Best Form of Selenium Supplement

Selenium is an important micronutrient in our diet which plays a key role in our metabolism as well as boosting the immune system. Selenium has many other functions in the body and comes in different forms. In this article, I’ll discuss the different forms of selenium and supplements.

Although a selenium deficiency is not very common, low levels of selenium may increase the risk of diseases such as cancer and heart disease according to some studies.

There are a few foods like brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and animal products which contain selenium, but its also quite unstable and easily destroyed in processing and cooking. And for people with absorption problems, supplementing selenium might be a good idea.

What is Selenium?

Selenium is found in small amounts in all animals and has many functions in keeping the body healthy. It’s an important component of antioxidant enzymes which are created in the body such as glutathione, which protects against free radical damage.

Selenium plays a very important role in keeping our immune system functioning at an optimal level and lowering inflammation in the body.

It also plays an important role in thyroid metabolism and DNA synthesis. And there have been 25 identified selenoprotein genes in humans.

Did you know that Se was named after a Greek term “Selene” In Greek mythology, she was the goddess of the moon.

Daily requirements

We don’t need much selenium to remain healthy. The upper tolerable limit has been set at around 400 micrograms per day. However, the daily allowance that you need to prevent a deficiency depends on your age.

  • Children who are between 1-3 years old need 20 micrograms per day
  • Children who between 4-8 years old need 30 micrograms per day
  • Children who are between 9-13 need 40 micrograms per day
  • Adults needs around 55 micrograms per day
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women need up to 70 micrograms per day

Main signs of a deficiency

Although deficiency of selenium is quite uncommon. But one should be on the lookout for several signs.

  • Persistent muscle weakness that isn’t caused by injury or tiredness from activity
  • General fatigue which doesn’t go away on its own after rest
  • Mental fog and confusion. Feeling like you’re in a daze
  • Diffuse hair loss for both men and women
  • Poor immune system function and are frequently catching viruses and developing bacterial infections
  • Infertility

Who is at risk of developing a deficiency?

Studies have shown that the vast majority of people have enough selenium to avoid frank deficiency and any complications which can arise from it. However, all individuals are different in their ability to absorb and genotype and have different circumstances whereby they may be at a higher risk of developing a selenium deficiency.

Risks factors include the following:

  • Being a vegan or vegetarian may decrease your selenium intake if you don’t include certain selenium-rich foods like seeds and brazil nuts in the diet
  • Smoking has been identified as a risk factor
  • People who have restrictive diets due to the poor economic status
  • Where the food is sourced from that you’re eating. For example, one study showed that people in New Zealand had low levels of selenium due to the soil
  • Patients with severe burns can have low selenium levels
  • Some research suggests that vitamin C may interfere with the uptake of selenium by the tissues

Most people appear to have sufficient levels of selenium from many studies conducted in recent years. However, does that mean they have optimal levels of selenium for disease prevention? I’ll go into more of that later.

Which form of selenium is better?

Selenium can be found in two different forms: inorganic and organic. Both can be absorbed by the body and used to increase selenium in our body, but studies appear when it comes to organic vs inorganic selenium, organic may be more bioavailable.

There hasn’t been a lot of study in human with regards to comparing the bioavailability and assimilation of selenium from inorganic and organic selenium, but there has been a lot of animal research conducted.

In one study on cows, Se-enriched yeast was found to be much more effective in raising the concentration of selenium in the blood, colostrum, and milk. It also significantly boosted glutathione activity which is important for reduces oxidative stress. [3]

In another study on sheep, supranutritional supplementation of Se-yeast (organic selenium) was found to be more effective than Na-selenite at raising whole blood concentration in a dose-dependent manner. Whereas there was no difference between increasing doses for the inorganic selenium group. [4]

Forms of selenium supplements

  1. Selenite –  Usually found in pet foods and supplements
  2. Selenate – Normally found in allium and brassica vegetables. Will be found in green superfood powder supplements
  3. L-Selenomethionine –  Found in brazil nuts, cereals, legumes, some selenium and multivitamin supplements
  4. Se-methyl, L-Selenocysteine –  Found in foods like garlic and broccoli, but also sold as a supplemental selenium
  5. Selenium-enriched yeast – The yeast is grown within a medium which contains inorganic selenium like selenite. It becomes bound and incorporated into yeast proteins and you end up with mostly selenomethionine, which is an organic and highly bioavailable form of selenium

You can normally each of these supplements available in health shops and on places like Amazon.

Research suggests that organic selenium is better, so you should choose either L-Selenomethionine, L-Selenocysteine (also available together), or Selenium-enriched yeast and add to your food or smoothies to boost selenium intake.

Benefits of taking selenium

There are several benefits of selenium which I’ve already talked about, but I will mention a few more just briefly below.

