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Without the proper nutrition, surviving winter can be a challenge.
You’re already preoccupied with the holiday frenzy, New Year’s resolutions, and trying to keep up your normal weekly routine.
If you’re focused on social activities or other daily chores, it can be hard to receive the adequate number of vitamins and minerals needed in order for your body to function optimally.
Before you invest in the latest diet craze, take a look at the 15 essential vitamins your body requires to combat all the stress and lulls of winter.
All B vitamins are important because they need to be replaced every day, due to their water-soluble properties.
B vitamins, otherwise known as Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), and Cobalamin (B12), work together and contribute to a wide variety of healthy functions in the body.
These vitamins are vital for supporting mental health and physical stamina since they fuel your adrenal glands which are responsible for high and low energy levels.
Have you ever felt depressed, anxious, or unusually exhausted during a stressful time?
You might lack B vitamins.
What to eat: red meat, egg yolks, seafood, nutritional yeast, dark leafy green vegetables, and berries.
Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, is an honorable mention in the B vitamin family.
While Folic Acid is primarily emphasized for pregnant women in order to prevent neural tube defects in babies, it’s also an important vitamin for people in winter months.
This vitamin is primarily responsible for the creation of red blood cells in the body.
Without these red blood cells, people can develop anemia, amongst other health concerns.
When anemia occurs, less oxygen is transported to the brain, causing symptoms of weakness, fatigue, and paleness.
What to eat: dark leafy green vegetables, oranges, legumes, poultry and red meat, and whole grains.
Iron is a mineral that is essential for red blood cell function as well.
It’s the most common cause of anemia, although natural iron deficiency is rare.
Supplementing with extra iron vitamins will help combat anemia symptoms, but natural dietary sources are better.
Of course, the foods highest in iron are not the most savory — organ meats and liver — but they will be the most effective.
Try supplementing more iron in your diet for a boost in energy levels, since the increase of red blood cells in your body can keep you active for longer periods of time, even when the days are short.
It will ensure that you have enough stamina to get through all the craziness of the holiday season, especially when you become overloaded with tasks to do in the winter months.
What to eat: red meat, spinach, lentils, navy beans, potatoes with the skin, lima beans, seafood, peas, and dried fruit.
You may have heard this one before: calcium is vital for the development of strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
The elderly are most vulnerable if they do not receive enough of this mineral, but everyone needs calcium, especially during growth spurts.
With winter activities being popular, you’ll need to make sure to get your daily dose of calcium in order to fuel your body.
Just avoid synthetic calcium whenever possible, and dial back if you currently experience kidney problems.
What to eat: dairy products, sardines, edamame, tofu, broccoli, cooked leafy green vegetables, and legumes.
Vitamin A is primarily known for the alternative name, Beta-Carotene.
This powerhouse antioxidant contains retinol, a property that ensures healthy vision and good skin.
It also boosts the immune system, which can help you recover faster from common illnesses and keep you going during wintertime festivities.
Along with other vitamins listed here, Vitamin A contributes to bone growth in individuals, so this is particularly important for young people during growth periods.
What to eat: carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, green peppers, winter squash, and turnips.
You probably already hear Vitamin C receiving all the hype in the vitamin spectrum, but it’s for good reason.
This vitamin acts like a superpower, especially in its natural form — unlike its manmade twin, ascorbic acid.
Those without the correct amount of Vitamin C experience fevers, bleeding gums, easy bruising, slow wound healing, fatigue, and an overall weakened immune system.
Thankfully, Vitamin C provides tons of support to a healthy immune function, it increases mineral absorption, and it fights major diseases like stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Aim to get 2-3 servings of Vitamin C daily from natural dietary sources to see the best results.
This can be your saving grace when it comes to winter’s common cold and flu season.
What to eat: broccoli, citrus fruits, bell peppers, berries, kiwi, brussels sprouts, kale, papaya, parsley, peas, and cauliflower.
Omega-3 fatty acids actually have three different types: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
These are an essential part of overall health, as they impact hormones, the heart, the immune system, and the brain.
They are particularly known for reducing inflammation and promoting cognitive development, which means they relieve joint and muscle pain, allergies, digestive disorders, depression, heart disease, and other mental disorders.
Since most people don’t receive enough Omega-3’s as it is, having these for winter months — a time of sickness and depression — are essential.
What to eat: salmon, mackerel, cod liver oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sardines, egg yolks, tuna, and hemp seeds.
Have you felt the winter blues get you down recently?
It could be from a Vitamin D deficiency.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a true disease that plagues many people during the winter months who do not receive adequate Vitamin D from sunlight.
While sunlight is the best source for Vitamin D, there are also ways to receive it nutritionally.
