Vitamins and what they do
Posted on 22nd October 2020 at 14:30
We've all heard a lot about vitamins and minerals and how we should be eating them like smarties, but what exactly are they, why do we need them and surely there's plenty in your chicken and chips.
Well firstly the dictionary definition of vitamins is "any of a group of organic compounds which are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized in the body." Simply put they are the building blocks of life, and essential if we are to grow and thrive. There are thirteen vitamins, A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) and they all have different benefits and different roles to play in creating the body you currently inhabit. Incidentally vitamins C, A, K and E are good for your skin, so your face literally needs CAKE.
So now we know what these pesky little chaps are where do we find them? Well mostly they come from the food we eat except vitamin D which is in some foods but also comes from the sun. They also come in supplement form and can be taken as a tablet or sometimes a drink such as those vitamin C drinks you often see in the supermarket. So as long as I stick to my chicken and chips and Lucozade I'll be fine then? Not necessarily.
If we were to go back a few hundred years most of the food people ate was fairly organic, full of nutrients and rich in vitamins and minerals because it came straight out of the ground and was taken to market where we could buy it and eat it. Preservatives weren't really a thing apart from salt and refrigeration hadn't been invented. Of course in the UK at the time there were only a few million people so there was plenty of food to go around, more or less. Unfortunately things didn't stay like that and the population grew and grew and grew. Don't forget that the population of the UK alone has almost doubled in the last hundred years or so, and therefore the demand for food grew too. Poor old Farmer Giles now cant grow enough food in his hundred acres to satisfy the needs of the masses and so we have to go elsewhere and start bringing in food from overseas, but in order to keep it fresh we have to load it with preservatives. Or we have to force food to grow bigger and out of season by feeding it an array of lovely chemicals. So what does this mean for our lovely nutritional chicken and chips? Well mostly they are still fine, but now they generally have less of the essential nutrients we need and less vitamins and minerals. On top of this prepackage them, or mash them all up into a plastic container and call it a "ready meal". I'm not sure what that is ready for, the bin perhaps? So the meals we ate as kids is now not the same and aren't as healthy.
So now what do I do? I mean, I love my chicken and chips, do I have to ditch them? Well if you want to lose weight, probably, but if its just vitamins you are looking for that's where vitamin supplements come in. Deficiency in certain vitamins causes all sorts of problems from scurvy to rickets to mental health issues and long term health problems and whilst its important that you get checked for vitamin deficiencies via your GP or the vast array of private clinics available, there are many sources of vitamin supplements too. In the middle of a pandemic its more important than ever that we look after ourselves and take extra care to get the correct nutrition, and it would seem that the current advice at time of writing is that vitamin D is particularly effective in helping to stave off the effects of the Covid-19 virus. Of course the advice changes constantly so be sure to check up on what the latest advice is before you start sunbathing on your roof or gorging on salmon fishcakes. In fact it seems vitamin D maybe useful in many ways and probably deserves a blog post all of its own!
Ok so I've decided to take vitamin supplements but where do I buy them? There seems to be so many places offering them at vastly different prices. This is where a bit of research comes in handy. Firstly a bit of logic and common sense. Lets take vitamin C as an example, a months supply is equivalent to about 30 oranges. If you are buying a months supply of vitamin C tablets for a pound, are you really likely to be getting enough? Secondly a bit of digging around the companies website will give you information on things like sustainable sources, ethical harvesting practices, whether products are vegan friendly etc. All of this will tell you about the company and help you to decide whether they are trustworthy and deserving of your hard earned pennies. Finally check the list of ingredients. Look for levels of the actual vitamin and try to avoid things with too many bulking agents. If in doubt there are plenty of self proclaimed experts on social media who will offer advice or speak to your local health food shop, or wellness centre and get some advice.
So that's vitamins in general, what they do, why we need them and where to find them. We do sell a range of vitamin supplements at Alchemy so if you would like some information feel free to drop us a line or pop in sometime. (Don't forget your mask though)
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