Nutrition Resources, Information and Guide

    Supplement Recommendations

    Rose and Rose in their book Save Your Sight give the following daily nutritional prescription for macular degeneration:
    Vitamin C 2000 mg
    Bioflavonoids 200-400 mg
    Beta-carotene 15,00-25,000 IU
    Vitamin A 10,000-25,000 IU for 3 months after diagnosis
    Lutein & Zeaxanthin 6-10 mg
    Magnesium 300-500 mg at bedtime
    Fish Oils - Follow directions on bottle
    Vitamin E 800 IU
    Selenium 200 mcg
    NAC 500 mg 2-3 times
    Taurine 500-1000 mg between meals
    Garlic 1000 mg odorless
    Zinc 15-30 mg
    CoQ10 30-200 mg
    Hydrochloric Acid 250 mg if needed.

    Optometrist Dr Abel makes these supplement recommendations:
    Vitamin A 10,000 IU
    Beta Carotene 5000-10,000 IU
    Lutein 6-20 mg
    Vitamin C 1000-3000 mg
    Vitamin E 400 IU
    Magnesium 500 mg
    Bilberry 100 mg twice a day
    Ginkgo Biloba extract
    Garlic 100-1000 mg odourless
    Flaxseed oil 1 tablespoon
    Fish Oil DHA 500 mg
    Selenium 50-200 mcg
    Taurine 2 mg
    Chromium 200 mcg
    Zinc up to 30 mg
    Digestive Enzymes as required

    The Nutritional Strategy

    Although risk of developing fractures is related to BMD, it is also influenced by the protein matrix and other support structures in bone. Cells that form bone (osteoblasts) do this by making long protein chains that consist mainly of collagen. It is also influenced by the accumulation of micro-fractures from mild traumas over time. To prevent fractures the mineral mass must be preserved, and the protein matrix and support structures must be maintained. Optimal repair mechanisms must be ensured.


    99% of this mineral is found in the bones. Calcium is deposited in bone and withdrawn as needed largely by the actions of calcitonin and parathyroid hormone. The balance between these two are regulated by estrogen and other substances especially magnesium.

    Studies demonstrate a positive effect of calcium on BMD. Higher intakes are associated with higher bone mass at almost all measured skeletal sites. It is believed that variations in calcium nutrition early in life could account for a 5% to 10% difference in peak adult bone mass. This could make a tremendous difference to the number of fractures that occur later in life.

    Studies on calcium supplements taken in the early postmenopausal period show only very small effects on BMD but they could still be important. At least 4 studies show a reduction of about 30% in fracture risk in postmenopausal women taking a 1000mg supplement per day.

    National surveys indicate calcium intake to be lower than recommended. Mean intake of calcium in females over 9 years of age is only 657mg/day. Between ages 9 and 18 it should be 1300mg, between 19 and 50 recommended intake is 1000mg thereafter 1200mg.

    However osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency disease and people’s requirements will depend on their overall diet and lifestyle. Taking a calcium supplement alone is not recommended. It won’t necessarily be absorbed into the bone. Instead it may remain in the blood and end up in the tissues causing its own health problems. While absorption is improved with vitamin D, it also has close relationships with magnesium and phosphorus.

    While milk and dairy products are high in calcium they are also high in phosphorus and low in magnesium. Human milk has only a quarter of the calcium of cow’s milk yet, according to Frank Oski MD author of Don’t Drink Your Milk, the infant will absorb more calcium. This is because cow’s milk is rich in phosphorus which interferes with calcium absorption.

    He goes on to state that Taiwanese and citizens of Guana only ingest 13mg and 8mg respectively of calcium from drinking milk. “These non-American people are neither toothless nor lying about immoblized because of repeated bone fractures.” He believes there are many good sources of calcium that are a better choice than milk.


    Calcium combines with phosphorus to form calcium phosphate. Together they are incorporated into bone. 85% of the body’s phosphorus is bound to the bone. Intake has risen markedly over recent years with increased phosphate salts used in food additives, carbonated drinks and cola beverages. Red meat has a phosphorus to calcium ratio of 20 to 1. Dietary intakes range from 1000mg - 1500mg per day, well above the 700mg recommended.

    Such excessive amounts could be detrimental to bone by depressing serum calcium and elevating parathyroid hormone. This hasn’t been proven scientifically though.


    Two-thirds of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones. It plays a crucial role in calcium and bone metabolism. Deficiency causes decreased bone strength and volume and poor development. A positive association with BMD has been demonstrated in many population studies. Even if calcium intake is adequate, without sufficient magnesium, parathyroid hormone will be stimulated and calcium withdrawn from the bones.


    This mineral is immediately below calcium in the periodic table and can act in a similar way.

    In the early part of the 20th century studies showed strontium to be effective in stimulating rapid formation of bone and that strontium and calcium were superior to calcium alone in mineralizing bone.

    In 1959 the Mayo clinic treated 22 patients with severe, painful osteoporosis, giving them 1,700mg of strontium daily. 18 markedly improved and 4 moderately so.

    Conventional medicine has recently got very excited about strontium or rather strontium ranelate. Ranelic acid is a synthetic substance which has allowed drug companies to patent this compound as a treatment for osteoporosis, even though ranelic acid plays no part.

    Recent trials have been very promising. In one there was a 41% reduction in vertebral fracture risk with BMD increasing by an astonishing 11.4% over 3 years.

    In another there was an increase in lumbar BMD of 3% per year with a significant decrease in additional fractures compared to placebo.

    Even postmenopausal women who didn’t have osteoporosis saw an increase in BMD with strontium and calcium alone.

    Best food sources of strontium are spices, seafood, whole grains, root and leafy vegetables, and legumes.


    Boron is important in retaining calcium. According to Dr Rex Newnham, a world authority on boron, both vitamin D and the parathyroid gland depend on this mineral. The parathyroid contains more boron than any other part of the body. He said boron “will help broken bones mend in about half the normal time.”

    As if that wasn’t remarkable enough, just 3mg a day raised estrogen levels as much as HRT in one study (FASEB J 1987 Nov;1 (5):394-7). But unlike HRT it did this safely, without exposing the body to dangerous amounts of this hormone. It also reduced calcium excretion by 44%.


    Manganese is required to mineralise the bone and to synthesise connective tissue in bone and cartilage. Blood manganese levels in osteoporotic women were found to be only 25% of controls. Dr Richard Passwater found that deficiencies lead to abnormal bone and cartilage growth and degeneration of vertebral discs.


    Silicon is biochemically very rigid and is therefore only used by the body at calcification sites of bones and other structures. The connective tissue matrix is strengthened by it, as it crosslinks collagen strands. Rats on a silicon free diet suffered bone deformity.


    Essential for protein synthesis, for its strength and elasticity, zinc is necessary if bones are to form normally. It plays an important role in connective tissue metabolism. It also enhances the biochemical actions of vitamin D. Levels were low in elderly patients with osteoporosis.


    Copper works in conjunction with zinc. Depletion leads to bone defects and calcium loss. Helps to strengthen connective tissue by crosslinking collagen strands.


    Iron may play an important role in bone formation acting as a cofactor for enzymes involved in collagen synthesis. Deficiency may play a role in bone fragility.

    The Role of Vitamins

    Vitamin D
    Vitamin D facilitates active calcium absorption in the intestines. It is also involved in bone turnover. Vitamin D status declines with age because of lower exposure to sunlight, decreased ability to activate precursors in the skin, decreased ability of the kidney and liver to hydroxylate it, reduced dietary intake and poorer absorption, as well as drug use, so deficiency in the aged is not uncommon.

    Vitamin K
    Vitamin K is now receiving attention because of its role in bone metabolism. It is required to synthesise osteocalcin, a protein found uniquely and in large amounts in bone. This makes vitamin K essential for bone formation, remodelling and repair.

    The usual diet contains considerably more of the vitamin than is required, although since this nutrient is obtained primarily from green vegetables, one has to wonder about the wisdom of that.

    Several population studies show low dietary or circulating vitamin K is associated with low BMD or increased fractures.

    16 patients with osteoporosis had mean serum vitamin K concentrations at only 35% of the level of age-matched controls.

    Other studies show vitamin K reduces urinary calcium excretion and improves the bone turnover profile.

    Vitamin C
    Bone health can certainly be added to the long list of conditions that this vitamin can treat. It is required for collagen crosslinking. In scurvy the collageneous structure of the bone is weakened. Vitamin C may also protect the skeleton from oxidative stress especially for cigarette smokers. Smoking greatly increases the risk of hip fracture. High intakes of vitamin C together with vitamin E significantly decreased the risk of fracture for smokers in one study.

    Vitamin A
    This vitamin is important in the bone remodelling process. Deficiencies are known to be detrimental to bone health.

    Folic Acid
    The importance of this nutrient is related to offering protection from homocysteine. People with a genetic disorder in which large amounts of homocysteine accumulate also develop severe osteoporosis at an early age. Studies suggest menopause is associated with an increased requirement for folic acid because of decreased efficiency at converting homocysteine to less toxic compounds. For this reason other nutrients that offer protection from homocysteine such as vitamin B6 and B12 may also be important.

    Food and Food Components

    A more alkaline based diet might contribute to better BMD. A recent study which looked at dietary intake and BMD in elderly subjects concluded that alkaline-producing dietary components, specifically potassium, magnesium, fruit and vegetables contribute to the maintenance of BMD.

    Isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen derived from soy beans, including genistein and daidzein, have been studied in postmenopausal osteoporosis and generally found to have a positive effect in maintaining bone density and reducing fractures.


    Bone health depends on a sufficient supply of a wide range of nutrients that goes well beyond calcium and vitamin D. Such an approach is likely to be far more successful than current orthodox drug approaches which leave a lot to be desired.

    The Low Carbohydrate Diet

    This article is dedicated to Robert C Atkins MD who died in April, 2003. Dr Atkins was at the forefront of the nutritional medicine movement, writing his first book on this subject, Dr Atkins’ Nutrition Breakthrough, over 20 years ago. However, he is best known by the public for his controversial low carbohydrate diet.

    His diet is very much in the alternative medicine tradition in that it works well but is ignored and openly derided by conventional medicine because it lies outside their paradigm of thinking.

    Ironically, few complementary therapists would welcome it either, because it is low in the kind of foods considered best for health and very high in protein. Certainly, most therapists dealing with weight loss would prefer an approach which concentrated on educating people to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables with adequate exercise.

    However, only one person in a hundred is able to lose weight and keep it off permanently. Bearing in mind obesity is a major health problem, any approach which allows people to eat luxuriously without hunger, should be investigated seriously and without prejudice.

    The Banting Diet

    Low carbohydrate diets are not new. William Banting wrote his Letter on Corpulence in 1864. Banting was a prosperous London coffin-maker, less than 5½ feet in height and weighing 15 stone. He couldn’t tie his shoelaces and could only walk downstairs backwards. Over the years he tried every imaginable way to lose weight without success.

    In his sixties he developed an earache and was losing his hearing in one ear. For this reason only, he consulted William Harvey, a noted ear, nose and throat surgeon. As it happened, Harvey had a particular interest in diabetes and how the body handled the food elements. He theorized that sugar and starches caused weight gain, although medical thinking at the time was that weight loss could only be achieved by cutting back on food intake, with the emphasis on dietary fat. In other words, the same as today.

    Since there was nothing organically wrong with Banting’s ear, he wondered if excess fat within the ear might be the cause.

    He put Banting on an experimental diet. For each meal, including breakfast, he could eat up to 5 ounces of meat, fish or fowl. Vegetables were permitted but not potatoes, and just a little fruit. Sweets, flour and starch were not allowed. He could drink tea without milk or sugar and was allowed claret and sherry but not beer, champagne or port.

    His calorie intake was thought to be high at 2,800 a day (estimated average requirement 2,350). Yet in 4 months he lost 20 pounds and after one year was 50 pounds lighter. His hearing was restored and he felt fitter, better and had greater mobility than he’d done in years.

    Although the public were impressed, the medical profession was outraged at the suggestion you could eat fat to lose fat by a presumptuous layman with no scientific qualifications (even though he gave full credit to Harvey). The whole idea was considered ridiculous and dangerous. He was denounced as a charlatan. Harvey also suffered at the hands of his colleagues. After some years he recanted so he could continue his career in peace and quiet.

    Many people followed his diet and lost weight. This success led one notable doctor to look into it seriously. However, he assumed meat to be lean. Allowed foods were considered low in carbohydrate and fat, thus missing the whole point of the diet. This modified Banting diet met with some approval from doctors interested in obesity, but Banting himself felt this was far inferior to his own.

    Stefansson’s Experience

    The anthropologist and explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson set out on an expedition to the Arctic in 1906. He missed a planned rendezvous and had to spend the winter months among the native Inuit of Tuktoyyaktut living on meat, fish and water. At first he tried to make the diet more palatable by broiling it, but this made him weak, dizzy and showing signs of malnutrition. Eating it the Eskimo way, he remained in good health.

    In a later expedition he and Dr Karsten Anderson, although well equipped with food, chose to live on a primitive diet for 4 years. They only got ill when a key component was unavailable. For instance, when seal oil was missing and only lean protein was accessible. As soon as fat/oil was restored, so did their health. Stefansson wrote about their experiences in The Friendly Arctic in 1921.

    As his ideas regarding nutrition were met with scepticism, he and Anderson took part in a strictly controlled experiment at Bellevue Hospital in 1928 under the supervision of the great biochemist, Eugene F. Du Bois. They spent one year on an all meat diet deriving 80% of calories from fat and 20% from protein. They were tested for signs of scurvy and other deficiency diseases; mineral deficiencies; effects on the heart, blood vessels and kidneys; and whether harmful bacteria grew in the gut. Their daily calorie intake varied between 2000 and 3100.

    Stefansson started out a little overweight. This was quickly lost and then his weight remained stable. During the weight loss his metabolic rate rose by 8.9%. The research team reported no signs of deficiencies, reduced energy or damaged organs. His blood cholesterol was lower after a year than at the start. Bowel movements were normal. They remained mentally alert and physically active. The results were published, but scepticism remained. How could a diet unlimited in fat and high in calories, lower weight and maintain health?

    Lose Weight & Gain Health on Meat, Fat & Water

    In 1944 Blake F Donaldson, a cardiologist, frustrated by failed attempts to get his patients to lose weight, adopted the low carbohydrate approach in a famous and highly successful experiment with obese patients at New York Hospital. He went on to write Strong Medicine in 1961 in which he explains how he treats obesity and a wide range of health disorders such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure, with meat, fat and water.

    “The ability to live well on meat and water is the common inheritance of mankind. It is only in the last eight thousand years since man turned to agriculture for a stable food supply that we have had trouble with eating.”

    Du Pont Dieters Lose 22 Pounds

    A few years after Donaldson’s experiments, Dr Alfred Pennington was asked to supervise the slimming of 20 overweight executives at the Du Pont Corporation. Carbohydrates were restricted but fat, protein and calories were not.

    The results were spectacular with each obese dieter losing an average of 22 pounds (range 9-54) in 3½ months. They reported feeling well, enjoying their meals, and not going hungry (hardly surprising on 3000 calories a day). Many reported feeling more energetic, none complained of fatigue, those with high blood pressure saw it drop in parallel with their weight.

    After sifting through the scientific literature and the findings of this study, Pennington concluded that Harvey and Banting were right. Overweight is the result of the body’s inefficient handling of carbohydrates.

    After this experience there was renewed interest in this form of dieting, being called The Holiday Diet.

    A Calorie Is Not A Calorie

    In the 1950’s two acclaimed scientists, Kekwick and Pawan provided irrefutable experimental evidence that a diet low in carbohydrates held a significant metabolic advantage over other diets. They demonstrated weight loss can vary on identical numbers of ingested calories. For instance one subject lost nothing on a 2000 calorie balanced diet, but lost over 9 pounds on a low carbohydrate diet of 2,800 calories.

    Critics of low carbohydrate diets maintain that most of the weight loss comes from water, but Kekwick and Pawan showed this to be only a small part of the weight loss. They also identified a fat-mobilising substance from the urine of low carbohydrate dieters. This demonstrated that fat stores were being used as body fuel.

    Another criticism is that on few carbohydrates the body goes into ketosis and this is dangerous. During the oxidation of fat, ketones (chemicals related to acetone) are produced. These occur in untreated diabetics since they are unable to handle sugar. They can accumulate until they become toxic. Kekwick and Pawan found that when the body is burning fat for fuel, ketones are only produced at 10% of the level of untreated diabetics. This is mild and not a complication of the diet.

    Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution

    In 1958 Dr Mackarness wrote Eat Fat & Grow Slim and in the 1960’s the low carbohydrate diet reappeared under the name The Air Force Diet.

    Then in 1972 Dr Atkins’ book appeared, claiming that the overweight have a metabolic defect involving insulin. This can be circumvented by restricting carbohydrates. He wrote it after solving his own weight problems and treating ten thousand patients.

    But the following year Dr Atkins got a rude awakening when the American Medical Association (AMA) attacked the diet.

    “It said, in essence, that what I had been observing and documenting for nine years could not have happened. They denied that my patients lost weight, claiming that people only lose water on such a diet. They denied their improved state of health and laboratory findings by announcing that people would surely get worse.”

    Once the gods at the AMA had spoken, no further research on the metabolic advantage of such a diet were carried out in the USA.

    But the shocking rise in levels of obesity together with the failure of the approved low fat, high carbohydrate position has led to renewed interest.

    Low Carbohydrate Diet Is Vindicated

    In the May 22nd edition of the New England Journal of Medicine two studies were published. These were commented on in the British Medical Journal of May 31st under the heading Low Carbohydrate Diet Is Vindicated.

    “The studies found that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet led to greater weight loss and improved blood lipid concentrations than the recommended high carbohydrate, low fat diet in healthy obese people as well as in obese patients with complicating conditions.”

    In one of the studies, decreases in serum triglyceride concentrations and increases in HDL cholesterol were greater in the Atkins diet group.

    In the other study serum triglyceride concentrations decreased by 20% in the low carbohydrate group, whether or not the patients were taking lipid lowering drugs, compared with 4% in the low fat group.

    Professor Gary Foster of the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on one of the studies, said: “...our initial findings suggest that such diets may not have the adverse effects that were anticipated.”

    "You would expect an increase in (bad) LDL cholesterol, but we didn’t see it. We didn’t expect the improvement in (good) HDL cholesterol and triglycerides to the degree we saw," he said.


    If Banting and other people’s experiences were accepted as reality. If the findings and research of notable clinicians and scientists were taken seriously, we would not have wasted almost a century and a half in pursuing dogma.

    No diet is right for everyone. And the low carbohydrate diet will neither appeal to everyone or be a good diet to follow for all people. Some people’s biochemistry will not be suited to it. It should however have been taken a lot more seriously by the medical profession.

    Dr Atkins may no longer be with us, but thanks to his dogged determination, the low carbohydrate diet is now taken seriously and is here to stay.

    If you want to lose weight and would like to visit a nutritionist in Stoke Newington, north London or Central London please go to: London Nutrition Consultant

    Water: Your Best Medicine

    The following information is taken from the writings and tape seminar of F. Batmanghelidj MD or Dr. Batman as he is affectionately known.

    Born in 1931 in Iran, he studied medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London. He was a conventional doctor until his political imprisonment in post revolution Teheran. In a highly stressed environment and with water as the only ‘medicine’ available to him, he was astonished to discover that water alone was able to treat a range of conditions, including many with symptoms of heartburn and peptic ulcers.

    After his release and escape to America he continued his research and concluded that medical science was concentrating in the wrong areas. Rather than merely being a solvent that holds important particles, it actually regulates all functions of the body including the solutes it dissolves and circulates.

    If the thirst signals of the body are recognised and acted upon then the symptoms that reflect dehydration will be resolved. But if they are ignored for an extended period, a pathological condition might occur. Indeed he believes that “chronic and persistently increasing dehydration is the root cause of almost all currently encountered major diseases of the human body.” Water alone will probably not be able reverse the situation once a pathological condition is established. It is still a necessary but no longer a sufficient treatment.

    Key Properties Of Water

    It has a hydrolytic role, being essential for all chemical reactions. The osmotic flow of water through cell membranes creates hydroelectric energy which is used in the manufacture of ATP. It is used as an adhesive material, maintaining the solid structures of the cell membrane. It is necessary to transmit brain signals. It distributes proteins and enzymes.

    42 reasons why you need water:
    1. to sustain life itself.
    2. to maintain the life of every cell of the body. In dehydration some functions will have to be sacrificed.
    3. it is the body’s main source of energy.
    4. to generate electrical and magnetic energy inside each cell.
    5. acts a bonding adhesive in the architectural design of the cell structure.
    6. to prevent DNA damage and makes its repair mechanism more efficient.
    7. to increase the efficiency of the immune system.
    8. it is the main solvent for all foods, vitamins and minerals.
    9. it is used to break down food into smaller particles and their eventual metabolism.
    10. it energises food particles which are then able to supply the body with energy during digestion.
    11. it increases the rate of absorption of essential substances in food.
    12. it is used for transport of all substances inside the body.
    13. it increases the efficiency of red blood cells in collecting oxygen in the lungs.
    14. it clears toxic waste and delivers it to the liver and kidneys for disposal.
    15. water is the main lubricant in the joint spaces to prevent arthritis and back pain.
    16. it is used in the spinal discs to make them shock absorbent water cushions.
    17. it is the best lubricating laxative.
    18. water prevents heart attacks and strokes.
    19. water prevents clogging of arteries in the heart.
    20. it is essential for the cooling and heating of the body.
    21. it gives us power and electrical energy for all brain functions especially thinking.
    22. it prevents attention deficit disorder in both adults and children.
    23. it increases efficiency at work.
    24. it is a better pick-me-up than any other beverage.
    25. it prevents stress, anxiety and depression.
    26. it will restore normal sleep rhythm.
    27. it prevents fatigue and gives the energy of youth.
    28. it keeps the skin smooth.
    29. it gives lustre and shine to the eyes and maintains vision.
    30. it prevents glaucoma.
    31. it normalises the blood manufacturing systems in the bone marrow.
    32. it dilutes the blood and prevents it clotting during circulation.
    33. it decreases premenstrual pains.
    34. water and heartbeat create the dilution and waves that prevent sedimentation in the bloodstream.
    35. because the body has no water storage capacity to draw on in dehydration.
    36. to maintain sex hormone production.
    37. to separate the sensation of thirst from hunger.
    38. to lose weight without dieting.
    39. to prevent toxic sediment deposit in the tissue spaces, joints, kidneys, liver, brain and skin.
    40. it takes away the morning sickness of pregnancy.
    41. water integrates mind and body functions.
    42. it reverses addictive urges including caffeine, alcohol and some drugs.

    Salt Is Important Too

    12 reasons why you need salt:

    1. it helps regulate the water content of the body. It allows water to stay outside cells, balancing it with the water within.
    2. it extracts excess acidity from cells, especially brain cells to maintain pH.
    3. it’s needed to balance the sugar level in the blood.
    4. it helps generate hydroelectric energy in all body cells.
    5. it is vital to nerve cells communication and information processing.
    6. it is needed for absorption of food particles through the intestinal tract.
    7. it clears lungs of mucous plugs and sticky phlegm especially in asthmatics and cystic fibrosis.
    8. it helps clean up catarrh and congestion of the sinuses.
    9. it is a strong natural antihistamine.
    10. it is essential for the prevention of muscle cramps.
    11. it prevents excess saliva production.
    12. it’s vital to making the structure of bones firm.

    What Happens In Dehydration?

    Since the body has no water storage capacity, a drought management system is put into effect. Histamine is the master controller of this system and has various subordinate systems to help it. They will shunt water to where it is needed most and sacrifice other parts of the body whose immediate needs are less urgent.

    Early Signals Of Dehydration

    When these systems become excessively active they can cause various pains and symptoms. These include dyspepsia, arthritic pain, angina, back pain, leg pain on walking, headaches, migraine, colitis pain, asthma and allergies.

    There may also be more general perceptive feelings such as fatigue, feeling flushed, irritability, anxiety, feeling dejected, depressed, inadequate, feeling a “heavy head”, cravings for coffee, sodas and alcoholic drinks, and agoraphobia.

    How Does Dehydration Establish Itself?

    Although a dry mouth is the most obvious manifestation of thirst, this is in fact the last outward sign of extreme dehydration. Saliva must be produced as a priority for eating.

    The beverages most people rely upon contain dehydrating agents. The body gets fooled into thinking its need for water has been satisfied. The thirst mechanism gets skewed and can no longer be relied upon. This is especially so in ageing.

    10 Symptoms Of Dehydration

    Asthma: raised levels of histamine bring about bronchial constriction to preserve water evaporation during breathing. Asthma is not a disease, merely a state of dehydration.

    Allergies: histamine is required as a defence system against foreign material and infections. In prolonged dehydration excess histamine is released. As water intake is increased, histamine levels fall and the clinical picture improves.

    Dyspeptic Pains: require nothing more than water unless ulcers are present. Water is needed in the mucous layer underneath the stomach wall where it contains sodium bicarbonate. This neutralises the acid. In a dehydrated state the mucous barrier is thin and inefficient. Acid is able to penetrate the stomach lining where it meets nerve endings, causing pain.

    Arthritis: Cartilage - which is mainly water - normally receives water and nutrients through the bone, but in dehydration the bone marrow takes priority, so its needs are met from vessels that feed the joint capsules. The nerve-regulated shunting mechanisms and the swelling of the joint capsule, which is put under too much pressure, causes pain. The gliding properties of the cartilage also suffer from insufficient lubrication.

    High Blood Pressure: this is an adaptation to water deficiency. In a dehydrated state there is a loss of blood volume of up to 8%. The body selectively closes down the lumen of blood vessels to compensate, causing a rise in pressure. Under these circumstances prescribing diuretics is “wrong to the point of scientific absurdity”

    High cholesterol: cholesterol regulates the permeability of a cell membrane to water. In dehydration, excess cholesterol is manufactured to prevent loss of water from inside the cell. With adequate water intake this defence system is not required. Less cholesterol will be made and blood levels will drop to within or below the ‘normal’ range.

    Stress, chronic fatigue and depression: water is our main source of energy. Dehydration can affect the efficiency of brain cells even though brain function takes priority for water over all other body systems. This can give rise to reduced brain chemical activity which may show itself as a diverse range of mental and emotional symptoms as well as fatigue.

