Categories
Nutrients Product Reviews

REVIEWS: Salt Reviews

Sodium gets a bad rap — but is it warranted? After all, sodium is vital to your health.

In fact, the evidence that sodium restriction improves cardiovascular outcomes is appearing to be weak. Instead, balance between important minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, may be much safer and more effective than reducing sodium intake.

“There is sound evidence that a low sodium diet leads to a worse cardiovascular prognosis in patients with systolic congestive heart failure or type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(13)00594-9/pdf

In hypothyroidism, it’s wasted by the body in high amounts — meaning extra supply is critical. Remember, many chronically ill have some amount of hypothyroidism.

Ultimately, if sodium intake makes one feel worse, it’s likely that higher intakes of potassium and other electrolytes is needed — not necessarily less sodium. When sodium is “high” it’s usually a bandaid approach to simply lower sodium intake. Instead, increase the intake of its supporting cofactor nutrients.

Therefore, sodium is not the bad guy. What do we look for when choosing an excellent source of salt?

Important Variables To Consider

  • No caking agents
  • No iodine (I want to supplement and track this nutrient myself)
  • No pink color
  • No plastic (there are reports of sea salt products and tiny plastic pieces)

1

Sea Salt

Sea salt is made from evaporating ocean water (or salty lake water, such as the Dead Sea).

Sea salt will contain a small amount of trace minerals that may benefit health. These minerals can also improve the salt’s taste.

For the most part, sea salt is an excellent choice for health. There’s only one major downside: Our modern oceans are so filled with plastic. This means that tiny plastic particles are more often appearing in our sea salt — and yes, we’re eating that plastic.

PROs: 

  • No fillers
  • No iodine
  • No pink rust

CONs:

RATING:  9.0/10


2

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink salt used to be very popular at my house. 

Then came some fears that the pink color in pink salt was due to iron which was oxidized — rust. Now, oxidized iron isn’t a great form of iron to put in the body for most people.  If the body needs iron, there are much better ways to get it.

Upon further research, it appears the amount of iron contained in pink salt is incredibly tiny. In fact, it may only represent about .02% of the DV — if an entire day’s salt intake (3g or so) were from pink salt.

What about the extra trace minerals? Yes, pink salt contains just about every mineral and metal that can be found in the earth’s crust. However, some studies suggest the amounts of trace minerals in pink salt are so minuscule that pink salt is no more helpful than sea salt. Some products claim to have adequate iodine levels — this is a misleading marketing claim.

PROs:

  • No fillers
  • No iodine
  • No plastic
  • Fun (pink color!)

CONs:

  • Tiny amount of oxidize iron (probably not a big deal)
  • No iodine (some claim to have adequate iodine — those claims are wrong)

RATING: 9.2/10


3

‘REAL’ Salt

Made in Idaho, USA, REAL Salt is a great product. 

It’s mined from underground — much like pink Himalayan salt —  and boasts a slightly higher content of trace minerals than sea salt.  This also means it does have some oxidized iron “rust” in it, but significantly less than pink salt — which we’ve already established is negligible, anyway. 

Being mined underground means it is pure of plastic contamination.

PROs:

  • High quality source
  • Higher trace minerals
  • No iodine
  • Incredible taste.  10/10 for taste
  • No plastic particles

CONs:

  • Miniscule, barely-detectable levels of iron

RATING: 9.5/10


4

Kosher Salt

Image result for kosher salt

Kosher salt is all about the size of the crystals — which are perfect for drawing out moisture from meat.

This makes it excellent for the koshering process of meat.

Kosher salt is free of iodine (which is a necessary nutrient), has no fillers (anti-caking agents), and often has a larger granule size (for the koshering process).

PROs:

  • No fillers
  • No iodine
  • No pink rust

CONs:

  • Usually made from sea salt, therefore could have plastic. I do question, however, if the larger particle size filters out more plastic than products with finer crystal size.

RATING: 9.0/10

You really can’t go wrong with a simple Kosher salt.


5

My Recommendation

I happily use sea salts, REAL Salt, or Kosher salt. The difference between the three is not large enough to fret over.

The biggest trade-off is that REAL Salt has a small amount of rust (oxidized iron), and sea salt has a small amount of plastic. How each might affect someone is hard to say — and nobody out there is an authority on that.

Read more.

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Categories
Nutrients Product Reviews

REVIEWS: Calcium Supplements

Calcium is a critical mineral for bone, hormonal, muscular, nervous system, and metabolic health.

Calcium can also improve thyroid health, calm the stress response, help avoid osteoporosis and facilitate nervous system & muscular function.

Folks with hypothyroidism, women, and the elderly especially need calcium — although supplementation should be done cautiously and wisely. 

If digestible, dairy is a fine source of calcium, but many can’t properly digest dairy. On the other hand, non-dairy products are usually supplemented with forms of calcium that are poorly absorbed.

Similarly, plant-based food sources of calcium are largely full of anti-nutrients that can render calcium less absorbable.

For those with certain digestive problems, eating lots of greens may be undesirable — due to insoluble fiber, goitrogens, lectins or oxalates.

However, there are many supplemental forms of calcium, but they’re not created equal. Let’s explore the best calcium supplements.


1

Calcium Hydroxyapatite

My favorite form of calcium, from a highly reputable manufacturer.

Calcium hydroxyapatite is a unique form of calcium that you everyone needs to be aware of.

Image result for calcium hydroxyapatite

Over 99% of body calcium is found as calcium hydroxyapatite — and it’s a superior source of supplemental calcium.   

I have found calcium hydroxyapatite to be less constipating than other forms (perhaps due to the presence of other minerals and/or better absorption). 

Calcium hydroxyapate also contains trace amounts of other minerals, and this will encourage quicker assimilation when you supplement. Instead of having to recruit these minerals already occurring in the body, these trace minerals are already present, streamlining the process. This becomes more important in sicker folks and the elderly.

PROs:  

  • A natural, biologically-active form
  • The presence of other minerals in small amounts improves facilitation of calcium
  • Less constipating than other forms

CONs:  

  • All calcium supplements can cause constipation (though this product is superior for this). 

RATING: 9.5/10


2

Calcium Citrate

Calcium Citrate has been a leading supplemental form of calcium for some time due to its superior absorption rate and gentle nature on the stomach.

However, there are some concerns that citric acid can 1) irritate the gut, 2) interfere with the Krebs cycle at moderate doses, or 3) cause an allergic reaction due to how citric acid is manufactured; it’s manufactured by the fermentation of starch by several types of mold (candida and aspergillus niger, in particular).

PROs:  

  • High absorbability
  • Improved absorption on an empty stomach

CONs: 

  • Citric acid may be an issue for some

RATING: 7.5/10

This product has a tiny amount of fat-soluble Vitamin C that won’t interfere with your observations and could promote the utilization of the calcium.


3

Bone Meal Powder

Bone Meal Powder is a calcium source derived directly from cattle bones. Perhaps surprisingly,  powdered bovine bones make for a superior source of calcium. 

Why?  Because the calcium found in bone meal is calcium hydroxyapatite — a superior source of calcium.  The hydroxyapatite molecule provides cofactors supporting calcium’s role in the body.  It’s also more absorbable.

PROs:

  • A cheaper form of hydroxyapatite calcium
  • Somewhat gentle on the stomach
  • Provides a small number of other minerals that support bone formation and metabolism

CONs:

  • All supplemental calcium can cause constipation
  • Difficult to find in pill form
  • Potential heavy metal contamination. Just like with bone broth and collagen, there are minor concerns about heavy metal content in bone meal.  Modern companies claim to test for heavy metals — but are you willing to trust them?  I do use this product from time to time, but I don’t depend on it solely.

RATING: 8/10


4

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium Carbonate is the most common form of calcium.  It’s highly prevalent in rocks and is used to make chalk.  People commonly use it in homemade and commercial toothpaste.

Calcium carbonate is difficult to absorb and hard on the stomach. Calcium carbonate’s best quality? It’s very cheap.

I personally find calcium carbonate to be quite absorbable in small doses, but larger doses do not sit as well in the gut.

PROs: 

  • Cheap
  • Pure
  • Non-allergenic

CONs: 

  • Not very absorbable
  • Harder on the digestive system

RATING: 4/10


5

Coral Calcium

Coral Calcium is simply calcium carbonate (again, the most common form of calcium) with a small amount of trace minerals included. 

