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Supplementing the Winter Blues

It's time for part 2 of natural solutions to deal with the change of season and improve your immune and mental health!

Once my patients have made the necessary changes in their lifestyle, we usually move on to nutritional supplementation to boost those effects. Nutritional supplements have been found to be very helpful with improving both immune function and mood, so let's get started!! 1) 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) - 5HTP is a precursor to serotonin in the body. Similarly to when we discussed tryptophan, this supplement helps the body to produce more serotonin, creating an improved mood and an overall calming effect. Studies have shown that serotonin levels in the brain change depending on the season, therefore supplementing this hormone during the fall and winter months should lead to an improvement in SAD symptoms. 5HTP can have some side-effects, therefore you should work with your ND when you are first bringing this supplement into your repertoire. Similarly to foods high in tryptophan, 5HTP should be avoided when using SSRI anti-depressants!

2) Vitamin D - As we were discussing last week, sunshine is important for the production of vitamin D in the body. If we are not getting enough sunlight (Canadian winters.. am I right??) then it might be necessary to supplement with this vitamin. Vitamin D can be found in some amounts in some fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil), and shiitake mushrooms. Vitamin D deficiency can be a culprit in both immunodeficiency and auto-immunity.. meaning not having enough can push our immune system to both extremes! Lower vitamin D levels have also been shown to be associated with an increased likelihood of depressive symptoms. Make sure to discuss with your ND what dosage would be best for you!! 3) Omega 3 - Omega 3s play a lot of important roles in our bodies, keeping us healthy and happy. The biggest role is that of an anti-inflammatory, though they can also be used to decrease anxiety and improve mood. The main component that gives this benefit is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish oil supplements that are higher in EPA than the other major component, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been shown to be most efective in decreasing symptoms of depression. Omega 3s are found in highest quantities in fish oil from fatty fish (SMASH-> Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines and Herring!), though can also be found in smaller amounts in almonds, walnuts and flax seeds. The healthiest way to reach clinically useful doses of EPA is through supplementation, though every little bit helps!

4) Vitamin C - Studies are mixed when it comes to the effects of vitamin C on shortening the length of the common cold, but studies continue to show that it is good for bolstering the immune system at the first signs of getting sick, or under times of stress. It is also a strong antioxidant, keeping cells safe from reactive oxygen species that increase during immune reactions to bugs, and is important for adrenal gland health which helps the body adapt to stress. Talk to your ND about optimal supplementation of vitamin C, and be cautious of which brands you choose! Recent studies have shown that not all supplements contain what they say:

5) B vitamins - All B vitamins are necessary for enzymatic reactions in the body. They are diverse and each one is specialized for specific conditions and symptoms, however all are necessary to supplement when the body is under added stress (which includes dropping temperatures!). B12 is especially important for supplementation as it is deficient in the diets of vegetarians and vegans, and can be difficult to absorb in people who have digestive issues/conditions, or people on specific medications. B12 deficiency has been shown to cause a multitude of symptoms, including depression and anxiety, therefore it is important to have these levels checked and possibly supplemented! There are many different ways to take B12, as well as many different forms, therefore it is always a good idea to check with your ND about what is best for you! Remember to contact me or book an appointment if you needed/wanted anymore information on any of these supplements. You can book an appointment with me by messaging me on my website, visiting my facebook page or by calling the clinic at 905-697-3111. Remember that these suggestions may not be right for everyone, and an individualized treatment plan prepared by your ND is always best!

Have a happy and healthy week!!

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