The past 12 months have been very difficult for most people, but some companies have done well – it seems that 2020 has been a fantastic year for nutritional supplement manufacturers, with sales of nearly £ 500m in the UK, which is a record 14 Percent compared to 2019.
We swallowed their products in record numbers, partly because we are all more health conscious, but also in the hope of protecting ourselves and our loved ones from Covid-19.
But how far has that money gone down the drain? Which of us are really missing vitamins or minerals?
Let’s start with vitamin D, which I took in pill form during the winter months.
The Curtin University team suggests that along with more common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in overweight or obese people, that lack of nutrients can in turn lead to overeating, creating a vicious circle where your brain knows it’s short when you are If you consume important nutrients, you will eat more unconsciously to make up for the deficiency
Vitamin D is good for your bones, but it’s also important for a properly functioning immune system, and there is good evidence that it can protect you from the effects of respiratory infections, including Covid-19.
Most of our vitamin D is made by the action of the sun on the skin, but roughly one in five Britons is not getting enough, especially between September and March when the sun is too weak in the UK.
But some people are much more affected than others. A recent report found high rates among some ethnic minorities.
The study, conducted by the University of South Australia, which involved more than 440,000 British people, found that 57 percent of people with an Asian background were severely vitamin D deficient in winter and spring, and half were still deficient in summer and fall Defect .
The most affected group were black participants (39 percent of them were vitamin D deficient in winter and 31 percent in summer).
The NHS recommends that these groups take a supplement year-round. Another large group of people who tend to be low in vitamin D and lack other essential micronutrients are those who are overweight or obese.
Vitamin D is good for your bones, but it’s also important for a properly functioning immune system, and there is good evidence that it can protect you from the effects of respiratory infections, including Covid-19
This is partly because people who are significantly overweight tend to eat less nutritious foods, but also because carrying excess weight, especially around the abdomen, leads to chronic inflammation – and when you have an inflamed bowel , this can reduce the amount of nutrients you absorb.
There is also research showing that when you have a lot of body fat, it can “steal” vitamin D from your blood, reducing the amount available to the rest of the body. Vitamin D deficiency is far more common in overweight people than in healthy weight people (although taking a supplement will make up for it).
When I was doing a series for Channel 4 that helped overweight volunteers shed some of their Covid pounds on my Fast 800 diet, I was shocked to discover how many of the people we tested were deficient in vitamins and minerals .
Surprisingly, few studies have looked at the vitamin status of people with a high body mass index (BMI), but those who had disruptive results.
In a study published last year by Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, 127 people, all of whom were overweight or obese, detailed what they ate and drank.
The researchers also did blood tests to measure levels of vitamins A, B12, C, D, E and folic acid, as well as some minerals like iron, iodine, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.
Although their food diaries indicated that the volunteers were getting enough of many of these essential nutrients, their blood tests told a different story. It found that most of the participants were severely deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
Which suggests that regardless of their food diaries, they were not eating enough of the right foods, or that being overweight severely impaired their ability to absorb and utilize the micronutrients they consumed.
One of the shocking findings was that 89 percent of the participants were severely deficient in vitamin D despite the fact that Western Australia is hot and sunny for most of the year.
Perhaps that’s because the fear of skin cancer means that Aussies are especially aware of the need to stay out of the sun.
Worse still, only 8 percent of the volunteers had healthy calcium levels and almost all were deficient in vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. The only vitamin they got very much about was vitamin C, which many took as a supplement.
One of the shocking findings was that 89 percent of the participants were severely deficient in vitamin D despite the fact that Western Australia is hot and sunny for most of the year
All of this is important as vitamin A boosts the immune system and keeps eyes and skin healthy, while potassium plays an important role in preventing high blood pressure and helping our heart muscles work properly.
Zinc is needed for wound healing and helps fight viral infections, while magnesium is important not only for a healthy body and brain, but also helps regulate your weight. Low levels are linked to depression and sleep disorders, and are highly anti-inflammatory.
And calcium is not only needed for healthy teeth and bones, it can also help with weight loss. This is because calcium in your diet binds to fat, making sure that less of it is absorbed.
The Curtin University team suggests that along with more common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in overweight or obese people, that lack of nutrients can in turn lead to overeating, creating a vicious circle where your brain knows it’s short when you are If you consume important nutrients, you will eat more unconsciously to make up for the deficiency.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to measure your vitamin and mineral levels.
You can have certain tests done at the NHS if you have obvious symptoms of a deficiency, such as: B. Anemia, but if you want to get the bigger picture you need to do it privately.
I would still recommend that you choose a Mediterranean diet high in oily fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and some milk as this will give you most of the vitamins and minerals you need.
And now that it’s spring, embrace the sun. To increase your vitamin D level, you should go outside (approx. 15 minutes) with uncovered forearms, hands or lower legs and without sunscreen, ideally between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
But as the NHS warns, “Be careful not to burn in the sun. So be sure to cover or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin turns red.”
One of the reasons for our success as a species is not only our big brains, but we are also great at sweating.
We have ten times more sweat glands per inch than chimpanzees, and this mutation, which aids in cooling, allowed our ancestors to begin world domination by coming out of the woods to hunt in the hot African savannah.
The downside is body odor (or BO). And now a real solution could be to eliminate the main villains, which include the armpit bacterium Staphylococcus hominis.
In March, a Belgian scientist, Dr. Chris Callewaert, known as “Dr. Armpit”, shows promising results for a probiotic spray with good microbes that displaces bad ones like Staphylococcus hominis. So is it a goodbye to BO forever?
After the triumph of Covid Jab, it’s time to fight mosquitos!
Spring means barbecues, long evenings outdoors and mozzies.
Globally, mosquitoes are not only irritating, they are also our deadliest predator. The diseases they transmit, including malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, are the leading causes of death in human history.
However, news came last week that a vaccine developed by the Oxford team responsible for the AstraZeneca Covid surge showed in a small study that it was 77 percent effective in preventing malaria.
This may be a major breakthrough and the world is waiting with interest to see the results of a larger trial.
Fortunately, we no longer have malaria in this country (the last outbreak was in 1917), but we have a lot of annoying insects. Avoid leaving water in plant pots or wheelbarrows as this is a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Growing strong smelling herbs like lavender, basil, and peppermint is said to keep them in check, but I haven’t seen any studies to confirm this.
Nothing beats a mosquito repellent that contains DEET, although covering it with socks, pants, and long sleeves is effective. Some time ago I did an experiment with another brave volunteer where we both went into a room full of voracious mosquitoes in only shorts and a t-shirt. After that, we counted our bites and found that they were mostly around the feet and ankles – probably because mosquitoes like the smell.
We also noticed that the insects like to bite me the most. Another tip is to meet up with friends who are more attractive to mosquitoes. Ruthless but effective.