Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNCold season is here. Are you prepared?
The cold season usually starts around late August and ends somewhere close to April.1
Fortunately, if you haven’t caught whatever is lingering in your office yet, there’s still time to save yourself from that dreaded cold.
Our primary suggestion? Don’t wait until the onset of your cold symptoms to take action.
Instead, take the nutrients below throughout the cold season as a serious measure of of prevention.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to brag to your coworkers about staying 100% cold-free this year.
Vitamin D Lowers Your Cold RiskThe first thing you need to consider is vitamin D. Why? Because it may be one of your best defenses.
During the cold season, your body makes less vitamin D depending on where you live. Due to the earth’s tilt, the sun’s UVB rays, which normally trigger vitamin D production, are blocked by the earth’s atmosphere.
Several studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to get colds.2 In one study, children given 300 IU of vitamin D daily were less likely to become infected.3
Vitamin D boosts our innate defenses.4 It combines with Vitamin D receptors to trigger an immune response that may be effective against influenza infection.5
Your best bet is to take between 5,000 to 10,000 IU daily (depending on blood testing). This is the amount that is most likely to give you optimal levels.
Take Zinc Before Cold Symptoms ArriveTaking zinc is usually advised upon the onset of a cold. But you don’t have to take zinc while you have cold symptoms.
You can take it beforehand. In fact, a study showed that five months of zinc supplementation actually prevented the common cold.6
Zinc may prevent the attachment of cold-causing viruses to your nasal wall.7 It also activates your T-cells (immune fighting cells).8 As a result, your body is prepared to fight infection.
Yes, Echinacea Really Does WorkWe’re pretty sure you’ve heard about echinacea, but the reason we mention it here is that there is strong evidence for its use.
In fact, a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that four months of echinacea supplementation prevented people from catching a cold.9
Another study, but this time a review, showed that echinacea was effective in preventing colds in five out of six trials.10
North American Ginseng is an Immune BoosterNative Americans have a long tradition of using of North American Ginseng.11 They have been using it to treat fevers and headaches for ages.
Part of its benefits stem from polysaccharides and oligosaccharides, which are chains of carbohydrate molecules. In lab cultures, they stimulate the production of immunoglobulins, which are immune-fighting proteins.12
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that four months of supplementation with North American Ginseng reduced the number of colds and sick days experienced by participants.13
The Bottom LinePrevention is your best defense against the common cold. Instead of taking a multitude of over-the-counter drugs or supplements when your symptoms kick in, please take measures beforehand!
Has anything we haven't mentioned here helped to keep you “cold-free” in previous seasons? Please tell us about it in the comments!
- Available at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/lung_diseases/cold/pages/index.aspx. Accessed November 1, 2012.
- Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23;169(4):384-90.
- Pediatrics. 2012 Sep;130(3):e561-7.
- Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Oct;3(4):220-9.
- PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20743. Epub 2011 Jun 3.
- Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;16(2).
- J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2004 Sep-Oct;44(5):594-603.
- J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Aug;86(2):337-48. Epub 2009 Apr 28.
- Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:841315.
- Can Fam Physician. 2011 Jan;57(1):31-6.
- Available at http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/american-ginseng-000248.htm. Accessed November 1, 2012.
- J Pharm Pharmacol. 2001 Nov;53(11):1515-23.
- CMAJ. 2005 Oct 25;173(9):1043-8.
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