Prevent illness with Vitamins and Minerals

As the clocks go back this weekend we’re falling into the darker mornings and early dark evenings and you need to be looking after yourself on every level.  Not just with good food but taking the right supplements to ensure a healthy winter for you and your family.

Vitamin C

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So lets look at the vitamins – C is the obvious starter.  Foods rich in vitamin C will definitely help you through the winter.  Not just oranges but spinach, dark leafy vegetables like kale, have got masses of Vitamin C.  Papaya, pineapple, strawberries, mango and kiwi are all vitamin C rich.

Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds and flu, but it can reduce the length and severity of symptoms. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. This means it protects the body against disease including heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for repairing tissues needed for growth and development. It is also essential for strengthening the immune system and maintaining good eyesight.

 You can find Vitamin A in milk, fortified margarines, egg yolks, liver, fatty fish (herrings, tuna, pilchards and sardines), carrots, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, mango and apricots

If you take Vitamin A in supplement form do be careful as too high a dose can prove toxic and cause problems with the liver and complications during pregnancy. The recommended daily intake is 600 microgrammes for women and 700 microgrammes for men.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant protecting cell membranes from damage.  Nuts and oils are an excellent source of vitamin E. Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach and cabbage) and cereals are also rich in vitamin E.

Deficiency is rare since vegetable oils are rich sources of vitamin E. The recommended daily intake for adults is 10mg.

Vitamin D

If I was pressed to name a favourite I guess mine has to be Vitamin D, because one of the best places to get it is sunshine.  However if like me you live in the Northern Hemisphere there isn’t much chance of that outside of the Summer months so we have to resort to other ways of getting this very essential vitamin into our systems.

 Vitamin D is effective for the absorption of calcium and the prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults which in plain English means it’s great for bones.  Healthy bones need Vitamin D2 and D3.

It’s found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mackerel and with these fish you get the added bonus of Omega 3.  .

So this is one vitamin that everyone needs, (not that you don’t need them all of course) especially children (for growing and strengthening their bones and gums) and older women who are past menopause as their ability to manufacture collagen decreases so their bones can become brittle. A side effect of Vitamin D deficiency can be sleep disorders, therefore reversing that means benefits of improved sleep.   If you’re not eating the correct foods that supply this vitamin and you don’t get the sunshine and light, then you must take a good quality supplement.

vitamins 1Vitamin K

Vitamin K – closely linked to Vitamin D as it also helps keeps bones healthy and is important for blood clotting which means it helps heal wounds.  Found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli, vegetable oils and cereal grains.

 Magnesium

Symptoms of poor magnesium intake can include muscle cramps, facial tics, poor sleep and chronic pain. It pays to ensure that you get adequate magnesium before signs of deficiency occur so you can see what a vital mineral this is to have in your daily diet.    Found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, soybeans, quinoa, cashews, sunflower seeds as well as other green leafy vegetables

Magnesium will help with Vitamin D and calcium being used properly in the body.   A deficiency can lead to osteoporosis as well as various other bone related illnesses.  Regular intake of magnesium can help with relieving tension headaches and migraine.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium also helps our blood clot. About 99% of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones and teeth. Each day, we lose calcium through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces, but our bodies cannot produce new calcium.  That’s why it’s important to try to get calcium from the food we eat.

And don’t worry if you don’t eat dairy.  There are loads of foods that are calcium rich for you to choose from.  Again green leafy vegetables especially collard greens, nuts, salmon, sardines.  And try the alternatives to cows milk like almond milk or rice milk.  A lot of these have added calcium but do read the labels anyway and make sure there’s nothing in them that might affect you.

 Iron

Iron is an essential nutrient for growth and development and plays a critical role in transferring oxygen around the body. It constitutes a vital part of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Haemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.

The mineral also plays a part in energy production, muscle function, DNA synthesis and the immune system. We get most of the iron we need from food and our body carefully monitors its levels of iron; absorbing more when demand is high and less when stores are adequate. Iron is stored primarily in the bone marrow and liver. Iron rich foods are red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, those dark leafy vegetables again (!)  and dried fruit.

Have a balanced diet

So you can see that if you ensure you’re getting a varied diet, keep off the processed foods because of all the additives, sugars etc that are definitely not good for you.

So combat Winter healthily by eating well, staying active and getting those vitamins and minerals.

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