OH MY! Omega-3!

OH MY! Omega-3!

When it comes to nutritional supplements, perhaps no category has grown faster and become larger than that of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Backed by ever-increasing scientific support, omega-3’s have become the daily supplement of choice for Canadians wanting to support their cardiovascular and brain health. The primary source of omega-3 is fish oil, which is rich in the two most important omega’s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

As the market for omega-3’s has grown, so too have the number of product choices that consumers have available to them. With so many omega-3 supplements on the market, what key product features should consumers be evaluating?

Potency – Fish oil is a rich source of omega’s EPA and DHA, but not all fish oils are equal in their concentration of EPA and DHA. EPA will generally range between 6% and 50% in a given fish oil, while DHA will range between 9% and 20%. This percentage depends on the fish species used in the oil and the concentration that has been achieved during the processing of the oil. Processing methods such as molecular distillation can more than double the naturally occurring concentration levels of omega-3. Concentrating the oil can make supplementation more convenient for users – they can get higher amounts of omega-3 in a smaller amount of oil or fewer doses.

In order to register a fish oil supplement with Health Canada’s Non-prescription and Natural Health Products Directorate making cardiovascular and brain health claims, there must be a sufficient amounts of EPA and DHA. For cardiovascular health benefits, there must be a minimum of 250 mg combined EPA and DHA. For brain benefits, there must be a minimum of 250 mg of DHA. With softgel capsules, consumers are often required to take several capsules to obtain these amounts of EPA and DHA. If consumers are not compliant with dosage directions by taking the required number of capsules per day, they will not get the full benefits of supplementation.

Quality and safety – The fish sourced for omega-3 supplements and how the oil is processed can impact the quality of a fish oil supplement. Fish are harvested from our oceans which are subject by natural and man-made contaminants. While fish oils are cleaned during processing, back-up testing must be done to ensure that the oil has been effectively cleaned. Smaller fish, such as anchovy and sardine, are less likely to contain heavy metals and contaminants because they are lower in the food chain, but quality processing is the major determinant in ensuring a safe fish oil.

One way to ascertain if you are using a quality fish oil product is to seek out reputable third-party organizations that independently test fish oil supplements. The International Fish Oil Standards or IFOS, is one such organization. Supplement makers that submit their oil to IFOS for independent testing generally feature the IFOS logo on their label. By visiting the IFOS website (, one can look up specific batches of fish oil supplements to view the testing results. IFOS also rates all oils on a five-star rating system, with five stars representing an exceptional quality fish oil product, zero or one stars representing poor quality. IFOS testing covers many different area of quality, including:
• EPA and DHA potency
• Heavy metal testing (such as lead and arsenic)
• Environmental contaminants (such as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs)
• Freshness (ensuring peroxide values are low)

Comfort – One reason some consumers stop taking fish oil is due to reflux or “burp back” issues which lead to a fishy after-taste. This can be even more common with high-potency EPA and DHA omega-3 supplements. To minimize the potential of reflux, one can look for fish oil gelcaps that are enteric-coated. Enteric-coating of the gelcap prevents the dispersion of the oil in the stomach, instead breaking down in the intestine and helping to avoid reflux.

Sustainability ­– Fish are a limited resource on our planet. With the human population continuing to grow and fish being the primary source of protein for a large percentage of that population, fish stocks are under continual pressure. While consumers want the benefits of omega-3’s, most would like to know that the supplement they have chosen minimizes the impact on our ocean resources. Programs like Friend of the Sea, a non-governmental organization, have been set up in recent years to monitor the impact of fishing activities.

Friend of the Sea audits and certifies sustainable fisheries and aquaculture to ensure:
• Target stock cannot be overexploited
• Fishing method does not impact seabed
• By-product must not be on endangered list
• Fishing method must be selective with under 8% discards
• Mesh size and equipment must be compliant
• Energy and waste management programs must be in place

Only fisheries that meet these standards are certified as supplying products that are a “Friend of the Sea.”

Omega Supreme™: A supreme choice?
When you are evaluating the many fish oil supplements on the market, one supplement to consider is Omega Supreme™ One Daily from Health First®. Omega Supreme™ addresses many of the issues that consumers need to evaluate when seeking a quality fish oil product:

Potency – Omega Supreme™ is one of the highest potency omega-3 supplements on the Canadian market. This concentrated fish oil provides 700 mg of EPA (50%) and 280 mg of DHA (20%) in a single gelcap. This high potency is why Omega Supreme™ is known as a “One Daily” formula. With just one gelcap, consumers can meet Health Canada’s daily requirement for cardiovascular and brain health. This makes for a very convenient supplement.

Quality and safety – Omega Supreme™ is a product that is tested by the International Fish Oil Standards organization. By looking up “Health First®” brand on the website, one can review the testing results that led to Omega Supreme™ being awarded a maximum five-stars quality rating by IFOS.

Comfort – Omega Supreme™ is enteric-coated to prevent reflux or “burp back” that can affect some users of fish oil supplements.

