Winter Wellness

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Winter is a tricky time, the cold icy wind dries out our skin and for want of staying warm we don’t leave the house as often as we should to exercise in the great outdoors. This puts a lot of us into gyms where we put ourselves at risk to infection, colds, flu and the rest. However, if you look after yourself then you can get through these colder, darker months, relatively unscathed.

A lot of finding the perfect health comes down to diet, picture your body like a car; it will only run well if you put the right fuel in. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of essential vitamins and minerals that you need to incorporate into your meals. It’s always best to try and introduce the vitamins through the food you eat rather than via supplements, but if you struggle with time for cooking, supplements are the next best thing just make sure you seek professional advice first.

Vitamin C

Possibly the most commonly consumed and well-known vitamin; vitamin C is in everything from fruit to Berocca to keep us on the fit and healthy road. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means that if we don’t use what we eat that day, our body just gets rid of it, we don’t store it. This means we need to be getting a healthy dose of vitamin C every single day.

Benefits: The health benefits of vitamin C include; prevention and treatment of the common cold, improvement of collagen production in the skin and has also been shown to help prevent cancer and strokes. Essentially, vitamin C helps protect cells and keep them healthy so anything to do with healing and protection requires a good dose of vitamin C.

How much do you need? The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 40 milligrams (mg) for adults, there is around 53.2mg in a large orange so it's not a huge amount. To get vitamin C into your diet you just need to remember to eat your 5-a-day, fruit and vegetables are the best source of vitamin C that you can combine in your balanced diet.

Iron

Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia which means your body is suffering from an overall reduction in red blood cells. Anaemia symptoms vary from having a pale complexion to suffering from tiredness and shortness of breath. You can be tested for anaemia with a simple blood test.

Benefits: Keeping your iron levels up will ensure you have plenty of energy and a better athletic performance overall. You are also likely to recover better from any injuries if you consume the correct amount of iron.

How much do you need? To prevent anaemia and stay fit and healthy, the RDA for iron in adult males is 8mg and 18mg for women because of menstruation. However, if you’re pregnant, you should up your iron levels to 27mg. You can make sure your diet is rich in iron by consuming dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale, beef liver or mince, eggs, dark chocolate, blueberries, tomatoes and cashew nuts. There is around 2.7mg of iron in a portion of spinach, so you need to be eating more than just one portion of veg to get your RDA.  

Vitamin A

 Perhaps a slightly less commonly thought of vitamin, you’ll find vitamin A taking care of your overall health, including your vision.

Benefits: Vitamin A is synthesised by the body and used by the cells to keep your skin and lining healthy such as the skin inside your nose! Vitamin A also helps your immune system fight disease and it’s vitamin A that will help you see in the dark.  

How much do you need? Vitamin A can cause harmful effects if you take too much, so it’s important your stick to the RDA of just 0.7mg a day for men and 0.6mg a day for women. You should be able to get all of the vitamin A you need from your diet by eating; cheese, eggs, oily fish, liver, milk or yoghurt.

Vitamin E

You’ll see skin care that contains vitamin E, and most lip balms promote their high levels of the vitamin. So as you’ve probably guessed, vitamin E helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes as well as give the immune system a boost.

Benefits: Vitamin E is a fat soluble nutrient and when it breaks down in the body, it acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals. Vitamin E deficiency is rare because it is found in most people’s day to day diet. When it comes to skincare, the idea is that the vitamin E will block free radicals from damaging the skins surface therefore slowing down the aging process and protecting skin from pollution damage. It can also be used on sensitive skin as an anti-inflammatory.

How much do you need? You need to consume 4mg/day as a man or 3mg/day as your RDA. Good sources of food include plant oils such as those you cook with, nuts and seeds and cereal products.

Selenium

Funnily enough selenium is a mineral found in soil but can have a really positive effect on the metabolism.

Benefits: Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain the normal functions of the thyroid, thereby assisting the metabolism. Selenium also helps with normal spermatogenesis in men; the production of sperm.

How much do you need? This essential mineral can be found in tuna, prawns, salmon, Brazil nuts, asparagus and sardines amongst others. You should take up to around 50mcg of selenium each day by consuming a balanced diet.

Riboflavin (B2)

 Oh what a joy chapped lips are in the winter. Sometimes it seems there’s no relief, and the chapstick addiction becomes very real. Well, riboflavin could be all you’re missing in your life for mistletoe ready beautifully soft lips.

Benefits: You need riboflavin for proper development and functioning of your biggest organ, the skin. It also helps with the lining of the digestive tract and keeps your blood cells healthy.

How much do you need? Adults should be consuming a RDA of 1.3mg of Riboflavin daily. Foods that are rich in this vitamin include free-range eggs, offal (kidneys and liver), lean meats and milk.

As well as all of these magical vitamins and minerals, you need to make sure you’re getting a good dose of essential fatty acids and most importantly, staying hydrated. Cups of tea are fine but make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in between the unlimited caffeine!

While you’re here, take a moment to remember that anyone can get ill, especially at this time of year, disease just isn’t biased. However, with the right Private Medical Insurance you can get the help you need a lot faster. Visit our website for more information: www.generalandmedical.com

Get a quote today 


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About the author

Georgie Fenn, is our brilliant Content Marketing Executive here at General & Medical