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Coming into the winter months can be really hard for a lot of people. The days are shorter, some people start to feel a little sad and it’s also the dreaded flu season. One of the things we do have control over however is making sure we are getting the nutrients we need and eating a good diet. There are a few keys supplements I take especially during the winter. Being a busy mum can mean we skip meals and generally focus on the kids instead of ourselves but like I always say its incredibly important you become a little selfish and mind yourself as a happy and healthy mum equals a happy and healthy family.

I take a chewable Vitamin C which I call the cold killer. I actually keep them in the car. Quest does a good one with added bioflavonoids. The benefits of vitamin C include protecting the immune system, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling!!

If you’ve ever been to one of my shows you will also hear me talk about the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bone development and is really important especially during pregnancy, for new mums, babies and toddlers.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium. Therefore if your baby doesn’t have enough it won’t absorb enough calcium from the milk it’s being fed enabling you baby to build strong teeth and bones. They do advise you now in the hospital to give your baby Vitamin D for the first twelve months at least. Also always remember that during pregnancy the baby will take what it needs from you and if you are lacking in vitamin D already during pregnancy it will be worse.

As we see less and less sunshine coming into the winter months here there’s no prizes for guessing why we don’t have enough of it in Ireland. Some studies are suggesting that the overuse of sun cream is also responsible for the growing numbers of cases of vitamin D deficiency. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin.

The link between vitamin D and strong healthy bones was made many years ago when doctors realized that sunlight, which allows you to produce vitamin D, or taking cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D, helped to prevent a bone condition called rickets in children. Rickets is a defective mineralization of bones due to deficiency or impaired metabolism of vitamin D and is rearing its ugly head in recent years with the number of cases here in Ireland on the rise.

Recent research however is now showing that vitamin D may be important in preventing and treating a number of serious long term health problems and it is really important for the Maintenance of Healthy Bones & Teeth, Immune System and Muscle Function. It’s also really important for brain development.

There is an amazing website www.vitamindcouncil.org that is dedicated to research and information about Vitamin D. Dr John J Cannell founded it to educate the public on the importance of sun exposure and vitamin D and you will find all the answers to any queries you might have right there.

One of the most interesting new research studies they have done has found that vitamin D supplementation in pregnant mothers and subsequently in their newborn infants, together, may reduce the risk of developing acute respiratory infections.

Acute respiratory infections (ARIs) refer to any infection in either the upper or lower airways. ARIs are common in children under the age of five with an average of 3 to 6 cases per year and with our damp weather our babies can be prone to respitory infections.

Vitamin D receptors in both the immune and respiratory system indicate a direct role for vitamin D in these systems. This is vitamin D could play an even more important role during pregnancy and infancy in regards to the development of a healthy immune and respiratory system.

About 40% of people are deficient in Vitamin D and those most at risk are old people, babies and pregnant mums. Some of the symptoms of deficiency are vague and can include tiredness and general aches and pains. Some people may not have any symptoms at all. Check with your GP if you feel you have a deficiency and you can also get a blood test done to check. Both James and myself take a supplement, as I know for sure we don’t get enough sunlight.

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