    Diabetes: dehydration can affect the brain’s neurotransmitters particularly serotonin whose production is decreased in diabetes. To maintain its volume and energy requirements it raises the level of glucose in circulation. Diabetics also need adequate salt, protein and exercise.

    Angina: a signal of dehydration. Constriction causing chemicals from the lungs spill over into the circulation which in turn causes constriction of the walls of the heart arteries, producing pain.

    Vertigo: dehydration affects the consistency of lymph fluid within the ear canals. The lymph becomes concentrated and is unable to synchronise with information coming from sight and movement. “Rehydration of the body will correct this problem, simply, permanently, and at no cost.”

    Daily Requirements & When To Take

    Half your bodyweight in ounces. A person weighing 180 pounds should drink 90 ounces a day in 8 or 16oz portions spaced throughout the day. A minimum requirement is 2 quarts a day.

    It should be taken first thing in the morning to correct loss of water throughout the night.

    It should be taken before meals. The best time is 30 minutes before eating to hydrate the stomach and prepare it for food. However, a few minutes before food is acceptable, or even with food. Water does not dilute the digestive juices. The juices function much better when there is plenty of water around them.

    Water should also be taken 2½ hours after meals to complete the process of digestion and correct dehydration caused by food breakdown.

    Whether to take additional salt will depend on how much is already in the diet. If restricted, then half a teaspoon should be taken each day.

    If you would like to visit a naturopath in Stoke Newington, Islington or Haringey in north London please go to:
    London Naturopath

    Water: Why We Need To Drink 8 Glasses A Day

    Normally, approximately 2.5 litres of water is required daily for a fairly sedentary adult in a normal environment to replace the total loss of water that occurs though urine, faeces, skin and lungs.

    To read the rest of this article please go to:
    Water - Why We Need To Drink 8 Glasses A Day

    Bring Me Sunshine and Vitamin D

    Until recently any discussion of vitamin D would have been confined to its promotion of calcium absorption in the gut and calcium transfer across cell membranes, thus contributing to strong bones and a healthy nervous system.

    But in the last decade new findings suggest it plays a role in many important body systems. In fact most tissues and cells in the body, including heart, stomach, pancreas, brain, skin, gonads, and activated T and B lymphocytes, have vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D has also been found to regulate the action of a number of genes.

    Vitamin D, calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin. There are two types found in nature. Ergosterol, which is found in plants, gets converted to vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) in the body. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is found in animal foods.

    The vitamin is also derived from sunlight. During exposure, 7-dehydrocholesterol, which is present in the epidermis, is converted to previtamin D3, which in turn is isomerised by a thermally induced process to vitamin D3.

    Previtamin D3 and Vitamin D3 are efficiently absorbed by sunlight and converted to a multitude of other sterols. So the skin can never generate quantities of vitamin D3 excessive enough to cause intoxication. That is why lifeguards and sun worshippers never suffer from vitamin D toxicity.

    Vitamin D is biologically inactive. It is, in reality, a prohormone, so it must be converted first in the liver to the form 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D. This is the major circulating form of the vitamin. In the kidney it is converted to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D or 1,25(OH)2D, which is the active hormone. This is also referred to as calcitrol.

    Ultraviolet (UV) light is divided into 3 bands or wavelength ranges, which are referred to as UV-A, UV-B and UV-C.

    The ultraviolet wavelength that stimulates our bodies to produce vitamin D is UV-B. It is also the primary cause of sunburn. However, it also induces special skin cells called melanocytes to produce melanin, which is protective.

    The amount of UV-B reaching a given population will depend on latitude, altitude, season of the year, cloud cover and pollution.

    Bone Health

    Vitamin D is required to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. With sufficient vitamin D the small intestine will absorb on average, 30% of dietary calcium. Without it the small intestine absorbs no more than 10-15%. During growth, lactation, and pregnancy, the efficiency increases to 80%. Deficiency during this period can result in the bone-deforming disease rickets.

    Although bone growth stops in adults there is a constant state of bone turnover. Severe vitamin D deficiency in adults results in inadequate blood calcium which gives rise to secondary hyperparathyroidism. This can precipitate or exacerbate osteoporosis.

    In deficiency states hormonal adjustment may maintain the serum calcium concentration within the normal range but it causes a loss of phosphorus in the urine. This, and the need for calcium to be diverted to the blood, prevents adequate mineralisation of the osteoid in the bone, which in turn results in osteomalacia (soft bones). The lack of structural support also increases the risk of fracture.

    The mineral content of bones tested after birth and at age 9 were shown to be related to blood levels of vitamin D during late pregnancy. Researchers have argued on the basis of such research evidence that bone development in adults is related to vitamin D levels during pregnancy and early childhood.

    Muscle Weakness & Pain

    Specific receptors for vitamin D have been identified in human muscle tissue. Studies have demonstrated that elderly persons with higher vitamin D serum levels have increased muscle strength and a lower number of falls.

    Of 150 consecutive patients referred to a clinic for the evaluation of persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain, 93% had serum 25(OH)D levels indicative of vitamin D deficiency.

    A clinical observation was reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine in April, 2000. Five patients had severe weakness and fatigue. They were confined to wheelchairs. Blood tests revealed all suffered from severe vitamin D deficiency. They received 50,000IU of vitamin D per week. All became mobile within six weeks.

    In a study published in 2003, 122 elderly women were supplemented with 1200mg calcium plus 800IU of vitamin D or calcium alone for 3 months. The vitamin groups’ serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D increased by an average of 71% and they performed dramatically better in tests of muscle strength. They had a 49% reduced risk of falling compared to the calcium only group.

    Autoimmune Diseases

    Vitamin D receptors are present in immune cells. Autoimmune responses are mediated by T cells. Calcitrol has been found to modulate T cell responses such that the autoimmune responses are diminished.

    The commonest autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis have all been successfully prevented in mice that were prone to these diseases if they received calcitrol early in life. Incidence of autoimmune diseases tends to be rare near the equator where vitamin D is produced in abundance.

    Type 1 Diabetes
    In Type 1 diabetes, insulin producing beta-cells of the pancreas are the target of the inappropriate immune response.

    In a recent study it was reported that the lower the vitamin D the less likely participants were to produce enough insulin or to show sufficient sensitivity to insulin. It was found that increasing a person's blood concentration of the vitamin from 25 nmol/l to about 75 nmol/l would "improve insulin sensitivity by 60%" which is a greater increase than many anti-diabetes drugs provide.

    In another recent study it was shown that vitamin D deficiency is likely to be a major factor for the development of type one diabetes in children.

    In a Finnish study, infants who received a vitamin D supplement in the first year of life had an 80% reduced risk of diabetes compared with non supplemented infants. And the risk was reduced by a further 80% if they took 2000IU a day compared with lower dosages.

    Similar findings were found in an animal study. When a strain of mice who typically develop type 1 diabetes received 1,25(OH)2D throughout their life, their risk of developing the disease was reduced by 80%.

    Multiple Sclerosis
    In MS, the immune response targets are the myelin producing cells of the central nervous system.

    Mother rats deprived of the vitamin before birth have offspring with damage to their brains. It shouldn’t be too surprising then that being born in the winter or spring, when vitamin D reserves are at their lowest, is associated a number of nervous system disorders including MS.

    Populations studies find that people who live at higher latitudes face an increased risk of multiple sclerosis. This was first noted in 1960 where evidence was presented of a negative correlation between MS prevalence and hours of sunshine. It was later proposed that genetically susceptible individuals may need larger than normal amounts of vitamin D during myelin formation. It was theorised that insufficient vitamin D during childhood might result in defective myelin which would be susceptible to breakdown in later life.

    An Australian study found that if children are exposed to UV-B particularly in winter time the risk of MS is reduced.

    People with non-melanoma skin cancer, an indication of extended sun exposure, were compared with healthy controls. Their risk of developing MS was reduced by 50%.

    In two ongoing studies of 187,500 U.S. nurses, women getting at least 400IU of vitamin D per day were only 60% at risk of developing MS compared with women getting less of the vitamin.


    Many studies have found being born in the winter or spring gives a small but significantly increased risk of schizophrenia; the more so in northern latitudes. This may be because normal brain development is altered in deficiency states during pregnancy or early infancy.

    The risk is also greater for those brought up in towns and cities. They tend to be less exposed to sunlight, with the risk in London being found to be greater than in the smaller towns of Bristol and Nottingham. This might be explained by greater air pollution which reduces exposure to UV-B.

    A higher than expected incidence of schizophrenia is found in black immigrants and their families in the UK. This could be because dark skin is much less efficient at producing vitamin D than white skin.

    Cardiovascular Disease

    Northern countries have higher levels of heart disease, and more heart attacks occur in the winter months.

    Yet Alpine areas have much lower mortality at this time of year in spite of being much colder in the winter than the UK. However these areas are at a much higher altitude and so get increased exposure to UV-B.

    A study in New Zealand found that heart attack patients had lower blood levels of vitamin D than the control group throughout the year.

    Blackpool gets 27% more sunshine hours than Burnley with 9% fewer deaths from heart disease. This inverse correlation has been found for 3 other English towns that were studied.

    Eskimos have a low incidence of heart disease despite low UV-B levels. But their diet is rich in fish which is abundant in vitamin D.

    Vitamin D also has a role in arterial calcification, and young adults with vitamin D deficiency were found to be at greater risk of congestive heart failure than their vitamin D-sufficient counterparts.

    Recent research points to heart disease as an inflammatory process. A marker for this is C-reactive protein. This is regulated by cytokines which are suppressed by calcitrol in a dose dependent manner.

    Vitamin D deficiency has been clearly linked with Syndrome X which refers specifically to a group of health problems that can include insulin resistance, diabetes type 2, abnormal blood fats, overweight, and high blood pressure. Asian immigrants in the UK have four to five times the incidence of diabetes than whites.


    Vitamin D was found to be effective in mice models in down-regulating renin and angiotensin - enzymes involved with water and electrolyte balance - thereby decreasing blood pressure. It may also have an impact on blood pressure through its role in calcium metabolism.

    Population studies link hypertension with higher latitudes and lower levels of serum vitamin D. In 1979 a study showed that people living at higher latitudes in both the United States and Europe were at higher risk of hypertension.

    Afro-Americans have more hypertension than white Americans. They also have lower blood vitamin D levels .

    Other studies suggest an inverse relationship between serum 1,25(OH)2D levels and blood pressure. One randomised controlled trial found those taking 1600IU of vitamin D with 800mg of calcium for 8 weeks had a significant 9% drop in systolic blood pressure compared to those taking calcium alone.

    Hypertensive patients exposed to UV-B radiation for 3 months had a >180% increase in circulating concentrations of 25(OH)D and a 6mm Hg decrease in their diastolic and systolic blood pressures; results similar to what would be expected if the they took blood pressure medication. A similar control group exposed to UV-A saw no such drop.

    Obesity & Weight Problems

    People who are obese are chronically deficient in vitamin D. The vitamin is efficiently deposited in body fat stores and is not bioavailable.

    Many diseases are associated with obesity, which is a growing problem. Yet UV-B stimulates the production of melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), an important hormone in weight loss and energy production. Could lying flat on your back in the sun help you to lose weight? As astonishing at that may sound, it could be true.

    MSH acts on the brain to control the effects of the hormones insulin and leptin which regulate body fat and hunger. In a study where subjects were given MSH, they lost 1½ kilos of body fat in just 4 weeks.

    Another study found that vitamin D deficiency was an independent predictor of obesity.

    Female Disorders

    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was corrected in 7 out of 14 women who recovered their periods with supplementation of vitamin D and calcium and 2 of these became pregnant.

    Infertility is associated with low vitamin D. Vitamin D supports production of estrogen in men and women.

    Those with PMS including migraine have been shown to be deficient in vitamin D with reduced bone mass. Symptoms have been eliminated with calcium and vitamin D supplements.

    Gum Disease

    Low blood concentrations of vitamin D were linked to gum disease in a study of 11,200 men and women. The rate of loss in tooth-gum attachment was 25% higher among those with the least vitamin D compared to those with the most vitamin D.


    Lack of Vitamin D makes us more vulnerable to infection

    We have already seen that vitamin D has profound effects on the immune system. Immune cells have vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D can transform white blood cell monocytes into macrophages. And within macrophages inactive D3 can be converted to calcitrol.

    Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of TB. Those with TB have less of the vitamin in their blood than healthy controls.

    In days gone by people were sent to a sanatorium to recover with sunshine. Dr Finsen won the Nobel Prize in 1903 for showing how TB of the skin could be cured with UV radiation. Nobody seems to remember any of this however.


    The condition of the skin can improve dramatically with exposure to the sun or a sun ray lamp or creams containing vitamin D.

    A study published in 1997 “showed that a tested commercial nonprescription tanning unit improved both psoriasis severity and health-related quality of life. Commercial tanning bed treatments may be a useful approach in patients unable to obtain office-based ultraviolet treatments.” (J Invest Dermatol. 1997 Aug;109(2):170-4)

    Another study states: “recent advances in investigation have shown that vitamin D also functions as a regulator of cellular growth and differentiation in various tissues. The skin is not an exception from such effects of vitamin D; it is regarded as a site of its activation and action. Evidence has accumulated showing that the active form of vitamin D and its analogs suppress growth and stimulate the terminal differentiation of keratinocytes. In psoriatic lesions, epidermal keratinocytes exhibit hyper-proliferation and impaired differentiation triggered by inflammation. Therefore, it is quite reasonable that vitamin D is effective on psoriasis. Indeed, within the past decade, analogs of vitamin D3 have been used as topical therapy for psoriasis.” (J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;30(6):429-37)


    As early as 1941 it was observed that people living at higher latitudes of the USA had a higher risk of dying from the most common cancers than did people living in lower latitudes.

    This was confirmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when several investigators reported increased risks of dying from colon, prostate, and breast cancer in people living at higher latitudes in both the United States and Europe.

    In fact 16 cancers have been linked with low intensity UV-B.

    25% of deaths from breast cancer in women in Europe have been attributed to their lack of UV-B.

    Both sexes have a higher risk of dying of cancer if they have minimum exposure to sunlight.

    Men exposed to little sunlight develop prostate cancer up to 5 years earlier than by those exposed to more sunlight throughout their lives.

    African American males have both the lowest serum 25(OH)D concentrations and the highest prostate cancer incidence of any population group in the United States.

    An important function of calcitrol is its ability to down-regulate cells that are dividing too rapidly. Normal and cancer cells that have a vitamin D receptor i.e they have the ability to make 1,25(OH)2D, often respond to 1,25(OH)2D by decreasing their proliferation and enhancing their differentiation (specialisation) and maturation so that they stop growing, and eventually succumb to programmed cell death. Cancer cells, in contrast, remain immature, rapidly divide, and are immortal.

    It isn’t just population studies that link cancer with vitamin D depletion. Clinical studies are also showing that vitamin D deficiency is associated with breast, prostate, colon and cancer of the ovaries.

    Diane Feskanich of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and her co-workers compared blood tests from 193 cancer patients with those of age-matched women who were free of cancer. They reported that women in the highest 25-D group with about 100 nmol/l, had only about half the cancer risk of women in the lowest group, averaging 40 nmol/l.

    Although the warning to stay out of the sun over the last decade was designed to reduced the incidence of melanoma, the reality is that the incidence of this cancer continues to rise in spite of people avoiding the sun or covering themselves up with sun lotion.

    The advice may be having the opposite effect. Firstly melanomas may only be partly caused by the sun. They can occur on parts of the body like the soles of the feet that are seldom exposed to sunlight. The cause of melanoma is far from clear.

    Secondly vitamin D stimulates the immune system. People who avoid the sun may be more prone to skin cancer as well as all the diseases mentioned so far.

    Thirdly, people may spend more time in the sun if they are ‘protected’ with sun lotion.

    Although they may be screened from UV-B, they are not well protected against UV-A. This may cause damage over time.

    Casual Exposure Is Good Enough?

    In spite of all the new evidence for these roles, the official position is that adults get enough vitamin D. Just casual exposure to sunlight on the hands and face is considered to provide sufficient quantities of the vitamin to meet our needs.

    The only groups advised to use supplements are those over 65, pregnant or lactating women, and children up to the age of three. The former are recommended to take 400IU (10mcg) a day. Breast fed babies are recommended drops to provide 340IU a day. From age 6 months to 3 years this is reduced to 280IU a day.

    The recommendations to avoid or limit exposure to the sun were established over a decade ago to reduce the incidence of skin cancer, which had been rising for many years. In spite of all the new research findings over this period and the fact that the incidence of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, has continued to increase (24% in the last 5 years) since these guidelines were established, no change in these recommendations have been made.

    Sources of Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is found in a restricted number of foods. The best source is oily fish. Although more people may well be consuming this with the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids becoming better known, nevertheless it is still not widely eaten. Indeed we are instructed to restrict our intake because of pollution!

    Dairy foods are reasonable sources but of course we are instructed to limit intake because their cholesterol content is supposed to increase the risk of heart disease. Margarine is fortified with the vitamin during processing. In the USA and some other countries it is also added to milk.

    Liver is another good source but is not widely eaten. In January, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended that liver should not be eaten more than once a week because of the risk of bone fractures from excess retinol.

    It seems we must restrict all foods that contain this vitamin.

    Vitamin D content of Foods (mcg per 100g)
    Butter 0.76
    Egg 1.76
    Cod Liver Oil 210.0
    Margarine 7.94
    Vegetable Oil 0
    Meat trace
    Calves liver 0.25
    Lambs liver 0.50
    Pigs liver 1.13
    Grilled herring 25.0
    Fried mackerel 15.4
    Pilchards 8.0
    Sardines 7.5
    Tuna in oil 5.8
    Fruit/veg 0

    Because of the limitation of vitamin D in the food supply, we rely on the sun to provide the vast majority of our vitamin D needs.

    Vitamin D Daily Reference Intake

    Before 1997, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for infants and children was 10 mcg (400IU). That is the amount of the vitamin found in a teaspoon of cod liver oil; an amount that was found to effectively and safely prevent rickets.

    The adult RDA was put at 200IU, half the children’s dose, for no particular reason. It was not based on its effect on the serum 25(OH)D concentration. It appears to be completely arbitrary.

    The newly revised daily reference intakes maintain these recommendations, although there was a big increase for those aged over 70.

    Stages of Vitamin D Status

    Dr Zittermann (British Journal of Nutrition Vol 89(5), May 2003, pp 552-572), puts vitamin D (25(OH)D nmol/L) status into 5 ranges: deficiency (below 12.5), insufficiency (12.6 - 50), hypovitaminosis (51 - 100), sufficiency (101 - 250), and toxicity (251+).

    In deficiency there is severe hyperparathyroidism, calcium malabsorption, bone diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, and myopathy.

    Insufficiency results in mild hyperparathyroidism, low intestinal calcium absorption rates, reduced bone mineral density, and perhaps subclinical myopathy.

    In hypovitaminosis, body stores are low and parathyroid hormone levels can be slightly elevated.

    In sufficiency, there is no disturbance of vitamin D dependent functions.

    In toxicity, too much calcium is absorbed leading to hypercalcaemia.

    Vitamin D Status in the UK

    In the winter, children average 52nmol/L which just pushes them from insufficiency into the hypovitaminosis range. Although in the summer this rises to 80, it still remains in this range. Children with dark skin have levels throughout the year ranging from 36 - 42, which puts them in the insufficient range.

    The situation with teenagers and young adults is often worse than with children. For instance in France, adolescents average 21 in winter and 71 in summer. In Germany, young adults average 30 in winter and 70 in summer. Since these countries have a more southerly latitude than the UK and their summer holidays begin earlier than in the UK, it is quite likely that the figures for UK adolescents and young adults would be even worse.

    Elderly people in the UK average 23 and 35 in the winter and summer respectively, which puts them at great risk.

    This was recognised in a recent paper (BMJ. 2005 Mar 5;330(7490):524-6) which concluded: “Vitamin D deficiency among elderly people is much more common than previously recognised. It constitutes a serious public health problem for residents of old people's homes, nursing homes, and long stay wards and housebound people in the community. The consequences include muscle weakness, body sway, and a tendency to falls and fractures, as well as osteomalacia.”

    “Exercise is one evidence based approach to preventing falls, but not all elderly people are able to access or take up exercise training owing to disability and other factors. Treating elderly housebound people with 800IU daily of vitamin D (or equivalent, such as 100,000IU every 4 months) should also be seriously considered.”

    How Much Sun Exposure?

    The UK National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) claim in their 2002 report that “short periods outdoors as normally occur in everyday life will produce sufficient vitamin D and additional or intensive exposures will not confer further benefit.” This appears to be based on just one study of 10 elderly people during a single English summer.

    Reinhold Vieth, an internationally recognised expert on vitamin D takes a different view. He calculates that such short exposures on the hands and face as the NRPB recommend will only supply between 200IU and 400IU during the summer months, an amount that will leave a substantial proportion of the population deficient.

    In the tropics one only needs to spend ten minutes in the sun to achieve maximum synthesis of pre-vitamin D in the area exposed directly to the sun and thereby maximum production in the body.

    Michael Holick, one of the world’s foremost authorities on vitamin D (who was sacked from his post last year at Boston University for suggesting that people seek out a few minutes of unblocked sunlight a couple of times per week) has demonstrated that the amount of vitamin D synthesised at different latitudes can be quite substantial.

    At midday in Boston (latitude 42ºN) 50% more pre-vitamin D can be synthesised compared to Edmonton, Canada (latitide 52ºN). The latter has almost the same latitude as London, England.

    In Britain (latitude 51ºN - 61ºN) the ultraviolet band isn’t strong enough for 6 months of the year between October and March to promote any vitamin D synthesis (this is extended by 4 - 6 weeks in Scotland).

    Since the half life of vitamin D in the body is no more than 6 weeks, deficiencies are likely to be well established in many people by late winter or early spring.

    Babies born during this period are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency and are at greater risk of the health problems covered earlier. Also, since vitamin D is low in milk, breast-fed babies who are kept out of the sun may be at even greater risk.

    This was pointed out in a paper in The Lancet in 2003. It told of how rickets is reappearing because of extensive breastfeeding without supplementation especially where mothers are deficient. They also pointed to avoidance of the sun because of cancer fears, and the high prevalence of immigrant groups in temperate climates.

    Vieth, as well as other experts have suggested that optimum health would be achieved with a daily vitamin D input of 2000IU. For a white person in England in the middle of summer, to achieve these levels would require them to sunbathe for 20 minutes three times a week between 11.00am and 3.00pm.

    Dark skinned people take up to six times as long to make the same amount of vitamin D as those with white skin. To achieve the same result, a person with dark skin would have to sunbathe for 6, one hour sessions a week.

    According to professor Holick: “People don't realise that 90 to 95% of your vitamin D requirement comes from exposure from sunlight, and if you always wear sun block and never have direct sun exposure you will become vitamin D deficient, and at high risk of developing many serious chronic diseases.”

    Sunlight & Skin Cancer

    The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma. 7000 people are diagnosed each year. The annual death rate in the UK is 1,750. There are other types of skin cancer that people die of each year which account for another 200 deaths.

    It is assumed that melanoma is caused by the sun, but the mechanism for this is unclear. Adults and children who work and play outdoors have less melonoma than those who work or play more indoors. People who recall being sunburned and who are only exposed irregularly to the sun have a higher risk of melanoma especially if they have fair skin.

    If the sun was the cause of melanoma one would expect most cases to occur on the hands and face. In fact in white people most cases occur on men’s backs and women’s upper legs. In black people they occur on the lower legs and soles of the feet.

    Two-thirds of melanoma are deemed to be caused by excessive sun exposure. However other methods of analysis put this at 10 - 15%.

    Other risk factors for melanoma include excess body weight, lack of exercise and poor diets. The increase in melanoma over the last two decades parallels many other types of cancer.

    One of the world's foremost authorities on the subject of skin cancer is dermatologist A. Bernard Ackerman, MD. He states that the link between melanoma and sun exposure has not been proven. Sunburns, even the painful or blistering kind sustained early in life, do not necessarily lead to cancer. The research is inconsistent and fails to make the case.

    Sunscreens do not protect against melanoma. He points to a recent editorial in the Archives of Dermatology, which also concludes that there is scant evidence to support this crucial dogma (Bigby 2004).

    He challenges the tenet that the more intense a person's exposure to the sun, the greater their risk of melanoma. Although we are told that the incidence of melanoma increases in populations that live nearer the equator, the correlation is not that simple. Epidemiological data on melanoma, says Dr. Ackerman, are imprecise and inaccurate. The data simply “cannot demonstrate cause and effect.” He advises people not to make the mistake of thinking that by avoiding sunlight or using sunscreen they will be protected against deadly melanoma. This, he says, is a myth.
    Dr. William B. Grant, who heads the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, agrees that sunscreens fail to protect against melanoma. He points out that sunscreens primarily block the shorter wavelength UV radiation, whereas it is the longer wavelength UV that poses the greater risk for melanoma.

    Dr. Grant feels that while there is some evidence pointing to a link between sunlight and melanoma, it is not a simple cause and effect relationship. Many other factors should be taken into account. For example, while it is true that melanoma rates increase with increasing latitude, it is also true that occupational exposure to UV radiation is associated with a reduced risk of melanoma. Conversely, for those of northern European ancestry living south of their latitude of origin, melanoma rates are much higher than they are in their countries of origin.

    Dr. Grant also points out that there is substantial evidence that dietary factors, particularly vitamin D, can have a significant effect on the risk of developing melanoma. He points to the work of Millen and colleagues, of the National Institutes of Health, showing that diets rich in vitamin D and carotenoids, and low in alcohol, may be associated with a reduction in risk for melanoma. Therefore, Dr. Grant feels that diverse factors including diet, skin type, the presence, number and type of moles, and ethnic, ancestral and geographic origin also have a major influence on melanoma risk. To say that sunlight causes melanoma is at best an oversimplification and at worst a distortion of the scientific evidence.

    Of the 1.3 million people who will be diagnosed with cancer this year in the USA, nearly 600,000 will die. Dr. Grant estimates that about 47,000 of these deaths will result from internal cancers that could have been prevented by adequate UV exposure and consequent vitamin D synthesis.

