Dietitian's Pick: Supplements for an Immune System Boost
It’s that time of year. Crank up the heat, lather on the lotion and give thanks for good health and … supplements! Fight off germs and cut down on your number of sick days by keeping your immune system strong. Many foods are naturally designed to bolster your immune system and keep you healthy. But let’s be real, how consistently are you eating a rainbow of colorful foods during the hectic holidays? (No, holiday M&M’s don’t count!)
Luckily, higher intakes of some nutrients have been shown to strengthen the immune system and reduce susceptibility to infection. But before you go pop a multivitamin and consider yourself good, consider these 3 supplements for superior immune health:
Vitamin D3 Softgels: Vitamin D is produced by our bodies during sun exposure, so as we enter the fall and winter months, it’s more common to be low or deficient. Ideally, you should first have your vitamin D checked by your doctor (or Hy-Vee dietitian). Then you both can determine how much is needed to close the gap. For most people, a maintenance dose of 2,000-5,000 IU a day should do the trick.
- Vitamin D is naturally present in a few foods like salmon, tuna, vitamin D-enriched milk and some mushrooms.
CardioTabs Advanced Formula Probiotic: To prevent catching a bug, it’s important to grow the bugs (the healthy ones) in our gut. Over 70% of our immune system lies in our gut, and excess alcohol consumption, sugar and processed foods can alter our gut health in a negative way. Probiotics can help support your gut. Look for one with at least 10-50 billion viable organisms preferably, and several types of good bacteria, like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, two of the most highly regarded strains.
- Consuming probiotic-rich foods also helps increase the number of good bacteria in your body. Top picks include Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Chelated Zinc: if you feel a cold coming on, consider taking a zinc supplement (within 24 hours) to help shorten its duration. Zinc also helps regulate our metabolism and aids in wound healing as well as taste and smell.
- Good food sources for zinc include red meat, seafood (such as crab and lobster), beans, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Eating right and adding supportive supplements are two pillars of the immunity pyramid, but the third pillar, treating your body right, is equally important. Part of my winter routine includes these self-care essentials:
- Sleep: at least 7 hours a night to give the body the time it fully needs to rest, repair and refresh for the next day.
- Stress management: a steady diet of stress weakens your immunity. De-stress anywhere, anytime, with deep breathing or give yoga a try for an added boost of relaxation and immune-boosting benefits.
- Seal your skin: with frequent handwashing often comes cracked skin through which germs can enter. Keep cracks at bay and moisturize frequently with your favorite hand cream.
Coming soon! Hy-Vee’s team of registered dietitians will be providing FREE vitamin D testing in 2023. Follow us @HyVeeDietitians or check our Hy-Vee Dietitian website as the New Year approaches to learn more and schedule your appointment!
Eat healthy, wash your hands and don’t forget to take your supplements!
*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.