Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Eat up and look to the sun

Eat up and look to the sun

Eat up and look to the sun

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IF we eat the right food, eat it regularly, vary it and include fruit and vegetables each day, then we should get all the vitamins we need.

Or should we? Well, obviously not, otherwise the multi-billion-dollar vitamin supplement industry would cease to exist.

The problem, of course, is that that a balanced diet hits many hiccups in its regularity.

There are the late nights, lack of exercise, those extra indulgences in food and drink, and how do we compensate? We spend big money dollars to keep our bodies supplied in vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins in general cannot be produced by our body. We have to rely on food as a source of them but one, vitamin D is different from the others as our body can generate some of it through the skin via contact with sunlight.

Recently, many studies have shown that vitamin D, apart from strengthening bones, can also be beneficial in other ways. It can lower risks for some types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and even weakened muscles in older people.

But Dr Ritamarie Loscalzo, who has a diploma from the American Clinical Nutrition Board, believes nature’s design was to offer us the ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D.

The problem is, we’re deficient in sunlight.

She says most of us work indoors and are taught by the “authorities” to be scared of the sun because it’s dangerous and can cause skin cancer and tell us we must slather ourselves in sunscreen or wear protective clothing whenever we go outdoors.

We’ve created a Vitamin D deficient society by virtue of our lifestyles, she claims.

Vitamin D-rich food is not a major way of getting what you need but includes fatty fish, cooked eel and catfish, eggs, beef and liver. Best of all get outdoors and enjoy the sun.

So the sun might help us with vitamin D but what food do we need to eat to get those other important vitamins naturally without a trip to the chemist shelves. These are some that everyone should ensure are part of their daily intake to keep us fit and healthy and the foods that provide them.

Vitamin A: Essential for healthy skin and hair and associated with good vision. Sources: Carrots, mangoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, liver, milk, butter, cheese, eggs and tomato juice.

Vitamin B: This has many sub types. The body needs fairly small amounts of B1, B2, and B3 which are found in most foods. B6 and B12 help with digestion, cell repair, production of energy and the immune system. Sources: meat and poultry, spinach, potatoes, bananas, milk, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, nuts and fish.

Vitamin C: One of the most potent antioxidant vitamins needed for growth, wound repair and healthy body tissue. Sources: fresh fruit and vegetables are the main source including spinach, tomatoes, peppers, mangoes, oranges and grapefruit.

Vitamin E: Important for cell maintenance, a healthy heart, blood and circulation. Sources: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, salmon, nuts and corn safflower and olive oil.

Vitamin K: Involved in the blood clotting process and maintenance of strong bones. Sources: It is found in small quantities in meat, most vegetables and wholegrain cereals.

To find out more about vitamins, health and nutrition check out the many websites.

And take the advice on that two-fruit, five-veg day advertising, because eating plenty of both not only contributes to your good health but protects against a number of diseases and helps maintain a healthy weight.

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