The ‘active’ mum — you won’t just find her at the gym. She’s also chasing her toddler down the street or cleaning up yet another toy explosion.
Active mums are everywhere, and I think each one deserves something to make her life a little bit easier and healthier. I recently went looking for the best health products that would benefit women who lead an active lifestyle, as well as those who are looking to improve their fitness and wellbeing.
I tried out a wide range of health supplements, soothing beauty products, health food products, and fitness aids. Here are the ones that would get me to part with my hard-earn cash:
Best Health Products for Active Mums
BetterYou B12 Boost Spray
I’ve never been a fan of taking tablets, so any health supplement that come in an alternative form is always welcome in my house.
BetterYou’s B12 Boost Spray promises to battle tiredness and aid mental performance. The vitamin spray combines a blend of vitamin B12, chromium and green tea extract. There’s no need for tablets or capsules; this product gives you your daily dose in four quick squirts. It absorbs immediately and it tastes delicious as well.
The spray is suitable for vegetarians and is the ideal size to keep in your bag for a daily health boost when travelling or out and about. The B12 Boost Spray costs £11.95 and is available from www.betteryou.com.
Mikei Red Reishi
Once reserved for emperors and royalty, red reishi is a herbal mushroom supplement that has been used in the Far East for around 4,000 years.
Users — who include Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow — report a number of health benefits; good circulation, improved wellbeing, a healthy cardiovascular system. Red reishi is also known to contain beta-glucans, which have the ability to strengthen the immune system.
The red reishi mushrooms produced by Mikei are organically grown on natural wood-logs — purportedly the best way to cultivate the best quality mushrooms. The supplement comes in capsule form, with only one capsule per day needed to get the full benefit (some brands require two or more a day).
After taking Mikei’s Red Reishi supplement for three weeks, my co-tester Jennifer, 37, said: “I work in a busy office so I’m often rundown, tired and constantly picking up illnesses. Since I started taking red reishi every day, I’ve found that my overall mood and wellbeing has improved and I’ve felt noticeably healthier – not a sniffle to be heard!
“I’m going to keep taking this product for a while longer as I’m sure the real test will come once the weather turns colder. But I’m really encouraged with the results so far. The capsules are quite large, but I’ve found I can take them easily each time.”
Mikei Red Reishi Essence (30 capsules) costs £47.99. For more information and stockists visit: www.mikei.co.uk
Bio-Quinone Q10 Active Gold
Bio-Quinone Q10 Active Gold is designed to boost natural energy production. Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance which plays a role in the body’s energy supply system, working with enzymes to convert fats and sugars into energy. Q10 is mostly manufactured within the body, with some coming from our diet. However, our ability to produce it decreases after we reach our mid-twenties – typical!
Pharma Nord is known within the health food industry as being a leading authority on coezyme Q10 products. The Bio-Quinone Active Q10 has 90 clinical studies behind it and has become the international reference product for research into coenzyme Q10.
In a 2014 survey of 4041 users, 85% said they found Pharma Nord Q10 to be effective, and a huge 99% said they would recommend the supplement to others.
My co-tester Christine, a 48-year-old grandmother, said: “I’ve taken a Q10 supplement before and couldn’t really feel any difference. But after taking this product for three weeks I’ve experienced an energy boost – not a big one, but enough to notice. This is a major thing for me so I’m definitely going to keep taking the Pharma Nord Q10 to see if the effect continues.”
Bio-Quinone Q10 Active Gold costs £37.95 for 60 capsules. More information can be found on our website www.q10.co.uk.
Wiley’s Finest Prenatal DHA
Wiley’s Finest PreNatal DHA is intended to provide sufficient omega-3 nutrition to support the health of both mum and baby during pregnancy. DHA has been identified as important for the normal development of an infant’s brain, eyes, nervous system and immune system. Research has also shown that DHA can also support healthy moods in women before and after birth, which means it could contribute to keeping baby blues at bay.
As well as being a pregnancy health booster, Wiley’s fish oils are sourced from sustainable USA-caught wild fish (mostly Alaska Pollock) and are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The capsules are easy to swallow too and didn’t leave me with the unpleasant fishy burps that I’ve had with some fish oil products in the past.
Wiley’s Finest PreNatal DHA has a RRP of £22.50 for 60 capsules. You can find more information at wileysfinest.co.uk
Comvita’s Olive Leaf Extract
Olive oil — that ever popular kitchen staple — became famous in the last century for its powerful antioxidants known as ‘Polyphenolics’. The leaves of the olive tree contain these antioxidants too, but in much high amounts. In fact, olive leaf extract can have 400% the strength of Vitamin C.
Studies have shown that olive leaf extract can be useful in tackling conditions such as high blood pressure, poor immunity and arthritis. What I like about Comvita’s Olive Leaf Extract capsules in particular is their potent strength, which means every dose gives you a big boost of cell-protecting antioxidants.
