The best winter vitamins and minerals
The crunch of frost under foot and those fresh, icy breaths on early morning runs can only mean one thing — winter is on its way. These cold, rainy months are when the common cold is most likely going to get in the way of our health and fitness goals. So, in this article we’ll discuss the vitamins and minerals you can use to help boost your immune system and get through them as fit as possible.
A quick note before we start:
When it comes to winter vitamin and minerals, it’s important to remember that supplements are not intended to replace a varied and healthy diet. That means a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vegetables, fruit and fibre. Eat the rainbow, as they say. This feel-good udon soup, for example, is a perfect winter warmer that’s full of delicious, vitamin-rich vegetables and spices.
What are the best winter vitamins and minerals?
It’s always good to keep a close eye on your vitamin intake, no matter what time of year it is, although some deserve a little extra attention during winter.
Vitamin D for winter
The body absorbs most of its vitamin D directly from the sun, which leads many to think that the long, dark winter days can lead to a deficiency. This, however, is not the case. In the spring, summer and autumn, when the sun does shine, our bodies store a supply of vitamin D in adipose tissue and certain organs like the liver.
We can also find your vitamin D for winter in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and trout, as well as (to a lesser extent) meat and eggs. It’s often added to low-fat margarine and other baking and roasting products, too.
What are the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency?
Nevertheless, it is still possible to develop a vitamin D deficiency. The body needs vitamin D as it contributes to the normal function of muscles and the immune system as well as helping to maintain normal bones. It’s an important one, that’s for sure.
Vitamin D is important for the proper functioning of the immune system.
How much vitamin D do I need per day?
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D for people in the UK is 10 micrograms. In a normal spring, summer and autumn you can get that just by spending 15-30 minutes outside each day (prime time is between 11:00-15:00). People with tanned or dark skin produce less vitamin D in the sun. Even if the skin does not catch the sun often (because, for example, a person wears a veil or simply doesn’t get out much), vitamin D is not produced. Extra vitamin D is advised for these groups. Our Body&Fit Vegan Vitamin D3 is an ideal accompaniment for all kinds of diets and lifestyles.
Vitamin C for winter
One of the best vitamins for winter blues, vitamin C contributes to an energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. You’ll find it in lots of different fruits and vegetables. Oranges, kiwis, peppers and strawberries are all real vitamin C bombs. Your intake is covered by eating at least 250 grams of vegetables and two pieces of fruit on a daily basis. For many, this is not always easy, which is where vitamin C supplements can be helpful.
Fortunately, a lack of vitamin C doesn’t happen often, because our bodies can stock up for about three months. If you do end up with a vitamin C deficiency, you’ll notice weight loss, fatigue and poor wound healing.
Iron for winter
Even ahead of oxygen, iron is the most common element on Earth. It not only contributes to the normal function of the immune system but also the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. The good thing about iron is that it works great with vitamin C, which increases iron absorption. So much so that we’ve combined them in one handy supplement — Body&Fit Iron + Vitamin C — so you can get the best of both.
An iron deficiency is usually recognisable by having pale skin, being easily tired or out of breath, and having restless legs.
B vitamins for winter
Did you know that ‘B vitamins’ is a collective term for no fewer than eight vitamins? We’re talking about vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B11 and B12. A supplement that contains all these B vitamins is known as a vitamin B complex.
Although all these vitamins are essential for good health, we’re putting two in the spotlight here: vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
In short, vitamin B6 is important for the entire body. It contributes to the normal functioning of the immune and nervous systems and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. You can find vitamin B6 in meat, eggs, bread, grain products, vegetables, milk and cheese.
The increasing popularity of veganism in recent years had led to the importance of vitamin B12 becoming increasingly apparent. This is mainly because it’s only found in animal products like milk, meat, fish and eggs. If you’re living a plant-based lifestyle, it’s a good idea to supplement this vitamin all year round.
