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A to B: Your complete guide to vitamins and supplements

What you should know about nutritional support


Supplements and vitamins are a great way to get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve your health

Supplements and vitamins are a great way to get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve your health

Supplements and vitamins are a great way to get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve your health

Whether it is Covid-19 or the winter flu, now is the ideal time to start thinking about taking more supplements to boost your immune system.

A third of all Irish people take vitamins and/or supplements every day and they are fast becoming a way of life for most of us; especially for vegetarians and vegans. Magazine+ caught up with David O’Brien from supplement company AYA to get the lowdown on what your body needs, and how much of it.

A is for Vitamin A: Found in both animal sources and plant-based foods. It helps prevent damage to cells and an eye problem called age-related macular degeneration. Try to eat more orange veg and fruit as well as spinach, shrimp and salmon.

B is for Vitamin B: Important for making sure the body’s cells are functioning properly. It also helps the body to convert food into energy through metabolism, to create new blood cells, and to maintain healthy skin and brain cells and other body tissue. Where do you get it? From proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and other dairy products, or from leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas. AYA B Complex with 500mg vitamin C includes the entire super group of B vitamins and adds vitamin C.

C is for Vitamin C: An antioxidant, this is important for your skin, bones and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body to absorb iron. It can be found in a range of fruit and vegetables, like citrus fruits, kiwis, broccoli and peppers.

D is for Vitamin D: This helps your body absorb calcium to keep your bones strong, and it also helps your nerves carry messages. Unfortunately, it comes from the sun so we are not in an ideal situation here in Ireland. Luckily, though, you can get it from the flesh of fatty fish, such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and from fish liver oils. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then a jar of AYA’s Vitamin D3 will cost you €10.95.

E is for Evening Primrose Oil: This supports women’s health, helping to relieve the symptoms of PMS and menopause, such as hot flashes. It can also help to ease eczema and clear up acne.

E is also for Vitamin E: This is an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage caused by cigarette smoke, pollution and sunlight. It can be found in sunflower seeds and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts), vegetable oils, spinach and broccoli.

I is for Iron: When your levels of iron are low, your body doesn’t make enough healthy red blood cells, and without them, you can’t get oxygen to your tissues. Women who are pregnant or have heavy periods are at risk of anaemia. Keep your iron levels up with beans and lentils, liver, oysters, and spinach. Even dark chocolate with at least 45pc cacao has some!

L is for L-Lysine: This supports bones, joints and muscles, healthy skin and can help to prevent cold sores. L-Lysine is an amino acid, a vital structural component in the skin, bones and blood vessels and is of particular importance to those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

L is also for L-acidophilus, L-casei and L-casei rhamnosus: These are some of many friendly bacteria that call your digestive system home. They support digestion and gut health, women’s health, and health during and after antibiotics. To top up these healthy bacteria, you can try a supplement such as AYA Acidophilus 2 Billion Lactobacilli.

M is for Magnesium Citrate: This high-strength magnesium helps support energy, muscle health and normal nerve function. It also supports heart circulation, promotes better sleep and can be taken to treat occasional constipation. You get it in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, as well as legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

O is for Omega 3: These healthy fats contribute to the normal function of the heart, lowering the risk of heart disease. They also support healthy joints and muscles, skin, hair and nails, vision, and even brain function. Fish, such as salmon and sardines, and other seafood, nuts and seeds, and plant oils are all great sources. Many people opt to take a supplement though.

P is for Probiotics: Also called “good bacteria”, probiotics are found in fermented foods like yoghurt, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut. They can change the balance of good and bad bacteria in your body and may help improve digestion, soothe skin irritation, lower cholesterol, and support your immune system. Sign us up! AYA Ultimate 10 Billion helps to restore a positive balance of friendly bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is also good for fertility, pregnancy, and general wellbeing. It is no wonder this is one of AYA’s pricier packs. Expect to pay around €16.95.

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Q is for Q10: To give it its full name, CoenzymeQ10 is an antioxidant naturally found in the body, in particular in cells that produce energy. It is recommended to those with low cholesterol and also supports good gum health. It can increase energy levels too.

Z is for Zinc: Without zinc, you couldn’t taste and smell. Your immune system needs it, and it helps cuts, scrapes, and sores to heal. You can get it from plant sources like sesame and pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and cashews, but it’s easier for your body to absorb it from animal foods, such as oysters, beef, crab, lobster and pork.

  • For more info, talk to your local pharmacist, go to ayasupplements.ie, or follow @AYASupplements on Instagram

What about the kids?

It’s important to think about supporting children’s immunity too. Specifically formulated for children and babies to support development, growth, and their immune systems, AYA Baby Sunshine D Drops help maintain normal bones and teeth, and calcium absorption. Meanwhile, AYA Kids Crunchy Multi is a tasty blackcurrant flavour once-a-day formulation for children aged 2+, that’s packed with 22 essential nutrients.

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