    Dr Ackerman also points out that the definition of melanoma has changed over the past few decades, leading doctors to diagnose, remove and cure lesions that until recently would not have been called melanoma. This puts in doubt whether there really is an ‘epidemic’ of melanoma.

    More than 60,000 cases occur annually in the UK. Fortunately the vast majority are easily treatable. However in a small number of cases they can leave disfiguring scars and several hundred deaths result from these cancers.

    The most common is basal cell followed by squamous cell. The latter has been linked to sunlight but there is some doubt about the former. These skin cancers occur commonly in the elderly and some research suggests that excess body weight and high fat diets are risk factors.


    The message to “keep out of the sun” is a decade out of date. It doesn’t take into account new research findings on vitamin D that show it to be vital to our immune and many other body systems.

    In formulating a public health policy, you have to look at all factors and not just isolate a single issue. Restricting sun exposure may or may not reduce the number of deaths from skin cancer. Even if lives are saved they will be few in number. Compare that to the lives saved from colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and possibly 13 other cancers. Compare that to those who’s lives might be saved from autoimmune diseases, fractures and cardiovascular disease.

    Dermatologists should not be determining national policy on this issue. Many other specialists should be allowed to put forward evidence from their own speciality. Whatever happened to the new evidence-based criteria for dealing with health issues? If such evidence were allowed, evidence which points to the substantial benefits that derive from optimal vitamin D intake, then the current policy would surely be scrapped.

    The National Cancer Institute published two studies in February (see Addendum). In one, a history of high UV exposure was associated with reduced risk of non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The greater the exposure, the lower the risk.

    In the other study, those with early onset melanoma who had been sunburned, had high intermittent sun exposure and sun damaged skin were less likely to die than those who kept out of the sun.

    These studies prompted an editorial in the Journal. They looked at some of the evidence and concluded that sunlight is a beneficial influence on the incidence and outcome of cancer, probably via vitamin D synthesis.

    Unfortunately, dermatologists have backed themselves into a corner on this issue and prefer to maintain the “keep out of the sun” mantra rather than look at the research evidence or wider issues. If they won’t back down, then pressure must come from elsewhere. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait for an acute epidemic of vitamin D deficiency diseases before there is a change of policy.

    “There’s no such thing as a healthy tan” is a simple health message to put across. But it’s wrong. A sensible sun policy is not easy to put across because it must take into account differing skin types, presence of moles, ethnicity, family history and lifestyle factors. That is a real problem, but surely not an insoluble one.


    Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma
    528 subjects with cutaneous melanoma were followed up for 5 years. Data, including measures of intermittent sun exposure, perceived awareness of the skin, skin self-screening, and physician screening, were collected during in-person interviews and review of histopathology and histologic parameters for all of the lesions. During the period 58 died of melanoma and 24 from other causes.

    Results: sunburn, high intermittent sun exposure, skin awareness histories and solar elastosis (a marker of sun damage) were statistically significantly inversely associated with deaths from melanoma.

    Conclusion: sun exposure is associated with increased survival from melanoma.
    Journal of the National Cancer Institute Vol. 97 No. 3 February 2nd, 2005 p. 195 – 199

    Comment: Mortality from melanoma was approximately half as much among those with significant solar elastosis as those without.

    The authors speculate whether an effect of sun exposure on melanoma survival is plausible biologically. “Sun exposure is necessary for the syntheisis of 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 in the skin which, when converted to 1,25(OH)2 D3, the primary ligand for the vitamin D receptor, has anti-proliferative and proapoptic effects. It would be reasonable to speculate therefore that the apparently beneficial relationship between sun exposure and survival from melanoma could be mediated by vitamin D.”

    However they put forward another possibility. That the sun induces melanization and increases DNA repair capacity.

    Ultraviolet radiation exposure and risk of malignant lymphomas
    3,740 patients from Denmark and Sweden diagnosed with malignant lymphomas and 3,187 controls provided a detailed history of UV exposure, skin cancer and other risk factors.

    Results: there was a consistent statistically significant negative association between various measures of light exposure and risk of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A high frequency of sunbathing and sun burns at age 20 and at 5 - 10 years before the interviews and sun vacations abroad were associated with 30 - 40% reduced risk of non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These inverse associations increased as levels of sun exposure increased. There was a similar but weaker association with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    Conclusion: a history of high UV exposure was associated with reduced risk of non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The positive association between skin cancer and malignant lymphomas is therefore unlikely to be mediated by UV exposure.
    Journal of the National Cancer Institute Vol. 97 No. 3 February 2nd, 2005 p. 199 – 209

    Comment: The Journal’s editorial, commenting on these two papers, was entitled “Sunlight and Reduced Risk of Cancer. Is The Real Story Vitamin D?” They refer to a number of other related studies and hypothesise that vitamin D may be a critical mediator in the relationship between sunlight and cancer. Solar radiation may have a beneficial influence on both the incidence and outcome of cancer.

    In terms of what kind of public health message to make regarding safe levels of sun exposure, they could find no simple answer. A high rate of skin cancer is attributable to UV. Melanomas represent a tiny fraction of these but can be fatal. Each of us has to look at our pigmentation, proneness to sunburn, family and medical history.

    They point out that substantial numbers of people in northern latitudes are deficient in vitamin D during the winter months and mention best food sources of the vitamin. They even say that supplements are available although they fall short of recommending them.

    Recent developments in vitamin D deficiency and muscle weakness among elderly people
    Higher plasma concentration of calcidiol (an intermediate metabolite of the vitamin D group that is formed in the liver) is associated with muscle strength, physical activity, and ability to climb stairs. Lower concentrations are associated with falls among the elderly. Trials support this, with incidence of falls halved and improved musculoskeletal function with supplements of 800IU of vitamin D plus calcium.

    Among elderly housebound, frequency of severe vitamin D deficiency was 8.3% for those aged 65 - 74, 14.5% for those aged 75 - 84, and 17.4% at 85+. As well as age and housebound status, vitamin D deficiency is ten times higher in African-American than white women in America.

    When vitamin D supplements fail to work it is because of inadequate dose. 400IU a day is ineffective in reducing frequency of fractures. High dosages are safe. Lowest level at which adverse effects found was a serum calcidiol concentration of 200nmol/L corresponding to a daily intake of 40,000IU. 800IU therefore has a 50-fold margin of safety.

    Conclusion: vitamin D deficiency in the elderly is much more common than previously recognised. Treating elderly housebound with 800IU a day or 100,000IU every 4 months should be seriously considered.
    British Medical Journal Vol. 330 No. 5th March, 2005 p. 524 – 526

    Natural Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    by Maria Esposito

    Many people are prescribed drugs by their doctor that treat the symptoms of IBS, but not the causes. There is, however, a range of non-drug solutions that can treat the disorder itself successfully.

    To read this article please go to: Natural Treatment For IBS

    Nutritional Individuality & Metabolic Typing

    Dr Roger Williams was given morphine to control the pain and send him to sleep after an ulcer operation. It did relieve the pain but did not send him to sleep. In fact it made his mind active. So his doctor gave him a second, heavier dose. That would surely do the trick. The result was a mind that raced even faster. He had “a long night full of torture.”

    This incident was put aside for many years, but eventually he went on to make a study of the differences between people. Astonishing anatomical differences that make for different characters and personalities. Differences in hormone and enzyme secretions, composition of body fluids, sleep requirements and patterns, reactions to temperature, alcohol consumption capacity, food selection and metabolism etc.

    The Genetotrophic Principle

    People’s nutritional requirements were also found to vary. Inadequate or unbalanced nutrition at the cellular level was deemed to be an important cause of poor health. He called this the genetotrophic principle.

    “Every individual organism that has a distinctive genetic background has distinctive nutritional needs which must be met for optimal well-being.”

    He suggested the metabolic peculiarities that predispose towards a particular health problem should be sought, and the metabolic weakness should be corrected through optimum nutrition for that individual.

    Mainstream medicine largely ignored the biochemical individuality approach. But orthodontist William Donald Kelley was influenced by his work after his wife’s illness.

    Given only weeks to live, he cured his own cancer with a vegetarian, wholefood diet, nutritional supplements and detoxification. He went on to treat many other people successfully with cancer and degenerative diseases.

    Yet when his wife became very ill after being exposed to toxic paint fumes, the regimen which saved him actually worsened her condition. In a last desperate attempt to save her, he fed her beef broth. Her health rapidly recovered. This incident made him realise there was no universal diet. He devised a way to assess people’s unique dietary needs through metabolic typing.

    The Autonomic Model

    The clue to where he should look came from two other researchers, Francis Pottenger MD and Royal Lee DDS. They discovered that much of the answer lay in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that controls bodily processes outside of conscious control. Divided into two parts, the sympathetic “fight or flight” branch which tends to speed up metabolism, and the parasympathetic “rest and digest” branch which tends to slow metabolism.

    People may be neurologically influenced by one system more than the other, and they may differ in the degree to which they are influenced by the ANS as a whole. These inborn genetic/environmental influences can result in either sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance in an individual. This will give rise to different physical, behavioural and psychological tendencies.

    For instance, the sympathetic dominant type will tend to be tall and thin with an angular face, tend towards high blood pressure and constipation, have a poor appetite, be highly motivated with excellent concentration.

    The parasympathetic dominant type will be shorter and wider with a round face, tend towards low blood pressure and diarrhoea, have a big appetite, procrastinate and be lethargic.

    These are just a small selection of differences. In fact there are hundreds of physical and behavioural differences and health problems associated with, or prone to each of the dominant types.

    Dr Pottenger was the first to use calcium and potassium to influence both branches to guide the ANS into balance. Lee expanded the use of nutrients and defined a broader range of health problem linked to ANS imbalance. But it was Kelley who used the ANS as a means to determine people’s metabolic individuality.

    After analysing thousands of people, Kelley believed they could be placed into 3 basic categories. The sympathetic dominant type requires a high carbohydrate, low protein, predominantly vegetarian diet to function optimally. The parasympathetic dominant type needs a high percentage of calories from fatty meat. The third category are balanced types who thrive on a wide variety of foods. These 3 basic types were divided into 10 subtypes, each with their own dietary and nutritional requirements.

    Many people with serious health problems regained their health using Kelley’s protocols. However, he was unable to help everybody. Indeed, some people’s health deteriorated. Why was this?

    The Oxidative Model

    George Watson PhD ascribed mental and emotional disorders to metabolic problems. Over the years he was able to restore the health of several hundred patients who had exhausted psychotherapy and standard medical procedures. People with depression, mood swings, poor concentration and erratic behaviour. He solved their problems through diet and nutritional supplementation.

    He developed his own metabolic typing system based on cellular oxidation. Foods are turned into energy in a sequence of steps in glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. Certain vitamins and minerals are required at each stage. A lack of these can result in less than optimal energy production and “a wide variety of mental and emotional disorders.” How a person functions psychologically depends on the rate of cellular oxidation.

    Through many years of research, Watson found some people can be fast or slow oxidisers. Fast oxidisers do not burn sugar rapidly enough or in sufficient amounts in glycolysis. Slow oxidisers do the opposite. Since the normal functioning of the Krebs cycle - which produces most of the energy - depends on the efficient functioning of the glycolytic energy cycle, any problems with the latter will affect the rate of energy release and the amount of energy that can be formed.

    Although genetics and environment affect cellular oxidation, it can be influenced by diet. By varying the proportion of carbohydrates to fat to protein; by varying the type of protein eaten; by giving specific vitamins and minerals depending on oxidative type, imbalances could be rectified.

    The Dominance Factor

    William Wolcott worked as Dr. Kelley’s clinical assistant. He came across Watson’s work in 1981. While it confirmed the importance of metabolic typing, it presented a problem. The oxidative model contradicted the ANS model! For instance, in the former, potassium has an acidifying effect. In the latter it alkalises. Wolcott discovered the answer to this seeming contradiction lay in which system, oxidative or ANS, was dominant in any particular individual. The dominance factor determines how foods or nutrients behave in the body, so it is essential to know which system is dominant.

    This explained why some people on Kelley’s programme got worse. Once this new protocol was put into action many difficult cases could be resolved. “The results were swift and dramatic. Suddenly I began seeing real progress in those who had not previously responded to nutritional regimens based just on the Kelley autonomic model alone.”

    “Together, the autonomic type and the oxidation rate determine the overall metabolic type and define the requirements of nutritional individuality. It is imperative for the practising nutritional therapist to accurately determine their interrelationships. It is only in so doing that the therapist will be rewarded with success. If the requirements of the nutritional individuality are correctly fulfilled, the results can be so astonishing as to appear to stem from the realm of magic. It is only then that the therapist can understand from his own experience that truly, food can be our medicine or our poison.”

    Other Metabolic Influences

    Although the ANS and oxidation rate are the most important metabolic variables, there are many others.

    Anabolic and Catabolic Imbalance
    Anabolic/catabolic balance, based on the research of the late Dr Revici, is concerned with the build up and breakdown of bodily tissues, the quality of energy production within each cell, and the permeability of cell membranes.

    With anabolic imbalance there is an excess of sterols to fatty acids. The inflow of oxygen and nutrients and the outflow of wastes are compromised. This causes a shift towards anaerobic metabolism. In catabolic imbalance, the opposite applies with excess oxidation and resulting free radical generation.

    Electrolyte Balance
    Regulates circulation and osmotic pressure. Electrolyte balance is based on the research of Guy Schenker. Electrolyte excess can lead to clumping, making it difficult for fluids to circulate, putting stress on the cardiovascular system. Electrolyte deficiency can disrupt the endocrine and cardiovascular system.

    Acid/Alkaline Balance
    Changes in pH are usually due to their effect on homeostatic controls. Those who are too acid for instance tend to be sympathetic dominant fast oxidisers. pH is also influenced by anabolic/catabolic balance, electrolyte balance, respiration, endocrine functioning and to a lesser extent, food ash. There are also six other acid/alkaline imbalances that involve respiratory and renal function.

    Prostaglandin Balance
    These regulate inflammatory and immune responses. The main ones are series one, two and three. Each series can be influenced by diet, drugs, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

    Endocrine & Blood Type
    Drs. Bieler and Abravanel found each gland can be stimulated by certain foods, and Drs. D’Adamo found that certain people are affected by blood type specific dietary lectins.

    Metabolic Typing in Practice

    The complexities of metabolism seem insurmountable. However, typing is not impossible. True, for someone with a serious chronic illness, a questionnaire covering over 3000 questions will have to be answered and a good deal of lab work carried out.

    For others, answering 65 questions will give an idea of which general category a person is in. Wolcott says this has a “very high degree of accuracy” being a “remarkably advanced and powerful tool.” If clarification is required, he provides a means to fine tune the diet so the right macronutrient ratios can be identified. Details in his book or

    Harold Kristal DDS provides a Self-Test Kit allowing a number of tests to be carried out at home over a 3 hour period. The Kit contains a blood glucose meter and test strips, lancets, glucose and protein challenge powders, pH papers and questionnaire. A chart is filled out during the testing period and the results are faxed or posted off. A report is then sent back informing the user of their metabolic type.

    If you would like to visit a therapist who has been trained to find out your metabolic type then please visit Metabolic Typing Therapist

    Kristal, H J & Haig, N C The Nutrition Solution. North Atlantic Books, 2002 Website:
    Valentine, V & C. Medicine’s Missing Link. Thorsons, 1987
    Watson, George. Nutrition & Your Mind. Harper & Row 1972
    Wiley, Rudolf A. BioBalance. Life Sciences Press 1989
    Williams, Roger J. Biochemical Individuality. Wiley, 1956
    ______________ You are Extraordinary. Pyramid, 1967
    Wolcott, W & Fahey F. The Metabolic Typing Diet. Broadway Books, 2000 Website:

    Nutrition & Behaviour

    There’s been a great deal in the news lately about the unacceptable behaviour of British youths. The Government has outlined various measures to deal with yobs, louts and thugs, but like all Government measures, they deal with effects, not the underlying causes of the problem. As Vernon Howard states in The Power of Psycho Pictography, an awakened individual “sees society’s problems in an entirely different way from the social authorities who are called upon to solve the problems.”
    One such awakened individual is the chef Jamie Oliver who has been running a campaign to improve the quality of school dinners. He took his campaign all the way to Downing Street together with a petition signed by over a quarter of a million people.

    More money will be spent on school meals, and dinner ladies will get better training. It’s a start, but it will take much more than this to change such long established bad eating habits.

    Personally I prefer the approach tried in Scotland. Here, the authorities are concentrating in an area where they have a true
    expertise - bribery. The Guardian reported as follows:

    “In a pilot scheme, Glasgow city council awarded children who eschewed burger and chips for the healthy option on the lunchtime menu, with rewards ranging from cinema tickets to iPods and Xbox consoles.”

    “It has been so successful that it has now been introduced in all 29 secondary schools in the local authority.”

    “The scheme works in much the same way as supermarket loyalty cards. The school children use a swipe card to pay for their school dinner, which also records what they have bought and rewards points based on how healthy it is.”

    “If the pupil opts for the burger, it is only four points towards the iPod. Should they, however, opt for the "vital mix" - an option
    which changes every day but includes things like soups, filled pittas, raisins and yoghurts - they get 40 points.”

    “In order to get the 20GB iPod, the pupil must tot up 4,000 points - a hundred healthy meals or a thousand burgers.”

    “More easily attainable rewards are also on offer: a pair of cinema tickets for 850 points, or a £10 Amazon voucher for 1,500 points.”

    "Nobody is suggesting it's a panacea, but we have had remarkably good results," said Steven Purcell, the council's education convener.”

    Although the focus of these campaigns is to improve children’s health, it also has an impact on their brains. Teachers have reported better concentration and behaviour. The food giants will claim this to be nothing more than anecdotal and based on expectation. I don’t think so. For a start, people associate food with health but not behaviour and mental function. Secondly, there is a great deal of research demonstrating an association.

    If the powers that be are serious about improving youth behaviour they will carry out policies based on research evidence rather than pandering to the financial greed of large corporations.

    The Magic of Water

    Let’s start with basics - water. Dehydration reduces mental performance. Just a 1% loss of body weight from fluid loss causes mild dehydration. For a 10 year old weighing 30kg, this amounts to only 300ml of fluid. Children who don’t drink enough can suffer from poor concentration, irritability and behavioural problems.

    Three years ago there was a report that children weren’t getting enough water to drink because schools were not supplying it. In one primary school where the children were instructed to bring in bottles filled with water each day which they kept on their desks, irritability was noticeably reduced, their concentration improved and learning time was extended.

    Niacinamide To The Rescue

    Brain cells are no different to any other cells in the body. They need to be properly fed, be able to eliminate waste and exclude foreign organisms and poisons if they are to function normally.

    Doctors are very resistant to the idea that the brain could be short of nutrients because the body is bound to give priority to it. This may be true but it does not follow that it will be adequately nourished. This should be obvious by the simple fact of pellagra.

    This niacin deficiency disease may lead to extreme insanity preceded by nervousness, loss of memory, confusion, irritability, suspiciousness, hallucinations, apprehensiveness and depression. The cure for this is to supply the missing nutrient, vitamin B3. Sanity is restored within a week. This is an obvious case of a mental disease caused by a vitamin deficiency.

    Is it so far fetched to believe that other nutrients known to be essential for proper brain functioning might be in short supply and give rise to mental and behavioural problems?

    Subclinical Beri-Beri

    A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 33 (2): 169 - 530 in 1980. This concerned juvenile offenders who had poor impulse control, were easily irritated and angered, sensitive to criticism, hostile and aggressive.

    Their diets were rich in refined carbohydrates and blood tests revealed them to be very short of thiamine. They were each given up to 300mg of vitamin B1 for three weeks until blood levels increased to normal. When the desired level was reached, the personality traits described, disappeared. They were no longer hostile and aggressive.

    Another study demonstrated an improvement in children’s learning capacity by 25%. Some even saw their behavioural problems disappear completely.

    Mighty Minerals

    The B group vitamins are particularly associated with mental functioning but it is likely that all vitamins have some role to play.

    Vitamin C for instance became implicated in mental disease 60 years ago when schizophrenics saw marked improvement in their condition after supplementation. This may have occurred not because of the vitamin directly but because its deficiency raises copper levels and excess copper is a cause of mental illness.

    Five studies have reported that a low selenium intake was associated with poorer mood. The lower the level of selenium in the diet the more reports of anxiety, depression, and tiredness. These findings are particularly relevant the UK since selenium intake is so low.

    A study published in The Lancet back in 1976 demonstrated that zinc deficiency may make children irritable, tearful, sullen and have gaze aversion.

    Other minerals that are known to affect mental functioning when deficient are potassium, which causes increased nervous instability and mental disorientation, and iodine which in extreme cases causes cretinism. Calcium, magnesium and chromium also have roles in mental health.

    Fatty Acids Improve Behaviour

    Mounting evidence suggests that a relative lack of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids may contribute to related neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    A research project has been taking place across primary schools in County Durham. Fish oil (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid) supplements called Eye Q, were given to 110 children with co-ordination problems such as dyspraxia. More than half the children also had ADHD while 20 suffered from dyslexia.

    Some of the children were given fish oil supplements. Others were given an olive oil-based placebo. The trials found that about 40% of children taking the genuine supplements were seen to respond “significantly” to treatment, improving markedly in 12 behavioural areas, including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity — all features of ADHD. Memories were also enhanced while some children saw improvements in their reading age by as much as four years. The research was published in Pediatrics, May, 2005.

    Judith Pressley, head at one of the schools, said: “Children were calmer and easier to manage, when before they might have been
    willing to be disruptive.”

    Lord Winston said he believed there was “a lot of evidence” that fish oils were beneficial. “...some of the studies are very
    encouraging and would suggest that they do change behaviour and cognition in children and probably adults too.”

    Reducing Violence In Schools

    Many studies conducted in juvenile correctional institutions have reported that violence and serious antisocial behaviour could be cut by almost half after implementing diets adequate in nutrients and consistent with World Health Organization guidelines for fats, sugar, starches, and protein ratios.

    By 2000, two controlled trials tested whether the cause of the behavioural improvements was psychological or biological in nature by comparing the behaviour of offenders who either received placebos or vitamin-mineral supplements designed to provide the micronutrient equivalent of a well-balanced diet.

    These randomised trials reported that institutionalised offenders, aged 13 to 17 or 18 to 26, when given active nutritional supplements produced about 40% less violent and other antisocial behaviour than the placebo controls.

    Stephen Schoenthaler, a very well known researcher in this field wanted to test the effect of nutritional supplementation not in
    correctional institutions but in ordinary schools to see if it made any difference to children’s behaviour.

    He conducted a study to determine if schoolchildren, aged 6 to 12 years, who are given low dose vitamin-mineral tablets will
    produce significantly less violence and antisocial behaviour in school than classmates who are given placebos.

    Daily vitamin-mineral supplementation at 50% of the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) for 4 months versus placebo were given. The supplement was designed to raise vitamin-mineral intake up to the levels currently recommended by the National Academy of Sciences for children aged 6 to 11 years.

    Of the 468 students randomly assigned to active or placebo tablets, the 80 who were disciplined at least once between September 1st and May 1st served as the research sample. During intervention, the 40 children who received active tablets were disciplined, on average, 1 time each, a 47% lower mean rate of antisocial behaviour than the 1.875 times each for the 40 children who received placebos.

    The children who took active tablets produced lower rates of antisocial behaviour in 8 types of recorded infractions: threats/fighting, vandalism, being disrespectful, disorderly conduct, defiance, obscenities, refusal to work or serve, endangering others, and nonspecified offenses.

    The paper concluded that “poor nutritional habits in children that lead to low concentrations of water-soluble vitamins in blood, impair brain function and subsequently cause violence and other serious antisocial behaviour.”

    “Correction of nutrient intake, either through a well-balanced diet or low-dose vitamin-mineral supplementation, corrects the low concentrations of vitamins in blood, improves brain function and subsequently lowers institutional violence and antisocial behaviour by almost half.” (J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Feb;6(1):7-17)

    Cutting Antisocial Behaviour In Prison

    Bernard Gesch et al from Oxford University tested the influence of nutrition on antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners.

    Participants were 231 prisoners, aged 18–21 years, typically serving long sentences for serious offences. They received dietary
    supplementation or placebo. The supplementation group received a vitamin and mineral supplement based on 100% of the Reference Nutrient Intakes and essential fatty acid supplements in 4 daily capsules (1260 mg linoleic acid; 80 mg gamma linolenic acid; 80 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, and 44 mg docasahexaenoic acid). The average time spent on supplementation or placebo was 142 days.

    Antisocial behaviour was measured using incidents adjudicated by Governor reports (serious incidents such as violence) and minor action reports (for instance, failure to comply with requirements) which had been ‘proven by adjudication.’

    Participants receiving supplements were 26.3% less likely to be reported for antisocial behaviour than those who received placebo (mean difference 11.8 less infringements in the supplement group). This rose to 37% for more serious incidents including violence.

    Compared to baseline, the effect on those taking active supplements for a minimum of 2 weeks was an average 35.1% reduction of offences, whereas placebos remained within standard error. No participant withdrew due to ill effects of supplementation and there were no adverse events reported.

    Supplementing prisoners' diets with physiological dosages of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids caused a reduction in
    antisocial behaviour to a remarkable degree. Because of the study design these differences could not be accounted for by social or ethnic factors.

    The authors believe these results are unlikely to be limited to prisons because “there is no evidence that imprisonment affects the
    essentiality of these nutrients for human metabolism.” In fact they believe a greater impact is likely on offenders within the
    community because in custody regular meals are provided. (Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:22-8)

    Nutrition & Psychiatric Disorders

    There was an interesting editorial in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, December, 2001 by Charles Popper MD entitled “Do Vitamins or Minerals (Apart From Lithium) Have Mood-Stabilizing Effects?”

    He starts off by stating that when farm animals engage in aggressive behaviour, this tendency can be reduced by adding vitamins and minerals to the animals’ diets.

    When this information was relayed to Anthony Stephan by David Hardy, an animal nutrition specialist, he tried the approach on his children who had severe treatment-resistant bipolar disorder. Their condition stabilised with no need for medication. Hardy and Stephan have since worked with thousands of psychiatric patients.

