With the weather getting colder, it increases the risk of the common cold or cold. In some cases, when there is a temperature drop, it might mean it's time to take out all those supplements that can help boost your immune system and prevent you from getting sick.
However, with several supplements available on the market, you might be investing in a supplement that eventually wastes money.
So, as a registered dietitian, I'll explain which supplements I typically recommend (those with enough scientific evidence to back up their claims) in this article. Additionally, I'll share with you 3immune-boosting tips that are not supplement-related.
Supplements For Fighting A Cold
Here is a list of the top supplements that can help you fight a cold. We'll take a closer look at vitamin D, vitamin C, Echinacea, Elderberry, zinc, selenium, probiotics, and quercetin.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone health and mood. But, research shows that it can also help reduce the risk of catching a common cold.
So, why should you supplement with vitamin D to prevent colds?
You can get vitamin D through your skin. However, when it's wintertime, there is a reduction in sunlight exposure. At the same time, it is when you are more likely to catch a cold due to climate change.
For that reason, to help keep your vitamin D levels up, you might consider adding a vitamin D supplement whenever the seasons change.
Moving on to the next supplement, we find vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in the body while boosting the immune system.
Research shows that vitamin C can help increase white cell production, which is your body's internal army. More army men mean you have a stronger defense system.
With that said, vitamin C might not necessarily reduce the risk of catching the common cold. However, studies show that consuming vitamin C while sick can minimize recovery time by 8%. So, less time in bed and more time returning to your normal lifestyle.
Echinacea is a plant high in antioxidants that can protect your cells from oxidative stress. In other words, it can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Additionally, several studies have shown that Echinacea might help the body combat infections and viruses, which helps reduce the time of the illness.
Multiple studies show that consuming Echinacea can help reduce the risk of catching the common cold by 50% and reduce the recovery time by more than one day.
Next in our best supplements to fight a cold is elderberry.
Elderberry is a food high in nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants. Additionally, research shows that elderberry can reduce a cold's risk and severity.
In a study, people were given 15 mL of elderberry or a placebo. Those who took elderberry recovered four days earlier than those in the control group.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that can also help reduce inflammation in the body since it acts as an antioxidant.
A reduced zinc level reduction can put you at risk for a poor immune system. In fact, research shows that supplementing with zinc while sick can reduce up to 30% the duration of a cold.
Another nutrient that can boost your immune function is selenium. It helps reduce inflammation in the body (since it is another powerful antioxidant), which allows the body to focus on the immune system.
Research shows that a selenium deficiency can weaken your immune system, putting you at risk of catching a cold.
With that said, like vitamin D, it is a great supplement to take as preventative medicine.
There is a strong connection between gut health and the immune system. A gut imbalance, meaning more harmful bacteria than beneficial, can lead to a poor immune system and problems in the digestive system (more bloating, gas, and poor digestion).
Probiotics help restore the gut microbiome. They can help increase your immune system making you stronger against any possible invader. You can checkout for the best combo of prebiotic and probiotic here.
Also Read: 7 Science-based Ways to Improve Your Gut Microbiome
Finally, quercetin is the last supplement you might want to take to boost your immune system.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant you can find in fruits, vegetables, tea, and wine. Its high antioxidant capacity can help reduce inflammation in the body. When there is less oxidative stress in the body, it can concentrate on other invaders (like a cold).
3 Ways To Naturally Fight A Cold
Supplements are an excellent way to boost your immune system. However, they won't work if you don't lead a healthy lifestyle. So, no matter how many pills you are popping, you are more prone to catch a cold if you don't make a lifestyle change.
So, what can you do to boost your immune system naturally?
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Fruits and vegetables are nature's natural source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Make sure you have at least 5-6 portions per day and have as many different colors to get different nutrients.
- Stress management. Stress can have a significant impact on your immune system. While we cannot remove stress, learning stress-managing techniques can significantly aid. You can try meditation, yoga, walking, or art therapy to help you manage stress.
- Sleep. When you sleep, is when the body heals itself. A poor night's sleep can significantly reduce your immune system, placing you at risk of catching a cold. Make sure you get a restful night. Sleep every day at the same time and wake up at the same time to set up your circadian rhythm.
The Bottom Line
Supplements can significantly reduce the risk of a cold, or they can reduce the duration of a cold.
Some supplements, like vitamin D, might be worth taking before having any cold symptoms to keep the immune system healthy, especially during wintertime.
Other supplements, like vitamin C, might be better to take during the cold to reduce the duration of the cold.
Any supplement you decide to take, remember that a healthy diet is still the best way to boost your immune function. Remember to have a balanced diet with lots of variety to get different nutrients throughout the day.
Additionally, sleep and stress management also play a crucial role in keeping your immune system healthy.