It’s feeling decidedly chilly outside! Unfortunately, winter is not too far away and with that normally comes the round of colds and infections. And we’re being warned that we could face lots of bugs this winter.
However, fore-warned is fore-armed in these situations so now is the perfect time to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs to fight off any invaders.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her three top immune-supportive nutrients.
This one has to be at the top of the list! We’ve learned so much more about vitamin D during and since the Covid pandemic, especially in terms of how essential it is for the immune system.
Clearly, we’ve had a good summer, during which time the body restore its reserves of vitamin D, as the sunlight hits the skin. However, not everyone is in the sun, and it’s not clear just how much the body stores, and reserves are certainly not going to last all winter.
Vitamin D is found in eggs, oily fish, mushrooms and dairy produce and some fortified foods. However, it’s not in sufficient amounts and the body still needs to convert that vitamin D into the active D3 form which takes place in the kidneys. It’s no surprise therefore that it is recommended that everyone takes a supplement of at least 10 micrograms through the darker, colder months of October to March. This is the minimum amount to take – you may find you need to take much higher dosages, which is why it’s worth having your blood levels of vitamin D checked.
Vitamin C is a real powerhouse within the immune system. It fulfils many functions but essentially supports the production of immune-fighting white blood cells. Vitamin C is water-soluble which means it leaves the cells quite quickly, hence it needs to feature in the diet very regularly.
It’s good to know, therefore, that vitamin C is widely found in fruits and vegetables. In fact, it’s in so many that there’s no real need to over-complicate things by picking and choosing those with the highest amounts!
The best advice is to include plenty of colour in your meals and in this way, you’ll be eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and therefore essential nutrients. This is so important for health and, especially immunity, because fruits and vegetables are loaded with powerful antioxidants which help to protect the body.
The more stressed you are, the more Vitamin C is burned up by the body so if this sounds like you, you may find that it is helpful to take in even more Vitamin C by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables.
One of the reasons why zinc makes its way onto the immune powerhouse list is because it’s involved in almost every aspect of immune function. Without sufficient zinc, many white blood cell functions, critical to immunity, stop working.
Just like vitamin C, zinc possesses anti-viral activity so it can help protect us against colds and flu. However, the body needs zinc all the time within the body in order to do its work properly.
Zinc is widely available in plant and animal sources but not in the refined foods that many people eat in abundance. Try to include more whole grains in the diet such as wholewheat bread and pasta, quinoa, and buckwheat, plus beans, nuts, oats, and fish. Indeed, one of the highest food sources of zinc is oysters. So don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to eat some of these amazing aphrodisiacs!
Interestingly, zinc is involved in so many functions in the body, it can become marginally deficient quite easily. Common signs of this are white spots on the fingernails, frequent infections, hormonal disruptions, poor taste and smell, and skin problems.
Start your winter immune preparations now and hopefully you’ll have an infection-free season
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