    They began a collaboration with BJ Kaplan who carried out an open trial of the first 14 adults with bipolar disorder treated with the same nutritional supplement used by Hardy and Stephan, which consists of a broad range of minerals and vitamins, plus 3 amino acids and several antioxidants.

    Symptom reductions were clinically noted within 2 weeks and sustained over 6 months of observation. All outcome measures showed significant improvements (55% to 66% symptom reduction), and a strong effect size was observed for ratings of depression as well as mania. Most patients could reduce their doses of psychiatric medications, and some patients became stable without any psychiatric medication.

    Kaplan went on to publish two case studies of children with unstable moods and explosive rage in 2002. Mood, angry outbursts, and obsessional symptoms improved when initially treated, returned when not taking the supplement, and remitted when the micronutrient supplement was reintroduced. Both boys have been followed and were stable on the nutritional supplement for over 2 years.

    “These cases suggest that mood lability and explosive rage can, in some cases, be managed with a mixture of biologically active minerals and vitamins, without using lithium or other traditional psychopharmacologic agents.”

    This was followed by another study of 9 children with mood and behavioural disturbances published last year. Yet again big improvements were witnessed.

    Dr. Popper’s interest in nutrition was sparked by a case in his clinical practice. A 10-year-old with bipolar disorder was referred for treatment of severe temper tantrums, which had lasted for 2 to 4 hours daily for 4 months. The well-nourished child had no prior psychiatric history or treatment.

    After 2 days on the Hardy-Stephan nutrient regimen, his tantrums showed significant improvement, with the father-psychiatrist
    reporting a "complete" absence of outbursts or even irritability at 5 days. After 2 weeks, the available supply of the nutrient supplement was exhausted, and tantrums returned within 48 hours.

    A similar supplement, containing most of the same ingredients, was then started and produced a moderate improvement, which parents and teachers estimated as 60% of the original effect. When restarted on the original formula, the symptoms were judged to have again responded completely.

    He then started his own trials. Among 22 patients who clinically met criteria for bipolar disorder, 19 showed a positive response.

    Among the 15 patients who were being treated with medications when they began the nutritional supplement, 11 patients have remained stable for 6 to 9 months without psychiatric medications.


    Nobody is suggesting that improved diets and nutritional supplementation will make schools, prisons and town centres on a Friday night places of peace and tranquility. But it should be obvious after decades of research that children and young adults are commonly deficient in the nutrients required for proper brain function and behaviour.

    Although it may be impossible to persuade young people or their parents to improve their diets directly (without bribery), within the confines of a school, detention centre or prison, the authorities have a captive audience and could provide nutritious meals if they have the political will and are prepared to devote the needed training and resources.

    If you would like to visit a nutritionist in Stoke Newington, north London or Central London please go to: London Nutrition Consultant

    Delaying Ageing & Optimising Health With Diet & Supplements

    by Bruce Ames

    When you eat fat and carbohydrate, you burn them in the 500 mitochondria that are in each cell.

    All the oxygen you breathe in goes through the mitochondria. You’re pulling electrons from fuel and adding them to oxygen. But there’s always a little leakage from this process to make superoxides or hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals. These are the very substances you get from radiation exposure. So the process of living is similar to being exposed to radiation.

    This is behind the free radical theory of ageing for which the evidence continues to grow.

    Mitochondrial decay is a key factor in ageing and degenerative diseases. Defences against this within the cells include superoxide dismutase, catalase and other many other enzymes that are designed to destroy these oxidants. But it doesn’t pay nature to be 100% perfect because nature wants you to reproduce and nature selects for genes that benefit early reproduction. Degenerative diseases come too late to be selective factors.

    Every time DNA gets damaged you get a lesion in it. Then repair mechanisms come along to fix the damage so the DNA is unblemished. The other repair systems are specific enzymes, half of which are for oxidants. Meanwhile the lesions undergo chemical changes and end up in the urine. Looking at the urine it was discovered that there are around 100,000 damaged DNA bases that are repaired each day for every cell in the body. This was much greater than expected. The repairs are nearly 100% but not quite, and the efficiency of repair lessens with ageing.

    Protein also undergoes oxidation and this process accelerates with ageing. Lipids also oxidize similarly. Mitochondrial decay is a key factor in ageing although not the only one. In the mitochondria, proteins are passed across an inner membrane creating an electrical charge across it. Mitochondria are like rechargeable batteries and it’s that charge that allows ATP, the chemical energy of the cell, to be made and to power our bodies. With ageing the membrane potential goes down, a key lipid functions less well making the membrane stiffer and protein function is less efficient. Oxygen utilisation goes down and oxidant leakage goes up, so more damaging oxidants are made. This slow decaying is at the root of a lot of degenerative diseases.

    Acetyl Carnitine & Lipoic Acid

    Acetyl carnitine is a small molecule that’s used only in mitochondria to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned. In an experiment with old rats it was found that supplementing acetyl carnitine in their drinking water improved the factors associated with ageing. A key mitochondrial lipid that goes down with age came back up with the supplement.

    Membrane potential improved. The only thing that didn’t improve was oxidation. The old rats were still pouring out oxidants at the same rate. So lipoic acid was tried since this is a strong antioxidant and a mitochondrial coenzyme. It was put in their food for a month. It brought down the level of oxidants similar to those of a young animal. Then both were tried together. Glutathione, a key antioxidant, came back up. Aldehydes from lipid oxidation go up strongly with age but came down almost to the levels of a young animal.

    The rats were also much more active, had better immune function, and better brain function. Looking directly at the brain it was found that it was RNA and not DNA that was being oxidized. The mechanism is now reasonably well understood. The aldehyde from lipid peroxidation damages key proteins. Acetyl carnitine protects against this and lipoic acid lowers the level of the aldehydes.

    It was originally thought that lipoic acid worked by keeping the oxidants in check but it turns out that in part at least it acts as a weak oxidising agent that switches on a signaling system that turns on some of the antioxidant defences of the body. There are around 200 or so enzymes that get turned on when certain chemical groups get damaged. This in turn creates another compound that binds to a DNA sequence called the antioxidant response element that turns on the enzyme defences. Lipoic acid turns on this system. Garlic and broccoli act in the same way.

    A meta analysis was carried out on all the clinical trials that had been done with acetyl carnitine for cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s. The overall analysis suggests that it works in humans although the evidence isn’t particularly strong.

    For lipoic acid the meta analysis covering a number of clinical trials suggests that it does work. Even if this combination isn’t the whole story, there are so many scientists working in the field of ageing that there is bound to be much progress.

    Obesity, Cancer & Life Expectancy

    Life expectancy continues to improve. It’s 78.9 for women and 71.4 for men. Single men live 8 years less than married men. Although better infant mortality reflects some of this, for those aged 65, life expectancy is also improving.

    What in your diet makes you age faster? Since cancer increases with age we can look at cancer as a marker for ageing. Epidemiologists are in agreement that about 30% of cancers are due to smoking, 35% is caused by unbalanced diets, too many calories and too little fibre and micronutrients, 20% by chronic infections (mostly in poor countries) 20% hormones, 2% occupational and less than 1% by pollution, mostly heavy air pollution. But of course America is spending all its money on pollution.
    Obesity is already a huge and growing problem.

    With smoking there are 400,000 premature deaths a year in the USA. Obesity will be much worse. It’s a long-term health problem that’s tied to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, an abundance of health disorders. This will put a huge financial burden on the country. Diet is an area where real advances in disease and ageing can be made, but doctors aren’t interested in diet. What doctor ever asks you about your diet? Yet it is the main determinant of health.

    Nutritional Deficiencies Are Common

    Vitamins and minerals are kind of old hat because there is little acute deficiency disease any more. But I would argue there’s a lot of ill health that lies between acute deficiency disease and the recommended daily amount. Whatever vitamin or mineral you look at, 10% or more of the population is really low and this is fouling up their biochemistry.

    Iron deficiency for example. Worldwide there are 2 billion women and children who are not getting enough. Deficiency knocks out your mitochondria so you age faster and your neurons are the first thing to go. 25% of American women are borderline anaemic. Menstruating women are losing iron and not getting enough in their diets. Iron costs very little. Putting resources where it matters would have a major impact. 10% of the population is very low and deficiency breaks your chromosomes in the same way as being irradiated. It’s probably knocking out your mitochondria as well.

    With folate, B12 and B6 deficiencies you get chromosome breaks. Vitamin C deficiency is also common. Poorer members of the population are worse affected because they have poor diets and don’t take multivitamins.

    Everything is linked in nutrition. Zinc is in a thousand enzymes turning genes on and off and much else. Without sufficient zinc you are disabling all sorts of defence and other systems, so we have to think of everything in biochemistry as linked together. There are 40 micronutrients we need to be getting in our diet and the optimum is the amount needed for long-term health. We are far from that in the population and yet it costs very little to provide it.

    Overweight & Underfed

    Why are we obese? Is it just calories in and exercise out? I think it’s more than that. Americans are eating junk. The 10 leading sources of calories in the USA that makes up about a third of all calories (for some it’s a lot more than this) represent poor food choices. The first is sugary soft drinks. This is a nutritional disaster. Each drink contains 40 grams or more of sugar going all at once into the gut. with no vitamins or minerals. It contains lots of calories without filling you up. You don’t see a lot vegetable in the top ten, not a lot of whole grains! Obese people have poor diets. They are deficient in everything. They’re low in calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, B12, B6 etc. Whatever you want to measure they are at the low end of the population intake because they rely too much on refined carbohydrate and sugar.

    I believe they are hungry all the time. Their bodies are craving the missing ingredients. If you take a rat and keep it zinc deficient, it keeps on eating to get the missing zinc. Two decades ago experiments were done on rats where one group got a high quality diet and the other group ate a junk diet. Although both groups could eat as much as they wanted, the first group stopped eating when satisfied and remained lean. The other group ballooned up. Satiety involves fibre. If you don’t get fibre you don’t get full. It may also be true for a lot of nutrients too.

    Another theory is that the gut holds the key. Obese people have chronic inflammation. They are high in C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation. A leaky gut allows bacteria to enter the system and to create this inflammation. This stops oxidation of fatty acids, raises blood lipids and makes you lethargic. How does their gut become leaky? Their diet is too low in fibre. Need both soluble and insoluble fibre to keep the gut cells happy. They like to live on the fermentation products of soluble fibre, the butyric acids. If these cells don’t get what they need, the barrier function gets impaired and unwanted substances can penetrate the gut wall. Trans fatty acids don’t help either.

    Nutritional Deficiency & Ageing

    It was discovered that when mice were put on a diet that lacked folic acid the mice were full of chromosome breaks. These were worse than what’s seen in radiation exposure. The same is true for vitamins B6 and B12. These are also needed to keep homocysteine levels down. We recently published a paper comparing folic acid deficiency with irradiation. They are not even in the same ball park. People are worried about tiny levels of radiation. There’s talk of spending trillions on cleaning up tiny amounts of radiation. You’d be way ahead of the game by giving everyone a folic acid pill. We worry about the wrong things. Huge resources are put where it doesn’t matter and not where it does matter – diet.

    A study put a dozen people on defined diets. The only differences were in the levels of B6. Chromosome breaks were then measured. Once you go down to half the RDA for the vitamin you get breaks in the chromosomes. So getting enough vitamins and minerals is essential. We’ve also shown that sperm count and sperm quality goes down with folate deficiency. We’ve also studied iron. This mineral causes all sorts of mitochondrial damage and oxidants to be produced in excess, but too little iron is a disaster because too little wrecks your mitochondria. Iron deficiency interferes with heme synthesis. Heme carries oxygen in your blood. Deficiencies of biotin, pantothenic acid and copper also do this. The effect is to pour oxygen radicals into the cell. This happens even before anaemia sets in. The consequences of heme deficiency look very similar to what happens with ageing and neurodegeneration. A cheap multivitamin and mineral would prevent all this.

    I believe everybody should take one as insurance. The whole northern tier of the USA is vitamin D deficient which is a risk factor for cancer and brittle bones etc. You need 20 minutes of sunshine each day to make this vitamin. There isn’t enough sunshine in northern parts. Blacks and Hispanics get even less as well as people who stay indoors. So take a multivitamin. But you need more than this.

    There’s not enough magnesium and calcium in a multi. There’s no fibre. Also need omega 3 fatty acids. These are really important. 30% of the fatty acids in your brain neurons are DHA. If you don’t eat oily fish you won’t get enough. The nutrition community doesn’t like pills. Mark Twain was a little skeptical too: “The main distinguishing characteristic between man and the lower animals is the desire to take pills.”

    They think if you tell people to take pills they won’t eat proper food. Trouble is they’ve been trying for 20 years to get people to each fruits and vegetables while their diet continues to get worse. So I feel everyone should be told to take a pill and get a good diet besides.

    Mega Nutrition & Genes

    You can go to a health food store and buy very large quantities of some vitamins. For instance a B100 pill. I thought this was crazy and so did my colleagues. But it might not be. You can raise coenzyme levels with large quantities of B vitamins. If you have mutated genes that deform protein, you can sometimes get over the error with larges doses of vitamins to raise coenzymes. We found 50 different genetic diseases where high dose vitamin therapy had a beneficial effect. For instance there’s a rare genetic disease where children go blind because of a lack of a mitochondrial enzyme. The cause for this was found. It turned out to be a B6 dependent enzyme. When very high doses of B6 were given to children prone to this disease, they didn’t go blind.

    The fallout from this won’t be so much in rare genetic diseases as in other areas such as polymorphisms (genetic variations). For instance there are 400,000 people around the Mediterranean that have glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency disease. This lowers glutathione levels in cells. This knocks out the malaria parasite. Malaria was the big killer of kids in Africa and all around the Mediterranean.

    This mutation makes kids more resistant to malaria but it makes them more sensitive to oxidation. So if they eat a meal of fava beans - these have oxidants in them - they can get a haemolytic anaemia. Pythagoras, the famous Greek mathematician, told his followers not to eat beans. The classical scholars thought he was a nut, but now it all makes sense.

    There are many different mutations but there’s one in an area of India that ought to be curable by feeding them high levels of niacin. Clinical trials will take place to see if high levels of nutrients will help these and other polymorphisms.

    In ageing you have the mitochondria decaying. There are all sorts of coenzymes in there. Mitochondrial coenzyme levels can be raised. So theoretically we can do something about ageing. We’ve being doing work in this area and the preliminary results look promising. There are lots of ways to intervene. I think people are going to live a lot longer.

    Bruce Ames is professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. His main interest of study is identifying mutagens that damage human DNA, the body's defences against them, and the consequences of DNA damage for cancer and ageing. He has published over 450 papers.

    This article is an edited version of a lecture he gave recently. For further information about the work of this renowned scientist please visit

    If you would like to visit a nutritionist in Stoke Newington, north London or Central London please go to: London Nutrition Consultant

    Herbs & Nutrients for Glycaemic Control in Diabetes

    Diabetes affects about 3% of the UK population and its incidence is increasing rapidly in all age groups. Type 1 diabetes is increasing in children, and type 2 diabetes is increasing particularly in black and minority ethnic groups. People of South Asian, African, African-Caribbean, and Middle-Eastern descent are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, compared with the white population, as are the obese, those who are inactive or have a family history of diabetes.

    Effectively controlled Type 2 diabetes can reduce the risk of heart disease by 44%, stroke by 46%, kidney disease by 33%, and eye disease by 33%. It could give people up to 10 years of additional life.

    Blood sugar control can be best achieved with diets that are restricted in sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined carbohydrates with increased intakes of soluble fibre, together with increased levels of physical activity.

    The preoccupation with fat over the last few decades is largely responsible for today’s obesity/diabetes crisis as people have substituted fat with sugar and refined carbohydrates. The average American now consumes 3 pounds of sugar a week.

    Together with the right dietary and activity strategy, the natural therapist has a number of tools to help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.

    In its trivalent form chromium is required for the maintenance of normal glucose metabolism. Deficiency is associated with impaired glucose tolerance which can be improved with supplementation.

    Its action is linked with glucose tolerance factor, and has been shown to increase the number of insulin receptors, to enhance receptor binding, and to potentiate insulin action.

    In one large trial following 833 diabetics for 10 months supplementing with chromium picolinate, investigators reported a decrease in fasting and postprandial glucose and a decrease in fatigue, excessive thirst and frequent urination. In another study of 180 people, 1mg of chromium picolinate a day for 2 months stabilised blood sugar.

    Biotin aids in the management of blood sugar by enhancing the effect of enzymes involved in processing glucose.

    There is limited evidence that high intakes of this vitamin can be therapeutically beneficial in diabetics and in rodent models of diabetes. One small study demonstrated a marked improvement in diabetic neuropathy after a few months on 5-10mg a day.

    Biotin “might have considerable potential for promoting vascular health and preventing or managing diabetes.” (Med Hypotheses. 2006;66(2):323-8)

    Coenzyme Q10
    Coenzyme Q10 is believed to be able to improve glycaemic control through various mechanisms, including a decrease in oxidative stress. Two earlier randomised controlled trials using 100 to 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 in patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes found no difference in glycaemic control and insulin requirement. A more recent randomised controlled trial of 74 patients using 200 mg per day for 12 weeks found modest improvements in measurements of glucose control.

    Conjugated Linoleic Acid
    Data from a number of studies and trials have shown that different conjugated linoleic acids (CLA's) may produce beneficial effects in many areas including insulin resistance.

    The mechanisms of action of CLAs are not fully clarified at present, because in vitro and in vivo studies are not always in agreement, and possibly because CLAs act in different ways and with different consequences when administered in the diet to different species.

    “It may now be feasible to target specific supplemental nutrients to each of the key dysfunctions which conspire to maintain hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: bioactive chromium for skeletal muscle insulin resistance, conjugated linoleic acid for adipocyte insulin resistance, high-dose biotin for excessive hepatic glucose output, and coenzyme Q10 for beta cell failure. The nutrients and food factors recommended here appear to be safe and well tolerated, and thus may have particular utility for diabetes prevention.”
    (Med Hypotheses 2000;54(3):483-7)

    Low levels of magnesium are common among diabetics. Deficiency can potentially cause states of insulin resistance. It is a cofactor in various enzyme pathways involved in glucose oxidation, and it modulates glucose transport across cell membranes. It may improve insulin sensitivity. Dosage 300-600mg/day.

    In animal models vanadium has been shown to facilitate glucose uptake and metabolism and to enhance insulin sensitivity. Human studies indicate it can greatly reduce the needs for insulin and hypoglycaemic medications. Dosage of vanadium sulphate is from 20mg/day.

    Assists in insulin manufacture, may protect receptor sites on cell membranes that allows entry of the hormone, and helps balance blood sugar. May need 90mg/day or more.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid
    A potent antioxidant and cofactor in many enzyme complexes, it may also play a role in glucose oxidation. One trial of 74 patients reported positive effects on glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity with 600-1,800mg/day for 4 weeks. Particularly useful for treating polyneuropathy.

    Glucose tolerance is improved with L-carnitine and diabetics eliminate much more L-carnitine than healthy people. Human trial data is very limited but one small short-term trial showed that intravenous administration can possibly affect insulin sensitivity and
    enhance glucose uptake and storage.

    Vitamin E
    Blood platelets of diabetics contain less vitamin E. Risk of acquiring diabetes is much greater among those with low levels of the vitamin. It improves sugar metabolism and supplementation can reduce the severity of diabetic complications.

    Of 6 controlled trials, 4 were positive for glucose control with doses ranging from 100mg to 1,600mg a day for 2 to 4 months.

    Vitamin B6
    Elevated glycosylated haemoglobin is an indicator of diabetes-related harm. Vitamin B6 can reduce this indicator. It helps stabilise blood sugar, encourages cells to metabolise blood glucose and fights eye damage and vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. Dosage requirement is from 75mg/day.

    Calcium, Vitamin D & Vitamin C
    Calcium and vitamin D may help preserve insulin sensitivity by preventing secondary hyperparathyroidism. Vitamin C offers some protection against the effects of high blood sugar on the tissues and can also help control blood sugar levels in amounts over 2000mg/day.

    Coccinia Indica (ivy gourd)
    This plant grows in many parts of the Indian subcontinent and is used in Ayurveda. It appears to have insulin-mimetic properties.

    The only randomised controlled trial of this herb reported significant changes in glycaemic control following 6 weeks use among 32 patients with poorly controlled or untreated type 2 diabetes. Anther trial found the magnitude of change seen with the herb was similar to a conventional drug. Two other trials offer supporting evidence of a hypoglaecemic effect

    American Ginseng
    Reported mechanisms of action include decreased rate of carbohydrate absorption, increased glucose transport and uptake, increased glycogen storage and modulation of insulin secretion.

    Two trials incorporating 24 and 36 patients for 8 weeks reported decreases in fasting blood sugar and better glucose control. Three other short-term trials in healthy volunteers found decreases in postprandial glucose. May need up to 200mg/day.

    Gymnema Sylvestre
    Another herb that grows in India and is used in Ayurveda. Animal studies have reported a glucose-lowering effect, regeneration of islets of Langerhans, and increases in serum insulin. Mechanism of action is unknown but a number of theories have been put forward.

    Little trial data is available but 47 patients with type 2 diabetes showed improved glycaemic control in combination with conventional treatment. May need 100mg 3 times a day.

    Aloe Vera
    The dried sap of this plant is a traditional remedy for diabetes in the Arabian peninsula, although this form is also a laxative. Aloe gel may be a better tolerated choice. The gel contains glucomannan, a hydrosoluble fibre which may in part account for its hypoglycaemic effects.

    Research in diabetes is sparse but two trials reported improved fasting blood glucose after 6 weeks of drinking juice made from the gel. There are also case reports of individuals with decreases in fasting blood glucose and improved glucose control.

    Momordica Charantia
    This vegetable, also known as balsam pear, karela and bitter melon, is found in tropical areas of the world. Its active components include an insulin-like protein similar to bovine insulin.

    Theoretical mechanisms include increased insulin secretion, tissue glucose uptake, liver muscle glycogen synthesis, glucose oxidation and decreased hepatic gluconeogenesis. Animal studies suggest hypoglycaemic effects.

    Human studies are limited but report acute effects on blood glucose in the short term and positive effects on glycaemic control after longer term use.

    Opuntia Streptacantha
    Also known as prickly pear cactus, it is commonly used for glucose control by people of Mexican descent. It has a highly soluble fibre and pectin content which may affect intestinal glucose uptake, partially accounting for its hypoglycaemic actions.

    Human studies reported improvements in patients with type 2 diabetes with decreased fasting glucose and decreased insulin levels, suggesting enhanced insulin sensitivity.

    Animal experiments have shown moderate reductions in blood glucose and one high quality randomised controlled trial found significant decreases in fasting serum glucose. Another trial did not find consistent glucose or insulin responses.

    Other herbs used for glycaemic control include holy basil, fenugreek, fig leaf, milk thistle and cinnamon.

    One researcher concludes: “Nutraceuticals featuring meaningful doses of combinations of these agents would likely have substantial diabetes-preventive efficacy, and presumably could be marketed legally as aids to good glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.”
    Med Hypotheses. 2005;64(1):151-8

    Phytochemicals - The Magic Ingredients in Fruits & Vegetables


    Carotenoids are fat-soluble phytochemicals with a Vitamin-A-like structure that have strong antioxidant and other potentially protective properties. Carotenoids are found in many fruits and vegetables. Although there are more than 600 carotenoids, six account for most of those found in the human diet: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. They may lower risk for cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer, age-related eye diseases (cataracts, macular degeneration) and may promote lung health and protect against asthma.


    Alpha-carotene is one of the most abundant carotenoids in the diet. It can be converted in the body to an active form of vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. Alpha-carotene has less than half the vitamin A activity of the major vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene. In addition to being a precursor for vitamin A, alpha-carotene may act as an antioxidant in the body. Some food sources of alpha-carotene include:

    winter squash


    Beta-carotene is probably the most familiar and well-studied of the carotenoids. It is a potent antioxidant as well as a major precursor for Vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. Beta-carotene is found primarily in yellow/orange fruits and vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables such as:

    sweet potato
    winter squash
    collard greens


    Beta-cryptoxanthin is one of the pro-vitamin A carotenoids. It can be converted in the body to an active form of vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. Beta-cryptoxanthin has about half the vitamin A activity of the major vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene. In addition, beta-cryptoxanthin acts as an antioxidant in the body. Beta-cryptoxanthin is found primarily in yellow/orange fruits and vegetables, such as:



    The carotenoid lutein concentrates in the macula of the eye. Evidence suggests that eating foods high in lutein may prevent and slow macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. As an antioxidant, lutein reduces the amount of free radical damage to the macula and may also help prevent the formation of cataracts, reduce the risk of heart disease, and protect against certain types of cancer. Food sources of lutein include green leafy vegetables such as:

    collard greens
    Brussels sprouts


    Lycopene, one of the carotenoids, is a potent antioxidant. It has been associated with a reduced risk for many cancers, especially prostate cancer, and protection against heart attacks, though research continues on other potential health benefits. Tomato-based products have the most concentrated source of lycopene. Cooked tomato sauces are associated with greater health benefits, compared to uncooked, because the heating process makes all carotenoids (including lycopene) more easily absorbed by the body. Lycopene is found primarily in red fruits and vegetables such as:

    tomatoes and cooked tomato products
    pink grapefruit
    red peppers


    Zeaxanthin, one of the carotenoids with antioxidant power, is often linked with lutein, since both are deposited in the macular region of the eye. Zeaxanthin may help to prevent macular degeneration and certain types of cancer. Food sources of zeaxanthin include green leafy vegetables and yellow/orange fruits and vegetables such as:

    collard greens


    Flavonoids, a subclass of polyphenols, are a group of phytochemicals that are among the most potent and abundant antioxidants in our diet. The flavonoids are further divided into subclasses based on slightly different chemical structures. Although more than 4000 flavonoids have been identified, several appear to be important components of many fruits and vegetables. These flavonoids are listed below after the subclass under which they fall. Flavonoids may lower risk for cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer, may promote lung health and protect against asthma.

