This has been a crazy winter! Colds, coughs, and the flu are spreading quickly. And, despite many of my patients’ best efforts to eat clean and remain illness-free, they are succumbing to colds left and right.
Optimizing your immune system begins with four key fundamental nutritional supplements, including a high quality multivitamin, an omega-3 fish oil, a vitamin D3 supplement, and probiotics. These are my suggestions for supplements and boosters to give your body the support while it fights off infection.
- Twice Daily Multi (by Designs for Health): This is an excellent multiple vitamins and minerals formula for both men and women. This vitamin provides your body with a healthy foundation of essential nutrients — vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and Zinc. The formula has also been shown to boost the immune system. The dosage of this particular multivitamin formula is simply one capsule twice daily, taken with food.
- OmegAvail TG1000 Fish Oil Capsules (by Designs for Health): Deficiency of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids is very common among the general population, especially the active forms of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) from fish oils. Most of the foods that we consume on a daily basis contain mainly omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids from plant-based products (i.e. flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.) are considered inactive forms. So, your body needs to convert them to active forms to reap the beneficial effects. Unfortunately, humans are not good at converting the inactive form of omega-3 to its active forms; hence, you’re better getting your omega-3 from fish oils. In addition to its immune-modulating effects, omega-3 fatty acids can help support your cardiovascular system, brain and nervous system, and optimize your skin, hair, and nails. A great fish oil supplement that I often recommend is called “OmegAvail TG1000 Fish Oil Capsules” by Designs for Health – which contains highly absorbable forms of omega-3 fatty acids without toxic contaminants.
- Vitamin D Synergy 2K, Vitamin D Supreme 5K, or Vitamin D Ultra 10K (by Designs for Health): Have you ever checked your vitamin D level? If your answer is “No,” please ask your primary care physician to run the test called 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D. Aim to keep your vitamin D level at the optimal level – ranging from 60 to 80 nanograms (ng) per milliliter (ml).
Vitamin D deficiency is very common as a result of our modern lifestyle where we mostly live and work indoors with minimal exposure to sunlight (which stimulates the production of vitamin D through the skin). And, of course, Vitamin D deficiency is worsened during the winter months as people hardly get enough sunlight. Because Vitamin D is involved in the immune-modulating function, people get sick much easier when their Vitamin D level is not optimized. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with chronic degenerative diseases, including chronic infections, atherosclerosis, hypertension, preeclampsia, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, osteopenia/osteoporosis (bone loss), cancers (i.e. breast cancer, colon cancer, etc.), autoimmune diseases (i.e. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, etc.), fatigue, muscle pain, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
When purchasing a Vitamin D supplement, it’s important to ensure that you are getting vitamin D3 (its natural form) vs. vitamin D2 (the synthetic form). Depending on the Vitamin D level, I typically recommend one of the following products to my patients: Vitamin D Synergy (2,000 IU per capsule), Vitamin D Supreme (5,000 IU per capsule), or Vitamin D Ultra (10,000 IU per capsule) by Designs for Health. Please consult with your primary care physician and/or a naturopathic doctor to decide which Vitamin D supplement is right for your body.
- HMF-Forte (by Genestra): Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria or yeasts that can modulate your immune function and optimize your digestive system. With exposure to varying toxins (i.e. pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, etc.) in today’s environment, your body increasingly needs more probiotics to keep your body healthy.
There are various types of probiotics in the market, but the two most popular and beneficial ones are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Take probiotics with at least 10 billion live organisms daily to reap the beneficial effects. For a probiotics supplement, I often recommend HMF-Forte probiotics by Genestra. This probiotics formula offers 10 billion live organisms of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium per capsule. The typical dosage of this formula is one capsule per day, taken after a meal. This product needs to be refrigerated to maintain its high potency.
If you need a little extra help boosting your immune system, I often recommend the following products in addition to the fundamental supplements mentioned above:
- Immunitone Plus™ (by Designs for Health): This is a powerful all-in-one immune enhancer formula with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. The formula combines the following herbs and mushrooms: Echinacea, Astragalus, Elderberry, Andrographis, Arabinogalactans, Goldenseal, Cordyceps mushroom, Shiitake mushroom, Maitake mushroom, and Reishi mushroom.
If you just want to prevent a cold or the flu, the usual dosage is 2 capsules per day, taken with food. However, if you start to get a cold or the flu, the dosage can be increased. Discuss with a naturopathic doctor for the specific dosage that is right for you.
- Biocidin® Throat Spray (by Bio-Botanical Research): This throat spray formula contains a variety of natural anti-microbial herbs and essential oils including Echinacea, Goldenseal, Shiitake, White Willow bark, Garlic, Grapeseed extract, Black Walnut, Raspberry fruit, Fumitory, Gentian Root, Tea Tree oil, Galbanum oil, Oregano oil, and Lavender oil. It can effectively help soothe and relieve a sore throat. If you have sore throat, spray one to three times in the mouth towards back of throat 3-4 times daily, or as directed by your naturopathic doctor.
The reason why I recommend these specific brands to my patients – including Designs for Health, Genestra, and Bio-Botanical Research – is because of the sourcing of the supplements’ ingredients. These products are completely natural – not synthetic. This is important because the body cannot recognize synthetic products. Therefore, they should not be used. These brands can also assert that their supplements aren’t created with fillers or substitutes.
For more helpful immune-boosting lifestyle tips, check out my recent blog post.
Please note that the content provided in this article was created for informational purpose only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have an underlying medical condition and/or take any medication(s), please visit a naturopathic doctor for a personalized nutritional supplementation plan.