Cold and flu season is approaching, which means people are loading up on supplements and remedies to boost their immune systems. Despite popular belief, not all “immune-boosting” supplements ward off the germs that cause cold and flu.
Which supplements are worth the investment? Several vitamins and foods naturally enhance and protect the immune system, which is especially important when preventing and fighting cold and flu.
A common misconception about vitamin C is that it helps prevent cold and flu, but vitamin C is still beneficial for the immune system. Vitamin C is highly concentrated in immune cells (plasma and leukocytes). When the immune system is under attack, the body becomes deficient in vitamin C and weakens the immune system. Vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of infection.
Although vitamin C does not inhibit people from getting colds, Cochrane researchers discovered that vitamin C reduces the severity of symptoms and the total duration. Vitamin C is essential for proper functioning plasma and leukocytes.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in those with weak immune systems. Vitamin D helps:
- Ward off infections
- Boosts the immune systems
- Preventing people from getting sick
While getting vitamin D from standing out in the sun is possible, many people supplement it due to gloomier weather and in-office jobs.
When you feel under the weather, try zinc. Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, including:
- Natural, innate immunity
- Macrophages (the body’s first line of defense)
- Neutrophils (pathogen-fighting white blood cells)
- Antiviral, natural killer cells
As you can infer, zinc deficiency weakens the immune system. Taking zinc within 24 hours of noticing cold or flu symptoms can help reduce the duration of the viral infection.
Probiotics keep the digestive system healthy, which may systematically keep the immune system running better. Moreover, some strains of probiotics are potentially antiviral. As an alternative to probiotic supplements, eating fermented foods (such as sauerkraut or kimchi) can increase good bacteria in the gut.
Though not as popular as the other supplements on this list, elderberry is full of antiviral phytochemicals. Phytochemicals stop viruses from entering cells and prevent germs from replicating. Additionally, elderberry enhances the immune system’s ability to communicate and respond within itself. Elderberry also:
- Impedes influenza
- Lessens the severity and length of respiratory infections
- Controls the body’s immune response
- Obstructs viral proteins
Respiratory Infection-Fighting Foods
Remember that food is medicine. Here are a few foods (which can also be found in supplement form) that help fight cold and flu:
- Garlic is an immune-supporting food full of allicin, an antiviral chemical compound. Supplementing garlic can help reduce the length of cold and flu symptoms.
- Turmeric is a potent, golden root that has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
- Oregano oil is an infection-fighting, antimicrobial herb. Traditionally, people used oregano oil to fight fevers and respiratory viruses (including flu).
Learn More About Immune-Boosting Supplements
While these supplements and foods are not a guaranteed guard against cold and flu, they may make the symptoms easier to handle and shorter in duration. Don’t risk cashing in on supplements that over promise and underdeliver. At the BioMed Center of New England, our team can help you sort out supplements and help you decide which are most beneficial for you and your family. Visit the Elements Store or call us at (401) 443-4007 for more information on immune-boosting supplements.