These products often seem to describe the coral source as providing these extra nutrients, but in fact, these extra nutrients are added by the manufacturer. This makes these products a supplement blend.

These added nutrients are often of lower quality. Worse, you need to take important nutrients like calcium in isolation so you can perceive any positive or negative effects about the dosages.

One glaring nutrient added to many coral calcium brands is magnesium oxide, which is an inferior source of magnesium.

This magnesium (oxide) ostensibly added to make the coral’s calcium carbonate (the same calcium as eggshell calcium, and rocks) less constipating in the gut.

Nevertheless, there’s at least one big coral calcium brands will try and twist the science and suggest that magnesium oxide is actually MORE absorbable than other forms.

It only takes a few weeks of experimentation for most people to see this is not the case: magnesium oxide is most effective as a laxative, not as a source of magnesium, and its inclusion into any coral calcium product is most likely to combat the effects of the highly-constipating calcium carbonate.

PROs: 

  • May have a tiny amount of trace minerals

CONs: 

  • It’s mostly calcium carbonate
  • Most coral calcium products are blends with many added ingredients
  • Added ingredients are often inferior

RATING:  4/10

I have not found a coral calcium supplement that I like.


6

(Homemade) Eggshell Calcium

Eggshells are essentially — and almost entirely — calcium carbonate with a tiny amount of other minerals (just like coral calcium). 

Among people who cannot tolerate dairy, it is common for some to make their own eggshell calcium powder by grinding eggshells in a coffee grinder. I do not recommend this.

PROs:

  • It’s fun to make things yourself
  • Pure — if you trust the source of your eggshells
  • Calcium carbonate may be less irritating than citric acid-based calcium (in a very small number of people)

CONs: 

  • Low absorbability
  • Higher rate of constipation

RATING: 4/10

Categories
Light Product Reviews

REVIEWS: Red & Infrared Light Products

Let’s explore practical, topflight sources of red & infrared light — without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Full-spectrum light is superior to narrow-wavelength red-only light. 

Red-only light products are only optimal in the evening to minimize the risk of interfering with sleep.  Even then, it’s always best to get supplemental light during the daytime. 

Incandescent light is preferable to LED products, because the full-spectrum light produces superior benefits for the circadian rhythm, hormonal balance, enzyme activity, and hypothyroidism. It’s also more affordable.


1

Clear Heat Lamp
(125-Watt)

Perfect for beginners

A 125-watt bulb is a great place to start — especially if starting slow is important to you.  These heat lamps are well made.

Ultimately, many folks respond best when they use multiple bulbs, totaling several hundred watts. Reaching 500 watts may be easier wil two 250-watt bulbs, rather than these 125-watt bulbs.

PROs:

  • Gentle, warm light
  • Simple & does the job
  • Affordable infrared light
  • Full-spectrum light
  • Less blue and no UV (compared to sunlight)

CONs:

  • Somewhat breakable (it’s a light bulb)
  • 125-watts is a fairly low amount for therapeutic purposes
  • Not suitable for use in areas with children or pets

RATING: 9/10

I prefer 250-watts for the greater power, but the light produced by a few 150-watt bulbs is very restorative, energizing, and pleasant.


2

Clear Heat Lamp
(250-Watt)

more watts, more light
I love this 250-watt lamp. It is quite powerful (and hot — be careful).

The 250-watt heat lamp is twice the intensity of the 125-watt, and it feels that way. 

Much, much more power is supplied.  It’s more simple to reach the 500-watt threshold, it only requires two of these bulbs.

Heat lamps are quite directional, so be sure to back up several feet to 1) expose more tissues to the restorative light, and 2) avoid overexposure of any single area.

PROs:

  • Powerful, strong, radiant infrared light
  • Simple & does the job
  • Affordable infrared light
  • Full-spectrum light (lots of visible wavelengths)
  • Less blue and no UV (compared to sunlight)

CONs:

  • Somewhat breakable (it’s a light bulb)
  • Gets incredibly hot
  • Not suitable for use in areas with children or pets

RATING: 9.5/10

I use several of these bulbs at a time, daily.


3

175-Watt Clear Halogen Reflector Bulb

Pretty good bulbs. More visible, bright light. Less fragile than typical heat lamps.

