Preparing for cold season with Vitamins & Minerals

 

Article by Lindsay Martin, MS, RDN, LDN

 

As kids head back to school and adults are heading back into the office, life is getting back

to a “normal” routine. But let’s be sure to armer up against all those colds, flu season and now all

the different Covid-19 stands. There are several things we can do to

help protect ourselves from getting Covid- 19 and colds and flus this season. 

Because COVID-19 comes with cold and flu-like symptoms, Vitamins B, C and D, as

well as zinc may be helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting the illness in

the same way they can help you get over a cold or flu. Good nutrition can help fight off

almost anything, but it does take good sleeping habits, a good night sleep 7-9 hours

each night, regular exercise routines, and reduced stress to help keep your immune system at its best.

 

Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C.

VITAMIN C

Generally, vitamin C can help you fight a cold faster or ease your cold symptoms if you

are taking it prior to getting sick. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help reduce

inflammation—and lung inflammation is a severe symptom of COVID-19, which can

lead to respiratory distress and even death. It doesn’t hurt to

start increasing your vitamin C intake now. Try adding lemon to your water, or even add fruits

and vegetables into snacks as much as possible. A great snack to consider would be

bell peppers and hummus– bell peppers are full of vitamin C and hummus

(chickpeas) is a great source of zinc.

Natural sources of vitamin D: fresh salmon, caviar, cheese, mushrooms, tuna, eggs on gray stone background top view. Foods and products rich in vitamin D.

VITAMIN D

The primary function of vitamin D is to help your body maintain optimal blood levels of

calcium and phosphorus, which you can get through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet

rays, or through foods like dairy. 

Getting enough vitamin D can also protect you from respiratory infection.  Vitamin

D supplementation significantly decreases the chance of respiratory tract infections,

based on clinical studies published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. 

Eggs are a great source of B-complex vitamins along with cheese, milk, fish, spinach, and meats.

B-COMPLEX VITAMINS

Vitamin B6 is essential to keeping your immune system in top condition. Be sure to get

enough vitamin B as a supplement, as part of your daily diet. You can easily get your

daily intake from fortified cereals, eggs, cheese, milk, fish, spinach/ kale, and meats. 

Foods with zinc including nuts, seeds, red meat, and poultry.

ZINC

Popping a zinc throat lozenge or taking an over-the-counter cold remedy with zinc in it

(as a syrup or tablet) helps shorten the length of rhinovirus colds. Zinc also helps

symptoms—nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough.

Zinc has also been found to help produce and activate T-cells (t-lymphocytes), which

trigger the body to respond to infections, according to the NIH. Zinc helps the body heal

by fighting off bacteria and viruses. It is required for growth, reproduction, metabolism,

and blood clotting. Found in all body tissues, it acts as an antioxidant, blocking free

radical damage and helping control the aging process. Furthermore, we need this

mineral to help produce certain proteins and DNA, so it is essential to get enough each

day to stay healthy and maintain a robust immune system. Many healthy foods contain

enough zinc to meet the daily requirements, naturally.

For a faster recovery, start taking zinc to treat your illness within the first 24 hours of

symptoms. A proper dose of zinc is 75 mg, but beware: taking more than 150mg per

day of zinc could cause zinc toxicity and have a negative impact on your immune

system.

If you’re taking more than one zinc medication, check with your doctor first to prevent

adverse reactions.

Looking to get higher zinc sources in your diet?  Try making your own trail mix with nuts

and seeds like pumpkin seeds and cashews. This can be an excellent snack idea and

easy as an on-the-go option. 

There are so many other things to consider as well to keep our immune systems at

peak. Like staying hydrated helps to keep your immune system up and flushing

out toxins our body no longer needs. Proper and regular hand washing helps keep

those germs at bay. Use soap and warm water and sing “happy birthday” to know

you’re washing long enough—that’s a trick I always tell my kids! Find ways to reduce

stress. Let’s face it, stress is inevitable but coping with it is key—going for a

walk, talking with a friend, and meditating are all ways we can reduce the stress in

our lives. Also, get plenty of rest each night—7-9 hours of sleep is the recommendation

which at least 4 of those hours being REM cycle sleep according to the National Sleep

Foundation guidelines.

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