With heatwaves becoming a distant memory and the first snow of autumn on the cards for the coming weeks, it’s time to start preparing for the colder seasons.
And, while colder weather doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more likely to catch a cold, it can lead to you being more susceptible to falling ill as we’re often in more confined spaces.
Following lockdowns and many of us working from home over the past year, along with a lack of socialising, it’s vital to ensure your body’s ready to tackle bugs like the ‘worst cold ever’.
Vitamins and supplements are crucial to help with boosting your immune system, and each serves a different purpose – but which ones are the best to take over the coming colder months?
What vitamins should you be taking in autumn and winter?
Pharmacist Giulia Guerrini tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Supplements and vitamins should be taken all year round.
‘However, there are some that you may want to take as we head towards the autumn and winter months that will help boost our immune systems.’
While you may be incorporating vitamins into your day-to-day routine currently, there is a handful that are helpful to start taking in autumn and winter.
While the summer was a bit of a disappointment in the UK with plenty of rain and grey skies, autumn and winter bring darker days and less sunlight.
As humans, we require vitamin D, which is provided by sunlight and we should be able to get the amount we need from late March to September according to the NHS website.
However, from October onwards our bodies need a little help topping up on the amount we need, which is around 10 micrograms daily.
Vitamin D is needed for regulating the calcium and phosphate in our bodies, in order to ensure our bones, muscles and teeth are healthy. When
Clinical Lead Dr Don Grant told Metro.co.uk: ‘Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and this is because it’s produced by people’s bodies when they’re exposed to sunlight.
‘As well as the reduced sunlight hours, autumn and winter months are colder which means people are outside less and their bodies are given reduced opportunity to produce vitamin D.’
He warns of other side effects that can stem from a vitamin D deficiency, saying it can lead to: ‘Depression, fatigue, pain and muscle weakness. In short, the sooner you start taking vitamins ahead of the winter season, the better.’
Giulia Guerrini, of digital pharmacy medino.com, adds: ‘Vitamin D will also help to protect yourself from feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as we approach the darker days.’
While iron deficiencies should be kept an eye on all year round, with darker days and colder mornings, it can be easy to blame feeling a little lethargic on those factors.
And that’s also a reason why many people fail to get diagnosed with iron deficiencies and anaemia.
According to the NHS website, anaemia symptoms include:
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
- Noticeable heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- Pale skin
Giulia adds that another side effect of lacking iron is: ‘Symptoms very similar to those of SAD.’
If you’re experiencing one or more of those symptoms more frequently, book an appointment with your GP and arrange for a blood test.
If you are found to be anaemic or deficient in iron, your GP is likely to prescribe iron tablets to top up your iron levels. These are stronger than those available to buy over the counter.
The NHS states that the recommended amount of iron is 8.7mg a day for men over 18, 14.8mg a day for women between 19 and 50, and 8.7mg a day for women over 50.
If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough iron from your daily diet, you should start taking iron supplements or tablets that are available from a range of health food stores and pharmacies.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an all-rounder that is used to keep your cells healthy, along with your skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. It also assists with healing wounds when you get cuts and scrapes.
And, while it’s often recommended as a cure for colds and winter bugs, this isn’t the case.
However, Dr Grant of The Independent Pharmacy says: ‘Vitamin C can reduce the severity of colds because it boosts the body’s immune system.’
It’s also helpful for winter due to its ability to brighten dull skin, which can occur when we lack exposure to sunlight.
Taking too much can be harmful but, according to the NHS, adults aged between 19 and 64 need 40mg of vitamin C daily. A lack of it can lead to scurvy, which is due to a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet among other factors.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps our immune system and converts the food we eat into energy, something we need plenty of in the colder season.
Giulia tells us: ‘I’d recommend taking magnesium throughout the year, not just as we approach the winter months.
‘Magnesium deficiency is fairly common and considering that it’s the second most prevalent electrolyte in the human body, we need to make sure to always top it up.
‘Low magnesium can cause high blood pressure, low glucose tolerance and neural excitation, which can cause or contribute to mental health issues like depression.’
The NHS advises adult men to consume 300mg a day, while women should have 270mg a day.
Credit: Original article published here.