Tag Archive | nutrition

Vitamin D

This post will be the start of a new series of blog posts about vitamins and minerals, about their function in the body, sources and benefits. Due to the time of the year and some articles I came across in newspapers and other media, I would like to start this series of posts with Vitamin D.

But why do we need vitamin D and what are the health benefits?

Vitamin D has several important functions within the body, but mostly promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate and therefore has a direct impact on bone and tooth health. Additionally, together with Calcium vitamin D can prevent osteoporosis. Furthermore, according to leading scientists, vitamin D shows breast, colon and immune health.

What are sources of vitamin D?

According to the NHS, most of the vitamin D is produced under the skin when exposed to sunlight. However, this is not the only source. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) in the US, vitamin D can be also found in the following foods:

  • oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • eggs
  • milk
  • fortified cereals

Sardines at Amanzimtoti in June 2007

However, with a balanced diet and enough sun exposure it is possible to maintain a healthy amount of vitamin D in our bodies.

Who might be at risk not having enough vitamin D?

According to the ODS, they are certain groups of people who are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.

  • breastfed infants
  • elderly people
  • people with dark skin
  • people with a lack of sun exposure
  • obese people

Looking at all the above facts that I have obtained from various reliable sources, it seems like that people living in Britain might be one of the risk groups to have a vitamin D deficiency, because I am sure that there are not many people who eat the above mentioned foods regularly and get enough sun exposure during the autumn and winter month. Therefore, why not give it a try with supplements…

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Phytonutrients – eating colourful

Healthy eating is probably one of the most discussed topics in the past 2 decades. The media and scientists constantly come up with new things to avoid and other things to do. Additionally, we have been taught about vitamins, antioxidants, 5-a-day and many more, which became words most of us understood and know. In recent years, some of you might have heard about a new term in healthy eating – phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, which according to Wikipedia “are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. The term is generally used to refer to those chemicals that may affect health, but are not established as essential nutrients.”
But what does it mean for our diet? It means that it is recommended to eat a balanced diet based on fruit and vegetables. In the UK, the NHS recommends to eat 5-a-day, which is based on a suggestion from the WHO (World Health Organisation) to eat at least 400g of fruit and vegetables each day. The 5-a-day project is widely spread and you can find labelling on many products in supermarkets and even in some restaurants. However, according to the BBC the average for the UK is about 2 to 3 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, which is still considerable short of the target. In the US, the National Cancer Institute suggests to eat even more plant-based food and recommends 5 to 9 portions a day to prevent diet related diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes. According to the movie Food Matters, some nutritionists believe that the most common diseases that amount to about three-quarters of all death are based on an unhealthy lifestyle and could be healed by turning to a health and balanced diet. But the pharmaceutical industry does not want us to know as there is no money to make from healthy people.
Additionally, Nutrilite Health Institute looked at the intake from fruit and vegetables in regards to phytonutrients and recommends to eat colourful to get the best out of your fruits and vegetables intake a day. To make it easier fo the consumer, they grouped most fruit and vegetables into these 5 colours: red, purple, white, green and orange. Please find below a list of examples for each colour group:

Red Fruits & Vegetables

  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Red Apples
  • Pomegranate
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes

Purple Fruits & VegetablesVegetables by rightee, on Flickr

  • Black Currants
  • Eggplant
  • Plums
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
Green Fruits & Vegetables
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Green Beans
  • Soy beans
  • Green Tea
  • Green Peppers

White Fruits & VegetablesVegetables by jackol, on Flickr

  • Pears
  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • White Kidney Beans
  • Horseradish
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions

 Orange Fruits & Vegetables

  • Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Lemons
  • Passion Fruit
  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Papaya

For more information about the phytonutrients and the health benefit of each group, please visit Nutrilite. If you are not sure if you are eating enough fruit and vegetables in the correct balance, please visit Nutrilite.com/color to make a free online ‘Daily Phytonutrient Snapshot’. Really great tool and I promise that it will surprise you.

But how can we eat even more fruit and vegetables when we are not even managing 5-a-day? Is it possible to have a busy, but healthy lifestyle? I can recommend to use plant-based vitamin supplements that will give you vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients additionally to your healthy and balanced diet, but it has to be said that it is no substitution, merely a little aid to make it easier for people who have a busy lifestyle.

Let me know, what you think about the subject. Are you eating your 5-a-day or even more? How do you make it fit into your lifestyle? Are you taking supplements?

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