These Three Supplements Can Help Protect You and Fight Against Winter Illnesses
Fight the bad guys this winter with research-backed vitamins and supplements.
So you’re all stocked up on tissues – you’ve got cases of them under the stairs – and you’ve nearly emptied the local pharmacy of Mucinex, Tylenol, and Motrin. Because winter’s arrived, and ‘tis the season of nasal congestion, runny nose, fever and chills- and missed days of work.
That’s what winter is all about, right?
There are ways you can strengthen your immunity and boost your defenses against those common wintertime ailments. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and good hygiene practices are starting points for optimal health all year round, and in the winter, some extra TLC in the form of vitamin supplements can go a long way to help you fight those germs.
Learn about three supplements that, according to research, are beneficial in both preventing and treating infections and illnesses that seem to strike with a vengeance come winter…
Vitamin C is a winter classic, and for good reason: it’s been proven to both treat and prevent respiratory infections.
It is found naturally in fruits such as oranges, lemons, strawberries and cantaloupe, and in some vegetables including broccoli, bell peppers, and leafy greens.
Deficiency of this immune-boosting vitamin can cause greater susceptibility to illness, due to impaired immunity and thus a weakened ability to fight infection. Then, once infection strikes, vitamin C levels drop quickly, and much higher levels of vitamin C are needed to help mount and sustain an effective response against the infection.
The abundance of research on this topic tells us it’s a good idea to boost our vitamin C intake with a high quality supplement throughout the winter months.
But even if you haven’t been doing so, once you’re hit with a tissue box-depleting virus, it’s not too late! You can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of the illness by taking high levels of vitamin C. Then once you’ve gotten better, you may want to start regular supplementation to maintain healthy levels of this antioxidant, disease fighting, collagen-forming vitamin. (These are just some of its many incredible benefits.)
As with any supplement, taking too much vitamin C can have unwanted effects on your health, so be sure to consult with a medical professional for proper dosage guidelines.
The sunshine vitamin is important not only for dental, bone, muscle and skin health, but also for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. Vitamin D is believed to affect many different functions and processes in our bodies.
Trouble is, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a warm, summer-all-year-round climate, chances are you don’t spend your days lounging in the winter sun, soaking up rays of happiness. Knitted layers and steaming mugs inside your warm home are likely your reality, which means your skin doesn't get the sun exposure it needs to produce vitamin D.
While this important vitamin can be obtained from some food sources, many people do not consume enough of it. Statistics vary on the percentage of Americans that are deficient in vitamin D, but experts agree that many are at risk for vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Taking vitamin D supplements has been shown to effectively increase levels of this superpower vitamin in both children and adults.
Research proves vitamin D’s role in strengthening our immunity against common and highly contagious illnesses, such as the common cold, flu, and bronchitis. Data from multiple studies provide evidence that vitamin D supplementation offers protection against respiratory tract infections.
It’s important to note that vitamin D supplements come in two different forms, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Our bodies produce vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight, and when supplementing, this form appears to be more effective than vitamin D2 at raising blood levels of vitamin D.
For optimal outcomes, you’re probably best off taking vitamin D3.
Zinc is a mineral that has also been shown to improve cold symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness by 2-3 days, when taken within 24 hours of the onset of the cold.
Have you wondered about the popularity of zinc lozenges as opposed to taking it in pill form? There's a reason for that, and it’s not simply to soothe your sore throat. Sucking on a zinc lozenge allows for extended contact between the mineral and the actual virus inside the nasal passage, whereas taking it in pill form does not, as the pill goes straight down your throat to begin its journey through the digestive tract.
Zinc in lozenge form is also a much better option than a zinc nasal spray, which can cause loss of smell.
Zinc lozenges may cause nausea and bad taste temporarily. As with any treatment, ask your doctor if this is right for you when trying to fight a cold. Used with care, zinc lozenges can help speed up your recovery and get you back faster to the things you’ve been doing.
Fortify and Fight
You can be proactive about your health in the winter and all year round. Good health practices and lifestyle choices affect how you respond to an invasion of microscopic bad guys. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is a simple way to supercharge the fight against those micro-monsters.
Stay warm, stay healthy, stay strong!