Six Vitamins and Minerals for a Healthy Winter
By Kennika Freeman
Yes BSU, it's here again, the cold and exciting month of March Madness! The time of year when the days are short and the air is cold and dry. The frigid temperatures, lack of sunlight, leftover holiday stress and the risk of catching a cold or the flu may leave you feeling lethargic and unwilling to get out. However, luckily there are natural ways to battle the bothersome effects of winter with vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D, an incredibly important vitamin, is known best for being essential for Calcium absorption and bone health. However, recent studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to a variety of ailments from depression to colon cancer. Vitamin D can also help regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system, so it can be a great help in defending against those pesky cold and flu germs this winter. Because the body makes Vitamin D only after being exposed to the sun, consider either supplementing this vitamin or eating foods that contain it since you're likely not getting the solar exposure you would in the spring or summer. Foods to think about include salmon, tuna, mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese and of course, milk.
Vitamin C: Great for promoting skin health and immunity, Vitamin C is a necessary vitamin for winter because it gives your immune system a huge boost, helps you feel more energetic and will keep your skin softer in the dry atmosphere. It also has a reputation for providing relief from the common cold, a huge benefit if in anyone's book! Citric foods, such as oranges, contain this vitamin. Other foods to add to your diet for more Vitamin C are broccoli, cantaloupe, red cabbage, green peppers and kiwi. Orange juice and tomato juice are also high in Vitamin C.
Vitamin E: Want to avoid dry winter skin? Use Vitamin E! Vitamin E is great for your skin and eyes plus, it will give your immune system a boost as well.
Iron: Be sure you're getting enough iron this winter. It plays a key role in the body's production of red blood cells; the lethargy you may be blaming on winter blues may actually be a symptom of iron deficiency. To get all the iron you need, try to include food such as meat, fish, poultry, spinach, broccoli, dried fruits, nuts, beans, peas and lentils in your diet.
Niacin: Also known as Vitamin B3, Niacin can be effective in battling Seasonal Affective Disorder or even just mild "winter blues." This vitamin has proven to alleviate some of the depression symptoms you may feel during the winter months. Foods heavy in Niacin include salmon, pork, chicken, dried peas and beans, and whole grains.
Vitamin B12: B12 is another great vitamin for battling depression and fatigue in the wintertime. It can also help prevent irrational anger and obsessive-compulsive behavior. If you don't get enough of it, you can develop pernicious anemia, a fatal illness, so be sure to get it in your diet. Have some liver, meat, fish, eggs or milk to get your B12 fix since it comes from animal products. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may want to look into a supplement, so talk to your doctor for recommendations.
As always, discuss with your doctor before taking vitamin and mineral supplements, and remember it is usually better to get these vitamins naturally (from food) than by taking them in pill form. Have a safe and healthy winter!