How to deal with spring vitamin deficiency
It is surprising that in our time, when fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits are available all year round, when everyone can eat a balanced and varied diet, people continue to believe in the lack of vitamins in food and the mandatory “spring beriberi”. There is no vitamin deficiency “in general”, which in the mass consciousness is associated with fatigue, frequent respiratory infections, dull hair and the need to take vitamin-mineral complexes. There is a deficiency of specific vitamins associated with a violation of their absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, a limited and monotonous diet, and the intake of certain medications. People with ulcerative colitis are given calcium and vitamin D supplements. Strict vegetarians need vitamin B₁₂, which is not found in plant foods.
There are periods in life when vitamins are more actively consumed: for example, all expectant mothers are prescribed folic acid preparations.
It seems that the additional intake of vitamins and dietary supplements will make us healthier, but this is not so. Unnecessary water-soluble vitamins will be excreted in the urine. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) have the ability to be stored. When taking fish oil, for example, one must be aware of the toxicity of excess vitamin A. The rule “the more the better” does not work here. A study conducted by the world’s premier evidence-based medicine organization, the Cochrane Collaboration, found that antioxidant supplements do nothing to reduce the risk of death in either healthy or sick people. Preparations with beta-carotene and possibly vitamins A and E even slightly increase this risk. It has been proven that vitamin C does not reduce the incidence of SARS and is useless in their treatment.
About food supplements
The main thing to know about dietary supplements is that they are not intended to prevent or treat diseases, so they are not required to be tested for efficacy and safety as medicines. Supplements are used in poor and unbalanced nutrition to compensate for nutritional deficiencies. Polypharmacy (unreasonable simultaneous use of several drugs or multiple active substances in supplements) cannot be expected to lead to healthier and longer life. There are no miracles in the world that can build muscle, detoxify the body, prevent cancer, or ensure rapid and sustainable weight loss in neat bottles. At best, it’s a waste of money.
About vitamins in food
The WHO guidelines for vitamins and minerals in food (which also includes poor countries) state that the vast majority of healthy and adequately-nourished people can obtain all essential nutrients from food. If there are any universal recommendations based on population studies, then only these are: use iodized salt, eat marine fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids two or three times a week, consume 600 g or more of vegetables and fruits daily. You can take vitamin D in a prophylactic dose. The doctor will select the correct form and dosage of other drugs.
A healthy resident of a metropolis definitely does not need multivitamins. Certain vitamins are needed, but which ones specifically can be found out only if you take a blood test. Most often in colder countries, we suffer from a lack of vitamin D, and it really needs to be taken, but only as directed by a doctor. There are questions about others. It is important to understand that vitamins can bring not only benefits, but also harm.
There is no evidence that vitamin C somehow affects the course of infectious diseases. Therefore, it is pointless and even dangerous to take it. If you overeat ascorbic acid, you can get a stomach ulcer.
About vitamin winter
Even if the winter is sunny, there is not enough UV light to produce vitamin D in the skin. Many people mistakenly believe that five minutes in the sun is enough, but this is not so: you need to spend more time on the street (and not at the window, because the glass does not let in ultraviolet light) in the morning with the most exposed skin area. Just walking from the car to work wrapped in a jacket is not enough. To find out how you are doing with vitamin D, you need to take a test called “25 OH vitamin D”.
Vitamin D does not only affect bones, as was previously thought. It is involved in the synthesis of testosterone, the main male sex hormone, and that, in turn, affects the quality and synthesis of spermatozoa. There is evidence of the effect of vitamin D on carbohydrate metabolism, on the antitumor effect.
Another common mistake is to go somewhere to the resort, get burned and be proud of having received a record dose of vitamin D. If the skin burns, the synthesis stops.
Chronic iron deficiency occurs in those who thoughtlessly lose weight, restricting themselves in nutrition. Or for those who begin to fast, cut themselves off in animal proteins. Or for those who train very actively, but eat incorrectly. Iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia, one of the symptoms of which is constant fatigue. However, an iron preparation must be prescribed by a doctor after examination – sometimes the cause of the deficiency is not in poor nutrition, but in an ulcer or polyp.
Another important drug is omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are part of the cell membrane. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is extremely important at the risk of atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Again, the main issue is the dosage and selection of the “omega” you need. Often, banks indicate the content of fish oil, and not directly omega-3. For example, a dosage of 800 mg. This amount of omega is enough. But in small letters it is indicated: in this mass, omega-3 is only 250 mg, the rest is fish oil. The concentration of omega-3 in the capsule should be as high as possible, not less than 50%, otherwise there will be no benefit from taking it. And it should be indicated per capsule, not per serving.
Omega-3s are made up of two acids, and good packaging always lists their ratio: DHA and EPA. DHA-acid has a greater effect on cognitive function, brain development, and EPA prevents the development of atherosclerosis and systemic inflammation. We need both, but, for example, pregnant women are better off leaning on DHA.
A person without critical cardiovascular risks, without high cholesterol, needs at least 2 g of pure omega-3 per day. But we must not forget: omega-3s do not cancel a healthy Mediterranean diet and medical treatment as directed by a doctor. And it can not be used immediately in large doses: it is optimal to split the intake into two or three times a day.
Another problem in the city is sleep. Too many people sleep poorly due to light pollution. The blue light of gadgets, nightlights, lights on the refrigerator, lights shining through the window – all this disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the phase of sleep and its depth. It is produced only at night in the absence of lighting. Otherwise, the quality of sleep falls. And as soon as the quality drops, the risks increase – for example, diabetes. Thick curtains and a sleep mask will help you. If you sleep for four hours a day because you have strained at work or business trips with jet lag, you can take melatonin preparations: 1 mg half an hour before bedtime. The amount of sleep will not increase, but its quality will become acceptable. However, if the problem is long-term, you can’t do without consulting a doctor, and you shouldn’t take melatonin non-stop even for a week.
About Vitamin B
Residents of megacities experience stress in one way or another. B vitamins play an important role in the proper functioning of the central nervous system and brain. Amino acids, such as lecithin, also help with this.
Some studies show that magnesium is needed to transmit nerve impulses so that we perceive the world around us more calmly. It is better to take it in the evening, and sleep will be stronger.