likely to have a vitamin D insufficiency than people whose magnesium levels are low.
It’s also claimed that magnesium supplementation increases vitamin D levels in people who are deficient in the vitamin, but causes a reduction in people whose intake is high. Too much vitamin D can increase calcium levels, which in turn can lead to certain health complications.
To learn more about magnesium and signs of deficiency, have a look at our blog.
To find out more about Vitamin D supplementation contact us here, or come and visit us at 44 St Andrew Street Aberdeen. Nutritional Therapy consultations are also available on Zoom and skype. More information here.
BetterYou D3000 and K2
BetterYou™ DLux+ Vitamin D+K2 Oral Spray is an optimum strength spray delivering 3000iu of vitamin D alongside 75μg of vitamin K2 per dose (3 sprays).
3 sprays deliver 3000IU (75μg) of vitamin D plus 75μg of vitamin K2Optimal support for bone healthK2 helps prevent arterial calcificationEffective and convenient alternative to tablets and capsules100% natural peppermint flavouring
The pioneering delivery method allows the vitamin D and K to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, via the inner cheek, bypassing the digestive system where many nutrients may be lost.
Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 work synergistically with each other to ensure that calcium is directed out of the arteries and into the bones where it helps improve bone density.
Without enough vitamin K2 calcification within the arteries can occur, increasing the risk of heart disease.
BetterYou have sourced a bioavailable and stable form of K2 MK-7 which can be easily utilised by the body. The form of K2 has been derived from flowers and we can guarantee purity of the active form of K2.
Vitamin D Testing Service
We’re proud to work in collaboration with Sandwell and West Birmingham trust to offer you a complete vitamin D testing service which can be completed from the comfort of your own home.
Usage - Single use
Biomarkers Tested - 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Stored vitamin D)
Testing Method -Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry
BetterYou DLUX 1000 Vegan
BetterYou DLux 1000 Vegan Vitamin D Oral Spray is a pure and simple formulation using Vitamin D3V®, a 100% plant-origin vitamin D3, designed to maintain vitamin D levels.
BetterYou™ DLux3000 is an optimum strength daily oral vitamin D spray. Specially formulated to deliver vitamin D directly into the bloodstream bypassing the digestive system.
BetterYou Magnesium Gel
BetterYou Magnesium Gel provides essential magnesium in a targeted application. Formulated for direct application on joints and muscles to help support relaxation.
BetterYou Magnesium Spray
BetterYou Magnesium Oil Body Sprays are a simple and scientifically proven method of delivering a high dose of absorbable elemental magnesium through the skin to replenish magnesium levels. This range includes sprays help with different areas of your life including sleep, sports performance and joint health.
BettterYou Magnesium Bone Lotion
BetterYou™ Magnesium Bone Lotion supports bone health with the combination of magnesium and calcium, expertly formulated at an optimal 1:1 ratio and blended with a hydrating lotion to create a unique way to supplement these two essential nutrients.
An effective alternative to tablets and capsules, providing exceptional support for bone and skin health.
5ml (4 pumps) of Magnesium Bone Lotion delivers a minimum of 75mg of magnesium and 75mg of calcium.
Guaranteed free from
nutri Advanced Megamag Calmeze (Orange)
MegaMag® Calmeze has been formulated to support normal psychological function, a healthy nervous system and to reduce tiredness & fatigue by providing a high strength combination of magnesium, B vitamins, L-theanine, glycine, taurine, glutamine and vitamin C. It is supplied in a tasty orange flavour powder which easily mixes with water or juice.
With many more of us living very busy lives, Megamag® Calmeze can help to support that sense of calm and harmony.
MegaMag® Calmeze delivers 200mg of magnesium in the glycinate form per dose. Magnesium glycinate has been shown in studies to have superior absorption when compared to other forms of magnesium. It’s generally well-tolerated and especially suited to those with sensitive digestive systems.
Magnesium is a very important mineral, involved in literally hundreds of reactions in the body. It is known as “nature’s tranquiliser”, as it has a calming effect on muscles and nerves, but it’s also necessary for energy production too.
MegaMag® Calmeze also contains a specific B vitamin combination that includes vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. The B vitamins are very important for the production of energy, as well as for psychological function. Some also help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Vitamin C is present in a mineral ascorbate form. The health benefits of vitamin C are many, and include energy production, reducing tiredness and fatigue, as well as supporting the nervous system.
MegaMag® Calmeze contains the amino acids theanine, taurine, glycine and glutamine. With the formula being in powdered form, we’re able to provide therapeutic levels of amino acids that would be difficult to achieve in tablet or capsule forms.
nutri Advanced Magnesium Glycinate
High strength magnesium in a well absorbed form designed to support muscle function, the nervous system, energy production, bones and teeth.
What does Magnesium do?
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for life, and is found in every cell type in every organism. It is needed for hundreds of reactions within the body, including helping with energy production, reduction of tiredness, maintenance of normal muscle function, and keeping your bones and teeth healthy.
Why choose our Magnesium?
Magnesium as glycinate is a superior, highly absorbable form of magnesium, that is well tolerated especially by those with sensitive digestive systems. Provides 100mg of magnesium per tablet.
Who is it suitable for?
Anyone who wishes to take extra magnesium in a high quality, gentle and effective form. Poor soil and processing methods can mean that even those eating a balanced diet might not be getting as much magnesium as they need.
nutri Advanced Megamag Muscleze
MegaMag Muscleze (formally Ultra Muscleze) is a high strength magnesium powder designed to support muscle function and recovery following exercise, It has a tasty orange flavour and mixes easily into water or juice.
One scoop of MegaMag Muscleze delivers 240mg of magnesium in superior, highly absorbable forms that are gentle on the stomach - bisglycinate and malate. The formula also contains malic acid, amino acids - l-carnitine, creatine, glutamine and taurine – and B vitamins including the body-ready, active forms of vitamin B12 and folate(vitamin B9).
Why is Magnesium important? - Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for many body functions. It is the second most abundant nutrient in the body and has many important roles including the support of muscle function, converting food to energy, reducing tiredness and fatigue, the normal functioning of the nervous system and contributing to electrolyte balance.
Why include amino acids and B vitamins? - In order for magnesium to be able to play its part in many of its functions, it needs taurine, glutamine, carnitine and B vitamins to be present. These are all co-factors of magnesium and are needed to support the actions of magnesium within the body.
How does MegaMag Muscleze support muscles and post-exercise recovery? - One scoop provides 672mg of malic acid and 240mg of magnesium. Malic Acid plays a very important role in energy production within each cell. Magnesium supports healthy muscle function, reduces tiredness and fatigue and supports energy-yielding metabolism. Magnesium also helps balance electrolytes which is essential for normal muscle contraction. An imbalance in electrolytes can result in cramps. The formula also contains B vitamins which also reduce fatigue and supports the body converting food to energy.
Who should take Magnesium? - Those who require support for muscle function, tiredness and fatigue and nervous system function may benefit from magnesium.Magnesium can be found in foods including green leafy vegetables, nut, seeds and whole grains. However modern farming methods have sadly meant a decline in the level of magnesium present in these foods.
Why should I take MegaMag Muscleze? - MegaMag Muscleze provides high levels of easy-to-absorb magnesium and is gentle on the stomach. The formula provides a range of other vitamins and amino acids to support the role of magnesium including the body-ready active forms of vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9).
BetterYou Magnesium Skin Body Lotion
BetterYou Magnesium Body Lotion is a nourishing blend of magnesium and shea butter formulated to improve skin elasticity, soften skin and relax muscles.
Top Tips to Support the Immune System
Vitamin B12 is an essential water soluble vitamin which is required for a range of functions in the human body. It is one of the B-Complex group energy giving vitamins which are important for promoting a healthy nervous system and detoxifying the body. These vitamins act as coenzymes, helping the body to obtain energy from food. They also regulate important functions of the cardiovascular, endocrine and digestive systems. The body can not produce B Vitamins and so they must be obtained from our diet.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most common deficiencies in the western world and can occur for a number of reasons. Pernicious anaemia (an autoimmune condition) is one common cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Due to a lack of intrinsic factor in this condition, the body is unable to absorb Vitamin B12 and so becomes deficient. This condition can result in a range of symptoms including nerve damage, muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, numbness in hands and feet, osteoporosis, depression, dementia, digestive issues, and a smooth, thick red tongue among others. If you have any or all of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your GP to rule this out. Pernicious anaemia is normally diagnosed by a GP and treatment includes routine B12 injections.
However, it is also possible to develop B12 deficiency as a result of not getting enough Vitamin B12 from the diet or absorption problems as a result of digestive issues such as leaky gut, coeliac disease, Crohn's or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, such as meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs meaning that deficiencies of this nutrient are common among vegetarians and vegans. One of the difficulties being that although there are some fortified foods such as nutritional yeast and fortified milks which can provide some B12, not all of those following these diets are conscientious about ensuring that their needs are covered via nutrition. Therefore, supplementation becomes a requirement.
Certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors and anticonvulsants can also affect the absorption of Vitamin B12. In addition, anti-depressants and the oral contraceptive pill can deplete B12 among other nutrients. Whether you have been on the pill or are currently taking it, a good B-Complex can help replenish the nutrients depleted by the pill while also supporting hormone balance.
B12 is a particularly important nutrient for promoting a healthy nervous system and many Psychiatrists such as Dr Drew Ramsay are now encouraging their patients to eat foods such as oysters which are rich in both Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 (two nutrient deficiencies which have been linked to higher risk of suicide and depression). A 2010 study led by researchers at Rush University looked at more than 3,500 adults and showed that a higher intake of B6, B9 and B12 whether through food or supplementation was associated with a decreased likelihood of depression for up to 12 years follow up.
The most common form of B12 supplementation is cyanocobalamin which is less expensive but it is not found in nature. It may release small amounts of cyanide into the system which may have relevance to an individual with impaired detoxification as a result of genetics, nutrient deficiencies or chronic illness. The recommended form is therefore methylcobalamin which interestingly is the form produced by our gut bacteria. Likewise if you are wanting to increase folate (B9) we would recommend methylfolate rather than folic acid for better absorption. Read more in our blog on folic acid vs folate.
We have a range of B Vitamin supplements available, some of which are practitioner only products and therefore unavailable online.
If you are interested in any of the B Vitamins for supplementation, come in for a chat or give us a call so that we can make the best suggestion for you. We can also provide relevant testing if appropriate.
BetterYou B12 Boost
BetterYou Boost B12 Oral Spray is an effective aid to normal psychological functions, expertly blended to help boost energy levels.
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
"Don't you just love New York in the fall, it makes me wanna buy school supplies"
Starting the new school year can be an exciting time. Buying new stationary, new uniforms and going into a new class with a new teacher can make it an unsettling but exciting time of change for children. But, as every mum and teacher knows, those first few weeks back always bring an explosion of bugs, and children who are immune compromised can become easy prey for some of these viral attacks. Making some diet and lifestyle changes can help boost your child's immunity and make a real difference to their overall health and wellbeing. Here are our top tips for a healthy school year.
Optimise Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin which is essential for maintaining healthy levels of calcium in the blood. Vitamin D also plays an essential role in immune system health and cell growth. The main source of Vitamin D is from exposure to natural sunlight from the sun. However, from October to March the rays of the sun in the UK are not strong enough to enable our bodies to make Vitamin D. As a result, it is now a government recommendation that everyone should supplement with Vitamin D from October to March each year. Recommended dosages for children vary according to body weight.