  • May improve longevity – Increases levels of intracellular antioxidant enzymes which fight free radical damage and reduces oxidative stress.
  • Boosts immune system – Helps prevent infections from infections, including boosting immune function and resistance to HIV
  • Reduces the symptoms of asthma – shown to work especially in patients who were low in selenium before given a supplement
  • Protects against thyroid dysfunction – regulates the immune system and antibodies which may cause problems with the production of thyroid hormones especially as one gets older
  • Protects against cancer – Selenium in high doses (200 micrograms) may be protective against certain types of cancer by reducing DNA damage and helping with DNA repair in the cells


Vegan food sources of selenium

Here are a few foods where you can obtain selenium if you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

  1. Brazil nuts – 1 one cup = 607 mcg
  2. Sunflower seeds – 1/2 cup = 19 mcg
  3. Flax seeds – 2 tsp = 4 mcg
  4. Mushrooms – 1/2 a cup of shiitake mushrooms gives you 18 mcg
  5. Cabbage – 1 cup = 3.5 mcg
  6. Spinach – 1 cup = 3 mcg
  7. Broccoli – 1 cup = 2.5 mcg

References

  1. Selenium bioavailability: current knowledge and future research requirements https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/91/5/1484S/4597437

  2. Toenail selenium concentration and lung cancer in male smokers (Finland).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12588088

  3. Influence of organic versus inorganic dietary selenium supplementation on the concentration of selenium in colostrum, milk, and blood of beef cows https://actavetscand.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1751-0147-50-43
  4. Organic and inorganic selenium: I. Oral bioavailability in ewes  https://academic.oup.com/jas/article-abstract/90/2/568/4764486

 

Vegan Gummy Vitamins for Adults

fruits and vegetables
Vegan Gummies are made from unprocessed natural ingredients!

When you’re learning about a vegan diet and how to get all the right amounts of nutrients to stay healthy, taking a multivitamin can give you some assurance that you’re not going to develop any deficiencies on the diet. Gummy vitamins for vegans are a tasty way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake.

When people come to me asking for advice about turning to a vegetarian or vegan diet, I tell them to clean up their diet by removing certain foods. The problem with this is that you also remove many vitamins and minerals which are present in large amounts in animal-based products, but low amounts in a vegan diet. So you gotta make up for what you’ve lost somehow, and a multivitamin is a simple and easy way to do that.

More recently, gummies have become a super popular way of getting your vitamins each day. They come in a variety of different flavors, are quick to take, and did I say tasty, already?

Gummies are not just for kids either, there are gummy vitamins specifically designed for adults to take on a daily basis. As an adult, you need more nutrients, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a fun and tasty way to take a multivitamin, right? 🙂

In a rush?

If you don’t have time to read everything here, I’ve listed just below 4 vegan gummies that I recommend you check out!

  1. Garden of Life – Men’s gummy multivitamins – Provides everything a young man needs to remain healthy on a vegan diet.
  2. Garden of Life – Women’s gummy multivitamins – And for the ladies, garden of life have formulated a unique multi that helps support women’s health as well as provide all the vitamins you need to be healthy!
  3. B12 and D3 gummies – This is a complementary supplement to the above multi’s, you can take it or leave it, but it will boost your D3 and B12 intake which can be very low for vegans.
  4. Adult Mega multivitamin gummies – If you’re on a tight budget but want something to boost your vitamin intake to prevent deficiencies then this is a decent choice. My only gripe is that it contains vitamin D2 instead of vitamin D3.


How to decide which multivitamin gummies to take

In 2018 we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing multivitamins, but how do you know which is the best one to take?

I look at several things when I decide on which vegan supplements I take.

  1. Do they provide the best forms of vitamins and minerals for maximum absorption and assimilation
  2. Do they use ingredients which are derived completely from vegan and ethical sources
  3. Do they contain large amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners or preservatives that you can’t even pronounce
  4. Are they good value for what you get
  5. Personal preferences like which flavors are available

I think most vegans would agree with me that those things are quite important when looking for a high-quality multivitamin.

Best multivitamin gummies for vegans

Below are a few great gummies which are made with natural and organic ingredients for both vegetarians and vegans!

#1 Garden of Life – MyKind Men’s Gummy Multivitamins (Berry)

Garden of Life developed these gummy multivitamins for men who wish to supplement with completely natural ingredients and boost their micronutrient intake.

The vitamins are made up of 9 whole organic fruits, with no gelatin, no corn starch or preservatives, and ingredients that sound like they might be from another planet.

The berry gummies provide all the necessary vitamins a vegan needs to stay healthy. And the great thing is that it sources all of its ingredient in ethical ways, including vitamin D.

Garden of Life has become my favorite vegan brand and one that I highly recommend to other vegans. Their products are clean, organic, vegan, and really tasty! I love them.

The only negative I have about the supplement is that it contains very little zinc, and I think this is important, especially for men on a vegan diet. But that doesn’t really take away too much from the quality in my opinion. It’s easy enough to get zinc elsewhere.

See reviews and current price.


#2 Garden of Life – MyKind Women’s Gummy Multivitamin (Berry)

Women have different needs when it comes to multivitamins, so Garden of Life has specifically formulated a multivitamin to meet the needs of a woman.

It contains significantly more folate in the supplement compared to the men’s version of these gummies. And also has a little less vitamin B12, but still more than enough to meet your daily requirement.

These gummies also contain 9 organic whole fruits in each bottle and they are completely unprocessed, organic, natural, and clean.

The women’s multivitamin gummies also contain Organic Pacran whole food Cranberry – this supports bladder health and may help prevent infections in women.

Garden of Life MyKind line of gummies also have a version of this multivitamin supplement for women over 40.

See reviews and current price.


#3 Vegan Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 Gummies (complementary supplement)

I’ve included this vegan supplement among the list because some vegans like to really focus on the vitamins they are short in rather than trying to boost everything.

