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The must-have vitamins for winter

After a glorious summer, the days are now getting shorter and the nights are longer. But between October and March our bodies don't get enough vitamin D from sunlight… so where do we get it from instead? And what about other vitamins in general?

Dr Chris is on hand to talk us through the best way to keep our bodies in nutritional harmony.

VITAMIN A

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?: Vitamin A is vital for good eye health and can help your body’s natural defence against illness. DR CHRIS SAYS: “Vitamin A helps your body's natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system) work properly. It helps vision in dim light, and keeps the skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy.”

WHAT FOODS ARE GOOD FOR VITAMIN A?: DR CHRIS SAYS: “Good sources of Vitamin A include: cheese, eggs, oily fish fortified low-fat spreads, milk and yoghurt, liver and liver products such as liver pâté. Also yellow vegetables such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers, yellow fruit, such as mango, papaya and apricots are good for you too.”

HOW MUCH VITAMIN A DO I NEED?: DR CHRIS SAYS: “The amount of vitamin A adults (19-64 years) need is 0.7mg a day for men 0.6mg a day for women You should be able to get all the Vitamin A you need from your diet. Any Vitamin A your body doesn't need immediately is stored for future use.”

IS TOO MUCH VITAMIN A DANGEROUS?: Dr Chris says that too much Vitamin A, especially if you’re pregnant, can be very dangerous. DR CHRIS SAYS: “According to some research, having more than an average of 1.5mg a day of Vitamin A over many years may affect your bones, making them more likely to fracture when you're older. This is particularly important for older people, especially women, who are already at risk of osteoporosis, (condition that weakens bones). If you take supplements containing Vitamin A, make sure your daily intake from food and supplements doesn't exceed 1.5mg. If you're pregnant - having large amounts of Vitamin A can harm your unborn baby.”

VITAMIN C

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?: Vitamin C helps to protect cells and keeps them healthy. DR CHRIS SAYS: “Vitamin C helps to protect healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage helping with wound healing. A lack of Vitamin C can lead to scurvy - mild deficiencies may occur in infants given unsupplemented cows' milk and in people with poor or very restricted diets.”

WHAT FOODS ARE GOOD FOR VITAMIN C?: Vitamin C can be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Good sources include: oranges and orange juice, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes.”

HOW MUCH VITAMIN C DO I NEED?: Vitamin C can’t be stored in the body so you need to consume it every day. DR CHRIS SAYS: “Adults (19-64 years) need 40mg of vitamin C a day. Vitamin C can't be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.”

IS TOO MUCH VITAMIN C DANGEROUS?: Too much Vitamin C can cause a number of stomach problems. DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Taking large amounts (more than 1,000mg per day) of Vitamin C can cause: stomach pain diarrhoea flatulence These symptoms should disappear once you stop taking vitamin C supplements.”

VITAMIN D

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?: Vitamin D is one of the most important Vitamin humans need. The body creates Vitamin D directly from sunlight - but between October and early March we don’t get enough Vitamin D. DR. CHRIS SAYS: “It’s extremely important for bone health and immune system function. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia (PRON: OS-TEA-O-MA-LAY-SHA) in adults.”

WHAT FOODS ARE GOOD FOR VITAMIN D?: Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, red meat and liver. For vegetarians and vegans this may prove difficult - however you can get Vitamin D from supplements if necessary. DR. CHRIS SAYS: Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.100gms of salmon, 100gms of sardines and 100gms of tuna is the recommended weekly intake of oily fish to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels. Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements. In the UK, cows' milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn't fortified, as it is in some other countries."

HOW MUCH VITAMIN D DO I NEED?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Babies up to the age of one year need 8.5 - 10mcg of Vitamin D a day. Breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5-10mcg of Vitamin D. Formula-fed babies shouldn't be given a Vitamin D supplement until they're having less than 500ml (about a pint). Children aged 1-4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10mcg of Vitamin D. People with dark skin from African, African-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds may also not get enough Vitamin D from sunlight - and should consider taking a daily supplement.”

IS TOO MUCH VITAMIN D DANGEROUS?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. Don't take more than 100mcg of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. Always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you're out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.”

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Vitamin B12 is involved in: making red blood cells, keeping the nervous system healthy and releasing energy from food. A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia. A deficiency can cause a wide range of problems, including: extreme tiredness, pins and needles (paraesthesia), mouth ulcers, muscle weakness, disturbed vision psychological problems - which may include problems with memory, understanding and judgement”

WHAT FOODS ARE GOOD FOR VITAMIN B12?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Good sources of vitamin B12 Good sources include - meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, and eggs. This makes it a little bit difficult for vegetarians and vegans - it is easy to find vegan B12 supplements on the Internet or in grocery stores.”

HOW MUCH VITAMIN B12 DO I NEED?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Adults (19-64 years) need about 1.5mcg a day of vitamin B12. If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet. But as vitamin B12 isn't found naturally in foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains, vegans may not get enough of it.”

IS TOO MUCH VITAMIN B12 DANGEROUS?: A lack of Vitamin B12 is much more dangerous than high doses of Vitamin B12. DR. CHRIS SAID: “There's not enough evidence to show what the effects may be of taking high doses of vitamin B12 supplements each day. However a lack of Vitamin B12 can cause Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia."

IRON

WHY IS IRON IMPORTANT?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Iron is important in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.”

WHAT FOODS ARE GOOD FOR IRON?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Good sources of iron include liver (but avoid this during pregnancy) meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit – such as dried apricots, whole-grains and most dark-green leafy vegetables.”

HOW MUCH IRON DO I NEED?: Woman lose a lot of blood due to their monthly period and are at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may need to take iron supplements to support this. DR. CHRIS SAYS:“The amount of iron you need is: 8.7mg a day for men over 18 14.8mg and for women aged 19-50 years 8.7mg a day. For women over 50 You should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet. But for women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period (heavy periods) are at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia and may need to take iron supplements.

IS TOO MUCH IRON DANGEROUS?: DR. CHRIS SAYS: “Side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include: constipation feeling sick vomiting stomach pain. Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.”

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Weekdays 10am-12:30pm ITV