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Boost Your Immunity With These 3 Essential Vitamins for Colds

Beginning in early October and peaking between December and February is something we all know and experience as cold and flu season. But thankfully, runny or stuffy noses, coughing, sore throats, and fevers can all be prevented with one simple solution – getting the annual flu shot!

Additionally, there are other ways you can strengthen your immune system and protect your body from infection. So, what can you do to limit the likelihood of getting sick this season? In this article, we share three of the most beneficial vitamins for colds and flu treatment, according to scientific research.

Let's dive right in!

1. Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is arguably one of the best vitamins for colds you can get. Studies have shown that the sunshine vitamin plays a pivotal role in helping your immune system ward off viruses and reduces your risk of developing acute respiratory infections, including the common colds and flu.

A study by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) provides the strongest scientific evidence yet about its amazing benefits beyond bone and muscle health. According to researchers, vitamin D fights off respiratory infections by boosting antimicrobial peptides, which are naturally occurring antibiotic-like substances present in the lungs. 

Based on the results, daily and weekly supplementation cuts the risk of acute respiratory infection by 50% in people with the lowest baseline of vitamin D levels. While more modest, those with higher vitamin D baseline levels also benefited with a 10% risk reduction. They also observed that colds and flu are more prevalent in winter and spring when people's vitamin D levels are at their lowest, as they spend more time indoors and get less sun exposure. 

Most importantly, they suggested that the benefit of vitamin D was comparable to the protective effect of an injectable flu vaccine against flu-like illnesses.

One of the most incredible things about vitamin D is that you can get it for free. Ideally, the most effective way is by exposing your skin to sunshine. However, this is easier said than done, especially for Canadians. To reap its immune-boosting benefits, aim for 1,000 to 2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D daily. You can do this through supplementation and having a nutritious diet filled with salmon, mushrooms, and other vitamin D-fortified food sources. 

2. Zinc 

If you're making a shopping list of vitamins for colds and flu season, don't forget to include zinc. According to the latest research, this understated mineral shields you from getting sick by stopping rhinoviruses, the primary culprits behind the common cold, from multiplying.

A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Family Practice suggests that zinc supplements can dramatically reduce the severity and duration of a cold if started within 24 hours of the initial onset of symptoms. 

A wooden board filled with zinc-rich food

The Mayo Clinic says it may be more effective when taken in lozenge or syrup form, which lets the substance stay in the throat and come in contact with the rhinovirus. Consume it with food or between meals to avoid getting an upset stomach. Continue taking zinc every one to two hours until the symptoms disappear. 

Aside from supplements, you can also increase your zinc levels by incorporating legumes, eggs, hemp or pumpkin seeds, cashews, and shellfish like oysters, crab, mussels, and shrimp.

Harvard Medical School says the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc in adults above the age of 19 years old is 11 mg for males and 8 mg for women. Pregnant and lactating women may require slightly more at 11 mg and 12 mg, respectively. Some groups, such as strict vegetarians and vegans tend to have zinc deficiencies and may be prescribed a higher dosage by their doctors. 

Nevertheless, do not take zinc in excessive amounts because it can be toxic and lead to serious side effects, including copper deficiency, anemia, and disruption of the immune system's natural functions. 

3. Probiotics 

Probiotics are live, active, and beneficial bacteria that help reduce the number of harmful and potentially disease-causing organisms in the body. They are more popular for their positive effects on gut health and improving gastrointestinal issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, digestive disorders, lactose intolerance, and antibiotic-related diarrhea. But believe it or not, like other critical vitamins for colds, probiotics are also worth looking into when it comes to their excellent benefits in bolstering your immune system.

Based on the key findings from Cochrane reviews published in 2012 and 2015, probiotic prophylaxis, a solution of Lactobacillus, can potentially:

  • Shorten the duration of upper respiratory tract infections;
  • Decrease the number of days it takes to recover; and
  • Minimize the necessity of prescription antibiotics to treat the infection.

Furthermore, a 2014 review suggests that probiotics protect against common colds, viral infections, and hospital-acquired bacterial infections like pneumonia.

Fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are packed with a powerhouse of probiotic bacteria. However, these probiotic-rich foods may have an overpowering taste and smell due to their pickled nature. Fortunately, there are now excellent probiotic supplements that are loaded with billions of gut-friendly bacteria.

A pharmacist helping a senior customer with vitamins for colds

Get the Best Vitamins for Colds Delivered to Your Doorstep With the Boardwalk Pharmacy 

Here at The Boardwalk Pharmacy, your health and wellness are our priority. We have an extensive selection of high-quality health supplements and prescription medication to help you stay on top of your health. Whether you're looking for products to support your eye health, digestion and metabolism, reproductive health, or overall immune function, our pharmacists can suggest the proper over-the-counter medication and supplements customized for your specific needs. 

For detailed information about the available vitamins for colds and flu season or our prescription delivery service, feel free to reach out to us. Our friendly pharmacists will be more than happy to assist you with your concern.