COTW: Vitamins

It’s been a while since either of us have written a Chemical of the Week (COTW) post but we decided it was about time we got back into the swing of things so I’m writing about vitamins this week.

Strictly speaking these aren’t always in products that you apply to your hair, face, skin etc as you can obviously eat and drink your way into getting your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of each vitamin too so I’ll cover both wherever I can.

But this as we all know can be really hard. I try every day to get my 5 a day and most days I do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do and who know if I’m getting them all by eating those particular 5 pieces.

However I still think you can make an effort to add in one extra portion of fruit or veg specific to your current need.

Today my post is about the top 12 vitamins and minerals that your body needs each day, what they’re good for and what foods you can eat or whizz into a smoothie for an easy way to stock up.
(Just to let you know this was inspired by an article I recently read in a fitness magazine but I can’t remember which one sorry!

Calcium – is clearly good for bones and teeth which lets face it are pretty vital regardless of how much you want your skin and hair to look! It’s also pretty darn important for muscle contractions and therefore your heartbeat.
You can apply it topically in the form of yogurt masks, and this will help your skin protect itself from the elements particularly dryness and can help against anti-aging woop!
This one’s an excuse to nibble on an extra bit of cheese, grab a glass of milk or snack on soya, butter, yoghurt and leafy green veg.

Iron – another vital element that carries oxygen around your body an therefore needs to be kept in high levels or you’ll start feeling pretty tired and weak.
Cosmetically you need iron in your bloodstream to carry oxygen to skin and hair, but a lack of it will not only stop this process but also contribute to hair loss and itchy skin.
Red meat is clearly high in iron, but if you don’t fancy meat then you can eat nuts, wholegrains or kale.

Magnesium – this mineral strengthens bones and relaxes muscles as well as helping the body get energy from food we have ingested.
You can apply magnesium oil to your skin directly and it’s great for helping to heal wounds. The biggest action it has is to stabilise DNA and RNA which slows aging down dramatically.
Magnesium is in so many foods that it’s easy to pick up; dairy products, nuts, leafy green vegetables, brown rice and wholegrain bread.

Zinc – processes nutrients in food, heals wounds and keeps the immune system healthy.
Aesthetically it’s great for accelerating skin renewal and is renowned for playing a key part in fighting acne, it also strengthens nails and keeps hair looking shiny and healthy.
Creams can be used for skin conditions such as psoriasis and zinc can often be present in shampoos for dandruff.
Chow down on nuts, lean meat, milk, cheese, shellfish and wholegrains to get your hit of zinc.

Vitamin A – is also known as retinol and is an antioxidant. It is great for your immune system, eyes, gastrointestinal diseases and skin, particularly acne, psoriasis, eczema, sunburn aaaaaaaaaand wrinkles! What a winner. 

It can be applied directly to the skin as a topical treatment for wound healing, prevention of wrinkles and to protect the skin against UV radiation.

You can get your daily RDA from eating foods such as liver, oily fish, carrots, paprika, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach.

Vitamin B1 – also known as thiamin. The group of B vitamins generally help your body to break down food and absorb the nutrients from it, but thiamin is also important for your nervous system, coping with stress and muscles. 

You can get you RDA of thiamin from wholegrain breads, fortified cereals, liver, vegetables, nuts and eggs.

Vitamin B2 – is also known as riboflavin. Another B vitamin it is again helpful in digestion and helps to convert food to energy as well as playing a key role in eye and skin function.

Sources of B2 include eggs, milk, spinach, mushrooms, almonds and fortified breakfast cereals.

(In fact, fortified cereals contain a massive amount of vitamins and minerals and are one of the best ways to kickstart your day with a boost of vitamins and energy!)

Vitamin B12 – otherwise known as cobalamin. This is massively important for brain health, nerve formation and production of red blood cells. Pretty darn important considering I’d never heard of it! Apparently you can get a serious form of anaemia if you don’t get enough of this one, eek!

Another point to note, this one can help against depression and keep energy levels up so make sure you get this in daily!

It can be applied to the skin directly with an oil as a treatment for eczema or psoriasis.

I will be passing on marmite for this one which contains B12, so I’ll stock up on eggs, milk, cheese, salmon, cod and meat.

Folic Acid – also known as Vitamin B . This functions with B12 to form red blood cells and is very important if you’re pregnant as it can help reduce the risk of spina bifida in babies.
Folic acid is very important for hair growth so if you’re planning on growing your hair and/or just keeping it healthy you need get this into your diet too.
You can get a dose of Folic Acid from fortified cereals, broccoli, beetroot, brown rice and chickpeas.

Vitamin C – also known as ascorbic acid. This is a massive one that you should definitely make sure you’re getting plenty of as not only is it big news for your immune system and fighting off infections but also heals wounds and plays a huge part in collagen production…..i.e. fights sagging and wrinkles!
There are plenty of Vitamin C containing products such as the Body Shop range and lots of radiance inducing masks.
Eat lots of citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes.

Vitamin D – is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin as your body gets it from being out in the sun’s rays. It helps to fight SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and is crucial for bone function due to its ability to help the body absorb calcium.
Again, this one is great for hair growth and skin conditions such as psoriasis.
If it’s not sunny enough…i.e. generally in the British weather! then you can get your RDA by eating oily fish and eggs. 

Vitamin E – is another antioxidant that helps against heart and eye problems but also for preventing damage to cells. The less damage to cells the less likely they are to malfunction and age prematurely so get some of this vitamin down your neck!
You can apply vitamin E directly to your skin to help with acne and scars, it’s also great for dry skin, softening hair and fixing split ends.
Seeds such as sunflower seeds, almonds and spinach contain vitamin E.

In summary if you’d like to get lots of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet, eat a good mix of wholegrains, leafy greens especially spinach, dairy products, lean meats and nuts and you should be just fine!

Did you find this post interesting and helpful? Will you be adding some more vitamins to your diet for better skin and hair?
It was really interesting researching it all, if there’s anything else you’d like to see in a Chemical of the Week post let us know.

L xxx

*All pictures are from Pinterest. I used WebMD, NHS and various other food and science websites for the information for this post.

1 Comment

  1. Beauty Bird
    April 13, 2013 / 12:31 pm

    Great post! I take Zinc & Vitamin C, Calcium & Vitamin D and Fish Oil supplements, just in case I don't get enough through my diet xx

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