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Body & Beauty Cold & Flu

Five Essential Winter Supplements

Cozy indoor setting during winter

Winter is coming, which means that our health needs are shifting with the season. Less natural sunlight, lower temperatures and the common cold mean that our bodies – and minds – have a lot to contend with.

We’ve rounded up five essential supplements that can help fortify and support your wellbeing for the colder months ahead.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in our overall health and is obtained through diet, supplementation and sun exposure. In fact, it’s nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin.”

However, due to our unique geography and northern climate – Canadians get less sun exposure and skin-synthesized vitamin D during winter. It can also be a tricky nutrient to obtain enough of through diet alone.  Because of its role in the body’s many functions and its benefits in supporting healthy immunity, vitamin D is an ideal supplement for supporting overall health especially throughout the dark winter months. [1]

Vitamin D supplements are available in liquid drops, capsules and tablets and are available in a wide range of doses to accommodate all ages and lifestyles. Health Canada also has daily intake recommendations for Vitamin D that can help you choose the product that’s right for you.

Learn more about vitamin D in our guide here.

Fish Oils

Gold capsules of cod liver oil on background

The Canadian Mental Health Association states that an estimated 15 per cent of Canadians experience the “winter blues”: crankiness, fatigue, decreased energy and feelings of anxiety.

While exercise, journaling and connecting with loved ones all have beneficial effects on our mood, dietary choices can also affect it – including the essential fatty acids that occur naturally in fish oils.

Supplementing daily with a quality fish oil containing 100-5,000 mg EPA and DHA can help with the maintenance of good health – a great preventative approach that can help protect wellbeing, and taken alongside a healthy diet, omega-3 fish oils with a higher ratio of EPA to DHA (2:1), containing at least 1000 mg EPA can also help to promote healthy mood balance. [2]

Your local CHFA Member retailer can help you find the omega-3 concentration you’re looking for, as well as help you navigate labels.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C is one of the most well-known micronutrients that we often get from brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. It supports tissue formation, provides antioxidants, helps the body metabolize nutrients – and helps support or maintain immune function – making it a great ally for helping to fight off the common cold. [3]

Numerous studies have examined the potential benefits of supplementing with vitamin C during cold and flu season, noting its role in immune support, and helping to potentially reduce the severity and/or duration of the common cold. [4]

Vitamin C is available in formats and dosages for all ages – even naturally-sweetened chewable tablets for little ones!

Probiotics

Probiotics have become one of the most popular natural health products for their ability to support intestinal/gastrointestinal health and promote healthy gut flora, and some studies have examined their beneficial effects on the immune systems [5]. Our bacterial populations can be impacted by stress, diet, antibiotics and harsh cleansers, and probiotics can help restore them. 

Tip: beneficial bacteria can also be found in abundance naturally in traditionally fermented beverages (kombucha), vegetables (sauerkraut) and dairy products (kefir).

Echinacea

Echinacea

Unfortunately, most of us tend to come down with a cold during the winter. Echinacea is a Traditional Herbal Medicine that can help relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. Different kinds of echinacea also have different benefits. Based on Traditional Herbal Medicine, Echinacea angustifolia [6] helps relieve sore throats, whereas Echinacea pallida [7] and Echinacea purpurea [8] help to relieve cold symptoms.

Echinacea can be found in a variety of forms including teas, tinctures, sprays, lozenges, and capsule form. Be sure to follow the dosage on the label as echinacea is not meant to be taken long-term.

Other lifestyle supplements you can add to your list include hydration, healthy foods, walks outside in nature and embracing winter for its natural cozy atmosphere and beauty. Your local CHFA Member retailer carries the best variety of natural supplements and everything you need to support your health and wellbeing all winter long.


References

  1. Vitamin D. Harvard T.H. Chan School of School of Public Health. Updated March 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
  2. Doctor’s Health Press. (2018). How Effective Is Omega-3 for Depression? Retrieved from: https://www.doctorshealthpress.com/brain-function-articles/omega-3-natural-mood-stabilizer-for-depression/
  3. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD000980. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23440782/
  4. Gorton HC, Jarvis K. (1999). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Oct;22(8):530-3. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543583
  5. Galdeano, Carolina Maldonado et al. (2019). Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System. Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(2):115-124. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30673668/
  6. Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Natural health product: echinacea – echinacea angustifolia. Retrieved from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=echinacea.angustifolia&lang=eng
  7. Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Natural health product: echinacea – echinacea pallida. Retrieved from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=echinacea.pallida&lang=eng
  8. Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Natural health product: echinacea – echinacea purpurea. Retrieved from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=echinacea.purpurea&lang=eng

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