During the winter months, temperatures are cold and the sun is in hibernation. This can bring on increased stress and strain on your immune system.
Yep, it’s not just your imagination that you tend to get sick more often during the cold-weather months. While colds can strike at any time, they are more common in the fall and winter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu activity also peaks between the months of December and February.
While all this news may tempt you to hide inside under a blanket until April, that’s hardly a realistic approach to thwart illness. Instead, wash your hands more frequently and avoid hanging out with friends who are sick.
And consider giving your body an extra boost by adding a handful of winter vitamins and supplements to your daily regimen. By taking just a few extra pills each morning, you could be saving yourself literal headaches in the future.
Here are five winter vitamins (and supplements) you should take this season:
Now more than ever, vitamin B is an essential vitamin to add to your daily diet due to its immune system-boosting benefits. Vitamin B1 has also been shown to help with heart function. Vitamin B6 is of particular importance as it supports protein and glycogen metabolism and along with vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B12 can help reduce tiredness and fatigue to support training intensity.
However, it is the benefits of, in particular, vitamin B-12 that makes vitamin B a must-have supplement during the winter months and plays a role in producing “happy” brain chemicals that can positively affect mood.
Moreover, low B-12 levels have been linked to depression. Depression and stress increase during the winter months, so vitamin B is highly recommended to keep you feeling spry and more hopeful during the winter. It’s also been reported that vitamin B has been found to reduce fatigue, which can be essential since most of us have been tasked with working from home, and have higher productivity expectations from our jobs.
2. Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps ward off free radicals. It’s also known as a close friend of the immune system and has been known to assist in fighting off the common cold during colder seasons. Since we don’t naturally create vitamin C on our own, it’s essential to get it through our diets with green vegetables like broccoli, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, and strawberries). Of course, supplements are a great source as well.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for men is 90 mg and for women is 75 mg.
3. Vitamin D
This is a fan favorite among physicians when advising patients to help strengthen their bones, as it helps our bodies absorb calcium easier. Recent developments have also found that vitamin D helps support our immune response, meaning a deficiency could lead to increased susceptibility to sickness. Diet and the sun are usually our main sources of daily vitamin D intake, so during the gloomy winter months, it’s essential to add supplements to our daily routines.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults between the ages of 19 and 70 is 600 IU with a target of vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels of at least 30 mg/mL.
This essential mineral helps the body’s immune system fight off viruses and bacteria— making it a true champion during the cold season. Zinc has also been found to help with acne, which can affect our self-esteem if not under control.
“Zinc has been shown in studies to be effective in preventing and reducing cold symptoms,” said registered dietitian LeeAnn Weintraub in an interview with Cardiff-SportsNutrition.com. “It helps prevent viruses from adhering to cell walls in the nasal passage and is involved in antibody production, an important immune system process.” If you aren’t already taking zinc and you feel like you’re getting sick, Weintraub said to start taking zinc supplements right away to “feel better sooner.”
The recommended daily amount of zinc for men is 11 mg and for women is 8 mg.
5. Probiotic supplements
These supplements help balance out the good bacteria in our guts, thus supporting our immune system in fighting off illness.
Since winter is the cold and flu season and can also exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, it’s high time to strengthen your immune system with good bacteria. Probiotics have been found to help replenish the good gut bacteria and alleviate stomach troubles.