As anyone who knows me will tell you, I hate winter! The mix of cold winds, rain and central heating dries out you skin and hair, and the dark, dreary mornings making you want to stay curled up in bed eating comfort food instead of reaching for a salad and hitting the gym.
To combat this there are numerous vitamins and food groups that help to boost happiness hormones and get skin and hair back to healthy…
Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D, and as this is scarce in the UK during winter months, it is a nutrient in which much of the British population is deficient throughout this time of year. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the protection against Dopamine and Serotonin depletion (1). Consequently, a deficiency in Vitamin D can result in decreased production of these two hormones which regulate emotional responses, and mood balance ensuring that you’re happy, motivated and less at risk of suffering from the winter blues and depression.
There are plenty of foods rich in vitamin D that can be included in the diet including; oily fish (such as mackerel, sardines and salmon), eggs, meat and fortified dairy products.
Not only are Omega 3 fatty acids important for brain function and helping the brain to fight depression, but they are also involved in hair and skin health. Some of the Omega 3 that we eat can be found in the scalp, and provides the natural oils to keep our hair and scalp hydrated. It has also been identified that Omega 3 reduces the presence of some inflammatory compounds that are involved in the skins ageing process (2). S0 as well as keeping our locks shiny and full of bounce, it also helps to keep our skin supple and looking young.
The best foods to eat for an Omega 3 boost are oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds.
One of the best understood vitamins, it has long been proven that vitamin C is important for a fully functioning immune system, and assisting the body in the anti-ageing fight against stress (3).
Some of the best sources of vitamin C are green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, cabbage and sprouts), citrus fruits, mango and strawberries.
I would highly recommend loading your diet with vitamin A rich foods as the two main functions of this vitamin are to keep your immune system fighting infection, and to keep your skin and eyes healthy. Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include dry skin and hair, brittle nails, dry eyes and frequent suffering from colds.
Butternut squash, sweet potato, spinach, mango, fish and eggs are all brilliant sources of vitamin A.
Whilst high selenium status is associated with antiviral effects (4) and the prevention of dry and flaky scalps (5), Zinc is one of the ingredients required for keratin production and healthy immune function (6). With Keratin being the main component of hair, skin and nails along with the anti-dandruff properties of selenium, these two nutrients are a must for keeping hair strong, shiny and flake free.
Just 4 brazil nuts can provide a whole day’s selenium requirements, but eggs, beef and wholegrains are also great. Zinc can also be found in wholegrains and lean red meat, along with fish, shellfish, nuts and seeds.
Look out for my recipe for orange & mustard glazed salmon, which is packed with ingredients to boost immune function and keep our skin and hair on top form!