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Excerpts from Which Natural Therapies Should You Try?

By Shaun Holt

B Vitamins and Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is named after James Parkinson who wrote the first detailed description of the disease in 1817. A high intake of vitamin B6 can potentially lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s as you grow older.

B6 is important in sending messages across the brain and in protecting nerve cells from damage and a study showed that people who had a high intake of vitamin B6 were 30% less likely to get Parkinson’s disease.

B6 can be found in liver, kidney, chicken and fish. Vegetarian sources include legumes such as beans and lentils which can be easily added to a stew or casserole. Various Vitamin B supplements are also available and as other B vitamins help with absorption, so taking a B complex is not a bad idea.

Surprisingly, a 80g serving of Brussel sprouts contains four times more vitamin C than an orange.

Maca Root

Grown high in the Andes mountains in Peru, the maca plant is related to the radish and the turnip. Like these vegetables, most of the plant is underground with only a few low-lying leaves visible from above. The root can be gold, cream, red, purple, blue, black, or green.

It has been long recognised in Peru for its ability to calm menopausal symptoms. It has been shown to reduce hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, depression and heart palpitations. A study showed that 87% of women taking a maca root extract experienced lower levels of symptoms than women who did not.

The average New Zealand adult eats 18-22 grams of fibre per day. This is lower than the recommended amount of 25g for women and 30g for men and some adults get less than half this amount.

Three lesser known natural products that can strengthen bones

With so many natural health remedies claiming to do so much, it can be hard for you to know what to take. A large study tested a number of the less well known natural products that are used for treating and preventing bone problems and concluded that three in particular were helpful; phytoestrogens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and vitamin K2.

Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like hormones that are made by plants. They are thought to have numerous positive effects on your body and protect you from many diseases, particularly those related to bones.

Phytoestrogens are made in most plants and are found in vegetables, fruit and other plant based food, but not in animal products.

DHEA is a substance made naturally in your body that later turns into estrogen and other important hormones. Increased levels of these hormones reportedly boost your immune system, slow down the effects of aging and maintain healthy bones.

Vitamin K2 has also been shown to help bones and works along with calcium and magnesium. The best source of vitamin K2 is from fermented food like cheese, soybeans (natto) and sauerkraut. If taking it by way of a supplement choose the natural form MK-7 (menaquinone-7) not the cheaper synthetic MK-4 (menaquinone-4).

Low selenium levels in soil means that around one third of males and over half of females do not get enough selenium.