Tracking Pixel
Lifestyle & Wellness

4 Supplements I Add to My Fall Wellness Routine

It’s no surprise I love fall, but I don’t love the two seasons that come after it here in Chicago because baby, it’s cold, dark and grey outside!

Winter and spring can be super long, extremely grey and frigid which can really start to take a toll on the mind and body by the time April rolls around (heck it’s the middle of November and I’m already feeling it!).

This past spring we had 40 days with no sunshine — yes, 40 days! The downright dreary weather with my post-wedding and winter blues were the perfect storm. I remember feeling incredibly “blah” every single day and really lacking the energy to do anything.

For those of us who really feel the changes in the weather it’s crazy how much of an impact a lack of sun, and cold can really impact our mind and body.

With the winter season upon us and knowing that I’m very sensitive to changes in the weather and lack of sunlight, I want to make sure I’m not deficient in key nutrients that can impact my mood and energy levels.

Although I’m highlighting supplements that can help in this blog post, it’s always still important to eat a balanced diet to help ensure you’re getting proper nutrition in addition to supplementation.

Here are a couple supplements I’m adding into my routine this fall to help me feel my best throughout the winter and spring. These vitamins and minerals are aimed at supporting immunity, mood, stress and energy — all things our bodies might need a little extra help with this time of year.

winter nutrition

4 Supplements I Add to My Fall Wellness Routine

Magnesium

Magnesium, aka the “calm” mineral is important for many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation.

Studies suggest adequate magnesium intake can calm stress, improve mood and enhance sleep — all things that can be impacted in different ways from lack of sunshine this time of year. And I’ll gladly take any boost of calm I can get!

Most of us are not getting enough magnesium in our diet, so I recommend adding a supplement into your routine. I recommend this one from Now Foods.

Food sources of magnesium: pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax seed, avocado, cacao

Vitamin C

We know how important vitamin C is for immunity which makes it a no brainer to incorporate during cold and flu season. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps with immunity, collagen production and protection from free radical damage.

While it doesn’t directly impact your mood, getting sick definitely does in a negative way which is where supplementation can help.

Food sources of vitamin C: potatoes, citrus fruit, bell peppers, kiwi, cauliflower

Vitamin D

Vitamin D aka the sunshine vitamin is extremely important for many functions in our bodies, including helping to regulate our mood.

Our body makes vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight and low levels of vitamin D from a lack of sun exposure can contribute to the feelings of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Past deficiency, major fatigue, depression, or constantly getting sick can all be signs of vitamin D deficiency.

I recommend getting a blood test with your doctor to check on your vitamin D levels before starting supplementation. Liquid vitamin D3/K2 drops are going to be the best in terms of the type of supplement you want to use. The combination of vitamin D and K together helps with optimal bone health, and immune system support as well as mood support.

Food sources of vitamin D: wild-caught salmon, sardines, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms

Fish Oil

Because depression appears less common in places where people eat large amounts of fish, scientists have looked into whether fish oils may prevent and/or treat depression and other mood disorders.

Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory properties that can help our mood and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids: oily fish, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds

Another supplement that can help with your mood? Probiotics. I incorporate probiotics into my routine year-round but if you don’t, now is a good time to start. Our gut is connected to so many different systems in our bodies including mood and immunity which we know are so important to think about this time of year. I like and personally take this one from mindbodygreen.

Nutrition

4 Key Nutrients to Include in Your Diet in the Winter

Fall into winter with these key nutrients to include in your diet in the winter. As the days get shorter, there is less sunlight and the temperature dips we can start to feel moody, fatigued and unhappy to name a few. Learn which nutrients play an important role in helping us feel our best and stay healthy especially during the winter months!

key nutrients needed in the winter

We’ve all felt it. Shorter days, less sunlight, cold weather, and more time spent indoors compile to just leave you feeling “blah”. I know the feeling. Known as the “winter blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts more than10 million Americans. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men.

The winter blues are extremely common, and many of us experience this mood shift during this time of year. Add that to the fact that it’s also cold and flu season, and it’s a one-two punch that can really knock us down if we don’t take care of ourselves properly through our diet and beyond. 

