Archive for the ‘Supplements’ Category

Winter is here. We see it in our skin, hair and nails – the dryness, and the resulting little cracks that will prove to be excellent entrance ways for bad bugs that can lead to winter colds.

How do we spell protection against winter dryness and colds? HYDRATION

Sometimes hydration is only thought of as a summer issue – we are hot, we sweat, and so we remember to drink lots of water and eat water-based foods. We wear hats to shield our hair and skin from the sun and we lather on the moisturizer.

Habits change in the winter. We change from water-based vegetables to winter’s more starchy and less water-based vegetables; we trade raw salads for warm soups; and our iced teas often become hot tea with milk, hot cocoa, and hot cider which translates to: less water, more sodium = DEHYDRATION. Furthermore, we often forget our skin under all those clothes and while sun exposure may not be our issue (though winter sun should not be ignored), heaters/heating have a powerful, drying effect on our skin.

What to do? Follow these tips to improve winter health by way of HYDRATION:

1) Potassium intake: make sure to include potassium-rich foods and beverages which help bring water into our cells for hydration: coconut water (see this video to learn more about coconut water’s hydration benefits: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWOV_WRvVdc), bananas, potatoes, avocado, and even try supplement Ultima Replenisher for travel or in your workout bottle.

2)Sodium intake: be careful with excess sodium which keeps water outside our cells (dehydrating). Make your own soups or look for low-sodium options; use spices versus salt; and when using salt aim for a sea salt that contains an array of minerals; avoid canned and packaged foods where salt is used as a preservative, and choose fresh and frozen options (sodium can still be an issue in these packaged foods so read labels). In general, sodium should be less than 250mg PER serving but in some foods like soups it’s likely to be higher versus others like frozen vegetables where there should be zero. Check the Ashley Koff Approved lists on my site for good choices and always compare products in a category (i.e. cereal, soups etc.). http://www.ashleykoffapproved.com/approved/index.html.

3) Water – yes, you need it…8 glasses or take your weight in pounds and divide it in half and that will give you your daily ounces requirement (if you wight 150 pounds then that’s 75 ounces and there’s 8 ounces in a cup so you need between 9 and 10 cups daily).

4) Oil Up – when you get out of the shower or after you wash your face add some oils like coconut oil or argan oil to your skin to lock in moisture. Also, you can spray a hydrosol on your face in the day and reapply a dot of oil to the nose and lip areas which tend to get dry the quickest. Choose alcohol-free skincare products to avoid extra dryness.

5) Shroom ‘n Good Bugs: Yup, adding mushrooms like maitake and shitake to the diet or taking a daily supplement like LifeShield from New Chapter are great ways to boost your immune system. Also, consume probiotic-rich foods like coconut water kefir and cultured veggies as well as taking a supplement (I recommend and work with Align).

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In a never-ending cycle of “we say it’s good today, then we say it’s bad tomorrow” the recent raising of the vitamin D daily recs, while acknowledging the need to increase levels in Americans, confuses consumers with a concern about whether to supplement and what levels are actually best. The following review on the matter in Natural Foods Merchandiser is extremely helpful to read… http://newhope360.com/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d-intake-levels-officially-rise?cid=nl_iu

Furthermore, I will add that those who say they aren’t sure we need to supplement Vitamin D likely haven’t looked at the food portions necessary to reach daily levels (8 glasses of milk, anyone?) or that most foods have Vitamin D2 vs Vitamin D3, which is the optimal source for humans.

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I was recently asked to comment on supplements for kids so here are my thoughts. I also liked this article from Vitamin Retailer (attached 2 MB PDF)

Today, I read a lot of articles about all of the threats to children’s health, the exponential increases in levels of disease, allergies, intolerances etc and they paint a very bleak picture. Parents send me emails or shoot their hands in the air at lectures all voicing their concerns about this food or that, this nutrient or that, this environmental toxin or that one, the threats of cyber predators or school safety, and so on. It all seems so scary …and yet, I don’t do “Debbie Downer” very well. So, I wanted to write this to say – it’s okay mom and dad (or mom and dad to-be, or mom and mom, or dad and dad, or grandma, or …you get the point) – it’s so okay, at least when it comes to nutrition and environmental toxins. We actually know the issues, we have the solutions, we can make it easy to be healthier, and we even have the tools to heal when health crises arise. So take a deep breath and read on, this should be music to your ears.

