In this second part about vitamins for the winter, we will address the functions and effects of folate and fish oil. You can find the first part here.
Folate/ Vitamin B9
Let’s begin with a question: Why are most babies born in August and September?
Would you like a hint? Think about the winter cuddles, candlelight, and the relaxing holiday season… exactly, winter is for lovers. In fact, research shows that most babies are made during the winter holiday season (1).
Folate is involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of DNA. Therefore, any woman of childbearing age should obtain adequate amounts of folate (400 μg/day) to reduce the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects (2). Since this level of intake is difficult for many women to achieve through diet alone, it is recommended that any woman of childbearing age should obtain 400μg/day of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) from dietary supplements. This makes even more sense considering that 50% of pregnancies are not planned.
- Lentils, spinach, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, peas and beans, some fruits (papaya, orange, grapefruit, strawberries, banana).
Ideas to integrate folate into your everyday winter-life:
- How does a lentil soup with spinach sound? Or a fresh spinach salad with roasted asparagus, broccoli, and avocado?
- Try to eat avocado as a snack with some salt and nuts (so delicious!).
- Drink a glass of freshly pressed orange juice for breakfast (you simultaneously get your Vitamin C).
- Take supplements with 400 μg folic acid daily.
Would you like to read more about folic acid? You can find NJORD’s article on women and folic acid here.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fatty acids are not vitamins, however, they play an important role for your skin. When the weather turns cold and humidity levels drop, you might experience dry skin on hands, face or any other body part. This is due to the cold, dry air removing the moisture from your skin by depleting the oils our body produce. Omega-3 fatty acids can help us to retain this moisture.
You may have heard about EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Besides benefiting your heart, brain, and sight, these two omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids play an important role in skin health and can help you to replenish dry skin. In general, EPA and DHA can be produced by your body from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an essential fatty acid obtained from the diet. But since conversion rates from ALA to EPA and DHA are very low, the best way to increase your levels of these fatty acids is to consume foods rich in EPA and DHA, which is mainly fatty fish
However, it is difficult to get enough of these omega-3 fatty acids through food alone, therefore consider adding dietary supplements to your routine, such as fish-oil capsules. Vegan or vegetarian? No worries, there are also supplementary options for people on a plant-based diet.
Main sources of ALA:
- Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, canola oil, edamame, kidney beans.
Main sources of EPA and DHA:
- Fatty fish (e.g. salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel).
Ideas to integrate omega-3 fatty acids into your everyday winter-life:
- Try a flaxseed oil dressing for your salad!
- Warm chia seed pudding with coconut milk, vanilla and cinnamon is nice on a chilly winter morning.
- Eat more fish!
- Take dietary supplements: Fish-oil capsules or a plant-based option.
Also, remember to drink enough water during the dry winter months, since dehydration can cause dry skin as well.
By taking NJORDs test, you can find out if you need a supplementation with folate and/or fish oil. NJORD analyses your lifestyle and intake by examining the information you give in the test, and it is noncomittal – take your test here!
Are you on a plantbased diet? Soon we will offer a vegan algae oil capsule with omega-3.
- DR, online article (Danish): https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/foedselssaeson-i-dag-bliver-der-foedt-flest-boern
- US Preventive Task Force, online article: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/folic-acid-for-the-prevention-of-neural-tube-defects-preventive-medication
Written by: Saskia Wurm