Vitamin D in sleep, pain and early menopause

Filed under: Blog,Company News,Product Information

Girl in sunshine image

Vitamin D, sleep and pain

It’s well known that vitamin D plays many beneficial roles around the body including immunity support and calcium regulation. What’s less known is its role in assisting sleep and pain management. A new review study demonstrates that low vitamin D levels are associated with elevated pain (in rheumatic disorders and fibromyalgia) as well as irregular sleep patterns. The mechanism of vitamin D in this case is suggested to be related to the regulation of neurotransmitters in the body. The study author concludes that vitamin D supplementation is associated with the therapeutic improvement of sleep and the prevention and treatment of chronic pain conditions.

Vitamin D, Calcium and early menopause

Early menopause (i.e. before the age of 45) effects approximately 10% of woman and is associated with elevated cardiovascular disease risk and osteoporosis. New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has identified a link with early menopause and insufficient vitamin D. The study involving over 2000+ women demonstrated that those with high intakes of vitamin D (and calcium) were at 17% reduced risk of developing early menopause than those with lower intakes. Calcium is readily obtained from the diet, but vitamin D which is typically synthesized via sunlight is a common insufficiency in the UK.

Vitamin D deficiency

A clinical review published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (May 2017) found that almost 1 billion individuals worldwide may have insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D. The cause for this is multifaceted, though the main reason cited is that people are spending more time indoors and applying sunscreen when they go outside, to protect from skin cancer. While this is a healthy skin habit, SPF use does limit vitamin D biosynthesis. Chronic diseases such as kidney disease and even type 2 diabetes greatly reduce vitamin D synthesis as well. Ongoing research is linking vitamin D deficiency with multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, infections, respiratory disease and cancer.

Bio-Vitamin D3

Manufactured to pharmaceutical standards, Bio-Vitamin D3 provides D3 (the more stable and well utilized form by the body) in small and easy to swallow ‘pearl’ capsules. The oil in the capsules helps to ensure that the fat soluble vitamin absorbs well from the gut and into the bloodstream.


1. de Oliveira D, Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen M. The interfaces between vitamin D, sleep and pain. Journal of Endocrinology. 2017;:JOE-16-0514.

2. Purdue-Smithe A, Whitcomb B, Szegda K, Boutot M, Manson J, Hankinson S et al. Vitamin D and calcium intake and risk of early menopause. 2017.

3. Pfotenhauer K, Shubrook J. Vitamin D Deficiency, Its Role in Health and Disease, and Current Supplementation Recommendations. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2017;117(5):301.

Why Take Supplements?

Filed under: Blog,Product Information

The infamous balanced diet is a great ideal to strive for; a diet that encompasses a range of different fruit, vegetables, lean protein, fibre and healthy fats. No matter how virtuous we intend to be however, the diet may fall short. That’s where supplements can help.

Crop land throughout the world is unevenly distributed when it comes to minerals. Some places in the world (such as the UK and Ireland) have very low selenium content in the soil as an example, and will have low mineral levels in locally produced food. Excessive farming over time leads to further degrading of the mineral content of the soil, leading to a diet with even less nutrition.

From the moment they’re picked from the farm land, the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables start to degrade over time (especially the water soluble vitamins B and C). When foods need to exported over long distances (known as ‘Food Miles’), this loss of nutrition becomes even more significant. The result is that lots of foods reach the plate with much less nutrient value that what they started with, and that’s even before they get cooked (with frying and boiling heavily reducing certain nutrients). This is especially the case for out of season fruits and vegetables that need to be transported great distances.

Many food processes designed to preserve food, improve its texture or flavour, also impact its vitamin and mineral content negatively. Supplements act as a convenient way to ensure adequate nutrition status and therefore, optimum health.


From sea to store: the 5 steps of seaweed traceability in your I Love Seaweed capsules

Filed under: Product Information

pristine Scottish seas image

I Love Seaweed values traceable, sustainable seaweed. Find out how these capsules make it from pristine Scottish seas to the Pharma Nord online store.

