I’m an NHS nurse: the twindemic is coming - here’s the 13 essential vitamins your body actually needs, and where to get them

Amidst increasing reports of an incoming ‘twindemic’ this flu season, an NHS nurse has shared the 13 essential vitamins your body actually needs - and exactly where to get them.

The twindemic

UK doctors are currently worried about the simultaneous onslaught of both Covid and flu expected to hit the UK this winter. Dubbed as the “twindemic”, this cocktail of viruses could compromise the health of millions of Britons. NHS nurse and natural health expert Cherry Francis says:

“This flu season could be one of the most devastating we’ve had in a long time, and it’s our duty to take care of ourselves the best we can to stay healthy over Christmas. There are 13 essential vitamins your body needs to run properly - each playing a crucial role in multiple restorative and regulatory processes. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and are stored in fatty tissues to be broken down when they’re needed. The other nine are water-soluble and flushed out of the body through urination, so need to be replenished. Sometimes, simply boosting our intake of essential vitamins can be the difference between staying healthy and a Christmas-ruining virus”.

Cherry shares the 13 essential vitamins for flu season:

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble compound that plays important roles in cell growth, the thinning of the mucus in response to infections in the upper respiratory tract, and fertility - and supports the health of our skin, bones and eyes. The government recommended daily intake of vitamin A is currently 0.7mg per day for men and 0.6mg a day for women.

Where to get it - carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, dried apricots and cantaloupe.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C does not naturally occur in the body, meaning we need to regularly consume it through dietary sources. We need approximately 40mg of vitamin C per day to maintain adequate immune functioning and deficiencies can cause fatigue, scurvy, and impaired wound healing as well as inhibiting bone growth.

Where to get it - oranges contain approximately 53mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, and vitamin C can also be found in broccoli, peppers and potatoes.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of calcium and phosphate in the body - two minerals crucial in the maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Vitamin D also facilitates proper immune system functioning - helping to fight off infection and disease – and has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

Where to get it - soy yoghurt, mushrooms, fortified orange juice and fortified soy or rice beverages.

Vitamin E

Most known for its antioxidant effects, Vitamin E aids immune functioning and fights off free radicals in the body that can contribute towards cancer and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin E for adults is 15mg per day.

Where to get it - vegetable oils, avocado, and various nuts and seeds. An easy way to get enough vitamin E in your diet is to add a tablespoon of wheat germ oil to any recipe.

Vitamin K

The body requires a certain amount of vitamin K in order to produce prothrombin, a protein important in the blood clotting process as well as healthy bone metabolism. An adequate vitamin K intake of 90mcg per day for women and 120mcg per day for men is thought to be crucial for proper blood clotting.

Where to get it - spinach, kale, and most other leafy greens.

Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin important for maintaining normal digestion, appetite and energy metabolism. A thiamine deficiency can create a multitude of complications with the functioning of the brain, muscles and heart.

Where to get it - whole grain products, nuts and seeds.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Like most of the B vitamins, riboflavin is essential for energy metabolism. B2 also aids in adrenal function as well as supporting healthy vision and skin. A prolonged riboflavin deficiency may lead to cataracts, fatigue, and anaemia – but deficiencies in this B vitamin are rare in western cultures. Those most at risk of such a deficiency include pregnant and lactating women.

Where to get it - yeast extract (like Marmite), quinoa, and muesli.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin can stabilise high cholesterol, and helps to protect skin cells from sun damage, as well as aiding in the making and repairing of DNA. The brain requires a certain amount of vitamin B3 in order to properly function, and deficiencies are thought to create memory loss, confusion, headaches, and various psychiatric symptoms.

Where to get it - peanuts, bread and cereals.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Vitamin B5 has been found to lower LDL cholesterol levels along with risk factors contributing towards the development of coronary heart disease. The vitamin is also used throughout the cosmetics industry due to its ability to repair damaged or thinning hair and clear up facial acne.

Where to get it - almost all plant-based food products contain pantothenic acid in varying amounts, but some of the richest dietary sources of vitamin B5 are fortified breakfast cereals.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

As well as promoting proper protein metabolism, pyridoxine is thought to be crucial in red blood cell synthesis and the healthy formation of antibodies. Vitamin B6 has also been found to play a role in mood regulation due to its involvement in the creation of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA.

Where to get it - potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and non-citrusy fruits.

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

Used in a variety of cosmetics, biotin is known to promote cell growth and can help to strengthen hair, skin and nails. The vitamin has also been found to prevent kidney damage in type-1 diabetics and create clinical improvements in sufferers of multiple sclerosis.

Where to get it - bananas, mushrooms, legumes and sunflower seeds.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

The body requires a certain amount of folate in order to properly produce DNA and other genetic material, and the B-vitamin also aids in cell division - thought to be especially important during pregnancy due to its ability to lower the risk of birth defects. Higher folate intake has also been linked with increased fertility, improved kidney functioning, and reductions in the side-effects of prescribed medications.

Where to get it -  leafy greens, fruits and fruit juices (especially oranges) and nuts and beans.

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the synthesising and metabolising of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and deficiencies can double the risk of suffering from severe depression. Vitamin B12 also plays a vital role in red blood cell production and maintaining a strong bone mineral density..

Where to get it - tempeh, nori seaweed, and fortified soy and almond milk.

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SuperFoodLx is a vegan hair wellness brand formulated to help women heal, strengthen and grow their hair. Started by a nurse and nutritionist mother-daughter team inspired by Paula’s hair loss and her mother helping it to grow back with a home-made nutrient rich oil blend. SuperFoodLx has gone on to help thousands of women regrow their hair faster and stronger using unique plant based formulations.

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