Prepare For Cold Season
Winter is coming
When you start yearning for a pumpkin spice latte instead of a Frappuccino, it can only mean one thing: winter is on its way. That’s right. It’s time to start your day with a bowl of steamy porridge, switch to a bulkier duvet and stock up on as much waxy lip balm as you can carry.
But when winter’s around the corner so are all those dreaded coughs and sniffles. In fact while adults in the UK have an average of two to three colds every year, winter is unquestionably peak sneezing season – though experts still really don’t know why. Some think it may have something to do with the cold air making your nose chilly, which helps viruses reproduce more easily. Being indoors for long periods with other people coughing and sneezing all around you doesn’t help either, especially in these times.
Unfortunately, for many people coughs and colds are just the tip of the irritation iceberg. The cold can play havoc with your skin, thanks to all those harsh winter winds and prolonged hours spent in dry, centrally heated indoor environments. Many say the cold weather makes their joints ache more than usual too, though again we don’t know exactly why (one theory is that cold weather makes our muscles more tense, which puts extra pressure on our joints).
Seasonal overindulgence and the host of digestive discomforts it brings will also be upon us soon. With sunshine-induced pleasure in short supply, even the best-intentioned among us can treat ourselves to too many Hallowe’en sweets and vast quantities of rich, fatty Christmas food and alcohol. No wonder indigestion, heartburn and other stomach-related niggles are part and parcel of the season (as is the obligatory over-ambitious health drive in January).
The key to surviving all of these and other cold-weather ills is to be prepared for what’s to come in the next few months, so here's a list of nutrients with particular benefits for winter-wellness;
Vitamin D: Sunshine in a bottle
Once the clocks go back in October it’s a constant battle to get a decent amount of vitamin D in any northern hemisphere country. That’s because we get most of our vitamin D from strong sunlight – or, rather, our skin produces its own vitamin D when exposed unprotected to the sun. There aren’t that many foods that contain vitamin D either so you could be hard pressed to get your daily quota from diet alone, especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian (oily fish and red meat being among the main sources).
In fact lacking in vitamin D is very common, say experts, with one UK survey revealing around one in five adults and one in five children have low vitamin D levels year round – that’s besides those whose levels plummet during winter.
And while the UK government recommends we all take a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months, many people can benefit from taking one all year round, including:
- People with darker skin
- People who spend a lot of time indoors
- People who cover up with clothing or use sunscreen cream consistently when outdoors
We’re advised to take vitamin D supplements to help protect our bones because vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium. But we now know vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system too, which we could all do with during cold and flu season.
Our high-strength vitamin D3 supplement delivers the superior bioavailable form of this essential vitamin; cholecalciferol, at the maximum optimum daily strength of 4000UI. For more in depth information you can read more about the benefits of vitamin D and why it’s so important here.
However if you take high-strength vitamin D and/or calcium supplements daily and you have a good diet you may be at risk of hypercalcaemia (this is when the calcium level in your blood is too high). Hypercalcaemia can cause kidney stones and other problems, and while taking supplements can sometimes be to blame the usual cause is having overactive parathyroid glands. But experts have found that taking if you take vitamin K alongside vitamin D/calcium it stops calcium building up in your blood.
Did you know? There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2 (actually there’s a K3 too, but let’s not go there as it’s potentially toxic). However studies show out of K1 and K2, K2 is by far the more beneficial, both in terms of bone and heart health.
We sell high-quality Vitamin K2 capsules separately to allow for individual dosage management over the different seasons. These perfect partners are also available as a discounted D3 & K2 combo bundle.
Omega-3 Oils: Moisturise from within
Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended for a range of health benefits. Some scientists also believe they’re important for regulating the immune system, plus there’s evidence they may help protect against dry skin conditions, which can plague many of us during the winter. For instance, if you have eczema – which can often get worse during cold weather – omega-3s may help seal in moisture by improving your skin barrier. One small-scale study has also revealed taking flaxseed oil – a source of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – for just 12 weeks boosts skin hydration and reduces sensitivity.