    FLAVONOLS: myricetin and quercetin
    FLAVONES: apigenin and luteolin
    FLAVANONES: hesperetin and naringenin
    FLAVAN-3-OLS: catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate
    ANTHOCYANIDINS: cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin


    Anthocyanidins are antioxidants that have been linked to improved blood vessel health in animals and humans. Anthocyanidins are found in blue/purple and red fruits and vegetables, such as:

    red onions
    red potatoes
    red radishes


    Apigenin is a flavonoid with potential chemopreventive actions. Major contributors in the diet include:


    Luteolin is a flavonoid that has been shown in animal studies to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic effects, and anti-asthma effects. These effects have not been studied in humans yet. Food sources of luteolin include:

    bell peppers
    Brussels sprouts
    hot peppers


    Myricetin is a flavonoid that has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in lab studies. In animal studies myricetin increased the transport of blood sugar into fat cells and increased the ability of insulin to clear fats (triglycerides) from the blood. These effects have not been examined in people yet. Myricetin is widely prevalent in vegetables, and some specific food sources include:


    Quercetin is considered to be the main flavonoid in the diet. People who have the highest intakes of quercetin-containing foods were found to have a lower risk for asthma, lower mortality from heart disease, and lower lung cancer incidence. Quercetin is widely prevalent in vegetables, and some specific food sources include:



    Catechin is a flavonoid that is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and certain cancers and with healthy lung function. Catechin is found in:

    red wine
    cocoa powder
    dark chocolate

    The epicatechins (epicatechin, epicatechin gallate epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate) have been linked to lower risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are found in:

    variety of teas


    Hesperetin is a flavonoid that has been shown in animal studies to lower blood pressure, inflammation, and levels of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol, but these effects have not been studied in humans yet. Hesperetin is found in:
    citrus fruits and juices

    Naringenin is a flavonoid that has been shown in lab and animal studies to have antioxidant, anti-hormone (anti-estrogen), and cholesterol-lowering abilities. Naringenin can be found in:

    citrus fruits and juices


    Proanthocyanidins are a group of flavonoids with strong antioxidant properties. Proanthocyanidins may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, while some proanthocyanidins may protect against urinary tract infections. Proanthocyanidins are found in:

    many berries
    grapes/grape juice
    cranberries/cranberry juice
    red wine

    Other Phytochemicals

    Ellagic Acid

    Ellagic acid falls into a broader class of phytochemicals called polyphenols. Ellagic acid acts as an antioxidant and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Ellagic acid is found in nuts and fruits including:
    red grapes

    Indoles and Isothyiocyanates

    Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemical indoles and isothiocyanates that have anti-cancer properties. Some of the most-commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables include:

    Brussels sprouts

    Organosulfur compounds

    Allium vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that are thought to protect against cancer. Studies on garlic also show that it has the potential to lower many risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They are found in:


    The information in this article came from

    Nutritional Solutions to High Blood Pressure

    Hypertension or high blood pressure is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.

    According to the Blood Pressure Association, it affects over 16 million people in the UK; while others put the figure at 10 million.

    About half of people over 65, and about 1 in 4 middle aged adults, have high blood pressure. It is less common in younger adults. Most cases are mildly high (between 140/90 and 159/99 mmHg). However, at least 1 in 20 adults have blood pressure of 160/100 mmHg or above.

    In the vast majority of people with high blood pressure, there is no single clear-cut cause, and the condition is called essential hypertension.

    Since moderately raised pressure or even high pressure doesn’t usually have any symptoms associated with it, most people are unaware of their condition and will only become aware when they have their blood pressure checked or they get sick. It may take many years or decades before it progresses, with the development of various diseases involving the circulatory, renal or neurological systems.

    Risk Factors

    High blood pressure is more common in people from African-Caribbean origin, from the Indian sub-continent, or those with a family history of high blood pressure. Other risk factors are ageing, stress, smoking, obesity, high salt intake, low fruit and vegetables intake, lack of exercise, and high alcohol consumption.

    Dietary Changes

    While there is nothing that can be done about some of these risk factors, lifestyle modification would help a huge number of people to either prevent the condition in the first place or reduce mildly high readings back into the normal range.

    According to a recent paper “Approximately 50% of subjects with essential hypertension are insulin resistant.” (Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2006 Jan;16(1):22-7) A diet that balances blood sugar would be essential for such responders.

    The late Dr Atkins who specialised in blood sugar control with a low carbohydrate diet wrote that “the dramatic lowering effect on the blood pressure of the low carbohydrate, anti-insulin diet is seen in over 90% of our patients.”

    “I’ve treated more than ten thousand patients who were taking blood pressure medications. Nutritional changes - a new diet and vitanutrients - allowed them to get off their medications.”

    “We consistently bring high blood pressure right back down to normal by reducing the carbohydrates in your diet and adding vitanutrients.”

    For the 50% who aren’t insulin resistant, cutting back or eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates will still be important while increasing essential fatty acids and quality protein.

    Free radicals and oxidation are higher in those with essential hypertension, so increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is also important.

    Since most people drink too little water and ingest too much salt, getting these two in balance is often all that is required. About 60% of hypertensives are thought to be responsive to reduced salt intake.

    Essential Fatty Acids

    There is good evidence that essential fatty acid metabolism at the vascular level is directly associated with the development of high blood pressure.

    Several studies have shown that large doses omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of fish oils are able to lower blood pressure in humans.

    They have an anti-inflammatory effect, maintain the flexibility of cells, make vessels more pliable, improve endothelial function, have favourable effects on blood cholesterol levels and enhance the production of nitric oxide to improve blood vessel relaxation.

    This can be utilised to make a form of prostacyclin which acts as a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels, improving blood flow, reducing thickening and preventing blood clots.

    Both EPA and DHA are important, but DHA appears to be more effective at lowering blood pressure. One study found that supplementing with 2.04g of EPA and 1.4g DHA lowered both systolic and diastolic by 6mmHg in mildly hypertensive men over 4 months (Thromb Res. 1998 Aug 1;91(3):105-12).

    The omega 6 family must also not be forgotten. Experimental studies confirm that a balanced combination of both omega 3 and 6 is essential in lowering blood pressure and reducing atherosclerosis. The optimum proportion of omega 6 to omega 3 is not known but a ratio between 5:1 and 2:1 is thought best. Modern diets have a ratio of 20:1 and worse.


    Regular consumption of garlic reduces the risk of heart disease. It lowers cholesterol, prevents blood fats sticking to the walls of the arteries and lowers elevated blood pressure. It also inhibits substances that constricts blood vessels.

    An analysis of published and unpublished randomised, controlled trials (415 patients) showed that 600-900mg a day of dried garlic powder may be of clinical value in subjects with mild hypertension (J Hypertens. 1994 Apr;12(4):463-8).

    A recent study found 250mg of garlic pearls per day for 2 months had “beneficial effects in reducing blood pressure and counteracting oxidative stress, and thereby, offering cardioprotection in essential hypertensives.” (Mol Cell Biochem. 2005 Jul;275(1-2):85-94).

    Another study of 41 moderately hypercholesterolaemic men taking 7.2g aged garlic extract per day for 6 months saw a 5.5% decrease in systolic blood pressure and a modest reduction of diastolic blood pressure (Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):866-70).

    Coenzyme Q10

    Coenzyme Q10 enhances the immune system and protects against free radicals. It is particularly valuable in treating heart conditions.

    Twenty-six patients with essential arterial hypertension were treated with oral CoQ10, 50mg twice daily for 10 weeks. At the end of the treatment, systolic blood pressure decreased from 164.5 to 146.7 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure decreased from 98.1 to 86.1 mmHg on average (Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppl:s257-63).

    In 109 patients taking 225mg of CoQ10 a day in addition to their medication “a definite and gradual improvement in functional status was observed with the concomitant need to gradually decrease antihypertensive drug therapy within the first one to six months.

    Thereafter, clinical status and cardiovascular drug requirements stabilized with a significantly improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure.” (Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppl:S265-72)

    In a study of patients taking 120mg a day “These findings indicate that treatment with coenzyme Q10 decreases blood pressure possibly by decreasing oxidative stress and insulin response”. (J Hum Hypertens. 1999 Mar;13(3):203-8)

    In a 3 month trial 83 patients with isolated systolic hypertension taking 120mg a day of CoQ10 saw a reduced systolic pressure of 17.8 mmHg. The authors concluded: “Our results suggest CoQ10 may be safely offered to hypertensive patients as an alternative treatment option.” (South Med J. 2001 Nov; 94(11):1112-7)

    Another study states that “The limited data available from studies in animal models and from human intervention studies are generally consistent with a benefit of CoQ10 on vascular function and blood pressure.” Biofactors. 2003;18(1-4):129-36

    Vitamin C

    As an antioxidant, reducer of LDL cholesterol, collagen former and modulator of nitric oxide (vasodilator) activity, vitamin C plays important roles in the cardiovascular system.

    Since essential hypertension is associated with an abnormal antioxidant status and reduced levels of nitric oxide, one would expect this vitamin to be able to reduce high blood pressure.

    A population based study concluded that “plasma ascorbic acid concentration had a moderate, independent inverse association....with mean resting blood pressure. The marked elevation of blood pressure at the lowest levels of plasma vitamin C concentration supports the hypothesis of the role of antioxidants in the aetiology of hypertension.” (J Hypertens Suppl. 1987 Dec;5(5):S521-4)

    In 168 healthy residents, highest and lowest quintiles of plasma vitamin C concentrations differed significantly in mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Feb;57(2):213-7)

    Of 69 adults, those with highest blood levels of the vitamin had significantly lower readings. Taking 1000mg a day effectively lowered blood pressure. (NewYork Acad Sci 1992 9 9-12)

    Vitamin C at doses of 500mg per day caused significant drops in blood pressure in men and women with hypertension (Lancet. 1999 Dec 11;354(9195):2048-9)

    Vitamin E

    Again because of higher levels of oxidation and lower levels of nitric oxide, vitamin E as well as other antioxidants will be beneficial.

    People with hypertension often have low levels of vitamin E and animal studies have shown that vitamin E protects against age-related hypertension.


    This non essential amino acid converts to nitric oxide which in turn has profound effects on the endothelium, to allow arteries to relax, keep vessels pliable and elastic, dilate blood vessels, permit better blood flow, lower high blood pressure, prevent platelets and white blood cells from sticking to the vessel wall, regulate oxidative enzymes in the cell to prevent oxidation, reduce growth and multiplication of muscle cells that thicken the vessel wall, and slow plaque growth.

    A recent study demonstrated positive effects on the endothelium and reduction in blood pressure taking about 2000mg a day.

    Response to L-arginine supplementation is highly individual and much larger dosages, up to 9 grams may be needed.

    Although it is a safe supplement to use it should be avoided in those with cancer or a history of cancer, serious infectious diseases, or severe inflammatory conditions.

    Calcium Magnesium & Potassium

    These nutrients are considered to be important dietary components in the prevention of hypertension.

    Several studies have shown that lower calcium intake is associated with higher blood pressures. It is important in smooth muscle contraction of the vasculature.

    Magnesium stimulates human endothelial cells to produce prostaglandin I2, a vasodilator.

    An analysis of 33 trials to assess the effects of supplementation with oral potassium on blood pressure in humans concluded that potassium supplements do lower blood pressure.

    “Increased potassium intake should be considered as a recommendation for prevention and treatment of hypertension, especially in those who are unable to reduce their intake of sodium.” (JAMA. 1997 May 28;277(20):1624-32)


    A number of rodent studies have shown that dietary taurine supplementation can alleviate high blood pressure. The beneficial effects of taurine have also been demonstrated in human studies. Taurine supplementation of 6g/day for as little as 7 days resulted in measurable decreases in blood pressure in these patients.

    Taurine encourages the excretion of excess fluid and relaxes blood vessels.

    Nutritional Solutions to Cancer

    Cancer is a disease caused by an error in a cell’s nucleus, its control centre, that leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation. It is able to create identical copies of itself. And this process continues without stop until the host dies or the process is stopped by medical intervention.

    This multiplication of cells is combined with a disruption in normal connective tissue organisation surrounding the cell which enables the diseased cells to spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).

    Matthias Rath and his research team, claim to have achieved a breakthrough in cancer research by defining the cellular mechanisms involved in cancer proliferation and metastasis, and developed a natural means of controlling these mechanisms. They have been conducting extensive in vivo and in vitro research on the cellular and molecular effects of nutrients using modern scientific technology. Their research institute is a 23,000 square foot university-standard facility located in Silicon Valley.

    Collagen-Digesting Enzymes

    The body needs to allow cells to move around the body and enter other tissues. Most obviously the cells of the immune system. To do this they must be able to move through the connective tissue that surrounds cells. To move through such dense collagen fibres to reach their target, they temporarily dissolve the tissue with special enzymes called collagen-digesting enzymes.

    To begin the process, the cell produces an enzyme called plasminogen activator. This activates a second enzyme, plasmin, which in turn activates a third enzyme, pro-collagenase to convert it to collagenase. This enzyme digests the collagen and allows the cells to move through the extracellular matrix. In the case of immune cells they are now able to reach the target of infection.

    The same process happens within reproduction. During the monthly cycle, granulocytes are stimulated to build a wall around the ripening egg follicle. This wall is rich in collagen-digesting enzymes which allows the egg to move through the ovary wall, into the fallopian tube and onto the uterus.

    After the tissues have been opened up and the cells or egg have passed through, they are very quickly closed again by collagen-producing mechanisms that block the digesting enzymes and heal and repair the tissue. These enzymes always remain under the strict control of the body’s regulatory mechanisms so that permanent damage to collagen is prevented. In health, any imbalance between the collagen-digesting enzymes and their blocking mechanisms is temporary and is quickly restored.

    Unfortunately, this perfectly natural activity is hijacked in disease processes. Infectious agents and cancer cells also need to move through tissues as they try to spread throughout the body. Cancer cells degrade the extracellular matrix by secreting various enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases. The more aggressive a cancer, the more of these collagen-digesting enzymes it is able to produce, allowing it to enter blood vessels, move into the blood stream and travel to other organs. Cancer cells secrete these enzymes on a continuous basis.

    Because this cellular migration is a normal activity, the body has not been able to develop strong defences against it. Cancer cells trick the body by using tools that the body already uses under healthy conditions. It doesn’t develop defence mechanisms because it thinks this may be a normal biological process. Leukemias and cancers of the female reproductive system are common because these cells produce collagen-digesting enzymes as part of their normal activity.

    Enzyme Blocker L-Lysine

    While the normal blocks (enzyme inhibitors) to the spread of cancer cells are overwhelmed, there is a second group of enzyme blocking substances that come from our diets. The most important of these is l-lysine, our second line of defence. This essential amino acid, if supplied in sufficient amounts in supplement form, can prevent the collagen-digesting enzymes from attaching themselves to anchor sites in the connective tissue. This allows the connective tissue to maintain its integrity, preventing cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body.

    Our daily requirement for lysine is greater than for any other amino acid and our bodies are able to store very large amounts of it, reflecting its importance.

    About a quarter of the collagen in the body consists of lysine and another amino acid, proline. A person weighing 11 stone stores about 1½ stone of protein, half of which is present as connective tissue protein, collagen and elastin. 12% (1.2 pounds) of this is lysine. Rath believes that “almost all people suffer from a chronic deficiency of lysine.”

    In cancer, the amino acid will be required in high doses on a daily long-term basis to slow down or stop the destruction of collagen. Because the body stores and uses high amount of lysine, supplementing with 10 grams or more a day is not a problem.

    A potent chemically-modified synthetic derivative of lysine is called tranexamic acid.

    Nearly 30 years a go a group of researchers from Sweden reported on a successful treatment of a case of advanced breast cancer with cerebral metastasis and pleurisy. Radiation and chemotherapy had failed to retard progressive growth and spread of the tumour.

    “Adjuvant therapy with heparin combined with the fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid was followed by regression of the cerebral metastasis as well as the pleurisy. When last seen one year later, the patient was free from symptoms.” (Acta Med Scand. 1977;201(5):491-3)

    They also reported on some spectacular successes in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Even in advanced cases with metastasis the therapy stopped the tumours from spreading further. (JAMA. 1977 Jul 11;238(2):154-5)

    “A patient with inoperable advanced ovarian cancer with metastases and ascites who had received several courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy is presented. On her 6th admission, therapy with the fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid was followed by arrest of ascites and tumor growth; then at exploratory laparotomy, examination of tumor cells revealed encapsulation of fibrinoid substance and proliferation of connective tissue. The patient, still receiving tranexamic acid, is now free from noteworthy symptoms.” (Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1980;59(3):285-7)

    In spite of these exciting discoveries, there was a lack sustained follow up until Rath published Plasmin-induced proteolysis and the role of apoprotein (a), lysine and synthetic lysine analogs in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in 1992.

    Vitamin C & Proline

    Vitamin C is another vitally important nutrient because it is needed for collagen production and for a strong connective tissue structure (lysine itself, as part of the amino acid chain, is a component of collagen and is used to make collagen).

    Like lysine it is required from our diets, yet few people eat enough vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

    Proline is a non essential amino acid that is an important component of collagen. Particularly in disease processes including cancer its supply may become exhausted and supplementation necessary.

    Other nutrients including glucosamine, chondroitin and manganese also help strengthen other components of the connective tissue.

    Optimal combinations of nutrients leads to stability of the connective tissues and encapsulation of the tumour.

    Early Researc

    Step 1 in Math’s research was to use vials with a partition in the middle made of connective tissue similar to that which surrounds body cells. Breast, colon and skin cancer cells were suspended separately in 2 solutions, one containing lysine and one without. These were placed in the upper chambers of the vials and then left for 24 hours.

    In the vials without lysine all the cancer cells were able to penetrate the connective tissue. With lysine, 90% of the melanoma cells were prevented from penetrating the connective tissue. However only 38% of breast cancer cells were blocked. Adding more lysine increased the inhibition but involved high doses.

    The next experiment was to see the effect of nutrient synergy. In addition to lysine, Vitamin C and proline were added. Now 62% of breast cancer cells were blocked from invading the collagen matrix.

    Epigallocatechin Gallate

    Epidemiological and laboratory studies have identified epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea polyphenols as the most potent chemopreventive agent that can induce programmed cell death (apoptosis), and suppress the formation and growth of human cancers.

    For Rath’s next experiment EGCG was added to the nutrient mix consisting 100mcg/ml of tested nutrients. Now 100% of breast cancer cells were blocked. They lost the ability to secrete enzymes that digest and destroy connective tissue.

    In fact it is possible to use this on its own but would need to drink the equivalent of 140 cups of green tea a day. By finding an optimal nutrient combination, a powerful synergistic effect is created that doesn’t require the use of megadoses of any individual nutrient. Further research found this approach to be effective for a number of human cancer cell lines.

    The combination found most effective for inhibiting degradation of the extracellular matrix is lysine, vitamin C, proline, arginine, EGCG, N-acetylcysteine, copper, selenium and manganese.

    Destruction of Cancer Cells

    Nutrition has a role to play in the destruction of cancer cells. Conventional treatment kills both healthy and sick cells. Nutrients such as fish oils and genistein have been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer but remain harmless to healthy cells.

    Rath and his team also found a natural treatment that is not harmful to healthy cells while effective in destroying cancer cells. Fat-soluble vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) inhibited the growth of skin cancer cells and liver cancer by 70-80% without affecting healthy cells from these tissues.

    Preventing Formation of Blood Vessels

    Cancer cells need to develop their own vascular system to survive. These new blood vessels are made from endothelial cells and the tumour secretes vascular endothelial growth factor to trigger this process (angiogenesis). A number of nutrients have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis. These include vitamin C, lysine, proline and EGCG which in one Rath study decreased migration of endothelial cells by 62% and reduced the secretion of growth factor. These nutrients also have anti-inflammatory properties, decreasing the secretion of inflammatory cytokines.

    Animal Research Findings

    Animal research was the next stage and a number of studies have shown the benefits of this approach. In one Rath study a combination of nutrients slowed tumour growth in nude mice by 60% - 80%

    The most recent paper concludes: “Results demonstrate that the nutrient mixture of lysine, proline, arginine, ascorbic acid, and green tea extract tested, strongly suppressed the growth of tumors without adverse effects in nude mice, suggesting potential as an anticancer agent.” (Med Oncol. 2006;23(3):411-8)


    A combination of natural nutrients formulated to support the body in curbing metastasis, inhibiting angiogenesis, suppressing inflammation and reversing tumour growth have been shown to be effective against a variety of human cancer cell lines. In contrast to conventional treatment, healthy cells remain unaffected.

    A-Z of Vitamins & Minerals

    Food Sources, Recommended Daily Amounts, Functions

    The following information is from an official British Government source - The Food Standards Agency. It is subject to Crown Copyright
  • vitamin A, retinol

  • beta-carotene

  • vitamin B1, thiamin

  • vitamin B2, riboflavin

  • vitamin B3, niacin

  • vitamin B5, pantothenic acid

  • vitamin B6, pyridoxine

  • vitamin B12, cyanocobalamin

  • biotin

  • folic acid

  • vitamin C

  • vitamin D

  • vitamin E

  • vitamin K

  • boron

  • calcium

  • chromium

  • cobalt

  • copper

  • germanium

  • iodine

  • iron

  • magnesium

  • manganese

  • molybdenum

  • nickel

  • phosphorus

  • potassium

  • selenium

  • silicon

  • sodium chloride

  • sulphur

  • tin

  • vanadium

  • zinc
  • vitamin A

    Vitamin A is also known as retinol. Good sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt.

    Liver is also a rich source of vitamin A. But, because it’s such a rich source, if you already eat it every week, you might want to choose not to have it more often.

    If you're pregnant, you should avoid eating liver because of the amount of vitamin A it contains.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don't need it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn't need immediately is stored for future use.

    You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your daily diet. This is:

    0.7 mg a day for men
    0.6 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Vitamin A has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps maintain the health of skin and mucus linings (in the nose for example)
    • helps strengthen immunity from infections
    • helps vision in dim light

    What happens if I take too much?

    Some research suggests that having more than an average of 1.5mg per day of vitamin A over many years may affect your bones and make them more likely to fracture when you're older.

    Older people, particularly women, are already at risk of osteoporosis. This is where bone density reduces and so the risk of fractures increases.

    If you eat liver or liver products such as pâté once a week, you are likely to be having, on average, 1.5mg of vitamin A per day.

    If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, you might be more at risk of the harmful effects of too much vitamin A. People who may be particularly short of vitamin D include women of Asian origin who always cover up their skin when they’re outside and older people who rarely get outdoors. So if you’re short of this vitamin it might be a good idea to boost the amount of vitamin D you’re getting. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish and eggs. The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight – but remember, if you’re out in the sun, take care not to burn.

    Many multivitamins contain vitamin A. Other supplements, such as fish liver oil, are also high in vitamin A. So if you take supplements containing vitamin A, make sure you don’t have more than a total of 1.5mg per day from your food and supplements. If you eat liver every week, you should avoid taking any supplements that contain vitamin A.

    If you’re pregnant, having large amounts of vitamin A can harm your unborn baby. Therefore, if you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, you should avoid eating liver or liver products such as pâté because these are very high in vitamin A. You should also avoid taking supplements that contain vitamin A. Ask your GP or midwife if you would like more information.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you do decide to take a supplement that contains vitamin A, it’s a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    Liver is a very rich source of vitamin A. So, if you eat liver or liver products such as pâté every week, you might want to think about not eating it more often. You should also take into account the amount of vitamin A in any supplements you are taking.

    Women who have been through the menopause, and older men, who are more at risk of osteoporosis, should avoid having more than 1.5mg of vitamin A a day. This means:
    • not eating liver or liver products, such as pâté, more than once a week – or having smaller portions of these
    • taking no more than 1.5mg of vitamin A a day in supplements (including fish liver oil), if not eating liver
    • not taking any supplements containing vitamin A (including fish liver oil) if eating liver once a week
    Having a total of 1.5mg or less of vitamin A a day, on average, from diet and supplements combined is unlikely to cause any harm.

    But if you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, Agency and Health Department advice is:
    • avoid taking supplements containing vitamin A, including fish liver oil (except on the advice of your GP)
    • avoid eating liver or liver products such as pâté because these are very high in vitamin A


    Beta-carotene is what gives yellow and orange fruit and vegetables their colour. The main food sources of beta-carotene are yellow and green (leafy) vegetables such as spinach, carrots and red peppers, and yellow fruit such as mango, melon and apricots.

    How much do I need?

    You should be able to get the amount you need from your daily diet.

    What does it do?

    Beta-carotene is turned into vitamin A in the body and, therefore, can perform the same functions in the body as vitamin A.

    What happens if I take too much?

    Beta-carotene supplements have been found to increase the risk of lung cancer developing in smokers and in people who have been heavily exposed to asbestos at work.

    It’s possible that taking large amounts of beta-carotene supplements would also increase the risk of cancer in other people.

    Some research suggests that having large amounts of vitamin A (retinol) over a long time may affect people's bones and make them more likely to fracture when they are older. But beta-carotene doesn't have this effect. This is because the body's conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A isn't very efficient, so it's unlikely to result in high levels of retinol in the body.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get the amount you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take beta-carotene supplements it’s important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    The Agency advises against taking more than 7 mg of beta-carotene supplements a day. But you should continue taking a higher dose if this is under medical advice.

    People who smoke or have been exposed to asbestos are advised not to take any beta-carotene supplements.

    There is no evidence to suggest that the beta-carotene we get from food is harmful.


    Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, is found in most types of food. Good sources include pork, vegetables, milk, cheese, peas, fresh and dried fruit, eggs, wholegrain breads and some fortified breakfast cereals.

    How much do I need?

    Thiamin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the thiamin you need from your daily diet. This is:

    1 mg a day for men
    0.8 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Thiamin has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • works with other B-group vitamins to help break down and release energy from the food we eat
    • helps keep nerves and muscle tissue healthy

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of thiamin supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the thiamin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 100 mg or less of thiamin supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, rice and mushrooms.

    UV light can destroy riboflavin, so ideally these foods should be kept out of direct sunlight.

    How much do I need?

    Riboflavin is water-soluble, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the riboflavin you need from your daily diet. This is approximately:

    1.3 mg a day for men
    1.1 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Riboflavin has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps keep skin, eyes, the nervous system and mucous membranes healthy
    • helps produce steroids and red blood cells
    • may help the body absorb iron from the food we eat

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of riboflavin supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the riboflavin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 40 mg or less of riboflavin supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. Good sources of niacin include beef, pork, chicken, wheat flour, maize flour, eggs and milk.

