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Overcoming Seasonal Nutritional Deficiencies

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In a country where the frostyseason can last up to six months, we need an insurance policy against many ailment.

In a country where the frostyseason can last up to six months, we need an insurance policy against many ailments. Why? One reason is that the decreased hours of sunlight during winter reduces our supply of vitamin D the sun activates this vitamin in the skin and allows the body to utilize it. We require vitamin D to prevent the onset of many diseases, including osteoporosis. Also, seasonal diets result in lower intakes of vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene at a time when our immune systems need these protective nutrients the most.

The good news is, your health essentials can be simply provided through daily supplementation. In the sea of supplements there are three that are backed up by significant research and have the potential to support a healthy lifestyle and promote health despite the season.

  1. High quality multivitamins and minerals: Even conservative experts are supporting the daily intake of a multi; a recent article by Harvard researchers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that all North Americans should be taking a multi. The question then is, which multi should you take? Not all multivitamin and mineral supplements are alike because not all forms are as absorbable (bioavailable) or as biologically active. For unsurpassed absorption and results, look for advanced forms of vitamins and minerals where, in one daily dose, you get 400 IU of vitamins D and E, 500 mg of vitamin C and calcium, all your other daily essential vitamins and minerals, and the very important phytonutrients as outlined below.

  2. Phytonutrients: These are naturally occurring plant nutrients that give plants their colour, flavour, texture and aroma. Along with vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients act as antioxidants and support detoxification enzymes. Functional foods that contain a variety of coloured fruit and vegetable whole food extracts with supporting herbs and other nutrients can support seasonal deficiencies in your winter diet. Premium products also include bacterial cultures for added immune system and gastrointestinal support.

  3. Fish oil: According to the International Working Group, a panel of 30 of the world's foremost experts on fats, our intake of the key omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish should be 650 milligrams per day. North Americans are 520 mg short of this goal and are consuming an excess of omega-6 fatty acids, which are indeed also essential, but in excess can promote inflammation.

Certain dietary fish are very high in the key omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), with anchovy, herring, mackerel and sardines among the highest. But most Canadians don't eat enough fish to fulfill their daily omega-3 requirements and this may worsen in the winter when local fish are not available.

Many health-conscious consumers thus turn to fish oil capsules to fill the void, only to be frustrated by the fishy aftertaste. To prevent this side-effect, look for specially coated softgels that don't dissolve in the stomach, but instead release the oil directly to the small intestine. In addition to preventing any fishy odour, research indicates that such intestinal delivery can enhance absorption up to three times over standard capsules.

So whatever the season, you can get your daily health essentials from high quality multivitamins and minerals with phytonutrients and fish oil softgels. And although the winter may not be your favourite season due to the cold, grey weather, this way it can still be a healthy one.

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