Winter is a magical time of year, but it can also bring coughs, colds, fatigue, and even the seasonal blues. This is especially true for those of us living in areas with long, cold winters.
Living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, believe me when I say: I get it. Winter can be tough on the body and the mind.
That’s why establishing a supplement routine—and sticking to it!—is more important in the winter than any other time of year.
On that note, here are the five supplements to take all winter long. They will help keep your immune system in tip top shape, your gut microbiome happy, and your inflammation levels in check.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine hormone” because you get it from directly exposing your skin to the sun, which is something that’s in short supply during the winter. This can be a problem, especially when you learn that low levels of vitamin D are connected to a 14 percent increase (1) in depression. As you can see, getting your vitamin D levels checked—which can be done with a simple blood test—in the winter is crucial. Ideally, I want my patients’ vitamin D levels to be between 60 and 80 nanograms/milliliter. If they are below that range, I recommend taking between 2,000 and 6,000 IUs of vitamin D per day depending on how low your levels are to start with.
“Adaptogen” is the name given to a large group of natural medicines that have a balancing effect on something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine axis. In simple terms, this means they help create balance in the body and our stress response; chilling us out when we’re stressed and giving us energy when we need a boost. They are generally very safe and very effective, which is why I developed an adaptogenic blend of my own with Agent Nateur, called holi (y o u t h). It contains spirulina, marine collagen, and pearl along with the tropical adaptogen, holy basil—all great ingredients to incorporate into your routine over the winter.
You’ve probably heard of curcumin, the main anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric. If you want to fend of inflammation, a curcumin supplement—along with an anti-inflammatory diet—is the way to go. Curcumin has shown promise for a wide range of inflammatory-based issues, like depression and anxiety (2) and arthritis (3).I recommend incorporating turmeric into your diet throughout the winter and supplementing if you need extra support. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your supplement, you should always look for turmeric combined with black pepper to increase absorption.
In my book Ketotarian, I write a lot about the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats—and why low-fat diets wreck your brain. Omega-3s are pretty much the epitome of a healthy fat; they are essential for optimal brain health and fend off symptoms like brain fog and fatigue. They’re found naturally in fatty fish like salmon and sardines. If you don’t eat a lot of fish, I recommend supplementing with 2250 mg EPA and 750 mg DHA per day during the winter for brain health and anti-inflammatory support.
Our guts are at the center of our health all year round, but tending to our digestive tract becomes especially important in the winter months. We tend to get less exercise and eat more comfort foods in the winter, which can leave the health of our microbiomes vulnerable. To make sure the good bugs in your gut are outnumbering the bad ones, try incorporating probiotic-rich foods—like kefir and sauerkraut—and a probiotic supplement into your routine. Opt for a supplement with at least 10 billion CFUs and take it daily.
The supplements above are worth taking all year long, but become especially crucial in the winter when our wellness can take a hit. They’re definitely worth a try this winter to see if they positively impact your mood and energy levels. They might just make the difference!
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.
- Umhau, J. C., George, D. T., Heaney, R. P., Lewis, M. D., Ursano, R. J., Heilig, M., … Schwandt, M. L. (2013). Low vitamin D status and suicide: a case-control study of active duty military service members. PloS one, 8(1), e51543. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051543
- Fusar-Poli, L., Vozza, L., Gabbiadini, A., Vanella, A., Concas, I., Tinacci, S., … Aguglia, E. (2019). Curcumin for depression: a meta-analysis. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 1–11. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1653260
- Daily, J. W., Yang, M., & Park, S. (2016). Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of medicinal food, 19(8), 717–729. doi:10.1089/jmf.2016.3705
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