What is Vitamin E really??

Ok so last semester we focused on the vitamins that are water soluble and this semester we are moving on to fat soluble vitamins. So what does that mean? Basically that these vitamins need to eaten with a meal that contains some form of fat to be able to absorb them otherwise only a small amount will be assimilated into the body. And what are these wonderful vitamins in? Mainly your leafy greens, and other colourful vegies – so this comes back to making sure you have some fat with your salads and stirfries people.. a good drizzle of olive oil, some flaxseed or grapeseed oil (cold pressed of course), some avocado, nuts and seeds, or fish..

For this post though I shall focus in on Vitamin E and what we learnt, and why that made me yell at the state of the world we live in.

Vitamin E is the collective name given to 8 very closely related compounds which are individually named:

  • Alpha, beta, gamma and delta – tocepherol
  • & Alpha, beta, gamma and delta – tocotrienol

The main isomer found in nature, and in the body is alpha tocepherol, however all the others have their own important role in the body. As far as our wonderful lecturer is aware the only 2 brands that contain all 8 compounds in their natural form are Dr Vera’s and Nutrition Care.

So why do we need Vitamin E?? Before this lecture the main thing I knew about it was that its great for skin.. and this is still true, but Vitamin E’s main function is Cardiac Health, and the cessation of free radical damage through its strong anti-oxidant function.

Vitamin E is stored in fat cells throughout the body where damage easily occurs, thus the more weight you carry, the more Vit E you will need.

So what’s the difference between the tocopherols and the tocotrienols?? The former are more easily absorbed when ingested, and the latter, through the skin. They also move around differently in the body as their chemical structures differ in size in shape – which is why a varied diet is so important :) As with most other Vitamins i’ve mentioned before they are dependent on other nutrients to regenerate them and work in conjunction – and in this case Vit E needs Vit A & C, as well as Zinc and Selenium.. (More on them soon).

E’s are mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts and seed and help prevent the fats in these foods from becoming rancid – as well as the fats in our body. When purchasing these products it is important to keep in mind that fats are quite unstable when exposed to heat and light – so try and buy oils in dark coloured bottles that haven’t sat under the fluro lights of a supermarket – and same goes for big bags of nuts.

The great thing about Vitamin E is that we don’t need heaps of it to get a therapeutic benefit – if supplementation is required one 400IU tablet is normally sufficient. IU’s you ask?? This represents the International Unit – which does differ from weight. It measures the amount of biological activity and effect of the sample, rather than just stating how much there is. Most fat soluble vitamins are measured this way so if you have any supplements at home, or are thinking of buying any – make sure they don’t use milligrams :)

So how does it help with cardiovascular health?? It has a vasodilator effect (widens blood vessels allowing more blood to flow through, thus lowering blood pressure) and also thins the blood making it not so ‘sticky’, and is a powerful anti-oxidant, repairing damage to cell tissue and DNA. As little as 100IU’s has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attack by 40%.

It is also plays an essential role in conception, and childhood dietary health and wellbeing.

The other cool thing about Vitamin E is that whilst the tocepherols are highly anti oxidant, the tocotrienols are immunity boosters.

Now the part that made me yell at the world during this lecture was that most companies sell synthetic forms of Vitamin E – which of course they don’t state on the side of the bottle, and the synthetic version cannot be absorbed into the body. What a waste.. And WHY?!?!?! Why do they make these things that are never going to work?? Is it just to make money? Do they not care about health? Ahhhhhhh hahaha. Deep Breath.

So, anyone with BioOil out there – i’m sorry to say its not going to work. Nor is a supplement that states the amount in mg. Nor are most products you buy at the pharmacy.

So.. Eat well, eat fresh and look out for the above supplements if this is something you think you could use more of :)

(Caution needs to be taken with medications used such as Warfarin).


Bread oh bread oh bread…

Now that my margarine rant is out of the way I feel I should follow it with something that equally annoys me. Bread.

Bread is something most of us eat everyday but how often do you look at the ingredient list? (If you’re me you don’t buy anything without looking but hey, not everyone is this pedantic right?).

Bread in my opinion should contain: flour, water, yeast/sourdough culture, salt, and maybe a sweetener like sugar or honey to activate the yeast. That’s it. 4 – 5 ingredients.  I’m not saying all bread will only have 4 ingredients, but you want to know that the basic recipe is as natural as possible – from there nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, oils and other cultures can be added.