Key Principles for Optimal Health for Kids (and Adults):

  1. Give a body what it recognizes. Organic food is just food. The body understands that and it responds beautifully to it. The bonus here is that it means that any food – in its high quality, organic form – can be part of a nutrition plan for optimal health. Want something red, nature gives us apples, beets, cherry tomatoes, red meat – lots of options so you can choose. Want something smooth, nature offers avocado, creamy cheeses, natto, and beans we can puree into a small dip. The body recognizes, anticipates and desires different textures, colors, and tastes. And nature delivers. (more…)

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There’s a lot of talk about certain omega fatty acids today – like omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids – and the need to consume them in our diet (or even to supplement the diet with them). Why? Some omega fatty acids –linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – are “essential” meaning that our bodies don’t make them so we rely on food sources to provide the building blocks for these fatty acids. Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory power helps balance our bodies in favor of appropriate inflammation. Omega 9, olive oil is a notable dietary source, receives great popularity with the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. But when talking about omega fatty acids and their health benefits, who says we should be count by threes (3,6,9) – in doing so we might just leap frog over some omega fatty acids with health benefits themselves (5,7).

Omega 7, known as palmitoleic acid, may appear to have ‘minor’ status in the world of monounsaturated fats but its health benefits are hardly such. Omega 7 helps regulate fat and blood sugar metabolism (in adipose tissue and in the pancreas). In vitro studies suggest that omega 7 helps improve the function of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. And when it comes to the skin, omega 7 is no ‘minor leaguer’…it is a major fatty acid in epithelial cell membranes – this means skin, blood vessels and mucous membranes. The presence of omega 7 in the epithelial cell membrane plays a protective role including inhibiting bacterial growth, as well promoting tissue recovery and healing. Research specifically on sea buckthorn oil, (which contains 30-40% omega 7), shows its role in improving eczema, acne, oral and stomach ulcers, and vaginal irritation / dryness. Dietary sources of omega 7 fatty acids include wild salmon, macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn berries.

Omega 5, otherwise known as myristoleic acid, is less common in nature – found primarily in the seed oil from plants in the Myristicaceae genus where nutmeg is the most well known; the oil is also extracted from saw palmetto. Myristoleic acid extracted from saw palmetto has shown to effectively combat cancer cells in prostate and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, omega 5 may play a key role in the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase, a mediator of inflammation, thus, by acting in this anti-inflammatory capacity it helps to promote appropriate inflammation in the body. Food sources of omega 5, beyond extracting myristoleic acid from the aforementioned plants, include the fat of marine animals (wild Alaskan salmon), beavers, and bovines.

So, omega 5 and 7, are they in you? Seems like they should be. How? Consider that whole food sources – plant and animal – contain an array of omega fatty acids thus they are your best insurance to get all of these nutrients. But what if you don’t eat fish, macadamia nuts or what if you are trying to treat one of the symptoms or diseases noted above and want to try omega fatty acid supplementation?  One key takeaway from this omega story is that rather than picking one or two favorites – Mother Nature doesn’t – think of your omega consumption like an orchestra – all the different omegas playing together make the sweetest music. Whether food or supplement, consider making the choice that provides an array of omega fatty acids. Afterall, a whole food approach to nutrition will help ensure you get omegas 5, 7 and 3, 6, 9 in you for optimal health.

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I’m a huge fan of Natural Calm magnesium and the other products from Peter Gillham (Organic Life Vitamins (OLV), OsteoCalm, Natural Calm Sport (was called Calm+Calcium), NutraRev, Energy28, and their Kid’s Multi) for their high quality ingredients and proven results. While I don’t work with as many pro-athletes today as I did earlier in my career, I still work with many athletes and with  individuals who train at levels close to professional athletes as well as individuals who are battling stress and illness that’s taking a significant toll on their bodies (just as training can). So I loved getting this recent email from the owner of Peter Gillham, Ken Whitman, updating me on the benefits that athletes are seeing in their bodies in part due to the use of these products. What’s good for a pro athlete in training, indeed, could be good for your body too.

Hi Ashley,

I just got a report from Dr. David Pascal who specializes in working with elite track and field athletes:

The latest status of our athletes using the Natural Vitality products:

Khadevis Robinson, 8 time USA 800 meter National Champion and 2004 Olympian
“Actually the supplements have really been the reason I have been able to get healthy so quickly and stay fit. I was injured at the beginning of the season and I have had to do so much extra to try to catch up, the Natural Vitality supplements have allowed me to up the load on my body without breaking down.“

Jamaal Torrance, USA 400 meter Bronze medalist
“The Natural Calm Plus Calcium helped my muscles to recover enough to run three races in four days. In the 3rd race I just ran the fastest time of my career to win the 400 meter bronze medal at the U.S Track & Field Championships.”

