Here’s the thing: I’m a big fan of getting your vitamins and minerals from food. For one, it’s super delicious, and for two, you get a variety of vitamins that work synergistically together in a form that is bioavailable to the human body.
That being said, when it’s winter–and here in Canada, winter is a loaded word–I think you have to take some extra steps to stay healthy.Whether it’s dry skin, the blues or yet another virus, winter brings with it much more than white, fluffy snow. And we’ve still got a few months left.
So how do we cope?
Move somewhere warmer, duh.
And if that doesn’t work, it may be worthwhile to look into taking some supplements. Here are the top 4 supplements you should be taking daily to get you through until Spring.
How it works: This fat-soluble vitamin is something we usually get from the sun. But with lack of exposure, supplementation is next best place. Vitamin D boosts the immune system, prevents the flu, reduces the risk of depression, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
What to look for in a supplement: Look for vitamin D3, which is the form your body synthesizes from the sun, and is easier for the body to absorb.
Foods containing D3: Cod liver oil, salmon, egg yolks, sardines, and cheese.
What to look for in a supplement: Look for supplements that contain EPA and DHA–these are the superhero omega-3s. A natural fish oil in liquid form is the best for absorption and lowest risk of oxidization (going bad). For vegans and vegetarians opt for Algal oil made from marine algae, as this contains the same amount of EPA and DHA found in fish (since it’s what they eat!). Even better, algae oil is a sustainable way of getting in your omega-3s.
Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids: Mackerel, salmon, and oysters. Aim to eat 2 servings of fish a week. Note: while there are vegan food sources of omega-3s, like flax seeds and chia seeds, they contain a form called ALA, which is poorly converted in the body (about 5% conversion)–meaning you’re really not reaping the benefits.
How it works: B vitamins do a lot: boosting the metabolism, reducing stress, mood regulation, and increasing energy production, to name a few. As water-soluble vitamins, they are easily flushed out of the body. B vitamins work synergistically together, but they also have their own roles. For example, Riboflavin (B2) boosts the immune system and energy levels, while Pantothenic Acid (B5) is needed to synthesize hormones and red blood cells.
What to look for in a supplement: Look for a complex that contains all of the B vitamins in their active coenzyme forms in order to properly absorb them. I love this one.
Foods containing B vitamins: dairy, legumes, meat, fish, oats, squash and green leafy vegetables all contain sources of different B vitamins. Eating a varied diet is key to getting them all!
How it works: A staple for cold + flu season, vitamin C boosts the immune system, and shortens the length of the common cold and respiratory tract infections. Vitamin C is also high in antioxidants and protects the body from oxidative stress. Vitamin C is also beneficial for you skin: it encourages the uptake of collagen, which is needed for healthy skin, hair, joints and digestive health.
What to look for in a supplement: When it comes to tolerance, most people can take higher doses with no side effects. A sign that you’re having too much? Digestive disturbances like nausea and diarrhea.
Foods containing vitamin C: Red and yellow peppers actually have almost twice the vitamin C of oranges. Vitamin C is also found in citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, and cauliflower.
What supplements do you take in the winter? Let me know in the comments below!