When seasons change, and the weather begins to feel much cooler, some may need to turn to supplements to support healthy immune function along with general health. Taking supplements that are meant for specific health concerns can be beneficial and can reduce your chances of becoming ill.
✓ Vitamin C
Vitamin C will help support healthy immune function. It can also help reduce how long, and how severe, a cold may last. If you do have a cold, Vitamin C can provide relief to your symptoms. A wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables contain this vitamin, specifically tropical fruits like mango, kiwi, pineapple, and citrus fruits. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and green and red peppers, also contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for repairing (and maintaining) bones, tissues, and teeth. It can also be beneficial for improving blood flow, and reducing dry skin.
✓ Omega 3
Colder temperatures and cooler air can result in dry skin. Along with Vitamin C, Omega 3 can also reduce dryness by managing oil production and hydration in the skin. Omega 3 can also reduce inflammation by decreasing the production of molecules and substances that are linked to inflammation. Omega 3 may also improve bone and joint health. Arthritis and osteoporosis are both two commonly known disorders that affect the skeletal system (bone health).
By taking Omega 3 you can increase the amount of calcium within your bones, improving overall bone strength and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. People that supplement with Omega 3 have reported that it has improved grip strength and reduced joint pain, as it helps to relieve arthritis. Omega 3 is a particularly important supplement for all round general health and well-being. Getting your Omega 3 intake from whole foods, such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) is recommended. However, supplementing with an Omega 3 tablet (fish oil) is also okay, if you don’t eat much fatty fish on a regular basis. It is also a lot cheaper if you want to save those bucks!
Adding probiotics to your diet can make a big improvement to your health during colder seasons. Probiotics have several health benefits such as: improving digestion and absorption of nutrients, maintaining proper pH levels in the stomach, and helping to synthesize Vitamin K. Probiotics can also help control allergies and boost your immune system. An improved immune system means your body will be able to defend against infections or illnesses such as the flu! You can find probiotics in whole foods too such as: kefir, tempeh, miso, Greek yogurt, and kombucha.
✓ Vitamin D
The sun is our number one source of Vitamin D. However, during winter and colder seasons, it’s too cold to go outside, and the sun is too low. Having proper Vitamin D levels are known to prevent heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and diabetes to name just a few. Whole food sources that include Vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs and milk, and fruit juices that are Vitamin D fortified. To make sure we get proper levels of Vitamin D year round you should:
☐ Eat up to 2 servings of fatty fish each week.
☐ If you don’t like fish, or are vegetarian/vegan, drink up to 3 cups of a Vitamin D fortified beverage.
☐ Get at least 15 minutes of sun each day when the weather isn’t too cold (or gloomy).
✓ Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with a number of important functions within your body. The foods rich in Vitamin E are soya and olive oil, as well as nuts, seeds and some cereals that have been fortified with this vitamin. Consuming enough Vitamin E will help maintain the health of your skin and eyes, as well as strengthening your immune system. Vitamin E has also been proven to help increase your energy levels, which is especially important for these cold and dark winter months!
Take Home Message
There isn’t much one can do when dealing with a cold, but there are ways one can lessen the risks and symptoms. Several supplements can go hand-in-hand with each other to improve overall immune health, along with its sources. Remember to consult with your doctor about supplementing. Most importantly, try to get your vitamins/minerals through your diet first. A healthy diet and exercise is what will keep your immune system and body in optimal health overall!