Many people swear that a certain vitamin or herb helps them to prevent colds or flu, or at least makes them more bearable or shorter lived.
“There is evidence that certain supplements might help prevent colds,” says expert Professor Eccles, the Director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, “Some do have more evidence behind them than others, though. Don’t forget that our immune systems are individual – what works for a friend might not work for you. But if you’ve found something that seems to stop you getting ill, keep taking it.”
“The best way to prepare your body to fight off winter bugs is with a combination of diet, herbs and supplements,” says pharmacist and natural health expert Margot Marrone. These supplements are all known to help fight off winter bugs – see which one works for you. Don’t forget that some supplements take three months to be effective, so start taking them now for the best result.
- Vitamin C – helps to improve immunity by increasing production of a virus inhibitor called interferon. It helps your body cope with a viral or bacterial attack. It won’t stop you getting a cold but it could help you recover faster. “Choose a non-acidic form of Vitamin C such as Ester-C which is gentle on your tummy, allowing you to take it in higher doses,” says Christine. “I recommend taking a 2000mg dose a day when you have a cold.” Try Healthspan Ester-C 1000mg (£11.99/90 tablets).
- Vitamin D – is an essential winter supplement, according to Margo. “We’re all Vitamin D deficient, especially in winter, and I suggest taking 800-1200 IU a day to top up your levels to boost immunity as well as your bone health and heart heath.” Try Vitabiotics Ultra D D3 1000 IU (£5.10/96 tablets).
- Zinc – is a mineral with antiviral and antioxidant properties. It’s crucial for the function of your immune cells and it helps wounds heal faster. One study found that sucking on zinc lozenges at the beginning of a cold could help it clear up faster. Take up to 15mg a day. Try Pharma Nord Bio-InfluZinc + C lozenges (£7.95/pastilles).
- Probiotics – are an important way to prevent bugs. “Probiotics make all the difference because they strengthen your gut which is where 70 per cent of your immune system is,” says Margo. “People with lots of good bacteria are better equipped to fight off disease-causing bad bacteria.” Probiotics also improve digestion so we can get more nourishment from our diet. They are especially important if you are prone to stomach bugs. Try Optibac Everyday Probiotics (£10.99/60 capsules).
- Echinacea – a study by the Cardiff University Common Cold Centre found that taking Echinacea daily over four months reduced the number of colds and cut the length of any colds by 26 per cent. Try Solgar Echinacea (£13.25/100 capsules).
- Astragalus, cats’ claw, elderberry and thyme can all help to soothe your respiratory system and boost your immunity. “I recommend an immune tonic that includes all of these,” says Margo. “Start this in October with five drops every day. If you get a cold increase the dose to 15 drops.” Try The Organic Pharmacy Immune Tonic (£11.50/50ml).
For more health tips grab the latest issue of Yours, which is out every fortnight.