Sustainability – The fish sourcing chain involved in the oil used in Omega Supreme™ has been audited by the Friend of the Sea organization and meets its strict standards for minimizing environmental impact.

About the Author: Health First Network


Health First Network is Canada’s leading membership group for independent health & wellness retailers and the exclusive supplier of the premium Health First supplement brand. There are over 130 independently owned and operated retail Members across the country. Learn more at

Apple Cider Vinegar 101

Apple Cider Vinegar 101

Apple cider vinegar is made from apple juice that has undergone fermentation to form healthy bacteria. It has many health benefits including aiding in weight loss, balancing blood sugars and supporting gut health to name a few.

Organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar that has the ‘Mother’ is considered to have the most health benefits. The ‘Mother’ occurs naturally as connected strand-like chains of protein enzyme molecules, providing friendly bacteria also known as probiotics.

What are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar can do many things to support your health.  It is known to:

  • Improve digestion and prevent acid reflux
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Increase satiety and aid in weight loss
  • Help reduce bad cholesterol
  • Boost gut health and increase immunity
  • Balance pH levels
  • Improve skin appearance and hair health 

How to use apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is truly the ultimate wellness multi-tasker. If being taken straight, it is recommended to take 1-2 tablespoons and dilute it with at least 6 fluid ounces of water or any other beverage of your choice. But you don’t have to just drink it. It can be used in various recipes including marinades, salad dressings, baked goods as well as tonics and other beverages.

For a healthy sweet treat, try making these Chocolate Zucchini Donuts:


For the donuts:
¾ cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
⅓ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½  teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
⅓ cup non-dairy milk
¼ cup zucchini, shredded and excess liquid removed
1 teaspoon Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1 ½ ounces dark chocolate– vegan if needed
1 teaspoon coconut oil

1. Preheat the oven to 355° F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add coconut oil, dairy-free milk, zucchini, apple cider vinegar and vanilla and stir to combine.
3. Grease a donut pan and divide batter evenly among molds. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until baked through.
4. Let donuts cool in the pan. Once cool, run a toothpick or knife along the edges of each and turn the pan over onto a baking sheet. Gently tap until donuts fall free.
5. Prepare the glaze by bringing about ½ inch of water to a low boil in a saucepan. Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set on top of the saucepan, making sure it doesn’t come in contact with the water. Add coconut oil to the bowl and stir slowly as the chocolate melts.
6. Frost the cooled donuts by dipping them in melted chocolate glaze.

Topping ideas: sprinkles, goji berries, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, chocolate covered hemp seeds, bee pollen and almond slivers

Bragg’s Story
More than a hundred years ago Paul Bragg realized that we all share a deep natural desire towards “healthy”. It was this forward-thinking realization — that our bodies naturally crave a healthy balance — that led Paul to create Bragg Live Foods. Building upon its long and enduring heritage as a catalyst and advocate for well-being, Bragg Live Foods has evolved into a shared movement for healthier, happier lives. That starts with what we put into our bodies, then flows into other aspects of our lives. Today, Bragg continues the relentless quest to make well-being simpler and more accessible to all. With an ever-expanding portfolio of ingredient-led products backed by a century of time-tested wisdom, Bragg remains passionately focused on helping everyone eat better, feel better, and enjoy a more healthful and vibrant life.

With a mission to encourage a vibrant, healthy lifestyle, Bragg products provide a dose of wellness wisdom that customers have come to depend on for over a century. And in 2021 Bragg is launching a new line of apple cider vinegar wellness shots, and three new flavours of our apple cider vinegar.

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Shots: Enjoy your daily dose of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar wellness on the go! Each organic, ready-to-sip shot blends one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with honey and anti-inflammatory spices for an instant prebiotic boost.

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Blends: Explore a whole new way to craft a simple, DIY daily dose of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar wellness with new flavours. For instant boosted flavour with zero hassle, just add to your favorite beverage, smoothie, dressing or recipe in place of standard apple cider vinegar.

Beyond our famous Apple Cider Vinegar, Bragg’s product family consists of a wide range of offerings including flavoured apple cider vinegar, olive oil, seasonings, salad dressings, beverages, and more. For more information, please visit


What is D-mannose?

What is D-mannose?

What is D-mannose?

D-mannose is a simple sugar found in foods like cranberries, blueberries, peaches and apples. Small amounts of D-mannose are also found in the body. When extracted for medicinal uses, it yields a white powder that is mildly sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste. D-mannose is well known as a supplement that helps reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs in women.

The evidence for D-mannose?

Limited in-vitro research has demonstrated that D-mannose can adhere to E. Coli., the most common bacteria linked to urinary tract infections, thus preventing them from sticking to the lining of the bladder. A 2013 clinical trial evaluated D-mannose in 308 women who had frequent UTIs. D-mannose was almost as effective as the antibiotic nitrofurantoin for preventing UTIs over a 6-month period. In a 2014 study, D-mannose was compared to the antibiotic trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole for treatment and prevention of frequent UTIs in 60 women. D-mannose reduced UTI symptoms in women with an active infection. It was also more effective than the antibiotic for preventing additional infections. A third 2016 study tested the effects of D-mannose in 43 women with an active UTI. At the end of the study, most women had improved symptoms.

