Missing training days with the flu or dealing with lingering coughs and congestion have no place in a fighter’s intense training schedule. When you start to feel weak, there are several key supplements to help whip your immune system back into fighting shape. Better yet, keep a supply of supplements at home throughout the fall and winter months, so when you feel something coming on, you have an arsenal of immune enhancers, ready and waiting to attack.
The following products, ranging from antioxidants to natural anti-virals, will create a strong line of defense against the cold and flu viruses. Their abilities to increase the number, activity, efficiency, and effectiveness of your immune enhancing cells will help you knock that virus out cold.
VITAMIN C is a water soluble vitamin found in foods—including citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and kale—that helps maintain bones, muscles, and blood vessels. Look for vitamin C supplements containing added flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds that act as antioxidants and boost vitamin C’s immune enhancing effects.
ECHINACEA is a flower native to North America that is believed to help stimulate the immune system and ward off infection. It should not be taken for long periods of time, and it may cause reactions for people allergic to daisies or ragweed. Dosages differ due to variants in the parts of the plant used and the extraction method, so refer to the manufacturer label or your health care professional for dosing instructions.
VITAMIN D is a fat soluble vitamin that your body makes with the help of sunlight. During fall and winter months, your time in the sun is decreased, and there are very few vitamin D rich foods (cod liver oil, wild salmon, mackerel). Supplementation in the optimal form of gel-cap or liquid based D3 is typically advised. Adequate Intake (AI) recommendations are 200-400 International Units (IU) daily.
ZINC is an immune boosting mineral found in egg yolks, fish, legumes, meats, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds. It can also be consumed in 15 to 20 mg lozenges, 2 to 3 times daily, as higher dosages can actually start to decrease immune function. And FYI, a little zinc ointment can help prevent diaper rash in babies.
PROBIOTICS are the good bacteria essential to maintaining a healthy gastro intestinal (GI) tract. Many probiotics need to be refrigerated, as they’re live organisms, but some remain shelf stable at up to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Dosage is 1 to 2 caps per day, and each will contain literally billions of live organisms to help keep your GI tract on track.