Seaweed traceability is key to knowing the quality of the product you’re getting, and with over 10,000 species of seaweed worldwide, it’s important to know you’re receiving the very best.

That’s why you can trace the seaweed used in I Love Seaweed capsules from the pure waters of the Scottish Outer Hebrides to the capsules you can purchase from the Pharma Nord site. Read on to discover seaweed traceability in 5 steps, from sea to store.

Step 1: Harvesting

The first step of seaweed traceability in the I Love Seaweed capsules is the harvesting of the seaweed itself. I Love Seaweed uses only the best quality Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed, harvested from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to ensure every capsule meets the high standard of health benefits and quality.

Before the harvesting can take place, the area is checked for safety, and the sustainability perimeters logged for quality and traceability.

Step 2: Sea to factory

The next step of seaweed traceability in I Love Seaweed capsules is the transportation of the harvest to the factory. Once a successful batch of high quality seaweed has been collected from the Hebridean waters, it is then transported in a cleaned and dedicated vehicle.

This vehicle then takes the batch to the factory, which has also been pre-cleaned to create the right environment for the next stage in seaweed traceability.

Step 3: Factory processing and testing

The third step of seaweed traceability in I Love Seaweed capsules is the factory process. Whilst in the factory, the seaweed batch is checked for contaminants. It is then dried slowly at a low temperature, and checked thoroughly for metal during this drying process.

The batch is also milled using propriety techniques, and only then is it packaged and coded.

Seaweed capsules

If any contaminants or metal traces are discovered during this process, then the batch is rejected. This helps ensure the purity of the seaweed traceability, and maintains the superiority of the products that I Love Seaweed produce.

Each batch is tested in independent and accredited laboratories for quality and safety.

Step 4: Your capsules

By this stage in the seaweed traceability process, the batch has been checked time and time again to make sure it is within specification. Only then is the seaweed encapsulated in organic, kosher and vegan certified capsules. These capsules contain the Patent Pending seaweed ingredients, optimising the freshness of the pristine waters they were born from and all the while being readily convenient for you to purchase and consume.

Just two capsules a day is what is recommended to benefit from this superior seaweed. So what are these benefits?

Step 5: The benefits

This is the final stage of the seaweed traceability of I Love Seaweed capsules: the amazing things it does for your body and health once you start consuming them!

Two I Love Seaweed capsules give you as much iodine as three whole mackerel. The UK has one of the highest iodine deficiency levels in the world, with up to 76% of school-aged girls with diets insufficient in iodine. Iodine is vital for normal thyroid function, and these seaweed capsules contain the iodine we need to seek to turn these figures around.

Not only that, but I Love Seaweed capsules also contain other vital nutrients like magnesium, potassium and calcium which can form part of a healthy diet, and research is on-going to suggest that seaweed could help manage your weight and your blood sugar levels. The iodine levels also contribute to normal cognitive development!

All seaweed is good, but some is just better…

I Love Seaweed Image

Seaweed traceability is vital when looking for the best source of this superfood for you. Seaweed has been used for centuries, and thanks to Doctor Seaweed® and I Love Seaweed it’s easier than ever to reap its rewards. Find I Love Seaweed capsules and a variety of other health supplements at Pharma Nord UK.

Defending against hay fever, and much more!

Filed under: Uncategorized

Pollen Image

All hay fever suffers should know what’s happening right now. Hay fever season is here and for many of us, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy eyes all come with it.  Many products and treatments exist to address these uncomfortable symptoms, but not all are successful.

One product however, is standing out as the go to supplement for hay fever support.  With documented benefits, more than 200 published trials and contented users around the world, many sufferers are turning to Pycnogenol® for reliable relief from hay fever.

So what is Pycnogenol®?

