TURBO-CHARGING YOUR WINTER VITAMIN REGIMEN
Supporting your body nutritionally is important year-round, but particularly during the winter, with its blustery weather, dry air, stressful holiday schedule and the cold and flu season all combined into a few dark months. Supplementing your diet with extra doses of the following nutrients can make a big difference in how you weather the storm.
You may have been told by your mother to remember your vitamin C during the cold and flu season. She wasn’t wrong—vitamin C plays an important role in staying healthy, although not the one you might think. According to some studies, vitamin C alone has little effect on your ability to resist a cold. However, taken in combination with a full vitamin regimen, vitamin C does increase the health-boosting benefits of other nutrients—like zinc, magnesium and B vitamins—all of which play more direct roles in resisting attacks by winter germs.
Supplementing with extra vitamin E along with vitamin C has been shown in studies to help maintain a healthy immune system, particularly for those over age 65. In addition, extra vitamin E taken with vitamin C has been shown in studies to boost collagen production, which can help in the fight against wrinkles—something you become even more prone to in dry winter air. The one-two punch of vitamins A and C can also help boost your skin’s own protection from UV rays, which are particularly intense on sunny ski slopes.
Zinc is one of the key elements in a healthy immune system. Not only does it strengthen the skin, your biggest barrier against invading germs, it also helps govern the ability of each cell to fight off infections. A good dose of both vitamin C and zinc at the outset of a cold is one of the best ways to reduce its length and severity.
Magnesium plays a crucial role in immunity, helping to regulate hundreds of processes inside our cells, including those involved in fighting off an infection. Sufficient quantities of magnesium also come into play during periods of sustained physical stress—think shoveling the driveway—helping you bounce back quicker after heavy exertion.
VITAMIN B12 & FOLATE
Vitamin B12 is one of the best nutrients when it comes to keeping up your energy levels, which can diminish for many people by the end of the day, particularly on short, dark winter days. As with many nutrients, scientists are learning that B12 supplementation works best when taken with a companion nutrient—in this case, folate. Taken together they lift natural energy levels, which can lag in the winter for many people.
Vitamin D is one of the most crucial vitamins for keeping you healthy. A lack of vitamin D is associated with everything from brittle bones to seasonal affective disorder, and while your body can create it naturally when exposed to the sun, getting enough light on your skin in the winter can be a challenge. Doctors often recommend a good vitamin D supplement to help keep you strong until short-sleeve weather returns.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids present a triple threat to the afflictions of winter. They boost metabolism in the fight against winter weight gain, support immunity, and play an important role in brain health. Fish, nuts and avocadoes are good sources, although quality over-the-counter supplements work as well.
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