THE 5 ESSENTIAL VITAMINS FOR STAYING HEALTHY AND FIT THIS WINTER

Ein Mann und eine Frau schneiden Gemüse auf einem Holzbrett

When temperatures drop, your risk of catching a cold increases. But how can you keep from getting sick? Get plenty of exercise, stay warm and eat a balanced diet. In today’s blog post, we will tell you which five vitamins are essential in winter and how you can avoid developing a vitamin deficiency.

lots of fruits on a table

1. VITAMIN D

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is not so uncommon. Especially in places with long, dark winters. Your body makes vitamin D (cholecalciferol) when your skin is exposed to sunlight. The lack of sunlight in winter often makes it hard for your body to produce enough vitamin D. Why is this fat-soluble vitamin so important for us? It strengthens our immune system and protects us from infections.

Daily requirement in the absence of sunlight: 20 mcg/day

THESE FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN D:

  • Fish (salmon, tuna & sardines)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Mushrooms

Note: If you already have a deficiency, you won’t be able to correct it by simply eating foods containing vitamin D. In this case, you need to see a doctor. A supplement might also be a good idea. In winter, you should get approx. 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day.

2. VITAMIN C

While Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can’t protect you from colds, it can shorten the length of time you are sick. If your body is low in vitamin C, it won’t be able to ward off germs as effectively as usual. Therefore, an adequate supply of vitamin C is crucial in winter!

Daily requirement: women 95 mcg/day, men 110 mcg/day

THESE FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN C:

  • Bell peppers (contain almost three times as much vitamin C as oranges)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Brassicas (kale & broccoli)
  • Leafy greens
  • Cranberries

Make sure to eat plenty of the abovementioned foods to avoid developing a vitamin C deficiency.

red and yellow pepper

3. FOLIC ACID

Folic acid is part of the B vitamin family. It is important for the growth and reproduction of cells and is therefore very important during pregnancy. It also plays an important role in DNA and RNA synthesis. This is why a lack of folic acid can weaken your immune system.

Pregnant women should definitely be taking folic acid, and it’s also a good idea for people suffering from intestinal disorders. Plus, alcoholics are at a much higher risk of becoming deficient in folic acid. In addition to getting help with this addiction, a folic acid supplement could also be a good idea.

Daily requirement: 300 mcg/day, pregnant women 550 mcg/day

THESE FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF FOLIC ACID:

  • Leafy greens (spinach & kale)
  • Beets
  • Legumes (beans & chickpeas)
  • Rolled oats
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Peanuts

4. VITAMIN A

Vitamin A (retinol) is a fat-soluble vitamin. Most people know that it is good for your vision, but it’s also important to get plenty of this vitamin in winter. Vitamin A deficiency has been associated witha reduced immune response and an increased risk of infection.

The human body is capable of producing vitamin A itself from beta-carotene (the precursor of the vitamin).

Daily requirement: women 0.8 mg/day, men 1 mg/day

THESE FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN A AND BETA-CAROTENE:

  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale & arugula)

a lady is frying two eggs

Good to know:

Foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins should always be eaten together with fat (e.g. vegetable oils).

5. VITAMIN E

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is also a member of the fat-soluble vitamin family. The vitamin is a potent antioxidant which strengthens the immune system and plays numerous roles in the body. It is said to help with a wide range of diseases (like cancer and arthritis) and the aging process. Your chances of developing a vitamin deficiency are low if you eat a balanced diet.

Daily requirement: women 12 mg/day, men 14 mg/day

THESE FOODS ARE GOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN E:

  • Nuts
  • Vegetable oils (wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil)
  • Whole grain products

TAKEAWAY:

If you eat a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent vitamin deficiencies in winter. However, if you are tired or sick a lot, it might be worth talking to a doctor. The doctor will draw a blood sample and then be able to tell you if you have a deficiency and what vitamin or mineral supplements you need to take.

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5 Ways Exercise Makes You Gorgeous

8 Ways Exercise Makes You Gorgeous

Working out isn’t all about dropping pounds or prepping for your next triathlon. Regular exercise also gives you a healthy, glowing look and an unmistakable va-va-voom that you just can’t get any other way.

