Supercharge Your Immunity

Influenza, or flu, season arrives every year in the fall, and cases are typically highest in January or February. The flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect against getting sick, being hospitalized, or dying from the flu. However, this vaccine is never 100% effective and only protects against a few flu strains that may be circulating in the community. For those that want to improve overall immune health to avoid the flu this season, these vitamins may help.

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A dose of sunshine

Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D can be obtained from spending time outside in the sun. Certain foods such as salmon, fortified milk or juice, egg yolks, and mushrooms also contain this important vitamin. Vitamin D can also be obtained by taking a dietary supplement. People who don’t have adequate levels of vitamin D might be at increased risk of infections, like influenza, and could benefit from higher amounts. Studies show that taking extra vitamin D may reduce the chance of catching the flu and lower the risk of developing a severe case if infected.

Zeal for zinc

Zinc is a mineral that helps with cell growth, protein building, healing damaged tissue, and supporting a healthy immune system. Red meat, shellfish, nuts, legumes, milk, and cheese all contain high amounts of zinc. This important mineral can also be obtained by taking a dietary supplement that contains adequate amounts. Although zinc is not thought to prevent the flu, several studies show that this supplement can shorten the duration of viral illness. Taking zinc when flu symptoms first develop is the best approach to get all the benefits that can be offered.

C any benefit?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in supplements and foods like citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables. In the body, this vitamin acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Although there has been substantial interest in whether vitamin C prevents the flu, studies have not shown a definitive benefit at this time. That said, everyone should make sure to take the recommended dietary allowance of this vitamin year-round for overall good health.

A berry a day

Elderberry, the hottest new supplement on the block, is a popular remedy for boosting the immune system. Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, this supplement has long been used to treat a variety of illnesses. Although evidence is limited, studies have shown that elderberry can help fight off the flu and relieve flu symptoms for those infected. For questions about how best to use elderberry for immune health, ask a healthcare provider.

Stay healthy this year

Vitamin D, zinc, and elderberry are all shown to be effective natural ways to support the immune system. These supplements may reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu or having a more severe case. The flu shot and effective hand washing are great prevention measures, but to truly improve immune health, these vitamins may offer the best support.

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