C for care

. Posted in Vitamins & Supplements

If you’re like most of us, oranges are probably your go-to food medicine when you feel a cold coming. But did you know that guava contains four times as much C- vitamin as oranges?

Here are some surprising C-facts that may change your immune-boosting habits!


Guava...........................230 mg

Yellow capsicum.............205 mg

Red capsicum.................200 mg

Blackcurrant...................159 mg

Green capsicum..............115 mg

Parsley..........................108 mg

Broccoli..........................70 mg

Strawberries.....................69 mg

Kiwi................................59 mg

Orange............................51 mg

Blueberries.......................12 mg

Pineapple........................12 mg

Banana...........................10 mg

*Content per 100 gram.


Get the most out of your multivitamins

. Posted in Vitamins & Supplements

Reading this magazine, chances are you’re one of the 14 million Australians taking complementary medicines. But how can you make sure you’re not wasting your hard-earned dollars on supplements you don’t really need – and instead find the ones that will make a real difference? Just like with any other medicine, knowledge is key.

Is natural always safe?

Walking past the health aisle at your local supermarket, it’s easy to forget that multivitamins should be treated with the same caution and guidelines as “normal medicines”. You follow the prescription guidelines from your doctor and stay away from anything that could interfere with your medicine, so why wouldn’t you do the same with herbal supplements or vitamins? Don’t assume something is safe simply because it’s natural.

5 quick questions

Always check with the pharmacist or a qualified practitioner before selecting a new product, and ask yourself the following questions before picking it off the shelf:

1. Do I have an underlying condition?
2. Am I on medications?
3. Have I had surgery lately?
4. What other herbs or supplements do I use?
5. Why do I need this – and do I experience these symptoms often?

Balancing act

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The best way to good health is to get your vitamins through a healthy and well-balanced diet, or in the case of vitamin D, by feeling the sun on your skin. It sounds simple, but a staggering nine out of 10 Aussies don’t get their daily servings of fruit and veg. And ironically, in the land of sunshine, a third of us don’t get enough vitamin D! But don’t run to the nearest health store thinking that vitamins are a shortcut to healthy living. A vitamin or mineral supplement is exactly that – a supplement to a balanced diet.

Back to basics: what is a multivitamin?

Multivitamins are a combination of the nutritional minerals and vitamins that are essential for our bodies to function. Synthetic multivitamins are prepared in laboratories by creating essential vitamins and minerals. Wholefood nutrients, on the other hand, are from natural sources and contain concentrates of fruits and vegetables. Though multivitamins are no substitute for a healthy diet, they can definitely help provide a good nutrient boost.

Take with food

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Have you ever wondered why we’re told to take vitamins with food? This isn’t just a myth – in 1999, Dr Gunter Blobel received a Nobel Prize for discovering the key to getting vitamins or minerals into the bloodstream and, importantly, into the cells. The answer is attaching them to a chaperone molecule. Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry – all you need to know is that this is one reason why vitamin supplements must be taken with meals (unless stated otherwise on the label).

Quick tip! To get the best effects from your multivitamin, take it with a full glass of water with food. Coffee lover? Wait 30 minutes after having your coffee before taking your supplement as caffeine inhibits the absorption of vitamins.

Fresh is best

Did you know that your body only absorbs about 10 per cent of the vitamin content in a supplement? Compare that to between 77 and 93 per cent when eating a fresh plant! Minerals in a supplement are even worse – your body only absorbs between one and five per cent. On the flipside, if you eat raw broccoli, the minerals are 63 to 78 per cent absorbable. Just another reason why you should look to food first and use supplements as an added boost!

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Research by the Complementary Healthcare Council found that 75 per cent of consumers know exactly what product they are buying and why. Do you?



What works for you

. Posted in Vitamins & Supplements

More than 75 per cent of Australians use complementary medicines. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.

Know what you’re dealing with

Complementary medicines include vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements, herbal medicines, traditional medicines, homeopathic medicines and some aromatherapy products. The effectiveness of any treatment depends on the individual person and your specific condition – no medicine is a universal cure, so you need to find out if the medicine is right for you.

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Seek advice

Do your research before you take something new, including talking to your doctor or complementary medicine practitioner. Always read the label and make sure you take the correct dose.

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Find an accredited practitioner

Just like you’d look into your GP’s qualifications, look at your complementary medicine practitioner’s qualifications. Are they accredited and registered with one of the professional bodies, such as the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society?

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Ask about fees

While there are no Medicare rebates for consultations with complementary medicine practitioners, private health funds may entitle you to one. To avoid costly surprises, always discuss full costs before undergoing treatment.

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Watch for side effects

No medicine, even natural or herbal medicine, is completely free of side effects.
Just because complementary medicines can be bought without a prescription doesn’t mean they’re less powerful.

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Don’t mix medicines

Always speak with your doctor before mixing any medications or supplements to find out if it’s safe. For example, St John’s wort,  used to alleviate depression, can interact with several commonly used prescription medicines, including the oral contraceptive pill.