Pycnogenol is a unique plant extract from the bark of the maritime pine trees (grown in sustainable French forests).  Key to many of its benefits, Pycnogenol is a source of antioxidant plant compounds known as proanthrocyanadins which have been shown to help protect cells from free radical damage amongst other benefits.

What happens during hay fever?

To understand how Pycnogenol can benefit, it helps to understand what happens during hay fever first.  Simply put, hay fever is allergic reaction to pollen.  All allergies occur when the body’s immune system has an exaggerated response to foreign particles which it perceives as dangerous.  Pollen counts are on the rise and specifically, the pollen season separates into three smaller seasons:

1. Tree pollen: late March to mid-May.
2. Grass pollen: mid-May to July.
3. Weed pollen: end of June to September

This is important, as individuals typically react more to a specific type of pollen.  In Britain, hay fever is caused by grass pollen in around 95% of sufferers for instance.

Once in contact with the pollen, our mast cells (a type of white blood cell) release the hormone histamine throughout the body, triggering allergic responses involving inflammation of delicate tissues (such as the nose, mouth, airways and skin).  This inflammation can make breathing difficult through constricting the airways.   Histamines also encourage the membranes of the nose to produce mucus, leading to the iconic runny nose and irritated throat.

Free radical exposure (reactive molecules produced by pollution and intense exercise) can further increase the amount of histamine produced by the mast cells, so this should be addressed also.

How can Pycnogenol help?

Pycnogenol has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects that may counter hay fever symptoms such as blocked sinuses, red irritated nostrils and constricted breathing, common to most sufferers.

In one study, a significant reduction in inflammation was found in subjects consuming Pycnogenol.  The proposed mechanism is that Pycnogenol controls NF-Kappa B, which is a protein complex found in our cells that sends out compounds (such as cytokines) into the body that trigger inflammation (1).  The benefits of these anti-inflammatory effects can be wide reaching, and Pycnogenol has been indicated in improving rheumatoid symptoms and circulatory conditions as well!  Just this year, a study showed that Pycnogenol can even normalize cardiovascular risk  factors in perimenopausal women!  (4)

Various trials have shown Pycnogenol to have an anti-histamine effect, also combating the allergic response.  The antioxidant compounds in Pycnogenol are able to neutralize free radicals, reducing the amount of histamine that’s initially released from the mast cells.  Pycnogenol also increases the uptake of histamine into the storage component of the mast cells, rather than releasing them throughout the body where they would trigger inflammation.  (3).

In a particular lab study, this antihistamine effect was demonstrated to be more favourable than sodium cromoglycate, an antihistamine normally found in pharmaceutical hay fever medications. (2)

Trying it out

Pycnogenol is a well researched and unique plant extract that is proving to be a successful solution for hay fever sufferers all over the world.  Not only have studies shown its anti-histamine actions, but other mechanisms such as anti-inflammation associate Pycnogenol with many other health benefits.

As always,  you should ensure supplements are sourced from a reputable manufacturer with an emphasis on safety, quality and well absorbed formulas.


1. Grimm T, Chovanová Z, Muchová J, Sumegová K, Liptáková A, Duracková Z, Högger P. Inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). Journal of inflammation (London, England). 2006 Jan 31 [cited 2017 Feb 8];3. Available from:

2. Choi Y, Yan G. Pycnogenol inhibits immunoglobulin e-mediated allergic response in mast cells. Phytotherapy research : PTR. 2009 May 15 [cited 2017 Feb 8];23(12):1691–5. Available from:

3. Sharma S, Sharma S, Gulati O. Pycnogenol inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. Phytotherapy research : PTR. 2003 Jan 31 [cited 2017 Feb 8];17(1):66–9. Available from:

4. Normalization of cardiovascular risk factors in peri-menopausal women with Pycnogenol® – Minerva Ginecologica 2017 February;69(1):29-34 – Minerva Medica – Journals [Internet]. 2017. Available from:

Osteoporosis drugs; not as straightforward as once thought

Filed under: Product Information,Research


Bisphosphonate drugs, commonly used to maintain bone density in osteoporosis patients, have recently become the subject of controversy. While they help maintain density of most bones, various studies show an increase in atypical femur fractures associated with their long term use.

