Feeling cold during winter is a normal thing. If you however, are someone who is always reaching out for a sweater, no matter what season it is, then experts share what might be behind your shivers. The reality is that there are a whole host of issues that could cause this. Maintaining body temperature is critical to human beings, since various chemical reactions that our body relies on, operate best when kept warm. Scientists estimate that up to 40% of the calories we consume are burned by the body as fuel to keep us warm. If you find yourself constantly reaching for a sweater or blanket, here are some common factors that might be throwing off your internal temperature.
1. You have low iron levels.
Iron is a critical content of the human body. It helps red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, ensuring that each cell can function properly. A person with iron deficiency can impact this process and according to doctors, this can cause someone to feel cold all the time. Studies show that iron deficiency affects thermoregulation in more than one way. In most cases, the lack of iron impacts the thyroid, making it less effective at generating the heat that your body needs, as well as reducing circulation.
Iron deficiency or anemia could also be the result of having low B12 levels (which plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells), something that affects vegetarians and vegans.
2. You have a thyroid condition.
When your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone to regulate your metabolism, it can cause you to feel cold all the time; according to Margarita Rohr, MD, internal medicine specialist at New York University Langone Medical Center. Rohr explains that others who are suffering from thyroid disease symptoms such as hair loss should check for hypothyroidism (which is your thyroid being under-active). If you’re someone who gets cold frequently, then it may be a sign it isn’t working like it should.
3. You Have Raynaud’s Phenomenon.
If you’re someone who has Raynaud’s phenomenon, the blood vessels in your hands overreact to cold temperatures or stress. The situation, which can last from minutes up to an hour, can cause the blood supply to be limited. When this happens, your fingers or toes can turn white or blue and some even feel pain or numbness when the blood starts flowing properly again.
4. You have low body weight.
Registered dietitian nutritionist, Alyssa Tucci, MS of Compass Nutrition, explains that being underweight could mean that you’re always cold for two reasons. Our body fat works as an insulator, so having less fat in your body means less of an ability to hold heat within your system. Also, if you are someone who undergoes constant dieting by cutting down calories, it slows your metabolism, giving your body less energy to heat itself. According to Alyssa Tucci, “Your body is smart and doesn’t want to use energy if it’s worried that energy is scarce”.
5. You skip out on sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep plays a major role when it comes to feeling cold all the time. Not getting the right amount of sleep could be another reason why you might always be wondering, ‘Why am I always cold?’. Studies conducted on sleep and feeling cold shows that chronic fatigue can slow down your metabolism, causing you to feel chilly during the day. At night, your body temperature starts fluctuating, causing your body to be used to imbalanced cycles. Suppose you are staying up later than usual. Then, your core body temperature might drop during the same time it would if you were asleep.
6. Anxiety can cause you to feel cold all the time.
Those who suffer from anxiety tend to feel colder than others. Anxiety causes your amygdala to be activate all the time. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for responding to danger and protecting the body. When this happens, your body is filled with chemicals that forces your body into using its energy to keep you safe because it thinks you are in constant danger. This limits your body from functioning normally, since it’s routing the warmth towards vital parts.
7. You’re dehydrated.
When you become dehydrated, your body limits the blood flow that reaches your skin. Water helps speed up metabolism and break down food; in turn creating heat and energy. When your body does not have sufficient water, less energy and heat is produced. If you are someone who feels cold every now and then, chances are that you are simply dehydrated. Keep yourself hydrated and aim to drink half your weight in ounces of water every day.
8. You live a sedentary lifestyle.
Our body produces heat with the help of the muscles. When they expand and contract, heat is produced, which is sufficient to keep us functioning properly. This is why we shiver when we are cold. The tiny muscle spasms are helping our body generate warmth to keep us cozy. The bigger the muscles, the bigger their roles are in maintaining our body temperature. So, someone who frequently exercises or performs activities such as walking or jogging, is also helping their body maintain the core body temperature.
However, when someone lives a sedentary lifestyle, it has the opposite effect. Those who sit motionless behind desks for hours at a time have a long-term impact on feelings of cold. Studies show that athletes and people with active lifestyles tend to be better at maintaining a suitable body temperature.
9. You’re a woman.
According to a study conducted by the University of Utah, a woman’s core temperature usually tends to be about 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than a man’s, but their hands are almost 3 degrees colder on average. Margarita Rohr, MD, internal medicine specialist at New York University Langone Medical Center explains: “It’s not a huge difference, but it might be why women have the sensation of feeling colder”.
10. You could be experiencing diabetes complications.
Diabetes can result in circulatory problems, high blood pressure and thyroid issues, which can result in cold hands and feet. If you are someone who suffers from diabetes complications, you may always feel cold or feel pain or heat, seemingly without reason. This is due to the constant exposure to elevated blood glucose levels, that damage blood vessel walls. According to Rohr, “It may not be physical, but just the sensation of being cold. It’s just an error in the message sent to the brain from the feet or hands”.