Category

Supplements

#33 Mushroom supplements

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #33 MUSHROOM SUPPLEMENTS have hit the headlines and I’ve been asked about them a few times recently. Last year, there was even a mushroom latte released from a London coffee chain claiming to improve immunity. I mean please.

There is no doubt that mushrooms themselves have great dietary properties, they are a brilliant food, low in calories, a source of fibre and a plant. Something the majority of us should be including more of in our diets.

The back story

Mushrooms have been used in traditional herbal medicine for centuries. And that’s about as far as it goes. Herbal medicine, which isn’t based on science but moreso on the natural elements of plants and traditions doesn’t have much if any clinical evidence to support its claims. One of the main issues is that many herbal remedies aren’t regulated, you don’t need a licence to sell or produce them yet some can have the same side effects as regulated drugs and medicines. But you never hear those stories, do you? Just about the miracle cures. Would you buy conventional medicine from Jane who lives down the road rather than your pharmacist or doctor?

Claims include supporting the immune system, enhancing mood, being anti-aging, increasing endurance and more scarily helping to fight cancer growth.

Supplements

Supplement forms are available as powders, tablets, broths, teas, coffee and even shower gels. Yet there is no evidence to supports any of these claims being true in humans. The majority of evidence for immune support exists in rodents where high doses have been used. You cannot compare injecting mushroom supplements into mice with drinking a herbal tea or orally taking a capsule.

Any effect you see is likely to be a placebo, which if that helps your symptoms then great. But also think about if you made any other changes at the same time you started taking these and could that have been the reason you feel better?

#32 Collagen

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #32 Collagen

Collagen supplements are relatively new to the market and claims about health include maintaining a healthy gut, glowing skin, improved mood as well as promoting healthy hair, nails and skin. It comes in the form of tablets, drinks, topical creams, bars and powders.

With our skin starting to age from our mid 20’s onwards, many are actively freaking out about lines and wrinkles and will do anything to stop it.

Studies…

There are many studies showing collagen works in a laboratory environment but move away from there and into the real world and there is pretty much no evidence for its positive use in humans on any of the health claims listed above. Once you consume collagen, it has to survive being digested (the stomach is very acidic) get into your blood and then be transfused into your skin before it can be used. Collagen is once again cleverly used to pray on our insecurities.

However, the good news is taking collagen supplements is unlikely to be harmful due to the minimal doses being consumed within these supplements. Personally I wouldn’t recommend spending your hard earned cash on something that’s not proven to work. However, that’s up to you. Some of the best things you can do to protect your skin is stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, eat lots of fruit and veg, exercise regularly and don’t smoke or consume alcohol excessively.

There is a little bit of research into the positive effects of collagen hydrolysate supplementation on bone density and joint health, however you ain’t gonna get this from a drink with collagen added to it. Yet again these studies were a mix of animal, lab and human studies with doses of up to 12g per day and the effects were short term. For perspective, in a tablet you’ll get about 1 gram. (Porfirio, E 2016 and Liu et al 2018)

What do the the experts say?

Whilst on the topic of skincare and the effect ingesting collagen can have on your skin, I’d recommend taking a look at Anjali Mahto on Instagram. Clear cut evidence for your skin who also supports that the science here is sketchy at best.

Plant drinks. Is yours fortified with iodine?

By | Plant based, Supplements, Vegan, Vitamins | No Comments

Did you know that as humans our main source of iodine comes from cows milk. And that organic cows milk actually has a lower iodine concentration by around a third. Especially important throughout pregnancy for foetal brain development but also for the general population too. So when we make the switch to a plant based alternative, that’s one micronutrient we are actively removing from our diet. A lot of the time unknowingly.

Some brands will add iodine in, but even some of the most well-known don’t. This isn’t law in the UK so it’s completely their decision if they want to add it in or not. Cost comes to mind?
Marksandspencer and Oatly both add iodine to their standard plant milks, and Alpro do to their soy original only. Double check the label for piece of mind. Does it contain iodine? It will say on the nutrition panel. If it doesn’t then look for another one.

Supplements

If you are adopting a vegan diet then unless you are consuming fortified drinks or other fortified foods you may need a supplement. It should be in the form of potassium iodide or potassium iodate. The UK adult recommendation is 150mcg/day and your supplement should not exceed this amount.

Food sources

Seaweed is also good source, so sushi or those seaweed sheets you can get for snacks are great. However, they don’t need to be consumed every single day as their iodine content varies considerably. There are also some seaweed/kelp iodine supplements on the market however it is not advisable to take these due to the point mentioned above.

