Friday, March 28, 2008

I Am an Aunty Again!

James Samuel
born 3.35 this morning
3.735kg (8.2lb)

Just spoke to Mum. She said it was a very quick labour. Tash nearly had the baby in the car. Nick got pulled over by the police on the way to the hospital as he was speeding and ran a red light. When he explained the situation they got an escort to the hospital with sirens going, and apparently there were three midwives and orderlies waiting when they arrived. Tash didn't want to get out of the car, but they finally convinced her. By the time Nick got up there the baby was just coming out. So two-hour labour and mother and baby were back home by 8am - experienced campaigner, LOL.

Choosing a Multivitamin

Today Tonight

Vitamins: tested and rated
Reporter: Helen Wellings
Broadcast Date: August 07, 2007

From A to zinc, a staggering 70 per cent of Australians buy nutritional supplements, spending on average $200 per year: a total of $2.3 billion.

But it is hard to know which to choose, from a mind-blowing 30,000 different types on the market. An extraordinary scientific analysis by a team of Canadian and US biochemists may come to the rescue.

They have thoroughly examined more than 100 leading multivitamins available in Australia and New Zealand, evaluating and comparing their formulations by separating and measuring each ingredient: vitamins, minerals antioxidants and other components.

Dr Lesley Braun, Pharmacist and Naturopath from the National Herbalists Association of Australia and Dr Marc Cohen, Professor of Complementary Medicine at RMIT are the authors of Herbs and Natural Supplements.

We showed them the latest comparison of multivitamin products which scores brand by brand.
"What you've got is seven experts from the US that have put together what I would call a wish list, a list of ingredients they believe would be the ultimate to have in a multivitamin," Dr Braun said.

Professor Cohen added: "It was done on a range of issues, which include how absorbable the vitamins were, the range of vitamins and minerals that were in the tablet and whether they were in the appropriate amounts and in the appropriate form" says Professor Marc Cohen.
Dr Braun explained the research further.

"Their aim is to try to find a product on the market that is as close as possible to their wish list of the most comprehensive, of the highest doses, for them what they would consider the best," Dr Braun said.

"It is very important when you look at a vitamin supplement that not only have you got the key ingredients, but you've got them in the right combinations."

They say the absolutely perfect multivitamin tablet would be a huge "poly-pill", the size of a walnut, but Professor Cohen says we should be aiming for the following.

"The full range of vitamins e.g. A, the full range of vitamin Bs - and B should be done in a complex, not just 1 or 2 of the vitamins - certainly vitamin C and a range of minerals," Prof Cohen said.

"There is also an argument to say you should not put everything in the one pill because things absorb differently, e.g. the fat soluble vitamins."

Now the results

First, the final top 5 scorers. Remember they're rated against an ideal multi-vitamin pill.

Best: USANA Health Sciences Essentials scores a very high 74 per cent, followed by Solgar Omnium at 56.5 per cent.

Thorn Research Al's Formula scored 47 percent, Clinicians Vitamin and Mineral Boost 45 per cent, and NFS Nutraceuticals Ultimate Sports Multi 44.5 per cent.

But you won't find them at the supermarket nor pharmacies: they're available online, some through naturopaths and herbalists. ***See bottom of post for pricing comparison***

What is it that gave these brands such top ratings?

"They do contain a lot of the B group vitamins, the antioxidants that are traditional vitamins, so bioflavonoids. And they contain a few other little bits and pieces as well in high doses, such as the minerals with magnesium and calcium," Dr Braun said.

"A lot of the key ingredients are in very high doses. So when you match it up to the wish list that the US experts put together, it looks very good."

Most of the multivitamins tested scored lower than 20 per cent. Again though, all were rated against the ideal.

About one-third only managed single figure scores. Bottom of the list, unbelievably, some of our top supermarket and pharmacy brands: Myadec and Nature's Own Multivitamins and Minerals both with just 2.4 per cent, Herron Clinical Nutrition All-in-One Multi-Vitamin and Mineral scored 2 per cent, Guardian Multi Vitamins and Minerals Hi Potency also 2 per cent, and last was Advocare Macro-Mineral Complex at just 1 per cent.

But at a fraction of the price of the top scorers, our expert nutritionists say you do get what you pay for.

"They tend to have fewer number of ingredients compared to the ones that rated very highly," Dr Braun said.

"Also the strength of the ingredients tended to be lower.

