Winter has a way of creeping up every year without us being adequately prepared, making it easy for our healthy lifestyles to take a hit. As the temperature drops and holidays take over, we may spend more time inside (and sitting on the couch), eat more stick-to-your-ribs meals, and feel generally more stressed out.
Our bodies—especially our immune systems and mood centers—need support to deal with all of these changes, says The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N. This way, we’re less likely to fall under the weather and more likely to maintain an elevated mood despite shorter days and colder weather.
Here are five key supplements to make sure you include in your winter wellness regimen.
1. Vitamin D
The ‘sunshine vitamin’ regulates the immune system, supports healthy bones, boosts your mood, and more—but the actual sun can only supply so much in the winter months. In fact, depending on where you live, you might be completely out of luck. In Boston, for example, the skin can’t produce any vitamin D from November to February.
For these reasons, naturopath Dr. Paria Vaziri, N.D., recommends everyone have their doctor check their vitamin D levels as the days get shorter. Since up to 35 percent of American adults are deficient in this vitamin, a supplement is an important addition to a fall and winter routine. The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Roseanne Schnell, C.D.N., recommends taking 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily this time of year.
2. Vitamin C
By supporting immune cell function and protecting against environmental oxidative stress, vitamin C helps your immune system stay in tip-top shape, which means you and your family are more likely to feel healthy all winter long.
Schnell recommends taking 500 milligrams daily throughout the winter months to support your system. If you feel under the weather, up that to 1,000 milligrams per day (split into two 500-milligram doses).
Zinc works to support effective immune function by activating immune cells, which makes it an incredibly helpful nutrient when you’re not feeling well. It also supports the body’s ability to heal tissues and synthesize both protein and DNA.
Since the body can’t store zinc, supplementing with it daily throughout the winter is important. Most multivitamins contain 15 milligrams, though you can get a larger dose through zinc supplements (The Vitamin Shoppe brand Zinc offers 50 milligrams). When you feel under the weather, a couple of zinc lozenges (which typically offer 10 milligrams) per day can also provide support.
Magnesium deficiency is believed to affect mood, contributing to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and agitation—and some studies indicate that as much as 75 percent of people don’t get the recommended daily amount. The mineral also supports regular bathroom habits, metabolic health, and proper muscle function.
Read More: 7 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Magnesium
According to Varizi, magnesium is a good supplement for everyone to take regularly, but it’s especially helpful in the wintertime because of its mood-support benefits. The recommended daily amount is between 300 and 420 milligrams.
5. Omega 3s
Fats are essential for brain health—and some studies have shown promising results when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids and mood, too. If you experience low mood during the colder months, Blakely recommends adding 1,100 to 1,600 milligrams of omega-3s per day to your winter supplement routine.