Anyone who makes a habit of going to the gym, unfurling a yoga mat or hiking in the woods is privy to a secret known only to the physically active: The rewards of exercise extend far beyond slimming down or adding muscle tone. Dozens of subtle changes visibly revamp the body and the psyche in ways scientists are only beginning to understand.

Maybe your skin looks brighter, your step is springier or you’re more confident at work. Such small victories may go unnoticed by unobservant exercisers, but those on the lookout for these benefits will find them every bit as valid as gains measured by scales and calipers.

Scientists chalk up such fitness boons to a range of powerful physiological and biochemical processes triggered by regular exercise. “Every cell in the human body benefits from physical activity,” says Tim Church, MD, PhD, the director of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. And, he says, you feel tangible rewards right away. “Within an hour of exercising, you feel less anxious; that night you sleep better; and for 72 hours afterward your body processes blood sugar more efficiently.”

Need more incentive to lace up your sneakers? Here’s a peek into a few of the ways exercise can make you look and feel fantastic.

1. Smoother, More Radiant Skin

Genma Holmes, 43, was horrified when she broke out in adult acne three years ago. “I was 40 and felt like a hot mess because my face was dotted with pimples,” says the working mom from Nashville, Tenn. Then, last year, she started walking two miles a day and working out on an elliptical trainer three times a week. Sure, she expected to shape up, but she was shocked when her acne cleared. “Looking in a full-length mirror and seeing a slimmer me is great, but looking in a compact mirror and not seeing blackheads is even better,” she says.

Holmes’s clearer skin comes as no surprise to Audrey Kunin, MD, a dermatologist in Kansas City, Mo., and author of The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Working up a good sweat is the equivalent of getting a mini-facial, she says. “When the pores dilate, sweat expels trapped dirt and oil. Just be sure to wash your face afterward so the gunk doesn’t get sucked back into the pores.”

Working up a good sweat is the equivalent of getting a mini-facial.

Breaking a sweat isn’t the only way exercise benefits the skin — it also reduces bodywide inflammation, helps regulate skin-significant hormones and prevents free-radical damage. When you exercise, the tiny arteries in your skin open up, allowing more blood to reach the skin’s surface and deliver nutrients that repair damage from the sun and environmental pollutants. These nutrients also rev up the skin’s collagen production, thwarting wrinkles. “As we age, fibroblasts [the collagen-producing cells in the skin] get lazier and fewer in number,” Kunin says. “But the nutrients delivered to the skin during exercise help fibroblasts work more efficiently, so your skin looks younger.”

For more ways exercise improves your skin, read “Exercise Makes Skin Healthier“.

2. Greater Self-Confidence

Confident people radiate a certain physical appeal and charisma. A recent British study found that people who began a regular exercise program at their local gym felt better about their self-worth, their physical condition and their overall health compared with their peers who stayed home. The best part was that their self-worth crept up right away — even before they saw a significant change in their bodies.

“You don’t need to improve your fitness level to improve your self-perception of how fit you are,” says Adrian Taylor, PhD, an exercise researcher at the University of Exeter in England and the study’s lead investigator. And from there it’s only a short leap to enjoying healthier self-esteem, he adds. “Our self-worth is directly tied to our energy levels, our feelings of competence and our perceived attractiveness.” And nothing is more gorgeous than the self-assurance that comes from feeling good in your own skin.

3. Increased Stature

Annie Appleby, 45, a yoga instructor and founder of YogaForce LLC in San Francisco, took up yoga as a means to relieve stress. But it wasn’t until she had a checkup a few years later that she saw the full effects of her practice. When the doctor measured her height, they both noticed she’d grown an inch and a half. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I’d always wanted to be taller; now I fit into my clothes better and feel more spacious in my body.”

No one has studied precisely why exercise makes you taller, but activities that stretch and strengthen muscles at the same time, like yoga or Pilates, can correct bad posture and therefore add height, says Dan Bradley, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Texas Back Institute in Denton, Texas. Hunching makes some muscle groups contract and others lengthen, he explains, which subtracts height. “If you actively work to bring muscles back into balance, your back will lengthen, your posture will improve and you can grow taller.”

If you actively work to bring muscles back into balance, your back will lengthen, your posture will improve and you can grow taller.

People with swayed backs benefit most from core strengthening exercises, such as planks, farmer’s walks and bird dogs. For hunched shoulders, working on strengthening the upper back using resistance with bands, machines or free weights can help restore lost height. And, of course, exercise that improves posture tends to also make you look thinner, fitter and more confident.

