Summer is a distant memory and with a chill in the air there is no doubt that winter is here again. Unfortunately for some people the cold weather can bring with it a range of health concerns that would normally not trouble us during the warmer months. Taking supplements that help to support our health during winter may be beneficial for those specific health conditions that are more likely to occur in colder temperatures.
Cold and flu
Winter is often referred to as the dreaded cold and flu season. At this time of year it may be beneficial to take supplements that will help support the health of our immune system.
- Vitamin C and Zinc will help to support immune function, may help to reduce the duration and severity of colds and may also provide relief from symptoms.
- Echinacea helps to support our immune system. During a cold, supplementation of echinacea may support the immune system by helping to increase the number of white blood cells. Other beneficial supplements include horseradish, olive leaf and garlic.
Cold hands and feet
During winter our hands and feet can often feel cold. Being at the extremity of the body, the hands and feet are furthest from the heart which is pumping blood around our body to help keep us warm. Supporting blood circulation may help to warm hands and feet.
- Supplements to help support circulation include essential fat omega-3, ginkgo biloba, vitamin E. Keep moving with gentle exercise to help improve circulation to the extremities of the body and don’t forget your woolen socks and gloves!
Some people find that the cold weather during winter may worsen inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and joint pain, affecting the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders and hands.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin may assist in the management of arthritis symptoms including helping to reduce joint pain and inflammation and improving joint function and mobility.
- Omega-3 found in fish oil can help to maintain joint health and mobility, reduce inflammation associated with arthritis and may assist with the management of joint pain.
- Capsaicin applied externally in a cream may help to provide temporary relief from joint pain.
It is difficult to obtain all the vitamin D our body requires from food alone. Most vitamin D is manufactured by our body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight hit our skin. During summer in Australia, the majority of people can maintain adequate vitamin D levels from a few minutes of exposure to sunlight. During winter it can be more difficult to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
- Vitamin D is essential for our health and well-being. It plays a critical role in bone health and development, in healthy nervous and immune system function, in the regulation of hormones and in normal cell growth and maturation.
Many people find that their skin becomes more dry and itchy during winter. This may be due to the reduced humidity, drinking less water than you would during summer or possibly due to restricted circulation which may decrease the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin.
- Make sure you continue to drink plenty of water during winter. Taking supplements of vitamin E and the essential fat omega-3 may help to support circulation and the health of your skin. <b?Flaxseed oil is found in many natural beauty products and can be used externally to help soften, soothe and protect the skin.
Chilblains are patches of dry, itchy and swollen skin that may develop on the extremities due to a combination of cold weather and poor circulation. The toes are commonly affected but other extremities that may develop chilblains include fingers, earlobes and the nose.
- Supplements to help support circulation include the essential fat omega-3, the herb ginkgo biloba and vitamin E. Keep moving with gentle exercise to help improve circulation to the extremities of the body.
Sometimes people can feel a little glum during the winter months. Cold weather, wind, staying indoors and getting less sunshine than in the summer months, is enough to make anyone a little gloomy!
- The herb St John's Wort may help to relieve nervousness, irritability and help support emotional balance. It may also be beneficial during times of sadness