How much is enough?
There are no two ways about it, government advice to make sure we’re getting our ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ (RDA) of certain nutrients is confusing. For a start, a few years ago RDA was actually renamed NRV (Nutrient Reference Value), but these terms remain interchangeable.
RDA refers to the base level of vitamins and minerals that we should consume on a daily basis. However, these figures are averages established for the general, healthy, population and are better viewed as a guide to protect against disease rather than promote optimum health and vitality. Every person is different and nutrients required can vary dramatically depending on age, size, state of health and environment for example. With this in mind, you would be forgiven for being confused about what it all means in terms of the food you should put on your plate!
So if your focus for 2018 is improving your health – where do you start?
Firstly, aim for a varied diet rich in colourful fruit and veg to provide you with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C is one of our immune systems best defences, and in the winter with the inevitable coughs and colds doing the rounds, there’s even more reason to make sure you’re getting enough. Our immune cells have built in transportation devices to carry vitamin C around the whole body, making it vital to protect against infection. In the UK, the official RDA for adults is 40mg per day, but this varies widely depending on where you look and in the US the figure is approximately double that. Some research even suggests that 3000mg per day (in small supplemental doses) can be protective.
Vitamin C is water soluble and quickly excreted so you need it in your diet every day. You should be able to get enough from whole foods like red peppers, broccoli, kale, kiwi, strawberries and oranges – the general rule of thumb is the more richly pigmented, the higher levels of vitamin C. But life is busy and it’s not always achievable so grabbing a quick drink can help keep you topped up. A bottle of Get More Vitamin C has 200% of your RDA, so makes a great option to go.
Vitamin D is another vital nutrient at this time of year, but unlike Vitamin C which you must consume in your diet, it is actually a hormone produced by our bodies in response to sunlight on our skin. However, in the UK by February, unless you’ve had some cheeky winter sun – stores from the summer months have usually run out.
Providing you get enough exposure, the human body can make between 10,000 and 25,000 IUs of vitamin D per day in the summer, but with levels depleted during winter, official recommendations for supplementation are around 10µg (or 400 IU per day). Some foods like eggs, oily fish, red meat and mushrooms contain low levels of vitamin D, but certainly not enough to reach the optimum. You would need to eat around 23 eggs every day(!) or a whole mackerel to meet the required levels – not everyone’s kettle of fish, whereas one bottle of Get More ticks this box easily.
*References available on request*