An Essential Nutrition Briefing – Vitamins

I’ve been reading a lot recently about nutrition and wanted to share what I’ve found out here in an easy to digest (pun intended!) format.  So there will be a series of posts on essential nutritional information and debates that are being raised which I think are interesting.   The first topic I’ve selected is Vitamins, but there will be future posts about specific types of vitamins in more depth, as well as coverage of minerals, the other food groups, and summaries of “hot topics” like whether you should supplement and so on.

Some basic facts about Vitamins:

  • A scientist called Casimir Funk invented the term vitamin in 1912 – here is a link to the Nobel Prize website which summarises a history of vitamins
  • Vitamins are vital organic compounds which the body needs in order to function properly.
  • They are distinct from minerals, amino acids and fatty acids which the body also needs.
  • They are required in limited amounts which means that there is a recommended daily range for each of them.
  • They cannot be synthesised by the body (although Vitamin D is controversial in that we can synthesise it in the body as well as by getting it in our diets).
  • They need to be found in the diet (so that is why we need a balanced diet).
  • They are frequently group names of which there are multiple varieties (e.g. Vitamin A includes retinal, retinol and caretenoids)
  • Deficiencies of vitamins can cause serious medical complications (e.g. rickets, scurvy etc)

There are 13 types of vitamins currently recognised:

  1. Vitamin A
  2. Vitamin B1 Thiamin
  3. Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
  4. Vitamin B3 Niacin
  5. Vitamin B5 (Biotin)
  6. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  7. Vitamin B6
  8. Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  9. Vitamin B12
  10. Vitamin C
  11. Vitamin D
  12. Vitamin E
  13. Vitamin K

I’m going to be looking at each of these individually in future posts, keeping the briefing style of post, and will update the list above with links as I go.  So hopefully, you’ll see the list above turn into clickable links in due course!

Beat the Christmas Bulge

I’ve been planning my Christmas food this last week – and having concerns over how much high-calorie food there will be in the house which may prove disastrous to my weight management goals.  However, in the interests of preventing the average weight gain of 2kg (or 5lbs in old money), I’ve put together a list of my top tips to help bolster your intentions.

  1. Use smaller plates – studies have found that eating from a smaller plate makes us feel more satisfied than the same amount on a larger one.  Coming from a generation of children who were taught to clean the plate otherwise there would be no pudding, I’m very used to getting through everything on the plate I’m given.
  2. Don’t pile things high – especially when there is a buffet!  I’m guilty of piling things high on occasion – and mostly it is because I didn’t look at all the things available when I’m serving myself – so completely misjudging how much space there is on the plate and how many dishes there are to try out.  Start small, then go back for seconds if there are any left… (or you can do what some people do and have a good look at everything on display before joining the queue so you know what you want to save some space for).
  3. Plan ahead – try to plan in some lighter meals amongst the overly rich meals that may be on offer this season.  I’ve got some hot winter salads planned around the necessary ham, goose and beef days…  (I’m also thinking about doing some Gazpacho – my version is effectively an intense salad puree which I seem to crave to offset all the fat and starch around this time of year).
  4. Exercise – if all else fails, find some high-intensity workouts (at your appropriate fitness level of course) to offset the intake.  I am fond of kickboxing workouts as they seem to work well for me, but there is an interesting trend of 1000 calorie workouts – here’s one on youtube which I might try – which would make you feel all saintly again!
  5. Watch the booze – empty calories and hangovers!  I tend to volunteer to be the driver so I don’t look like a wimp because I don’t want to drink very much – I resent the wasted calories and get horrendous hangovers these days so feel rubbish the entire next day.  I also think that when I’m not allowed very much (perhaps one glass with lunch) I enjoy it more.