Top 5 Vitamins You Should Be Getting More Of During Coronavirus Pandemic

Shops and businesses across the country may be reopening, but that does not mean you can start letting your guard down. The COVID-19 coronavirus is still out there, thus you need to keep yourself healthy and protected anywhere you go. One way to stay healthy at all times and avoid getting infected by the virus is by amping up your intake of vitamins. These are normally obtained through a balanced diet full of naturally-sourced food and are also available in both supplement form and fortified foods.

"That still doesn't guarantee everyone will get all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to protect against chronic health problems," dietitian Mira Ilic told the Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials news portal. "Certain medical conditions, economic or demographic factors that influence access to food, life stages and special diets can increase the risk for vitamin insufficiencies that can compromise your health." Ilic listed 5 vitamins that you should be getting more of during the pandemic:

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A helps in your vision, as well as your heart, skin and immune health. It is found in pre-formed vitamin A (retinol) and beta-carotene, which is converted into an active form of the vitamin by your body. 

Vitamin A in beta-carotene is found in green and orange-yellow vegetables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach and broccoli. 

As retinol, vitamin A is also found in eggs, milk, butter, eggs and liver.

Vitamin B6 

One of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in the human body, vitamin B6 is known for its role in regulation of sleep, appetite and mood. It plays an important role in cognitive abilities and immune function and also aids in red blood cell production. Unfortunately, though deficiency is rare, many (particularly the elderly) do not get the recommended daily intake for the vitamin.

Vitamin B6 is obtained through meat, whole grains, vegetables and nuts. But it is also found in baked potatoes, bananas, chickpeas and other fortified foods.

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 helps keep your nerve and blood cells healthy while aiding in your body's energy production and DNA. This vitamin needs to be absorbed properly for you to get these benefits. Do note that as you age, the presence of stomach acid needed to break down protein and release vitamin B12 from food is lessened. Conditions such as Crohn's disease and medications such as proton pump inhibitors and the anti-diabetes drug metformin can affect absorption. 

You can usually get vitamin B12 through fish, clams, meat, eggs, dairy products (such as milk, cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt) and fortified soy milk. If you are aged 50 and above or are at risk of getting insufficient amounts of the vitamin, ask a doctor about whether you should take a supplement.

"For vegetarians and vegans -- you may be more at risk for having too little B12 in your diet," Ilic said. "Fortified foods can be good sources. Just make sure to avoid the sugary stuff."

Folate And Folic Acid 

Folate generally refers to many different forms of vitamin B9. One of eight B vitamins, it plays a role in red blood cell formation and function. Intake of the vitamin is particularly important for women for preventing birth defects during the first three weeks of pregnancy. 

Folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, is used in supplements and in fortified foods.

Getting the recommended amount of folate through food alone can be difficult for some. "Keep in mind that many of us are still not getting enough fruits, vegetables and legumes -- our best sources for folate," Ilic said. "Increasing your daily consumption can be easier than you think, though." You can get folate naturally through increased intake of the following foods: 

  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits - particularly citrus fruits, melons and strawberries
  • Fruit Juice - especially those low in sugar
  • Legumes - such as dried beans and peas

Because extra help is needed to get the full amount of vitamin B9 through diets, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also requires folic acid be added to enrich some breads, assorted cereals, flour, corn meal, rice, pastas and other grain products. Just make sure to read the labels first when getting vitamin B9-fortified foods.

Vitamin D 

Enough intake of Vitamin D is important for your body to absorb calcium needed for healthy bones and teeth. Deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to certain cancers and heart disease. Unlike in the case of other vitamins, however, the main source of vitamin D is not food, but the sun. Risk factors for low vitamin D levels include living at high latitudes, high air pollution or smog levels and darker skin pigmentation.

Many foods have been fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice, milk and breakfast cereals. Natural food sources of vitamin D include: 

  • Fatty Fishes - such as salmon, tuna and sardines
  • Mushrooms 
  • Whole Eggs

If you do not eat fish or if the above-listed foods are not available, consult with a doctor about a vitamin D supplement.

carrots vitamin A Carrots and broccoli are good sources of vitamin A, which has been found helping reduce the risk of skin cancer. Pixabay

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