Winter Self-Care with Vitamins & Minerals

Continuing the theme from my last article that discussed how we might assess our individual levels of resilience and using various models gain a deeper understanding of how to create change to improve wellbeing. The following information is intended to explore how we can improve our diets using supplements through the winter months to improve and sustain a strong immune system. It is widely known that the immune system begins in the gut and that a healthy gut equals a healthy mind and body. Many of you will already be eating a varied and nutritionally balanced diet and with your digestive system working effectively there should be no need for supplementation with Vitamins and Minerals. However, with a combination of high stress levels, poor eating habits and the rise in living costs the consumption of quick fix, flavoursome Ultra-processed foods (UPFs industrially formulated edible substances derived from foods or synthesized from other organic sources) is increasing. Research and good common sense tells us to eat such products is not reflective of a nutritionally balanced diet. Children and the older population (who for a number of reasons may rely on ready meals that contain high levels of salt and/or sugar and numerous additives and preservatives ) are most at risk from experiencing symptoms resulting from poor nutrition. A lack of vitamins and minerals can affect many structures and functions of organs and systems of the body. To find out more information visit the NHS website To specifically support the immune system at this time of year and through the winter the NHS and the Dept of Health and Social Care recommend taking a  Vitamin D supplement  This particular vitamin is produced in the body in the presence of sunlight. It helps the absorption and metabolism of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus and Vitamin A. It is necessary for healthy bones and teeth and required for kidney function. It has also been shown to be useful in energy production and helping low mood. Good food source is oily fish and supplementation via Cod liver Oil. I would add that Vitamin C is recognised as having a stimulating effect on the immune system as well as being necessary for iron absorption, helping in wound healing, growth and repair of blood vessels, cells, gums, bones and teeth. Vitamin C can be obtained by eating a range of fruits and vegetables daily. Supplement available in powder, granules, tablets and capsules up to 1g per day. The mineral Zinc is often combined with Vit C and is the principal protector of the immune system. It is useful in prevention of symptoms associated with aging, deterioration of brain function and male fertility. Best food sources are oysters, meat, eggs and wholegrain products. Supplement 15-25mg per day. The mineral Selenium is the last but no means least necessary addition for a healthy immune system. It has also been shown in studies to help against age related diseases such as heart and circulatory diseases, cancer and arthritis and immune deficient conditions. It improves liver function maintains healthy eyes, skin and hair. Food sources include tuna fish wheatgerm/bran, onions, tomatoes, broccoli. Supplement 50-200mcg, to enhance absorption take with Vitamin E. If you feel unsure about what supplement to take you might feel happier to take a multi vitamin and mineral these contain a range of vitamins and minerals usually from A-Z in balanced dosages so there can be no fear of taking too much of any one ingredient and can be found in pharmacies and health-food shops. Please note to enable the immune system to remain strong be aware of your stress levels, work life balance, environment and family dynamics all have the ability to impact negatively on your mental health, quality of sleep and functioning of the digestive system and in turn your immunity and wellbeing. If you wish to discuss any of the information above or wish further guidance please visit my website and get in touch via email. Always happy to help