"So I see them as just a very basic stopgap for someone whose diet really needs some work, whereas as they go higher in the list, they become more sophisticated and have better combinations."

Professor Cohen said: "I think the ones in the supermarkets and pharmacies are competing on price. You could have the vitamin on the label and only a very tiny amount. It won't actually do anything for you, but it is still on the label and consumers don't really know how much is the correct amount."

So are the right vitamins worth the money?

"Go with the ones that are comprehensive in good doses, the ones on the list," Dr Braun said.

"Ideally though, go to a health professional, get your diet looked at, start working on the diet and get the right supplement for you."

"There is strong evidence now that everyone over the age of 55 should be taking a multivitamin every day to prevent long-term diseases," Prof Cohen said.

"I'd extend that to say everyone should be taking a multivitamin because the risks are very low and the benefits are potentially very high."

So what does an expert take daily? Here's a tip: don't waste your money taking multivitamins with a cup of tea.

"The best way to take them is in the morning with breakfast, big glass of water," Prof Braun said. "Tea not so good because it binds some of the iron and you won't get the absorption, cancels out the iron."

Dr Lesley Braun takes:
"Dona Glucosamine" by Your Health.
"CoQ10", Co-enzyme Q10 by BioCeuticals for healthy cardio-vascular function and good for people taking statins for lowering cholesterol. Lesley also takes them for migraine.
"Multi-biocomplex" with selenium, a multivitamin by Nutrimedicine.
A bowl of blueberries which are neuro regenerative - to combat the loss of brain-cells due to ageing. If she can't buy fresh in season, she buys frozen blueberries.

National Herbalists Association of Australia.Website:

Dr Lesley Braun and Professor Marc Cohen wrote "Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence Based Guide. Published by Elsevier, November 2004. ISBN 0729536823. Contains 567 pages. Price $A40.


The scores and brand analysis of multi-vitamins, as mentioned in our story, are in Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. A Compendium of over 100 Products available in Australia and New Zealand, written by Lyle MacWilliam BSc, MSc, FP. (Northern Dimensions Publishing, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. Revised 1st Edition). But it is not in bookshops in Australia. Go to You can order the book from that site by selecting Lyle MacWilliam's name on the left-hand side of the page. Price is $40 including postage and handling.

