Essential Vitamins for Winter
Winter is here, and along with that comes cold and flu season, along with shorter days and less sunshine. Because of the ongoing pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep healthy this winter. One way to do so is to boost your immune system naturally with specific vitamins and minerals, either in supplement form or, ideally, through what you eat. Eating nutrient-dense foods from various food groups that contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals is your best defense against seasonal illnesses.
Calcium is necessary for healthy bones, yet many people are at risk for calcium deficiency. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are quintessential calcium sources, but it’s also found in abundance in green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale and okra are good sources, along with soybeans. Some foods, such as cereals and orange juice, are fortified with calcium. And certain seeds, such as chia, poppy and sesame, are good sources as well.
Vitamin B Complex
Eight vitamins comprise vitamin B complex, and they work together to maintain cell health. All of the B vitamins are good for you and help support your immune system but in the winter, focus on vitamin B-12, as it can improve your mood and help lift you out of the winter blues. Fish, beef, eggs and dairy, plus fortified foods, are good sources of vitamin B-12.
Though it is essential year-round, vitamin C is especially useful to consume C in the winter as it helps support immunity during cold and flu season. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are excellent sources, as are leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. When the sun is shining, your skin absorbs vitamin D, but as the sun starts to retreat in the winter with fewer hours of daylight, it is important to look elsewhere for that essential vitamin. Milk is a natural source of Vitamin D, but for those who are not milk drinkers, there are other options: salmon, canned tuna and other oily fishes are good sources, as are egg yolks. Some orange juice and cereals are also fortified with Vitamin D.
Zinc is actually a mineral rather than a vitamin and is known to help regulate the immune system. Many people take zinc lozenges to reduce the duration of colds. To get some zinc in your system naturally, increase your intake of legumes, nuts, seeds, shellfish (especially oysters) and meat. Dairy foods and eggs also contain adequate levels of zinc.