Healthy bones are maintained through the break down of old bone cells which are then replaced with new healthy cells. Specialized cells called osteoclasts break the older bone down while their counterpart osteoblasts, build up the bone again with new healthy tissue. Bisphosphonate drugs absorb into the osteoclast cells, inhibiting their function which is the initial break down of cells. The result? Slower overall bone density loss.

Bisphosphonates decrease bone fractures of most bone types by 40% (and vertebrae fractures by over 50%). Prolonged use of these drugs (around 3 years plus) can cause an elevated risk in atypical fractures of the femur, studies show (1). The fracture begins with pain and unlike many other fractures, they don't need to be triggered by trauma or force (such as a fall). A recent study from the imperial college London found that the hip bones of those being treated with bisphosphonates had many micro-cracks and less mechanical strength (2).

Studies like these are gaining traction, making the future of bisphosphonate use unclear. With this in mind, what can be done to bring our bone density into our own hands?

Lifestyle and diet choices-Protecting your bone density

The best treatment is prevention, and this is especially applicable for osteoporosis. In our childhood/early adulthood, we build up bone density and this begins to decline from our mid 30s onwards. While it affects males and females, it's worth noting that women are especially susceptible to osteoporosis due to menopause (a decline in oestrogen production). Oestrogen has a calcium sparing effect, so when it declines during this natural process, bone density falls with it.

Being active can go a long way to maintain bone density, especially if weight-baring exercise is included (such as running or light weight lifting). According to the British Dietetic Association, both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of osteoporosis as well (3).

A nutritionally dense diet containing adequate protein, zinc, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and K can help ensure optimum bone density. Most of us obtain adequate calcium levels however, whereas both magnesium and vitamin D are common dietary insufficiencies.

Key for bone density; Vitamin D and Magnesium

Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Dietary vitamin D intakes (from sources like butter, eggs and fish) are typically inadequate, though ideally we would synthesize enough when our skin is exposed to UVB rays from sunlight. The issue is, many factors limit our exposure to sunlight including;

  • Age (our ability to synthesize vitamin D from sun declines).
  • Season and latitude – less sunlight in winter and in northern parts of the world
  • Ethnicity/ Skin pigmentation- darker skin requires more sunlight
  • Personal habits: regularly use of sunscreen or covering up

Presently, the UK government recommends that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement, especially in winter months when sunlight is lowest. Due to being a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D oil capsules absorb in the gut better than the common solid tablet form. Available in two chemical forms, the D3 form (cholecalciferol) is generally considered less toxic, better tolerated and more stable than D2 (ergocalciferol).

Magnesium is a key mineral used for over 300 enzyme functions in the body. It has several approved health claims in the EU including its contribution to the maintenance of normal bones. Most magnesium supplements are single sourced, which may not be well absorbed in the gut (a common example is magnesium oxide). A multi-sourced magnesium supplement is ideal as it will offer a balance of high magnesium content and good bioavailability.

Healthy bone habits

Osteoporosis treatments are more complex than once though, though there's healthy behaviours we can adopt to help maintain bone density as much as possible. Smoking cessation, appropriate alcohol consumption, keeping active (with weight baring exercise) and a healthy diet with key supplements are behaviours we could all learn to adopt for better bone health.


1. Strotman P, Lack W, Bernstein M, Stover M, Summers H. Evaluation of common fractures of the hip in the elderly. Current Geriatrics Reports. 2016 Feb 5;5(1):38–43.

2. Wighton K. Drug used to treat weak bones associated with micro-cracks. 2017 Mar 1 [cited 2017 Mar 2]. Available from:

3. [cited 2017 Mar 2]. Available from:


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