Tag Archives: sunshine

The Low-down on Vitamins

Vitamins are organic substances found in food. They are absolutely essential for life as they help with digestion, absorption and the utilisation of foods.

There are two types of vitamins. There are those that are water soluble-like the B vitamins and vitamin C-which means they are suspended in water and are passed out of the body easily.

There are also fat soluble vitamins which get stored in the fatty tissues of the body like the liver. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble.

A closer look

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Vitamin A There are two types of Vitamin A. Retinol- which is mainly found in animal foods and is the active form of vitamin A. There is also Beta Carotene, the more natural source, which is found in colourful fruits and veggies. The body converts this form into the active form. It is a potent antioxidant and is vital for eye health, the skin, and the immune system. High levels of beta carotene are linked to reduced risk of various diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin A is fat soluble so can be stored in the body, so it can be toxic if taken in large doses.

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B Vitamins The B vitamins tend to work synergistically together and are vital for energy levels as well as being known as the anti stress vitamins. They are also good for the immune system, digestion and skin/hair and nails.

B1 (Thiamine) is required for energy production in the brain as well as nerve cell function. Some believe that taking a large dose 2 weeks before foreign travel can reduce mosquito bites!

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) tends to colour the urine yellow, do not be alarmed! It’s vital for energy production and lipid metabolism.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol and balancing blood sugar levels. It can cause a rash on the skin though, so there are non-flushing types available.

B5 (Pantothenic Acid) helps to nourish the adrenal glands and is the anti-stress vitamin. It’s crucial for energy production as well as memory and brain function.

B6 (Pyridoxine) is important for the functioning of more than 60 different enzymes, as well as being crucial in maintaining hormonal balance and immune function, and warding off depression.

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B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is vital for energy, a deficiency can cause anaemia. This is quite hard to come by in a vegan diet, although you can get fortified foods and nutritional yeast which provide it.

Folic acid is vital for pregnancy and for a healthy heart. It has an emphatic effect on reducing the chances of neural tube defects, as it is important for the development of the foetus. Again leafy greens are an excellent source.

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A deficiency of the B vitamins can cause fatigue, low mood and anxiety. As they are water soluble they need to be replaced regularly. Good sources of the B vitamins are wholegrain rice, fruits, leafy greens, oats, nutritional yeast, nuts, seeds and beans.

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Vitamin C A potent antioxidant, vitamin C is vital for the immune system, circulation, the heart and healthy skin. It is also required to regenerate vitamin E, and it is vital in producing Glutathione, which is a potent free radical protector. It is water soluble as the body does not store it. Good sources are fruits and veggies like oranges, berries, kiwi’s, melon and parsley. If you are going to supplement a buffered vitamin C like an Ester-C form is the best source as it is much more bio-available to us.

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Vitamin D Often called the sunshine vitamin. Pretty much anyone in the Northern hemisphere would struggle to get enough vitamin D. Our bodies produce it between the hours of 10-3 on bright days during the summer. Most people barely get out in the sun for long enough during the summer, and let’s be honest in the UK and Ireland we rarely get sunshine in the summer anyway!! I would always recommend people to take a supplement of vitamin D3 but check that it is a Vegan form. Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium which helps with bone health. It’s also good for mood, helping to ward off anxiety and depression. A lot of studies of later life illnesses have actually linked them to a deficiency in vitamin D, hence why it is so important.

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Vitamin E Known as the skin vitamin, vitamin E is vital for healthy skin, energy levels, heart health, circulation as well as hormonal balancing. It helps to stabilise and protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals, heavy metals and environmental toxins. It is a potent antioxidant found in avocados, nuts and seeds.

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Vitamin K Often overlooked vitamin K is hugely important for bone support and heart health. K1 is found in leafy greens and vegetables, whereas K2 is found in fermented foods and can be produced in a healthy GI tract by good bacteria.

This was just a brief look at the vitamins, their role in a healthy diet and some good sources of each. Although it is important to get as much as we can from a well planned diet, the absorption of vitamins can also be affected by alcohol, coffee, smoking, medication like the contraceptive pill, pollution, processed food, heat, light, stress, fried foods, and animal products. Hence why sometimes we do need to supplement our diet to top up our levels.

Spring-like Sunday

I love waking up to the sun shining, it makes such a difference in the morning and is a sure sign that Spring is on the way.

This morning started with a variation on Chocolate Covered Katie’s baked oatmeal cake. I am usually quite impatient in the morning and hate to take time over making breakfast, usually I just inhale it almost as soon as I am out of bed,  but today as it is Sunday I thought I would take a little time over breakfast.

Baked Carrot Cake Oatmeal:

  • 50g Oats
  • Splash of Vanilla Extract
  • Generous sprinkling of Cinnamon
  • Swirl of Agave nectar
  • 60g Applesauce (I just blitzed a tiny apple with some water in the blender)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 small grated carrot

I baked it in the oven for just over 20 minutes at gas mark 5 and then at gas mark 9 for 4 minutes. Then I got it out of the oven and realised that I forgot to spray the dish first #fail. I was never getting it out of the dish in one perfect cake shaped piece. I gave it my best shot, but ultimately it ended up in several pieces, but it was yummy all the same. I topped it with a large spoon of nut butter and tucked it. It was really good, very filling and held me over until lunch time. I think next time I will try cooking it with the nut butter in and maybe adding some flaked almonds and raisins.

Remember to spray the dish next time!

The morning was fairly uneventful, I spent time catching up on blogs and planning this afternoons run. I had a light lunch of the last of the sweet potato falafel, some salad and hummus, I did not want anything denser as I hate running after eating a heavy meal. The lunch did not tide me over well, so I made a delicious smoothie for dessert.

Heaven in a glass:

  • 150ml soy milk
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 ice cubes
  • small handful of frozen cranberries
  • small spoon of peanut butter
  • tsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 dates

So yummy and refreshing and just what I needed. As it was so beautiful and sunny I decided to enjoy it in the back garden:

Yes I am still wearing my pyjamas and it is after midday.

This afternoon I took advantage of the great weather to go for a run. I was originally planning on over 7 miles but I knew as soon as I started that it was not going to happen today. My legs felt super heavy almost as soon as I started so I decided to run my usual route but backwards which meant killer hills :( This does not really do it justice, but trust me its a pretty big incline especially after 4.5 miles:

I plodded along round the route, it was super slow and super easy but I was just glad to get out there and get some miles in my legs after a week off. I did some stretching when I got home which is something I don’t normally do….terrible I know.

Error #1 : I never warm up

Error #2 : I never cool down

There I admitted it, I am a terrible runner! I think I will make it my goal this month to make sure I properly warm up and cool down before and after every run, especially now I am looking to increase my mileage. Any tips for warming up/cooling down?

I refueled post run with a massive clementine which was lovely, sweet and juicy. I hate it when they are all dry and have no flavour. I also tried out the apple pie nakd bar:

Post run snacks

Apologies for the quality of my pictures. I have been taken them on my blackberry which is why they look so dark/fuzzy. My camera is on the fritz so I will have to get it sorted.

I really liked the apple pie nakd bar. It was quiet dense and seemed like a perfect post run snack. It is filled with all natural ingredients, is dairy, gluten free and raw. I kept the packaging as I might try and see if I can make something similar. I will have to try out some of their other flavours.

So that was my Sunday, I am now off to eat a massive plate full of yummy veggies.

Oh and I almost forgot to introduce someone:

My furry friend

This is my little buddy Humphrey. He is 6 months old and he adores fruit, veggies and exercise just as much as me!