Duck Your Head

Duck Your Head

Monday, November 15, 2021

By Mary Lou Block RDN LMNT 

Duck Your Head

When I tire of watering potted marigolds, I know am ready for fall’s end.  But I can’t say I am ready to duck my head for blustery winter winds!  Are you?

Ducking your head for winter involves more than putting on your hat.  If you really want to be ready, ramp up your immune system. 

Your Mother was Right

How do you do this?  Mind your mother, and eat liver?  Actually it turns out liver is high in Vitamin A, and Vitamin A is crucial to a healthy immune system.

Vitamin A is critical in several pathways of the immune system. Research shows that a constant dietary intake is necessary to maintain immune protecting concentrations.  Vitamin A

  1.  Inhibits development of inflammatory cells
  2.  Promotes development of adaptive immunity (T cells immunity)
  3.  Affects antibody production

Vitamin A also provides first line defense against invading pathogens in your respiratory and digestive systems.  Because it helps form the linings of these organs, it is a barrier against such invaders. 

Does catching a cold mean you have a low Vitamin A level?  Maybe.  As you are evaluating this, consider other Vitamin A deficiency symptoms of dry skin, diarrhea, cough, and dry eye.

Look in Your Refrigerator not Your Medicine Closet

A multivitamin that includes Vitamin A is one way to ensure adequate levels, but high doses can have serious side effects such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, birth defects and death.    Vitamin A in its two natural food sources is your safe option. 

Natural Vitamin A Sources

Preformed Vitamin A (animal products): 

  • Meat (especially liver, organ meats)
  • Fish (especially cod liver oil)
  • Dairy products

Pro-vitamin A (deep green or deep yellow/white vegetables and fruits):             

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Winter squash
  • Kale
  • Sweet Potato
  • Spinach
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricot                                                                                
  • Pumpkin  Pie

Natural is Safe

Natural is safe, but take note, high amounts of plant- sourced vitamin A can temporarily cause your skin to turn a lovely yellow-orange color!   Have you ever met a dieter who got carried away eating too many carrots and experienced their skin turning orange?

Moral to the story:

Include a Vitamin A food every day or every other day to help maintain a healthy immune system this winter.   

If you notice that your neighbor looks a little orange, don’t mistaken him for a fall pumpkin, just know he has been serious about improving his immune system.  He is fully prepared to duck his head this winter, but he just happened to eat too many carrots!