Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Spirulina


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Spirulina is a microalga that can be consumed by humans and animals. It is usually taken by humans as a nutritional supplement and is made primarily from two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.
Arthrospira is cultivated worldwide; used as a dietary supplement as well as a whole food; and is available in tablet, flake and powder form. It is also used as a feed supplement in the aquaculture, aquarium and poultry industries.[1]

[1] Vonshak, A. (ed.). Spirulina platensis (Arthrospira): Physiology, Cell-biology and Biotechnology. London: Taylor & Francis, 1997.


The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Iodine


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Iodine is a trace mineral and a nutrient found naturally in the body.

Iodine is needed for the normal metabolism of cells. Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy. Humans need iodine for normal thyroid function, and for the production of thyroid hormones.

Deficiency happens more often in women than in men, and is more common in pregnant women and older children. Getting enough iodine in the diet may prevent a form of physical and intellectual disability called cretinism. [1]

Inadequate iodine intake may also result in goiter and hypothyroidism in adults. Although the effects of hypothyroidism are more subtle in the brains of adults than children, research suggests that hypothyroidism results in slower response times and impaired mental function[2]. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and constipation.[3]


[2] Hetzel BS, Clugston GA. Iodine. In: Shils M, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:253-264




The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Nutracea Rice Bran


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Bran, also known as miller’s bran,[1] is the hard outer layer of cereals which consists of combined aleurone and pericarp. Along with germ, it is an integral part of whole grains, and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. When bran is removed from grains, the grains lose a portion of their nutritional value. Bran is present in and may be milled from any cereal grain, including rice, corn (maize), wheat, oats, barley and millet. Bran should not be confused with chaff, which is coarser scaly material surrounding the grain, but not forming part of the grain itself.
Bran is particularly rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids and contains significant quantities of starch, protein, vitamins and dietary minerals.
Rice bran is a byproduct of the rice milling process (the conversion of brown rice to white rice), and it contains various antioxidants that impart beneficial effects on human health.[2] A major rice bran fraction contains 12%-13% oil and highly unsaponifiable components (4.3%).[citation needed] This fraction contains tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E), gamma-oryzanol and beta-sitosterol; all these constituents may contribute to the lowering of the plasma levels of the various parameters of the lipid profile. Rice bran also contains a high level of dietary fibres (beta-glucan, pectin and gum). In addition, it also contains ferulic acid, which is also a component of the structure of nonlignified cellwalls. However, some research suggests there are levels of inorganic arsenic (a toxin and carcinogen) present in rice bran. One study found the levels to be 20% higher than in drinking water.[3] Other types of bran (derived from wheat, oat or barley) contain less arsenic than rice bran, and are just as nutrient rich.[4]
The high oil content of bran makes it subject to rancidification, one of the reasons that it is often separated from the grain before storage or further processing. The bran itself can be heat-treated to increase its longevity.

[1] “Wheat Bran”. Spiritfoods. 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.

[2] Barron, Jon (21 September 2010). “Black Rice Bran, the Next Superfood?”. Baseline of Health Foundation. Retrieved 24 August 2012.

[3] “Inorganic Arsenic in Rice Bran and Its Products Are an Order of Magnitude Higher than in Bulk Grain – Environmental Science & Technology (ACS Publications)”. 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2010-02-09.

[4] “Superfood rice bran contains arsenic – environment – 22 August 2008 – New Scientist”. Retrieved 2010-02-09.

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The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Calcium


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Calcium (play /ˈkælsiəm/ KAL-see-əm) is the chemical element with symbol Ca and atomic number 20. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth’s crust. Calcium is also the fifth-most-abundant dissolved ion in seawater by both molarity and mass, after sodium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfate.[1]

Calcium is essential for living organisms, in particular in cell physiology, where movement of the calcium ion Ca2+ into and out of the cytoplasm functions as a signal for many cellular processes. As a major material used in mineralization of bones and shells, calcium is the most abundant metal by mass in many animals.

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet and a mineral necessary for life. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says, “Calcium plays an important role in building stronger, denser bones early in life and keeping bones strong and healthy later in life.” Approximately 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.[2]

[1] Dickson, A. G. and Goyet, C. (1994). “5”. Handbook of method for the analysis of the various parameters of the carbon dioxide system in sea water, version 2. ORNL/CDIAC-74.

[2] “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium”. Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH. Retrieved 31 March 2011

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