Migraine Talk
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.

Baffled by vitamins? Here’s your step by step supplement guide to the winter ahead

Go down

Baffled by vitamins? Here’s your step by step supplement guide to the winter ahead Empty Baffled by vitamins? Here’s your step by step supplement guide to the winter ahead

Post by Tee on Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:02 am

By Gabrielle Fagan
Thursday October 13 2011

WINTER’S approaching and it's important to be fighting fit to ward off seasonal ailments and germs.

But it can be difficult to be sure whether our diet is giving us the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and whether supplements are necessary and, if so, which ones match our needs.

"People often say to me, 'Why do we bother with vitamins and supplements? Our grandmothers never did'," says Dr Pixie McKenna, who's written best-selling book The Handbag Doctor and appears on Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies.

"But what our grandmothers ate would now reside exclusively in the expensive organic aisle of a supermarket. In those days, it wasn't uncommon to eat in the afternoon what was in the soil in the morning, so supplements simply weren't needed."

Nowadays, she points out, we have to contend with a range of hazards from pesticides sprayed on food crops, and fast foods, as well as the effect on our systems of stress often caused by our time-poor lifestyles.

"We lead different lives and we simply haven't the time or resources to live like granny did, so we may at times need a helping hand," she says.

"But do remember also that the best route to becoming bionic is to eat your five fruit and veg a day, exercise, drink one or two litres (two to four pints) of water a day and de-stress. Contentment is a tonic in itself!"

Here's Dr Pixie McKenna' s guide to the must-have vitamins and minerals essential for top-to-toe health:


"Zinc helps with our immunity, which is probably why it's found in cold and flu remedies," says McKenna.

"It's also needed for growth development, wound healing, chemical reactions and bizarrely our sense of taste and smell.

"Our systems don't have storage space for zinc, so we need to take it daily."

SYMPTOMS OF ZINC DEFICIENCY: recurrent infections, hair loss, itchy skin, poor wound healing and white marks on nails. Those who are breastfeeding, alcohol dependent or have sickle cell disease are more likely to be deficient. It's not offered as a standard blood test but can be tested for if, for example, you have unexplained hair loss or taste disruption.

GOOD SOURCES: Eating cereals, she believes, is probably the best way to source zinc on a daily basis but other food such as beef, crab, cashews, beans, cheese and oysters contain it too.


"Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency worldwide. Women who have heavy periods, are pregnant, or have a chronic illness have a greater demand for iron," says McKenna.

"We need it to make haemoglobin, the 'taxi' which carries energy around the body. If you drink lots of tea be aware that it contains tannins - the things that stain your teeth - which interfere with iron absorption."

SYMPTOMS OF IRON DEFICIENCY: Tiredness, lethargy, poor concentration, poor appetite, pale skin, dark circles under eyes.

GOOD SOURCES: You can get iron in two ways - through diet or supplementation. It's found in red meat, fortified cereals, white beans lentils, spinach, and bread.

"If you take an iron supplement, start at half the recommended daily dose for the first few days to limit the potential side-effects of diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain," advises McKenna.

Taking it with vitamin C, she says, such as a drink of fresh orange juice, aids absorption.


"This has over three hundred functions in the body," says McKenna.

"It helps to keep the heart beating, the immune system functioning and the nerves, muscles and bones healthy.

SYMPTOMS OF MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY: It's rare to see magnesium deficiency, but the symptoms would be nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.

"It's more often the result of another condition such as kidney problems than a lack of magnesium," she says.

"If you have Crohn's disease, take water tablets, or an alcoholic, you could need supplements. They're also thought to help with pre-menstrual syndrome and migraine."

GOOD SOURCES: Green vegetables, especially spinach, nuts such as almonds, wholemeal bread, and water all contain it, and the harder the tap water, the greater the magnesium level.


"There are estimates that as many as one in three of us are running low in it, and 20pc of us could be deficient in it," says McKenna.

"It's prime function is in the absorption of calcium to build up the bones and mineralise the teeth. That's why it's often taken with calcium supplementation.

"When the sun is out, the body produces vitamin D, but very few foods provide it.

"The elderly are particularly at risk (of low levels) and those who rarely see the sun, and pregnant women and patients with Crohn's disease may also have low levels of this vitamin."

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY: It's linked to osteoporosis, and has an association with chronic fatigue, muscular aches and pains, irritability, depression and 'feeling tired all the time'.

GOOD SOURCES: "This might be one to supplement, especially in winter," she says.

"Be aware, however, that too much vitamin D can make you feel sick and weak, and you can lose your appetite and lose weight. Taken with calcium, it can increase your risk of kidney stones."

As a rule, toxicity results from excessive supplementation, she says. It may be better to have regular exposure to sunlight and eating foods such as fish, in particular tuna, taking cod liver oil, and including orange juice, cereal and milk in a diet, all of which contain the vitamin.


"This is my favourite vitamin," says McKenna.

"This vitamin's vital for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body and helps keep nerves healthy.


I love you “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” Buddha[/color][/i]

Posts : 1887
Join date : 2011-04-14
Age : 50
Location : Whitstable, Kent


Back to top Go down

Back to top

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum