Wintertime brings more than chilly weather. For one thing, the days are shorter, resulting in less exposure to sunshine. Colder temperatures also mean we stay inside more, further limiting our access to sunlight.
Many people may also change their diets, whether they mean to or not. For example, many types of local produce are not in season during the winter, so people may consume less fresh fruits and vegetables, leading to a diet deficient in many kinds of vitamins and minerals. Other people may find themselves reaching for comfort foods during dark winter days or for extra treats during the holiday season. Sugary foods and refined carbs may replace the nutrients the body needs.
No matter what the case, the following are a few of the crucial vitamins and minerals you may require more of during the winter season.
Vitamin D is important because when sunlight strikes the skin, it interacts with cholesterol there. The interaction triggers a biochemical process that causes our bodies to manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D also instructs cells in the colon to absorb calcium and phosphorus.
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to feeling sad and down moods. You may also feel fatigued, weak, and have symptoms like bone pain and muscle cramps.
Taking a vitamin D supplement is one way to ensure your body has enough to elevate your mood and keep other bodily systems functioning optimally. Increasing your intake of foods rich in D is an even better idea. Cod liver oil, swordfish, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and sardines are rich sources of vitamin D.
Winter is a time when you may also need a dietary boost of vitamin C. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps support the immune system. The need for healthy immune function is higher during the winter, as people spend more time indoors sharing germs. Vitamin C also bolsters your body’s ability to heal wounds, nourishes the skin, and maintains bones and teeth.
Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, blueberries, and more are excellent sources of vitamin C. Even if these fruits and vegetables are not in season in your area, consider prioritizing them in your diet or taking a supplement.
Many people who experience that low energy we call “the winter blahs” may be suffering from anemia brought on by low iron levels. This gets back to vitamin D. It promotes the process of erythropoiesis, the formation of red blood cells in blood-forming tissues. Thus, eating foods high in iron is recommended during the winter. Not getting enough iron may leave you feeling exhausted, lightheaded, and even short of breath.
You can find iron in red meats, beans, dark leafy vegetables, poultry, and seafood.
Another common winter nutritional deficiency is low levels of zinc. Zinc helps your immune system fight off bacteria and illness. You also need it to make proteins and DNA. It’s especially important during pregnancy or childhood when the body is developing.
By habit or tradition, people have a tendency to eat fewer foods rich in zinc during the cold months. High zinc-content foods include nuts, spinach, pumpkin seeds, beef, and seafood. People with low zinc levels, once again, feel that oppressive “winter blues” feeling of being tired and rundown.
As you may notice, all the nutritional elements mentioned in this article work synergistically. A well-balanced diet high in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables supported by smaller amounts of seafood and red meat is very important during the winter. In some instances, you may require a supplement to get the vitamins and minerals you need. The right foods and supplements can help you feel more energized, boost your immune system, and lead to overall better health during the winter and beyond.