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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why are some people colder than others?

Do you know someone that's always cold? A co-worker that's usually bundled up or a family member that's always turning up the thermostat.

And my guess is that it's likely someone of the fairer sex. Why is it that women tend to feel this way?

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me just say that a lot of factors can affect why one person feels colder than another. Diet, age, fitness level, stress level and the quantity and quality of our sleep all affect this to some degree. The human body has a core temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius and this stays fairly constant. It is our extremities (the hands and feet) that has a more pronounced effect on how cold we feel. When the temperature dips, the body will draw blood back to the vital organs leaving the hands and feet more vulnerable to the cold.

Now why do women feel the change in temperature more so than men? There are several factors, but hormones play a major role. Women's temperatures vary with their menstrual cycle. You will be familiar with this if you've ever tracked your basal body temperature (BBT) for fertility or contraception reasons. Temperatures rise sharply just before ovulation and will remain high for the post-ovulatory phase of your period til your menses. As a side note, birth control pills can elevate one's core body temperature, so I would hypothesize that women coming off the pill will experience a temporary cold state.

More specific reason why someone might feel cold:
  • Iron Deficiency: Women and vegetarians are also more susceptible to this
  • Poor circulation as this decreases blood flow to the extremities. Smokers need to wary of this. Get up and get active as physically active individuals have increased ciruclation.
  • Hypothyroid: An underactive thyroid will lead to lower body temperatures.
  • Your typical environment dictates your perception of how cold or hot a new environment it. For example, if your home thermostat is set a balmy 25 degrees celcius, you will tend to feel colder at work where the thermostat is usually 21 degrees.
  • Chronic stress and poor sleep make us more sensitive to changes in temperature.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

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