How to Use D-mannose

D-mannose can come in different forms – as a powder, which easily dissolves into water or in capsules, if preferred. In some cases it will be mixed with cranberry concentrate powder for a synergistic effect. Since D-mannose is a simple sugar, it does not have to be taken with a meal.  For best results, the powdered form should be consumed immediately after mixing. Having pills available at home and/or work, or to carry along, can help make sure you don’t miss a dosage if making a drink is not convenient or missed. Whether using the pill or powdered form, be sure to drink plenty of water (ideally 1-2 cups per dose) to help flush the bladder and kidneys. D-mannose may be safely used with other recommended natural remedies such as Vitamin C and probiotics.

  • Using for prevention: For prevention of UTIs, Health Canada recommends a dosage of 2 grams (2000 mg) taken once daily.
  • Suspected UTI. It is common practice to increase the dosage to 3 grams daily, in divided doses, in the case of an active or suspected UTI. This high dose is often continued for a couple of weeks. It should be noted that D-mannose has no antibiotic properties and may not kill existing infections. If you have persistent burning and/or urgency symptoms, it is recommended to seek professional medical advice.

Can Diabetics Use D-mannose?

Because insubstantial amounts of D-mannose are used by the body, it is unlikely to interfere with blood sugar regulation. This makes D-mannose a viable alternative to cranberry juice. Diabetics should still monitor their blood sugar and watch for potential fluctuations, as each individual is different in how they may respond.

Other Safety Considerations

Most individuals do not suffer any side effects, but some individuals may experience loose bowels or diarrhea. Safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not fully been established, so it is recommended to consult a health care practitioner prior to use.

Consider the Quality of your D-mannose

NOW® is the only company offering organic D-mannose. Furthermore, our mannose is carefully analyzed to determine its purity. This is to ensure there’s no dilution with other sugars, such as dextrose or sucrose. NOW® specifies that our D-mannose will exceed 99% purity and taste mildly sweet with the slightest hint of a bitter aftertaste. We add no fillers, flow agents, or excipients, so you receive pure D-mannose in our powder products. We provide both powder and vegetarian capsule versions to fit your lifestyle.

Coauthored by Brett Kelly, BSc. and Thalia Charney, MA, Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Coach

Add A Little Sunshine to Your Winter Days

Add A Little Sunshine to Your Winter Days

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient. We generally get the vitamin D we need from the sun’s rays, which give vitamin D its nickname as the “Sunshine Vitamin.” Unfortunately, two major issues prevent most Canadians from getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D. First, modern concerns about the harmful effects of sun exposure mean that Canadians tend to limit their time in the sun. Second, Canada is a northern country with very limited amounts of sunshine during winter months. Health experts believe as many as 80% of Canadians do not get enough vitamin D during the winter months from October to March.1 Quoted in the Globe & Mail, Dr. Rohan Gunasingham stated, “Starting from now [October], if you are in Toronto, you can forget it. You will not make any vitamin D even if you go and stand outside without any clothes.”2

Insufficient vitamin D intake is associated with major diseases
How then, do we ensure we get sufficient amounts of this vitamin? Studies show that supplementation of vitamin D, specifically D3, is an effective way to obtain vitamin D.3 The costs of not getting enough vitamin D are great.

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with:

  • Over a dozen different types of malignant diseases including those of the breast, prostate, colon, pancreatic, ovaries and bowel4
  • low bone density and poor calcium absorption5
  • lowered immune modulation6
  • incidence of daytime sleepiness7
  • backaches, muscle pain and painful joint inflammation, especially in seniors1
  • low energy during winter months1
  • greater incidence of falls in the elderly8

How much vitamin D do you need?
Recent studies suggest that levels of 1,000 IU per day are required to prevent serious disease, although evidence that higher amounts above 1,500 IU may be appropriate is beginning to be investigated.3,4 Health Canada advises a recommended limit of 1,000 IU per day, while the USA-based National Academy of Sciences set the upper limit of vitamin D consumption at 2,000 IU per day. Some sources suggest amounts over 2,000 IU per day may lead to an excess of calcium absorption which can be hard on the liver and kidneys.9

Studies show that most Americans only get 320 IU per day and Canadians get even less sunlight because of our northern location.3 The D3 form of vitamin D, also known as cholecalciferol, is considered the most effective form, being better utilized by the body than the D2 form.