Look after Gut Health
It is estimated that between 70%-80% of our immune system is located in our gut which means that what we feed our gut bacteria can impact our immune health. Prebiotics such as garlic, leeks and asparagus feed the friendly bacteria in our guts so consuming these on a regular basis can benefit gut health. Probiotics have also been shown in clinical trials to have a beneficial impact on gut and immune health. Optibac and Proven both have good ranges for children. ProVen Fit for School was used in the ProChild study, which took place over six months and those children taking Fit for School saw a 30% reduction in absenteeism from school due to coughs, colds and other upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). The study also found that the duration of coughs and colds was halved in the children taking Fit for School and visits to the doctor and consequently prescription for antibiotics was reduced by 43%. This probiotic is suitable for children aged 4-16.
Consume Omega 3
Omega 3 is great for our brains and helping us focus. Omega 3's also reduce inflammation and prevent attacks by toxins or pathogens. Food sources include oily fish, eggs, walnuts, flax, chia seeds and grass fed meat. If you're concerned that your child won't eat many of the foods which contain Omega 3, you could supplement with a good source of omega 3 such as Eskimo 3 Bright Kids Jelly Splats.
Eat a Rainbow
Eating a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables ensures we get a combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support the immune system. If you're concerned about any nutritional gaps, BetterYou have designed a handy multi-vitamin spray for children with a blend of 14 essential nutrients. The robust multi-nutrient formulation contains the full spectrum of B vitamins, including folate, combined with vitamins A, C, D, K, selenium and iodine.
Sleep is when our bodies rest and restore. It is therefore essential for optimal immune health. Aiming for at least 10 hours sleep for little ones is a great way to ensure they get the rest they need to grow and thrive. Avoid electronics and blue light effect from TV/ computer etc at night and ensure a good winding down routine of baths and stories. Relaxation music can be helpful for us all and some children benefit from white noise. Essential oils are ideal to diffuse in the bedroom and can aid sleep and relaxation. Talk to use about appropriate essential oils and other supports such as magnesium cream which can be helpful depending on age of the child.
We hope you all have a happy and healthy school year!
If you would like to know more about nutritional therapy for children, you can find more information on our children's nutritional therapy page or pop into the shop at 44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen to have a chat with us.
Optibac For Babies and Children
£6.99 - £45.99
What's it for?
A natural supplement from OptiBac, for infants and children.
Who's it for?
For infants & children from birth to 12 years, and for pregnant & breastfeeding women.
Each sachet:Provides 3 billion live cultures + 0.75g of FOS fibres, guaranteed until end of expiry.
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS); Filler: potato starch; Live cultures (Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52, Bifidobacterium infantis Rosell-33, Bifidobacterium bifidum Rosell-71).
Each sachet guarantees 3 billion micro-organisms + 0.75g FOS fibres.
BetterYou MultiVit Junior Vitamin Oral Spray
Specially formulated for children, BetterYou MultiVit Junior Oral Spray combines an expert blend of 14 essential nutrients to provide complete nutritional support for your child’s health and wellbeing.
Suitable for vegetarians
Acidophilus & Bifidus with A-Z multivitamins for Children
Specially formulated for children aged 4-16.
Adequate vitamin intake is especially critical for children to ensure they develop and grow healthily. As some children can be fussy eaters, it may be useful to supplement their diet to ensure they have an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals.
ProVen Probiotics Acidophilus & Bifidus with A-Z Multivitamins for Children is unique in providing a combination of 100% of the recommended daily allowance of all 13 essential vitamins, together with 2.5 billion Lab4 friendly bacteria - all in one tasty chewable tablet developed specifically for children.
The unique addition of the extensively studied Lab4 friendly bacteria helps to support immune and intestinal function making ProVen Probiotics Acidophilus & Bifidus with A-Z Multivitamins for Children a comprehensive nutritional support to help maintain your child's everyday health and wellbeing.
BetterYou DLux Infant
BetterYou DLux Infant Vitamin D Oral Spray is gentle formulation of coconut oil and vitamin D, specially formulated for children from birth to 3 years.
Suitable for vegetarians
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WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING
“I did Nutritional Therapy with Beverley and it was life changing. I highly recommend it!” Allison Blakely (Glasgow)
44 St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, AB25 1JA
Tel: 01224 969637
Summer Opening Hours: Sun- Mon: Closed Tue to Sat: 10am-2pm