Vitamin B12 is something that all vegans should take. It’s so important to your health and well-being that you get adequate amounts of B12 from a supplement. Studies have shown that the majority of vegans are very low in B12.

Vitamin D3 is also something many vegans can be very low in, especially in the wintertime. Since the above two multivitamin gummies contain just 800 IU of vitamin D, an extra 1000 IU from this supplement would get you to adequate vitamin D levels.

The gummies come in strawberry flavor and also as a concentrated liquid spray if you prefer that.

Vitamin D3 is sourced from lichens, which is vegan-friendly.

See reviews and current price.


#4 Adult Mega Multivitamin Gummies for Health for men and women (Vegan-Friendly)

If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty multivitamin in the form of gummies, then this one would be a good choice

It provides a decent amount of vitamins and minerals, however, one of the downsides is that they include vitamin D2 instead of the better D3 form.

That being said, their ingredients are quality tested in labs and the product is created in an ISO and HACCP accredited manufacturing plant. So you know you’re getting what you pay for!

This one is suitable for most people: it is kosher, vegan, all natural, gelatin free and gluten free for those with allergies to wheat.

They include what you need, and exclude what you don’t need. They have formulated the multivitamin to just simply supplement your diet, not give you an excessive amount of vitamins and minerals which could be harmful to health in the long term.

See reviews and current price here.


Reasons why you should take a multivitamin

In today’s world, we can control what we put into our mouth, but it’s difficult to get the same amount of important vitamins in our diet. The soil is depleted of important micronutrients and that means we’re simply not getting what people used to get from their foods.

I’ve personally had difficulty with a few deficiencies in the past when I became vegan, I’ve even talked about these problems a few times here. So I know first hand how important it is to keep on top of things and make sure that you’re always getting an adequate amount of vitamins.

One of the simplest and cheapest ways to ensure you don’t end up deficient is to take a daily multivitamin.

Main benefits of a multivitamin

  • Peace of mind that you won’t become deficient in important vitamins like B12
  • Help support your body in times of stress, when we can easily become depleted of minerals like zinc and magnesium
  • Multivitamin use has been associated with a longer telomere length. These are the caps on the end of chromosomes which gradually wear away as we get older. Long telomeres may mean better health and a longer life. [1]
  • Some randomized controlled trials have shown that daily use of a multivitamin was associated with a lower risk of cancer [2]
  • Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to help reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other health conditions in recent studies.

Difficulty getting certain minerals and vitamins from diet

If you find yourself skipping meals, not paying attention to your diet as much, you can easily slip into a deficiency. It often happens slowly and can be difficult to find out the exact cause of the symptoms. Sometimes they require doctor and hospital visits which can be costly.

Below is a list of micronutrients vegans have trouble getting enough of.

  • Vitamin B12 (every vegan should supplement without question)
  • Vitamin D 
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Omega 3

Fortunately, vegan gummies provide most of these to stop you from running into issues on a vegan diet. And what better way to get your vitamins from tasty sweets!

Vegan Omega 3 Without Carrageenan

Carrageenan is something that you’ll find in a lot of food products and supplements like omega 3. It’s mainly used as a food additive to thicken up the product and bind ingredients. In recent years, Carrageenan, derived from red algae, has been found to increase inflammation and even be harmful to cells in the body.

The controversy around this additive has been going on for decades. Even as far back as 1970, the FDA considered banning this substance. In late 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture will publish its research to determine whether or not it is safe and should be removed from food products.

Trying to find a good vegan omega 3 supplement which doesn’t contain this substance can be difficult. Fortunately, companies’ took notice that some vegans would like to avoid carrageenan and its potential dangers, and have since developed products to meet your needs.

Potential dangers of Carrageenan

Before I share a few omega 3 supplements that are carrageenan free, here is a short list of a few potential issues with this substance based on scientific research.

  • Causes gut inflammation and may be damaging to cells
  • May be implicated in the formation of polyps and even colorectal cancer
  • Immune system suppression and dysregulation with increased inflammatory cytokines
  • Glucose intolerance and increase cholesterol
  • Cause or worsen conditions such as ulcerative colitis

These are just a few of the concerns raised by some researchers who’ve studied the effect of Carrageenan. Later in the article, I will go into a bit more depth for each point.

Omega 3 without Carrageenan

Below are a few algal oil omega 3 supplements with no Carrageenan. It’s everywhere, and if you’re busy, reading the small print for this ingredients can really take up a lot of time!

So for your convenience, I’ve done the research for you, and came up with a list of which I think are highest quality omega 3 supplements that are also free of Carrageenan.

#1 BLOOM Algal Omega 3 – NO Carrageenan

Bloom delivers a well-balanced and simple omega 3 supplement without a trace of the potentially harmful ingredient Carrageenan.

It contains both DHA and EPA, making it a great alternative to fish oils. And perhaps an even better tasting one as well! As it comes in natural lemon and peppermint flavors.

Vegetarians already struggle to get enough omega 3 in their diet, especially DHA, so it’s great to have a supplement that has generous amounts of DHA and EPA, plus devoid of many of the harmful additives found in many supplements.

One of the drawbacks for some people might be that it contains a little bit of soy, but most vegans are fine with soy and such a small amount is not going to be of any concern.

See reviews and current price here.