4. Less Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety, fearfulness and uncertainty all drain your vitality and dampen your mood, which in turn tends to show on your face and in the way you carry yourself. Roughly 40 million Americans over 18 suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health — that’s nearly 20 percent of all adults — and for many of them, that anxiety strips both the smile from their face and the spring from their step. Exercise has been shown to alleviate most mild to moderate cases of anxiety, and can very quickly improve mood.

Exercise has been shown to alleviate most mild to moderate cases of anxiety, and can very quickly improve mood.

Jack Raglin, PhD, a sport psychologist at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., is only half-joking when he says, “Exercise is like taking a tranquilizer, but better because you get the side effect of improved health and fitness.” Studies out of Raglin’s lab suggest that as little as 15 minutes of exercise bestows a calm that can last for hours. As for what kind of exercise elicits the biggest response, he recommends either heart-thumping aerobic exercise, like running, cycling or swimming, or a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, such as weight training.

In one study, Raglin and his team recruited 16 athletes, tested their anxiety levels, then put them through 30 minutes of resistance training and another 30 minutes of cycling. Afterward, they rechecked the students’ stress levels and found that they had plummeted within 10 minutes of wrapping up the workout and continued to decline for the next hour.

For Dorothy Foltz-Gray, 61, a writer in Knoxville, Tenn., going for a bike ride at the end of a hectic workday delivers even faster results. “I can leave my desk anxious from a day of work, grab my bike and in a few minutes have a smile on my face as I glide along a bike path,” she says. “Suddenly I’m 12 years old again, grinning at all the other bikers who grin back because they are feeling the same burst of freedom.”

5. More Restful Sleep

Plagued by dark circles? You’re not alone. As many as 60 million Americans wrestle with insomnia, according to a recent Harvard Medical School report. A slew of studies show exercise can elicit longer, more restful sleep. Why? Well, an intense workout may leave you more hungry for shuteye recovery time, but there’s more to it than that. Shawn Talbott, PhD, nutritional biochemist and author of The Metabolic Method (Current Book, 2008), explains that exercise sharpens the body’s sensitivity to the stress hormone cortisol, which can enhance sleep. Sleeping better leaves you looking fresh and healthy.

Here’s how it works: When your boss yells at you, the body spews cortisol to help muscles either duke it out or run like the wind. But, instead, if you sit and seethe at your desk, the cortisol stays in the bloodstream, like a racecar circling the track in a speedway. If the stress is chronic, the presence of cortisol 24/7 blunts the body’s cellular receptors, muting the hormone’s arousal call. That lack of sensitivity causes the adrenal glands to make more, just to get the body’s attention. “It’s like your body turns the volume up full-blast to get the message across,” says Talbott.

As a result, the body’s natural cortisol rhythms (high in the morning, low in the evening) “flatten out,” he explains, which can leave you mentally wound up at night — and carrying excess baggage under your eyes the next day.

Exercise is essentially a release valve for cortisol, helping you sleep more soundly and greet the day looking more refreshed.

HOW DOES DIET AFFECT YOUR HEALTH AND BEAUTY? 10 WAYS

What you eat can make a massive difference to your health and your appearance, and we’re not just talking about weight. While weight obviously is an important consideration, your food can also affect your complexion, your hair and even your mood. You really are what you eat, so read on, and find out how your diet can have a direct effect on your health and beauty:

1. It affects your weight

Starting with the obvious, eating too much of the wrong types of food will make you put on weight. That’s not to say that everyone needs to be a skinny super model to look beautiful, but obesity also causes other health problems too, like diabetes and heart problems.

2. It can make your hair dull and lifeless

Your hair needs nourishment too, and eating the wrong types of food will have a direct impact on your hair. Without sufficient minerals and vitamins, the hair follicles will become unhealthy and your hair will become weaker and, ultimately, thinner.

3. Your nails need feeding too

If you find that your nails break easily, then this could be a sign that you need to change your diet. Just like your hair, without the proper nourishment, your nails will become weaker, so eat plenty eggs, low fat dairy and lean meats, to give your nails the protein that they need.

4. Your muscles can become weaker and smaller

You might not naturally associated muscles with beauty, but if your muscles start to get weak, then you won’t be able to work out and it will affect your posture too. Eat high protein foods and you will be able to keep your muscles well-toned and in good working order.