Nutritional Supplements sorted by score

USANA Health Sciences Essentials 73.7

Solgar Omnium 56.5

Thorne Research Al's Formula 46.9

Clinicians Vitamin and Mineral Boost 45.1

NFS Nutraceuticals Ultimate Sports Multi 44.5

Thorne Research Basic Nutrients V 44.4

Thorne Research Basic Nutrients III 38.7

Solgar VM-2000 37.9

Pharmanex Lifepak 28.1

Amway NutriWay Double X 27.3

GNC LiveWell Women's Ultra Mega 26.1

Pharmanex Lifepak Women 25.6

BioCeuticals Multi Essentials 25.3

Pharmalliance OxiChel 24.8

Neways Orachel 24.1

Solgar Formula VM-75 23.1

Radiance Multi-Power 22.6

Nutra Life Active Men's Multi 22.3

GNC LiveWell Mega Men 21.2

Pharmanex Lifepak Prime 21.0

Nature's Sunshine Supplemental Vitamins & Minerals 20.6

Thompson's Multifort 17.5

Nature's Way Mega Multi 17.1

Thompson's Immunofort 16.9

Nutra Life Active Women's Multi Plus 16.4

Eagle Tresos B PluSe 16.4

Nature's Way Women's Energy Mega Multivitamin 16.4

Pharm-a-Care Women's Mega Strength Multi-Vitamins 16.4

Bioglan Women's Complete Multi Compex 16.4

Pretorius Women's Live Better Multi Vitamin & Mineral 16.3

Kordel's Men's Multi (without Iron) 15.4

Nutrition Care Formula SF88 15.1

Blackmores Women's Vitality Multi 14.1

Metagenics Multigenics 14.1

Red Seal Women's Multi 14

Nature's Own Daily Multi Peak Performance 14

Mannatech GlycoLEAN Catalyst 13.9

Natural Nutrition Mega Potency Women's Multi Vitamin with Selenium 13.7

Nature's Sunshine Mega-Chel 13.5

Metagenics Multigenics Phyto Plus 13.5

Blackmores Women's Multi & Evening Primrose Oil 13.4

Natural Nutrition Mega Potency Fifty Plus Multi Vitamins 13.4

Blackmores Sustained Release Women's Multi Vitamins & Minerals 13.3

Natural Nutrition Mega Potency Men's Multi Vitamin with Selenium 13.3

Red Seal Men's Multi 13.3

Pharm-a-Care Men's Mega Strength Multi-Vitamin 11.7

Bioglan Men's Complete Multi Complex 11.6

Nature's Way Men's Energy Mega Multi-Vitamin Iron-Free 11.6

Blackmores Sustained Release Multi Vitamins and Minerals 11.5

Swisse Women's Ultivite Formula 1 11.5

Pluravit Time-Release Multi 11.5

Thompson's Men's Multi with Antioxidants 11.3

Herbs of Gold Executive Multi Vitamin & Mineral 11.1

Golden Glow Senior's One-A-Day Multi 11.1

Swisse Women's Ultivite No Iron or Iodine 10.9

Swisse Men's Ultivite Formula 1 10.8

Blackmores Sustained Release Multi Vitamins & Minerals + Selenium 10.7

Melaleuca Vitality for Women 10.6

Reliv Now 10.4

Nature's Own Multivitamin Plus Omega 3 Fish Oil 9.1

Avon VitAdvance Women's Complete II 9.1

Good Health Men's Multi-Plus 9.1

Pharma Foods Pharma Day with Selenium 8.7

Herbalife Formula 3 8.7

Kordel's Women's Multi Plus EPO 8.6

Cenovis Mega Multi 8.4

Thompson's Femmefort 8.3

Microgenics Mega Multivitamin 8

Melaleuca Vitality for Men 7.5

Reliv Classic 7.5

Nutrition Care Formula 33SE 7.4

Microgenics Women's Pro Active Multi Vitamin 6.8

Golden Glow Super One-A-Day 6.7

Herron Clinical Nutrition Men's Multi-Vitamin & Minerals 6.2

Blackmores Men's Performance Multi 6.2

Good Health Women's Multi-Plus 6

Vitaplex Professional One a Day Multivitamin 5

New Vision Essential Vitamins 4.7

Centrum Select 50+ 4.3

Amway NutriWay Daily 4.2

Microgenics Men's Essential Multivitamin 4.1

Myadec Gold A-Z Guard 4

Red Seal Total Multi with Minerals 3.9

Centrum Complete from A to Zinc 3.9

Cenovis 50+ Multi 3.8

Guardian Women's Multi Vitamins & Minerals 3.6

Herron Clinical Nutrition One-a-Day Women's Multi-Vitamins & Minerals 3.6

Cenovis Multivitamin and Minerals 3.4

Amcal One-A-Day 3.3

Berocca Performance 3.2

Healtheries Women's Multi (AU) 3.2

Cenovis Women's Multi 3.1

Nature's Own Daily Multi Essentials 3.1

Pluravit Women 3.1

Golden Glow Women's One-a-Day Multi 3.1

Blackmores Multi + Gingko for 55+ 3

Pluravit 50 Plus 3

Healtheries Women's Multi (NZ) 2.7

Hivita LiquiVita 2.6

Red Seal One-a-Day Multi & Minerals 2.6

Amcal Multivitamin & Mineral Effervescent 2.6

Golden Glow Men's One-a-Day Multi 2.5

Bioglan Daily Plus Max 2.5

Cenovis Men's Multi 2.5

Myadec Multivitamins and Minerals 2.4

Nature's Own Multivitamin & Mineral 2.4

Herron Clinical Nutrition All-in-One Multi-Vitamin & Mineral 2.1

Guardian Multi Vitamins & Minerals Hi Potency 2.1

Advocare Macro-Mineral Complex 1.1

Source: Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Lyle MacWilliam, BSc, MSc, FP (Northern Dimensions Publishing, ISBN 0-9732538-3-5


(This is taken from the GNC website, where the top 19 are compared by price. Note that the top five are not available at GNC however)

Brand/Availability/Tablets per day/Cost (30 days) Aust$
1 Usana Health Sciences Essentials/Network marketing/8/100.00
2 Solgar Omnium/Internet only UK/2/53.11 + freight
3 Thorne Research Al's Formula /Practitioner only or internet/4/50.18 + freight
4 Clinicians Vitamin and Mineral Boost 300gm Powder/Internet/5gm pwdr/26.25 + freight
5 NFS Nutraceuticals Ultimate Sports Multi /Internet only -NZ/4/84.00 + freight

I had the Clinicians multi when dieting for competitions in New Zealand. Their vitamin C powder is also good. Do you have a multi to recommend?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Looking forward to watching this on Sunday - mainly to check out the bods on the female gladiators, LOL.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Comp Count UP!