The high strength capsules also contain zinc and copper; these two minerals are associated better immunity, healthy skin and anti-aging properties. This makes them a great all-rounder if you’re looking to keep your body in tip top condition. However, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding you should always speak to your GP before taking any supplements.
Comvita Olive Leaf Extract High Strength Capsules cost £24.98 for 60 capsules. They’re available at www.comvita.co.uk and a variety of health stores.
Soothing Beauty Products
Olverum Bath Oil
If you’re looking for a luxury bath product that can melt away tension, I simply have to recommend Olverum Bath Oil.
Now, usually the only thing that gets poured into my bath water is the kids’ bubble bath or leftover Christmas smellies. So testing out a bottle of Olverum Bath Oil has been a rare treat — and now I’m hooked! The product contains a blend of essential oils that are geared towards relieving stress; Siberian fir needle, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon and citrus-fresh verbena. It’s also great for easing aching muscles (perfect for after a workout!) or for soothing a stuffy head.
Olverum was founded over 80 years ago by Franz Otto Klein, a regular Frankfurt mountain spa goer. It has since been relaunched under British ownership, but the original recipe has been retained.
An instant relaxation tool in a pretty glass bottle, Olverum soothes the mind and relaxes the muscles. You only need a few drops of the oil in your bath water to get the full effect, and the unisex scent filled my home for hours afterwards. I’ve found it creates a wonderful bedtime atmosphere for the whole family.
A 125ml bottle of Olverum Bath Oil cost £26.00 and is available from www.olverum.com.
Timeless Truth’s Multipeptide Face Mask
Whenever I want to scare the children into leaving me alone, I just pop on a face mask. The beautiful thing about the multipeptide mask from Timeless Truth is that it actually leaves my skin feeling amazing too!
The Multipeptide Face Mask is what my best friend calls a “proper face mask.” The mask itself is a cloth enthused with freeze-dried active ingredients. The pink powder in the mask contains ‘negative ions’, which the makers say will improve circulation, help to relax facial tension and reduce signs of ageing. This makes the mask a very good option for stressed skin that’s in need of hydration.
This face mask is designed with sensitive skin in mind. As I have eczema-prone skin, I was a little worried that I might still end up with red patches. Thankfully, after the 20 minutes application my skin felt silky soft with no trace of redness or irritation. Hurray!
Timeless Truth also have a whole range of other face masks to suit a variety of skin types, from congested to sun damaged. If you feel like treating yourself or know someone who needs pampering, these masks are well worth a look.
A Multipeptide Calming Revitalising Facial Sheet Mask costs £4.90 (single) or £23.50 (box of 5). They are available from ttmasks.co.uk
BetterYou Magnesium Flakes & Inflatable Footbath
BetterYou’s award-winning Magnesium Flakes are touted by the company as a tool for aiding restful sleep and relieving muscle tension and cramping. Deficiency in magnesium has been linked to health issues such as migraines, anxiety, depression and extreme fatigue, so maintaining your levels is important no matter what your activity levels.
Intrigued, I tried out the Magnesium Flakes in combination with BetterYou’s purpose-made Inflatable Footbath. My verdict? I love the cushioning of the footbath; it’s so much more comfortable than the hard plastic one I usually use.
And while it’s difficult to comment on the immediate effects of the Magnesium Flakes, a trial by Cardiff University found that magnesium can be more easily absorbed through the skin than in tablet form. Sleep Practitioner & Sleep Environment Expert James Wilson has also commented: “I have found that adding Magnesium to the bedtime routine has an effect on the ability to fall asleep.”
Whatever the health benefits, my feet were definitely happy after receiving a relaxing 20 minute soak. If the rest of my body also benefited, I’m sure it’s very happy too.
The Magnesium Flakes (RRP £9.95 per 1Kg) are available from www.betteryou.com, as well as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty London, Holland & Barrett, Space NK, and independent retailers.
The Inflatable Footbaths (RRP £9.95) are available from www.betteryou.com and independent retailers.
Pernaton is a natural massage gel is designed for anyone suffering from joint and muscle pain. Made with 100% Perna extract taken from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels, it is said to aid connective tissue and joint care. It can also benefit sports men and women before and after exercise.
When massaged into my skin the non-greasy gel was absorbed quickly creating a cooling affect. The gel had a fresh, subtle aroma created by a mix of essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil and citrus oil. The added glycosaminoglycans (GAG) helps to improve the elasticity of the skin and left my skin feeling soft and supple.
This is a lovely muscle massage gel to keep handy in the medicine cupboard.
Pernaton is available throughout the UK from independent pharmacies, as well as Holland & Barrett and www.wellbeing-uk.com and is priced from £3.95 – £16.99.
Posture Medic is a simple device designed to improve posture, reduce back pain and blood pressure, and improve breathing capacity. It can also be used as a resistance-training exercise aid.
After wearing this device for 3 x 20 minutes a day for three weeks, I noticed an improvement in my posture and a reduction in the amount of stress I usually carry in my shoulders and upper back. I spend many hours a week hunched over a keyboard, so having the Posture Medic at hand has been great for reminding me to sit up straight and stretch more often.