#2 Nested Algal Omega 3 – NO Carrageenan

I’ve placed Nested as number 2 on the list because it contains a little less omega 3 than the previous supplement.

It still has enough omega 3 per serving to stop you from becoming deficient in these essential fatty acids, but perhaps not enough when you consider the cost and how much you get compared to Bloom Omega 3.

That being said, this brand is very popular amongst vegans and I love the fact that they’ve really cut down on the ingredients to give you the most basic algal oil supplement.

If you also want to avoid soy as well as carrageenan, then this supplement would be a great choice as it contains either.

See reviews and current price here.


#3 AMALA Algal Omega 3 – Without Carrageenan

Amala is in third place because it contains the least omega 3 compared to the others.

This omega 3 supplement would be especially more useful for vegans who are already getting omega 3 from other food supplements, perhaps a protein shake which contains it. And you just want to top up your omega 3’s.

The supplement is highly rated amongst vegetarians and vegans and contains just a few main ingredients such as Vitamin E, EPA, DHA, and DPA.

Other ingredients include Oleic acid, natural lemon flavoring, natural peppermint flavor, ascorbyl palmitate (antioxidant), mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), Rosemary extract and Soy.

See reviews and current price here.


Controversy around Carrageenan

As I’ve already mentioned, this substance is used extensively in supplements and foods. Trying to avoid yet another ingredient makes a vegans life even more difficult in finding suitable products.

But are the danger’s of carrageenan overhyped?

I’ll address just briefly address each of the bullet points at the top of the article and show a link to the relevant studies.

Causes cell damage and inflammation

NF-Kappa-B is a master regulator of key inflammatory cytokines and proteins downstream from it. Overexpression can lead to chronic inflammation and is present in many different autoimmune diseases and elevated in aging.

Evidence in animals suggests that feeding carrageenan may induce inflammation in colon cells. It has also been observed that IL-10 (potent anti-inflammatory cytokine) is unable to completely suppress the inflammation caused by carrageenan. [1]

May increase the growth of polyps

Polyps in the colon can increase the risk of colon cancer. This is why many people over 50 are advised to go for exams every few years and even have biopsies taken.

Anything which irritates or increases their growth may eventually cause cancer. Well, carrageenan has been identified from studies to not initiate the growth of polyps, but it does appear to accelerate their growth.

May exacerbate glucose intolerance and increase cholesterol

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing conditions in the world, and it appears that this food additive may have a small role to play. Of course, it’s not the only factor, but it’s really not helpful when people’s diets are already quite bad.

In mice, carrageenan has been shown to (by itself) lead to higher fasting glucose and in combination with a high-fat diet may increase glucose intolerance and worsen hyperlipidemia. [2]

Worsens ulcerative colitis

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in humans, researchers investigated to see whether the common food addictive Carrageenan was contributing to worsening of colitis symptoms.

Twelve patients in the study were either selected to receive the food supplement or a placebo. After which, the patients completed study questionnaires relating to their symptoms.

In the patients who received the carrageenan supplement, three relapsed, while none of the patients who received the placebo relapsed. There was also an increase in IL-6 (an inflammatory marker) in patients who took the food additive.

Therefore, it is advised that patients with this condition avoid this ingredient in common foods, medicines and supplements.

See what Dr. Gregor has to say about Carrageenan

In conclusion

Common food additives may worsen symptoms in susceptible people who are more sensitive than average. Although the evidence is not overwhelming that carrageenan is harmful to the average person, the results of some of these studies should at least make you cautious about limiting your intake.

Omega 3 supplements without carrageenan are few and far between, but fortunately, there are a few good options for those who wish to avoid it.

4 Vegan Protein Powders Without Soy

soy free protein sourcesSome vegans have no problem with soy, while others choose to stay away from it for several reasons. And in today’s world, we’re spoiled for choice in the variety of products we can use for supplementing protein to build muscle. Fortunately, vegans who wish to avoid soy have plenty of protein powder options that contains no soy.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I do drink soy milk in moderation, but I don’t drink it all of the time. And I don’t consume soy protein powders either. I think many people would agree that moderation is the key to anything in life, including where you get your protein from.

So with that out of the way, I did a bit of research to help you decide on a good vegan protein powder without soy.

Before I go into the best soy-free protein powders, I’ll list a few reasons why experts in nutrition believe we should avoid soy foods in general.

Reasons to avoid Soy

  • Soy foods contain natural toxins or antinutrients and are potent enzyme inhibitors
  • Many soy products you find are genetically modified
  • Soybeans contain something called phytic acid which blocks the absorption of key minerals that the body needs to remain healthy
  • Soy contains phytoestrogens which may upset hormone balance by lowering testosterone and increasing estrogen levels
  • There is some evidence that soy isoflavones have goitrogenic effects and interferes with thyroid function
  • Soy can increase IGF-1 level compared to other plant-based protein sources, and this may increase the risk of cancer in the long-term
  • Contains hemagglutinin  which causes red blood cells to clump together
  • Soy may have high levels of aluminum and manganese (for the latter, many plant diets get too much of).
  • People with soy allergies

There are many other reasons that people choose to avoid soy besides these, but these are some of the main ones.

Best Protein Powders Without Soy

Below are just a few protein powders which are super popular among vegans and have a reputation for providing high-quality ingredients at a reasonable cost.