This vitamin works as an aid to absorbing calcium and phosphorus into the body, ensuring strong and healthy bones.
It also plays a role in supporting the immune system and improving your mood.
Since you most likely won’t be manufacturing Vitamin D yourself from the sun this winter, try adding natural sources to your diet to keep you running on all cylinders.
What to eat: whole eggs, salmon, shrimp, whole milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, and mackerel.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means you don’t have to replace it every day.
However, it’s important to ensure that you’re receiving the correct amount.
The dry air in winter can cause brittle hair, cracked skin and nails, and other damage.
The solution? Vitamin E.
It can not only thicken hair and repair damaged skin, but it also helps improve vision, balances hormones, and repairs your tissues.
This vitamin also reduces cholesterol and fights free radicals in your system, leaving you with a more balanced immune system.
Vitamin E proves to be perfect for creating a more glowing version of yourself — both inside and out.
What to eat: almonds, spinach, sunflower seeds, chard, avocado, olive oil, palm oil, olives, papaya, trout, turnip greens, and butternut squash.
Vitamin K is best regarded as the nutrient to ensure that your blood clots after injury.
If you find yourself with an open wound and don’t have enough of Vitamin K, you risk hemorrhaging, which can be fatal.
Plus, this vitamin also reduces bone loss and prevents bone fractures.
It might seem small in the scheme of things, but Vitamin K acts as one of your best insurance plans — especially during wintertime sports.
What to eat: kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, scallions, cabbage, cucumbers, and prunes.
Zinc is one of those trace minerals that never receive enough credit.
Without the right amount of zinc, you could find yourself experiencing hormonal imbalances, weight issues, changes in taste and smell, a slower ability to heal, digestive problems, and chronic fatigue.
These symptoms aren’t exactly what you want to have during the holiday season.
However, by receiving your small daily amount — often found in high protein foods — you could naturally increase your immune function, fight some types of cancer, better regulate hormones, and support your overall body with its everyday functions.
Having zinc show up to your party will always be a good thing, especially if you want to keep active and healthy during the wintertime.
What to eat: lamb, pumpkin seeds, garbanzo beans, cocoa powder, cashews, yogurt, beef, mushrooms, spinach, and chicken.
Selenium is another powerful trace mineral that is essential for your body.
This mineral supports healthy thyroid and other hormonal production, it increases fertility, and it’s a vital antioxidant that contributes to fighting damaging inflammation.
Selenium also plays a key part in maintaining a strong metabolism.
Adults should only be consuming around 50 micrograms per day, as too much selenium can be just as harmful.
However, with the right dose, you can be sure to keep your immune system strong and thriving throughout the bustling winter season.
What to eat: brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna, beef, turkey, halibut, sardines, chicken, spinach, and whole eggs.
L-Lysine is an amino acid found in protein, and its function is quite important.
Do you ever get turned away by your doctor when you have a viral infection?
This can help.
By taking a lysine supplement or eating foods naturally high in lysine, you can increase your chances of fighting a virus faster and reducing your symptoms while sick.
It’s great during the winter when you experience any type of virus, including influenza, mononucleosis, or the common cold.
This particular amino acid aids in improving your energy, unlike the amino acid arginine (found in wheat products and starchy vegetables).
If you want to keep your stamina high despite being sick, L-Lysine is the way to go.
What to eat: lean beef, roast beef, cheese, eggs, turkey, chicken, pork, seafood, nuts, and seeds.
Most people around the world never receive the adequate amount of potassium needed for daily function — 4,700 to 6,400 milligrams per day.
This electrolyte is arguably the most important electrolyte that must fuel your body on a daily basis.
It’s responsible for helping muscles relax and contract due to its transport of calcium.
Plus, potassium gives you a huge amount of energy by aiding your metabolism and recharging your cells.
Magnesium is the yin to calcium’s yang.
While calcium primarily fuels the strengthening of bones, magnesium is a cofactor to regulating proper muscle and nerve function.
This mineral is commonly deficient amongst nearly 80 percent of people, so receiving magnesium daily is imperative.
Magnesium contributes to more than 300 enzyme systems in the body, impacting everything from blood pressure, sugar regulation, energy production, nerve function, and more.
If you encounter muscle aches, trouble sleeping, or anxiety, your problem could be from magnesium deficiency.
Try eating more magnesium-rich foods to ensure that you can stay feeling good, even through harsh winters.
What to eat: spinach, dark chocolate, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt, black beans, and avocado.
As you can see, there are many different vitamins that are essential during wintertime.
From the classic vitamin C to the underrated minerals like iron and magnesium, each one proves to be a critical component of your overall health.
Natural sources of these vitamins are always best, so be sure to eat a balanced diet full of the foods listed above in order to reap the reward of winter survival.