This seems simple right?? So why isn’t bread made this way? Because all natural foods have a tendency to degrade. So mass producers will add anti mould agents, preservatives, and other chemicals and numbers. They also take out most of the nutrients, and pump it full of synthetic vitamins so it sounds appealing. You’ve all seen the health claims – added folic acid and thiamine inside! Yay! Not.. When added in this manner it is the inactive form of the vitamin, and when heated, coz lets face it, they have to cook bread, the vitamins are damaged and of no use to our bodies.

So when someone recently brought to my attention that Coles ‘Fresh baked in store today’ bread is actually made in Ireland it made me really mad. Here is a link to the original article in The Australian. Basically its part baked in Ireland, frozen, shipped to Australia, where ‘bakers’ at Coles put it in the oven to finish the cooking process and stick a fresh baked today label on it. (Not all Coles bread is produced/baked this way, however most Coles bread doesn’t come under my category of real food anyway so stay away from it all). Not only is this taking away local jobs, its putting a product on peoples tables that could be many weeks/months old.

White bread – or white death as my mother always called it, whilst ever so tasty and fluffy is certainly part of the reason we as a nation or getting sick, becoming intolerant to grains and forming allergies. To make white bread they must take off the outer coating and germ – which is where all of the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes required to digest the wheat are found. Without this part the remaining flour has almost negative nutritional value and would be better utilized making playdough. Further to that the flour is then bleached so it comes out all white and shiny.. Mmmm bleach.

So I implore you – look at the ingredient list.. If there is an essay put it back. This is something we eat on such a regular basis so make sure it’s worth eating, and not going to do you more harm than good.

What do you buy?

M xx

Margarine – Good or Bad?

I promised a margarine rant quite a while back and here it is!!

To answer my above question – BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD!

For those that are friends with me on Facebook you may have seen this flow chart below that my sister found and posted on my wall – and it will help to explain why this oh so ‘natural’ product should be thrown straight in the rubbish.

From this you can see the steps taken to turn a natural vegetable oil into a block of margarine that so many people have been brainwashed into thinking is the healthy alternative.

So, you might ask – why do they do all of this? Well when you think about the consistency of oil, when in the fridge or on the bench – what state is it in? Liquid right? and does anyone want a tub of liquid to spread on their bread? No.. So they need to solidify it. The process involved in this solidification involves raising the oil to extreme temperatures that render it rancid, adding heavy metals, and ‘hydrogenating’ it either partially or fully. Hydrogenation is the process of converting unsaturated fatty acids with carbon = carbon double bonds to saturated fats where the double bonds are now broken to be able to accept another hydrogen molecule. Through this process the CIS configuration is converted to a Trans configuration and thus a Trans fat is born.. We have widely heard the health implications of Trans fats in the media recently, and if following the Australian Health guidelines, we should consume LESS than 1% in our daily diet. The scary thing is though, a product can state that there is 0% Trans fats if the actual amount is under 1%. So reading food labels is so important – anything that says partially hydrogenated is a Trans fat and should never pass your lips..

Now back to the process! By making this oil partially hydrogenated they have increased the shelf life, and make it a texture more acceptable for use in baking, or putting on the table. But they have to cool it down again, and reform some of the bonds they broke – and this is only possible by adding some metals – of which nickel is popular.

They shove it in a tub, market it with celebrities and make you feel guilty for not buying it – but please, does this sound like something natural??

It has the same number of calories as butter, and is one molecule away from being classified as plastic – so what you ask should you eat instead?

Butter! It is actually good for you, or nut butters, avocado, hummus and coconut oil.

More people need to know this so make use of the buttons below and share this with family and friends..

Home remedies for stomach bugs

This post has been very popular through Pinterest and google and I thought an update might be warranted :) It has some handy product suggestions that you can keep on hand when travelling or at home to help prevent or assist with all kinds of stomach bugs.. 


So this Sunday morning I awoke to text messages from both of my sisters with a similar question. My older sisters husband had been vomiting all night, and my younger sister in Vietnam had a very unsettled stomach..

They were both already doing some great things to help, but wanted to see if I had further advice to share. Both were aware of how great ginger is for any stomach related issue – especially vomiting as it helps things descend, and had either taken ginger drops or made ginger tea by slicing up some fresh ginger and adding hot water.  The following are some tips I gave them – I hope this helps!

One of my great loves is Apple Cider Vinegar which I should devote a whole post to one day, but with these kind of tummy bugs it is wonderful as it is very alkaline and the bugs need an acidic environment, so they can’t survive. It would be my first line of defense – say 2 tbsp in water as soon as you feel that gurgling. I find Bragg’s to be the best brand and that is available in many healthfood stores. It is also wonderful for indigestion and a great general tonic to boost immunity, ward off allergies, and stay vital.

