In the U.S., cold and flu season is typically described as the time between October and May, with the peak times for sickness between December and February. So, it seems that this “season” actually encompasses the three seasons of fall, winter and spring!
Since colds and the flu can strike at any time, it’s a good idea to fuel your body with a steady dose of preventative measures in the form of whole foods and natural nutrition. Here are some vitamins and minerals to make sure you’re getting enough of starting around this time of the year.
The most famous immune-boosting nutrient out there is vitamin C, and for good reason. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent cell damage and also plays an important role in fighting infections and maintaining immunity. Many doctors recommend consuming vitamin C as a preventative measure and to reduce the duration of symptoms when they occur. Healthy foods that contain vitamin C include broccoli, oranges, and strawberries.
Zinc is a mineral that helps bodily cells fight disease by improving the body’s immune response. This is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications, but you can also get zinc from natural foods and organic supplements. Seafood, red meat, yogurt, and legumes are all good sources of dietary zinc.
Vitamin A is great for protecting the skin and preventing inflammation through its immune system functionality. There are many foods that contain high amounts of vitamin A, including carrots, red peppers, spinach, and apricots.
Magnesium is perhaps best known for bone health and heart health, but it also plays a role in decreasing bodily inflammation and promoting a healthy immune response. This mineral is involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions and is involved in so many different things going on in the body. You can get more magnesium in your diet by eating dark leafy greens, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.
Foods rich in vitamin E are also good for supporting the immune system during cold and flu season because vitamin E aids the interactions between immune cells. You can get vitamin E from sunflower seeds, nuts, and foods made with whole grains.
Pure and natural sunshine is a great source of vitamin D, but many people spend less time outdoors during cold and flu season because of cold weather. Therefore, it’s even more important to eat foods rich in vitamin D or try supplementation at this time of the year. Studies have linked vitamin D to good mineral absorption in the body and disease-fighting properties to reduce the duration of some infections. To get more vitamin D in your life, consume salmon and other fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, and drinks that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice and milk.