Q: I'm always cold, even when people around me aren't. Why is that?
For starters, women generally tend to feel colder than men because we conserve more heat around our vital organs, leaving the hands and feet chronically chilled. If you have relatively low body fat, you may feel colder than other people because you're less insulated. Or you may not be getting enough sleep; when you're fatigued, your metabolism and circulation can slow down. Dehydration is another possible cause: Water helps your body retain heat and release it more slowly to maintain a comfortable temperature—so drink up.
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Other potential reasons for frequent shivering include low levels of iron or vitamin B12, which play a role in your body's ability to regulate temperature, or an underactive thyroid. Do you mostly freeze up in your hands and feet? It may be due to a circulation problem. Cardiovascular disease is one possible culprit, as is Raynaud's disease, in which blood vessels in your extremities temporarily narrow when your body senses cold.[brightcove:4874661125001 default]
If your chilliness is making you uncomfortable every day, it's worth a visit to your doctor. She can determine whether there's a simple fix—such as putting on a bit more muscle or eating more iron-rich foods—or if it's a sign of a health issue that needs treatment.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.