Is it time to supplement?
Being healthy often takes much more than simply being conscious of what you eat and how often you exercise. At the heart of staying illness-free is maintaining strong levels of all the keys vitamins and nutrients spread across the food pyramid, and doing that can be decidedly more difficult.
A lack of certain vitamins can cause you more harm than you think, so we’ve put together six of the most common vitamins people are low in and how you can start increasing your daily intake…
Having a good level of folate or folic acid in your system is extremely important. As you age, your concentration of folate in your system decreases and your body tends to absorb less. Folic acid is critical to reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Folic acid is also extremely important for pregnant women to have in their system. Foods rich in folate include green vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes, avocados, brussel sprouts, spinach and sunflower seeds.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine and can be found in fruit, green vegetables, grains and legumes, fish, chicken and red meat. Processing and cooking food can reduce its amount of Vitamin B6 by up to 50 per cent, hence people with a diet that includes lots of highly processed foods may find they are deficient. So when possible eat foods that are rich in B6 raw. Your body doesn’t store excess B6, so foods that contain the vitamin need to be a regular part of your diet, particularly since they are responsible for brain development and the formation of red blood cells.
3. Vitamin B12
Similar to Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 is not stored in the body and needs to be a regular part of your diet, particularly since it is responsible for your red blood cell formation and energy levels. Symptoms such as tiredness, loss in appetite, blurred vision, shortness of breath or heart palpitations can indicate low B12 levels. Vitamin B12 can be found in proteins, particularly those with animal origin. They include meat, eggs, milk and cheese, hence vegans can often be deficient in B12 and should consider taking a supplement.
4. Vitamin D
A US study shows that 25 per cent of us are not getting enough Vitamin D in our systems which is surprising since it is relatively simple to attain, with sun exposure and exercise being the best natural sources of Vitamin D. The vitamin is important for growing and maintaining your muscles, strong bones and general health and small amounts can be found in fish and eggs, however it is difficult to gain enough Vitamin D from food alone so getting out and about in the sun for a few minutes each day is essential.
Iron is extremely important to your health since its main role is to ensure the oxygen is transported to your blood system. Although we only need a small amount daily (1mg for men and 1.5mg for women, particularly when menstruating), almost one third of the world is iron deficient. This is due to the way our bodies absorb iron, doing so in small portions. So we need to eat a far greater amount to ensure we meet the daily requirement. Wholegrain and breakfast cereals as well as both red and white meat are good sources of iron.
Estimated to be the most popular nutrient people are deficient in, low amounts of magnesium can cause multiple side effects including tiredness, muscle cramps and poor sleep. Magnesium also acts as an activating agent for both vitamins B and D, so there is no chance of absorbing these critical vitamins without it. As well as this, studies have shown magnesium to be beneficial in treating and preventing everything from asthma to diabetes, high-blood pressure and migraines. It’s found in plentiful amounts in nuts, fish and meat, as well as whole grains, tofu, potatoes and green vegetables.
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