Halogen light is similar to incandescent light (heat lamps are a type of incandescent) except halogen bulbs have a halogen gas (usually iodine or bromine gas) that allows the bulb to burn hotter without failing. 

The result is a similar output to incandescent, but with more bright visible light (like green and blue) and a little less infrared per watt. Nevertheless, halogens still produce less blue and more infrared/red, as a percentage of total output, than sunlight.

This bulb is slightly less hot than a 250-watt heat lamp, but with about the same visible light brightness.  Visible light (red, green, blue) is very good for health, as well, and this is a good way to get it.

PROs:

  • Powerful, strong, radiant light
  • Affordable
  • VERY natural full-spectrum light
  • Less blue than sunlight — more blue than heat lamps, which is good during daytime use
  • Sturdy — less breakable than heat lamps

CONs:

  • Gets quite hot
  • Not suitable for use in areas with children or pets
  • I like heat lamps and regular incandescent bulbs better

RATING: 8/10

I’ve used these for extended periods in the past. They’re quite good, but I think I feel best with incandescent bulbs.

4

Red L.E.D.

ABi Plant “Grow Light”

Designed to make plants grow (and flower) by using the same wavelengths that are highly beneficial for human biology.

This is a powerful grow light, producing red light in *only* the 660nm wavelength.  For wattage, it has two options: 12 watts and 25 watts. 

Claims About Wattage

The company claims that its wattage claims are more accurate than other companies’ — essentially stating that they list wattage based upon wattage used “at the outlet” (whereas other companies don’t), and that their products carry the power of products listed at 2 or 3 times that wattage. 

My opinion:  They aren’t making that up.  These bulbs are really, really bright.

Five of these would recreate a full-body red LED that could rival some more expensive (though possibly more convenient) red LED products.  If any of those companies are exaggerating their LED output, you might achieve a similar result with just 3 of these grow lights.

This product does have the limitations that come with all LEDs:  short, narrow wavelengths and a subtle flicker that — though likely unnoticeable to the eye — could be suboptimal for some. 

Therapeutic red light — without the intense heat — is a perk of LEDs — but not a big enough perk to prefer red LEDs to heat lamps.  The warm infrared frequencies are incredibly beneficial.

PROs:

  • Powerful output
  • Choose either 660nm and 630nm
  • Choose either 12w and 25w
  • No heat 

CONs:

  • LED — flicker and narrow wavelength
  • 25-watt’s fan is quite noisy

RATING: 7.5

It’s a pretty solid bulb. Fun to play with — and the red light is gorgeous at night.

It’s a true top-shelf option among red light LEDs — and using several of these is possibly preferable to expensive red light products.

I have tried both the 12-watt and 25-watt.  The 25-watt bulb is massive, heavy, and could overwhelm many clamp lamps with its weight.  It also has a noisy fan that I found too annoying for frequent use.  I sent it back and got a second 12-watt, instead.

After purchasing three of these, I still gravitate to real incandescent light from clear heat lamps. Heat lamps are simply superior light.

Read more.

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5

Other Equipment

Clamp Lamp

After buying all of my clamp lamps at Home Depot for many years, I have found a superior version.  These clamp lamps from Amazon are more sturdy — and that’s a big deal. 

Just screw in a bulb, clamp to a shelf or table.

PROs:

  • Solid, sturdy construction
  • Affordable

CONs:

  • The reflector is made of aluminum

RATING: 9/10

I’m not sure the aluminum reflectors are a big problem. I do take them off, but I don’t really recommend it to others. I don’t think plastic reflectors are any better than aluminum for exposure to harmful compounds.

Power Strip

And you might need a power strip, so here are some.

Be cautious and wise with lamps that get hot.  I use these all the time, but I’m very careful and safe.  Please don’t hurt yourself or someone you care about.

Read more.

As a supporting member, you’ll enjoy 1) access to all health information & resources, 2) ongoing support in our no-drama discussion group, and 3) the satisfaction of knowing that you’re supporting a worthy cause. — Travis

Let’s Feel Better.

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Categories
Gut Product Reviews

REVIEWS: Colostrum Supplements

Colostrum is, potentially, the optimal foundation of any gut health protocol.

