Foundational supplements for Hong Kong living

  • Wed, 08/31/2022 - 20:30
  • Foundational supplements for Hong Kong living
  • by IMI health

You probably know it’s important to get all your nutrients. What you may not know is how difficult it is to get them from diet alone.

Modern farming processes are designed to be cost effective, rather than supporting nutrient-rich produce. From pesticides to poor soil quality and long haul food importation, fresh produce no longer supplies the nutrients we need.

Our need for quality nutrition is intensified by the work hard, play hard city we live in. Hong Kong is a high pressure environment, home to high levels of pollutants, stress and convenient fast food, all of which puts our bodies under extra strain. It’s the perfect melting pot for nutritional deficiency.

So, which supplements are essential in Hong Kong? Our in-clinic naturopaths have weighed in and given their expert opinion.

Fish oil

Fish is key to a healthy diet, but unless you’re consuming two portions per week, you could be deficient.

This powerful anti-inflammatory contains essential fatty acids known as DHA and EPA, which are restorative for both mind and body.

Also known as PUFAs, these nutrients support your brain, supporting better memory and concentration. Crucial for kids’ development, fish oil supports your child’s learning and attention in the classroom.

Studies have shown the therapeutic value of DHA and EPA for the brain. These fatty acids are able to aid recovery after a traumatic brain injury, reduce symptoms of depression, and protect against cognitive decline in older adults. [1] [2] [3]

Fish oil also supports better heart health due to its abundance of healthy fats. It keeps your immunity nourished, and eases pain in inflamed joints due to its anti-inflammatory powers.

With many of us deficient in EPA and DHA, our practitioners recommend that everyone takes a fish oil supplement daily. It’s important to select a high quality fish oil though, as off-the-shelf formulas are often poorly produced, and can cause the inflammation you’re trying to avoid.

Ultra Pure Fish Oil 700 contains therapeutic levels of DHA and EPA, to enhance brain function, memory and mental health.

Multivitamin

Research shows that many of us living in Hong Kong, from children to adults, are deficient in essential nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, zinc and magnesium. [4] [5]

Nutritional deficiencies leave us more susceptible to the negative effects of pollution, which creates free radicals: unstable molecules which cause damage in the body, a process also known as oxidative stress. [6]

This contributes to aging, not only of the skin, but the whole body, including internal organs. Oxidative stress is known to be a contributing factor for many health conditions.

Though the body makes some antioxidants to combat this process, it’s not designed to cope with the man-made toxic load of cities.

By taking a multivitamin, you replenish the antioxidant levels in your body, helping it cope with the physical stress of pollutants, while ensuring you’re not deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.

When choosing a multivitamin, select one with high quality, readily absorbed ingredients, like methylated B vitamins, or chelated minerals.

Our practitioners love Twice Daily Multi by Designs for health, which features 19 bioavailable vitamins and minerals, to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs so that you can function at your best. 

Probiotic

Our gut is our second brain, and intimately connected to other areas of our wellbeing- like our immunity, cardiovascular function and mental health.

Your gut actually contains 500 million neurons, which communicate with your brain via the vagus nerve. Your gut influences your mood and brain health by creating neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin. In fact, around 90% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter with antidepressant qualities, is made in your gut.

Around 70% of your immune system is also located in your gut. A healthy gut microbiome doesn’t only support a well-functioning immunity and brain, it also influences your skin, weight and heart.

But good bacteria in your gut are sensitive, and easily depleted by antibiotics, stress, herbicides, prescription drugs and refined foods- which is why supplementation is essential.

Probiotics help support the colonisation of good bacteria in your gut, rebalancing your gut microbiome, protecting your immunity, heart and mental health.

If you often succumb to the tempting convenience of fast food, it’s even more important to take a probiotic. Processed foods encourage the growth of bad bacteria in the gut. These can change your gut microbiome and influence your cravings, causing you to eat more unhealthy food- a probiotic can help reset this cycle.

We recommend taking a probiotic formula with at least 10 billion CFU daily, in order to keep your gut healthy.

Probiomed 50 is features a clinically therapeutic dose of 50 billion CFU per capsule for better immune, brain, digestive and mood health. This shelf-stable formula is protected by specialised delay-release technology, to ensure it reaches your gut live and effective.

Magnesium

Studies show than in Hong Kong, two thirds of our population are deficient in magnesium. [5]

And it’s no surprise considering magnesium has been removed from many modern diets, as many opt for white bread, pasta or rice over brown. Over consumption of alcohol, as well as certain medical conditions can also make it harder for your body to absorb magnesium.

This essential mineral soothes your body’s nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) the same system triggered by meditation. When our PNS is activated, we enter a relaxed, regenerative state in which mind and body can heal.

Magnesium’s soothing powers also relieves symptoms of insomnia, supporting a restful night’s sleep by activating the PNS, and supporting production of melatonin and GABA, neurotransmitters key to sleep.

Not only supportive for your mind, magnesium is essential for your body, particularly during exercise. Studies show that a tough gym session can increase your need for magnesium by 10-20%. Not only that, but magnesium will improve your muscular and cardiovascular health, relieving cramping post-workout.

Our magnesium formulas feature different forms of this mineral, so you’re sure to find one that meets your specific needs. Some, like magnesium l-threonate support brain and mental health, while others also feature calcium, uniting a dynamic pair for supporting bone and heart health.

Magnesium Glycinate & Malate is our practitioners’ favourite for soothing your nervous system and improving sleep. Best taken in the evening, for a deep, restful sleep. 

Summary

Living a fast paced lifestyle in a city like Hong Kong can certainly increase our need for supplements. Create a strong foundation from which your wellbeing can flourish with our four essentials for good health: fish oil, multivitamins, probiotics and magnesium.

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[1] J E Bailes, R Abusuwwa, M Arshad et. al, Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in severe brain trauma:case for a large multicenter trial, 2020.
[2] Kings College London, New insight into how anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce depression, 2021
[3] Z S Tan, W S Harris, A S Beiser et. al, Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging, 2012
[4] TF Cheung, KY Cheuk, F W P Yu et. al, Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency among adolescents and its correlation with bone parameters using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography, 2016.
[5] The First Total Hong Kong Diet Study: Minerals, 2014
[6] C N Miller, S Rayalam, The role of micronutrients in the response to ambient air pollutants: Potential mechanisms and suggestions for research design, 2017.