5 on the fly: supplements to fight a winter cold

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by Sarah Halfpenny

With COVID-19 lockdowns and mask-wearing a common feature of life for the past couple of years, the common cold has all but taken a back seat. Now we’re all mingling again, the misery of catching a cold or two this winter is inevitable. Here are five of the most effective supplements to help get you through …

  1. Vitamin C

Numerous studies worldwide have shown that while it won’t prevent you getting a cold, if you take at least 200mg of Vitamin C daily at the onset, it can shorten the length and decrease the severity of the illness. Our bodies can’t store Vitamin C so you need it in your diet every day. You can get this either through food – capsicum and Kakadu plums are particularly high in Vitamin C – or through supplements. Just don’t take more than 2,000mg a day or it may cause gastrointestinal upsets.

  1. Zinc

Most colds are caused by the rhinovirus, which flourish in our nasal passages and throat. Zinc can play a part in reducing the length of a cold by preventing the rhinovirus from multiplying and lodging in the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory system. It’s thought to be more effective when taken in lozenge or syrup form as this allows it to come in contact with the rhinovirus and stay in the throat for longer.

  1. Echinacea

Used as a medicine for centuries, this flowering plant (belonging to the daisy family) is native to the United States. Research shows that it contains active substances that reduce inflammation, increase the number of white blood cells, and relieve pain. A review of 14 clinical trials in the US found that echinacea reduced the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days. It is important to choose a high-quality echinacea supplement, and to use it as early as possible in the course of a cold.

  1. Vitamin D

We get most of our Vitamin D from the sun (around 80-100%) and very little from our diet, so during winter when we are huddled indoors, our Vitamin D levels fall. People who are Vitamin D-insufficient are more likely to catch a cold, and the duration of their cold will be longer than those who supplement with Vitamin D or get 15-minutes of daily sunlight exposure between 10am and 3pm. Some good food sources include oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.

  1. Bone broth

The slow-cooking method used to produce a bone broth draws out all the immunity boosting nutrients from the bones. These nutrients are broken down in a form that’s easily digestible for our bodies, which is busy fighting infection when we’re sick. And the old wives’ tale about chicken soup being a cure-all actually has merit – chicken bone broth is rich in the amino acid cysteine which helps break down mucus and reduce inflammation. Broth is also hydrating and will help replenish lost fluids if you’ve been running a fever.

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