Unfortunately, winter = cold and flu season… which means giving your body some extra love and care. Seasonal changes in the environment, such as cooler temperatures, often give viruses and other bugs a greater opportunity to spread and maintain themselves. That’s why I like to up the ante on my immune supporting supplements at this time of year.
Here are 5 of my go-to vitamins, herbs and supplements that I keep in my winter “medicine” cabinet and take to help keep my immune system strong and healthy – or give it a fighting boost if I’ve come down with something.
This herb is incredible for when you’re sick and want to support quicker recovery. Andrographis helps to relieve the severity of symptoms of common colds and flu, including cough, throat irritation, nasal congestion, ear irritation, tiredness, weakness and the duration of headaches. Plus, it decreases the length of the common cold.
I really love supplementing with the “sunshine vitamin” to support immunity. Studies have found that vitamin D levels increase in summer and decrease in winter due to the dependency of vitamin D on sunlight. The beneficial effects of vitamin D on protective immunity are due to its benefits on the innate immune system as the cells of the immune system are capable of producing and responding to vitamin D.
This is probably the most well-known supplement for immunity for good reason! Vitamin C is an antioxidant and water soluble vitamin that plays a key role in healthy immune system function. It’s great to load up on vitamin C rich foods in your diet (such as citrus, berries and leafy greens), however during winter, times of lowered immunity or illness, the need can increase. That’s why I like to add in a quality supplement for extra support.
Ingestible probiotics are typically used to support a thriving gut microbiome and a healthy digestive system, however specific strains may improve immune function too. Two strains that are backed by research to do this are Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis, which both support a healthy immune system. I make sure my probiotic supplement includes these strains during winter.
When it comes to your immune system, zinc is an important trace mineral to ensure your body has adequate level of. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses, and supports general health and wellbeing. A bonus is that it’s great for the skin, hair and nails!
Leticia Elizondo-Montemayor, Elena C. Castillo, Carlos Rodríguez-López, José R. Villarreal-Calderón, Merit Gómez-Carmona, Sofia Tenorio-Martínez, Bianca Nieblas, Gerardo García-Rivas, “Seasonal Variation in Vitamin D in Association with Age, Inflammatory Cytokines, Anthropometric Parameters, and Lifestyle Factors in Older Adults”, Mediators of Inflammation, vol. 2017, Article ID 5719461, 14 pages, 2017.
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Kang EJ, Kim SY, Hwang IH, Ji YJ. The effect of probiotics on prevention of common cold: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial studies. Korean J Fam Med. 2013;34(1):2-10.
All information is general in nature and should not substitute talking to your health professional. Please always consult your health professional to check that a supplement is right for you.