There’s nothing better than Christmas festivities and all the wonderful things we can do in this period. Winter wonderlands, fairs, and hot chocolate are all on our checklist of must-see things! With temperatures dropping, that stubborn office flu is right back around the corner, ready to ruin our weekend getaway. As our immune system struggles to keep us staying healthy and energized, chances of catching it get higher and we need to take some precautions to avoid them.
1. Vitamin C
A staple in every home pharmacy. We all know about the amazing benefits it has for our bodies and is a must-have during the winter. It’s one of the essential vitamins that have to be supplemented or intaken through food as our body doesn’t naturally produce it. Although it cannot directly help you not catch a cold, it will shorten its duration and ease your symptoms.
Some of the benefits vitamin C offers:
- Strong anti-oxidative properties
Antioxidants are molecules that improve your immune system by helping it protect the cells in your body from harmful free radicals. It protects cells from oxidative stress and can increase antioxidant blood levels by 30%.
- Prevents iron deficiency
Iron is one of the elements many women lack. As we’re at a higher risk of anemia (iron deficiency) due to our monthly menstruation during which we lose a lot of blood, it’s important to consume iron-rich foods or supplement it. But, only supplementing iron won’t do much for your anemia without vitamin C. It assists in the process of converting supplemented or digested iron into the one that is beneficial for our body. Only 100 mg of vitamin C can help iron absorption by more than 60%.
2. Vitamin D
Sunshine vitamin. Called like that due to our body’s ability to produce it in a response to sun rays coming into contact with our skin. In summer, most of us don’t have any need to supplement it due to long sun exposure and the percentage of our body being exposed to sun rays. As some research shows that almost 20% of the population (in the UK) have a vitamin D deficiency, during the winter it’s advisable to supplement it.
Although technically not a vitamin, but a hormone produced by our body to help our bones absorb the calcium they need, it helps with the production of red blood cells. It’s only available in a few foods, mostly fatty fish, it’s sometimes hard to ensure the amount we need from food only.
Some of the benefits vitamin D offers:
- Forms your bone structure
It has an important role in regulating calcium levels by improving its ability to be absorbed in the large intestine. This results in your bones staying dense and prevents osteoporosis.
- Protects against cold and flu
According to a global cooperative study from 2017, vitamin D can help with acute respiratory infections, some of the more common ones being flu and cold. The research found that daily or weekly supplementation had the greatest effect on individuals with a vitamin D deficiency, lowering their risk of infections by 50%. Even those who didn’t have a deficiency experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
Being responsible for a number of enzymes in the human body, zinc is one of the most important elements for maintaining a healthy immune system. Only a small amount can help you fight off infections so it is important to ensure you’re ingesting enough. Currently, the recommended dietary allowance for zinc is 8 mg a day for women. In foods, its highest concentration is found in meat, shellfish, and legumes.
Some of the benefits zinc offers:
- Helps regulate the immune response
T-cells, also called T-lymphocytes, which are responsible for our bodies’ immune response when affected with an illness, need zinc to be activated to perform its rose. Without zinc, they won’t be able to fight off illness and our immune system would be non-existent. This is especially important in children as their immune system is more susceptible to damage.
- Helps fight off cold
According to a study from 2011, if taken within 24 hours from the onset of the symptoms, zinc can help shorten the duration of the cold for more than 40%. Combined with other vitamins mentioned above, it can be your savior one the “office flu” catches you.
Although all of these elements and vitamins are naturally found in our food, during the winter it’s important to ensure proper doses. As we’re all unique individuals, we recommend consulting your physician before taking any supplements to ensure the proper dosage of any aforementioned ingredients.
In order to avoid getting sick this winter, make sure to check out last week’s blog and read all about the best tips and tricks to avoid being the sneezy one in the house!