Nutrient Absorption

The Many Benefits of Probiotics, the Good Bacteria Your Body Needs

There are many wonderful natural products that have all sorts of benefits, but probiotics are part of a handful of supplements which we believe are vitally important for people of all ages- they’re a group of supplements that everyone would benefit from.

Probiotics, or “good bacteria”, are best known as an aid to digestive health, where they have impressively documented benefits for helping the body to digest and process foods. Probiotics also help the body to assimilate nutrients from foods and improve nutrient availability.

Probiotics are also fantastic for the immune system, enhancing our bodies own disease fighting white blood cells. One yearlong study showed that children who took probiotic supplements had significantly fewer upper respiratory infections (colds, etc.) and had a 30 percent reduction in missed school days. Research also found similar immune system benefits for adults.

In addition to activating the immune system against illness, it appears that probiotics are also able to modulate the immune system to diminish over reactive responses to allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly, new research is also showing benefits for bone health for people who use probiotics. One new study found that in animals with hormone changes similar to what happens in women after menopause those who consumed probiotics were able to stave off bone loss compared to the group that was not given probiotics. The control group that did not use probiotics lost half their bone density compared to the probiotics who were able to retain bone density.

Also, pregnant women who use probiotics have been shown to have children with a lower incidence of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Additionally, research has suggested that pregnant women who use probiotics may have children with fewer food allergies.

Probiotics can also have benefits to overall brain health and mood. One study which was measuring the benefits of probiotics on IBS found that the probiotic takers had twice as many people that saw decreases in depression and depressive symptoms when compared with a placebo.

There are many wonderful, high-quality probiotics that we have at the store, but I wanted to specifically mention one by Flora called Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic, a probiotic which has actually won a number of different awards. Flora is a small company that makes exceptional products. They don’t come out with a ton of different “hot, new products” every year, but instead specialize in a few different areas, like probiotic supplements, where they really excel.

Flora’s Super 8 is a mix of eight well researched, scientifically identified strains that have been shown to survive in the body and form colonies.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic has probiotic strains that aid digestion, breaking down carbohydrates and helping to synthesize B vitamins. It also contains specific strains which have been shown in research to help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the colon and GI tract. Super 8 is also formulated with strains that have been found to help reduce gas formation as well as other strains that help with urinary tract health and even a strain that helps with lowering cholesterol levels!

Best of all, it’s a high potency probiotic (42 billion per pill) that is very reasonably priced, especially when compared to other probiotics at similar potencies. This September, we’ll be having our Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic on sale for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it!




New Study: Aloe can increase nutrient absorption by up to 2000%

When it comes to vitamins and supplements, the most important factor to consider is absorption- how well is your body able to assimilate and use those nutrients. That’s why it’s important to choose the best forms of certain vitamins since not all supplements are created equal.

A few new studies have come out that I wanted to share regarding aloe and it’s seemingly amazing benefits for increasing nutrient absorption. The research found that when aloe, in the form of aloe juice or gel (the gel performed the best), was ingested with vitamins, it increased the blood levels of the nutrients studied as much as 2000% in a study using Lily of the Desert aloe vera products (see the study here). There are also additional studies on increases in nutrient absorption after taking aloe on pub med (see the links here and here).

While the studies are still preliminary and have only researched aloe vera impacting a few different nutrients, the science is sound. Adding aloe vera juice or gel to your supplement regimen seems to make a lot of sense. Drinking 2 ounces of aloe juice or gel (the amount used in the studies) with the supplements you already take can increase their absorption by as much as 20 times than with supplements taken with water.

In addition to the documented benefits for increasing nutrient absorption, there are many other benefits for taking aloe juice or gel internally. Aloe is very soothing and healing to the digestive tract, and has benefits for heartburn, GERD, IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and ulcers. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. 

Healthy Q & A: Vitamin C

Q: I’ve always taken extra vitamin C in the winter months, but wanted to see if it was really necessary. Do you think supplements really make a difference?

A:  Vitamin C is an absolutely fantastic supplement to be taking; since it is involved in so many processes in the body- it’s also great for the immune system. Vitamin C is abundant in fresh produce, citrus fruits in particular, and is crucial for making sure the body runs right and is an integral part of the body being able to heal itself.  A vitamin C supplement is not a substitute for a healthy diet, but can be especially helpful to fill in gaps in a diet, for people who many not eat as well as they would like. There are also groups of people who are more likely to be deficient in vitamin C than others, like smokers (that includes second hand smoke), people with digestive disorders or malabsorption issues, and people who eat a limited variety of foods.

Not all vitamin C supplements are created equal, however. With vitamin C, and all supplements really, it’s all about absorption- some forms really are better than others and produce greater effects in the body. Most vitamin C supplements are in the form of ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is not at all bad, though there is a newer extract of vitamin C called Ester-C that has been shown in research to be more effective, lasting longer in the body and performing more activities in the body than the standard ascorbic acid form.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means that it does not hang around in the body like fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and E for example) do; because of this, vitamin C needs to be ingested on a daily basis. Even with being taken every day, the amount of time that vitamin C is active in the body is significantly differs between the commonly taken ascorbic acid vitamin C and Ester-C. Research has found ascorbic acid to be in the body a maximum of eight hours after ingestion, whereas the Ester-C form was active in the body a full 24 hours after consumption. That’s a huge difference in the antioxidant power between the two vitamins.

Ester-C has also been shown in new research to significantly boost immune cell function. In the placebo controlled crossover study, 1000mg of Ester-C increased vitamin C levels for a full 25 hours in white blood cells known as leukocytes, which protect the body against infectious diseases and foreign invaders. Vitamin C, particularly the Ester-C form, helps the manufacture more of these immune boosting white blood cells, which work tirelessly to keep you healthy.

All of our Solgar Ester-C supplements are on sale for 25% off for the month of October. Another benefit of Ester-C is that it is gentle on the body and does not cause stomach irritation as the more common ascorbic acid form can in some individuals. Everyone would benefit from additional vitamin C, especially as we enter cold and flu season, and there is not a better form available than Ester-C.