Vitamins are found in abundance in many of the foods we eat. They are essential for good health because they play so many roles such as repairing cellular damage, increasing our immune system, and converting food into energy. Vitamins are especially important as we head into the winter months.
Vitamin D is important for our bodies all year round, but it is more difficult to get in the winter months. It is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium that we get from foods we eat. If vitamin D deficiency extends for a long period of time, it can cause a host of health issues such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment.
• We can get vitamin D from sunlight exposure, but since we have long, cold winters, that can be difficult during certain months. Thankfully, you can get vitamin D from foods. Some foods that are high in vitamin D are salmon, tuna, egg yolks, fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice. Ask your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, especially during winter.
• It may be difficult to know if you have vitamin D deficiency, as the symptoms are subtle. Some symptoms are fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, and mood changes.
Vitamin C is a great vitamin to get plenty of in the winter months to help boost our immune system. A common misconception is that by simply taking an oral vitamin C supplement, we can avoid the common cold. However, studies show that when people regularly take vitamin C supplements, the cold will last fewer days and the symptoms are less severe. There are also many other benefits to getting vitamin C in the diet such as protecting our cells from damage from things like radiation and tobacco smoke.
• We can only get vitamin C from food sources and supplements. Some food sources with high amounts of vitamin C are citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach.
Zinc is a lesser known nutrient that is beneficial to get especially in the winter months because it helps boost our immune system. Studies show that if zinc lozenges or syrup is taken within 24 hours after cold symptoms start, the supplement can help shorten the length of colds. Zinc is also important for wound healing as well as for our sense of taste and smell.
• Zinc deficiencies are very rare for people in the United States. Food sources of zinc are chicken, red meat, and fortified breakfast cereals.
This winter season try to get plenty of foods that include vitamins D & C and zinc to help keep your immune system strong and possibly decrease the length of a seasonal cold.