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    Ready for winter? Vitamin D, Bone Broth and avoiding comfort eating in the cold weather

    We know Vitamin D as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ and so it is… the best source is exposure to sunshine on the skin – but not with your Factor 50 on! The ‘Vitamin D winter’ in Ireland lasts from October to March – during this time, even on sunny days we don’t get vitamin D from the sunshine.

    Where do we get Vitamin D from in food?

    We can get Vitamin D from oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, herring and tuna. However, to meet your requirements you would have to be eating oily fish pretty much every day – now it makes sense why the Scandinavian people eat so much oily fish doesn’t it?! They have a much longer winter than we do! Egg yolk also contains a little Vitamin D as do fortified cereals and other fortified foods like some margarines, ‘Supermilk’, some juices etc. But the quantities are small.

    Supplement your intake over winter

    In 2011, the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) proposed that all Irish citizens should be taking a daily vitamin D supplement as most people do not get enough from food, or from sun in the summer to take us through the winter months.

    Vitamin D is important for our bones – although osteoporosis can have many causes, vitamin D deficiency is believed to be a major contributor.  Think about how often we hear of people getting fractures after a simple fall – maybe a child who falls off a trampoline or a teenager falling on the rugby field as well as the countless elderly people who suffer fractures following a fall – and this really shouldn’t happen! With good nutrition, sufficient exercise, exposure to sunshine when we’re lucky enough to have it and supplementation with Vitamin D over the winter months, our bones would be in a much better state to withstand the knocks and falls they get as we go about our everyday lives.

    And that’s not all… Vitamin D is strongly linked to a good immune system and the lack of it has been associated with various diseases including colon, breast and prostate cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, MS and rheumatoid arthritis. Other research has also found that vitamin D status may also influence depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and insomnia.

    A simple bone broth is really quite a superfood

    Make your own Eatwise chicken broth recipe or buy a good quality one such as Sadie’s Kitchen – stocked in Dunnes Stores and most health food shops. The tradition of making broth (or stock) from bones is as old as mankind; our ancestors didn’t waste the valuable goodness of the bones after eating meat or fowl but in our fast-moving world we seem to have lost the habit… However, bone broth is back in vogue – science has elaborated on why it’s so good:

    • one of the very few food sources of collagen – essential for healthy skin, hair, nails and bones
    • full of anti-inflammatory amino acids – joints benefit from this natural source of glucosamine
    • its balance of minerals and electrolytes make bone broth a great choice of recovery food for athletes
    • gentle on the stomach and gut – great for anyone with digestive disorders.
    • some studies have shown that bone broth boosts the immune system, helping guard against winter colds and flu


    Avoiding cold weather comfort food

    If you’re feeling the cold these days it could be that you’re just not moving enough. It’s easy to go for comfort food like toast or biscuits in the colder weather – so be smarter than your cravings and find small ways to be more active. The quickest way to warm up is to get moving so whether it’s housework, sweeping the yard, going for a brisk walk or just taking the stairs instead of the lift – GET MOVING THIS WINTER!!!!

    Hot drinks are another great way to warm up. Tea and coffee are fine in moderation but a few things to remember about our favourite hot drinks:

    • Phenols in tea, coffee and cocoa reduce the absorption of iron in our food so don’t drink these (especially if you drink strong tea / coffee) with iron-containing foods. Vegetarians and non-red meat eaters need to pay particular attention to this.
    • Tea and coffee can overstimulate the nervous system and make it difficult to relax and sleep
    • In moderation (3 cups a day is fine) tea and coffee can help us feel good and improve concentration as well as providing part of our recommended 1.5 to 2 litres of water intake a day.