When you feel your best, you feel amazing – full of life and vitality. October is Women’s Health Month at Blessed Herbs – celebrate with us and keep your inner glow burning strong with these natural tips for skin, bone, joint & digestive health!
By Amanda McQuade Crawford
I love October. I feel the best throughout this whole autumn month. It starts with my birthday (the 2nd) and ends with Halloween, merging with celebrations of our ancestors, known in my native southwest as El Dia del Muertos. For many people, the lethargy felt during the tail-end of summer heat transforms during October into an upsurge of vital force.
Even the plants that come to harvest during this month are bursting with life. Today I picked pomegranates from the garden to top salads with the juicy, antioxidant seeds, and my farmer friends let a few squash and pumpkins split so the birds can fatten on essential fatty acids before winter comes.
Choosing the Healthy Oils for Fall
We tend to need more essential fatty acids, too. I hardly need to fatten up, but I do love the feeling of inner nourishment that comes with choosing healthy oils for daily use, such as pumpkin seeds tossed on a bed of herbed brown rice just before serving.
Let's start with listening to the messages from our skin. Is it dry as winds whip around more these days? The Big Four fat-soluble vitamins help balance chapped, reddened skin.
Vitamins A,D, E, and K, all work with a hundred other nutrients in whole food. Vitamin A, unless you want all the science, comes in two forms: 1) ready-to-use or 2) ready-to-become Vitamin A. This last is called pro-Vitamin A.
Pre-formed A (ready-to-use) is found in animals: dairy, meat and fish. If you are vegan, you are the animal that makes ready-to-use vitamin A. Vegetable sources of pro-Vitamin A, also known as orange-yellow carotenoids, are found in carrots, pumpkin, squash, and green leafy vegetables. These carotenoids are changed into active Vitamin A in the digestive tract.
How much Vitamin A do I need?
Most people need a daily intake of 3,000 IU Vitamin A in food or supplement form of pre-formed vitamin A (retinol) (ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/). We usually need double to triple that of vegetable-source pro-Vitamin A, or carotenoids.
Most North Americans get their pro-vitamin A from leafy green vegetables, orange-yellow vegetables, tomatoes and tomato sauce, fruits, and some vegetable oils (Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91).
Top food sources of vitamin A in North American diets are usually meat, fish, and fortified cereals; the top sources of pro-Vitamin A include carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash.
(Solomons NW. Vitamin A. In: Bowman B, Russell R, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 9th ed. Washington, DC: International Life Sciences Institute; 2006:157-83; Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001).