Guide to vitamins and minerals


As the winter months get nearer, most of us will be lacking in many of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

Being depleted of these essential minerals and vitamins can leave us feeling run-down, sluggish, unwell, irritable and leave us all more susceptible to other ailments and forms of illness.

 

Guide to Vitamins and minerals - Energy and Nutrition

 

Why Your Body Needs Vitamins and Minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients our body needs to enable it to function properly. Most people should get all the nutrients they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. However, after over-indulging on food, drink and staying out later than normal over the festive period, we are more susceptible to being rundown and ill.

Many common winter ailments such as colds, flu, dry flaky skin and the winter blues can be caused by vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Taking an appropriate vitamin and mineral supplement can help prevent some of these winter ailments as well as making you generally feel much better.

Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and can help keep colds and flu at bay. We tend to eat less fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C during winter months, so you can top up your vitamin C by taking a supplement and reduce your risk of colds and flu.

 

The Importance of Vitamin D in Winter

Vitamin D can also help boost the immune system and protect us from colds and flu as well helping our bodies to absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth.

Since our main source of Vitamin D comes from the body absorbing sunlight through the skin (and then converting it into Vitamin D), it is only natural that we tend to be lacking in Vitamin D during the long winter months when we have shorter days and longer nights.

The lack of natural sunlight in the winter months means that our bodies absorb less vitamin D, so it is important to be aware of, especially if you have a tendency to feel run down or low in the winter. To top up your vitamin D, you can either take a supplement, or go out for a walk when possible. 

 

Feeling Sluggish?

If you feel generally sluggish during the winter months, you may have low iron levels. This is especially common for women who have heavy periods. Eating foods rich in iron, such as leafy green vegetables and red meat can help boost your energy levels.

If you have low iron levels, it is likely that your vitamin A levels will also be low. Taking a supplement containing vitamin A can also help boost your energy as well as keeping your bones healthy in case you have a slip or fall in the cold winter conditions.

 

Dry Flaky Skin

Many people tend to find they get dry and flaky skin and nails during the winter. This can be a result of taking more hot baths and showers during the winter as well as low humidity which results in the skin not retaining moisture.

However, you may find that taking a supplement containing vitamin E or folic acid can help increase the moisture in your skin and nails and prevent them becoming dry and flaky.

 

SAD and Winter Blues
If you suffer from the ‘winter blues’ or have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) you may be lacking B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, or omega-3 fatty acids. Taking a supplement containing these can help boost your mood, reduce feeling under the weather and improve your mental focus.

There are many vitamin and mineral supplements available at your local Alphega Pharmacy, and your pharmacist will be able to recommend the most appropriate supplement for you.
 


What Vitamins and Minerals Should I Include in My Diet?

Vitamins:

Vitamin A Retinol
Promotes healthy eyes, skin and growth. 
 
Vitamin B1 Thiamine
Helps release energy from food and is important for brain function and can stimulate the appetite and help relieve tiredness.
 
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Helps release energy from food and promotes growth and healthy skin, hair and nails. 
 
Vitamin B3 Niacin
For a healthy nervous and digestive system function.
 
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid
Helps energy production, healthy functioning of the nervous system, wound healing and stress reduction
 
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine
Vital for the immune system, hormone balance and healthy skin.
 
Vitamin B9 Folic acid
B9 Folic Acid is a vital vitamin for maintaining a healthy heart. Important in blood-cell formation and development of the brain and nerves in unborn babies.
 
Vitamin B12 Cobalamin
Helps red blood cells form and is vital to the health of nerve tissue.
 
Vitamin C Ascorbic acid
Important for iron absorption, skin, bones and teeth; helps maintain the immune system. 
 
Vitamin D Calciferol
Helps in bone and tooth formation and aids the absorption of calcium.
 
Vitamin E Tocopherol
For good skin and immune system. As an antioxidant, it protects against cell damage and helps with DNA repair.
 
Vitamin H Biotin
Helps with healthy skin and important in protein and energy production. 
 
Vitamin K Phytomenadionne
Helps the body form healthy bones and teeth and essential for blood clotting.

 

 

Minerals:

Calcium
Helps maintain healthy bones and teeth. 
 
Chromium
Helps to regulate the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat. 
 
Copper
Helps the brain, muscles, development of blood cells, the immune system, iron absorption and nerve function.
 
Iodine
Helps regulate the body's energy production. 
 
Iron
Enables blood to carry oxygen around the body.
 
Magnesium
Helps with cell and energy production and healthy heart and liver function.
 
Manganese
Essential to many bodily processes: helps with the production of sex hormones, blood-clotting factors and antioxidant enzymes.
 
Phosphorus
Helps make energy available in the body.
 
Selenium
This powerful antioxidant helps protect against damage by free radicals and aids immune system functioning.
 
Zinc
Helps with immune system functioning, growth, wound healing and sperm health.
 
 
 
Why should I take vitamin supplements?
If you are eating fresh, healthy food that has been cooked from scratch, then vitamin supplements should not be necessary. But the reality is, we tend to eat less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

Food production methods can have an impact, too. Modern growing methods, longer food miles, storage over long periods and overcooking can all lower the nutritional value of what we eat.
 
People on more restricted diets may also be deficient in some vitamins and minerals making it difficult for the body to obtain what it requires from food alone. The elderly, as well as vegans, vegetarians and children who are fussy eaters, may therefore benefit from a vitamin and mineral supplement.
 
But, remember… supplements are exactly that - they are only intended to supplement a healthy diet. They should not replace regular, balanced meals. Vitamin and mineral supplements do not have an instant effect.
 
You may have to take them for several weeks (or even months) before you begin to notice any difference in how you feel.
 
 
 
 

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