Vitamin D studies in the news
It seems like hardly a week goes by without new studies being featured in the media. Here is a summary of some of the recent headlines and research:

  • A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a significant decrease in overall cancer risk in those postmenopausal women who took vitamin D and calcium.10
  • Adults at higher risk of having lower vitamin D levels should consider taking vitamin D supplementation of 1,000 IU/day all year round.
  • This includes people:
    • who are older;
    • with dark skin;
    • who don’t go outside often, and
    • who wear clothing that covers most of their skin.
    • Vitamin D is an effective anti-inflammatory to be used in the treatment of cardiovascular health.11
    • Elderly adults lacking vitamin D have a higher risk of falling down more, compared with those who get enough of the vitamin, a recent study at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam suggests. Falls are a major cause of death in the elderly.
    • Vitamin D may help to combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Some studies have shown vitamin D supplementation to be more effective than light therapy in reducing seasonal depression symptoms.12

Many Canadians are lacking in this “sunshine” vitamin – especially in winter months – leading to increased risk of bone weakening, inflammation and major diseases.



1. “Winter robs Canadians of essential Vitamin D”,, Oct. 16, 2006
2. Mittlestaedt, Martin “Get your sunshine vitamins,” Globe & Mail, Oct. 14, 2006.
3. “Vitamin D lowers risk of breast cancer, study says”, Associated Press, April 4, 2006
4. “Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Increased Total Cancer Incidence”,, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2006; 98:451-459) 5. “Vitamin D and the risk of falling over”,, Oct. 3, 2006
6. “Vitamin D can lower cancer risk”,
7. “Vitamin D lowers risk of pancreactic cancer in study”, Associated Press, Oct. 10, 2006.
8. “Vitamin D may slow breast cancer,” Journal of Clinical Pathology, Oct. 17, 2006
9. “Low vitamin D status: a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of congestive heart failure?”
University of Bonn, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003 Jan 1;41(1):105-12.
10 “Cancer Survival Tied to Season of Diagnosis, Sunlight Exposure”, Reuters Health, Oct. 10, 2006
11. International Journal of Cancer 2006;119:1530-1536.
12. “Vitamin D could cut elderly falls”,

The Antioxidant Powers of Vitamin C

The Antioxidant Powers of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is perhaps the most well-known of all vitamins. It is important for a multitude of metabolic functions, such as tissue growth and repair, healthy gums and teeth. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and strengthens the immune system. As important as vitamin C is, there are ways to enhance and improve the functioning of this nutrient in the body.

Making Vitamin C even better: Red Bioflavonoids

Calcium ascorbate is a buffered form of vitamin C, known to be less acidic and more easily tolerated by those sensitive to vitamin C supplements made with ascorbic acid. The addition of red bioflavonoids to this equation creates a truly unique and potent combination for vitamin C supplementation.

A common myth exists regarding the antioxidant properties of vitamin C. The vitamin indeed delivers antioxidant protection, but this protection is modest relative to other molecules in nature. The principal basis for consuming supplemental vitamin C is to ensure adequacy of the vitamin, such that it can function as a vitamin within the body. When vitamin C is required to act as an antioxidant, it is “consumed” by such processes, making it unavailable to perform its intended biological functions; development of cartilage/bone/ teeth, vascular integrity, wound healing, endogenous carnitine synthesis, metabolism of the amino acid tyrosine, synthesis of various neurotransmitters, and cholesterol degradation, just to name a few.

Enter red bioflavonoids. The most powerful antioxidant nutrients known are derived from fruits; specifically berries; and more specifically, from dark (red, purple) berries. Concentrates of red bioflavonoids deliver an unparalleled level of antioxidant protection and has been clinically researched in humans for treatment of a variety of malignant diseases, as well as for advanced vascular disease.

Calcium ascorbate delivers a bioavailable form of vitamin C together with an absorbable form of calcium. Red bioflavonoids offer powerful antioxidant protection, freeing calcium ascorbate from its role as an antioxidant, thereby allowing the vitamin to perform its functions as a facilitator of essential metabolic processes. Combining red bioflavonoids with calcium ascorbate will ensure you get the most out of your vitamin C supplement.

Resveratrol: This “red wine antioxidant” is getting attention for health and longevity benefits

What could be more enjoyable than a candle-lit gourmet dinner with a glass of red wine? Indeed, the rich taste of red wine and its relaxing effects can be pleasing, but science is now confirming that the best thing about red wine may be its potential for our health, thanks to resveratrol – the “red wine antioxidant”. Resveratrol is an immune agent naturally found in grapes, produced to defend the plant against bacteria and fungi. Red wine contains resveratrol via the grape skins used in its making. Resveratrol first gained attention as the answer to the “French Paradox”, the mystery of how the French population maintains such a low incidence of cardiovascular disease despite a diet high in saturated fats. Recent in vitro and animal studies continue to reveal more of resveratrol’s health benefits:

  • Resveratrol has shown potential for increasing lifespan1
  • Resveratrol is shown to increase blood flow to the brain by 30%, helping to reduce the risk of strokes3
  • Resveratrol may slow the effects of aging on the brain, increasing cognitive functioning4
  • Must one consume red wine to get the benefits of resveratrol? No. There are nutritional supplements available containing concentrated amounts of resveratrol, often higher than the amount found in red wine. As well, taking resveratrol without alcohol is even healthier, as alcohol, despite some cardiovascular benefits, does have its own health risks. So whether you are sipping your favorite red or taking a nutritional supplement – resveratrol is a nutrient with tremendous health potential.

