Shorter days during the winter months can wreak havoc on our immune system. Add in cold weather, more time indoors, colder weather and less fruits and vegetables and our bodies pay a hefty price that can be seen in our skin (dry), and in our bodies overall when we tend to pack on winter weight.
It is especially important to increase our exercise routines or create a winter routine that keeps our bodies burning fats and calories plus increase our water intake so that our skin stands a chance of staying hydrated. Using specific vitamins and supplements, with your doctor’s permission, will help to balance the effects of winter wear and tear on our sacred bodies.
Always try to get the maximum amount of nutrients that you can through whatever the winter offers in fruits and veggies, whole, clean foods and clean water but when you know you are falling short, and who doesn’t, these vitamins and supplements can help:
Due to the lack of strong sunlight during the winter months, our immune system needs and must have a source for vitamin D. This magic vitamin helps us use and absorb essential minerals and promote cell development. Vitamin D regulates our immune system and regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Vitamin D and calcium are the dynamic duo for a healthy body.
The easiest way to get Vitamin D is to take 10 minutes and go outside and stand in the sunlight. (We are basically plants with complex emotions), and we need to process the powerful vitamin D from the sun to gain the optimum benefits. When sunlight is in short supply you can get this very needed vitamin through eggs, butter, milk, mushrooms, cod liver oil and fatty fish. If those options do not appeal, then a supplement might be necessary. A blood test will alert the doctor to any deficiency and by how much. You may qualify for a prescription of Vitamin D in much higher doses than what is available over the counter. Too much of this vitamin is not healthy so please consult your doctor to help get you regulated.
Oranges, strawberries, dark leafy vegetables, tomatoes, broccoli just to name a few. Vitamin C gets its claim to fame by protecting against immune deficiencies. For example, helping to prevent a cold or the flu. Vitamin C helps our bodies detox from environmental toxins like heavy metals. Our bodies cannot make Vitamin C, so we need help. Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals and is essential for the liver to process and eliminate toxin build up. There is always a risk of taking too much Vitamin C, but your body will eliminate what it does not use. Not so much for most of the vitamins and supplements out there.
Iron helps to carry oxygen throughout your body which helps to nourish your organs and keep your body functioning optimally. Not enough iron could lead to a diagnosis of anemia. Please check with your doctor through a blood test to know your iron levels and what is optimal for you. A supplement may be needed. Your doctor will be able to tell you what mg dose is right for you. In the meantime, foods that are high in iron can be found in green leafy vegetables, red meat, poultry, and seafood.
As far as antioxidants go, zinc plays the part perfectly. Zinc helps to fight free radical damage, repair tissue breakdown, balance hormones and support healthy immunity and digestion. Without this essential mineral you may feel tired and sick. Foods that aid in getting enough zinc are spinach, beef, beans, seafood, pumpkin seeds (not salted), nuts.
Folate is naturally found in food and folic acid is a synthetic version that is like Folate but less bio-available. Both nutrients are known for regulating mood. A bout of winter blues is less likely if you have enough of these 2 nutrients. In addition, they can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer and support healthy cell growth. Foods where these nutrients can be found are in greens, beans, peas, lentils, avocado, nuts, seeds, and broccoli.
Rounding out these top 5 vitamins and supplements are:
Vitamin A which helps support vision, the immune system and reproduction. It also helps the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Vitamin A can be found in poultry, seafood, and dairy products.
Vitamin B is the building blocks of a healthy body. Vitamin B impacts energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Vitamin B Complex helps prevent infections and helps support or promote cell health. Vitamin B Complex is normally found in supplement form. Ask your doctor if it is recommended for your daily use.
Vitamin E & Omega 3 help to support strong, healthy hair, skin, and nails. Vitamin E supports immune function, prevents inflammation, promotes eye health, and lowers the risk of cancer. Although the research on Vitamin E is still in development, ask your doctor if Vitamin E is right for you.
The best way to get all of these vitamins and minerals to your body is through the foods we eat but vitamins and supplements are a great alternative if you have a hard time with the foods listed or need to fill in the gaps in your diet.
DISCLAIMER: Vitamins and supplements are not right for everyone. Please check with your doctor to make sure that taking these are a good fit for your body. Diet and exercise are the best ways to do a body good.
*Information sourced from Institute for Integrative Nutrition