Top 5 Nutritional Supplements To Take This Fall
The best supplements to use in the fall and winter are different from the best supplements in the summer.
Cold weather forces us to congregate indoors, places strain on the immune system, and alters our circadian rhythm and mood — all of which can be avoided through clever supplementation.
Here, we’ll cover the top 5 health supplements that have the biggest impact in the fall and winter seasons. We cover the following challenges specific to fall and winter living:
- Vitamin D Deficiencies
- Immunity & Cold/Flu Season
- Seasonal Allergies
- Low Energy
- Mood Disorders & Seasonal Affective Disorder
We produce vitamin D naturally in our skin, but the reaction requires exposure to UV light from the sun.
The problem stems from three factors — the days are shorter, we spend less time outside, and when we’re outside we’re covering our exposed skin to stay warm. All of these factors bring vitamin D production to a near halt.
Deficiencies in vitamin D can have a lot of consequences:
- Lowered immunity
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Decreased bone density
The best form of supplemental vitamin D is a combination of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. Both of these supplements work best when taken together. The vitamin D helps alleviate deficiencies, while vitamin K protects the body from some of the secondary effects of vitamin D (such as increased blood calcium levels).
Fall is cold and flu season. The change in weather causes us to congregate indoors, providing the perfect environment for viruses to spread.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to take antiviral supplements as a prophylactic to reduce the chances of getting sick.
While no supplement can prevent infection, there are a few, like elderberry, that can do a great job at reducing your risk when combined with the standard protocols of avoiding close contact, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often.
Elderberry contains a group of compounds called lignans that have been shown to physically bind to viral particles, and make it impossible for them to reproduce and create new viruses.
Elderberry impedes the influenza virus by binding to a protein on the viral envelope called hemaglutinin. Studies have shown elder can interfere with the viral envelopes of other viruses too, including coronaviruses, mycoviruses, and much more.
Elderberry contains separate compounds that support immunity in other ways too. It offers natural antioxidant and antibacterial benefits, and some of the compounds are even used as a cough-suppressant.
Reishi capsules are another excellent prophylactic for cold and flu season, but for a different reason.
While elderberry is better for physically deactivating viruses and bacteria, the medicinal mushroom species — reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) — works on the body’s own adaptive immunity.
The adaptive immune system is critical for protecting the body from infection. By supporting the activity of our lymphocytes (the soldiers of our immune system), reishi can equip a systemic advantage to our immune system.
Reishi has another use during fall and winter as well — allergies.
While we normally associate the spring and summer months with allergies (pollen and dust), fall and winter generate a different kind of allergens. Leaves die off and release a fine dust into the air, and mould spores are released in the cold, damp weather. Both of these factors can trigger an allergic reaction.
Reishi is considered an immunomodulator — which means it can boost immunity in certain areas (such as our adaptive immunity), and reduce immune activity in others (such as chronic inflammation or an allergic reaction).
The effects of reishi are slow and gradual. For best results, experts recommend taking reishi supplements consistently over the course of several weeks or months.
Low energy is common in the fall and winter months of the year. This likely stems from a combination of low vitamin D, dreary weather, and the inevitable end to summer vacations or time off.
As we’re gearing into the cooler seasons, using supplements to bolster our energy levels can go a long way in keeping our mood and motivations high.
There are few supplements as effective for boosting energy levels naturally as Rhodiola.
Rhodiola isn’t a stimulant like caffeine, so it’s not likely to cause side effects like insomnia or anxiety. It works as an adaptogenic herb that improves our ability to manage stress. Stress, in this context, is any outside force that pushes us away from the body’s optimal balance.
By improving our ability to adapt to stress, we preserve a lot more of our energy during the day.
Supplemental Rhodiola provides more consistent energy throughout the day, alleviating dips in energy that usually happen in the late afternoon — allowing us to stay focused, motivated, and energised all day long.
5. B Vitamins & 5-HTP
Mood disorders like depression are at their all-time high in the fall and winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is pervasive in the northern regions of Europe. The lack of sunlight causes vitamin D levels to drop, which can cause depression — but there’s more to it than that.
One of the leading causes of SAD is low serotonin levels. The shorter daylight causes our internal clock to fall out of balance — leading to changes in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — all of which can affect our mood.
Supplemental 5-HTP is one of the simplest ways to boost serotonin levels in the winter months and help offset the changes that occur naturally as the days get shorter.
5-HTP is a precursor for serotonin. It works by ensuring all the raw materials to manufacture serotonin are readily available. You can get even more out of 5-HTP supplementation by taking other cofactors needed to produce serotonin, such as a B vitamin complex and magnesium at the same time.
Key Takeaways: Top Supplements for Fall & Winter
The fall and winter months bring new challenges to the body. The lack of sun exposure and shorter daylight can cause vitamin D deficiencies, interfere with our internal clock, and lead to changes in our mood, sleeping patterns, and more.
Additionally, the cooler weather forces us to gather indoors, leading to a higher chance of spreading infection from person to person.
The best supplements for the fall and winter seasons include vitamin D (ideally vitamin D3 and K2 supplements), immune-boosters like elderberry or reishi, energy tonics like rhodiola, and mood-supportive supplements like 5-HTP, magnesium, and vitamin B.