Colder weather might have you hankering after comfort food, but reliance on such dishes might leave you short on good nutrition. If you’re feeling a little under the weather this winter, then it’s a good idea to pay attention to how you’re getting your winter nutrients.
Ensuring a good intake of a wide spectrum of essential nutrients can be difficult in winter. If you eat locally and seasonally, a lack of variety may mean you miss out on some key vitamins and minerals. However, even in cold snaps, there are usually great options available for fresh produce.
Here are four key winter nutrients, along with how to best get them, to help you plan your winter diet:
1. Vitamin C
You might miss out on vitamin C if your diet lacks fresh fruit and vegetables. Essential for proper immune function and for bone and cartilage health, thanks to its role in collagen production, Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps protect cells and tissues from free radicals.
In the winter months, vitamin C can be found in the following fruit and vegetables:
- Sweet potatoes
If none of the above fruit and vegetables appeal to your palate, then you may want to can consider taking a Vitamin C supplement.
Zinc is involved in many enzyme reactions in the body. It helps maintain the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients and helps maintain normal acid-base metabolism as well as normal DNA synthesis.
At this time of the year, one of the best ways to get zinc in your diet is to eat freshly harvested nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, whole grains, and fortified cereals. A daily supplement, or targeted zinc and vitamin C throat lozenges are also good to have on hand for the winter season.
Potassium is one nutrient we might forget about in winter because we tend to pay less attention to electrolytes and hydration. Even in the colder months we still need a good intake of electrolytes as we lose these in urine and through sweat. Good sources of potassium include:
- Winter squash
- Rutabagas (swedes)
- Citrus fruits
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another major nutrient that many of us miss out on in the colder months, but not necessarily because of dietary variations. This is because we get most of our vitamin D through the action of sunlight on our skin, and from October to April the sun’s rays are not quite strong enough in some places for such synthesis to occur.
Taking a daily Vitamin D supplement or ensuring that you eat foods fortified with vitamin D can help maintain optimal levels year-round to support bone health and maintain immune function.