There are many healthy natural oils that are high in omega's. The 3 we believe make the most sense as health supplements are:
Omega 3 fish oil This supplement is very rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may also be useful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms (since scientists believe they may help relieve depression).
Hempseed oil A super-nutritious oil, this contains the ideal balance of ALA and other omega-3, -6 and -9 oils including linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), oleic acid (OLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA). And if that wasn’t enough it’s a treasure chest of minerals too, including magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, copper and manganese.
Starflower seed oil Also called borage oil this contains GLA and LA. In fact, while it may not be as well known, it has almost twice as much GLA than evening primrose oil - the more traditionally known source. We have also included vitamin B6 in this formulation to further boost the hormone balancing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
There’s lots more to discover about all these fascinating fatty acids and the effects they can have on your body in All About Omegas.
Did you know? If you take a vitamin D supplement, you may want to take it at the same time as your omega 3 supplement, or with a meal of oily fish. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means your body will absorb it much more effectively if you take it alongside some fat or oil.
Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria
The micro-organisms that live in your digestive system are collectively known as your gut microbiota. And there are more than a trillion of them, the vast majority of which are beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing (it’s why they’re often referred to as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria, though most people simply call them probiotics).
Probiotics are best known for helping with digestion, with numerous studies suggesting they ease a range of gut-related complaints. So if you find it hard to say ‘no’ to yet another Hallowe’en candy or a second (or third) helping of Christmas pud, taking a daily probiotic may help keep your gastro-intestinal system feeling more comfortable when confronted with all that excess fat and sugar.
But that’s not all probiotics can help with. They may boost your immunity too. For instance, studies claim acidophilus and other types of probiotics help reduce cold symptoms, though the evidence they could actually help prevent a cold is weaker.
Probiotics – in both oral supplements and skincare products – may even help your skin look better, with researchers having discovered they may combat acne and help protect your skin against the ageing effects of the sun.
Did you know? Probiotics may help you manage your weight, though research in this area is rather thin on the ground. However one study has found taking a probiotic called Lactobacillus gasseri helps reduce abdominal fat – which is handy if you’re prone to festive weight gain.
Our high-strength probiotic complex contains over 45billion CFU's consisting of 17 different friendly bacteria strains, including Lactobacillus gasseri, Acidophiilus and much more. You can find out more about probiotics by reading Probiotic Bio Cultures: Uses, Benefits, And Dosage.
The best of the rest
Some of the other supplements that might be useful this winter include:
- Garlic has been used traditionally for centuries to cure colds, heal infections and treat many other conditions (even the plague). There’s evidence garlic supplements, may help prevent colds, with volunteers given garlic capsules catching fewer colds than those taking a placebo. If you don’t eat handfuls of the fresh stuff every day, high strength garlic capsules are the way to go.
- Adaptogens – found in herbal supplements and teas – have been around for a long time too, having deep roots in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine traditions. There are at least 70 different types including ashwagandha, maca root and turmeric, many of which claim to help you deal with stress (a handy skill to have during a big family Christmas).
- B vitamins help break down and release energy from the food you eat, which could help combat winter lethargy and stop you feeling chilly. Learn more about boosting your energy levels by reading Eating For Energy.
- Marine collagen and biotin are two nutrients you need for plump, supple skin that’s the envy of the other Christmas party revellers. In fact you need them more during the festive season than ever, as eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates can hinder your body’s own production of collagen. Read more about it in The Truth About Marine Collagen.
- Turmeric and/or glucosamine can be helpful for your joints, especially if they ache more when it’s cold: turmeric because its active ingredient curcumin may help reduce inflammation and glucosamine because it may help keep your joint cartilage healthy.
Some of us love winter – with all those snowball fights, sledge rides and cosy nights in front of a roaring fire – and some of us dread it. Whatever winter means for you, here’s to you finding the best ways to keep mind, body and soul as healthy and happy (and warm) as possible. Even if you’re not the biggest winter fan.