December is upon us! With holiday festivities, new year celebrations and quality time with loved ones -- it really is the most wonderful time of the year!
While it may be a very joyful seasons, it is also one of the most burdensome on our bodies. Winter also brings the shortest days and the coldest weather of the year. These factors may even cause some to experience the “winter blues.”
But we can fight the cold and the blues with what nature provides: here’s our 6 essential nutrients that we especially need this winter to keep our body strong to enjoy the holiday season!
Our friends and family tell us to take Vitamin C whenever we’re sick, and for a good reason!
- Vitamin C Strengthens Our Immune Systems. It helps with the production of white blood cells, which are our natural sickness-fighters.
- Those who have a higher intake of Vitamin C will have a lower risk of getting a cold or flu, which will be especially important when you’ll be exposed to several people during your family gatherings and holiday parties.
- It can also slightly decrease the severity and duration of your cold.
- Did you know that 13% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin C?
Sources: Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges), wheatgrass, dark leafy vegetables, red peppers, green peppers, kiwifruit, mango, pineapple, strawberries, bananas
A sufficient Vitamin D intake is super important to compensate for the lack of sun during the winter.
- The hours of daylight are the shortest, which greatly reduces our window to receive natural Vitamin D from the sun.
- The cold weather makes us feel even more reluctant to step outside.
- Vitamin D is crucial because it helps us absorb calcium into our bones, maintain a good night sleep, promotes healthy cell development, and helps prevent mood disorders like Season Affective Disorder.
- Try to get at least 15 minutes of sun per day to make sure you won’t catch the winter blues.
Sources: Fatty fish (salmon, swordfish), seafood, eggs, mushrooms, oatmeal, fortified milk, fortified orange juice
Zinc is another major immune booster along with Vitamin C.
- A healthy intake of zinc will ensure that your white blood cells are plentiful and ready to fight off diseases.
- There is also strong evidence that zinc can help reduce the severity and duration of the common cold by as much as 50%!
- Zinc is also great for balancing hormones, synthesizing proteins, and breaking down carbs.
- We only need about 7-9.5mg per day to reap these benefits, so make sure you’re getting in your zinc!
Sources: Shellfish, red meat, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, beans, pumpkin seed, flaxseed, cashews, peanuts, almonds
Vitamin A is another immune booster and is especially great for your body’s recovery.
- Vitamin A promotes healthy tissue repair and overall growth of new cells in your body, which means this nutrient is great for if do get sick.
- Your eyes and skin will also appreciate Vitamin A as it helps them maintain a healthy glow!
Sources: Fatty fish, carrots, milk, mango, egg yolks, wheatgrass, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes
Folate and Folic Acid
Folate and folic acid (both also known as Vitamin B9) have similar properties and benefits, but folate is the natural form while folic acid is a synthetic version often added to food.
- Folate and folic acid will make sure you don’t fall into any winter blues as they help maintain a balanced mood.
- They also play a vital role in cell production and growth, which helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Sources: Avocado, bananas, broccoli, dark leafy greens, wheatgrass, beans, lentils, peanuts, almonds, seeds
While protein is rather abundant in the common American diet, it’s still especially important during the winter to help combat those cozy midnight holiday treat cravings!
- Not only is protein great for building strong muscles and joints, it’s also great for providing long-lasting energy.
- Simple carbohydrates found in cookies, cakes, bread, and other sugary treats give us that energy spike, or “sugar rush,” then cause us to crash shortly after.
- Try to eat more lean protein to keep your appetite in check so you won’t binge too much on grandma’s amazing strudel!
Sources: Meats (chicken, turkey), fish, tofu, quinoa, spinach, lentils, nuts, whey, pea protein, brown rice protein