Eating for Energy

Eating for Energy

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Nutritionist Mary Cotter has shared a list of essential nutrients to help maximise your energy and immunity this winter. Iron…

Janet Johnston

By Janet Johnston


Nutritionist Mary Cotter has shared a list of essential nutrients to help maximise your energy and immunity this winter.

Iron is essential for the formation of healthy red blood cells and it carries oxygen to tissues all around our body.

  • When we don’t eat sufficient iron, we are at increased risk of experiencing fatigue, reduced concentration and muscle function.
  • Iron is most readily available in animal produce such as red meat, eggs and fish but is also available in many plant-based foods including dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach and cabbage, as well as soy beans and lentils.
  • If you are unsure you can ask your doctor to test your iron and ferritin levels. Ferritin levels are an indication of your stored iron levels, so are also useful to check.

Protein is needed for your skin, cell and muscle formation and as fuel for your body.

  • When you aren’t getting enough, symptoms may include fatigue, constant hunger and mood swings – and in more severe cases, joint pain, high blood sugar levels and low immunity.
  • Most sources of protein in our diets comes from animal produce like meat, eggs and dairy. These are called complete proteins as they contain all the amino acids our body needs.
  • There are plenty of plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, pulses, tofu and nuts but these are called incomplete proteins as they don’t contain all the amino acids and we need to ensure we get a good mix. In some cases protein powders can be a useful supplement.
  • Over-reliance on mass produced vegan cheese or ‘fake meat’ products which are often highly processed is not recommended. It’s better to focus on natural sources of protein where possible.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to anaemia.

  • This important B vitamin helps to support our blood cells and without it, we’re at increased risk of memory problems and fatigue.
  • Joint pain or digestive problems such as diarrhoea and nausea are other common symptoms. Animal produce is the best source of vitamin B12 and it will be very difficult to maintain good vitamin B12 status from plants alone. It can be helpful to supplement with vegan B12.
  • Ensuring you have optimal stomach acid will also aid absorption and reduce risk of deficiency. ​

Calcium is known for its role in healthy strong bones, teeth, nerve and muscle function.

  • It’s also important for the metabolism of iron and the absorption of vitamin B12 both mentioned above.
  • Most people think of dairy products when they hear the word calcium but other great sources of calcium include tofu, tempeh, miso, soybeans, tahini and dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D is essential for absorbing and using calcium.

  • Vitamin D deficiency isn’t just a risk for vegans and vegetarians – it’s widespread and most of us are at risk.
  • We synthesise vitamin D from sunlight which, if you live in the UK, can be in short supply especially in winter.
  • If you are vegan double check you are using a vegan vitamin D supplement as many are sourced from lanolin, which is from sheep’s wool.

DHA is needed to support a healthy brain.

  • It comes directly from oily fish which is a great source.
  • If you are plant-based or vegan you can use a plant based supplement from sea algae which will support optimal brain function, memory, concentration and learning.

Creating your meals around these nutrition tips will help keep your energy levels and immunity up this winter!

For more information visit Mary’s website at or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

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