Let’s face it, cold and flu season really stinks! I wrote my last article about food and lifestyle changes to help stave off illness and reduce intensity and duration of symptoms, but I also wanted to touch on supplements that could give you an added boost.
There are SO many recommendations for supplements, especially when it comes to immune system health. The supplements I will talk about below, are just the ones my family and I have used, personally. That’s not to say there aren’t some other great options. I’ll touch on options I haven’t tried, because what works for one person, may not for the next. It’s best to try a few things over time and come back to what works best for you.
I have been a supporter of Moss Nutrition supplements, for about two years now. They are high quality, well sourced, transparent about quality control and backed by clinical research. They are also a local company, which I love to support! Many of the supplements I listed below, are from Moss. The brand is for practitioner use only, which just ensures that people aren’t misusing the products. As with any supplement, please consult your physician to check if there are any contraindications. If you’re interested in purchasing through Moss, you can click HERE and set up a new account with my practitioner number 8154. It’s a one time set up. If you’re local, you can also opt to pick up your order and save on shipping cost. Purchasing through Moss also helps support my business, so I can provide free content, like this article.
For greatest efficacy of these supplements, try to start taking them at the first sign of illness, or even preventatively for a few days, if you’ve been exposed.
- Vitamin D3- Interestingly, Vitamin D is actually misrepresented. It’s a pro hormone, which means it’s converted to a hormone, not a vitamin. Vitamin D interacts with 30 different tissues in the body and affects more than 1,000 genes! It obviously plays a very large role in many systems of the body. It’s most impactful on bone, brain, heart, muscle and immune system health (basically everything). Most people, at least in the Northeast, have varying levels of deficiency. I once asked a doctor why he didn’t check Vit D status regularly, and he said “well, nearly everyone is deficient so I stopped doing it.” Oh boy. Having optimal levels of Vitamin D, has been well proven to significantly reduce chances of contracting the flu. Seeing as most people are deficient, it makes sense to get tested and supplement accordingly. 1,000- 2,000 IU is considered a maintenance dose. During times of illness or at the onset, I recommend increasing your dose by at least 2,000 IU for the duration of your symptoms. Here is the brand I take and recommend. This is one of the only supplements I give my kids, daily, through the winter. They take between 400-800 IU in liquid form.
- Probiotics- Research shows that our gastrointestinal system, accounts for up to 70% of our immune system. Our good gut bugs (probiotics) are responsible for modulating the immune system and revving it up at the appropriate times. There are numerous factors that consistently kill off our good gut bacteria, which is why it’s important to replace them. I suggest taking a good quality soil based, Lacto/Bifido blend, or Saccharomyces Boulardii pill, preventatively or just during high risk times or illness. I give my kids chewable probiotics, along with fermented foods. See more on probiotics, here.
- Vitamin C- Daily use of Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the likelihood of colds and flu, reduce antibiotic use, and school absences in children. Use a buffered variety, if possible, to reduce GI upset and increase absorption. Take 1,000-2,000mg throughout the day. Safe for children, but decrease dose to 500-1,000mg. You can also buy in powdered or chewable forms.
- Zinc- A real heavy hitter when it comes to supporting your immune system. Most Americans are deficient in this important mineral. Our bodies can’t store, it so we have to make sure to get it from bioavailable (easily absorbable) food sources. Chelated zinc, like this one, is good to take. I suggest taking a multivitamin with at least 15 mcg daily, and supplementing with 25 mcg during acute times of illness. Best taken on empty stomach, if tolerated. Lozenge form is also an option, but don’t overdo it.
- Elderberry Syrup- Easily made, safe for kids, pregnancy and nursing, and its efficacy is supported by research. You can buy dried elderberries and simmer them to make your own syrup (tastes good!), or purchase the syrup at a health food store. I made some in my instant pot (can do stove top also), with this recipe. Should not be taken for long term prevention I don’t take for the entire winter), although fine to take for longer periods of time if ill or susceptible to illness. Dose at 1 Tbs for prevention and up to 3 Tbs throughout the day for adults. For kids, use ¼ of the dose ages 2-7 years old, and ½ the dose 8-12 years old. I put this in kombucha for my kids and in seltzer for myself. Can take just as is, though.
- ImmunoSelect– A nice combination product that includes clinically researched herbs like echinacea, goldenseal, olive leaf extract and andrographis to name a few. These herbs have antiviral and antimicrobial properties and boost immune system function. We take the recommended 1 pill, 3 times per day, when we’re symptomatic.
- Monolaurin- A natural antimicrobial agent, with a long standing history of safety and efficacy. Unlike most antibiotics, it does not promote bacterial or viral resistance even following prolonged use. Its primary action is to break down protective seals that pathogenic microbes make, leaving it vulnerable and unable to replicate or attach to host cells. The product we use is called LauricSelect. We use it as directed, during times of illness or as prevention if we’ve been exposed.
Some other supplements that are popular, include:
- Cod Liver oil
- Oregano Oil
- Cordyceps and Mushrooms Extracts
Don’t forget to check out the foundational aspects for preventing cold and flu, which I wrote about HERE.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!