Other food sources are white fish like cod or haddock and eggs. Or if you can consume a mixture of dairy and plant drinks that’s a good option too.

If in any doubt a blood test from your GP will be able to detect your current levels

Further reading

And if you would like some further reading, there was a review published in 2017 by Sarah Bath et al “Iodine concentration of milk-alternative drinks available in the UK in comparison to cows’ milk”

It’s just useful to remember this will be ever changing as manufacturers change their recipes so best to check the label.

Why I’m not eating my placenta

By | Pregnancy, Supplements, Vitamins | No Comments

This may be too much information for some. But I felt it important to write, and also sum up the evidence on this topic.⠀

What is it?

Making your placenta into pills seems somewhat trend at the moment. It’s a bit like celery juice and turmeric and their unproven health benefits. Consumption of the human placenta post birth has reportedly been linked to better mood, enhanced recovery and an increase in milk production. With anything this new, we simply haven’t had the time yet to research any claimed benefits or on the other hand any harmful effects to human health. The most common form for consumption is through the placenta being dehydrated and turned into pills, just like a supplement.⠀

Yes, other mammals consume theirs. We are not other mammals.⠀
Yes, it contains lots of nutrients which have kept your baby alive for 10 months. That doesn’t mean we should eat it.⠀

What does the evidence say?

It is important to note the growing body of evidence in this area. A study conducted by Young et al. in 2016 looked at 28 placenta samples to see if, after processing, the 17 hormones found within it were still present. 16 of them were. However the effect they would have on the human body after consumption was not investigated.⠀

A review of the literature conducted in 2018 by Farr. A. et al found that the majority of studies in humans are anecdotal and based on self-reported surveys. This translates to personal experiences and has a load of bias associated with it because it can’t account for anything else that happened whilst consuming the pills. Such as, you are no longer pregnant and may feel better for that fact alone. Your diet may have changed since baby arrived, you may be breastfeeding, you may not. This review also found that no nutrients or hormones were retained in amounts that would be beneficial for mothers after birth.⠀

As with anything there are also risks, including group B streptococcus being passed on to baby if the placenta is infected and remains undetected which has been reported in one case in the USA.

In summary

Whilst there is no doubt interest in this area and ongoing research, for me, these anecdotal reports are not enough. And the fact we can obtain optimum nutrition through our own diet with a few proven supplements is.

Zinc & colds

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Quite a timely post given I’m suffering this week. I have wanted to post on this for a long time, so here goes…⠀

Previous thoughts…

It’s long been thought vitamin C is the cure for the common cold or at least something that will help the symptoms. A Cochrane systematic review published in 2013 looked at 29 studies on developing a cold while taking a vitamin C supplement regularly. It was found that this is only really beneficial for those participating in high level sports but not the average Joe like you and me. There was an overall failure to see a reduction in the incidence of common colds in the general population and supplementation only reduced the symptoms of the cold by 8%. When this has been tested again these results were not replicated.⠀

Research on zinc 


Zinc however, well there is some promising research on this micronutrient.⠀

A meta-analysis conducted by Rondanelli et al (2018) where they looked at 82 research studies found that zinc supplementation can reduce the duration of the common cold by 33% however it must be taken within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. And as for the dosage well that’s a little bit tougher to decipher and there are no formal recommendations. This is also where it becomes tricky because you may not know exactly when that 24 hour period starts. In another review conducted by Harri Hemila in 2011 it was found that a daily supplement of more the 75mg/day was also associated with a reduction in duration but any less and the results weren’t seen.⠀

It’s also important to note these studies and another systematic review by Singh and Das in 2015 reported a reduction of duration but not how bad the symptoms are. The common cold on average lasts around 10 days so if you can get it early you could reduce its length by about 3 of those days.⠀

And finally it seems zinc acetate lozenges are best for the above. The challenge is finding one with an adequate dosage, which to be fair is difficult given there is uncertainty around how much will be of benefit. Many zinc lozenges come with added vitamin C which is totally fine, check the mg content per lozenge and aim for around 75mg/day for the duration of the cold. This is likely to be more than what’s in one or two lozenges. Do be mindful there could be side effects including a bad taste and nausea and if you experience these then dosage should be dropped or stopped.

In summary…

You cannot avoid it completely, if you catch the bug you’ve gotta ride it out, just perhaps not for as long.