Get Nutrient Savvy

Lacking energy levels? Want to make sure your immune system and memory functions are getting all the vital nutrients they need? Dr Carrie Ruxton from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS) has pulled together five top tips to update your diet.




Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), says: “No diet or nutrient will cure or protect against illnesses but there are ways we can update our diets to get our health on track. My five tips are;


  1. Support immune function with the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C and zinc, as well as vitamin A and D, are known to support normal immune function. Studies show that when Vitamin C and zinc are taken in combination at the start of a cold, they can knock a couple of days off your symptoms[1],[2]. Consider a daily multivitamin and multimineral supplement and eat plenty of citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, kale, fish and wholegrains.


  1. Energy levels can feel low as winter recedes. B vitamins have a vital role in helping the body to extract energy from our foods[3], particularly carbohydrates. A ‘B complex’ supplement, containing thiamin, riboflavin, B6, B12, folic acid and niacin is a good option, particularly if you are vegetarian or vegan. B vitamins are found naturally in soy, eggs, meat, seeds and fish.


  1. Wellbeing can be boosted by taking daily exercise[4], such as brisk walking, dancing or gym classes. This creates endorphin chemicals in the brain which make us feel more positive. Support your active lifestyle by choosing foods and drinks rich in polyphenols which support blood vessel function, such as colourful fruits and vegetables, orange juice, tea and small amounts of dark chocolate.


  1. Mental function depends on the ease of chemical messages jumping from one brain junction to another, called synapses. Studies show that the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in marine oils help to make this process more effective[5]. Omega-3s can be found in oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, or fish oil supplements. Algae supplements are available for vegetarians.


  1. While we can feel sleepier and more sluggish in the winter and spring, this can often be helped by getting better quality sleep, not necessarily more sleep! Switch off all screen-based entertainment at least an hour before bed, do some relaxing meditation[6] and then enjoy a warm milky drink. Dairy foods contain an amino acid, called tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin and help regulate sleep. You can also take a supplement containing 5-HTP or drink a chamomile or valerian tea before bed.






[3] EU register of authorised Nutrition and Health claims