Eat the Alphabet

It’s that time of the year again when winter seems to get the better of us. This can mean cold, sleepless nights, sniffly days and stuck indoors which can be a misery for the whole family. It’s important to give yourself all the best possible defences to beat the winter blues.There may be no cure for the common cold but it doesn’t mean your body isn’t perfectly capable of fending off illness when given the right ammunition – the right vitamins at the right time.

Vitamin A.

Did your mother ever tell you that carrots could help you see in the dark? Well, as you see, she was probably right. Carrots contain beta-carotene, a substance that the body converts to vitamin A, an important nutrient for eye health. The vitamins found in the vegetable can help promote overall eye health and, more specifically, night vision.

In addition to beta-carotene, carrots also contain lutein, an antioxidant. Foods rich in lutein have been found to increase help strengthen the macula, the oval-shaped yellow area near the retina of the eye. In addition to carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss card and dark, leafy greens also contain lutein.

Vitamin B.

Forget the energy drinks, sugary sweets and carbs. Find your wholegrain sweet spot by choosing complex carbohydrates which will help boost and keep your energy levels longer without the crash mid-morning. Consider breakfast prime time for packing them in. Choose whole-grain cereals such as rolled oats which are rich in vitamin B and minerals to give you a powerhouse hit in the morning.

Vitamin C.

Nasturtiums have the ability to knock down the nasties and also give you a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals – and they’re a tasty addition to your soups, stews and boil-ups.

Their broad lily-looking leaves and bright red, orange or yellow flowers are easy to spot around road verges and reserves and are packed full of zingy vitamin C, have a peppery taste a little like watercress or radishes and can be used in the same way.

Vitamin D.

Many experts now say that some sun exposure is necessary because the skin makes vitamin D in the presence of sunlight and information suggests New Zealanders need more of it.

When sunlight, or rather ultraviolet B rays hit our skin, it starts a chain reaction in which our natural cholesterol is converted to vitamin D. It is then changed to vitamin D3 by the liver and finally converted to its active form by the kidneys, which is technically called 1, 25-dihydroxycholecalciferol. Phew, lucky that doesn’t come up in conversation very often.

It can be very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone, especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Vitamin D is found in dairy products, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, cod liver oil, egg yolk and oysters.

Vitamin E.

Almonds are the perfect snack to keep your appetite fueled until your next meal. You’ve probably heard by now that nuts are a healthy fat, and almonds, in particular, are loaded with vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, protein and many other minerals.

These little guys also have the power to lower bad cholesterol, help keep your heart healthy and strong and fight signs of ageing on your skin.

Vitamin K.

It’s that time of the year again. Time to get your corn crop in so you can enjoy those weekend get-togethers with freshly barbecued corn-on-the-cob. Having fresh vegetables in your garden or on your deck not only saves you money but can boost your health at the same time.

Corn is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, C, and potassium and, surprisingly, also contains an important medicinal herb.

You can start growing your own corn garden and reap the health rewards with a little know-how and some elbow grease.