Vitamin C, D and extra
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Which vitamins and supplements should you take in winter? (Image via Getty Images)
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before doing any physical activity or changing your diet, medication, or lifestyle, see a qualified health care provider.
With shorter days, less sun and the flu season, it’s time again to prepare our bodies for the colder days.
One way to strengthen our immune system at this time of year is with vitamins and dietary supplements.
What vitamins should you take in winter?
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Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium and is often referred to as the “sun vitamin” because our bodies produce the vitamin when we are exposed to the sun. However, with less sunshine and more time spent indoors, our bodies can become deficient during this time of year.
“Vitamin D is probably the hardest one to get through food, as sources are much more limited; This is the most common nutrient that I think requires year-round supplementation, “said Ginger Hultin, a Seattle-based registered nutritionist with Champagne Nutrition, in an interview with Yahoo Canada.
Health Canada recommends that people over 50 take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 international units (400), or 10 micrograms.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and also helps our bodies absorb iron and heal wounds. The recommended daily dose of vitamin C depends on your age. However, great sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, cabbage, and broccoli.
According to the US National Institutes of Health, people who take vitamin C supplements regularly may have a shorter cold or milder symptoms when they have a common cold.
Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C. (Image via Getty Images)
“The bone builders like vitamin D and magnesium, as well as those that support the natural immune system like vitamin C and zinc, are important all year round,” said Hultin. “The most important thing is to make sure you are not deficient in any of these nutrients so your body has everything it needs to fight off viruses and infections.”
The story goes on
Dr. David Jenkins, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Services in the Temerity Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, recommends maintaining a routine with supplementation.
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“As long as you don’t take it in large amounts for a long time, it seems pretty harmless,” Jenkins told Yahoo Canada. “You get addicted to the vitamin C you take, so don’t do it. I don’t want a cold turkey.”
Zinc is a nutrient that supports the functioning of your metabolism and immune system. According to Jenkins, there is evidence that zinc may prevent “the severe recurrence of colds” and even “reduce the time it takes to catch a cold”.
Nuts and seeds are suppliers of zinc. (Image via Getty Images)
According to the NIH, adult women need around 8 mg of zinc per day, while adult men need 11 mg. If you don’t want to add a zinc supplement to your routine, it can easily be included in your diet through a variety of foods.
“You can easily get your zinc needs with seafood, dairy, eggs and meat, nuts and seeds and beans,” advised Hultin.
Magnesium supports our muscles, nerve function and energy production, which is particularly important in the colder months of the year. Less daylight and a feeling of lack of energy are common in winter and can often lead to people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes, and bananas are all great sources of magnesium. However, if your diet does not provide you with adequate magnesium, a dietary supplement can help increase your energy levels.
Bananas, avocados, nuts, and seeds are all sources of magnesium (Image via Getty Images).
Which dietary supplements are suitable for you?
While diet supplements can be a great alternative for those of us in need of a winter boost, it is possible to overdo it. For example, too much vitamin C can put you at risk of developing kidney stones, while too much vitamin D can lead to hypercalcemia, which leads to nausea and constipation.
It is important to speak to your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet to make sure you are getting the correct vitamins and nutrients that you actually need.
“The supplement must be individual and often based on blood tests,” Hultin noted. “Excessive doses of many vitamins and minerals can be dangerous, so speak to your doctor and a registered dietitian to be on the safe side.”
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