My brother in law was feeling a bit achy so our wonderful Young Living Peppermint comes in handy – this is great for tummys and also helps reduce pain, so rubbed on the stomach, and inhaled this will help with nausea and calm the gut. Another blend they had on hand is Purification which my sister was diffusing alternatively with Thieves, to help kill any airborne bugs..

My little sis – being in Vietnam had luckily taken Ultraprobioplex capsules with her which are made from Colostrum and are wonderful at halting these things in their tracks. She was mixing the powder with yoghurt – another great tummy tonic – and adding a drop of Thieves Oil for good measure. My other recommendations to her were rice and congee – as the Asian cultures have used rice water to treat a stomach upset for decades, and burnt toast – as the charcoal absorb toxins in the gut. Activated Charcoal can be purchased at pharmacies to keep in your ‘medicine’ cabinet and is what they use for extreme cases of food poisoning or overdose in hospitals.

My other go to remedy that most people have on hand is lemon juice in water – lemon and vinegar when digested are the most alkaline things you can ingest and as mentioned previously, create an environment where the bugs can’t survive. So sipping fresh lemon, ginger and honey tea would be a great help..

I would love to hear any home remedies you have used, or old wives tales passed down through your family, and hope this comes in handy..

M xx

The wonderful B’s..

Oh my poor neglected blog… My apologies!

Since sitting 4 exams over the last fortnight my brain has taken a much needed vacation, however over that time I learnt some amazing things and its about time I shared.

In Bioscience we learnt how to balance chemical equations..

In Anatomy and Physiology we learnt how the digestive and respiratory systems work..

In Botany we marvelled at how amazing it is that plants can turn light into carbohydrates,

And in Clinical Nutrition we focused on Macronutrients as well as Vitamins B&C.

What are Macronutrients you say? They are something we require everyday in large quantities – in this case: Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates and Water. I have previously written blogs about most of these, and today wanted to focus a little on the vitamin situation.

The B group vitamins are truly amazing. They are involved in so many aspects of health, and energy production at a cellular level, and this simple addition can make a great change to a tired routine..

Each B vitamin has its own deficiency disease and whilst B’s are readily available in whole foods, meat and seafood, leafy greens and vegemite, there are a lot of lifestyle factors that deplete them such as alcohol, illness, and the pill.

One common mistake however is taking B vitamins on their own. Each B is a co-enzyme and requires another to become ‘activated’ (with the exception of B12 injections, or B3 for cholesterol reduction). So if any friends out there are taking B9 – Folate by itself its not going to do a thing without B6 and B12, nor will they work without B3 – you get the gist.. :)

Our wonderful lecturer recommended a brand called Pure Innovation – Activated B’s which I have been taking and wow – within minutes you can feel the effects. The added energy i have during the day is truly amazing, as well as the reduced stress. B Vitamins are also involved in a lot of neural pathways and convertions – such as seratonin to melatonin – read: happy hormone to sleep hormone – along with many others required to keep us feeling happy and healthy so if you are starting to feel a bit frazzled with work, or depressed that winter is so cold these could be a great boost.

Most B vitamin supplements are not in the active form, meaning that they need to be digested, travel through the body to the liver, where if it’s working properly will ‘turn them on’ to be utilised. As mentioned above there are aspects that can decrease this process working, thus by purchasing an active form you completely bypass this step.. This is by no means a paid advertisement – however I have seen the positive effects its had on myself as well as family and friends who have tried them, so anyone out there struggling to get through the day without coffee or a nap, give them a shot* :)

Some simple signs that you might be deficient are cracking lips, burning feet at night that you stick out of the doona, and the inability to remember vivid dreams – seriously one of the deficiency disorders is about dreams! The majority however are to do with skin disorders, swollen tongues, stress, and anaemia – as B’s are involved in making Haem for red blood cells.. B’s (with the exception of B12) cannot be stored by the body and must be ingested everyday..

Also – If you are over 50 and have had a high homocysteine reading on a blood test – which can lead to coronary issues, B’s will bring it down naturally. Homocysteine is part of a natural B vitamin cycle however if you are B6/B9/B12 deficient homocysteine won’t be converted back to something harmless and can build up creating problems. With adequate B’s however, this necessary pathway will run smoothly.

I would love to hear any feedback or questions anyone might have so feel free to ask!

M xx

* Take one capsule with food, ideally in the morning. If taken after 4pm they make keep you awake at night :) As they are a high dose have a few B free days a week as well..