About Shabir Daya

Shabir Daya is the in-house pharmacist at Victoria Health

Posts by Shabir Daya

Stress Ages Our Skin


Stress plays a major part in the health of our body and of our skin. At times of stress our body produces excessive amounts of cortisol which is responsible for a variety of concerns including anxiety, weight gain and sleep disturbances. Aside from the adrenal glands producing cortisol, keratinocytes in the epidermis, the outer cell layers of skin, also manufacture cortisol which increases when the body is stressed or when skin is exposed to external stressors such as pollution, UV radiation and dehydration. Stress in this case refers to physical, emotive or environmental stressors.

Since cortisol is an inflammatory hormone, it is known to cause a wide range of skin concerns and depending upon your skin type, cortisol can make your skin very dry, wrinkled, fatigue-looking, reactive and sensitive, oily and/or acne-prone. I am going to briefly discuss skin concerns: Read More…

Which Magnesium Supplement Should I Take?

Wooden block with MG on white background surrounded by pills

Magnesium is a fascinating mineral that is involved in nearly 300 biochemical reactions within the body whose wide and varied benefits range from energy production though to brain function. With such wide and varied usages by the body, it may not surprise you to learn that magnesium deficiency is very widespread in the adult population. The main reasons for a magnesium deficiency are two-fold; the demands for this mineral are often not met by our intake of green leafy vegetables and of course as we age, our body becomes less efficient at absorbing magnesium due to a lack of digestive enzymes whose production declines rapidly.

Why is magnesium important?

Your body relies heavily on adequate magnesium levels in the bloodstream and yet this is a mineral that we often overlook. Unfortunately, there is not a reliable blood test that shows if one is deficient in magnesium or not. This is because very small amounts of magnesium reside in your blood with the majority of this mineral being used by enzymes for the processes carried out but scientists estimate that magnesium deficiencies may be running at an unprecedented levels with over 60% of the population being magnesium deficient.

Magnesium is important for:

  • Optimal nerve function
  • Most enzyme processes require magnesium
  • Essential for bone health, half of one’s total magnesium is found in bone tissue
  • Vital for protein synthesis required for the repair processes within the body
  • Crucial for energy production; magnesium alongside CoQ10 work to manufacture the energising molecule ATP.
  • Regulates cortisol within the brain helping to alleviate some of the symptoms of stress.
  • May help improve memory and brain function

The above benefits of magnesium are only a fraction of what this mineral does for the body. As mentioned previously, there is no accurate test for measuring magnesium levels in the body since a lot of this mineral is stored with the rest being excreted out. Some of the common signs indicating a deficiency include low energy levels, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, frequent headaches and nausea.

So how do I choose a magnesium supplement?

Knowing the benefits of magnesium and perhaps suspecting a deficiency, you decide to take a magnesium supplement only to find a barrage of magnesium supplements with different magnesium compounds within the formulation since magnesium cannot exist in its mineral form. I have highlighted some of the best magnesium supplement to take for any given concern.

Magnesium Citrate – magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms of magnesium used in tablets and capsules. It is derived by bonding magnesium to citric acid. As a citrate, it has an acidic base which means primarily it has a cleansing effect on the gut as is often recommended in detoxification regimens. Some of it will pass into the bloodstream and ongoing usage may gradually restore low magnesium levels. Food Science of Vermont’s Magnesium+ contains magnesium citrate is one such supplement.

Magnesium Malate – magnesium bonded to malic acid results in a compound called magnesium malate. Once in the body, the magnesium malate is broken down into magnesium in an ionic form which eases muscle pain. Malic acid, which is required by all cells, including muscle cells, helps enhance energy production. The dual effects of this supplement on muscles makes it very useful for muscle weakness and for fibromyalgia where muscle pain is of concern.

Magnesium Chloride – you will find magnesium chloride often in oil sprays for the body and in lotions, creams and bath flakes. Magnesium chloride is not actually an oil but derived from sea beds. It feels slippery because magnesium chloride is slightly alkaline when compared to water.

Topical magnesium chloride is absorbed rapidly through the skin into the bloodstream which makes it ideal for those who cannot swallow tablets and capsules and for those who have low stomach acid. My recommendations for magnesium chloride tend to focus on its use for localised pain associated with arthritis, restless legs syndrome and generalised muscle pain.

Better You’s Magnesium Oil Original Spray provides a therapeutic strength of magnesium chloride. If you are highly deficient in magnesium, then using this spray can cause an uncomfortable tingling sensation since the magnesium is rapidly absorbed in which case you can use the Magnesium Oil Sensitive Spray.

