For most of us, the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s involves a lot of socializing (although sadly, maybe not so much in 2020!), shopping, possibly some traveling, and hopefully some time off from work and school, too.
While all of the excitement can definitely add joy to life, it can also become tiring at times and take a toll on your usual self-care routine.
Knowing that your diet may be less than stellar this time of year, there are certain supplements that can be extra beneficial for your gut, brain and mood. Below we’ll look at five of the best supplements to take during the holidays, which can also make good gifts for your health-conscious family and friends.
Common holiday health issues
If the holiday season means that you’re off from work, away from home or just plain busier, it might become more difficult to stick to a healthy meal plan, to squeeze in your typical workouts, and to prioritize sleep.
It’s not surprising then that many adults find their pants becoming a bit snugger, not to mention their energy levels taking a dip.
Another problem with neglecting a nutrient-dense diet, exercise and adequate sleep during the holidays is that it can leave you more vulnerable to becoming sick. The winter is when most children and adults are prone to catching colds, the flu and so on, which become a bigger threat when a healthy lifestyle is neglected.
The most important vitamins and supplements for the holiday season
To help fill in the gaps in your diet and to give you a natural boost in energy so that you can power through your days, here are the top holiday health supplements to consider adding to your routine:
Probiotics are the “good guy” bacteria and microbes that populate your gut (or microbiome). They have numerous roles including helping you to digest nutrients from your diet, supporting healthy digestion and elimination, and even managing your appetite and mood.
A good-quality probiotic supplement is a powerful addition to your daily health and wellness routine because it supports healthy digestion, immune health and more. † Taking one can help reduce occasional diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating and while also helping your immune system to defend against pathogens. †
For the most benefits, take a supplement with a high CFU count, diverse probiotic strains, and a delivery method that ensures the probiotics will survive once you consume them. SBO (soil-based organism) probiotics are a great option because they are resilient when making it to your digestive tract, where they are most important. †
If you frequently struggle to get good sleep, first and foremost take a look at your “sleep-wake routine”; do you try to head to sleep at roughly the same time each day, and get up at a consistent hour? Do you practice a bedtime routine that leaves you feeling relaxed so you can drift off easily?
Once you’ve checked these boxes, consider taking melatonin to help promote healthy sleep. † Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which is like your “internal clock” that makes you feel drowsy or alert at the right times of day.
Your body produces melatonin naturally, especially at night since this promotes sleep. Taking melatonin before bed may help you to fall asleep faster, and it can also help decrease jet lag symptoms. † However, it’s usually only recommended for short-term use, so consult with your doctor if you plan to use it for more than several weeks.
Experts believe that low vitamin D levels are extremely common among adults, especially during the winter months when there’s less sunlight available.
Your body naturally makes vitamin D when your bare skin is exposed to the sun’s UV light rays, however most of us spend nearly all of our time indoors once the weather becomes cold. Unfortunately, this vitamin is not widely available in foods, so supplementing and getting outside is the best way to boost your levels.
Vitamin D is responsible for hundreds of reactions within the body, including those related to brain function, hormone production and immune defenses. Taking a vitamin D supplement (ideally in the form of cholecalciferol to support absorption) is a convent way to help keep your levels within the normal range — which is important for maintaining a strong immune system, cardiovascular and bone health, and for your mood. †
Magnesium is a very versatile mineral and electrolyte, providing benefits such as support for restful sleep, healthy muscle function and healthy digestion.
If you deal with aches and pains, restlessness, headaches or constipation, adding a good-quality magnesium supplement (such as one that’s enzymate-activated) to your routine may help†. Additionally, it can support normal muscle and nerve function, cardiovascular health and bone health when taken long-term. †
There’s a reason many people associate higher vitamin C intake with protection against colds and other illnesses: it supports healthy immune defenses, healthy nervous system function, antioxidant activity and also healthy neuron function and skin health. †
If you want to take immune health to the next level, opt for a vitamin C supplement that is combined with probiotics, which further helps support healthy gastrointestinal function and absorption. †