We all know when winter is on its way, but how many of us do something to protect our health before the onslaught of rain and frost actually reaches us? With fast paced lifestyles dominating, it's usually too late to protect our immune systems and the common cold becomes prevalent in every office, home and school as soon as the warm weather goes into hibernation.
People have become too busy to notice that their bodies are being run down and when the seasonal sniffles strike, we're running to the local chemist to find a solution or remedy. So what vitamins should we be looking out for to protect us in the winter? With so many supplements available, we're taking a look at what is considered the '4 pillars of winter health', these are vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and echinacea and finding out if they really help and when you should be taking them.
All the supplements mentioned here are of the natural variety, as is every supplement we sell at Naturisimo. The majority of commercial supplements found in stores are made up on synthetic vitamins, and these do not perform the same functions in your bodies as vitamins which are found naturally in whole foods and natural supplements - so shop smart!
Echinacea is one of the most powerful herbs available. It can be found growing in both North America and in Europe and has been used in traditional remedies for over centuries. The popular herbal product has many uses, this is due to the fact that all parts of the plants such as the leaves, stems, flowers and roots can be used to produce a range or products. Echinacea is available as supplements, liquid extracts and teas.
Due to it being registered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as a traditional herbal medicine, it is allowed to be sold in the UK to treat symptoms of the common cold and flu - however this is solely based on findings from traditional use, not clinical.
Made with a whole fresh echinacea purpurea plant, the Viridian Organic Echinacea Tincture can be used to help fight infections. If you feel a cold coming on, take 15-30 of the drops in fruit juice or water to slow down the symptoms or if you are really feeling run down, take the same amount to alleviate the symptoms.
If you're conscious about keeping the cold away before it hits you, try sipping on Pukka Elderberry and Echinacea Tea throughout the year to make the most of the immune boosting properties.
This is one of the best supplements available to help fight off colds and flu. It is vital for a number of functions including strong immunity, maintenance of mood and it is an important component for your taste and smell senses.
Zinc increases the production of white blood cells in our bodies and helps them fight off infection more effectively, without zinc the cells simply cannot function properly. When the winter months roll in, there are a lot more bugs around ready to pounce on our weakened immune systems, so keeping this topped up is an efficient way of keeping on top of your health.
Our bodies have no way of storing zinc, so it depends on a fresh, daily supply through diet and supplementation. You can easily add zinc to your diet by consuming rich, whole foods. Animal products carry the highest level of zinc per serving including oysters, roast beef, chicken breast and pork shoulder, however if you are vegetarian or vegan you can get small quantities in seeds such as dry roasted cashews, roast pumpkin seeds and almonds.
If you are unable to eat a number of the zinc rich foods, you may want to add a supplement to your diet. There are a few forms of zinc available, but as the body does not easily absorb zinc, unless the zinc is already attached to another substance, you will find many zinc supplements will be combined with something else. This process is called chelation, where the organic molecules are charged so they attract the zinc to make it more absorbent and bio-available in the body.
The Viridian Balanced Zinc Complex contains a synergised balance of zinc, vitamin A and copper for optimum absorption and you can find a highly active blend of zinc and Magnifood - a complex blend of botanicals and superfoods - in Terranova Zinc 15mg Complex.
For many years vitamin C has been considered to help us whilst we're suffering with a cold. However evidence for this is lacking and it has been found that taking vitamin C when you have already caught the common cold or are fighting the flu, does little for us. There is evidence though that taking vitamin C before catching a cold, may reduce the length and symptoms we have to suffer with when we have the sniffles. Although, on average most of us may only catch a cold 2 or 3 times a year and taking large doses of synthetic vitamin C is not good for you, so be sure to stick to natural vitamin C supplements and a vitamin C
rich diet such as oranges, broccoli, red and green peppers, strawberries and blackberries if you are just looking to curb those cold like symptoms.
Vitamin C does have many other benefits other than helping reduce the length of your cold, it is great for protecting against ill effects of stress, lower cholesterol, it can improve your blood flow and it helps regulates sugar levels in diabetics.
Vitamin C is not stored in the body, so just like zinc, it needs to be replenished every day. If you want to top up your vitamin C levels, pick a supplement such as Pukka Natural Vitamin C which is naturally derived and stays in the blood for up to 12 hours.
Vitamin D is found in small amounts of food such as fatty fish including mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines, however our main source of vitamin D comes from the sun. This is why vitamin D supplements become popular during the winter months. Vitamin D is important in maintaining a healthy body and is used for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, muscle weakness, asthma, tooth and gum disease, some skin conditions as well as boosting the immune system.
You don't have to spend a long time in the sun for your body to store enough vitamin D but a vitamin D deficiency is still rather common. If you are unable to expose your skin to sunlight on a regular basis, whether this be due to the weather in your country, spending long periods of time inside or covering your on a regular basis with SPF then you may not have enough vitamin D in your system.
This can be easily remedied with supplementation and you can get this essential nutrient from Viridian Vitamin D or Wild Nutrition Food Grown Vitamin D, for example.
For more information and products to help protect your health this winter, shop here for: Immunity & Colds