Vitamins for the Fall and Winter

Dear Dr.Kim

Are there any specific vitamins that people should take in the fall and winter?

G.G. Langford

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Dear G.G.

Thank you for your question; a tough one given that most recommendations vary based on age, gender and individual needs. Having said that, three things come to mind when I think of supplementation needs during the fall and winter months and these are: Vitamin D, a good multi-vitamin and probiotics.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that, when first tested in the blood, I commonly find to be low and deficient. It is an important factor in maintaining health of your bones, teeth, and nervous system, immune and cardiovascular system. Further, inadequate levels have been linked to an increased risk of developing breast, colon and prostate cancer s. Vitamin D is ingested through food or produced by the skin from exposure to UVB from the sun. In Canada during the fall and winter months it is thought that no (or very little) UVB is present in Sunlight and shorter days –leaves us leaning on supplements and food to meet our needs. Unfortunately even if your nutrition is high in foods rich in Vitamin D (liver, egg yolk, and Vitamin D fortified foods) most people still fall short on D. You can pay to have your Vitamin D level tested so that you know your status and dosing decisions can be individualized. I like to set a dosing range based on lab work and then do follow-up lab testing to see how blood levels are responding. To satisfy your Vitamin D needs, consider taking cod liver oil and/or a Vitamin D supplement each day. Cod Liver Oil is a bonus as it is an Omega 3, essential fatty acid –and so you will be getting some Omega goodness at the same time as your D.

The winter months can mean that you are eating a less varied diet and so taking a good quality multi-vitamin can help ensure you are covering your bases. In addition, for some people, the shorter days and overcast weather can bring on lower moods so bolstering the body where possible makes a lot of sense. Two things to look for when you are choosing a good quality multi-vitamin are the daily dosing of the B vitamins and zinc. The B Vitamins are helpful for balancing mood and buffering the burden of stress on the body. Zinc is a mineral that supports the immune and nervous system …and then some. Choose a multi-vitamin that maximizes the dosing of B vitamins and zinc.

Finally, take a probiotic for at least 4-6 weeks. In many ways, the digestive tract sets the stage for a healthy immune system. Probiotics (acidophilus is one example) are beneficial bacteria that colonize the surface of the digestive tract. The good guys live among yeast, and non-beneficial flora and so keeping balance can go a long way in strengthening digestion. The beneficial bacteria support health by enhancing food breakdown, outcompeting non-beneficial flora and producing vitamins. Consider taking a probiotic this fall to bolster your immunity and health.

I hope these suggestions help foster a healthy fall.

“Health from the inside out.”

Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. See www.drinkrumble.com

Dr. Kim McQueen