Posts by Lay Yong Ooi

Iron Supplements: Do You Need Them?


A poll result published on 26 Nov 2015 indicates that nearly 50% of females in Singapore may not be aware that they have iron deficiency. Doctors said that symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, may point to iron deficiency – but most people may put them down to stress and/or lack of sleep.

Iron deficiency is more often found in women who have heavy menstruations or are pregnant. While iron supplements may be readily available, doctors recommend a balanced diet as the best way to maintain healthy iron levels.

iron supplements

How about the reverse – iron overload?

In the article published by PhysiciansCommittee, iron is called a double-edged sword.

The body requires iron for healthy blood cells but beyond a certain level, iron becomes a dangerous substance as it acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once the excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Because of this, research studies have shown that higher amounts of iron in the blood mean higher risk of cancer.

In spite of advertising from health supplement manufacturers, iron overload exists and the tendency is higher for men and for women after menopause.


Major contributors to iron excess are taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain iron. Some people may be taking certain multi-vitamins without knowing that there is iron in it. Other factors include eating excessive red meat and to some extent, processed foods that have iron added.

It was mentioned earlier that women with heavy menstruations may have iron deficiency. The reverse may be true for women after menopause or women who don’t menstruate regularly. Which explains why men have a higher tendency of iron overload – because they don’t menstruate!

Hence, it is prudent to have your doctor check your iron level before taking any supplements containing iron.

What are the symptoms of iron overload?

  • stomach pain
  • heart palpitations or chest pains
  • unexplained weakness
  • joint pain
  • unexplained fatigue

joint pain

The test used to check one’s iron level is known as ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when the body needs it. Ferritin is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells. Thus, if a person has an iron overload, it may take months before the normal level can be reached.

It’s an inexpensive test, likely costing less than a bottle of iron supplements, and it can help ensure that you do not over or under-consume iron.

For more information on integrated health management, visit www.vitalay.earth

Contributed by LayYong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


The Straits Times “Women not aware of iron deficiency”, Nov 26 2015

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Iron: The Double Edged Sword, www.pcrm.org

Photo credits: Pixabay and JustSaying.Asia

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Why Do I Get The Cold Often Even When I Get Enough Exercise?

The common cold is the most frequently occurring disease in the world, and is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from work, school and yes, from your fitness classes.

There is a hidden fact about why people are often infected with the common cold.

Some of the ways to ward off communicable diseases like the cold, is to exercise, eating healthy and washing your hands as often as possible to minimise the chances of getting sick. Yet, some of you who exercise, eat healthy are often affected by the common cold.

Why?  The simple fact is you could be deficient in Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin that has powerful effects on several systems throughout the body. For example, muscles need it to move.

Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D is a hormone (the medical community continued to use the term vitamin, even after it has been found to be a hormone – habits are difficult to change!) and every cell in your body has a receptor for it. Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common. According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in US are deficient.

What about Singapore or people living in the tropics? One would think low Vitamin D is not an issue given that there is sunshine all year round. The surprising thing is that a large majority of people does not have sufficient Vitamin D, one key reason being, most people live in modern cities and spend most of their time indoors.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

  1. Getting sick and infected often, especially with colds or the flu.
  2. Fatigue and tiredness.
  3. Bone and back pain.
  4. Hair loss.
  5. Muscle pain

Some people might attribute any of these symptoms to aging and live with it but you don’t have to.

It takes a simple test to find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D. If yes, you can correct it.

But read on. There is more to Vitamin D than we know. Research has shown Vitamin D is important in preventing other illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.

prostate cancer

Vitamin D and Bones

Studies have shown that elderly individuals with low vitamin D are more likely to develop fractures and higher doses of vitamin D intake can reduce the likelihood of fractures

Vitamin D and the Heart

Studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are seen in people with heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. There is some evidence that vitamin D may have a role in regulating blood pressure and preventing artery damage.

