Five Essential Winter Supplements
Winter is coming, which means that our health needs are shifting with the season. Less natural sunlight, lower temperatures and the common cold mean that our bodies – and minds – have a lot to contend with.
We’ve rounded up five essential supplements that can help fortify and support your wellbeing for the colder months ahead.
Vitamin D is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in our overall health and is obtained through diet, supplementation and sun exposure. In fact, it’s nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin.”
However, due to our unique geography and northern climate – Canadians get less sun exposure and skin-synthesized vitamin D during winter. It can also be a tricky nutrient to obtain enough of through diet alone. Because of its role in the body’s many functions and its benefits in supporting healthy immunity, vitamin D is an ideal supplement for supporting overall health especially throughout the dark winter months.
Vitamin D supplements are available in liquid drops, capsules and tablets and are available in a wide range of doses to accommodate all ages and lifestyles. Health Canada also has daily intake recommendations for Vitamin D that can help you choose the product that’s right for you.
The Canadian Mental Health Association states that an estimated 15 per cent of Canadians experience the “winter blues”: crankiness, fatigue, decreased energy and feelings of anxiety.
While exercise, journaling and connecting with loved ones all have beneficial effects on our mood, dietary choices can also affect it – including the essential fatty acids that occur naturally in fish oils.
Supplementing daily with a quality fish oil containing 100-5,000 mg EPA and DHA can help with the maintenance of good health – a great preventative approach that can help protect wellbeing, and taken alongside a healthy diet, omega-3 fish oils with a higher ratio of EPA to DHA (2:1), containing at least 1000 mg EPA can also help to promote healthy mood balance.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known micronutrients that we often get from brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. It supports tissue formation, provides antioxidants, helps the body metabolize nutrients – and helps support or maintain immune function – making it a great ally for helping to fight off the common cold.
Numerous studies have examined the potential benefits of supplementing with vitamin C during cold and flu season, noting its role in immune support, and helping to potentially reduce the severity and/or duration of the common cold.
Vitamin C is available in formats and dosages for all ages – even naturally-sweetened chewable tablets for little ones!
Probiotics have become one of the most popular natural health products for their ability to support intestinal/gastrointestinal health and promote healthy gut flora, and some studies have examined their beneficial effects on the immune systems. Our bacterial populations can be impacted by stress, diet, antibiotics and harsh cleansers, and probiotics can help restore them.
Tip: beneficial bacteria can also be found in abundance naturally in traditionally fermented beverages (kombucha), vegetables (sauerkraut) and dairy products (kefir).
Unfortunately, most of us tend to come down with a cold during the winter. Echinacea is a Traditional Herbal Medicine that can help relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Different kinds of echinacea also have different benefits. Based on Traditional Herbal Medicine, Echinacea angustifolia helps relieve sore throats, whereas Echinacea pallida and Echinacea purpurea help to relieve cold symptoms.
Echinacea can be found in a variety of forms including teas, tinctures, sprays, lozenges, and capsule form. Be sure to follow the dosage on the label as echinacea is not meant to be taken long-term.
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