5. Your skin is directly affected by what you eat

Dull complexion, breakouts and blotchy skin, could all be a result of your diet. Your skin will look far more radiant and clear of blemishes if you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and enough protein. Avoid fatty and processed foods too, because they can make your skin greasy and cause breakouts.

6. What you eat can slow the ageing process

Your food can also have an impact on how quickly you begin to show the singes of ageing. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants, like raw organic fruit and vegetables, helps to fight the cell damage caused by free radicals that can bring on wrinkles and lines in the skin.

7. What’s so special about Omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the healthy growth of hair, skin and nails, and your body can’t make them by itself. About 3% of your hair is made up of Omega-3 fatty acids, so eat plenty of salmon or other oily fish, to feed your skin, nails and hair.

8. Your eyes and eyelashes can also be affected

If you are not drinking enough water and eating the right foods, then it will show in your eyes and your lashes too. Your lashes are hairs, just like the hairs on your head, so without the proper nutrients, they can become thin and fall out. Your diet can also take the sparkle out of your eyes and make them look red.

9. Eating a healthy diet will help you make other good decisions too

Eating the right kind of food will have a positive impact on your overall mental wellbeing too. You will feel more alive and more comfortable in your own skin. It will spur you on to take more exercise and to, possibly, make other changes to your appearance too. With all the energy, confidence and the feel good factor that a healthy diet brings, you might feel more like changing your hair or experimenting with some new makeup.

10. Eating right will put you in a good mood

Eating healthily puts you in a great mood all day long. You won’t get the ups and downs in mood that you might be experiencing today and the radiant smile that it will put on your face will make you look even more beautiful.

How does diet affect your health and beauty? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Stay happy!

Fight Your Skin Problems With Food

1 / 7

Before you open another jar of skin cream, find out which foods can help your skin look younger, fresher, brighter, and just plain better. Keep reading to learn what the experts say you should eat for a glowing, youthful complexion.

 

Eat Healthy Fats

 

Pick the Right Protein

 

Include Power Plants

 

4 / 7   Include Power Plants

Fruits and vegetables contain the building blocks for soft, smooth, healthy skin. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, as well as pomegranates, are rich in skin-friendly antioxidants, which, says Dr. Murad, “assist in cellular renewal and help cells stay plump with water.”

Experts also single out tomatoes as being effective in keeping fine lines and wrinkles in check. Says Dr. Wu, “Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to fight sunburn and sun damage that can lead to wrinkles and skin cancer.”

  • Drink to Your Skin

    5 / 7   Drink to Your Skin

    Yes, water is good for your skin, but you don’t have to go overboard. The goal is to avoid dehydration. (Hint: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.) “If you’re dehydrated,” Wu explains, “your skin and mucous membranes will become dry, cracked, and crepey.”

    Drink six to nine glasses of water a day, and make sure you consume enough caffeine-free fluids, such as soups, juices, and herbal teas, to avoid dehydration. For optimum skin health, drink one glass of water (or other caffeine-free liquid) with each meal, and another glass between meals. Unsweetened green tea, in particular, is beneficial because it contains antioxidants that fight sun damage, a major cause of aging skin and skin cancer.

  • Find the Fiber

    6 / 7   Find the Fiber

    “Because fiber in the daily diet helps remove fat, waste, toxins, and free radicals — key factors in aging — from the body, it’s a natural anti-aging element,” says Murad. Good sources of fiber include oatmeal, chickpeas, and fruits and vegetables.

    Women should consume about 25 grams of fiber a day. Try your best to get fiber from food rather than supplements. If for some reason you can’t get enough fiber in your diet, experts recommend supplementing with Konsyl.

  • Stay Away From Sugars

    7 / 7   Stay Away From Sugars

    Your sweet tooth can really sour your complexion. Sugar and refined carbohydrates, such as sodas, white bread, and pastries, can lead to premature wrinkles and aging skin.

    “Consuming large amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates can directly harm skin elasticity because these foods trigger inflammation and contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastic fibers,” Murad explains. Once sugars and carbs enter the body, they’re converted into glucose, which attaches to healthy proteins and interferes with the production of collagen and elastin — thus leading to skin that’s less firm and resilient.