As it starts to get colder outside, sicknesses start to become more common. This is not due to the decrease in temperature, but is likely due to the increased time spent indoors and close to people who may be sick. Couple that with the decrease in vitamin D levels from less sunshine, and you can see why rates of sickness tend to go up during this time of year. We’ll review some nutrients for a healthy immune system like vitamins C and D, and what else you can do to help keep your immune system healthy.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, which means your body cannot produce it, so you must get it from your diet and/or supplementation. It can be found in oranges, bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, etc. Vitamin C has many important jobs in the body like growing and repairing tissue, keeping cartilage healthy, and fighting off free-radicals that could contribute to the development of certain cancers and other health conditions. Explaining the immune-enhancing effects of vitamin C can get quite technical, but to summarize it, vitamin C supports many different cellular functions of the immune system, and helps support the body in making B- and T- cells, which are a crucial part of an immune response.
Vitamin D has similar effects on the immune system as vitamin C, but vitamin D may also help prevent autoimmune disorders by supporting T cells. In autoimmune disorders, the body has usually lost its ability to differentiate between what is healthy tissue, and what is a dangerous invader, causing the body to attack healthy tissue. T cells help the immune system know what is healthy and what needs to be attacked, so it is very important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D each day. Your body can synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, but the average person spends very little time outside, and this time decreases in the winter. If you wear sunscreen when you are in the sunshine, the rate of vitamin D production drops dramatically. It is found in some foods like salmon, tuna, beef liver, and some fortified dairy and cereal products. However, supplementation is often recommended due to how common vitamin D deficiency is, and how difficult it can be to get enough from sunshine and your diet.
What Else Can I Do?
Exercising often can also help keep your immune system and the rest of your body healthy, along with drinking enough water each day and eating plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. You should also try to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, and practice stress-reducing techniques as high cortisol may weaken your ability to fight off infections. If you are looking for some supplements to help keep your immune system healthy this season, you can try Immune Essentials which contains several different mushrooms that work to support the immune system as well as cognitive function. ViraPro is another great product to try if you feel like you may have a cold. Supplementing with vitamin C and vitamin D may also be helpful. Keeping your immune system healthy through the winter and throughout the year is so important, so eat lots of organic fruits and vegetables, and don’t forget to wash your hands often!