Top 5 Supplements For Cold Season Immune Support

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Top 5 Supplements For Cold Season Immune Support

In my last blog post, I talked about some easy things you can do to stay healthy during the winter, like hand washing, eating warm foods, and limiting sugar and dairy.  In this post I’ll share some supplements that I find valuable for staying healthy during cold and flu season (besides Vitamin C, did you need to be reminded about Vitamin C?). But first…

Eat Your Vitamins

Before we get to supplements, there are lots of foods that have great immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.

  • If you carve a pumpkin this time of year, roast those seeds!  Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc which is an important mineral for immune system strength.  Other foods with a lot of zinc are cashews, chickpeas, sesame seeds (hello hummus!), garlic, and oysters.
  • Leafy green vegetables are a good source of all kinds of vitamins that the immune system needs and will aid with Vitamin D absorption.
  • Leafy greens, citrus fruits and berries are a great source of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that we all think of for immune system support.
  • Shiitake mushrooms have been found in studies to have anti-viral and immune regulating effects.
  • Cooking with onion, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper will add anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects to your dinner, and help it taste great!

Top 5 Supplements for Cold Season Immune Support

All of these supplements are easy to find. Some are good to take daily, while others are good to have on hand so you can take them at the first sign of fatigue or feeling ‘run-down’, or when you see that your co-workers or your child’s classmates are starting to get sick.

img_0207Vitamin D3 plays an important role in the body’s innate immune response. As the days get shorter and we move farther away from the sun, the exposure that we get to the sun in a typical day is generally not enough to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D. Since Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone, it’s best to get a blood test to determine your baseline Vitamin D level. Many adults can take between 2000-5000 IU/day in the winter. Children’s dosage depends on their age and weight and can range from 400-2000 IU/day. Talk with your health care provider about the best amount for you.

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Echinacea is essential in helping to ward off colds and flu. Numerous studies have shown that ongoing use of Echinacea significantly lowers the occurrence of respiratory infections and ear infections. You can also take Echinacea during a cold to shorten its length and severity.

Zinc Citrate has been shown in several studies to reduce the frequency and duration of colds.  Zinc can be a little hard on the digestive system, so be sure to take with food. Always start at a low dose and work up to 15-30 mg/day for adults (less for children).

img_0209Medicinal Mushrooms like Shiitake, Maitake, Chaga, Cordyceps, and Reishi all have immune-enhancing effects. For people who get sick on a regular basis, I often suggest a product from Host Defense called Stamets 7, which combines 7 different mushrooms including Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Chaga to support your natural immune system function.

Probiotics and fermented foods can also help to support the immune system, especially for people who have taken a lot of antibiotics, as the digestive system is very important for immune system balance.  Choose a probiotic that has multiple strains, including both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

*As with any recommendations, and especially if you are pregnant or have an auto-immune condition, please consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.  Six Branches Family Acupuncture and Naomi Skoglund L.Ac. have no connection and receive no financial benefit from the companies named above.

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