#1 Vega One Organic Plant protein powder without Soy (18 servings)

Vega One organic protein powder comes in many different flavors, sizes, and styles. And it’s made completely with natural ingredients.

Vega prides itself on being a premium protein powder which is free of any troublesome ingredients.

Much like a meal replacement supplement, this also contains lots of vitamins and minerals to give you that extra boost in nutrition you might need.

It’s also NON-GMO, Vegan certified, low-glycemic, gluten-free and does not contain any dairy or soy

Serving size: 1 scoop is approximately 38 grams and has 150 k/cal

Protein serving: 20 grams

See more information about Vega one Protein drink


#2 Garden of Life – Organic Raw Plant-based protein powder – soy free – (38 servings)

if you’re always on the go and sometimes skipping meals here and there, you could be low in crucial vitamins and minerals.

This protein powder by Garden of Life gives you a hefty dose of protein (20g) plus fiber, and much of your daily requirements for vitamins and minerals.

If your diet is not missing vitamins or minerals, then I’d skip this one, but if you’re a busy little bee, then this could be a great addition to your diet.

 

Product Features: It contains 44 different superfoods, as well as 1.5 billion probiotics and enzymes to support digestive health.

Certifications: USDA Organic, Verified NON-GMO, Professionally tested for banned substances in sport (peace of mind if you’re an athlete), and is certified gluten-free.

Serving size: 1 scoop is approximately 35 grams and has 115 k/cal

Protein per serving: 20 grams

See more information for Garden of Life Protein Powder


#3 Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder (20 servings) – Soy-Free-

Orgain organic protein powder is clearly a very popular choice among vegans. It’s a 100% plant-based protein powder which is packed with full of healthy nutrients which will help sustain your training and get the results you want.

Since the protein powder includes many different sources of plant proteins, you also get all 9 essential amino acids which are required by the body to build muscle.

Orgain spent 4 years perfecting the protein powder and its ingredients to provide a great tasting shake to include with your meals or as a post-workout drink.

Orgain powder doesn’t contain any peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, shellfish or fish.

It’s a hypoallergenic protein powder which will be able to meet the needs of most people looking for a good vegan protein shake.

Serving size: 2 scoops is approximately 46 grams and has 150 k/cal

Protein per serving: 21 grams

This protein powder has a lot of great reviews

See more information for Orgain Protein Powder

See the story of Orgain


#4 Optimal protein powder Soy-Free (15 servings)

If you’re looking for a cheap and clean basic protein powder, then this might be a great choice for you.

This vegan protein powder is one of the most basic protein drinks available.

It contains a proprietary blend of pea protein isolate, taurine, rice protein concentrate, glycine, and L-glutamine.

Also contains cellulose gum and xanthan gum.

The protein powder is also free from any flavorings, colors or sweeteners.

Serving size: 1 scoop is approximately 21 grams and has 70 k/cal

Protein serving: 17 grams

See more information about Optimal Protein Powder 

This protein powder is really for those on a budget. For those who have a bit of extra money to spend, I think the other options are better.


The controversy around Soy

You mention the idea of consuming soy to some people and they’ll give you a long list of reasons why it should be avoided. While some of them may be valid, some of them are also over-simplified or exaggerated.

That’s not to say there aren’t good reasons to at least *limit* your intake of soy and opt for protein powders which don’t include any soy at all.

Moderate amounts of soy should not pose any harm to adults, but perhaps the jury is still out on whether or not there are any long-term implications. Fortunately, these days there are so many options for us vegans to get good high-quality protein powders which are soy-free.

Best Tea for Sleep and Relaxation

chamomile helps relax you

The weather is warming up, and this can make it much more difficult to fall asleep. Sleep deprivation is also an epidemic in the world and a very costly one to health and well-being. What you eat and what tea or coffee you drink can have a dramatic impact on your ability to relax and fall asleep easily.

I recently came across an interesting talk with Matthew Walker PhD, the author of the book “Why We Sleep – Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams“, and author of over 100 scientific papers on sleep. He talked about the restorative functions of sleep, the negative effects of sleep loss, and how people can improve it.

My sleep isn’t the worst, as long as I am left to my own schedule. But I know that I could do a lot better in keeping to a routine which would reduce the number of days I experience loss of sleep.

To feel good, I need about 8 hours. I feel okay if I get 7 hours sleep, but not at my peak. If I get 6 hours, I start to feel the effects of it, especially if I only get that amount for a few days in a row.

There are many easy changes people can make to improve their sleep significantly.

  • Stop drinking caffeine after 2 pm
  • Don’t eat high fat or high protein meals in the evening
  • Lower the room temperature (body temperature needs to drop by 1 degrees to initiate sleep)
  • Turn off all the lights or dim them during the evening
  • Install applications on your computer and phone to reduce the amount of blue light
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time
  • Make sure you’re not deficient in minerals which significantly affect sleep quality.

Those are simple, free, and easy ways everyone can improve their sleep. But if you’re really stressed out and need something to relax, then replacing your evening coffee with a herbal tea to help promote sleep might get you back on track to a healthy sleep routine.


My recommended teas for bedtime

All of the teas I recommend below consistent of natural ingredients which have been shown in studies to help improve the time it takes to fall asleep and also help lower levels of stress.

# 1 Pukka Night Time Organic Tea

I’ve put this tea as my first recommendation because it’s the tea that I’ve used the most, and the one which I have found most effective in helping promote sleep.