Health First® Berry-C Supreme®: More than just a Vitamin C

  1. Supreme C: Made with the buffered vitamin C source calcium ascorbate which is easily absorbed, and easy on the stomach (non-acidic) and a good source of calcium.
  2. Supreme Antioxidant Support: Two capsules of Berry-C Supreme contain 12 mg of resveratrol equivalent to a litre of a typical red wine.
  3. Supreme Absorption:Contains 5 mg of Bioperine® black pepper extract for increased vitamin C absorption. Studies indicate a 40% increase in C absorption when taken together with the cellular thermonutrient Bioperine®.

1. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature05308
2. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology2008;614:179-86”Anti-cancer effect of resveratrol is associated with induction of apoptosis via a mitochondrial pathway alignment”
3. Authors: Paul Okunieff, Weimin Sun, Wei Wang, Jung Kim, Shanmin Yang
4. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Vol. 54, pp. 3126-3131)
5. “Resveratrol improves mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease by activating SIRT1 and PGC-1a” Authors: Marie Lagouge,
6. Carmen Argmann, Zachary Gerhart-Hines, Hamid Meziane, Carles Lerin, Frederic Daussin, Nadia Messadeq, Jill Milne, Philip Lambert, Peter Elliott, Bernard Geny, Markku Laakso, Pere Puigserver, and Johan Auwerx.

Boosting Immunity at the Cellular Level

Boosting Immunity at the Cellular Level

Flor·Essence® with Turkey Tail and Turmeric is Flora’s latest liquid herbal formula. This update to the Flor·Essence® formula uses all the same, time-tested, original eight herbs for cleansing and detoxification and adds in medicinal amounts of turkey tail mushroom and turmeric.

Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom prized for its immunomodulating effects. Polysaccharides  and polyphenols in turkey tail support immune health by stimulating a variety of immune cells from within the innate and adaptive immune system. Turkey Tail also has prebiotic effects in the colon, where it supports the growth of good bacteria, like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Burdock, slippery elm and kelp are also some of the Flor·Essence herbs that have prebiotic effects. Turmeric has antioxidant properties, stimulates digestion and promotes joint health by reducing inflammation.

Flora uses the whole, fruiting body of the turkey tail mushroom with nearly 3.5 grams in each daily dose. Turmeric powder comes in at just over 2 grams per daily dose. All in all, there’s more than 8 grams of herbs in each daily dose of the formula. The herbs are individually simmered, decocted and infused at our Canadian facility to create a powerful, concentrated immune formula.

Together, this new formula acts as a tonic to build cellular health. It’s a whole-body cleanse that aids the removal of wastes and toxins by supporting the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and digestive system. It also supports immune health by modulating, or balancing, the immune response. Immune cell stimulation is balanced with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to protect cells and tissue from free radical damage and damage that can occur due to cold and flu infection.

This is the perfect formula for those with compromised immunity and digestion, who want to be proactive and preventative in their approach to health. Best taken daily for several weeks to months, Flor·Essence® with Turkey Tail and Turmeric will rejuvenate your overall health and vitality so your body can adapt and respond to the challenges and stressors we face that can impair or weaken our immune response, digestive vigor and ability to remove wastes and toxins.

Bottled in glass, available in both 500 mL and 941 mL sizes, certified organic, kosher and non-GMO, Flor·Essence® with Turkey Tail and Turmeric is a premiere, concentrated, herbal formula that provides the holistic, synergy of effects we need in order to truly support the health of our bodies from the cellular level on upwards.

Are You Getting Enough Zinc?

Are You Getting Enough Zinc?

Are You Getting Enough Zinc?

An intake of minerals is essential to all living creatures – plants, animals and humans. Minerals are essential elements found in soil through the erosion of mineral salts. We consume minerals by eating the plants that grow in the soil and foods derived from animals that consume plants. Minerals are utilized in the human body for numerous biochemical activities including the functioning of the nervous, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Some minerals, such as calcium, are macrominerals needed in large amounts. Others, known as trace minerals, are needed in small amounts. One such trace mineral that is necessary for daily health is the mineral found at the end of the alphabetical roll call – zinc.

Zinc, like most minerals, is needed for a variety of life functions. It plays a role in immune function and healing. It is a strong antioxidant important to eye health. Zinc plays a role in energy production, protein metabolism, enzyme activity and overall growth and development. Although we do not need large amounts of zinc, many of us still do not get enough of it.