Yvette Lewis, 100 Hurdles
“When I had surgery on my foot a few months ago I did not think that I was going to be able to compete this season. I feel that the Organic Life Vitamins and NutraRev helped me heal in time to compete last weekend in the U.S Track & Field Championships.”

Fredrick Norris, Long Jump
“I just returned for the U.S. National Track& Field Championships. The Calm Plus Calcium and OLV are my favorites, they keep my body regular and much less sore. Body functions better now and since I have been struggling with injuries I would have had to cut season early without this nutritional support.”

Lex Gillette, Paralympian
“Since I been taking the Natural Vitality products I feel as though my body responds better to workouts. I’m able to go out to the track and warmup, and be totally ready for a workout. Sometimes in the past before the vitamins, I would warmup and still feel a little sluggish. This season I broke two indoor American records, in the 60 meter sprint and the long jump.”

Barry Nobles, BMX Racer
“My season is going great. I won two national back to back. The PGNV products have made my recovery time faster. I am lasting longer through a weekend of racing. I like the OLV the best. I take them just one just and I know I’m getting everything I need for the day. I have competed three weekends in a row, two races a weekend. I have come home with 4 wins out of 6 races!”

These athletes are our “proving ground.” If our products perform under this kind of stress they will certainly do well for the kind of stresses we face in daily living.

All best,


Ken Whitman
Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality

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In the last decade, we’ve seen new aisles created in grocery stores, natural product expos, and in magazines as they cover the latest and debate the greatest in protein concoctions such as powders, shakes and bars. So what’s the scoop? Let’s start by looking at sources, then forms, and finally rationales to determine what’s good for us (and for the environment) versus what falls into my “just because we can (make it, eat it), doesn’t mean we should (make or eat it)” category.
Quick review – what is a protein? Proteins are organic compounds comprised of amino acids; as such, one often refers to an amino acid as the ‘building block’ of proteins. Considered a macronutrient, proteins, along with carbohydrates and fats, are a core part of our daily intake.  Ideally, we look to consume the entire array of amino acids (21), but there are some (8) that the body doesn’t make – these are called essential and thus we need to consume them from our dietary choices (note: there are a few that certain populations -due to their genetic makeup or injury- may require from the diet so they are often termed ‘conditionally essential’). Proteins are found in both animal and vegetable sources; however, each food source contains differing numbers and amounts of amino acids. (more…)

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I came across the following last week and wanted to add my AKA two cents to these study findings. In addition to the benefits of magnesium intake, I think this study shows the importance of getting to a better balance of calcium and magnesium intakes.  The Japanese diet is one rich in calcium (a mineral that has shown to be favorable as well in the prevention of colon cancer) – but what I took from this study is that the effects of increasing magnesium to make it closer to calcium consumption is really where we need to be for optimal health. I write a lot about the benefits of magnesium and my concern is that we’ve created a “conditional deficiency” of magnesium with a) higher dietary intake of calcium (fortified and calcium-rich foods) b) decrease in magnesium due to food processing (white flour has 60-80% less magnesium than whole wheat grain) c) decrease in magnesium due to avoidance of “carbs” which are magnesium-rich, d) calcium supplementation without or with minimal magnesium and d) decreasing content of minerals in our soil due to chemical-farming versus organic. Thus, to address this issue I recommend consuming magnesium-rich foods (Whole grains, artichoke, beans, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, and even some chocolate 🙂 ), monitoring one’s intake of calcium-rich foods (if I’m having dairy several times a day do I need calcium-fortified foods?), eating organic foods, and choosing forms of calcium and magnesium that are highly absorbable and balanced (I like Peter Gillham’s OsteoCalm, Natural Calm and Natural Calm + Calcium as well as New Chapter’s Bone Strength products).

Higher magnesium intake reduces colon cancer risk in men – A study of Japanese men and women found that men who consumed at least 327 milligrams of magnesium daily were 52% less likely to develop colon cancer than those who ingested less than 238 milligrams. The eight-year study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, did not find the same benefit for women. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (3/16)

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Soooo, the holidays and end of 2009 hit you hard, eh? I’ve had more than a few requests for a cleanse. The easiest one would be – step away from the sweets and alcohol and resume an organic, whole foods diet. But, sometimes we need a little more, something that feels detoxifying; something that reduces bloat, clears the skin, and yes, sheds the Fab Five or Fifteen that we put on since the leaves turned.

