A strong immune system helps protect against infections from bacteria and viruses and it’s important to take care of it. Scientists confirmed that the flu spreads best in cold, dry weather and hand washing is the single most basic and important prevention against the spread of infection. Besides personal hygiene, there are also quite a few other proven strategies for supporting immunity in a safe and effective way through diet and supplementation:
I spoke about what foods to eat to support your immune system in the cooler seasons that you can read about here.
My favourite supplements to support the immune system are:
1. Vitamin D: According to Statistics Canada, about 40% of Canadians were below the cut-off for Vitamin D levels in the winter! So taking vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) should be your new daily habit this season. Vitamin D3 helps to stave off those winter blahs and support bone health! It’s best to test with your doctor to see where your levels of Vitamin D are and then work up your dosage each week to hit the target your doctor advises.
2. Magnesium: Magnesium deficiencies are the second most common deficiency in developed countries (the first being Vitamin D!) Magnesium is a mineral found in your blood, bones, tissues and organs that helps to control hundreds of chemical reactions in the body. It keeps the immune system strong and supports cardiac and brain function.
3. B12: An important B vitamin involved in producing red blood cells, regulating the immune and nervous system, and in converting food to energy. It is made by bacteria that live in soil and in the guts of animals, however, pesticides often kill B12 producing bacteria and insects in soil. These days, cattle no longer feed in pastures of grass and chickens don’t peck in the dirt on factory farms. Even if you were to eat grass fed meats you may not be able to absorb enough vitamin B12. That being said, it would be beneficial to have a routine check up with your doctor to test if your levels are within normal range, especially if you sense a decline in your energy levels.
4. Mushroom complex: Mushrooms are adaptogens (AKA they help the body increase energy and resistance to stress). Though they are one of the most underestimated foods on the planet they are actually incredibly powerful to build the immune system because they have strong antibacterial and anti-fungal compounds just to survive in their own natural environment. This means these beneficial compounds can be used to protect human cells too!
5. Probiotics: You may know what probiotics are because you heard that it’s good bacteria that’s found in yogurt that’s supposed to help improve your digestion and immune system, and while it’s true – taking it in supplemental form ensures a more therapeutic dose that you can’t find in your daily yogurt intake. The new study by nutritional science researchers at the University of Toronto finds that the dosage of probiotics in most widely-available yogurts are too low to offer the health benefits seen in clinical trials. So while it doesn’t hurt to continue with your yogurt snack (ideally unsweetened organic, and from grass-fed sheep, goat, or cow) where you will find a significance in immune and digestive health is from a daily dose of probiotic supplements.
6. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is yet another common vitamin most people are deficient in. We need it for immune function, bone structure, iron absorption, and healthy skin. Studies suggest that 34% of American men and 27% of American women don’t get enough. While boosting vitamin C doesn’t reduce the risk of catching the common cold, some research shows that people who regularly take vitamin C supplements may be able to lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold. Since our bodies don’t make vitamin C, we must supplement as well as consume foods that contain Vitamin C everyday (examples are: citrus fruits, strawberries, green vegetables, and tomatoes). It’s important to note that Vitamin C is the least stable of the vitamins, which means it’s readily destroyed by exposure to air and heat, so supplementation helps ensure you’re getting adequate amounts.
Now that you have my list of immune supporting supplements, I want to announce that I’ve put together a GIVEAWAY for an Immunity Basket that you can win over on my Instagram Page! Check it out, contest closes Friday February 23th and Winner will be announced Saturday February 24th! Open only to Canadian residents. Good luck!