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Beat the Bugs Tip #4 — Supplement Your Immune System.

Each year we spend nearly $3 billion dollars annually on over the counter drugs in an effort to combat the symptoms of the cold and flu. These ‘bugs’ are the leading cause of doctors visits and one study estimated that “adults average 2–4 colds per year and children 6–10,” which leads to missed days of school and missed days of work.

While missing the occasional day may seem fun… wouldn’t you rather take a day off for fun & wellness than be stuck feeling miserable on the couch?

To keep yourself from being forced to take sick day, try adding some vitamins and supplements into your daily routine.

Why should we take vitamins?

Vitamins are concentrated forms of compounds that we need for our body to function. We use different vitamins during various biological cycles that are necessary for making energy, digesting food, and more. Our access to certain vitamins can be dependent on where we live, our environment, and personal daily practices. For example, living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we don’t see the sun often. We need sunshine to help our bodies produce Vitamin D. That means we have to add it into our diets to ensure we get adequate amounts. Also, today’s whole foods are less nutrient rich than in the past; due to soil depletion, large scale commercial farming, and chemicals. That makes supplementation with vitamins crucial to ensure we are getting what we need.

When we have all the vitamins we need to run the biological cycles in our bodies, we have a greater chance of staying optimally healthy.

Here are a few of the vitamins that are not only vital to life but also have been shown to improve your immune system health:

  • Vitamin C: Shown to decrease the duration of colds.

  • Vitamin D: Studies have found that low levels of vitamin D increases risk of respiratory infections.

  • Vitamin A: Deficiency impairs our innate immunity, making us more susceptible to disease.

Studies have shown that keeping up your intake of vitamins and eating probiotic rich foods during the time the colds and flus are making their rounds will help you to decrease the time you spend sick.

In addition to vitamins, some other supplements and foods that help us to kick those bugs are:

  • Echinacea: an immune system stimulant that can help to prevent or shorten colds.

  • Garlic: helps to shorten the duration of colds and decrease your chances of getting a cold.

  • Probiotic/fermented foods: Helps your gut, boosts your immune system function, and turns down inflammatory compounds

  • Ginger: Helps with digestion, decreases inflammation, and can relieve pain.

  • Lemon (citrus): High in vitamin C and supports hydration.







Roxas, Mario, and Julie Jurenka. “Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations.” Alternative Medicine Review, Mar. 2007, p. 25+.

M. Jawad, R. Schoop, A. Suter, P. Klein, and R. Eccles, “Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 841315, 7 pages, 2012.

Parvez, S., Malik, K.A., Ah Kang, S. and Kim, H.-Y. (2006), Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 100: 1171–1185.

Valencia P Walker, Robert L Modlin. The Vitamin D Connection to Pediatric Infections and Immune Function. Pediatric Research 65, 106R–113R(2009)

Robert M Douglas, Harri Hemilä. Vitamin C for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold. PLOS Medicine. June 28, 2005.

Charles B Stephensen. Vitamin A, Infection, AND Immune Function. Annual Review of Nutrition 2001 21:1, 167–192

Josling, P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189–93.

Winkler, P.; de Vrese, M.; Laue, Ch.; Schrezenmeir, J. Effect of a dietary supplement containing probiotic bacteria plus vitamins and minerals on common cold infections and cellular immune parameters. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics . 2005, Vol. 43 Issue 7, p318–326. 9p.

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