To learn more about veganism and plant-based supplements, check out our article veganism: insights, facts and supplements. If you’re looking increase your protein intake or build muscle on a vegan diet, we’ve selected 8 of the best vegan protein sources to help you achieve your goals.
Vitamin A for winter
Another great vitamin for winter health contributing to the normal functioning of the immune system. You’ll find vitamin A in animal products such as meat, fish, dairy products and egg yolks. Just like vitamin D, it’s often added to low-fat margarines and baking and roasting products. A vitamin A deficiency can cause skin problems, dull hair, and difficulty seeing at night. In severe cases, it can lead to blindness, according to the World Health Organisation.
Zinc for winter
Aside from supporting the immune system, Zinc has a wide range of other important functions in the body. From supporting macronutrient metabolism to the maintenance of normal hair, nails and skin, it’s a must for the winter months. Our Body&Fit Zinc Complex contains 15mg of elemental zinc per tablet.
You know about zinc, now make sure you get enough of these 8 important minerals, including magnesium, copper, selenium and potassium.
Do cracked corners of the mouth indicate a vitamin deficiency?
Dry, cracked lips are a typical winter ailment. It’s partly due to a combination of cold, wind, rain and dry air — something we’re all familiar with living in the UK.
If you notice you’re suffering from dry lips more than usual, or they’re getting worse despite using a lip balm, you may want to check whether you have a vitamin deficiency. This can be done via your doctor or by buying an at-home deficiency self-test (a reliable one will set you back around £100). In particular, chapped lips can indicate a deficiency of iron, zinc or vitamin B. Fatty fish, poultry, eggs, peanuts and legumes are rich in these winter vitamins and minerals.
What are the pros and cons of a multivitamin?
A multivitamin is ideal for anyone who struggles to swallow tablets and capsules or simply doesn’t have time in the morning to take multiple pills. Our Body&Fit Multi Men and Multi Women are multivitamin complexes specially designed for men and women — and you only need to take one a day to provide your body with the necessary vitamins that you may not get through your diet.
The only drawback of taking a multivitamin is that you can’t choose how much of each vitamin you get. If you want to take more (or less) of a certain vitamin for whatever reason, then it’s best to find a quality supplement containing just that.
Our top 3 tips to strengthen your immune system in winter
Making sure you get enough vitamins and minerals is one way to help support your immune system, but what else can you do to lend your body a hand? Here are a few more quick tips you can use alongside your vitamins and minerals for winter:
Enjoy your sleep
Too little sleep can lead to a weakening of the immune system. Find out how many hours of sleep is enough for you and make it a priority. Usually, between 7-9 is ideal.
Try to make life stress free
It’s not always easy, yet people who are often stressed tend to get sick more often than those who don’t. Discover how to find a routine that works for you and take some time to relax, whether it’s by meditating, walking in nature, reading a good book, or just turning off your phone for an hour or two.
Keep it moving!
Exercise is a great way to keep your body strong on the inside and out. Try to get out there and do at least half an hour of movement each day, even if it’s just a walk around the block or a few stretches on the couch.
Is it okay to exercise with a cold?
No matter how much you’ve been eating healthy and taking your winter vitamins, it’s always possible to catch a cold. This is, of course, frustrating, especially when you’ve got goals on your mind. You might want to push through it, yet this can often make things worse. In general, it’s best to rest up and wait it out with some medicine and a cup of hot tea. You might even find the time to learn some more about exercise during a cold or flu.
We hope that after reading this article you know exactly which vitamins and minerals for winter your body needs. Again, if you get enough fruit and vegetables every day, you don’t necessarily need to take extra vitamins or minerals. However, these supplements can make all the difference if you don’t eat a healthy and varied diet or have certain dietary restrictions. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and feel like you may have a vitamin deficiency, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for a check-up.
Let us know which vitamins you’ll be taking to get through the winter to stay on top of your health & fitness goals by getting in touch @bodyandfit_official. Do you still have questions about the vitamins and minerals for winter you might need? You can always contact our dedicated team of Nutrition Experts who are always on hand to help you #FINDYOURFIT.