Immune System and Winter Nutrition- Part 1
Mid-winter with its plummeting temperatures is probably the coldest time of the year. It’s time for padded jackets, woolly hats, and thermal gloves to protect us from the cold. These are good steps to take to keep us at our best over the winter. Yet what about our internal protection and in particular our immune system.
It is our body’s internal defense force that helps protect us from colds, flues, bugs, bacteria, and viruses. This is the time of the year when it is challenged most.
To help support the immune system in the special work you need to feed it the right nutrients that help keep it operating at its best.
Eating a more natural balanced diet of lean meats, fish, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc can be a good help.
Also exercising, getting enough sleep, and making sure we take time out to unwind and relax are good moves.
Yet for many of us, we may not be taking care of ourselves as we should.
Here is where a unique range of special nutrients can prove invaluable.
The Vital Cogs in our Immune Health
The immune system is like a big engine that performs so many valuable functions in our body. In that engine, there are so many vital cogs that help things keep turning over.
These cogs are called antioxidants and they are major players in our immune health. They fight off harmful external invaders and help keep our body at its healthy best. You could liken them to little superheroes, each one with superpowers they use to help neutralize threats.
The Big 5
Among those superheroes are 5 who stand out, the Big 5 – vitamins C, D, A, and the minerals Zinc and Selenium.
People are probably most familiar with vitamin C. It is normally found in fresh fruit and vegetables and as it is not stored in the body you should make sure you are getting vitamin C from some source every day. It is a vital component of the immune system and is also involved in normal collagen formation in the skin, blood vessels, cartilage, teeth, and gums.
Twice Nobel prize-winning doctor Linus Pauling was a huge advocate of taking supplemental vitamin C daily. It must have done something for him as he lived to the ripe old age of 93. He was reputed to take in as much as 10gms a day.
Vitamin D. Often called the sunshine vitamin it plays a very important role in our immune response.
Recently the NHS in the UK recommended that people consider taking a daily supplement of 400IU’s of vitamin D every day from October to early March.
In winter with our low levels of sunlight, it can be harder to get our daily requirement of vitamin D.
With vitamin D it is probably best to get the vitamin D3 form (the same form that is produced in your body from sunlight.). With the reduced daylight and colder temperatures, people are spending more time indoors making it more difficult to get our required levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin A is a power player in the normal function of our immune system.
It is also important in iron metabolism, eye, and skin health
Zinc comes next. According to the World Health Organization: “Research conducted during the past 10–15 years suggests that zinc deficiency is widespread and affects the health and well-being of populations worldwide”
Zinc is truly a remarkable mineral. It is valuable immune support but it also has a host of other superpowers.
It contributes to the maintenance of normal: vision, bones, skin, nails, hair, cognitive function, testosterone, fertility, and reproduction.
This helps make Zinc a vital component of our health and immune support.
Selenium is another power player here. This amazing mineral has its own brand of superpowers.
According to the prestigious National Center for Biotechnology Information in the USA “Selenium deficiency affects anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion people worldwide, due to inadequate intake”
Among other things Selenium helps contribute to the normal: function of the immune system, thyroid function, nails and hair.
These are all very useful superheroes to have on your side to help keep you at your best in winter.
Part 2 of this blog coming tomorrow……
In the meantime stay healthy and stay safe.
Vital Mid-Winter Nutrition Support by Hugh Chambers.
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