    How much do I need?

    There are two forms of niacin: nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, and both are found in food. Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the niacin you need from your daily diet. This is approximately:

    17 mg a day for men
    13 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Niacin has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps produce energy from the foods we eat
    • helps keep both the nervous and digestive system healthy

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking high doses of nicotinic acid supplements can cause skin flushes. Taking high doses for a long time could lead to liver damage.

    There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of nicotinamide supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get the amount you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take niacin supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 17 mg or less of nicotinic acid supplements a day, or taking 500 mg or less of nicotinamide supplements a day, is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Pantothenic Acid

    Pantothenic acid is found in virtually all meat and vegetable foods. Good sources include chicken, beef, potatoes, porridge, tomatoes, kidney, eggs, broccoli and whole grains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread.

    Breakfast cereals are also a good source if they have been fortified with pantothenic acid.

    How much do I need?

    Pantothenic acid is one of the B-group vitamins. It's water-soluble, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the pantothenic acid you need from your daily diet.

    What does it do?

    Pantothenic acid has a number of important functions. For example it works in the body to help release energy from the food we eat.

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of pantothenic acid supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the pantothenic acid you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 200 mg or less of pantothenic acid supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Vitamin B6

    Vitamin B6 also known as pyridoxine, is found in a wide variety of foods, for example: pork, chicken, turkey, cod, bread, whole cereals (such as oatmeal, wheatgerm and rice), eggs, vegetables, soya beans, peanuts, milk, potatoes and some fortified breakfast cereals.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin B6, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means you need it in your diet every day because it can’t be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the vitamin B6 you need from your daily diet. This is approximately:

    1.4 mg a day for men
    1.2 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Vitamin B6 has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • allows the body to use and store energy from the protein and carbohydrates found in the foods we eat
    • helps haemoglobin to form (the substance that carries oxygen around the body)

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking large amounts of vitamin B6 (more than 200 mg a day), or taking it for a long time, can lead to a loss of feeling in the arms and legs – known as peripheral neuropathy.

    Generally these symptoms are reversible – so once you stop taking the supplements, the symptoms usually stop.

    However, in a few cases when people have taken large amounts of vitamin B6, especially for more than just a few months, the effect has been irreversible.

    Taking doses between 10 and 200 mg a day, for short periods of time, might not cause any harm. But there isn’t enough evidence to say for how long these doses could be taken safely.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get the amount you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin B6 supplements it’s important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    The Agency advises against taking more than 10 mg of vitamin B6 supplements a day. But you should continue taking a higher dose if this is under medical advice.

    Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is found in virtually all meat products and certain algae such as seaweed. Good sources include meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, yeast extract, and some fortified breakfast cereals.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can’t be stored in the body.

    Adults need approximately 0.0015 mg a day.

    If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods then you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet.

    However, because vitamin B12 isn’t found in vegetable foods (such as fruit, vegetables and grains), vegans might not get enough of this vitamin and become deficient.

    What does it do?

    Vitamin B12 has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps make red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy
    • helps release energy from the food we eat
    • is needed to process folic acid

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn’t enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of vitamin B12 supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the vitamin B12 you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin B12 supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 2 mg or less of vitamin B12 supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Biotin is found in many foods. Good sources include meat such as kidney, eggs and some fruit and vegetables, especially dried mixed fruit.

    How much do I need?

    Biotin is one of the B-group vitamins and is water-soluble, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can’t be stored in the body. But we only need very small amounts of biotin.

    You should be able to get all the biotin you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Adults need between 0.01 mg and 0.2 mg a day.

    What does it do?

    Biotin has a number of important functions. For example it helps the body turn the food we eat into energy.

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn’t enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of biotin supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    Most people should be able to get the amount they need from their daily diet. But if you decide to take supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 0.9 mg or less of biotin supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Folic Acid

    Folic acid is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli and Brussels sprouts, peas, chickpeas, yeast extract, brown rice and some fruit (such as oranges and bananas).

    Other useful sources include fortified breakfast cereals and some bread.

    How much do I need?

    Folic acid, known as folate in its natural form, is one of the B-group of vitamins. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can’t be stored in the body.

    Most people should be able to get the amount they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Adults need 0.2 mg a day.

    However, if you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby you should take a daily 0.4 mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception until the 12th week of pregnancy.

    This is to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. If you have already had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, a higher dose is recommended. Speak to your GP for more advice.

    What does it do?

    Folic acid has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells
    • helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies

    What happens if I take too much?

    If you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 – known as vitamin B12 deficiency – taking doses of folic acid higher than 1 mg can hide this fact.

    An early symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency is anaemia. But taking large amounts of folic acid treats the anaemia without treating the B12 deficiency. If vitamin B12 deficiency isn’t noticed, it can eventually lead to damage of the nervous system (neurological damage).

    This is a concern particularly for older people, because as we get older it becomes more difficult to absorb vitamin B12.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    Unless you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, you should be able to get all the folate you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

    If you’re taking folic acid supplements, it’s important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    Taking 1 mg (1000 micrograms) or less of folic acid supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C, also know as ascorbic acid, is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, oranges and kiwi fruit.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can’t be stored in the body.

    You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your daily diet. Adults need 40 mg a day.

    What does it do?

    Vitamin C has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps protect cells and keeps them healthy
    • helps the body absorb iron from food

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking large amounts of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence. But these symptoms should disappear once you stop taking the supplements.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin C supplements it’s important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    Taking 1000 mg or less of vitamin C supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are oily fish and eggs. Other food sources include fortified foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals, bread and powdered milk.

    But we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. This is because the vitamin forms under the skin in reaction to sunlight. The best source is summer sunlight – but remember, if you’re out in the sun, take care not to burn.

    Liver and liver products are also good sources of vitamin D, but they are also a rich source of vitamin A. So if you already eat them every week, you might want to choose not to have them more often.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don’t need it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use.

    Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from their diet and by getting a little sun.

    However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should take 10 micrograms (0.01 mg) of vitamin D each day.

    Older people should also consider taking 10 micrograms (0.01 mg) of vitamin D each day.

    You might be particularly short of vitamin D, and so might want to think about taking 10 micrograms (0.01 mg) of vitamin D each day, if you:
    • are of Asian origin
    • always cover up all your skin when you’re outside
    • rarely get outdoors
    • eat no meat or oily fish
    If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, you might be more at risk of some of the harmful effects of too much vitamin A.

    Ask your GP if you want more information.

    What does it do?

    Vitamin D has a number of important functions. For example it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and calcium and phosphate are needed to help keep bones and teeth healthy.

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking high doses of vitamin D for long periods of time could weaken your bones.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    Most people should be able to get the amount they need by eating a varied and balanced diet and by getting some sun. But if you decide to take vitamin D supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    Taking 25 micrograms (0.025 mg) or less of vitamin D supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Vitamin E

    Vitamin E is found in a wide variety of foods. The richest sources are plant oils such as soya, corn and olive oil. Other good sources include nuts and seeds, and wheatgerm (found in cereals and cereal products).

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don’t need it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn’t need immediately is stored for future use.

    You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from your daily diet. This is:

    4 mg a day for men
    3 mg a day for women

    What does it do?

    Vitamin E has a number of important functions. For example it helps protect cell membranes by acting as an antioxidant.

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn’t enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of vitamin E supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get the amount you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin E supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 540 mg or less of vitamin E supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Vitamin K

    Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, and in vegetable oils and cereals. Small amounts can also be found in meat (such as pork), and dairy foods (such as cheese).

    As well as getting vitamin K from food, we also get it from our own bodies because it’s produced by bacteria in our intestines.

    How much do I need?

    Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you don’t need to have it every day because any of the vitamin your body doesn’t need immediately is stored in the liver for future use.

    You should be able to get all the vitamin K you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

    Adults need approximately 0.001 mg per kg of body weight a day. So someone who weighs 65 kg would need 0.065 mg per day of vitamin K, while a person who weighs 75 kg would need 0.075 mg per day.

    What does it do?

    Vitamin K has a number of important functions. For example it helps wounds heal properly because it’s needed for blood clotting.

    There is increasing evidence that vitamin K is also needed to help build strong bones.

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn’t enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of vitamin K supplements each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the vitamin K you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin K supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Taking 1 mg or less of vitamin K supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Boron is a trace element found widely in the environment. It’s found in the oceans, rocks, soils and plants. Food sources of boron include green vegetables, fruit and nuts.

    How much do we need?

    You should be able to get all the boron you need from your daily diet.

    What does it do?

    Boron is thought to help the body make use of the glucose, fats, estrogen and other minerals, such as calcium, copper and magnesium, in the food we eat.

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking high doses of boron for long periods of time may reduce fertility in men.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the boron you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take supplements containing boron it’s a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

    Taking 6 mg or less of boron supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Good sources of the mineral calcium include milk, cheese and other dairy foods, green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach), soybean products, nuts, bread and anything made with fortified flour, and fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards.

    How much do I need?

    You should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet. Adults need 700 mg a day.

    What does it do?

    Calcium has a number of important functions. For example it:
    • helps build strong bones and teeth
    • regulates muscle contraction, including the heartbeat
    • makes sure blood clots normally
    It’s thought that calcium may help to lower high blood pressure and may help to protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to confirm this.

    What happens if I take too much?

    Taking high doses of calcium could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take calcium supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much.

    Taking 1500 mg or less of calcium supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Chromium is a trace element found widely in the environment. It’s found in the air, water and soil, and in plants and animals.

    Good food sources of chromium include meat, whole grains (such as wholemeal bread and whole oats), lentils and spices.

    How much do I need?

    You should be able to get all the chromium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

    Adults need at least 0.025 mg of chromium a day.

    What does it do?

    It’s thought to influence how insulin behaves in the body, so chromium may affect the amount of energy we get from the food we eat.

    What happens if I take too much?

    There isn’t enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of chromium each day.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    You should be able to get all the chromium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

    If you decide to take chromium supplements, it’s a good idea not to take too much because this might be harmful.

    Having 10 mg or less a day of chromium from food and supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

    Previously the Agency advised people not to take chromium picolinate supplements, following the 2003 report of the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM). However, following a review of new research by the Committee on Mutagenicity (COM), the Agency has decided that it is no longer necessary to advise people to avoid chromium picolinate.


    Cobalt is a trace element found widely in the environment. Good food sources of cobalt include fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli and spinach), and cereals (such as oats).

    How much do I need?

    You should be able to get all the cobalt you need from your daily diet.

    Cobalt is a major part of the structure of vitamin B12 so, to get enough cobalt, you just need to make sure you get enough vitamin B12.

    Adults need approximately 0.0015 mg (1.5 micrograms) of vitamin B12 a day.

    What does it do?

    It forms part of the structure of vitamin B12.

    What happens if I take too much?

    Having high amounts of cobalt for long periods of time could affect the heart and might decrease fertility in men.

    What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

    Having too much cobalt could be harmful. But, currently, cobalt isn’t used in supplements in the UK and the amount we get from food isn’t harmful.

    Having 1.4 mg or less a day of cobalt supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


    Copper is a trace element. Good sources include nuts, shellfish and offal.

    How much do I need?

    You should be able to get all the copper you need from your daily diet. Adults need 1.2 mg a day.

    What does it do?

    Copper has a number of important functions. For example it:
  • helps produce red and white blood cells and triggers the release of iron to form haemoglobin – the substance that carries oxygen around the body
  • is thought to be important for infant growth, brain development, the immune system and for strong bones

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of copper could cause stomach pain, sickness and diarrhoea. Over a long period, high doses might damage your liver and kidneys.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the copper you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take copper supplements it’s a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Having 1 mg or less a day of copper supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


Germanium is a trace element found in a wide range of foods including beans, tomato juice, oysters, tuna and garlic.

How much do I need?

Germanium isn't needed for good health.

What does it do?

It has no known function in the body but it may help us get energy from the carbohydrates we eat.

What happens if I take too much?

There are two forms of germanium – organic and inorganic. Inorganic germanium supplements are no longer sold in the UK because in this form germanium can damage the kidneys, muscles and nervous system.

Organic germanium is found naturally in foods. Although the amount we get from food doesn't appear to be harmful, it isn't clear what the effects of taking organic germanium supplements might be.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

The amount of germanium we get from food doesn't appear to be harmful. But the Agency advises against taking germanium supplements.


Iodine is a trace element found in seawater, rocks and in some types of soil. Good food sources include sea fish and shellfish.

Iodine can also be found in plant foods such as cereals and grains but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown.

In the UK, iodine can also be found in cows' milk.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the iodine you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Adults need 0.14 mg a day.

What does it do?

It helps make the thyroid hormones. These hormones help keep cells and the metabolic rate healthy.

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of iodine for long periods of time could change the way your thyroid gland works. This can lead to a wide range of different symptoms, for example weight gain.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the iodine you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take iodine supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Having 0.5 mg or less a day of iodine supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


Iron is an essential mineral. Good sources of iron include liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit (such as dried apricots), whole grains (such as brown rice), fortified breakfast cereals, soybean flour and most dark green leafy vegetables (such as watercress and curly kale).

Some people think that spinach is a good source of iron, but spinach contains a substance that makes it harder for the body to absorb the iron from it.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet. This is:

8.7 mg a day for men
14.8 mg a day for women

Eating food containing lots of vitamin C at the same time as you eat food containing iron from non-meat sources might help the body absorb the iron. So you could have fruit juice or fruit with your fortified breakfast cereal, or vegetables with your beans, nuts or rice.

Women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period may need to think about taking iron supplements. Contact your GP or a state-registered dietitian for more advice.

What does it do?

Iron has a number of important roles in the body. For example it helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.

What happens if I take too much?

The side effects of taking high doses of iron include constipation, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain.

Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep any iron supplements out of the reach of children.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take iron supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 17 mg or less of iron supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm. But do continue taking a higher dose if this is under medical advice.


Magnesium is a mineral found in a wide variety of foods. The richest sources are green leafy vegetables (such as spinach) and nuts. Good sources include bread, fish, meat and dairy foods.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the magnesium you need from your daily diet. This is:

300 mg a day for men
270 mg a day for women

What does it do?

Magnesium has a number of important functions. For example it:
  • helps turn the food we eat into energy
  • helps make sure the parathyroid glands work normally. The parathyroid glands produce hormones important for bone health

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of magnesium for a short time can cause diarrhoea.

There isn't enough evidence to say what the effects might be of taking high doses of magnesium for a long time.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the magnesium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take magnesium supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Having 400 mg or less a day of magnesium from supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


Manganese is a trace element found in a variety of foods. These include bread, nuts, cereals and green vegetables (such as peas and runner beans). It's also found in tea, which is probably the biggest source of manganese for many people.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the manganese you need from your daily diet.

What does it do?

It helps make and activate some of the enzymes in the body.

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of manganese for long periods of time might cause nerve damage and neurological symptoms such as fatigue and depression.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the manganese you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take manganese supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

For most people, taking 4 mg or less of manganese supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

For older people, taking 0.5 mg or less of manganese supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm. This is a lower amount because older people may be more sensitive to manganese.


Molybdenum is a trace element found in a wide variety of foods. Foods that grow above ground — such as peas, leafy vegetables (including broccoli and spinach) and cauliflower — tend to be higher in molybdenum than meat and foods that grow below the ground, such as potatoes.

Foods particularly high in molybdenum include nuts, tinned vegetables, and cereals such as oats.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the molybdenum you need from your daily diet.

What does it do?

It helps make and activate some of the enzymes involved in repairing and making genetic material.

What happens if I take too much?

Some evidence suggests taking molybdenum supplements might cause joint pain.

There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking molybdenum supplements.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the molybdenum you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

The molybdenum we get from food isn't likely to be harmful.


Nickel is a trace element found widely in the environment. Good food sources include lentils, oats, and nuts.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the nickel you need from your daily diet.

What does it do?

  • influences the amount of iron our bodies absorb from the foods we eat
  • may also be important in helping to make red blood cells

What happens if I take too much?

Up to 10% of people in the UK may have an allergy to nickel that causes a skin rash (dermatitis).

This is usually caused by jewellery or coins that contain nickel, but nickel in food or supplements can also cause a rash if you have this allergy.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the nickel you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

If you take nickel supplements, which usually means having nickel without food and on an empty stomach, more of the nickel will be absorbed.

Therefore, if you are allergic to nickel, or think you might be, it's a good idea to avoid taking nickel supplements.

The nickel found naturally in food shouldn't cause any harm.


Phosphorus is a mineral found in red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice and oats.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the phosphorus you need from your daily diet. Adults need 550 mg a day.

What does it do?

Phosphorus has many important roles in the body. For example it:
  • helps build strong bones and teeth
  • helps release the energy from the food we eat

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of phosphorus supplements for a short time can cause diarrhoea or stomach pain.

Taking high doses for a long time can reduce the amount of calcium in the body, which means bones are more likely to fracture.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the phosphorus you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take phosphorus supplements it's important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 250 mg or less of phosphorus supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.


Potassium is a mineral found in most types of food. Good sources of potassium include fruit (such as bananas), vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, milk, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey and bread.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the potassium you need from your daily diet. Adults need 3,500 mg a day.

What does it do?

Potassium has many important functions. For example it:
  • controls the balance of fluids in the body
  • may also help lower blood pressure

What happens if I take too much?

Taking too much potassium can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhoea.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the potassium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take potassium supplements it's a good idea not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 3700 mg or less of potassium supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

However, older people may be more at risk of harm from potassium. This is because, as we get older, our kidneys may become less able to remove potassium from our blood. Therefore, older people shouldn't have potassium supplements unless on medical advice.


Selenium is a trace element found widely in the environment. Good food sources include brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat and eggs.

How much do I need?

If you eat meat, fish or nuts, you should be able to get all the selenium you need from your daily diet. This is:

0.075 mg a day for men
0.06 mg a day for women

What does it do?

Selenium plays an important role in our immune system's function, in thyroid hormone metabolism and in reproduction. It is also part of the body's antioxidant defence system, preventing damage to cells and tissues.

What happens if I take too much?

Too much selenium causes selenosis, a condition that in its mildest form can lead to loss of hair, skin and nails.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the selenium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet that includes meat, fish or nuts. But if you decide to take selenium supplements it's important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 0.35 mg or less a day of selenium supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


Silicon is a mineral found at high levels in grains such as oats, barley and rice. It's also found in fruit and vegetables.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the silicon you need from your daily diet.

What does it do?

Silicon has two main functions. It:
  • helps keep bones healthy
  • helps keep connective tissues healthy

What happens if I take too much?

There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of silicon supplements each day.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the silicon you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take silicon supplements it's important not to take too much because this might be harmful.

Taking 700 mg or less of silicon supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride is commonly known as salt.

Salt is found naturally at low levels in all foods, but high levels are added to many processed foods such as ready meals, meat products such as bacon, some breakfast cereals, cheese, some tinned vegetables, some bread and savoury snacks.

How much do I need?

It's very difficult to eat too little salt! Most people in the UK eat much more salt than we should. On average we're eating 9.5 g salt (about 3.7 g sodium) a day, but we should be having no more than 6 g salt (2.5 g sodium).

A few practical tips for cutting down on salt:
  • Check food labels to choose those with less salt.
  • Choose tinned vegetables and pulses with no added salt where possible.
  • Be sparing with sauces, such as soy sauce, because these are often high in salt.
  • Eat fewer salty snacks, such as crisps and salted nuts.
  • Add less salt to cooking — use herbs and spices for flavour instead.
  • Choose low-salt stock cubes, or make your own stock.
  • Taste your food first and don't automatically add extra salt.

What does it do?

Sodium and chloride both help to keep the level of fluids in the body balanced.

Chloride helps the body digest the food we eat because it's an essential component of the juices in the stomach and intestines.

What happens if I take too much?

Having too much salt is linked with an increase in blood pressure (hypertension) and this increases our risk of strokes and heart attacks.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

On average, we're eating 3.5 g of salt more than we should each day.

The Agency advises people to cut down on salt and that sodium chloride should not be used in supplements.


Sulphur is a mineral found naturally in many different forms in all foods. It's also used in the form of sulphates and sulphites as food additives in some processed foods.

How much do I need?

You can get all the sulphur you need from your daily diet.

What does it do?

Sulphur plays a role in many different body processes. For example it helps make tissues such as cartilage.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You can get all the sulphur you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.


Tin is a trace element found in fresh and tinned foods. The amount found in fresh food depends on how much tin there is in the soil where the food is grown.

In some cases, the process of canning also leads to tin being present in tinned food. By law, the maximum amount of tin allowed in tinned foods is 200 mg of tin per kg of food. Normally the tin content is well below this legal safety limit.

How much do I need?

Tin is not thought to be needed for good health.

What does it do?

Although tin is not thought to be needed for good health, it might play a role in some body processes.

What happens if I take too much?

Having very high amounts of tin can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhoea.

There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of having high amounts of tin each day for a long time.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

It's unlikely that we need tin for good health. But if you decide to take tin supplements it's important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Having 13 mg or less a day of tin from food and supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.


Vanadium is a trace element found in a wide variety of foods including seafood, meat, dairy foods, cooking oils, fresh fruit and vegetables.

How much do I need?

Vanadium isn't thought to be needed for good health.

What does it do?

It's unlikely that we need vanadium for good health.

What happens if I take too much?

Some evidence suggests taking vanadium supplements might cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea, and make your tongue turn a greenish colour.

There isn't enough information to know what the effects might be of taking vanadium supplements.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

It's unlikely that we need vanadium for good health and too much could be harmful.

There is no evidence to suggest that the vanadium we get from food is harmful.


Zinc is a trace element found widely in the environment. Good food sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, milk and dairy foods such as cheese, bread, and cereal products such as wheatgerm.

How much do I need?

You should be able to get all the zinc you need from your daily diet. This is approximately:

5.5 to 9.5 mg a day for men
4 to 7 mg a day for women

What does it do?

Zinc has a number of important functions. For example it:
  • helps make new cells and enzymes
  • helps us process the carbohydrate, fat and protein in the food we eat
  • helps with the healing of wounds

What happens if I take too much?

Taking high doses of zinc reduces the amount of copper the body can absorb. This can lead to anaemia and to weakening of the bones.

What is the advice of the Food Standards Agency?

You should be able to get all the zinc you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take zinc supplements it's important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

The Agency advises against taking more than 25 mg of zinc supplements a day. But you should continue taking a higher dose if this is under medical advice.

Nutrition Essentials

This section contains practical advice about making healthier and safer food choices. Remember that to have a healthy diet, most people should be eating:

  • more fruit and vegetables
  • more starchy foods such as rice, bread, pasta (wholegrain varieties are best) and potatoes
  • less fat, salt and sugar
  • some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses
It's also important to eat a variety of foods to make sure we get all the nutrients our bodies need.

Starchy foods

Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes are a really important part of a healthy diet. Try to choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can.

How much do I need?

Starchy foods should make up about a third of the food we eat. Most people should be eating more starchy foods. So if you want to eat healthily try to think about the proportions of the different foods you eat in a day.

Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet. As well as starch, these foods contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins.

Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but they contain less than half the calories of fat. You just need to watch out for the added fats used for cooking and serving, because this is what increases the calorie content. If you're concerned about your weight, wholegrain varieties are an especially good choice.

Low-carbohydrate diets

'Low-carbohydrate' diets have had a lot of publicity recently. These diets usually involve cutting out most starchy foods.

Cutting out starchy foods, or any food group, can be bad for your health because you could be missing out on a range of nutrients. Low-carbohydrate diets tend to be high in fat, and eating a diet that is high in fat (especially saturated fat from foods such as meat, cheese, butter and cakes) could increase your chances of developing coronary heart disease.

These diets may also restrict the amount of fruit, vegetables and fibre you eat, all of which are vital for good health.

So, rather than avoiding starchy foods, it's better to try and base your meals on them, so they make up about a third of your diet.


Most people don't eat enough fibre. Foods rich in fibre are a very healthy choice, so try to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet. These are all rich in fibre: wholegrain bread, brown rice, pasta, oats, beans, peas, lentils, grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables.

Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants. There are two types of fibre: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fibre

This is the fibre that the body can't digest and so it passes through the gut helping other food and waste products move through the gut more easily.

Wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholegrain breakfast cereals and fruit and vegetables all contain this type of fibre.

Insoluble fibre helps to keep bowels healthy and stop constipation. And this means we are less likely to get some common disorders of the gut. Foods rich in this sort of fibre are more bulky and so help make us feel full, which means we are less likely to eat too much.

Soluble fibre

This fibre can be digested fully by the body and may help to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Particularly good sources of soluble fibre include oats and pulses such as beans and lentils.

Fruit and vegetables

Most people know that we should be eating more fruit and veg. But most of us aren't eating enough. Did you know that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg every day?

You can choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. But remember that potatoes don't count because they're a starchy food.

How much fruit and veg should I be eating?

Lots! Fruit and veg should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. And it’s also important to eat a variety. Five-a-day is a good, achievable target. If you count your portions each day it might help you to increase the amount you eat.

But what is a portion?

ONE portion = 80g = any of these:

1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar sized fruit

2 plums or similar sized fruit

½ a grapefruit or avocado

1 slice of large fruit, such as melon or pineapple

3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)

3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses (however much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day)

3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad (fresh or tinned in fruit juice) or stewed fruit

1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)

1 cupful of grapes, cherries or berries

a dessert bowl of salad

a glass (150ml) of fruit juice (however much you drink, fruit juice counts as a maximum of one portion a day)

Getting your five portions a day

If you eat one or two portions with each meal and have the occasional fruit snack you might be surprised at how easy it is to eat five-a-day.

At breakfast you could:
  • add a handful of dried fruit to your cereal
  • eat half a grapefruit or an apple
  • drink a glass of fruit juice

At lunch you could:
  • eat a bowl of salad
  • have a banana sandwich
  • have some fruit salad

  • At your evening meal you could:
    • add vegetables or pulses to your curry, casserole or stir fry
    • serve at least two types of vegetables with your fish, chicken or meat

    And don't forget, when you fancy a snack, reach for an apple, banana or perhaps even some dried fruit.

