With cooler temperatures this time of year also comes the flu and cold season. Flu season can begin as early as October and typically peaks in January and February.
Here are 5 tips on which vitamins and supplements can help protect your immune system this flu season. Be sure to check in with your primary care physician before starting any new supplements.
- Garlic: Preliminary clinical research shows that garlic consumption may reduce the frequency and number of colds.
- Zinc: Supplementing with Zinc lozenges seems to help reduce the duration of symptoms of the common cold. The appropriate dosage of a Zinc lozenge is between 9-24 mg/day every 2 hours while awake. Start taking the Zinc lozenge within 48 hours on the onset of symptoms.
- Echinacea: A widely used supplement thought to help decrease the severity of cold symptoms. However, research is mixed on whether Echinacea is actually effective in preventing or treating the cold. Clinical studies have shown that supplementing with Echinacea may decrease cold symptoms severity and duration by 10-30%. Due to the formulation of this supplement, dosage varies.
- Vitamin C: While most of us believe Vitamin C is used to help prevent us from getting the cold, there is still quite a bit of controversy regarding the effectiveness of Vitamin C in the treatment of the cold. Majority of evidence does show that taking high doses of Vitamin C (between 1,000-5,000 mg max/day) orally may decrease the duration of cold symptoms by 1- 1.5 days in some people.
- Probiotics: Healthy bacteria that may help reduce symptoms of the common cold. A preliminary study suggests that a combination of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei, taken in a dose of one billion CFU’s daily for 12 weeks may reduce the incidence of developing the common cold by approximately 12% while reducing the number of symptomatic days from around 9 days to 6 days.
These vitamins and supplements can be found at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
Are you waiting until the last minute? Don’t. Flu shots take about two weeks to provide protection. Get vaccinated before peak flu season hits: ochsner.org/flu