Yes I know most people count down to a competition, but I need to count UP. I have worked out that if I want to do the INBA Vics on October 4, my '12 weeks out' date would be the weekend of the All Female show (July 12). So that means I have just under 16 weeks to - as Liz put it - 'pack on as much muscle as you can and eat as many calories as you can get away with'.

So here are some guidelines I have set myself:
  • Keep it clean (lean protein, veges, good fats), but eat every meal until I am full ('pleasantly satisfied').
  • If I am hungry less than two hours after eating a meal, it wasn't big enough - I need to increase my portion size.
  • Eat when hungry!

So, onwards and upwards!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's Going On In That Head Of Yours?

I haven't been posting much lately because I've been trying to deal with a few things mentally. I know I have food issues. I did my first two shows close together, and after the second one I put on about 10kg. It took a lot of work to get the weight off again for my third show, and I was determined not to have to go through that again. Plus I prefer how I look when I'm lean. But I'm a control freak and it can mean that it takes over my life. I'm in my off season and I'm trying to put on muscle, but I still tend to weigh, measure and calculate (think about) things too much - because I also want to stay lean. When my food scales broke recently I didn't get round to replacing them, and it's actually been really good to help me relax a bit. I have just been eyeballing portion sizes instead of weighing things out to the last gram. It's nice to be able to cook a meal and dish it up without it getting cold while I'm weighing/measuring how much to have. I've been eating until I start to get full, then stop. I've gotten quite good at judging how much I need without weighing it out. I'm learning to listen to myself more and that can only be a good thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bikram Yoga Anyone?

Well, first week back at work last week and I didn't get in as much yoga as I would have liked (just a couple of half-hour DVDs). I didn't do any exercise this morning as I had a deadline to meet, so headed off to the gym late afternoon. I trained chest and biceps, and decided to pop once of my DVDs when I got home as I knew it had lots of upper body stretches. The temperature was probably still in the high 30s and the sweat was just running off me. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed it - got lots of stretch. Has anyone been to a Bikram/hot yoga class?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Getting Healthier

I've had a quiet time workwise for the last eight weeks, so I've been been able to get on top of some of the things that slipped by the wayside when I was really busy over the Christmas/New Year period.

Sleep - this has been a big one for me. Although it took me a while to get back into a regular sleep pattern, it's finally happened. I've even been able to sneak in a nap or two after training over the last couple of weeks. At the moment I'm enjoying listening to Enya while I'm drifting off to sleep.

Yoga - I have really tight glutes and hamstrings, and a posterior pelvic tilt in my lower back (ie a flat lower back). This makes it difficult for me to get a nice curve in my lower back when I'm posing. I don't know that I'm ever going to be able to correct this structurally, but I'd like to be more flexible through this whole area. I've been doing a little bit of yoga each weekday, and it's slowly making a difference.

Organic food - I've eaten organic off and on for a few years, but have made a conscious decision to try and eat organic from now on. I buy organic groceries from the supermarket but get our fruit and veges delivered, as there isn't much of a selection at the supermarket. The egg whites I've been buying obviously aren't organic, but they are a great alternative source of protein for my husband. He teaches a couple of days a week and doesn't always have time to eat a full meal, so he will have a protein shake to tide him over. As he is gluten and lactose intolerant, it limits his choice of protein powders. He doesn't like egg white powder, rice protein powder or pea protein powder but he does like soy protein. Since he's male, I'm not sure how much soy he should be eating, so we use half soy, half egg white. The egg whites are quite runny, and they mix well in a blender, so you can't tell you're drinking eggs.

I'll be back into full-on work again next week, but am planning to try and take these new healthy habits with me. What do you do to feel healthy?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

In a Nutshell

By Joanna McMillan-Price, extracted from Life Etc Magazine

Magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, B group vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A, copper, manganese and selenium: no, it's not the ingredients list of the latest nutritional supplement, just a selection of the nutrients we get from nuts. Yet so many of us are reluctant to eat them regularly and think of them as an indulgence.

