The numerous nutritional benefits of eating sunflower seeds make them essentially a superfood according to one recent article. Read the very latest in nutritional research here in this week’s Nutrition News, including how probiotics may support the immune system and how vitamin D can impact muscle function.

The nutritional benefits of sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are a versatile snack and cereal topping that can be used in all sorts of ways but they can also bring numerous health benefits that some people may not be aware of. This article by Medical News Today covers the range of nutritional benefits that come with eating sunflower seeds.

Being rich in healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidant compounds, sunflower seeds are good general support for keeping healthy; in particular, research suggests that they hold anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties. As sunflower seeds contain omega 6, they can also be an effective way of obtaining this fatty acid to keep the skin healthy which is further supported by their zinc content, which also contributes towards the maintenance of normal skin.

They are also a good source of the minerals magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, which contribute towards bone health. Sunflower seeds also contain the amino acids glutamine, arginine, and cystine, which are vital for protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

Sunflower seeds are a great, easy way of getting the right nutrients in your diet as they have a broad nutrient profile and are easy to incorporate into your routine through breakfast or snacking.

Probiotics and immune support

We know that probiotics can help maintain good gut health but a recent study reported by NutraIngredients suggests that probiotics could support the microbiome in its defence of the body against respiratory tract infections.

The research involved the analysis of 58 different studies and covered the probiotic strains Lactobacillus, Lacticaseibacillus, Bifidobacterium and Lactococcus. The researchers found that the consumption of probiotics prior to viral challenge were effective in boosting host immunity against viral infection. This is just one of a number of studies that link good gut health and the diversity of gut microbiota to positive health outcomes across a breadth of functions within the body.

As this is a systematic review of existing studies, further dedicated research would be needed to thoroughly establish the role gut health could play in immune system support.

Vitamin D deficiency’s effect on muscle function

Vitamin D deficiency has been to blame for a number of health conditions, such as reduced immune function, leaving you more susceptible to viral infections, and poor bone health but a recent study has also linked it to reduced muscle function.

According to an article in EurekaAlert! from the Society of Endocrinology, as many as 40% of the European population could have a vitamin D deficiency, which could leave the body vulnerable to a host of complications.  The study linked vitamin D deficient subjects with impaired muscle mitochondrial function, which could impact muscle function, performance and recovery.

The study’s author recognises that the findings are observational, illustrating association rather than causation, but stresses that the findings further support the numerous calls for vitamin D supplementation to ward off deficiency. Speaking of the findings, Dr Andrew Philp of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, the team behind the study, said, “Our results show there is a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle. They suggest that vitamin D deficiency decreases mitochondrial function, as opposed to reducing the number of mitochondria in skeletal muscle”.

While further research is needed, the findings are promising and further illustrate the importance of vitamin D for staying healthy.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.