Science hasn’t exactly nailed down why we’re bombarded with cold viruses and flu strains during the colder months more than warmer ones. Some experts think it’s the close proximity we share with one another when seasonal temperature drops persuade us to stay inside more. Other researchers think that being colder in general puts an overall damper on our immune response system and the dry air caused by home heating make things worse for our airways.
Even if winter is somewhat mild this year where we are, rest assured that our pal the rhinovirus and his buddy influenza are going to come a-knockin’.
You can be reactive and stock up on cold lozenges, cough syrups and fever reducers (which is always a good idea), but you can also try being a little more proactive this year by adding supplements to your daily rituals to help build your bug-zapping immune system up for the winter months.
Here are three great supplements to consider:
1. Vitamin D
The holy mother of all vitamins according to some doctors.
Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of the vitamin is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.
If you’re wondering if your levels are low, have your doctor give you a simple blood test to determine how much you need to supplement this important nutrient over the darker, colder months.
2. Black Elderberry
Elderberries (Sambucus) have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Used for its antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.
Echinacea has a long history of use for treating respiratory infections. It’s not well understood how it works, but several studies show that Echinacea can help you get over a cold faster and reduce symptoms.
You should start using Echinacea at the first sign of a cold, taking a total of about 900 mg of extract divided into two or three doses per day for one to two weeks. As always, consult a doctor before using any supplements.