This week, we are taking a brief break from our normally scheduled Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements series to talk about supplements to take during the season of autumn. The fall season is a festive one, often bringing with it holiday cheer. However, there are certain health concerns associated with the fall season. Eating, exercising, and living in a healthy way can help to mitigate these risks, especially as the seasons change.
For improved sleep & changes in routine
Magnesium has been studied extensively in association with sleep. It is a mineral our bodies need, and it helps us respond to stress both in terms of outside forces as well as upsets inside our bodies. During fall, there are many potential changes that can gradually disturb our sense of center. These include shifts in the weather and daylight hours, as well as the business of balancing holidays with other obligations.
To help with daytime drowsiness, recent research supports trying out a magnesium supplement (1). It’s important to consult your health care team as you consider this supplement due to the potential of digestive upset if misused(2).
For improved immunity
It seems that in autumn, our energy and immune system are under attack. As mentioned above, change (even small shifts in routine) can potentially put extra stress on our bodies. Combine that with trauma, serious illness, or chronic health issues and you’ve got a problem.
For someone who is prone to getting ill often, it might be worth looking into a zinc supplement(3). Zinc has also been shown to improve the sleep quality of ICU nurses, suggesting that along with magnesium, it may be a mineral vital to obtaining better sleep(4). Zinc is intricately associated with wound healing and metabolism, so this supplement could help boost the immune system (5). This mineral is crucial in the cases of both acute and chronic illness or deficiency, and this makes it indispensable to immunity. A zinc supplement can play vital roles in mediating immune response and can influence the outcome of many inflammatory diseases (6).
For fatigue & illness
A deficiency of iron can cause all sorts of symptoms, including dry skin, hair, and nails, low immunity, general fatigue and weakness, heart problems and headaches (4). Many clinicians are familiar with iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron and in turn has trouble delivering needed oxygen and other needed components to the parts of the body that need it to function optimally. However, recent research supports that there is a range in which iron deficiency can exist without anemia or a primarily underlying cause. If left untreated for the long-term, low iron can be challenging to treat as many proteins in the body contain iron as a component. Iron is involved in many metabolic pathways, so needless to say it is very important to avoid a deficiency of any kind (7).
As with any medication, there are some common side effects to misusing an iron supplement. Stomach upset is a common one, and for that reason I suggest taking a form of iron called iron bisglycinate chelate, also known as ferrous bisglycinate. This type of iron responds uniquely in that it is regulated closely by the body’s need for iron (8). In other words, it allows for a more significant and individualized iron treatment, and in my professional experience I have yet to see a patient or client who I’ve recommended this form to have stomach upset symptoms. As always, I recommend consulting with a trusted healthcare team to determine if this supplement would be a good fit for your regimen.
For immunity, inflammation, and more
Vitamin C is another supplement to consider for several reasons. It supports immunity, helps the body deal with many kinds of stress, and is vital to cellular health and normal metabolic function.
“Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.” (9)
If that isn’t enough to convince you to consider supplementing with Vitamin C, it also has a synergistic relationship with the mineral zinc. This means that it can help support brain health and body detoxification when combined with adequate intakes of zinc (10).
In addition to vitamin C, other antioxidants (such as vitamins A and E) can help to aid in synergistic efforts . Antioxidants have the special job of protecting from and alleviating the body of sources of stress or disease. When taken in the correct combination (and again it is very important to consult your healthcare team in these decisions), antioxidants work together to help the body function optimally (11).
Fall in love with Supplements
It is incredibly important and empowering to know your options when it comes to health and wellness. Supplements can be just that -- an aspect of your health regimen that adds to and compliments the proactive and protective steps you are already taking. I’ll end on a thought I often leave my clients with: food and supplements won’t cure you on their own, but they WILL enhance your life and empower you to fuel yourself with good and make better choices for your health.
Cao Y, Zhen S, Taylor AW, Appleton S, Atlantis E, Shi Z. Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 21;10(10):1354. doi: 10.3390/nu10101354. PMID: 30248967; PMCID: PMC6212970.
Kooienga M. The Ultimate Nighttime Routine for Better Sleep. Nutrition Stripped. 2015. Accessed at https://nutritionstripped.com/ultimate-nighttime-routine-better-sleep/.
Kooienga M. Should I take Supplements?. Nutrition Stripped. 2016. Accessed at https://nutritionstripped.com/should-i-take-supplements/
Gholipour Baradari A, Alipour A, Mahdavi A, Sharifi H, Nouraei SM, Emami Zeydi A. The Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Sleep Quality of ICU Nurses: A Double Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial. Workplace Health Saf. 2018;66(4):191-200. doi:10.1177/2165079917734880
Momen-Heravi M, Barahimi E, Razzaghi R, Bahmani F, Gilasi HR, Asemi Z. The effects of zinc supplementation on wound healing and metabolic status in patients with diabetic foot ulcer: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Wound Repair Regen. 2017;25(3):512-520. doi:10.1111/wrr.12537
Bonaventura P, Benedetti G, Albarède F, Miossec P. Zinc and its role in immunity and inflammation. Autoimmun Rev. 2015;14(4):277-285. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2014.11.008
Soppi ET. Iron deficiency without anemia - a clinical challenge. Clin Case Rep. 2018;6(6):1082-1086. Published 2018 Apr 17. doi:10.1002/ccr3.1529
Name JJ, Vasconcelos AR, Valzachi Rocha Maluf MC. Iron Bisglycinate Chelate and Polymaltose Iron for the Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Pilot Randomized Trial. Curr Pediatr Rev. 2018;14(4):261-268. doi:10.2174/1573396314666181002170040
Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
Gromova OA, Torshin IY, Pronin AV, Kilchevsky MA. Sinergidnoe primenenie tsinka i vitamina S dlia podderzhki pamiati, vnimaniia i snizheniia riska razvitiia zabolevaniĭ nervnoĭ sistemy [Synergistic application of zinc and vitamin C to support memory, attention and the reduction of the risk of the neurological diseases]. Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 2017;117(7):112-119. doi:10.17116/jnevro201711771112-119
Koekkoek WA, van Zanten AR. Antioxidant Vitamins and Trace Elements in Critical Illness. Nutr Clin Pract. 2016;31(4):457-474. doi:10.1177/0884533616653832