It's a new year and you know what that means. Many people want to start it off right. Daily exercise and eating healthy are two of the most popular goals that are focused on. With the stress of the holidays and doing a little splurging on food we don't normally eat, our bodies are definitely craving some healing and nourishment. You may not even feel the effects of the stress experienced over the past month yet. But don't be surprised if it eventually manifests, as stress symptoms can appear long after the stress is gone. So why not be proactive?
One of the ways we can repair our bodies is to nourish it through whole foods. Eating whole, non-processed foods is the optimal way for our bodies to get the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to live a healthy life. There are the basic vitamins and minerals recommended to everyone. But sometimes, due to various health issues, genetic predispositions, age, etc., these requirements can differ from person to person. So it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to find out what recommendations are ideal for you.
For now, I'm going to stick to the basic vitamins that everyone is familiar with. Here is a simple list:
That might seem like a big list for the basics, but consuming these vitamins on a daily basis is quite simple when you stick to whole foods. And some foods are a great source of multiple vitamins. There is one tricky vitamin that I want to address though. That is vitamin D. Did you know researchers estimate that nearly 50% of the general population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency? That's a big percentage! One of the reasons for this is that there are only a few foods that actually contain therapeutic levels of vitamin D naturally. Then there are other foods that are fortified with vitamin D, but it is not enough to support your body's health needs. Another interesting fact is that vitamin D is not like other vitamins. It is actually a steroid hormone that we were designed to receive primarily through the sun. But with the use of sunscreen and not spending enough time outside, getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D on a daily basis is a challenge.
Aside from the sun, there are a few foods rich in vitamin D. Cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, eggs, and some mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D. It should be noted as far as mushrooms go, it really depends on their sunlight exposure while they are growing as to how much vitamin D they actually contain. So it's probably not a good idea to totally rely on mushrooms for an adequate intake. Of course we have another option. You can get the recommended amount through supplements. Being that I have a family history of osteoporosis, as well as having broken my foot a few years ago while on a run, keeping my vitamin D level up is a priority. I take Jarrow Formulas Bone-Up to keep my bones strong and my vitamin D levels optimal. That, along with eating plenty of vitamin D rich foods, puts me in a decent position when it comes to meeting my body's needs. The bottom line when it comes to vitamin D is don't be afraid to get a little sun without sunscreen, eat vitamin D rich foods, and consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Not all vitamin brands are created equally, so do some research and talk to your doctor about a trusted brand that is right for you.
Understanding the importance of vitamins in our diet and the role they play is essential. After all, our bodies need them to grow and develop. They are key to our immunity, digestion, and in our metabolism. So starting the day by giving your body a balance of its daily requirements is a wise choice. If you are vegan or dairy free, a vitamin D supplement is something to look in to. If you do consume dairy, you can use cow's milk in your smoothie bowl. Also, add some plain kefir or yogurt to the mix. Just make sure there is no sugar added.
The rest of the vitamins are more attainable through fruits and vegetables. Let it be noted that spinach is a real powerhouse when it comes to its nutritional content. By adding it to our smoothie, you get some folate, vitamin A, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-3, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Another beneficial green is avocado. It contains vitamin B-5 and vitamin E, along with those healthy fats we all know is so important for cell function. If the thought of adding greens turns you off, don't worry, you can't taste them. There are so many other standout flavors that the spinach and avocado stays pretty well hidden. Avocado also creates a delicious, creamy texture. Almonds are another ingredients containing multiple benefits. Biotin, Vitamin B-12, and vitamin E can be found here. You can get some vitamin B-1 by adding flaxseed. An added bonus is flaxseeds are a good source of omega-3's and fiber. Raspberries, along with avocado, are a good source of vitamin B-5. Cows milk, yogurt, or kefir can offer you vitamin B-12. Again, if you are vegan or dairy-free, look into a supplement. For a good dose of vitamin C, use a combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, or pineapple and mango.
At this point you may be wondering if taking a multi-vitamin is right for you. If you eat a well balanced diet and are getting plenty of vegetables, fruit, and dairy products, you are most likely in a good spot. But if you are lacking in any of those areas, or perhaps have a health issue that requires a bump in nutrients, adding a multi-vitamin is a good option. Discuss it with your doctor and ask plenty of questions to ensure you are getting a quality supplement. Research on the best mutli-vitamins done by Reviews.com goes into detail about how they chose their top contender and what kind of data they took into account. It's a great resource when deciding on a multivitamin. I thought they focused on important factors such as which supplements had a proprietary blend, if they had credible third-party verification, how many pills you would need to take daily, what inactive ingredients were used, and the blend of nutrients it contained. Check out their research if you are shopping for a multi-vitamin. You could also use this same approach when shopping for supplements in general.
So let's get started with this vitamin loaded smoothie bowl. After doing careful research, I have specifically chosen ingredients that will account for some of our recommended daily allowance. This smoothie bowl will definitely leave you feeling satisfied, provide you with energy for the day, and give your overall health a boost. Remember to add vitamin D into your diet if you choose to enjoy this dairy-free. You could always enjoy this beautiful bowl outside in the sunshine if weather permits.
1/2 cup milk of choice (cow's milk, coconut, almond, or filtered water)
1/2 cup plain kefir or yogurt (omit for dairy-free)
1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado
1 cup packed spinach
1-2 Tbs almond butter (your preference)
1 Tbs flaxseed
1 frozen banana
1 & 1/2 cup organic frozen strawberries, blueberries, & raspberries (swap with frozen pineapple and mango for a tropical taste)
unsweetened shredded coconut
chopped almonds (or another nut or seed)
1. Combine all ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth. It's a good idea to gradually add the milk, especially if you are using kefir or yogurt. To keep your smoothie bowl thick, you may not need as much milk.
2. Once blended to your desired consistency, add toppings and enjoy! Makes 1 large bowl or 2 small bowls.