All mammal mothers produce colostrum in the days after giving birth. This “first milk” is designed to kick start an infant’s development of their gut microbiome.

Derived from the milk produced after the arrival of a baby calf, colostrum is one of the most gentle, yet impactful, supplements available.

It works to affect the gut from multiple angles at once — without risk of causing harm. Colostrum boosts immunity, fights pathogens, feeds beneficial flora, and regulates the speed of motility in the gut — all at the same time.

The nutrients and biologically-active compounds in colostrum include:

Colostrum is safe for nearly all people, with the only exception being those with sensitivity to dairy, although I’ve known many lactose-intolerant folks who can tolerate colostrum. Some with very bad gut infections may need to work up doses, starting with a single pill with meals.


1

Symbiotics Colostrum

I keep coming back to this one.

I never expected Symbiotics Colostrum to become such a staple of my regimen, but here we are, seven years later — and this is my stand-by.  I’ve tried other brands, yet I always return “home” to this one.

In my comparisons of other products, I’ve never noticed any stronger benefits than what Symbiotics boasts. In theory, the SurThrival brand is superior, but the benefits I noticed from SurThrival were so similar to the Symbiotics that I just saved the money and returned to Symbiotics.

Colostrum is already expensive, so unless you’re willing to pay top dollar for a super-premium product (SurThrival), Symbiotics is the clear winner.

Countless ailments have been reversed — quickly — by taking a “booster” dose of colostrum. GI regularity always improves with regular “maintenance” dosages. Bloating has always been improved when I take colostrum.

When I was at my worst, colostrum allowed me to consistently improve my gut health, every single day.

PROs:

  • Effective
  • Consistent
  • More affordable

CONs:

  • Some may prefer “full-fat” or “cold-processed” colostrum

RATING: 9.5/10

This is my hands-down favorite product. There are other good options on the market, but for long-term use, I haven’t found one better than this.


2

Sovereign Laboratories Colostrum-LD

Liposomal manufacturing has taken the supplement world (and even the medical field, for enhanced delivery of pharmaceutical drugs) by storm in the last few years and — after weathering much turbulence from skeptics — have fairly burst through the doubt by sheer force of results. 

This, however, does NOT mean that all liposomal products are equal, or that they are all good.

When done right, liposomes generally improve the absorption of compounds into the bloodstream (through the gut barrier) and into cells.  Does “liposomal” improve results — or even matter, at all — with colostrum?

My experiments tell me: Not that much.

The big positive I observed with this brand of colostrum is the fact that it mixes SO well in water. It has a slight vanilla taste and fragrance, so noticeable that I wondered if I received a mislabeled package (the package said “unflavored” but that slightly sweet, vanilla aroma and flavor was hard to miss).

PROs:

  • Better stability through stomach — potentially arrives at intestines more intact
  • CLAIM: Better stability can result in lower dosages to achieve the desired effect
  • Mixes extremely well in water

CONs:

  • Liposomal may not be clearly superior.

RATING: 8.5/10

I feel like the liposomal element of the colostrum isn’t necessary, if normal colostrum is taken on an empty stomach. There may even be some benefit to the stomach lining to be exposed to potent colostrum powder.

However, I still like Sovereign Laboratories Colostrum LD, and it has provided good results for me and my clients. My fiance prefers this brand to all others due to its powdered, easily mixable delivery.


3

SurThrival Colostrum

A super high-end product.

The cadillac of colostrum products, SurThrival’s offering is among the highest quality available.

SurThrival boasts several unique characteristics in their product:  low-temperature (raw) processing, “true 6-hour” harvesting (post-birth) for higher nutrient content, and organic, grass-fed sourcing.

PROs:

  • No corners cut in the production process: organic, grass-fed, fresh, & raw
  • Full fat (the jury is out on whether this is superior)
  • Higher nutrient/active compound density

CONs:

  • Very expensive
  • Powder does not mix well, although it is available in pill form

RATING: 9.3/10

I really do like SurThrival Colostrum. They also have large sizes and EXTREMELY large sizes — to help you save money on this expensive product. Is the quality worth the money? If I had lots of extra cash, I’d say yes. Otherwise, save your money and go with Symbiotics, it’s very, very high quality, as well.

Let’s put all the pieces together — and improve.