Staying Well with Core Nutrients

Did You Know?

Staying Well with Core Nutrients

Family Outside in Cool Weather
Posted by:
Mary Ann O'Dell, MS, RDN

From the common cold to the flu, we all deal with viruses, those small infectious bugs that can enter the body and spread. The immune system, how our bodies fight off infection, will generally eliminate these viruses or bacteria before they take hold. However, if our immune system is weakened, viruses can take hold and cause infection. There are many ways to be a bad host for infections, reducing risk for illness, including washing hands, nourishing with good foods, getting enough rest, and controlling stress. On top of these steps, here are key nutrients and herbs that can help provide ongoing support to the immune system.

Zinc, and specifically zinc lozenges, can help shorten the duration of a cold virus. Studies on zinc have shown that this mineral has antiviral properties. As a bonus, zinc lozenges usually contain ingredients that also help soothe dry scratchy throats. Be careful not to overdo it with zinc as too much zinc can actually suppress the immune response. So be sure to follow product label dosing recommendations.

Vitamin C is essential for white blood cell function, which is part of the immune system, Vitamin C may help reduce risk for viral infections. Studies have found that vitamin C can help reduce the severity and duration of an infection like the common cold. Food sources of vitamin C include berries, bell peppers and citrus fruits.

Vitamin D plays an important role in strengthening your defense system to fight off any invading viruses and bacteria. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk of viral infection. Foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil and egg yolks supply some vitamin D, but research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is still common in the United States.

Elderberry, or Sambucus, is an herb that has been studied for its activity against viruses, particularly various influenza strains. Elderberry has been shown to help shorten the length and severity of symptoms caused by influenza and cold viruses.

These core ingredients may be found dosed for children or adults. They offer an ongoing way to support the immune system in the quest to stay well during seasonal challenges.