    Getting the most out of fruit and vegetables

    Some vitamins and minerals can be easily lost when fruit and veg are prepared or cooked, so try to remember:
    • eat fresh fruit and veg as soon as possible rather than storing for a long time – or use frozen instead
    • don't overcook. Start with boiling water and cover tightly to keep in the steam, because this speeds up the cooking. You could use a steamer or a microwave
    • use as little water as possible when you cook fruit and veg. If you use the cooking water for sauce or soup, you'll recapture some of the lost vitamins and minerals
    • avoid leaving any vegetables open to the air, light or heat if they have been cut. Always cover and chill them. But don't soak, because vitamins and minerals can dissolve away
    • don't keep food hot for too long because vitamin levels start to drop within a few minutes

    Why it's important

    Fruit and veg are good sources of many vitamins and minerals, yet most of us don't eat enough of them.

    There is mounting evidence that people who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers.

    And don't forget, fruit and veg are also very low in fat.


    Eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and aim for at least five portions a day. Try to avoid:
    · adding fat or rich sauces to vegetables (such as carrots glazed with butter)

    · adding sugar or syrupy dressings to fruit (such as stewed apple)

    Pulses, nuts and seeds

    Pulses include beans, lentils and peas. They are a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals and they count as a portion of fruit and veg.

    Nuts and seeds are a tasty source of protein and other nutrients.

    What's a pulse?

    A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod. Pulses are a great source of protein for vegetarians, but they are also a very healthy choice for meat-eaters.

    Pulses include the whole range of beans, peas and lentils such as:
    · baked beans
    · red, green, yellow and brown lentils
    · black eyed peas
    · garden peas
    · runner beans
    · chickpeas
    · broad beans
    · kidney beans
    · butter beans

    You can add pulses to soups, casseroles and meat sauces to add extra texture and flavour. This means you can use less meat, which makes the dish lower in fat and cheaper – important if you have a big family, are on a budget or catering for a large number.

    Pulses also count as a starchy food and add fibre to your meal. The fibre found in pulses may help lower blood cholesterol so they are also good for your heart.

    Pulses are a good source of iron, but try to have some food (such as peppers or dark green vegetables) or a drink rich in vitamin C (such as orange juice) with your meal to help you absorb the iron. This is because the type of iron found in pulses is harder for the body to absorb compared to that found in meat.

    And you should also avoid tea and coffee for half an hour after eating an iron-rich meal because these drinks make it harder for the body to absorb iron.

    Pulses and 5-a-day

    Pulses count as one of the variety of at least five portions of fruit and veg we should be aiming to eat each day.

    Three heaped tablespoons of pulses = one portion.

    But pulses can only make up a maximum of one portion a day. This is because we need to eat a variety of fruit and veg to make sure we get all the important nutrients we need.

    Buying pulses

    Tinned pulses
    Tinned pulses are very quick and easy to use because they have already been soaked and cooked so you only need to heat them up or add them straight to salads if you're using them cold.

    Tinned baked beans are a healthy choice but they can be high in sugar and salt. So check the nutrition information on the label to help you choose those with less sugar and salt.

    If you buy tinned lentils, beans or peas (or other vegetables), always try to choose those with no added salt and sugar if possible.

    Dried pulses

    Dried pulses need to be soaked and cooked before they are tender enough to use. Dried kidney beans and soya beans contain toxins so these need to be cooked properly before you can use them, check the information in Cooking and storing pulses.

    Cooking and storing pulses
    If you're cooking dried kidney beans or soya beans, check the advice below.

    Many other types of dried pulses need to be soaked to make them easier to digest. Cooking times vary depending on the type of pulse and how old they are, so it’s best to follow the instructions on the packet or in a recipe book.

    Cooking kidney beans

    If you buy dried kidney beans, it's important to cook them properly. This is because kidney beans contain a natural toxin (called lectin) that can cause stomach aches and vomiting. However, it's easy to destroy the toxin if you prepare the beans properly.

    Follow these three steps to destroy the toxins:

    1. soak the dried beans for at least 12 hours
    2. drain and rinse the beans then cover them with fresh water
    3. boil them vigorously for at least 10 minutes

    Then you need to simmer the beans for approximately 45 to 60 minutes to make them tender.

    If you buy tinned kidney beans, they have already been through this process so you can use them straight away.

    Cooking soya beans

    If you buy dried soya beans, it's also important to cook them properly. This is because the raw beans contain a natural toxin (which is called a ‘trypsin inhibitor’) that can stop you digesting food properly. However, it's easy to destroy the toxin if you prepare the beans properly.

    Follow these three steps to destroy the toxins:

    1. soak the dried beans for at least 12 hours
    2. drain and rinse the beans then cover them with fresh water
    3. boil them vigorously for 1 hour

    Then you need to simmer the beans for approximately 2 to 3 hours to make them tender.

    If you buy tinned soya beans, they have already been through this process so you can use them straight away.

    Storing cooked pulses

    If you cook pulses and you aren’t going to eat them immediately, cool them as quickly as possible and then put them in the fridge or freeze them.

    Don’t leave pulses (or other cooked foods) out at room temperature for more than an hour or two, because this could allow bacteria to grow and multiply.

    If you keep cooked pulses in the fridge, eat them within two days.

    If you freeze them, it should be safe to keep them for a long time, providing they stay frozen. However, keeping food frozen for too long can affect its taste and texture, so it’s a good idea to follow the freezer manufacturer’s instructions about how long to store certain foods.

    Nuts and seeds

    Nuts are high in fibre, rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals and a good source of protein (which is important for vegetarians).

    Nuts can be a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat. They are a good source of monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce the amount of cholesterol in our blood. They also contain other unsaturated fats called 'essential fatty acids', which the body needs for good health.

    However, nuts are also high in fat, so it's a good idea not to eat too many of them. And try to avoid salted nuts because they are very high in salt.


    There are many different types of seeds such as:

    · sunflower
    · pumpkin
    · sesame
    · poppy
    · flax

    Seeds contain protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals. They also add extra texture and flavour to various dishes and can be used to coat breads.

    They make a healthy snack and you could try adding them to salads, casseroles and breakfast cereals.

    You can eat them raw, or try dry frying or dry roasting them in a frying pan or in a roasting tin without any oil.

    Tips for eating more starchy foods and fibre

    Most people aren't eating enough starchy foods or fibre. Here are some good sources for you to choose from:

    · all sorts of bread including wholemeal, granary, brown, seedy, chapattis, pitta bread, bagels, roti and tortillas
    · potatoes, plantain, yam and sweet potato
    · more exotic choices included dasheen, coco yam and kenkey
    · squash, breadfruit and cassava
    · wholegrain breakfast cereals
    · beans, lentils, peas
    · couscous, bulgar wheat
    · maize, cornmeal

    We should all be trying to eat a variety of starchy foods and choosing wholegrain, brown or high fibre varieties whenever we can.

    Here are some tips to help you increase the amount of starchy foods and fibre you are eating:
    · Have more rice and pasta and less sauce.
    · If you're having sausages and mash – have more of the mash, some vegetables and one less sausage.
    · Add beans or lentils to your casseroles, stews and curries – this will also bump up the fibre content and because you will be able to use less meat, the meal will be cheaper and lower in saturated fat.
    · Try different breads such as seeded, wholemeal and granary and go for thick slices.
    · Try brown rice – it makes a very tasty rice salad.
    · Opt for wholegrain cereals or mix some in with your favourite cereal.
    · Porridge is a great warming winter breakfast and whole oats with fresh fruit and yoghurt makes a great start to a summer's day. Oats are a good source of soluble fibre.

    All about rice and grains

    Rice and grains are an excellent choice as a starchy food. They give us energy and are also good value and low in fat.

    There are many types to choose from such as:
    all kinds of rice – quick cook, abborio, basmati, long grain, brown, short grain,
    wild couscous
    bulgar wheat
    Rice and grains contain:
    some protein, which the body needs to grow and repair itself
    some fibre that can help the body get rid of waste products
    B vitamins, which release the energy from the food we eat and help the body to work properly
    We should eat some starchy foods, such as rice, grains, bread and potatoes every day as part of a healthy balanced diet.

    Rice is eaten in many countries throughout the world. There are many different types that have different tastes and textures.

    Rice and grains such as couscous and bulgar wheat can be eaten hot or cold and in salads, such as tabbouleh.

    Storing and reheating
    There are a few things to remember when you are storing and reheating cooked rice and grains. This is because the spores of some food poisoning bugs can survive cooking.

    If cooked rice or grains are left standing at room temperature, the spores can germinate. The bacteria multiply and produce toxins that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Reheating food won't get rid of the toxins.

    Therefore, it's best to serve rice and grains when they've just been cooked. If this isn't possible, cool them within an hour after cooking and keep them refrigerated until reheating or using in a cold dish.

    You should throw away any rice and grains that have been left at room temperature overnight.

    Don't keep cooked rice and grains for longer than two days and don't reheat them more than once. Check the 'use by' date and storage instructions on the label for any cold rice or grain salads that you buy.

    All about bread

    Bread, especially wholemeal, granary, brown and seedy bread, is a healthy choice as part of a balanced diet.

    Bread is a starchy food, like pasta, potatoes and rice, and these foods should make up about a third of our diet.

    Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown bread give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fibre and a wide range of minerals. White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fibre than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown bread.

    Bread has been a staple food in the UK for centuries. These days, more than 200 varieties of bread are available in this country, with origins from all around the world. These range from ciabatta, pumpernickel, baguette and soda bread, to bagels, flour tortillas and pitta.

    Some people avoid bread because they think they're allergic to wheat, or because they think bread is fattening. But it's very important to talk to your GP before cutting out any type of food.

    This is because you could be missing out on a whole range of nutrients that we need to stay healthy.

    Types of allergy and intolerance

    In theory, any food can cause a food allergy. But in fact just a handful of foods are to blame for 90% of allergic reactions to food in the UK. These foods are known as the ‘big eight’.

    They are: milk, eggs, peanuts (groundnuts or monkey nuts), nuts (including Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts), fish, shellfish (including mussels, crab and shrimps), soya and wheat.

    In children, the most common allergic reactions to food are to milk, peanuts, nuts, eggs, soya and wheat. Usually children grow out of most types of food allergy in early childhood. In adults, most allergic reactions are to peanuts, nuts, fish, shellfish and wheat.


    why we should cut down

    Adults should have no more than 6 grams of salt a day. On average people are actually having about 9.5g of salt a day. This means we are eating nearly 60% more salt than we should.

    Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. And people with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than people with normal blood pressure.

    When most people think of salt, they think of shaking it on their food, or adding a pinch to cooking. But the salt we add ourselves makes up just a quarter of the salt we eat. Three-quarters (75%) comes from processed food, such as some breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, biscuits and ready meals.

    Lots of people think they don't eat a lot of salt, especially if they don't add it to their food. But don't be so sure!

    In the UK, 85% men and 69% women eat too much salt. And remember that three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from foods that already contain it. So you could easily be eating too much salt without realising it.


    Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. And it's the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health.

    You will usually see sodium included in the nutrition information on food labels. Some products also say how much salt they contain.

    Adults should have no more than about 2.5g of sodium a day, which is about 6g of salt. See below for advice on checking labels.

    Checking labels

    If you look at the nutrition information on a food label, there will usually be a figure for how much sodium is in 100g of the food.

    Sometimes, you will see information about a portion/serving too.

    What's a lot and what's a little sodium?

    0.5g sodium or more per 100g is a lot of sodium
    0.1g sodium or less per 100g is a little sodium

    This means if you have a 500g ready meal that contains 0.5g sodium per 100g, you will be getting 2.5g sodium from the meal. This is the maximum we should be having in a whole day.

    If the amount of sodium is between 0.1g and 0.5g per 100g, this is a moderate amount of sodium.

    Sometimes sodium is listed in milligrams (mg). This means you need to divide the milligrams by 1000 to work out the number of grams.

    Try to avoid eating lots of foods that contain 0.5g sodium or more per 100g. If you eat a lot of foods that are high in sodium, it can be very easy to have too much. Try to choose foods that are lower in sodium when you can.

    The Agency is working to get information about 'salt' rather than 'sodium' included on food labels, to make them easier to understand.

    Tips for cutting down

    Here are a few practical tips to help you cut down:
    · Check the labels on processed foods such as soups and ready meals, so you can choose those with less added salt or sodium.
    · Add less salt to your cooking.
    · Get out of the habit of adding salt to your food. Try to remember to taste it first.
    · Cut down on salty snacks such as crisps and nuts, and heavily salted foods such as bacon, cheese, pickles and smoked fish.
    · Choose tinned vegetables, pulses and fish that say 'no added salt'.
    · Choose lower-salt stock cubes, make your own stock, or add herbs and spices for flavour instead.
    · Cut down on sauces, such as cooking sauces, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sauce and ketchup because these are usually very high in salt.

    Babies and children

    Babies only need a very small amount of salt – less than 1g a day until they are 6 months old and no more than 1g a day from 7 to 12 months.
    Babies who are breastfed get the right amount of salt through breast milk and infant formula contains a similar amount.

    Remember not to add salt to food you give to your baby because their kidneys can't cope with any extra salt. And be careful not to give your baby processed foods that aren't made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals and pasta sauces, because these can be high in salt.

    There is also no need to add salt to your child's food. If you're buying processed foods, even those aimed at children, remember to check the information given on the labels so you can choose those with less salt.

    These are the maximum amounts of salt children should have in a day:
    · 1 to 3 years – 2g a day (0.8g sodium)
    · 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
    · 7 to 10 years – 5g a day (2g sodium)
    · 11 and over – 6g a day (2.5g sodium)

    Although we don't have reliable information to tell us how many children are eating too much salt, the information we do have suggests that many children are eating more than these maximum amounts.

    Fish and shellfish

    We should be eating at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. But most people aren't eating enough fish. Fish and shellfish are rich in protein and minerals, and oily fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

    Eat more fish

    Most of us should be eating more fish. It's an excellent source of protein and it contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium and iodine.

    White fish such as cod, haddock, plaice and whiting are very low in fat. Oily fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and a good source of vitamins A and D. White fish contain some omega 3, but at much lower levels than oily fish.

    Fish such as whitebait, canned sardines, pilchards and salmon – where you also eat the bones – are also good sources of calcium and phosphorous, which help make our bones stronger.

    Shellfish contain similar nutrients to white fish and similar amounts of omega 3, though some types of shellfish contain more omega 3 than others. For example, crab and mussels are quite good sources of omega 3, but prawns contain hardly any. Oily fish are the best sources of omega 3. Shellfish are good sources of selenium, zinc, iodine and copper.

    For the healthier choice, go for poached, baked or grilled fish, rather than fried, because fried fish is much higher in fat, especially if it's cooked in batter. But this doesn't mean you need to stop having an occasional portion of fish and chips.

    Just remember these tips to help you make your fish and chips a healthier choice:
    · have some baked beans or peas with your fish and chips
    · add your own salt to taste to make sure you don't have too much
    · have a bread roll with your chips and see if you can manage with a smaller portion, or try sharing your chips with a friend
    · the thicker the chips the better, because they absorb less fat
    · if the oil is at the right temperature the fish and chips will not only taste better but they will absorb less fat

    Although most people should be eating more fish, there are maximum levels recommended for oily fish, see below. Also, adults should have no more than one portion of swordfish, shark or marlin a week. This is because these fish contain high levels of mercury.

    Fish liver oil supplements are high in vitamin A. This is because fish store vitamin A in their livers. Having too much vitamin A over many years could be harmful. So, if you take supplements containing vitamin A, make sure you don’t have more than a total of 1.5mg a day from your food and supplements.

    'Pregnancy, children and babies' contains advice about fish for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby, and for children and babies.

    Oily fish

    Oily fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon are all rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.

    These fatty acids are also important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because they help a baby’s nervous system to develop (see Pregnancy, children and babies).

    Oily fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

    You can check which fish are oily and which aren't in the table below:

    Oily / fatty fish White / non-oily fish
    Salmon Trout Mackerel Herring Sardines Pilchards Kipper Eel Whitebait Tuna (fresh only) Anchovies Swordfish Bloater Cacha Carp Hilsa Jack fish Katla Orange roughy Pangas Sprats Cod Haddock Plaice Coley Whiting Lemon sole Skate Halibut Rock salmon/Dogfish Ayr Catfish Dover sole Flounder Flying fish Hake Hoki John Dory Kalabasu Ling Monkfish Parrot fish Pollack Pomfret Red and grey mullet Red fish Red snapper Rohu Sea bass Sea bream Shark Tilapia Turbot Tinned tuna Marlin

    Fresh tuna is an oily fish and is high in omega 3 fatty acids. But when it's canned, these fatty acids are reduced to levels similar to white fish. So, although canned tuna is a healthy choice for most people, it doesn't count as oily fish.

    How much oily fish?

    Most people should be eating more oily fish because omega 3 fatty acids are very good for our health.

    However, oily fish can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body.

    For this reason there are recommendations for the maximum number of portions of oily fish we should be eating each week (a portion is about 140g):

    2 portions of oily fish 4 portions of oily fish
    girls and women who might have a baby one day other women
    women who are pregnant or breastfeeding men and boys

    But remember, don’t give up eating oily fish because the health benefits are greater than the risks as long as you don't eat more than the recommended maximums.

    The pollutants found in oily fish are called dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Dioxins and PCBs tend to be found in all foods containing fats. They have no immediate effect on health, but can be harmful if they build up in our bodies over time.

    The recommended maximums are lower for most girls and women because high levels of dioxins and PCBs could affect the development of an unborn baby.

    If a woman changes her diet when she becomes pregnant, or when she starts trying for a baby, this won't change the levels of dioxins and PCBs that are already in her body. So it's a good idea to limit the amount of oily fish eaten from a young age.

    Omega 3 fatty acids are good for a baby’s development so pregnant women shouldn't stop eating oily fish (see Pregnancy, children and babies).


    Shellfish such as squid, crab, prawns, lobster, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops are low in fat, rich in minerals and provide protein.

    But it's important to take care how you store, prepare and cook shellfish.

    When they are raw or haven't been cooked properly, shellfish can contain harmful viruses and bacteria. And shellfish such as clams and oysters are also filter feeders. This means that the water they are living in, which might be polluted, passes through them.

    Elderly people and people who are unwell might want to avoid eating raw shellfish to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning.

    It should be fine to eat shellfish that has been properly cooked, because this usually kills any bacteria or viruses in them. Most shellfish is eaten cooked, but oysters are often served raw.

    Raw oysters can contain a virus called the Norovirus. It can cause the following symptoms:
    · nausea
    · dehydrating diarrhoea
    · abdominal pain
    People infected with this virus can also experience a headache and fever.

    Raw or partially cooked shellfish can contain hepatitis A, which is a virus of the liver. Hepatitis A is highly contagious, and can be spread to food, such as salads, by people who are infected. People can be infected with hepatitis A for up to two months before they show signs of the disease. Cases of Hepatitis A are rare in the UK. Symptoms include:
    · fever
    · tiredness
    · nausea
    · stomach discomfort
    · dark urine
    · jaundice

    Preparing and cooking

    Choosing and handling fish and shellfish

    When you are choosing fish and shellfish try to remember the following:
    · Buy seafood from reputable sources. Be wary of people selling seafood out of the boot of their car.
    · Choose fresh fish or shellfish that is refrigerated or on ice.
    · When you're shopping, pick up fish and shellfish last and take it straight home.
    · Don't buy cooked fish or shellfish (such as shrimp or crab) that is in the same display case as raw fish and shellfish because these should always be kept separate.
    · Don't buy frozen fish or shellfish if the packaging is damaged in any way.
    · Don't buy frozen fish products that are above the frost line in the shop's freezer.
    · Don't buy frozen seafood if you see ice crystals or signs of frost through the packaging. This could be a sign that the fish has been stored too long or that it has been thawed and refrozen.

    Storing and preparing fish and shellfish

    · Put fish and shellfish in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home.
    · Make sure that all fish and shellfish are covered or wrapped.
    · Don't store fish or shellfish in water.
    · Discard shellfish if their shells crack or break. Live shellfish will 'clam up' if their shell is tapped.
    · Wash your hands before handling fish or shellfish.
    · Thaw fish or shellfish in the fridge, preferably overnight, or if you need to thaw it more quickly, you could use a microwave. Use the 'defrost' setting on the microwave and stop it when the fish is icy but flexible.
    · Use separate cutting boards, knives, plates, etc. for preparing raw fish or shellfish.
    · Don't allow raw fish or shellfish to come into contact with cooked foods.
    · Cook fish so that the fat drips away.
    · Bake, poach or grill fish, and don't use the fish drippings.
    · Marinate seafood in the fridge and throw the marinade away after removing the raw fish or shellfish. If you want to use the marinade as a dip or sauce, set some aside before it touches the raw fish.

    Fish and shellfish allergy

    Some people have an allergy to fish or shellfish. These are quite common allergies and can sometimes cause severe reactions. People who are allergic to one type of fish often react to other types as well. Cooking fish doesn’t make someone with a fish allergy less likely to react. People who are allergic to one type of shellfish, such as prawns, crabs, mussels or scallops, often react to other types too.

    Pregnancy, children and babies

    When you’re trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding

    You can eat most types of fish when you're trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding. Eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby. But you just need to avoid some types of fish and limit the amount you eat of some others.

    This table shows the maximum number of portions you should have each week for the fish you need to limit.
    Trying for a baby Pregnant Breastfeeding
    oily fish 2 portions 2 portions 2 portions
    tuna 2 tuna steaks or 4 cans 2 tuna steaks or 4 cans 2 tuna steaks or no limit on cans
    shark, swordfish and marlin don't eat don't eat 1 (same for all adults)

    The figures for tuna are based on tuna steak weighing 140g when cooked or 170g raw and medium-size cans with a drained weight of about 140g per can.

    Canned tuna doesn't count as oily fish, so you can eat this as well as your maximum two portions of oily fish – but if you’re eating canned tuna, don’t pick fresh tuna as your oily fish. And remember, if you eat two fresh tuna steaks in a week, you shouldn't eat any other oily fish that week.

    The limits for shark, swordfish, marlin and tuna are because these fish contain more mercury than other types of fish. The amount of mercury we get from food isn't harmful for most people, but if you take in high levels of mercury when you’re pregnant this could affect your baby's developing nervous system.

    Oily fish are very good for our health, but we need to limit how much we have because they contain pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). See oily fish above.

    Unless your GP advises otherwise, you should also avoid taking fish liver oil supplements when you’re pregnant or trying for a baby because these are high in vitamin A, which can be harmful to your unborn baby.

    When you're pregnant you might also want to avoid eating raw shellfish. This is to reduce your chances of getting food poisoning, which can be particularly unpleasant during pregnancy.

    See the links below for more advice about what foods you should avoid.

    Children and babies

    Don’t give any fish or shellfish to babies younger than six months because there is a chance they might have an allergic reaction.

    Children should avoid eating any shark, swordfish or marlin. This is because the levels of mercury in these fish can affect the development of children’s growing nervous systems.

    You might also want to avoid giving raw shellfish to babies and children to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning.


    Eggs are a good source of protein, and contain vitamins and minerals. They are also easy to prepare. But it's important to handle, cook and store them properly to avoid food poisoning especially for the very young, pregnant women and elderly people.

    How many eggs?

    There is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat. Eggs are a good choice as part of a healthy balanced diet. But remember that it's a good idea to eat as varied a diet as possible. This means we should be trying to eat a variety of foods each week to get the wide range of nutrients we need.

    Eggs are a good source of:
    · protein
    · vitamin D
    · vitamin A
    · vitamin B2
    · iodine

    Eggs can make a really healthy meal. Why not try one of these for your breakfast, lunch or evening meal:
    · Spanish omelettes with chunks of cooked potatoes (you could use leftover potatoes from last night's dinner) and onions served with steamed veg or a salad. All sorts of veg will work in the omelette – sweet potato, peppers, spring onions and mushrooms are all good choices.
    · Poached egg and baked beans (choose reduced salt and sugar versions if you can) served on thick sliced toast makes a great brunch – you could serve it with grilled tomatoes or mushrooms.
    · Scrambled eggs on thick slices of brown toast, add some spring onions or mushrooms and serve with grilled tomatoes.
    · Boiled eggs chopped into a summer salad. If you include salad leaves, new potatoes, green beans, red onion, olives, boiled egg and some tuna, you will have yourself a filling salad niçoise.

    But remember that quiches and flans can be high in fat and salt, so try not to eat these too often. The pastry is high in fat, and quiches and flans often contain cream and cheese, and sometimes bacon too, all of which add to the saturated fat and salt content.

    If you are making your own quiche or flan, go easy on the cream and cheese – if you us a strong flavoured cheese you will only need to use a small amount. And add some vegetables such as broccoli, peppers and tomatoes.

    Fried eggs are higher in fat than boiled, poached or scrambled eggs, but there's nothing wrong with having them occasionally. If you do want a fried egg, use an oil that is high in unsaturated fat such as sunflower oil. It's a good idea to drain off as much of the oil as you can and it will also help to put the egg on some kitchen paper before putting it on your plate.

    Eggs and cholesterol

    Eggs contain cholesterol and high cholesterol levels in our blood increases our risk of heart disease.

    However, the cholesterol we get from our food – and this includes eggs – has less effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the amount of saturated fat we eat. So, if you are eating a balanced diet you only need to cut down on eggs if you have been told to do so by your GP or dietitian. If your GP has told you to watch your cholesterol levels, your priority should be cutting down on saturated fats.

    Keeping eggs safe

    Eating raw eggs, or eggs with runny yolks, or any food containing these, can cause food poisoning especially for anyone who is:
    · very young (babies to toddlers)
    · elderly
    · pregnant
    · already unwell

    This is because some eggs contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illness, especially for anyone in these groups. So if you are preparing food for anyone in these groups always make sure eggs are cooked until the white and yolk are solid.

    If you want to choose the safest option, you could use pasteurised egg for all foods that won't be cooked or will be only lightly cooked. And the safest option, for example for caterers preparing food for these vulnerable groups, is to always use pasteurised egg.

    There are three main issues that we should all be aware of:
    · avoiding the spread of bacteria
    · cooking eggs properly
    · storing eggs safely

    Avoiding the spread of bacteria

    Bacteria can spread very easily from eggs to other foods, hands, worktops, etc. There can be bacteria on the shell, as well as inside the egg, so you need to be careful how you handle eggs, when they are still in the shell and after you have cracked them.