The tea is completely caffeine-free and also contains many organically grown ingredients backed by science.

Pukka has a wide range of teas, and they are one of my favorite tea brands.

    • Oat flowering tops
    • Licorice root, chamomile flower, lavender flower
    • lime flower
    • Valerian root, green rama tulsi leaf

See reviews for Pukka Night Time Tea


#2 Yogi Bedtime Tea

Yogi tea has a long history in providing high-quality natural teas. I really love the sweet citrus taste you get from this tea.

The tea is also fairly cheap too! But to get a more powerful effect in helping me relax, I would normally have two tea bags in one cup before bedtime. I find that this works better. The downside, of course, is that the box of tea doesn’t last as long.

Compared to many other brands, yogi bedtime tea has included a wide variety natural ingredients to promote relaxation for a most restful sleep. I highly recommend giving this one a try!

  • Organic licorice root
  • Spearmint leaf
  • Chamomile flower
  • Skullcap leaf
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon bark
  • St. John’s Wort leaf and flower
  • Rosehip
  • Raspberry leaf
  • Lavender flower
  • Stevia leaf
  • Valerian root extract
  • Passionflower extract

See reviews for Yogi Bedtime Tea


#3 Bigelow Sweet Dreams Herbal Tea for Relaxation

Bigelow is a very popular brand and has been going for a long time. Back in 1945, the first tea was created called “Constant comment”. Since that time, they’ve been trying to refine and improve their products with natural, healthy ingredients.

They aim to provide the highest quality teas at the lowest possible price.

Bigelow herbal blend tea has a sweet chamomile taste with a bit of mint. It only contains a few natural ingredients and has a milder effect than the previous two teas for promoting sleep.

That being said, the tea is unique compared to the previous two, but one negative for me is that it doesn’t contain valerian root, which is a good sleep aid.

  • Chamomile
  • Hibiscus
  • Peppermint leaves
  • Rose blossoms
  • Spearmint leaves
  • Spices
  • Orange blossoms.

See reviews for Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea


 #4 Yogi Calming Tea for relieving mild tension and to help promote relaxation

It’s not quite your bedtime yet, but you’re looking for something which will be soothing and help relieve that muscle tension you’ve built up from a day of hard work.

This tea by Yogi is absent of the more sedative type herbs which help promote sleep but has included more of the herbs that calm you and help relax the muscles in your body.

For those who are addicted to coffee or tea, this is a great alternative to drink during the late afternoon and evening for a more restful sleep during the night.

The main ingredients in this tea include

  • Organic lavender flower and licorice root for a sweet soothing flavor
  • Chamomile, lemongrass, Gotu kola: these help support a healthy balanced nervous system
  • Hibiscus flower
  • Fennel seed
  • Orange peel
  • Rose Hip

This calming tea has many positive reviews and is a great choice if you’re looking for a nice relaxing drink.

They also have a Honey Lavender version available as well.

See reviews for Yogi Calming Tea


Are herbal teas really effective in helping you relax and sleep?

When it comes to natural vs synthetic medications, it’s true that medications can generally be much more powerful and induce sleep more easily than natural ingredients. However, as you probably know, medications come with the risk of serious side effects and have even long-term negative consequences such as increased risk of death.

The benefits of using natural herbs over medications are that they promote healthy herbs which have beneficial effects on the body besides their ability to help you relax. They reduce levels of stress hormones in the body which are preventing you from sleep. And they are non-addictive.

The individual ingredients by themselves might not be extremely powerful, but many of them have been shown to have beneficial effects on sleep quality. The real magic happens is when you combine several ingredients together.

Let’s take a look at a few of the main ingredients included in the recommend bedtime and stress relieving teas above, and look at the evidence behind their relaxation and sleep-promoting effects.

Warning: some ingredients in these teas are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Please check the product descriptions for more information.

Valerian root

When you go shopping around for a tea to help you fall asleep, one of the most common ingredients you’ll find is valerian root extract.

It’s known for its powerful sedative effects, and trust me, it works! If you have mild-moderate insomnia, and difficulty in relaxing at night, you want a tea that includes this ingredient.

However, for severe insomnia, studies have shown that it doesn’t appear to be effective by itself.

The way valerian root is thought to work is through its modulation of the GABA(A) receptor. [1]

Chamomile

Chamomile is included in herbal sleep teas because of its powerful anxiolytic effects and ability to promote better sleep.

In 2017, a study was published in elderly people who were given chamomile extract to improve their sleep quality.

The treatment group took 200 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days, and by the end of the study, significant improvements in sleep were found in the treatment group, even though both treatment and controls started off at the same baseline. [2]

In 2018, another clinical trial involving chamomile demonstrated its powerful effects in helping reduce stress levels. They noticed significant improvements in cortisol levels (stress hormone) and symptoms of people who suffered from moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. [3]

Chamomile is a good ingredient that will help promote relaxation as well calming your thoughts at night.

Licorice Root Extract

Licorice is known to have many interesting biological activities when consumed in the form of sweets or as a tea.  It contains many different compounds which help promote sleep by activating on the GABA(A) receptor.

The main flavonoid responsible for this effect is called glabrol. [4]

Peppermint and spearmint

Both of these herbs are great for helping digestion and relieve stomach issues which might be keeping you awake at night. If you’ve have had a stressful day, or aren’t sleeping great, you’re likely to be having some disturbances in your digestion.

