Ready or not, winter is right around the corner! The winter winds don't just blow in snow... for many people, winter brings about a wide range of health concerns that normally would not trouble us in warmer weather. Luckily, we aren't totally at the mercy of Mother Nature. Keep reading for some supplements that can help keep you happy and healthy until the spring sun shines.

(Note: Even though supplements come from a “natural” source, they can still interact with prescription medications and have effects on your health. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements.)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vitamin that is essential to our functioning, but unlike other vitamins, is not naturally present in many foods. Vitamin D is sometimes known as “the sunshine vitamin” because our body produces its own vitamin D when the sun hits our skin. When the days get shorter and the winter winds are blowing, we don't get as much sun as we do in the summer months. Making sure you get the proper amount of vitamin D helps keep your bones healthy and strong, as well as possibly help to keep your nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems functioning.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C seems to be the go-to supplement to ward off winter colds and other bugs. The citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit where we get much of our dietary vitamin C can be in short supply in the winter, putting you at risk for deficiency. Low vitamin C levels can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to a wide array of illnesses. Some evidence suggests that taking higher doses of vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of a cold, but this is still up for debate. You'll get the most benefit out of vitamin C if you make sure you get enough of it regularly instead of taking a mega-dose after you're already sick.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Anyone with joint pain knows that the chill and dampness of winter can settle in and wreak havoc on aching joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural components of your joint cartilage. Taking these as a supplement may help relieve joint pain from arthritis. Don't expect a miracle cure, though; benefits from these supplements seem to be modest and can take a few weeks to work.

Vitamin E

The harsh winter weather can pack quite a punch against your skin; decreased humidity, drinking less water than in the summer, and poorer circulation due to the cold can leave your skin dry and itchy. Vitamin E may help keep your skin healthy. Luckily, many foods we eat are rich in vitamin E and it's unlikely that you would become deficient. Instead of taking a vitamin E supplement, you can try putting vitamin E oil on your suffering skin. The oil, which can be found either by itself or in many lotions, may be a helpful moisturizer as well as provide your skin with needed antioxidants to protect against damage.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 may be a jack of all trades when it comes to helping ease your winter woes. This fatty acid commonly found in fish oil may help promote circulation; this not only helps keep your fingers and toes warm, but may help keep your skin healthy and hydrated as well. There is also some evidence to suggest that omega-3 may help promote joint health, an added benefit for aches and pains aggravated by the cold.

You can find these supplements and many more at your local Medicine Center Pharmacy. Stop on in today to talk with the pharmacist and start living well.