Zinc deficiency
While zinc deficiency is more common to those living in developing countries, it is not uncommon for those in Canada to have marginal zinc deficiencies that can have negative health effects. Health Canada estimates that 10-35% of Canadians are getting insufficient levels of zinc in their diet.1 That figure rises to 40% for men over the age of 70.2 Many theorize that our soils are becoming depleted of minerals such as zinc, due to modern farming methods.3

A lack of zinc can impair immunity and wound-healing and may lead to increased infections, undesired weight loss, hair loss, diarrhea, poor mental performance, as well as skin and male fertility issues.4

There are several groups that are more susceptible to marginal zinc deficiencies: those suffering from diarrhea, vegan and vegetarians, alcoholics, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and anyone experiencing malabsorption issues, which often affect seniors.5

Eating a diet of zinc-rich foods is the key to maintain healthy levels of this nutrient. Both plant and animal derived foods are available with good zinc content – pumpkin seeds, cashews, mushrooms, egg yolks, and grass fed chicken, lamb and beef. For those who do not eat zinc containing foods or are unable to absorb sufficient amounts, zinc supplements are available. 

Zinc supplements: Options and benefits
Zinc supplements can be found in various strengths and sources. Zinc citrate, zinc bound with citric acid, is considered a well absorbed form of zinc. In one study that measured zinc absorption through isotope tracing, zinc citrate showed improved absorption versus gluconate and oxide forms.6 Dosages for zinc supplements in Canada typically range between 10 mg and 50 mg, with the proper amount depending on an individual’s deficiency level. Zinc supplementation has been recognized for the following benefits:7

  • Helps to maintain immune function
  • Helps in connective tissue formation
  • Helps to maintain healthy skin
  • Helps the body to metabolize carbohydrates
  • Helps the body to metabolize proteins
  • Helps the body to metabolize fats 

Copper with zinc for balance
It is important to prevent zinc deficiency, but care must be taken when supplementing. Taking zinc as a single ingredient supplement can have unintended consequences. While helping to increase one’s zinc levels, supplementing with a high potency of zinc alone for long periods of time may cause a deficiency of another mineral: copper. This is due to competition in the intestinal tract between these two minerals. In fact, Health Canada recommends that any adult supplementing with more than 30 mg of zinc per day ensure they are getting at least 2 mg of copper.8 Copper, like zinc, is involved in human immune health.

A balanced solution: Zinc Citrate Plus Copper
Health First® Zinc Citrate Plus Copper is a good choice for those that are deficient in zinc. This formula is been designed for high absorption and mineral balance. It contains zinc from citrate source for easy absorption at a potent 50 mg level. The formula also contains 2 mg of copper, as per Health Canada recommendation, to maintain a proper balancing of the body’s copper levels.

1. Health Canada. “Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?” 2012. Cat. No.: H164-112/3-2012E-PDF.ISBN: 978-1-100-20026-2
2. lbid.
3. “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” Scientific American. April 27, 2011.
4. Physician’s Desk Reference. Monograph – Zinc. 2001. Pp. 536-537.
5. lbid.
6. Wegmuller, Rita et al. ‘Zinc Absorption by Young Adults from Supplemental Zinc Citrate Is Comparable with That from Zinc Gluconate and Higher than from Zinc Oxide”. Journal of Nutrition. November 20, 2013. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.181487
7. Health Canada. Monograph: Zinc (from non-picolinate sources). Natural Health Products Database. 2016.
8. lbid.

Healthy Fats and the Keto Diet

Healthy Fats and the Keto Diet

Healthy Fats and the Keto Diet

Are you puzzled and frustrated by your difficulty losing weight? That’s one of the many reasons you are hearing so much about the Keto Diet. Because it’s easy. And because it works. In fact, the Keto Diet works quickly – without feeling hungry. The Keto Diet is founded on medical science and nutritional research that healthy fats, as part of a ketogenic program, act as a metabolic catalyst, improve mitochondrial function and stabilize blood sugar. A healthy Keto Diet induces your body into an activated state of nutritional ketosis, an optimal metabolic zone in which your body rapidly burns up excess fat (instead of carbs) as its primary fuel source. A Keto Diet is based upon eating healthy fats in combination with certain types of muscle-building proteins, and limited amounts of specific kinds of carbs. Health care professionals may also prescribe a Keto Diet for people diagnosed with metabolic diseases.

Jump Start Your Fat-Burning Engine!
Sometimes we need to have immediate results to stay committed to a successful weight loss plan. That’s why supplements are such an important aspect of your Keto metabolic weight loss plan.  Supplements can help get you into a higher level of ketosis faster than with dieting or fasting alone.

Digestive Enzymes Make a Difference
Having good digestion will give you the fastest, most noticeable results from your Keto Diet simply because you will be getting the most nutritional value out of the foods you eat. Naturally, any significant change in your diet can change your digestion. Digestive enzymes are needed to metabolize the unique ratio of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in your daily Keto Diet. Your entire digestive system will function more efficiently with enzymatic support.