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Be informed

There’s a world of info on
the web, but be careful.
Some sites provide wrong or misleading information so look for quality websites, including government-endorsed sites or those of a respected national health organisation.

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Buy local

We all love online shopping, but buying medicines from overseas websites
can be dangerous. Australia has some of the strictest regulations in the world for complementary medicines, and products from overseas may contain illegal or harmful substances. Don’t risk it.

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Deep blue seas

. Posted in Vitamins & Supplements

We’ve always been told fish oil is good for us. A new study not only proves this at an individual level, but also demonstrates how preventive use of fish oil can save over $4 billion from disease burden on the economy.

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Organisations such as the National Health and Medical Research Council, the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the World Health Organisation all endorse the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil. Now the latest research undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics identifies savings of approximately $4.2 billion through avoidance of disease burden and premature life loss, as a result of the preventive use of fish oils in patients with heart disease.

“The report highlights that just a low dosage of fish oils every day can improve mortality rates associated with heart disease. This research is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the positive outcomes of research into preventive interventions using complementary medicines,” says Dr Wendy Morrow, executive director of the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia.

The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing non-prescription consumer healthcare products, also advocates an expanded role for fish oil supplements for patients with coronary heart disease.

“Fish oil is backed with strong scientific evidence to support its effectiveness and claims around cardiovascular benefits,” says ASMI’s executive director, Dr Deon Schoombie. “This new study now compares the cost of the therapy versus the benefit to the individual and broader community. The results are compelling.”

Call for fish oil in preventive health model

Despite the significant potential savings, fish oil supplements are currently not subsidised by the PBS and are also subject to a GST levy. The impact of the findings on government health policy is substantial.

“The government is working towards delivering preventive health outcomes and this research plays an enormous role in achieving this. Not only facilitating savings of up to $4.19 billion, implementing recommendations from the report and conducting further research of this nature could enable Australians to live healthier, more productive lives. And we want to assist the government in achieving this,” says Dr Morrow.

The analysis supports the wider use of fish oil supplements as a cost-effective way of providing secondary prevention in patients with cardiovascular disease.

“With positive cost-benefit outcomes such as these, it merits serious consideration by government into ways of more formally integrating complementary medicines into the broader preventative health agenda,” says Dr Schoombie. “Specifically, it should be looking at ways to expand the uptake and usage of such therapies proven to have a positive impact on some of the nation’s big killers, such as cardiovascular disease, which now affects almost one in five Australians.”

The Deloitte Access Economics report

The independent report from Deloitte Access Economics analyses the cost benefits to society of fish oil use in the prevention of heart disease. Evidence of the benefits of fish oil as an intervention was based on the findings of two large clinical trials. The cost benefits were measured in terms of disease burden on the economy, expressed as the cost of the number of years lost due to ill health, disability or death.



Age swimmingly with fish oils

. Posted in Vitamins & Supplements

The innumerable health benefits of omega-3s are by now well known. Blackmores Director of Education Pam Stone looks at how fish can support the health of our eyes, heart and brain as we get older.

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Looking for the elixir of youth? That might be a tall order – but oils from fish could well be your nearest equivalent.

Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s are important components of cell membranes.

Cell membranes that incorporate fats derived from omega-3s function better than those made up of saturated or trans fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also incorporated into compounds called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins that contain these fatty acids play a role in immune function. They also help regulate inflammation and maintain aspects of cardiovascular health.

In simple terms, this all means that omega-3s play an important role in supporting the health of your heart, immune system and general wellbeing.

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Better eyesight

A 2008 US study1 found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, combined with a supplement for age-related eye disease (AREDS) and a lower glycemic index diet, may slow down the progression of age related macular degeneration (AMD).

The researchers said their results may suggest increasing levels of omega-3 fatty acids would enhance prevention of advanced AMD.

A healthier ticker

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of Australia’s largest health problems and remains the leading cause of death in Australia.

Fish consumption is an important part of risk reduction for CVD. Omega-3s help to maintain healthy heart rates, blood pressure and help to support a healthy heart. 

Boosted brainpower

Healthy brains contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

A study in Norway looked at the relationship between intake of fish and fish products, and cognitive performance in the elderly.

The researchers reported that those who consumed at least 10 grams of fish a day performed significantly better in tests for cognitive performance than subjects who ate less than 10 grams of fish and fish products.

How much fish should we eat?

Aim to eat two to three serves of oily fish per week to maintain good health. Oily fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, anchovies and pilchards. If you don’t eat fish you may wish to supplement with fish oil.

1 C-J Chiu, R Klein, RC Milton, G Gensler, A Taylor “Does eating particular diets alter risk of age-related macular degeneration in users of the age-related eye disease study supplements?”

2 Australia’s Favourite Fish Oil as voted in the Pure Profile Fish Oil Poll January 2011.

Did you know

One in three Australians don’t eat enough fish? Fish contains essential omega-3 fatty acids which can help with brain and heart health. Supplementing your diet with fish oil can redress the balance. For more information on Australia’s favourite fish oil brand2 visit