Winter weather can make our health look worse for wear. As temperatures cool, we can become more susceptible to many problems, including respiratory ailments, headaches, and mood swings. And even if you’re committed to making sure you’re eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting enough sleep during the winter, it still might not be enough. That’s why doctors say that certain supplements can be used in the colder months, giving your health a much-needed boost. Read on for their six best recommendations.
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Without a doubt, the “number one supplement” to consider taking in the winter is vitamin D, Greg LopezPharmD, lead researcher for the supplementation and nutrition database Examine, says Best Life. While our bodies naturally produce vitamin D on their own, they need to be exposed to sunlight to make it.
“But sunlight is hard to come by during the winter and we’re pretty much bundled up, further limiting sun exposure all of which adds up to lower vitamin D levels,” he explains. “Having enough vitamin D in your system is important for musculoskeletal health in general and can help boost your immune system a bit to help fight winter infections.”
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Compared to something like vitamin D, you may be less familiar with Pycnogenol, a brand name for French maritime pine bark extract. But Fred PescatoreMD, a Manhattan-based traditionally trained physician and internist who specializes in nutritional medicine, says he is a “strong believer” in the antioxidant properties of this winter supplement.
According to Pescatore, the potential health benefits of Pycnogenol in the colder months are strongly supported by research. In 2021, a study found that taking this supplement daily during the summer “improved skin elasticity and firmness,” he said.
Other studies have also found that it can “shorten the duration of a cold, as well as treat nasal congestion and runny nose due to its natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” Pescatore added.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help rejuvenate your appearance, according to Soma MandalMD, a board-certified internist who works at Summit Health in New Providence, New Jersey.
“Do you ever feel like your skin is dry during the winter? This is a great supplement that helps fight dry, flaky skin,” she shares.
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Your skin isn’t the only thing you should worry about in winter. Saya Nagori, MD, board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of Eye Facts, warns that weather conditions during this time can also have a significant impact on our eye health. That’s why he recommends taking a lutein supplement now.
“Commonly found in leafy greens like kale and spinach, lutein protects against eye strain and blue light damage to which we are more exposed in the winter,” explains Nagori.
Winter is cold and flu season, as many of us know. To help lower your risk of getting sick, Lopez suggests adding low levels of zinc.
“Zinc supplementation is often beneficial in people with zinc deficiency, which can only be diagnosed by your doctor,” he says. “If you choose to take zinc tablets for weeks or months, I recommend a dose of 20 milligrams or less daily.”
But Lopez says that taking this supplement in a different form may also help in case of infection.
“Sucking on zinc lozenges as soon as you feel the first cold symptoms can help limit (but not cure) cold symptoms,” she shares.
RELATED: 21 Surprising Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency.
Like zinc, vitamin C can help in your fight against certain winter ailments.
“This supplement supports the immune system and may help reduce the duration and severity of colds or flu,” Zeeshan Afzal, MD, health expert and medical officer for the health care company Welzo, says. “It’s also an antioxidant that can protect against oxidative stress.”
But Afzal says caution should be exercised if you want to start using this supplement.
“Vitamin C is generally safe, but high doses can cause gastrointestinal upset in some people,” he points out. “Stick to recommended daily allowances unless otherwise advised by a healthcare provider.”
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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from leading experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not intended to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to medication you are taking or any other health question you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.
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