    If you touch eggs, or get some egg white or yolk on your hands, you could spread bacteria to anything else you touch, whether it's food or the fridge handle, so make sure you wash and dry your hands thoroughly.

    If a whole egg, egg shell, or drips of white or yolk touch other foods, then bacteria can spread onto those foods.

    Bacteria can also spread onto worktops, dishes and utensils that are touched by eggs, and then the bacteria can spread to other foods that touch the worktops, dishes or utensils.

    So remember to:
    · Keep eggs away from other foods, when they are still in the shell and after you have cracked them.
    · Be careful not to splash egg onto other foods, worktops or dishes.
    · Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly after touching eggs or working with them.
    · Clean surfaces, dishes and utensils thoroughly, using warm soapy water, after working with eggs.

    Cooking eggs properly

    If you cook eggs until both the white and yolk are solid this will kill any bacteria. If you are cooking a dish containing eggs, make sure you cook it until the food is piping hot all the way through.

    Foods that are made with raw eggs and then not cooked, or only lightly cooked, can cause food poisoning. This is because any bacteria in the eggs won't be killed.

    All the following might contain raw eggs:
    · home-made mayonnaise
    · Béarnaise and hollandaise sauces
    · some salad dressings
    · ice cream
    · icing
    · mousse
    · tiramisu and other desserts

    For the safest choice, you could use pasteurised egg instead (available from some supermarkets), because pasteurisation kills bacteria.

    If you're concerned, when you're eating out or buying food that isn't labelled and you're not sure whether a food contains raw egg, ask the person serving you.

    If you buy commercially produced mayonnaise, salad dressings, sauces, ice cream, desserts, or ready-made icing, these will almost always have been made using pasteurised egg. Check the label but ask if you're not sure.

    Storing eggs safely

    Here are some tips to help you store your eggs safely:
    · Do store eggs in a cool, dry place, ideally in the fridge.
    · Do store eggs away from other foods. It's a good idea to use your fridge's egg tray, if you have one, because this helps to keep eggs separate.
    · Do eat dishes containing eggs as soon as possible after you've prepared them, but if you're not planning to eat them straight away, cool them quickly and then keep them in the fridge.
    · Don't use eggs after their 'best before' date for the safest choice.
    · Don't use eggs with damaged shells, because dirt or bacteria might have got inside them.


    Meat is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. It is one of the main sources of vitamin B12, which is only found in foods from animals, such as meat and milk.

    Cutting down on fat

    Some types of meat are high in fat, particularly saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol increases the chances of developing heart disease.

    When you’re buying meat, the type of cut or meat product you choose (and how you cook it) can make a big difference.

    For example, a lean pork leg joint, roasted medium, typically contains one quarter of the fat of a pork belly joint with fat, grilled (5.5g fat per 100g and 1.9g saturated fat, compared with 23.4g fat per 100g and 8.2g saturated fat).

    Lean rump steak, grilled, contains half the fat of rump steak with the fat, fried (5.9g fat per 100g and 2.5g saturated fat compared with 12.7g fat per 100g and 4.9g saturated fat). The fat content of beef mince can also vary widely.

    Fried chicken breast in breadcrumbs contains nearly 6 times as much fat as chicken breast grilled without the skin (12.7g fat and 2.1g saturated fat compared with 2.2g fat per 100g and 0.6g saturated fat).

    Try to go for the leanest option whenever you can. As a general rule, the more white you can see on meat, the more fat it contains. So, for example, back bacon has less than half the fat of streaky bacon.

    Making healthier choices when buying meat

    · Ask your butcher for a lean cut.
    · If you’re buying pre-packed meat, check the label to see how much fat it contains and compare products.
    · Go for turkey and chicken, without the skin, because these are lower in fat.
    · Try not to eat too many meat products such as sausages, salami, pâté and beefburgers, because these are generally high in fat. They are often high in salt too.
    · Remember that meat products in pastry, such as pies and sausage rolls, are often high in fat.

    Cutting down on fat when cooking meat

    If you’re trying to have less fat, it’s a good idea to cut off any visible fat and skin before cooking because fat, crackling and poultry skin are much higher in fat than the meat itself. Here are some other ways to reduce fat when you’re cooking meat:
    · Grill meat rather than frying.
    · Try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking meat.
    · Roast meat on a metal rack above a roasting tin, so fat can run off.
    · Try using smaller quantities of meat in dishes and more vegetables, pulses and starchy foods.

    Cooking meat safely

    It's very important to cook meat properly to make sure that any harmful bacteria have been killed. Otherwise you might get food poisoning.

    Bacteria can be found all the way through certain meat. So this means you need to cook the following sorts of meat until the juices run clear and there is no pink or red left in them:
    · poultry and game such as chicken, turkey, duck and goose
    · burgers and sausages
    · kebabs
    · rolled joints

    But you can eat whole cuts of meat that are still pink inside, as long as they have been properly sealed.

    This means you can eat whole cuts of beef, lamb and pork when they are pink or rare. This is because any bacteria are generally on the outside of the meat so if the outside is cooked, this should kill any bacteria, even if the middle of the meat is still pink. These include:
    · steaks
    · cutlets
    · joints

    strong>Storing meat safely

    It’s especially important to store meat safely to stop bacteria from spreading and avoid food poisoning.
    · Store raw meat/poultry in clean sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so it can’t touch or drip onto other food.
    · Follow any storage instructions on the label and don’t eat meat after its ‘use by’ date.
    · When you have cooked meat and you’re not going to eat it straight away, cool it as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge or freezer. Remember to keep cooked meat separate from raw meat.

    Freezing meat

    It's OK to freeze raw meat providing you do the following things:
    · freeze it before the ‘use by’ date
    · follow any freezing or thawing instructions on the label
    · defrost it in a microwave if you intend to cook it as soon as it’s defrosted, otherwise thaw it in the fridge so that it doesn’t get too warm
    · try to use the meat within two days of defrosting – it will go off in the same way as fresh meat
    · cook food until it’s piping hot all the way through

    When meat thaws, lots of liquid can come out of it. This liquid will spread bacteria to any food, plates or surfaces that it touches. Keep the meat in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge, so that it can’t touch or drip onto other foods.

    Always thoroughly clean plates, utensils, surfaces and hands after they have touched raw or thawing meat, to stop bacteria from spreading.

    If you defrost raw meat and then cook it thoroughly, you can freeze it again, but remember never reheat foods more than once.

    Liver and liver pâté

    Liver and liver products, such as liver pâté and liver sausage, are a good source of iron and they are also a rich source of vitamin A.

    But, because they are such a rich source of vitamin A, if you eat liver or liver products every week, you might want to choose not to have them more often.

    This is because the body stores any vitamin A it doesn’t use and so levels can build up over many years and be harmful.

    If you do eat liver or liver products every week, you should avoid taking any supplements that contain vitamin A or fish liver oils (which are also high in vitamin A).

    Older people should avoid eating liver or liver products more than once a week, or you could eat smaller portions. You should also avoid taking any supplements that contain vitamin A or fish liver oils. This is because having too much vitamin A (more than 1.5mg of vitamin A per day), might increase the risk of bone fracture.

    Women who are pregnant or trying for a baby also need to avoid vitamin A. See below for advice.

    When you're pregnant

    Food poisoning can be particularly unpleasant during pregnancy, so:
    · always wash your hands after handling raw meat, and store raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods
    · make sure you cook meat properly. Take particular care with sausages and minced meat

    You should also avoid eating liver and liver products such as pâté. These foods are very high in vitamin A, and having too much vitamin A might harm your unborn baby. For the same reason, you also need to avoid taking supplements containing vitamin A or fish liver oils. Ask your GP or midwife if you want more information.

    Milk and dairy

    Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A, B12, and D.

    They're also an important source of calcium, which helps to keep our bones strong. The calcium in dairy foods are easy for the body to absorb.

    Healthier choices

    The fat content of different dairy products varies a lot and much of this is saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol and is linked to heart disease.

    Most cheeses (e.g. Brie, Stilton, Cheddar, Lancashire and Double Gloucester) contain between 20 and 40g fat per 100g. If you're trying to make the healthier choice, you don’t need to avoid cheese, but it’s a good idea to keep a check on how much you eat and how often.

    If you’re using cheese to flavour a dish or a sauce, you could try using a very strong-tasting cheese, such as mature Cheddar or blue cheese, because then you’ll need less.

    Another option is to choose reduced-fat hard cheeses, which usually contain between 10 and 16g fat per 100g. A few cheeses are even lower in fat (3g fat per 100g or less), including reduced-fat cottage cheese and Quark.

    If you are trying to cut down on fat, it's a good idea to go for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and low-fat yoghurts or fromage frais. These products contain at least the same amount of protein, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc as full-fat versions. They just contain less fat.

    Cream and butter are high in fat, so try to use them sparingly. You can use plain yoghurt and fromage frais instead of cream, soured cream or crème fraîche in recipes. And low-fat spreads can be used instead of butter.

    It's also worth remembering that some dairy products can be high in salt, and too much salt can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), which is also linked to heart disease. Adults should be eating no more than 6g of salt a day.

    Some flavoured and malted milk products and shakes tend to contain added sugar, which can be bad for our teeth.

    You can check the amount of fat, salt and sugar by looking at the nutrition information on the label. If you compare similar products you will be able to choose the ones with lower amounts.

    When you are pregnant

    Dairy foods are very important in pregnancy because calcium helps your unborn baby's developing bones to harden.

    But when you're pregnant you should avoid unpasteurised dairy products and soft mould-ripened cheese such as Camembert, Brie, and all blue-veined cheese.

    This is because they can contain high levels of listeria, a germ that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.

    There is no listeria risk with hard cheeses (such as Cheddar), cottage cheese and processed cheese.

    Babies and children

    Milk and dairy products are an important part of a child's diet. They are a good source of energy and protein, and contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, which growing children and young people need to build healthy bones and teeth.


    Breast milk is the best drink for babies for the first few months and, ideally, up to a year old. The only alternative to breast milk is infant formula based on cows' milk.

    Ordinary full-fat milk isn't suitable as a drink until a baby is a year old. This is because it doesn't contain enough iron and other nutrients to meet a baby's needs. It can be used in foods such as cheese sauce and custard from six months.

    At about a year old, a switch to full-fat cows' milk can be made.

    There's also soya-based infant formula, which was originally developed for babies who can't have standard infant formula because of an allergy to cows' milk.

    But you should check with your GP or health visitor before giving it because there are now other types of formula that are more suitable.

    In almost all cases, breastfeeding or another type of formula will be a better choice.


    Children should drink whole milk until they are at least two years old because they may not get as many calories as they need from semi-skimmed milk.

    After the age of two, children can gradually move to semi-skimmed milk as a main drink, as long as they are eating well and getting plenty of calories and nutrients from a varied diet.

    Don't give skimmed milk to children until they're at least five years old because it's too low in calories and contains only very small amounts of vitamins A and D, which children need.

    Children between the ages of one and three need to have about 350mg of calcium a day. About 300ml full-fat milk (three fifths of a pint) would provide this.

    Goats' and sheep's milk

    These aren't suitable as drinks for babies under a year old because they don't contain enough iron and other nutrients that a baby needs.

    Providing they are pasteurised, goats' and sheep's milk can be used once a baby is a year old.


    Pasteurisation is a process of heat treatment intended to kill harmful food poisoning bacteria.

    You can sometimes buy unpasteurised milk and cream. Although these products are very popular with some people, they could be harmful.

    This is because they have not been heat-treated and so could contain harmful food poisoning bacteria.

    When you see raw cows' drinking milk on sale, it needs to carry a warning to say that it has not been heat-treated and may contain harmful bacteria.

    Children, people who are unwell, pregnant women and older people are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning and so should not have unpasteurised milk or cream.

    If you choose unpasteurised milk or cream, be especially careful to keep them properly refrigerated because they both have a short shelf-life.

    Allergy and intolerance

    Some people have an intolerance to milk. This is called 'lactose intolerance'.

    Lactose intolerance is more common in certain countries and ethnic groups than in others. In communities where milk is not traditionally part of the typical adult diet, a much bigger proportion of people are affected. For example, in South America, Africa and Asia, more than 50% of the population are intolerant to lactose, reaching nearly 100% in some parts of Asia. In the UK, Ireland, Northern Europe and America, we think that, on average, about 5% of the adult population have this condition.

    Lactose intolerance can cause symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea. There is no medical treatment for lactose intolerance, but symptoms can be avoided by controlling the amount of lactose in the diet. Adults with lactose intolerance can often have a small amount of milk without reacting. Milk from mammals including cows, goats and sheep all contain lactose. This means that goats’ milk and sheep’s milk aren’t suitable alternatives to cows’ milk for people who are intolerant to lactose.

    People with lactose intolerance often find that they can eat cheese and yoghurt without any problems. Cheese contains much less lactose than milk. Yoghurt contains a similar amount of lactose to milk, but it still seems to be easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance. This might be something to do with the bacteria used to make it.

    Milk allergy, unlike lactose intolerance, can cause severe reactions. But often the symptoms are mild. They can affect any part of the body and can include rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and difficulty breathing.

    In a very few cases, milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening allergic reaction, which involves someone finding it hard to breathe, their lips or mouth become swollen, and they could collapse. If this does happen, you should call 999 immediately and describe what is happening.

    Milk allergy affects 2 to 7% of babies under a year old. Children usually grow out of milk allergy by the time they are three, but about a fifth are still allergic to milk when they are adults.

    Don't cut milk and dairy products out of your diet, or your child's diet, without talking to your GP or a dietitian. Otherwise you or your child might not get enough of important nutrients such as calcium.


    Most people know that we should be cutting down on fat. But did you know it's even more important to try to replace the saturated fat we eat with unsaturated fat? Read on to find out how.

    We need some fat

    It's important to have some fat in our diet because fat helps the body absorb some vitamins, it's a good source of energy and a source of the essential fatty acids that the body can't make itself.

    But having a lot of fat makes it easy to have more energy than we need, which means we might be more likely to put on weight. So if you want to eat healthily and keep a healthy weight, look out for lower fat alternatives wherever possible and try to eat fatty foods only occasionally.

    Different sorts of fats

    Although it's important to try to eat less fat, we also need to think about the types of fat we are eating.

    We should be cutting down on food that is high in saturated fat or trans fats or replacing these foods with ones that are high in unsaturated fat instead. We should also be having more omega 3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish.

    Saturated fats

    Having too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease.

    These are all high in saturated fat:
    · meat products, meat pies, sausages
    · hard cheese
    · butter and lard
    · pastry
    · cakes and biscuits
    · cream, soured cream and crème fraîche
    · coconut oil, coconut cream or palm oil

    Trans fats

    Trans fats have a similar effect on blood cholesterol as saturated fats, they raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases the risk of heart disease.

    Some evidence suggests that the effects of these trans fats may be worse than saturated fats. However, most people eat a lot more saturated fat than trans fats.

    Trans fats can be formed when liquid vegetable oils are turned into solid fats through the process of hydrogenation. Foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil, which must be listed in the ingredients list on the label, might also contain trans fats.

    Trans fats are often found in these types of foods:
    · biscuits and cakes
    · fast food
    · pastry
    · some margarines

    These sorts of food are usually high in saturated fat, sugar and salt so if you are trying to eat a healthy diet, you should try to keep these to a minimum.

    Trans fats are also found naturally at very low levels in foods such as dairy products, beef and lamb.

    Unsaturated fats

    Unsaturated fats can be a healthy choice. They don't raise cholesterol in the same way as saturated fats. These types of fats provide us with the essential fatty acids that the body needs. These include the unsaturated fats found in oily fish, which may help prevent heart disease.

    These are all high in unsaturated fat:
    · oily fish
    · avocados
    · nuts and seeds
    · sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil and spreads
    · vegetable oils

    If you want to make a healthy choice, try to have more unsaturated fats and less saturated fats, this means you could choose:
    · oily fish instead of sausages or a meat pie
    · use unsaturated oils such as olive, sunflower or rapeseed oils instead of butter, lard and ghee in cooking
    · snack on some unsalted nuts instead of a biscuit
    · make your mashed potato with olive oil and garlic instead of butter and milk for a change
    · choose a fat spread that is high in unsaturates instead of butter

    What's a lot and what's a little?

    If you want to try to cut down on fat, or you just want to watch how much fat you are eating, you can compare the labels of different food products and choose those with less total fat and less saturated fat.

    You will see figures for the fat content on many food labels and some foods will also give figures for saturated fat. Use the following as a guide to what is a lot and what is a little fat per 100g food.

    20g fat or more per 100g is a lot of fat
    5g saturates or more per 100g is a lot

    3g fat or less per 100g is a little fat
    1g saturates or less per 100g is a little fat

    If the amount of total fat is between 3g and 20g per 100g, this is a moderate amount of total fat. Between 1g and 5g of saturates is a moderate amount of saturated fat.

    Tips for cutting down

    Here are some practical suggestions to help you cut down on fat, especially saturated fat:
    · Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off any visible fat.
    · Grill, bake, poach or steam rather than frying and roasting so you don't need to add any extra fat.
    · If you do choose something high in fat such as a meat pie, pick something low fat to go with it to make the meal lower in fat – for example you could have a baked potato instead of chips.
    · When you're choosing a ready meal or buying another food product, compare the labels so you can pick those with less total fat or less saturated fat.
    · Put some extra vegetables, beans or lentils in your casseroles and stews and a bit less meat.
    · Measure oil for cooking with tablespoons rather than pouring it straight from a container.
    · Have pies with only one crust rather than two – either a lid or a base – because pastry is very high in fat.
    · When you're making sandwiches, try not using any butter or spread if the filling is moist enough. When you do use fat spread, go for a reduced-fat variety and choose one that is soft straight from the fridge so it's easier to spread thinly.
    · Choose lower fat versions of dairy foods whenever you can. This means semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, reduced fat yoghurt, lower fat cheeses or very strong tasting cheese so you don't need to use as much.
    · Instead of cream or soured cream try using yoghurt or fromage frais in recipes.

    strong>Omega 3 fatty acids

    Oily fish is the best source of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been shown to help protect against coronary heart disease.

    Some omega 3 fatty acids are found in certain vegetable oils, such as linseed, flaxseed, walnut and rapeseed, but these aren't the same type of fatty acids as those found in fish.

    Recent evidence suggests that the type of fatty acids found in vegetable sources may not have the same benefits as those in fish.


    Most adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar. We should all be trying to eat fewer sugary foods such as sweets, cakes and biscuits and drinking fewer soft drinks.

    Different types of sugar

    Sugars occur naturally in food such as fruit and milk, but we don't need to cut down on these types of sugars. It is food containing added sugars that we should be cutting down on.

    Sugar is added to many types of food such as:
    · fizzy drinks and juice drinks
    · sweets and biscuits
    · jam
    · cakes, pastries and puddings
    · ice cream

    Food and drinks containing added sugars contain calories but few other nutrients so we should try to eat these foods only occasionally.

    Sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay, particularly if you have them between meals. This includes fruit juice and honey.

    The sugars found naturally in whole fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugar is contained within the structure of the fruit. But, when fruit is juiced or blended, the sugar is released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth, especially if fruit juice is drunk frequently.

    Fruit juice is still a healthy choice, and counts as one of the five portions of fruit and vegetables we should be having every day, but it is best to drink fruit juice at mealtimes.

    Tips for cutting down

    It's a good idea to try to cut down on foods and drinks that can contain lots of added sugar, such as fizzy drinks, biscuits and sweets. This will help to keep our teeth healthy. Many foods that contain added sugar can also be high in calories so eating less of these foods may help weight control.

    If you are trying to cut down on sugar, these tips might help you cut down:
    · Have fewer sugary drinks and snacks.
    · Instead of fizzy drinks and juice drinks, go for water or unsweetened fruit juice (remember to dilute these for children). If you like fizzy drinks then try diluting fruit juice with sparkling water.
    · Instead of cakes or biscuits, try having a currant bun, a slice of melon or some malt loaf with low-fat spread.
    · If you take sugar in hot drinks, or add sugar to your breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether.
    · Rather than spreading jam, marmalade, syrup, treacle or honey on your toast, try a low-fat spread, sliced banana, or low-fat cream cheese instead.
    · Check food labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar or go for the low-sugar version.
    · Try halving the sugar you use in your recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice cream.
    · Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup.
    · Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals rather than those coated with sugar or honey.

    Checking food labels

    When you are checking food labels, you can use the following as a guide to what is a lot and what is a little added sugar per 100g food.

    Look for the 'Carbohydrates (of which sugars)' figure in the nutrition information panel on the label.

    10g sugars or more per 100g is A LOT of sugar
    2g sugars or less per 100g is A LITTLE sugar

    If the amount of sugars is between 2g and 10g per 100g, this is a moderate amount of sugar.

    These figures can't tell you how much of the sugars come from milk or fruit and how much comes from added sugars.

    Sometimes the figure you see in the nutrition panel is a total figure for 'Carbohydrates', and not for 'Carbohydrates (of which sugars)'. This means the figure will also include starchy carbohydrates.

    So, to get a feel for whether the product is high in added sugars you might also need to look at the ingredients list.

    Added sugars must be included in the ingredients list, which always starts with the biggest ingredient first. Watch out for other words that are used to describe added sugar, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey. If you see one of these near the top of the list, you know that the product is likely to be high in added sugars.

    Some foods that you might not expect to have sugar added to them can contain lots, for example some breakfast cereals and cereal bars. Other foods can be higher in added sugar than you might expect, such as tins of spaghetti or baked beans.

    Keeping teeth healthy

    To help keep teeth healthy, as well as brushing teeth regularly and visiting the dentist, we should cut down on added sugars. These are the sugars found in fizzy drinks, juice drinks, sweets, cakes and jam. It's best to stick to having these kinds of foods and drinks at mealtimes.

    It's also important to avoid sipping sugary drinks or sucking sweets too often. This is because the longer the sugar touches your teeth, the more damage it can do.


    Drinks are very important for our bodies to work properly and to make sure we don't get dehydrated. But to make healthy choices it's important to know what to drink and when.

    Drinking enough?

    It's very important to make sure we are drinking enough. Our bodies need water or other fluids to work properly.

    Why it’s important

    Water makes up about two-thirds of our body weight. And it's important for this to be maintained because most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water. We also need water for our blood to be able to carry nutrients around the body.

    Losing water

    As your body works it produces waste products and some of these waste products are toxic. The body gets rid of these toxins through the kidneys in urine, and urine is mainly made up of water.

    We also lose water through evaporation when we breathe and sweat. As the temperature rises and as we do more activity, this increases the amount of water the body loses.

    To stay healthy, you need to replace the fluids you lose. And don't forget, if the weather is hot or you are exercising, you will be losing even more water.

    How much water do we need?

    In climates such as the UK, we should drink approximately 1.2 litres (6 to 8 glasses) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated. In hotter climates the body needs more than this. We also get some fluid from the food we eat.

    Caffeine in drinks

    Drinks that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola, can act as mild diuretics, which means they make the body produce more urine.

    This affects some people more than others, but it also depends on how much caffeine you drink and how often.

    It’s fine to drink these sorts of drinks, but we should also drink some fluids each day that don’t contain caffeine.

    Signs of dehydration

    One of the first signs of dehydration is feeling thirsty.

    If you think you might not be getting enough fluids, check if you are showing any of these other common signs of dehydration:
    · dark coloured urine and not passing much when you go to the toilet
    · headaches
    · confusion and irritability
    · lack of concentration

    Vitamins & Minerals

    Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you choose to take supplements, it's important to know that taking too much or taking them for too long can cause harmful effects.

    So if you choose to take supplements, make sure you're informed.

    The advice given in this section is aimed at adults. You might also want to check out the information in the 'Ages and stages' section, which has nutrition advice for all ages and includes advice on what foods to avoid for women who are pregnant or trying for a baby.

    Use the menu on the right hand side to go to a vitamin, mineral or trace element.

    What are vitamins?

    Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

    Fat-soluble vitamins

    Fat-soluble vitamins are found mainly in fatty foods such as animal fats (including butter and lard), vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish.

    Your body needs these vitamins every day to work properly. However, you don't need to eat foods containing them every day.

    This is because, if your body doesn't need these vitamins immediately, it stores them in your liver and fatty tissues for future use. This means the stores can build up so they are there when you need them. But, if you have much more than you need, fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.

    These are all fat-soluble vitamins:
    · vitamin A
    · vitamin D
    · vitamin E
    · vitamin K

    Water-soluble vitamins

    Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so you need to have them more frequently.

    If you have more than you need, your body gets rid of the extra vitamins when you urinate. Because the body doesn't store water-soluble vitamins, generally these vitamins aren't harmful.

    Water-soluble vitamins are found in fruit, vegetables and grains. But unlike fat-soluble vitamins, they can be destroyed by heat or by being exposed to the air. They can also be lost in the water used for cooking.

    This means that by cooking food, especially boiling, we lose lots of these vitamins from the food we eat. The best way to keep as much of the water-soluble vitamins as possible is to steam or grill, rather than boil.

    These are all water-soluble vitamins:
    · vitamin B6
    · vitamin B12
    · vitamin C
    · biotin
    · folic acid
    · niacin
    · pantothenic acid
    · riboflavin
    · thiamin

    What are minerals?

    Minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. We need them in the form they are found in food.

    Minerals can be found in varying amounts in a variety of foods such as meat, cereals (including cereal products such as bread), fish, milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.

    Minerals are necessary for three main reasons:
    · building strong bones and teeth
    · controlling body fluids inside and outside cells
    · turning the food we eat into energy

    These are all essential minerals:
    · calcium
    · iron
    · magnesium
    · phosphorus
    · potassium
    · sodium
    · sulphur

    What are trace elements?

    Trace elements are also essential nutrients that your body needs to work properly, but in much smaller amounts than vitamins and minerals.

    Trace elements are found in small amounts in a variety of foods such as meat, fish, cereals, milk and dairy foods, vegetables and nuts.

    These are all trace elements:
    · boron
    · cobalt
    · copper
    · chromium
    · fluoride
    · iodine
    · manganese
    · molybdenum
    · selenium
    · silicon
    · zinc