The good news is there are different ways we can combat the winter blues and feel our best during the winter months through what we eat, our daily habits and the things around us. And since I’m a registered dietitian, you know I’m going to tackle the nutrition side of this so that you feel confident on what to include in your diet to feel your best this time of year. Find out what nutrients are especially important in the diet when the weather turns cold and what other things you can do to keep spirits bright! 

once the days start getting colder and shorter. Staying active, whether that’s streaming your favorite yoga class or taking a brisk walk around the block, may give you that extra energy boost. Making your environment brighter with a light box or opening your blinds and sitting closer to the window can provide a much needed dose of sunshine. And what about the phrase “good food is good mood”? Have you thought about incorporating certain foods during these winter months? Here are a few things to keep on hand — fresh, frozen, and canned are all great options! 

Key Nutrients to Include in Your Diet in the Winter 

  • Complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs stimulate the release of serotonin, a key hormone that stabilizes our mood and has a calming effect. Mood-boosting carbs like oatmeal, paired with fruit and your favorite nut butter, are a great way to start your day. The combination of carbohydrates and protein will also help keep you full and focused throughout the morning!

Other complex carbs include: 

  • whole grains
  • fruits & vegetables
  • beans & nuts
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D, aka the “sunshine vitamin” is sparse during the winter, especially if you live in Chicago like me. Vitamin D is super important for muscle function, immune, and bone health. Many parts of your brain contain vitamin D receptors which play an important role in overall brain health. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to fatigue, low mood, and increased illness. The amount your body is able to make depends on factors such as the season, time of day, where you live, and the melanin content of your skin. For example, if you live in a city with gloomy winters (hello, Midwest!), then you’re more at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Because vitamin D doesn’t naturally occur in many foods, it’s important to monitor your levels (through a blood test at the doctor if you are at risk of being low) and supplement as needed. Fortified milks, egg yolks and mushrooms are some foods that contain vitamin D. Non-dairy/alternative milks (like soy and almond) usually have vitamin D added, just be sure to double check your labels. A note about vitamin D supplementation: it’s important to chat with your doctor and get a blood test to determine if and what dosage of vitamin D supplements are right for you. Since vitamin D is stored in the body you can take too much!

  • Omega- 3’s. In addition to their heart-health benefits, omega-3s have been shown to improve mood too. Our bodies don’t make these healthy fats, so we need to obtain them from food sources! Increased levels of two kinds of omega-3s, EPA and DHA, are linked to a well-functioning nervous system. Salmon, sardines, and tuna are all great sources! Frozen and canned options are perfect for stocking your freezer and pantry for the winter months. Check out this list for stocking your pantry and fridge if you need some more inspiration.

Other non-fish sources of omega-3’s include: 

  • chia & flax seeds
  • walnuts
  • Zinc. Zinc is a pretty incredible mineral that’s essential for brain health and energy production. Zinc also helps help regulate immune function and works to shorten the duration of the common cold. Animal proteins are a good source of zinc and .y Your body is able to use zinc from animal sources more efficiently than plant proteins. Look to Incorporate pumpkin seeds and nuts, whole grains, and legumes if you are looking for plant- based options.

More Ways to Beat the Winter Blues 

  • Stay Active. Staying active, whether that’s streaming your favorite yoga class or taking a brisk walk around the block, can definitely give you that extra energy boost in the morning or afternoon. 
  • Let There Be Light. Making your environment brighter with a light box or opening your blinds and sitting closer to the window in the morning can provide a much needed dose of sunshine. Don’t forget that SPF even in the wintertime when you’re outside! 
  • Lean on Your Pantry & Freezer. All of the foods mentioned above can be found in canned and frozen varieties as well. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh and canned items can totally be your best friend when it comes to shortcutting a healthy meal. I’ve got a list of things I think everyone should have in their fridge and pantry here!
  • Make Mini Moments of Self-Care. Don’t wait until you’re strung out, exhausted, or mentally burnt out to take a break. Schedule mini moments of self-care into your day, DAILY. Things like quiet time, painting your nails, reading, writing, eating a meal distraction free, or going for a walk outside can all be great “mini moments” that are inexpensive and relaxing. 

What else do you do during the winter months to keep your body healthy and stay in a good mood? I’d love to know and add to this list!