Here in LA and NYC there are amazing options – visit We Care Spa, get detox beverages delivered to your door, visit an ashram and fast. However, if these don’t fit into your budget or schedule, I wanted to share my cleanse with you. (more…)

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In the spirit of Hanukkah and giving the gift of health to you and yours, I designed this 8 day plan to inspire and refresh.

For serving amounts, what counts as carb etc see the AKA menu worksheet at www.ashleykoffapproved.com

Day 1: Clean Up: get rid of any packaged foods containing high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, colors with #s by them (ex. blue lake #3), and msg (monosodium glutamate or autolyzed yeast.

Day 2: Aim to eat one serving of each of these colors (naturally, Skittles and Froot Loops don’t count); ideally organic! Red, blue, green, and orange – hint, frozen organic is a great option

Day 3: Eat 1-2 (1 for weight loss / low activity) servings of carbohydrate, protein, and 1 of healthy fat per eating occasion. Still hungry? Unlimited Vegetables (ex. Apple + 1 Tbsp almond butter OR palm size wild salmon + sauteed garlic spinach + fist size of rice or a bowl of organic berries with a drizzle of chocolate sauce)

Day 4: Beverage patrol / control: 1 cup of coffee or tea max for the day (hint green tea and oolong have metabolic / fat burning advantages). Go decaf the rest and no beverages with sugar – even if they say ‘just a Tad sweet’ 😉

Day 5: Treat Day! But a non-food treat that is 🙂 remind yourself how great non-food gifts can be to give and receive. I LOVE my new Radius toothbrush made from recycled dollar bills and I always love a massage- what do you want to treat yourself too?

Day 6: Swop an animal for a vegetarian source of protein today – Nuttzo on an apple? A Sunshine burger? Nature’s Path Hemp granola or hempseeds on a bowl of berries? Hummus and veggies? Quinoa bowl with chopped walnuts, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and ginger?

Day 7: Swop high-fat dairy and less healthy animal fats for vegetarian sources (hemp, flax, olive, avocado) and wild fish (sardines, cod, salmon) or fish oil supplementation like Ascenta’s NutraSea (with Pure check) and New Chapter’s Wholeomega.

Day 8: Digest better with tools like Align probiotic, healingmovement.net cultured vegetables, Natural Calm, Urban Moonshine’s bitters, and spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and fennel seeds

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I am often asked about what supplements one should take for bone health. Before providing an answer, I begin by defining “supplement” – as in addition to – to make the point that supplements alone isn’t the answer. The right diet is (+ highly absorbable quality supplementation too).

Here’s a quick run through of bone-building nutrients and the foods which contain them. Keep in mind, AKA recommends organic (all) and wild (fish)

B12 (if a vegan, you need to supplement) – eggs, salmon,sardines, beef
K – spinach, chard, cabbage (fermented is great because you also get probiotics), turnip and collard greens
A- orange fruits and veggies like carrots, yams, apricot, and spinach (not orange but rich in vit A)
B6 – carrots, spinach, avocado, beans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cantaloupe
Folic acid – green veggies (greens greens greens!)
Vitamin D – mushrooms only (this is a key one to test and supplement http://www.vitamindrevolution.com for test strips)
Vitamin C- lemon, orange, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes

Potassium: coconut water, potatoes, banana, raisins, prunes, acorn squash
Copper: raisins,beans,nuts
Zinc: beans, peanuts
Boron: F + V (all (real)fruits and veggies, man!)
Silica: F + V (and coffee, but because of acid factor and caffeine factor, I don’t include coffee in bone builders)
Manganese: (re-read: this is not magnesium) avocado, seeds, nuts (esp hazelnuts and pecans)
Flouride: potatoes, carrots, beans, decaf tea, toothpaste (some) only if you eat it
Magnesium: soybeans (or edamame) and whole foods made from them (tofu, tempeh, soy milk), nuts, beans, leafy greens, whole grains (is not the same necessarily as whole grain flour), tomatoes

Ohhh, did I forget calcium 😉
Remember, bone nutrition is not calcium alone. And calcium is also found in several non-dairy choices, naturally. Dairy, sesame seeds, spinach, soybeans all contain calcium naturally

***Also note the bone-deductos – like caffeine, alcohol, smoking, sugar and some prescription drugs – which can work against bone building at any age.

**AKA recommends Osteo Calm (www.petergillham.com) as an example of an excellent supplement to a healthy bone-building diet

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