As the Autumn begins to take hold and we reach for foods to comfort and warm. Are we craving for more than just a hug in a mug? Should we be looking beyond the feeling this seasons bounty fills us with? Could we be lacking in certain key Vitamins & Minerals this time of year that can make us feel a little less happier than the sunny months do?
Here is my low down on what deficiencies can manifest into, how to spot them and my top Good Mood Foods to boost your levels of calm, stress resistance and overall happiness as the cold begins to bite.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Also known as the Sunshine Vitamin, Vitamin D levels often take a hit at this time of year due to their best source, natural sunshine. As the lack of natural light takes it toll a lack of Vitamin D can cause a condition called SAD Syndrome (seasonal affective disorder) and subsequently the following:
Difficulty thinking clearly
To mention just a few!
Vitamin D is super important for helping the body to absorb and maintain calcium, for promoting cell and bone growth and reducing inflammation which is key in disease prevention.
Vitamin D intake can be even more of an issue during the darker months if you are Vegan due to plant based food sources being limited to purposely grown Mushrooms and fortified foods (nut milks, butters etc).
For none vegan foods, the highest sources are Oily Fish, Beef and Dairy.
Getting 15 minutes a day of direct sunlight without sunscreen is generally all that is needed to gain your daily allowance, however when that isn't possible due to cloudy / dull days or wet and cold weather, eating the correct foods listed above or supplementing with a Vitamin D vitamin is crucial to maintain levels of this important Vitamin.
Magnesium often referred to as the relaxation mineral is key in over 300 important roles in the bodies daily processes. Primarily nerve functions, muscle functions, energy production, bone development, protein synthesis and maintaining normal heart rhythms. It also has huge part to play in the regulation of glucose and the metabolism of carbs and so is critically important for anyone with Diabetes as a lack of Magnesium may worsen insulin resistance.
Whilst long term deficiencies increase the risk of illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Osteoporosis short term deficiencies have a noticeable effect and can cause
Loss of Appetitie
To name just a few!
And whilst the above can add more stress into your life, the additional stress itself can cause further loss of Magnesium from the bodies cells into your blood plasma to create a calming effect and counteract the effects of adrenalin and other stress hormones so its important to include Magnesium rich foods in your diet
Heres a list of easy ones to include daily:
Raw Cacao - My Favourite!
Chlorella - My Favourite!
Or an Epsom salt bath!
Vitamin b12 Deficiency
Many people don't get enough B12, especially if you are Vegan as it isn't in hardly any non fortified plant based foods and Vitamin B12 is essential for health and many important functions in the body. Its primary function is red blood cell and DNA production and as it cannot be made in the body and it does need to be consumed regularly via meat, milk, cheese or eggs.
If you are a vegan or Veggie who doesn't eat enough of the above fortified foods such as Nut Milks, Butters, Marmite, Nutritional Yeast and Grains along with Chlorella which also ticks many other dense nutritional boxes and is my go to source of b12. You can buy Chlorella Tablets from both our Hanley and Newcastle Stores in pure 100% Pure Organic Pressed Form for £18.99 for 400! (shameless plug!)
A lack in b12 can present itself in many ways but these are the most common:
Lack of Memory
Lower Concentration levels and brain ability in general
Pins and Needles
Weakness and Fatigue
Loss of Appetite
To mention but a few!
Increasing Vitamin & Mineral rich foods as part of your everyday diet is a great way of ensuring you are getting everything your body needs to function well and stay healthy. You can also take a supplement if you are concerned you are getting enough, however these should be taken alongside food and used as per their instructions. Food should always be the primary source of supply, having so many other key nutrients contained within them. Supplements should never be a food replacement. If you are concerned about deficiencies, visit your GP who could arrange a blood test to look at your levels of essential Vitamins and Minerals.
Written by Gemma Bloor
Director of Nutrition at Rawr Juice & Superfood Bar Ltd