Magnesium L-threonate – Some forms of magnesium supplement are ill-absorbed into the bloodstream working effectively to cleanse the gut whilst others may be absorbed in greater quantity helping to address any possible deficiencies. But absorption is only part of the equation. The circulating magnesium in your bloodstream still needs to be taken up by all the cells of the body especially the brain tissues via its absorption through the nervous system.

The brain’s demands for magnesium are high. Higher concentrations of magnesium in the brain tissues have been shown to improve learning abilities, improved working memory and improved short and long-term memory. A novel form of magnesium, Magtein™, discovered by a group of scientists at MIT, has been shown to be taken up by the nervous system, the most resilient of all our systems, and effectively delivering magnesium to our brain.

Just because some supplements offer higher strengths of magnesium does not mean that these will be absorbed. Many forms of magnesium supplements are not absorbed efficiently but are great cleansers of the colon which is why many people complain of a laxative effect when taking magnesium. Since absorption into the body is the key to magnesium’s benefits of energy enhancement, optimal brain function, detoxification and cellular health, I believe that Magtein™ is the best form of magnesium currently available but remember this high absorption means that it is not suitable for cleansing the bowels.

Life Extension’s Neuro-Mag and Altrient Magnesium MagTein both contain magnesium l-threonate offering different modes of delivery. Even if you do eat a diet rich in magnesium, you can still end up in deficiencies due to the high demands placed by our body. Supplementation with Magnesium L-Threonate offers the easiest way to balance your intake of magnesium.

Double Cleansing The Body

Detox written in clouds, outlined with balloons

Double cleansing is often associated with skin care and involves using a cleansing balm, oil or micellar water to break down make-up, remnants of moisturiser, SPF and sebum on the surface of the skin followed by a deeper water-based cleanse to deep clean pores and remove any impurities.

The principle of double cleansing could also be easily applied to the health of the body because the first part of the body that is exposed to toxins is the intestinal tract and the second part of the system which is often under toxic overload is the liver.

Cleansing the gut

The gut or intestines are exposed to a host of pollutants, chemicals and toxins from the food we eat, as well as from air, water and environmental toxins. We have thousands of toxic chemicals in our surrounding environment that we are interacting with regularly and it is estimated that the average person is carrying between 500 and 700 toxins in their blood, skin, fat tissues, liver, brain and of course the intestines.

Not so long ago, our digestive system was considered a simple body system comprised essentially of a long tube for our food to digest, absorb nutrients and then finally excreted. We now know that the gut is incredibly complex and numerous studies have demonstrated the link between gut health and the immune system, mood, cognitive function, skin conditions and autoimmune diseases.

Aside from environmental toxins, many facets of a modern lifestyle such as high stress, too little sleep, high sugar foods and the use of antibiotics all play havoc with the gut and its beneficial bacteria. With all this in mind, why would you not regularly cleanse the gut?

I think it prudent to cleanse the gut using Complete Fibre Cleanse. This supplement contains soluble and insoluble fibres that cleanse the gut including the colon gently but efficiently. The insoluble fibres scrape the gut of residues that build up in the gut as a result of the mixture of food and digestive enzymes. This residue hinders nutrient absorption and harbours pathogens.

Complete Fibre Cleanse also contains Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm to soothe any inflammation together with a probiotic blend to repopulate the gut of the friendly bacteria so vital for many functions. Use Complete Fibre Cleanse every few months because a healthy gut contributes to a stronger immune system, improved mood, heart health as well as effective digestion.

Liver Cleanse

Like double cleansing the skin, the second part of cleansing should concentrate on removing toxins from the bloodstream before they deposit in our tissues such as the brain, skin and other organs.Although cleansing the gut will help to remove numerous chemicals, nothing works 100% and some of these toxins will pass through the intestines into the bloodstream.

The liver is the second largest organ of detoxification, skin being the largest. It is also the workhorse of the body. It converts toxins, chemicals, pollutants and metabolic waste products into compounds that are neutral and can be easily eliminated by the body. Normally, the liver also works to cleanse itself but this is not always the case.

Unfortunately, our bodies are bombarded with chemicals, preservatives, pollutants and artificial colourants to name a few. With this toxic overload, the liver’s capability to remove toxins declines and some of these will remain active for longer periods affecting numerous processes including metabolism, circulation and respiration.

We cannot necessarily control our exposure to environmental toxins, but it only seems logical that we should support the liver and encourage its optimal function to remove these from our bodies as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Subtle signs of poor liver function include fatigue, complexion problems, itchy skin, frequent mood swings, sensitivity to chemicals and medications as well as weight gain to name a few.

Whether you call it a liver detox or a liver cleanse, I would suggest the use of Healthaid’s Milk Thistle Complex which is a supplement that is simple to use and contains the trinity of liver cleansing herbs including Milk Thistle, Dandelion root and Artichoke Leaf Extract.