Your Green Key to Healthy pH & Appetite Control
The superfood powers of spirulina and chlorella make all the difference in a Keto Diet. Their combined appetite-suppressing properties help you stick with your eating plan. Vegetation and green foods are greatly reduced on a keto diet. These food groups provide many of our vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and micro-nutrients.

Supplementing with spirulina and chlorella can replace these nutrients, with negligible carbohydrates and provide a plant based complete protein source. Acidosis caused by pH imbalance, mineral or electrolyte de­ficiencies can be offset with spirulina and chlorella as they provide an abundance of alkaline forming micro-nutrients.

MCT Oil (Coconut Oil) Burns Belly Fat
It may seem odd to eat fat to burn fat, but recent research tells us that coconut oil does just that! Because of the unique way it’s metabolized, coconut oil is especially beneficial for your Keto Diet success. Here’s why: Coconut oil contains an extraordinary and unique combination of fatty acids with powerful effects on metabolism. In fact, nutritional researchers concluded that adding coconut oil to your diet stimulates fat loss, especially stubborn belly fat! Coconut oil is especially rich in a particular kind of fat called MCT (medium-chain triglycerides).

Measure Your Ketones
Make it easy to monitor your Keto Diet success with reagent urinalysis KetoStrips. With this simple 40-second test you will clearly see your ketone level. As your body enters ketosis, there is a natural reduction of insulin levels at the same time there is accelerated fat breakdown. This is a good thing. During this process, your liver produces more ketones.  Ketones are an important indicator for assuring your success on your Keto Diet.

Zero-Carb Convenient Protein for a Keto Diet
Organic Bone Broth protein is a zero-carb protein that easily fi­ts into the macro nutrient profi­le of a keto diet. Bone broth is a step above collagen, which is often derived from animal skins. Bone broth contains collagen, glucosamine, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. It also delivers minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and calcium that can be limited on a ketogenic diet and can offset the Keto-Flu. Organic Bone Broth Protein can be added to almost any recipe to increase the nutrient value without adding carbohydrates.

pH Balance and Electrolytes
In response to starting a ketogenic diet the body can become low in mineral salts, especially sodium and potassium. Furthermore, people in ketosis require more salt due to lower levels of insulin. Electrolyte defi­ciency can lead to dehydration, heart arrhythmias and cramping. Electrolyte supplements neutralize acidosis and lighten the severity of keto flu.


4 Tips to Keep Your Immune System Happy

4 Tips to Keep Your Immune System Happy

4 Tips to Keep Your Immune System Happy

The gut is the foundation of good health and home to trillions of bacteria. In fact, gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) represents almost 70% of the entire immune system.[1] Keeping your gut healthy is a key factor for good immune health.

While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are extremely important for your health. According to Human Microbiome Project staff, these good bacteria:

  • Produce some vitamins that we do not have the genes to make.
  • Break down our food to extract nutrients we need to survive.
  • Teach our immune systems how to distinguish dangerous invaders from innocuous compounds.
  • Produce helpful anti-inflammatory compounds that fight off other disease-causing microbes.[2]

4 Tips to Keep Your Immune System Happy:

1. Eat Well and Drink Water
Diet is a key factor when it comes to supporting a well-functioning immune system. Eating nutrient dense fruits and vegetables full of vitamins, minerals and fibre along with healthy proteins and drinking plenty of water is important. Water helps all of your body’s systems function at optimum levels. It also helps in the production of lymph, which is the fluid that runs through the body, collecting bacteria and toxins for transportation to the lymph nodes for assessment by immune system cells.[3]

2. Sleep on It
Researchers say adequate sleep helps T cells in your body fight off infection.[4]  The optimal amount for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to ten hours and school-aged children may need ten or more hours.[5]

3. Manage Stress
Dr. Andrew Goliszek, Ph.D., stated that, “Mind over matter is not simply a catchphrase. It is a truth based on what we know to be fact: that the brain, given the right set of directions, the right environment, and the proper stimuli, will always choose healing over disease.”[6] Do yourself a favour and turn off the TV when you find it overwhelming and the same with social media. Try calming activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, knitting, crocheting, going for a walk, hugging a tree, watching a funny movie, reading a good book; anything that makes your heart happy and your brain calm.

4. Get Moving
Studies show that moderate exercise enhances immunity but on the flipside, exercising too much and too hard can actually suppress your immune system.[7] So take a nice long walk or do some yoga, you’ll be able to exercise and manage stress at the same time.

The Best Defense is a Good Offence!

Renew Life® has been a leader in digestive health for over 2 decades and their comprehensive line up of probiotic supplements for children and adults, continues to be Canada’s leading choice to empower people and elevate their quality of life through better digestive health.

Renew Life® Kids Daily Boost Probiotic is formulated with 10 billion active cultures and 2 clinically-studied probiotic strains to support kids’ digestive and respiratory systems. Offered in a convenient, Fruit Punch flavoured fast-melting powder, it’s a format that’s fun for kids to take.

Renew Life® Kids Throat Defense Probiotic is a specially formulated chewable probiotic packed with 10 billion live cultures, featuring 3 clinically studied strains to support children’s respiratory tract health and help support little digestive systems.

