Well with all the confusing, mixed up messaging we’ve been used to during lockdown – work/ don’t work; stay in but go out; don’t wear a face mask, but maybe you should, the latest topic for mixed messaging is from the world of vitamins.
Along with keeping fit, doing Joe Wicks’s classes and downloading the Couch to 5k app, (gather you were supposed to do it and not just download it) vitamin supplement taking is the latest hot topic in the virus spotlight in an attempt to help build up our immune systems, keep us healthy and frighten off the virus.
As I, like the majority of the UK, now consider myself to be a qualified epidemiologist (who knew what they were in January?) after reading some Facebook posts and a couple of tweets on viruses, I feel perfectly placed to give you my thoughts on the latest Vitamin debate and most importantly, what we should be eating more of.
So, which Vitamin is to be our saviour?🤔
Vote now for your favourite vitamin superhero...
Is it A, B, C, D or K?
Is it all? Maybe.
Is it none? Possibly. Like everything else Covid-19 related we haven’t really got a clue.
As this is a food blog, I’m not going to dwell on the hows or whys that vitamins can help us, just on the important topic - of what might be tasty and is a source of these ‘hero’ vitamins and more fun to swallow than a handful of tablets.
(Obviously though, you can just take them as a supplement – read the label first - don‘t want you all overdosing. That would kind of defeat the object)
For my research, I’ve had a look at the 3 front runners and found some nice foods that contain each vitamin, so, if these foods are in some way protecting you / helping you recover from the virus, then fabulous. If not, then you’ve had a lovely, nutritional snack. Win-Win.
I’ll see if I can dream up some ideas that contain all three front runners as a triple threat meal…
Vitamin D – nicknamed the 'sunshine vitamin' as it's produced bu the skin in response to sunlight. Not surprisingly us Brits don't get too much natural vitamin D.
This is the supplement that’s been flagged as a possible holy grail in coronavirus protection as some reports say as well as helping bone and muscle health it can help prevent serious respiratory infection. So vitamin D is currently Champions league status. The King of vitamins in the coronavirus war. Until someone changes their mind.
Reports on the benefits of vitamin D vary from the vague…
“There have been some reports that vitamin D reduces the risk of coronavirus but there is no evidence for this at the present time.” from the Welsh Government website
To the research led Diabetes UK: “Spending more time in the sun or taking supplements could reduce serious Covid 19 complications as researchers say they have found that vitamin D is hugely beneficial."
To the calm and measured prophecy of the paper often credited for being the go-to read for the truth and breakthrough scientific research, The Sun - “Terrifying graph shows how Covid-19 patients with low vitamin D levels ‘almost certainly die if they end up in hospital”’
(And here’s a proper science-based site’s take)
Vitamin D key sources 🍄🐟 🍳 oily fish like -salmon, mackerel tuna and sardines; liver (eew); red meat; egg yolks, and mushrooms.
Hmm tricky making a cake out of that lot. 🤔
Foods like cereal, orange juice, margarine and milk are fortified with vitamin D in certain countries - especially Scandinavia, which has fared reasonably well during the pandemic (not as much in the UK - so check the packet label)
Meal suggestions. Maybe a double whammy using two Vitamin D rich ingredients. Mushroom omelette? Tuna quiche? Liver and mushrooms? Mackerel and liver pate? Maybe not.
Vitamin K. In the spotlight due its blood-thinning capabilities and the discovery that Covid19 can cause blood clotting. Not as roundly praised as King D- and reporting is once again vague as to its successes…
The Guardian – “Vitamin K, found in some cheeses could help fight Covid-19, study suggests” to the Daily Express “Patients who have died or been admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 have been found to be deficient in a vitamin K”
Many that died may also have had brown eyes but I suppose that wouldn’t be conclusive either and just a coincidence.,
Vitamin K is split into K1 and K2. (not to be mixed up with the mountain)
Key sources 🥭🥬🥦🥝🥑🧀
K1 is found in spinach, broccoli, cauliflower kale, sprouts (in fact most green veg), and lesser amounts in fruits such as blueberries, kiwi fruits and avocados
K2 (better absorbed by the body) is found in salami (yay!) certain cheeses especially hard cheeses such as gouda, edam, jarlsberg and cheddar and blue cheeses like stilton.
Apparently, a Japanese delicacy of fermented soya beans called natto is particularly high in vitamin K so here’s a recipe for homemade natto https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/soy/how-to-make-homemade-natto/
Vitamin K meal suggestions: cauliflower cheese; broccoli cheese – a clever twist on cauliflower cheese or perhaps a fondue – melt a load of cheddar or edam (you probably need a lot of cheese to make sure you get plenty of the vitamin) and then dip in some of the vegetables – like broccoli, and cauliflower or possibly chunks of salami.
You may semi - protect yourself against covid but your arteries might grumble
Vitamin C. Now although also widely discussed, this is probably in league two as to its proven covid-prevention / cure successes. Reporting on this has been ambiguous…
Sky headline “Can large doses of vitamin C prevent or help to treat COVID-19?” With some fairly inconclusive answers “Medical health experts say there is limited evidence that vitamin C can even prevent the common cold, let alone fight off the new and unique COVID-19.” And from Medical News Today “Vitamin C, especially in the form of an intravenous (IV) infusion, is thought to help reverse some of the damage that COVID-19 can cause. There is no proof it can treat or cure coronavirus.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/can-vitamin-c-prevent-or-treat-covid-19#theory
Probably the most well known of the vitamins, especially for those prone to hangovers or colds,
Key sources 🍊🍑🍋🍈🥦🥔Vitamin C can be found in oranges (and all citrus fruits) red and yellow peppers; strawberries; blackcurrants; broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes. Wow. Broccoli strikes again. But potatoes??
I was surprised about that. On further potato research I found this in the New York Times “The quick-cooking process used in converting potatoes into chips actually helps retain the natural nutrients found in potatoes, which include protein, thiamine, niacin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and copper as well as vitamins C and B6”
OMG chips are good for you and may in some (completely unproven) way protect you from Coronavirus!
Get to the chippy now and save yourself 😁
So, for a triple threat immune-boosting meal using a combination of Vitamins D, K and C you could try
🧀🥦 Stilton and broccoli soup. (What I’ve gleaned from this research is that broccoli really seems to be a kick-ass veg)
🥩🍟🥦 steak and chips and more broccoli as it's so good for you
Then to finish,
🍓 blackcurrant and strawberry crumble with loads of custard made from the vitamin D filled egg yolks
There. An immune-boosting, possibly covid-protecting meal featuring all 3 of the key vitamins - though probably not a meal the heart surgeons are keen to promote.
Funnily enough, Vitamin A hasn’t as yet been flagged as a helpful vitamin in the war against coronavirus, although, with its known contribution to eye health, perhaps if Dominic Cummins had eaten a few more Vitamin A packed carrots he might have avoided the need for his lockdown Barnard Castle eye test trip.
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