I believe that cleansing the body is important and double cleansing is a programme that one should undertake periodically especially when accompanied by some lifestyle changes.

How To Take Collagen Supplements

collagen writin in white powder on blue background

There are hundreds of collagen supplements on the market, in powders, capsules and drinks, usually obtained from bovine and marine sources, however there is differing advice on when and how to take collagen supplements. It is not surprising that people get confused so below is a low-down on how to take collagen supplements. But what is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. It is found in skin, muscles, blood vessels and other tissues and structures and its main role is to impart strength to these systems. Collagen production declines as we age and since adequate collagen is required to maintain our joints and skin, many consumers choose to introduce a collagen supplement into their regimen. There are different schools of thought on collagen supplementation and below are my recommendations:

Collagen on an empty stomach?

If you have decided on introducing a collagen supplement, when should you take it? There has been a great myth circulating around that collagen supplements should be taken on an empty stomach. The theory was that the peptides within collagen were possibly denatured by the stomach acid when taken with or immediately after a meal.

Collagen supplements can be taken at any time of the day with or without food. If anything, collagen needs to be broken down by the stomach acids into amino acids, which are then subsequently used by the body to build its collagen network.

Morning or night?

There is no evidence to suggest that taking collagen at a certain time of the day makes any difference whatsoever. However, since the body’s repair processes, including skin, are at their greatest during the early hours of the morning, it would not harm to take collagen at night but if this proves to be difficult then don’t worry and simply take it whenever you can.

Collagen with vitamin C?

You often hear that collagen should be taken with vitamin C to maximise its benefits and this is true to an extent. Vitamin C is most definitely required by the body in order to manufacture collagen. Most of us consider that we are getting sufficient vitamin C within our diet, but studies indicate otherwise simply because vitamin C is involved in numerous processes within our body and is readily excreted resulting in sub-optimal levels within the bloodstream.

My recommendation is to take vitamin C whether you choose to take a collagen supplement or not. If you do decide to take a collagen supplement, the vitamin C supplement does not need to be taken at the same time to get the full benefits of collagen. There are many vitamin C supplements on the market and the one of choice is Liposomal Vitamin C.

Fish collagen or bovine collagen?

There are several types of collagen each composed of different peptides or amino acids extracted from bovine or fish sources. Ensure you are purchasing hydrolysed collagen because in this form the amino acid chains have been broken down into smaller chains which makes it easier for the body to absorb and use.

Both bovine and fish collagen contain Type 1 Collagen, proline and glycine but unlike bovine collagen, fish collagen peptides are much smaller making them easier to digest and absorb, thereby flooding skin and joints with this skin and bone-building nutrient. One particular study showed that participants taking fish collagen combined with antioxidants for two months showed marked improvements in skin elasticity and moisture.

Ultimate Collagen + contains hydrolysed fish collagen together with the powerful skin protecting benefits of astaxanthin and the skin-plumping benefits of hyaluronic acid. Astaxanthin is a potent carotenoid antioxidant which may protect skin against UV-induced damage – this is the most potent skin-ageing accelerator known to us. Most of us are familiar with hyaluronic acid’s multiple benefits including hydrating and plumping skin.

Is it worth taking collagen supplements?

From around the age of 25, the collagen content within our body is depleted at a rate of about 1.5% so that by the time we reach our mid-40’s, collagen levels will have decreased by an astonishing 30%.  Scientists have been researching collagen since the early ’70s. Some studies have indicated that certain types of collagen peptides work effectively for joints and help many sufferers of inflammatory bowel concerns. There is still great debate surrounding their skin benefits.

If you intend to take collagen, at least make sure it is marine or fish collagen due to its smaller molecular structure and also ensure that the collagen is hydrolysed which ensures utilisation by the body.

The Problem With Sunscreens

SPF written in sand

Sunscreens are unique skincare products; we are supposed to apply a thick coat over large areas of our face and body and subsequently re-apply often dependant on time and our activity. It follows that the ingredients within sunscreens should be non-irritating and should be able to withstand powerful UV radiation without losing their effectiveness or potentially form harmful products from their breakdown.

The ingredients used in sunscreens may be inhaled when sprayed onto the body or may be absorbed when applied to certain areas such as near the lips. As a result, many sunscreen ingredients are absorbed into the body and can be found in urine, blood and breast milk. Read More…

Healthy Digestion After Gallbladder Removal

Dandelion seeds on stem

Gallbladder problems are an extremely common occurrence in the adult population with thousands of people having to undertake gallbladder removal due to pain and discomfort. Most people expect this discomfort to end post-surgery, however in a vast majority of cases it is common to have just as much discomfort after the gall bladder is removed. Read More…