Calm from Within

For some, one of the first signs of stress is gastrointestinal discomfort such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and loose stools. Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Probiotic Plus Mood & Stress includes 6 probiotic strains which provide 30 billion active cultures in a convenient once a day dose. It is formulated to not only support good digestive health but contains the clinically studied probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 to help moderate feelings of anxiety and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort related to mild to moderate stress.

Defend from Within

We all get run down from time to time and our immune systems can get compromised. Defend from within with Renew Life® Ultimate Flora® Probiotic Plus Immune Support. It’s formulated to not only support good digestive health, but it contains the clinically studied probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 which showed a reduction in the incidence of cold-like symptoms in stressed adults. It also includes 4 other beneficial strains to provide 30 billion active cultures in a convenient one a day dose. With 70% of your immune system in your gut; make sure yours is up for it!

Support a Healthy Intestinal Tract Lining

Making sure your good bacteria have a happy home to live in depends on a healthy intestinal tract lining.

IntestiNEW® is an easy-to-mix powder formulation made with soothing herbal ingredients that support a healthy intestinal lining. It contains 5000mg of L-Glutamine and 200mg of N-Acetylglucosamine per serving along with ginger root which may help relieve indigestion, nausea, and digestive upsets.

The human body wants to be healthy. Support it with healthy food, quality supplements, moderate exercise, stress-busting activities, rest and TLC and it will keep you safe and sound.




[1] Costa, M. et al. (2000). Anatomy and physiology of the enteric nervous system. Available: Last accessed 15 Jan 20.
[2] Human Microbiome Project staff. About the Human Microbiome. Available: Last accessed 26 May 20.
[3] MacGill, M. (2018). What does the lymphatic system do?. Available: Last accessed 24 Mar 20.
[4] Pratt, E. (2019). How Sleep Strengthens Your Immune System. Available: Last accessed 6 Mar 20.
[5] Olson, E. (2018). Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? Available: Last accessed 6 Mar 20.
[6]  Goliszek, A. (2014). How Stress Affects the Immune System. Available: Last accessed 24 Mar 20.
[7]  Reynolds, G. (2020). How Exercise May Affect Your Immunity. Available: Last accessed 6 Mar 20.

The Healing Power of Medicinal Mushrooms

The Healing Power of Medicinal Mushrooms


The healing powers of mushrooms have been well known to humans for thousands of years in Tibet, China, India and other ancient cultures.

For instance, Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), this tree mushroom has been known to enhance memory and cognitive ability and calm the nervous system. Lion’s Mane stimulates the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), a small protein crucial to the growth, maintenance and survival of cells within the brain. Cordyceps on the other hand helps the body to increase its output of energy by enhancing oxygen update by the cells. It helps athletes recuperate faster and improves a flagging libido. Whereas red reishi mushroom has been used to support better sleep, helps with calming and de-stressing the body and supports the immune system.

Modern medicine has used these mushrooms and other fungi to develop treatments from a wide range of conditions. Today, PURICA applies scientific methodology to these ancient healing substances, creating a safe, powerful and balanced range of product to help with chronic stress to modulating the immune system and improving memory.

To make these and other mushrooms even more effective, PURICA incorporates four advantages into everything it produces:

  1. Full spectrum formulation
  2. Therapeutic grade ingredients
  3. Highest quality
  4. Easily absorbed

Producing a full spectrum product means that PURICA uses the “entire mushroom” in all stages of the growth and life cycle – the mycelia, fruitbodies and spores and extracellular compounds – to produce each of its carefully formulated products.

Easy absorption is ensured through a process known as micronization which reduces large particles into fine, soluble particles, measured in micrometeres, which are easy for the body to absorb. (insert picture of before and after micronization).

Great care is taken in all stages of the growing, harvesting and processing of every mushroom used in PURICA products – a process that preserves active ingredients to deliver a consistent therapeutic grade product. Because of the high degree of quality control, each PURICA product qualifies as a healing superfood, grown on a certified organic plant base with trace minerals.

PURICA Immune 7 is an award winning formula that provides powerful immune support. This long-standing formulation consists of six carefully chosen medicinal mushrooms; agaricus, coriolus, maitake, shiitake, codyceps and reishi along with the proprietary blend Nutricol that consists of grapeseed and green tea. This can be taken daily as a immune optimizer as well as it complements mainstream treatments.

If you are looking for 360 degrees of optimal health, PURICA Complete 360 is a natural winner. This synergistic formulation of eight medicinal mushrooms – agaricus cordyceps, coriolus, reishi, shiitake, chaga and Lion’s mane – along with the ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (sensoril) provides both immune support and stress relief. Like all of PURICA mushroom formulations, PURICA Complete 360 is micronized for better absorption.

Using PURICA Immune 7 or PURICA Complete 360 can help to strengthen the walls in our castle and ensure that we optimize our immunity year-round.


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