But these mints also give a pleasant aroma which is known to affect the electrophysiological activity of the brain and help promote sleep.

Lavender

Lavender has been used for many years to treat sleep disorders, as well as anxiety and depression.

Studies have shown that lavender essential oils do indeed help promote quality of sleep in patients who have a high level of stress, such as those in intensive care units. [5]

Lavender essential oil has also been shown to be beneficial in the quality of sleep of postpartum women.

The study involved 158 mothers in the postpartum period and separated the groups into treatment and control.

After 8 weeks, it was found that aromatherapy using lavender was effective in improving the quality of sleep for mothers.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata L.)

Passionflower is often found in herbal sleep remedies because of the high amount of GABA and flavonoids present, which may be synergistic with other ingredients such as valerian root in inducing relaxation and sleep according to some research studies. It also is known to have anticonvulsant effects.

Cinnamon bark

Often included in teas for its delicate and sweet taste. It’s also very useful in helping control insulin levels and blood sugar. One of the things that can affect sleep is blood sugar crashes after eating high sugar meals.

Skullcap

One of the main benefits of having skullcap in a bedtime tea is because of its ability to help muscle pain and act as a muscle relaxant. If you’ve had a workout and are aching from it, it can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Natural muscle relaxants like skullcap can be great for people with tension and muscle aches which are preventing them from sleeping.

St. John’s Wort leaf and flower

St. John’s wort has been used in alternative medicine for mood and anxiety disorders with some success. There is also some evidence that it may help stabilize the mood of people who suffer from a condition known as “seasonal affective disorder”, which typically occurs when there are insufficient daylight hours.

Depression is one of the leading causes of sleepless nights, so anything which can help alleviate depression will also help improve sleep quality. [6].

However, there are some cases where people have reported negative effects on their mood and anxiety levels when taking this supplement. But the amount that is usually present in teas is small in comparison to available supplements.

Cardamom

Studies have shown that cardamom has many biological activities when consumed. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but also is effective in lowering blood pressure and having a mild sedative effect.

There are many reports which show sleep loss has a great impact on the body’s defenses and causes a significant increase in blood pressure and inflammation. Cardamom is a good ingredient to include in teas and sleep aids to help combat these effects.

Raspberry leaf

Rasberry leaf has many interesting properties and is well known for its ability to stimulate labor in women. Therefore, this should not be used by women who are pregnant.

The leaf also is able to improve digestion, making it easier for you to sleep. It also boosts your immune system.

Did you know if you have just one bad night of sleep causes your immune system to crash, and it has significantly fewer T cell activity to fight cancer?

Herbs like raspberry leaf can help restore your immune system balance from poor sleep.

Rose Hip

Rose Hip contains large amounts of vitamin C, which is great for the immune system.

It also has been used in alternative medicine for people with arthritis, fever, and upset stomachs.

Fever is a big reason for the loss of sleep when you’re sick. One of the indicators your brain is ready to sleep is when you start feeling colder as your body temperature drops.

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola has been used for hundreds of years in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to help conditions like depression and anxiety. Some animal studies have shown that it reduces the startle response in animals, indicating that they were less stressed.

In humans, similar results have been noted, with significant anxiolytic effects (reducing anxiety) without affecting motor response. [6]

Hibiscus

Known for its antidepressant-like activities, partly because of its high anthocyanidins content. Not only that, it has proven to have significant anxiety-reducing and sedative effects, especially used in repeated and high doses.

It’s believed that the mechanisms behind these effects are through the dopaminergic, noradrenergic and serotonergic mechanisms.

Your recommendations

If you’ve tried teas to help you sleep, which ones have you tried? And which ingredients have you found to be most effective in helping you relax and sleep better?  I’m always looking to try out new teas! 🙂


Best Form of Magnesium Supplement for Absorption

nuts are high in magneisum

Magnesium is one of those minerals that many people fail to get enough of, but it’s super important for a healthy mind and body. I should know, there was a time when I became deficient and experienced some pretty scary symptoms. Luckily for me, all of those symptoms disappeared when I started taking a magnesium supplement.

It was back in 2005 when I still was at the beginning of my health journey. I started to experience some palpitations, muscle twitching,  and a few other weird things going on with my body.

These symptoms continued on for about a year. All the while, doctors placed the blame on purely on anxiety. Even though, before this had started, I was feeling the best I had ever felt in my life.

It was only after asking questions on forums and email lists at the time that I found some important information about magnesium. I wasn’t sure whether or not just taking a magnesium supplement would help, but it really did.

These two troubling symptoms completely disappeared and I’ve not experienced them in over 12 years. For me, the answer was simply taking magnesium every day, and I continue to do that now.

In recent years, I’ve also come across many other people who have had issues with magnesium deficiency.

So that’s the short version of my story. A simple supplement was able to completely eradicate the symptoms I was having. The sad part is, many people suffer from magnesium deficiency and they have no idea.

What is Magnesium and why is it important?

Magnesium is an important electrolyte in the body which is very important in allowing the cells of your body to function properly.

It also plays a critical role in energy metabolism, cell stability, protein synthesis, and acts as a cofactor for 300+ enzyme reactions in the body. It also helps control the osmotic balance in the body allowing water to go between cells and their environment.