Nuts have been on the nutritional merry-go-round for a while. While they've always been a favourite of the healthfood consumer, most of us bought into warnings to limit the use of nuts or avoid them altogether because of their high fat and calorie content.

That information wasn't wrong. Nuts do have a high fat content and are indeed energy dense. But what seemed a commonsense assumption - that nuts would therefore be detrimental to weight control and heart disease - has been proved unequivocally to be wrong. In fact, just the opposite seems to be true.

Nuts and weight control

Four large-scale studies found that people who eat nuts tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI); a fifth found no association. In short, contrary to expectations, these studies found that, on the whole, nut eaters tended to weigh less. Plus, a host of clinical studies have shown people can successfully lose weight while eating up to 100g of nuts a day as part of a restricted-calorie diet.

Even where nuts have been added to a person's usual diet to push up the calorie intake, the amount of weight the subjects gained was far less than predicted from the known calorie content of nuts. So what's going on? There are two likely explanations.

Nuts are very satiating and successfully curb our desire to over-eat other foods. Secondly, nuts are an intact food containing lots of fibre: the body has to work hard to break down the individual cell walls to absorb and make use of the energy and nutrients. This in turn may mean we're not 100 per cent successful in completing the task and therefore fail to absorb all of the energy, particularly from fat, contained in the nut.

In other words, we may be getting fewer calories and fat from nuts than the nutrient composition data seems to predict.

Nuts and heart disease

Can you really halve your risk of heart disease by regularly consuming a high-fat food? Well, yes, you can, according to research on nut consumption - by eating a small handful (30g) of nuts five or more days a week.

Even more amazing is that even those who eat nuts once a week have been found to have less heart disease than those who don't eat nuts at all!

It appears that it's the type of fat that makes nuts so heart-healthy. Saturated fat is the type that's been shown to increase our risk of heart disease, primarily by raising blood LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Almost all nuts are low in saturated fat. The fat they contain is largely the healthy unsaturated kind. The exception is coconut which is extremely high in saturated fats, but even coconut may not be as bad for your heart as that might suggest.

Not all saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels to the same extent. Coconut differs from other high saturated fat foods such as butter in that it contains predominantly short- and medium-chain saturated fats. These appear to have a neutral effect, neither raising nor lowering blood cholesterol levels. So coconuts may not be bad for us, but there are certainly many better choices from the nut world.

Pecans, pistachios, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and macadamias are all rich in monounsaturated fat (like olive oil) while brazil nuts, pine nuts and walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fat. These fats have been shown to help lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood, while raising good cholesterol. There are even some super-healthy omega-3 fats in good quantities in pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.

But it's not just the fat. Nuts provide a host of essential nutrients that benefit the heart. Nuts are fibre-rich and this undoubtedly contributes to their cholesterol-lowering effects. They also provide protein and, in particular, the amino acid arginine, known to be important in maintaining healthy blood flow through the arteries.

Antioxidants are a major part of our defence against damaged and clogged arteries, and nuts are full of them. These include vitamin E - almonds are a fabulous source of this vitamin, a small handful providing 80 per cent of the daily needs of men and 100 per cent of women.
Selenium plays a vital antioxidant role in preventing cellular damage, but is also crucial for healthy immune and thyroid function. Two or three brazil nuts are all you need to meet your daily demand

Nuts and overall health

Nuts provide many other essential nutrients for overall health. They're good for bones, providing magnesium and small amounts of calcium, particularly almonds. They provide iron and zinc, two minerals often low in our diet, particularly if you don't eat meat. Cashews are the clear winners here with 30g, providing women with 8 per cent of daily iron and 21 per cent of daily zinc needs (19 per cent and 12 per cent respectively for men).

Nuts also provide a whole battery of B group vitamins necessary to convert the food we eat into energy for the body, for healthy skin, hair and nails, and to maintain healthy blood cells.

So how to eat them?

Steer clear of the salted roasted varieties and the nut butters with added sugar, salt, additives and preservatives. Buy your nuts raw and unsalted - you can roast them yourself for a few minutes in a hot oven - and as natural, unadulterated butters. You'll find these in the health food section of your supermarket; they're delicious on toast instead of butter.

It's time to break your low-fat mantra and indulge happily in nature's own nutrient-packed pill. Go nuts.