Key Winter Vitamins and Minerals for Cold Season Survival!

September 1st, 2010

Key Winter Vitamins and Minerals for Cold Season Survival!:

The only vitamin our body can produce naturally is vitamin D, and only with the aid of sunlight. All other vitamins and supplements must be obtained from food or dietary supplementation. In winter, sunlight and fresh food are harder to come by which may mean that a good quality food supplement is the answer, but which one is right for you:

Vitamin A –

Helps maintain healthy skin, eyes, strong bones and teeth. The best natural sources come from liver, eggs, cheese, yoghurt and red or yellow fruit and vegetables such as carrots and apricots. A deficiency in zinc or iron in your diet will also deplete your vitamin A levels. However Pregnant women and those wishing to become pregnant should not take vitamin A supplements except under the advice of a doctor or antenatal clinic.

The B Vitamins –

These are a whole group of vitamins often referred to as B Complex because they are usually grouped together in foods. They are needed to convert carbohydrates into energy, to help metabolise fats and proteins and for the functioning of our brains and nerves. They can be taken as a balanced supplement or as a more targeted specific B vitamin. Unfortunately our bodies cannot store B vitamins, and as nicotine, caffeine, refined sugars and alcohol deplete this group of vitamins, a daily supplement may be required.

Vitamin C –

Vitamin C must be obtained from our food as our bodies cannot make this vitamin. It is required for growth and healthy functioning of our body tissues including gums, blood vessels, bones and teeth and combines with Iron in our food. It is especially helpful in the winter months when are bodies need a boost. Vegetables are a good source of vitamin C especially when eaten raw, but our stores of vitamin C are reduced when alcohol and nicotine are consumed. Vitamin C can be taken as a supplement either as an active form, ascorbic acid or as a more easily digested form (buffered) such as Calcium Ascorbate.

Vitamin D

The easiest way for our bodies to manufacture vitamin D is by exposing the body to sunlight, whereby the oils in the skin convert sunlight to vitamin D. It is also found in some foods such as vegetable spreads, however for those people who spend little time in the sun and of course in winter a supplement may be required. It is needed for the conversion of calcium and phosphorous in maintaining strong bones and teeth, without it calcium cannot be absorbed. Evidence also suggests that vitamin D is very important for maintaining our immune system and stimulating our basic immune responses and for this reason is one of the most important nutrients that the body needs for overall health.

Vitamin E –

Widely known as an antioxidant acting to protect body tissue and skin against free radical damage. It can also be used to topically soothe the skin. Because it is a soluble fat it can be stored in the body, but may be supplemented when the body has been overexposed to free radical damage such as sunburn.

Folic Acid –

This is part of the B complex and is needed for the production of red blood cells and foetal development. Pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant should supplement their diet with at least 400mg per day. Most green vegetables are a good source.

Niacin –

Also known as vitamin B3. It has an important roll in breaking down carbohydrates, fats and protein and converting them into energy and the building blocks of tissue. As with all the B vitamins they work best when combined as a complex compound.

Calcium –

The most common mineral in your body, helping the body maintain strong bones and teeth, but also for the contraction and relaxation of muscles, the transmission of nerve impulses and the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Vitamin D also helps calcium absorption. Natural sources of Calcium and vitamin D such as Oily Fish are good as they are easily absorbed by the body.

Magnesium –

The second most common mineral in the body vital for hundreds of metabolic functions. When taking a Magnesium supplement it is best in combination with Calcium and is recognised as helping muscle contraction, heart rhythm and nerve impulses.

Iron –

Is mostly used when enabling the blood to deliver oxygen from our lungs to our cells. About 60% of our iron is found in the blood, the rest is distributed in our liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscles. Women who are menstruating heavily are often deficient in iron and may be advised to supplement their diet.

Essential Fatty Acids –

These are the fats that are bodies cannot manufacture themselves, but are essential for various bodily functions. Omega 3 and 6 can’t be made by the body but Omega 9 can be generated by the body. When taking as a food supplement it is important to take Essential Fatty Acids in the correct balanced ratio.