Vitamin D and Diabetes risk

Vitamin D levels also have an association with the increased incidence or likelihood of developing diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Vitamin D and the Immune System

It has been established by research that vitamin D is crucial to activate the body’s immune defences and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin – the killer cells of the immune system will not be able to react and fight off infections in the body.

Next time, ask your doctor to include the Vitamin D test to determine that you’re neither having too little nor too much of it.

For more about integrating health and fitness and be proactive in building optimum health, visit www.vitalay.earth.


Contributed by Lay Yong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defences – www.sciencedaily.com, March 8 2010, University of Copenhagen

Vitamin D keeps the doctor away, Heart Stroke & Cancer Centre www.shscentre.com; Dr Michael Lim

Photo credit: Pixabay and GIPHY

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I’ve have always wanted to do that!

Every four years with the Olympics, there are two events I am interested in – athletics and gymnastics. I started handstandwatching the gymnastics event when Nadia Comaneci became the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10.

I recalled the awe watching Nadia Comaneci and though I didn’t know her, she instantly became my hero. She was an inspiration to many people.

It was a dream to have that kind of physical strength and power and to be the center of attention. I believe most of us, if not all, has this emotional need to be significant – feeling unique, important or special. We express it differently though.

For me, it was my corporate career because I didn’t have the talent to pursue a sports-related career. By the way, I didn’t win any races when I was in school.

I continued to be active physically and over the years took up a variety of activities – running, hiking, aerobics, and step classes. In early 2000’s, I discovered Pilates and chose to become a Pilates teacher.

It is a fulfilling path for me – it challenges and allows me to grow both physically and mentally. It was tough to learn Pilates because I didn’t have any prior training, except being a student in group classes in the gyms.

Over the years, I enjoy making discoveries of how I can move better and feeling good about myself. Sometimes, it is hard to describe this feeling. My friend Jay calls it freedom. It is freedom of expression, of who I am and being confident of how I live my life – and yes, I want to be an inspiration to others. Don’t you?

Although practicing Pilates made me a lot stronger and mobile, I am always looking for what other people are practicing and teaching in the fitness and movement fields. I believe there are always practices and/or new discoveries that will add to my knowledge and growth. I am not limited to what I know and am comfortable with. I’d like to push and maybe feel uncomfortable once in a while.

Which is why I wanted to learn the handstand.

But I didn’t have much success in learning the skill, until about a year ago. Initially, I was learning it from a yoga class setting and I was asked to just kick up to the wall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it all. I didn’t know how. I was envious when I see other students being able to kick up to the wall. In big class settings, it was not feasible to receive appropriate coaching.

Then I realised it wasn’t enough to hold a handstand against a wall, it is being able to do a freestanding handstand. I become even more inspired. But how am I going to get there?

A year ago, I discovered GST, gymnastic strength training by Coach Sommer, the founder of GymnasticBodies.com and a long time National Team coach for the US Men’s gymnastics team.

The handstand is an amazing skill and is not just available to the gymnasts. This skill is possible to learn with proper progression training, time commitment, and, most importantly, consistency. One of the reason why I started BodyTree GST – a studio for adults to learn handstands and other gymnastics skills.

At BodyTree GST, we follow the progressions developed by Christopher Sommer – a proven method to learn this skill with quality, precision and without injuries. Read this article published on Shape – How to do Handstand without injuring yourself.

What are the benefits of acquiring this skill?

  • Build strength in the shoulders, upper back and core
  • Improve spatial awareness
  • Improve balance
  • A skill which will transfer over to other training, making you a better athlete and enhancing your physique.20160329_190836

As for me (right photo), I am still in my foundation work, and even with my years of fitness training, they are tough. The work exposes my weak areas especially my joints, tendons and ligaments in my shoulders – and reveals to me I will need to be patient. I am very confident the techniques will get me to where I want – a Free Standing Handstand.




LayYong is the co-founder and MD of BodyTreeGST, an affiliate of GymnasticBodies.

GymnasticBodies Singapore offers gymnastic strength training and we specialise in helping high achievers to have them looking and performing at their peak.

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