There are many reasons to love winter, including playing in the snow, drinking endless cups of tea, an eggnog latte or two, and enjoying the holidays with family and friends! But along with all of this winter fun comes a few downsides. Shorter days and less exposure to sunlight, cold temps mean less time spent outdoors, there are fewer options for fresh produce at farmer’s market, and more weather-beaten dry skin.
What to do?
In addition to staying active and breathing fresh air as much as you can it can help to focus on some specific vitamins and minerals that are known to balance the effects of winter on the body.
I am first and foremost a proponent for nutrients in whole food form, but a supplement can also help ensure you’re getting adequate amounts since none of us are perfect.
Vitamin C offers protection against immune system deficiencies - especially helpful in preventing cold and flu- while also helping our bodies detox, nourishing the skin, maintaining bones and teeth, and healing wounds. And that’s just to name a few of its benefits!
Foods that have it: peppers, dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and many other vegetables and fruits.
Check out my Mango & Turmeric Vitamin C Immune Boost Smoothie Recipe!
Most of us become deficient in Vitamin D during winter because we generally get it from the sun, and that’s much more challenging during the cold weather months. But without it, our health suffers. Vitamin D helps us absorb and metabolize essential minerals, promotes proper cell development, and regulates the immune system, all crucial for disease prevention and basic life functions.
What you can do: whenever possible step outside during mid-day sun for at least 15 minutes. You can also get Vitamin D in food through butter, milk, eggs, mushrooms, cod liver oil, and fatty fish.
Not only does iron help keep your immune system strong throughout cold and flu season, but it also helps with keeping your energy high despite the shorter days and decreased physical activity. Iron also helps to carry oxygen throughout the rest of your body, nourishing all of your organs so they’ll continue to functioning optimally.
Foods that have it: beans, dark leafy vegetables, red meat, poultry, seafood.
Zinc acts as an antioxidant in the body, fighting free radical damage, helping repair tissue, balancing hormones, and supporting healthy immunity and digestion. Without it you’re likely to feel sick and tired, a pattern already all too common in winter!
Foods that have it: spinach, beef, beans, seafood, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.
Folate or Folic Acid
Folate is the nutrient naturally found in foods, while folic acid is a synthetic version that is similar but slightly less bioavailable. Either way, it’s not just for when you’re pregnant! Both versions are a mood regulator, which means having enough could help you beat the winter blues. It can also help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer, and it supports healthy cells growth.
Foods that have it: dark leafy greens, beans, peas, lentils, avocado, nuts and seeds, and broccoli.
Additional nutrients to boost in winter are Vitamin E and Omega-3’s to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy and strong. Eating a variety of wholesome natural foods is the best way to get adequate amounts of all the nutrients you need, but a good quality supplement can also help make up for any gaps in your diet.
How do you ensure you're getting enough nutrients during the winter months?
Share in the comments below!