Magnesium is especially important for the contraction of muscles, and this is one of the reasons one of the main symptoms of Magnesium deficiency can be involuntary muscle contractions and twitching.

The average adult human body contains approximately 25 grams of Magnesium, with about 60% present in bones, and the rest is soft tissues.

Daily requirements

The amount you need can depend on various factors, but for most of the population, these magnesium intakes will prevent a deficiency. Most adults males need around 420 mg per day and females need between 310-360 mg per day.

Which form of magnesium is most absorbable?

There are many different forms of magnesium, some of the most popular include magnesium oxide, chloride, and citrate. Below are a few types of magnesium that you’ll find in supplements and medicines.

1. Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium is one of the cheapest supplements you can buy, and you’ll usually find these in general stores, supermarkets. It has a very poor bioavailability (4%) and is most often used as a laxative for this reason.

I would not recommend you use this form when choosing a supplement to take. You would need to take high doses, and this would inevitably result in diarrhea.

2. Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium Citrate is cheap but has much better bioavailability than magnesium oxide supplements. In a study published in 2003, researchers compared amino-acid chelate, citrate, and oxide supplements, and gave them to 46 healthy individuals.

The study showed that organic forms of Magnesium had a higher bioavailability, with magnesium citrate having the great increase in concentration when measuring urinary and saliva concentrations.

In another study, magnesium and magnesium were compared by having 51 patients take 300 mg and then measuring intracellular concentration in leukocytes. Once again, magnesium citrate resulted in much higher concentrations. [1]

3. Magnesium Orotate

One of the reasons some people use Magnesium orotate over other supplements is because orotate has an affinity for different tissues and cells in the body, and so there is better penetration of magnesium into the cells for rapid effect.

However, even though this is promoted by many supplement manufacturers, studies have shown that there is no significant advantage, and the cost of the supplement is much higher than magnesium oxide and citrate.

That being said, there is some evidence that this form of magnesium may be beneficial for heart failure patients. [2]

4. Magnesium Chloride Oil

Magnesium chloride can be applied to the skin for people who have issues absorbing magnesium in their diet. Sometimes people use this form of magnesium to help with things like muscle soreness after exercise and to help with relaxation.

Choosing the right supplement for your needs

When it comes to choosing a magnesium supplement, there are a few which are good enough for most people, and will at least prevent a deficiency.

But magnesium can also have other effects on the body, and this is where you can more easily identify which magnesium supplement is best for you.

Magnesium to prevent and treat a deficiency

If you believe that you’re deficient in magnesium, you might want to try magnesium citrate. It’s relatively cheap and can be mixed with drinks. It’s the magnesium supplement that I take every day. I simply mix the powder into a glass of water.

Magnesium for constipation

Regular bowel movements are important for health. If you’re not going regularly, then toxins build up and this can increase inflammation of the bowel and even raise the risk of cancer and other complications. I’ve never personally, experienced constipation, but if you have, then you might want to try magnesium oxide

Magnesium for heart health

As already mentioned, magnesium orotate has some beneficial effects for helping improve symptoms of heart disease. Magnesium taurate is also another supplement you may consider.

Magnesium for the cognitive function

As we get older, memory worsens and we see a general decline in cognitive function. There is some evidence that a form of magnesium called L-threonate (MgT) may improve memory by elevating magnesium levels in the brain.

This form of magnesium is more permeable than others, so if you have any issue related to mental stress, anxiety, depression and a decline in cognitive function, then this may bet he supplement to consider taking.

Magnesium for muscle relaxation

If you have muscle pain and tense muscles, then the magnesium that you might want to opt for is magnesium chloride oil. Studies have shown that it is effective in providing relief in soothing sore muscles after exercise.

Which foods are highest in Magnesium?

When you eat foods that contain a lot of magnesium, you don’t absorb all of it. In fact, only around 30-40% is actually absorbed by the body. Below are a few foods you should eat!

  • Almonds (80 mg per serving)
  • Spinach (78 mg per serving)
  • Cashews (74 mg per serving)
  • Soymilk (61 mg per serving)
  • Avocado (44 mg per serving)
  • Oatmeal ( 36 mg per serving)
  • Dark Chocolate (176 mg per 100 g)
  • Pumpkin Seeds (262 mg per 100 g)

Check out a more extensive list of foods.

What are the main signs of a deficiency?

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve personally experienced a magnesium deficiency many years ago, and the symptoms lasted until I started taking a magnesium supplement. It wasn’t that my diet was low in magnesium either, I was actually getting plenty from my diet. Somehow, I still ended up with a problem.

This is why even though you think you might be getting enough from your diet, it’s possible that you still could be deficient. Some of the signs and symptoms you might want to look out for include:

  • Anxiety and depression (do you feel like you have too much adrenaline?)
  • Feeling tired (low level of magnesium can cause a low potassium level and this may result in weakness and fatigue)
  • High blood pressure
  • Palpitations or skipped heartbeats
  • Muscle twitching and cramps

Conclusion

A true magnesium deficiency is not very common, but many people can be low enough where their body and brain are not functioning optimally.

Magnesium deficiency is thought to affect less than 2% of the population. But research has shown that 70% of people do not get enough from their diet.

Supplementing magnesium is cheap and easy. You just need to choose the right supplement for you.