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You might be focused on how warm your hat can be and if your coat is puffy enough. But what you put into your body during the winter can be just as important as what you put on it. Nutrients help your body run like normal and protect it from threats like germs. Ideally, you should get your nutrients from the foods you eat; however, we know that no one is perfect. And that’s where supplements come into play. We’ve compiled a list of vitamins that can be beneficial to your health this winter. But as always, ask you doctor before adding a new vitamin to your regime.
Ah, the “sunshine vitamin.” Your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, which can be a bit problematic during the winter when the days are shorter and it’s too cold to spend a lot of time outdoors. Taking a vitamin D supplement has lots of health benefits like healthy bones and improved resistance against certain diseases. It can also help you fight the winter blues. There aren’t many foods that contain vitamin D. Fish, dairy and mushrooms do, but in such small amounts that it can be hard to meet your daily requirement from just eating these foods. The recommended amount needed has changed over the years, but Mayo Clinic says getting between 600 and 2,000 IU (that’s international units for those of us who don’t speak fluent vitamin) is safe and can be beneficial. Of course, your doctor can help decide how much is right for you.
The way people talk about it, you might think that vitamin C is the magic vitamin. So many people swear it can keep you healthy and happy during the cold and flu season. We hate to burst your happy little immunity bubble, but that’s not necessarily the case. Vitamin C can’t prevent you from getting colds but it can reduce their severity. That’s because vitamin C strengthens your body’s immune system. Looking for C outside the bottle? Try cranberries, citrus fruits, leafy greens and bell peppers. An apple a day won’t keep the doctor away, but an orange might (and if it doesn’t, it at least tastes good).
Almost five million people in the U.S. suffer from an iron deficiency, which can be problematic since it’s the mineral that produces hemoglobin. “Hemo-what?” you may ask. Hemoglobin is the protein responsible for carrying oxygen to your tissues, so it’s kind of important. It can also help regulate your body temperature, which can definitely come in handy when you’re trying to stay warm this season. So if you’re feeling fatigued, experiencing cold hands and feet, have brittle nails, or deal with headaches, chat with your doctor about adding an iron supplement into your diet. You can also cook up some beans, lentils, leafy greens or red meat to add some more iron in the kitchen.
While a vitamin E deficiency is rare, it is a vital component to your health — specifically your skin health. Winter weather can cause your skin to get flaky, dry and itchy, but lotions fortified with vitamin E can help your skin hold water, keeping it soft and resilient. It also has been shown to decrease inflammation, redness and wrinkles as well. So while not a supplement in the traditional sense, supplementing your skin routine with some vitamin E does have its benefits. And it’s E-asy to do — most lotions contain this skin-protecting vitamin. Just flip the bottle of your favorite moisturizer over and read the ingredients label. St. Ives, Burt’s Bees, Vaseline and Lubriderm all offer lotions with vitamin E.
You’ve probably heard of superfoods. But how about super vitamins? The B vitamins definitely fall into that super category by maintaining cell health and keeping you feeling energized. And yes, we mean vitamins (plural) because there are different types of B vitamins that have different benefits. B-12 helps regulate your nervous system and B-6 helps your body turn food into energy. B-1 and B-2 also convert what you eat into energy but also tout neurological benefits and support proper eyesight. See what we mean about being super? In the colder months, B-12 is most beneficial for it can improve your mood and boost your energy. You can get your winter dosage in whole grains, red meats, legumes and leafy greens.
The Takeaway: Your Mom Was Right, Vitamins Matter
Vitamins (and minerals) are crucial nutrients to overall health and well-being, not just during the winter but also year-round. When it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system, staying warm and fighting the winter blues, supplements can help. It’s also important to remember there are no magic pills, and that goes for vitamins too. Eating a healthy diet should give you the vitamins you need and supplements should do just that: supplement. Talk with your doctor about any deficiencies you may be experiencing and figure out what dosage is right for you. How do you supplement your health in the colder months?