I’ve no doubt that the Posture Medic can help improve posture and overall wellbeing, but the trick really is remembering to use it frequently. This doesn’t take a huge amount of effort as long as you don’t stick it in a drawer. The exercises were easy to follow and don’t take long to complete, which makes them a particularly good option for easing into postnatal fitness.
The Posture Medic cost £27.95. You can see it here: www.tower-health.co.uk
FitBits are still all the rage. The FitBit Blaze allows you to track, monitor and improve your fitness. It cleverly incorporates a heart rate monitor, GPS features and smart watch features as well.
The Blaze can be used to track all your activity throughout the day, allowing you to set yourself goals and monitor your progress. Its sensors pick up and record exercise automatically, meaning you don’t have to remember to log every run around the park or quick workout session at home. It can even monitor your nighttime activity, giving you a picture of the hours and quality of your sleep.
Want to get fitter? The on-screen workouts with FitStar encourages you to aim for the next level with step-by-step coaching and targets. It’s a bit like having a personal trainer strapped to your wrist (a nice one who doesn’t shout). The GPS helps you to monitor your training route and stats, while the PurePulse heart rate technology monitors your wrist-based heart rate readings, which is useful for tracking your calorie burn rate and optimising your training.
FitBits can be used in conjunction with the free downloadable Fitbit app, available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, or the free downloadable dashboard software for your PC or Mac.
The Fitbit app plots your progress into read charts and graphs, records workouts, share progress with family and friends, and scan barcodes so you can log food quickly.
The FitBit Blaze is available from www.currys.co.uk for £159.99.
Health Food Products
The Primal Pantry Paleo Bars
The Primal Pantry is the UK’s 1st range of Paleo Bars made with nuts, dried fruit, almond oil, and nothing else! The Paleo diet is based on eating only foods that would have been available to early humans, mainly meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit — no dairy, cereals, processed foods, and certainly no additives or preservatives.
With all this in mind you’d be forgiven for thinking that Primal Pantry’s bars must only be for flavour-hating health-geeks, but I’m happy to report that you’d be completely wrong. With taste combinations including coconut & macadamia, Brazil nut & cherry and hazelnut & raw cacao (chocolate!), these bars were more that yummy enough for my kids to steal for their packed lunches.
For athletic types, Primal Pantry also offer a range of protein bars that make great clean fuel for your workout. All the bars are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, making this a top brand whatever your dietary needs.
Individual bars can be bought from retailers including www.waitrose.com, www.hollandandbarrett.com and www.planetorganic.com, costing between £1.49 and £2.00. You could also try a taster pack of all 7 bars for £9.99 direct from www.primalpantry.com
Pulsin’ Snack Bars and Protein Powders
Pulsin’ is an award winning company which produces protein bars and powders using high quality natural ingredients (and no GM). They make great quick and healthy snacks for active mums, particularly those who are looking to get back into fitness.
Both the Beond Organic Snack Bars and Pulsin’ Protein Bars are delicious. They were a massive hit with the whole family — we went to war over the Organic Sour Cherry Bar. It took all my willpower to stop at just one, but they’re far more filling that a standard chocolate or cereal bar so they stopped me from reaching for the junk food.
Pulsin’s Protein Powders, on the other hand, are flavourless so they can be easily added to foods like soups and smoothies — perfect for a post-workout boost. They can also be used in lots of different recipes, such as these fudgy banana chocolate popsicles. With three natural whey proteins and five different vegan friendly natural powders to choose from, there’s something here to suit most dietary needs.
Beond Organic Snack Bars cost £8.49 for a box of 9 (94p per bar). The Pulsin’ Protein Bars and Raw Choc Brownies cost £13.59 for a box of 9 (£1.51 per bar), which is a fair price compared to similar products on the market. Pulsin’s Protein Powders cost from £5.39 for a 250g bag.
Udos Choice Ultimate Oil Blend
As you probably know by now, omega oils are crucial fatty acids that help keep our cells healthy. Eating oily fish is the most common way to get a regular dose of these body-protecting omega oils, but what if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? And what if you just don’t feel like eating edamame beans or walnuts?
Udo’s Choice have created an Ultimate Oil Blend that is packed full of omega-3,-6 and -9. The company says that their oils are carefully produced so that they are left undamaged by heat, light, oxygen, or processing. The Ultimate Oil Blend contains a whole range of perfectly balanced oils to give you you’re omega hit: flax seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed, coconut, evening primrose, soy lecithin (GMO-free), rice bran and oat bran germ oils, and tocotrienol (a form of Vitamin E).
The oil can easily be mixed into your (or your kid’s!) usual foods and smoothies. And as well as being suitable for vegetarian and vegans, it’s also certified organic. This is great product for healthy bodies, inside and out!
Udos Choice Ultimate Oil Blend costs £22.99 and is available from health food stores and online at www.udoschoice.co.uk