The 'Winter Blues', more formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to affect around 1-2 million people across the UK.
No-one really knows what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder but the general consensus is that a lack of sunlight leads to lower serotonin levels in the human body. Serotonin is a hormone that influences our mood, appetite control and sleep quality. A lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet and hormone imbalances invariably will have a knock on effect on our immune system and general well-being.
Whilst 'getting enough' sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting the flu vaccine and wrapping up warm are your best bets to stay fit and healthy over the winter months, several vitamins and supplements can help bridge gaps in your lifestyle. Below you will see our top 5 picks.
1) Vitamin D3
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. However, during the winter months (October to March) the Ultraviolet rays projected by the sun are not strong enough for the body to synthesise into Vitamin D. Therefore, many individuals become vitamin D deficient. If you have noticed you are becoming increasingly tired, easily become ill, have a low mood or struggle from increased muscle pain, well you may be lacking in vitamin D. Adding an inexpensive vitamin D supplement into your diet could help prevent all of the symptoms above.
Public Health England now advise everyone takes a daily vitamin D supplement over the winter months to protect bone and muscle health, but this simple supplementation could also protect you against the effects of SAD.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. Research and studies have shown that taking a 5-HTP supplement results in your body producing the chemical messenger serotonin. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain and other health problems. Therefore, including a 5 HTP supplement into your diet can help minimise the above health problems from arising.
Vitamin B complex as the name implies is a complex consisting of B vitamins, usually consumed in capsule or tablet form. Most Vitamin B complex supplements contain all eight B vitamins — B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12.
Each of these B vitamins play an important role in keeping the human body running in a normal and healthy state.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - Promotes normal and healthy function of the heart.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - Helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to generate energy, and it allows oxygen to be used by the body.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - Helps to maintain normal healthy skin.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) - Contributes to normal mental performance.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - Can help to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin) - Helps maintain healthy skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) - According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), Vitamin B9 is vital for making red blood cells, as well as: the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA, age-related hearing loss and is particularly important for women who are pregnant.
Vitamin B12 (Hydroxycobalamin) - Supports normal and healthy function of the immune system.
Many of us think that our diet alone provides us with enough of the essential vitamins and minerals required for a healthy lifestyle but sometimes the foods we eat, even the so called 'healthy foods', can have poor nutritional value.
Picking up a daily multivitamin with added iron can help make up for these shortfalls and make sure you hit the 100% recommended daily allowance of the most important vitamins and minerals.
Taking a daily multivitamin has shown to help support energy levels, support strong bones and teeth and maintain healthy skin,hair and nails.
Our final pick is a mood booster supplement. Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda (a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing).It has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels and improve concentration.
Ashwagandha KSM-66 is the highest concentration full-spectrum root extract on the market today with the most extensive set of research studies and clinical trials.
- Help maintain normal levels of mental clarity, concentration and alertness.
- Helps maintain normal levels of vigour and performance.
- May be used to help promote sports performance.
- Helps support healthy response to stress and fatigue.