The food supplement business is booming. No where is this more evident than on the internet where thousands of companies compete to offer the latest cure all’s and at the best discounted prices. Americans will spend $30 billion this year alone on anti-oxidants. Europe is catching up fast with growth in the bio actives market reaching 35% last year. All very good news for the manufacturers and large multinationals who have jumped on the band wagon, but what about the unfortunate consumer who wants to augment their nutrition with a supplement, but doesn’t want to waste half their life searching through thousands of identical brands, gaining a PhD in nutritional studies along the way, before purchasing that all important anti-oxidant, which promises to be the elixir they have been searching for all along.
The answer, in a nutshell, is not in fact in a nutshell, it may in fact, be in an oyster shell. There are few supplements on the market that contain the variety and quality of micro nutrients, in the one place, as oyster extract.
Oyster extract is the dried meat of the oyster, usually but not always excluding the shell. It is then powdered and placed in a capsule or made into a tablet and packaged ready for oral consumption. Assuming it is manufactured with due regard for the time of harvest, it contains all 59 of the trace elements needed by the body, vitamins, amino acids, taurine, omega 3 & 6 fish oils and it is the highest natural source of the trace element zinc. Only oyster extract harvested at times of the year when zinc potency is high can boast this claim, and very few of the companies making oyster extract recognise this.
Oyster extract has been used for centuries in eastern medicine for liver cleansing and healthy male sexual functioning. In recent decades however our knowledge of micro nutrients has grown. Research in the last 50 years into the role of zinc in human biochemistry has drastically increased the uses to which oyster extract can be put in human nutrition.
We now know that zinc controls over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. These enzymes govern the way we look, feel and think. Everything from immunity, to sexual health, to skin condition and DNA synthesis rely on the correct levels of zinc for proper physiological functioning. However oyster extract also contains all of the 59 trace elements the body needs, vitamins, fish oils, amino acids and good levels of taurine. It is this combination of essential nutrients that make it a whole food and a food supplement all in one.
One of the unique aspects of oyster extract powder is that it contains not only high levels of zinc but also significant levels of zinc’s co-factors. These include copper and manganese. This is a very important fact as taking zinc on its own can lead to imbalances in other trace elements in the body as they can have a negative feedback effect on each other. For example taking zinc on its own can lead to copper deficiency. Oyster extract has both elements in a balanced form, just as nature intended.
The various brands!
Not all oyster extract powders are the same. Most use oysters harvested when the oyster’s meat yield is high and this is when the zinc concentration is lowest. These tend to be the cheaper ones from New Zealand, China and Japan. Water quality from the growing areas is also something not easily traced in countries who do not have trade agreements with the US and Europe. Other oyster extracts are in pill form so half the weight is binding agents and excipients with no nutritional value. Some brands actually include the shell, which means there is very little extract in the product and even less potency.