Are supplements all they’re cracked up to be?
The opinions vary. Some say they can really boost our immunity and help us get through the autumn season. Others are reserved and ask for further research. It is essential to know whether or not you need supplements, which ones exactly, and how much of them you should consider taking.
Read on as we try to shed some light on some common seasonal challenges and ways to deal with them.
Common autumn illnesses
Autumn carries a number of seasonal health risks. Colder weather and staying indoors favour various illnesses. However, in the time of a global pandemic, it is easy to neglect some familiar foes.
One of the annoying autumn visitors is the common cold, and the accompanying sore throat, runny nose, congestion, and cough. These are often caused by rhinoviruses, which can spread from person to person through the air and close personal contact, and last for up to 14 days. Common colds are usually mild, but can sometimes lead to severe conditions: asthma, bronchitis or even pneumonia.
Another seasonal nuisance is flu, usually followed by fever, headache and muscle soreness, on top of all the common cold symptoms. Flu is caused by influenza virus types A, B, and C and it is highly contagious. It can cause very serious, life-threatening complications, and even result in hospitalisation.
Finally, the most dangerous condition which becomes more prominent in autumn is pneumonia. It is inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs, usually caused by a bacterial infection or a virus, including coronaviruses. Severe symptoms include rapid and shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, high temperature, sweating and shivering, loss of appetite, even wheezing and feeling confused and disorientated.
Autumn illness prevention
The first thing that any epidemiologist will tell you is to take precautions:
- cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue when you cough or sneeze,
- throw away used tissues immediately,
- wash your hands regularly to avoid transferring germs to other people or objects.
The latest Covid-19 fashion – wearing a face mask – can’t hurt with other contagions either.
Strong immunity is the first and probably the best line of defence against any illnesses. However, there is no magic bullet to boost your immune system.
It’s no secret that sufficient sleep, exercise and a healthy diet are a good start. Yet, there are a number of other tips and things to consider:
- Avoid any unnecessary stress as much as possible. It weakens your body’s defence systems. To find out more about the impact of stressors on our health, read our previous blog.
- You can socialise while following safety measures. Build healthy relationships. People with a wider social network are likely to live longer than those with fewer friends and contacts.
- Get a pet. If you own a furry friend, you are more likely to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a healthier heart.
Should you take supplements during autumn?
A healthy and balanced diet is the best source of vitamins and other elements which help you fight off diseases. Some of the most important immunity boosters are vitamins C and D, zinc and magnesium.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is the alpha and omega of strong immunity. It is essential for the growth and repair of tissue all over the body. It helps heal wounds while repairing and maintaining healthy bones, teeth, skin and cartilage. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights free radicals in the body. This may help prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease and promote healthy ageing.
This powerful vitamin is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwi. Eat these foods while they’re fresh to limit nutrient loss.
As for the daily dosage of vitamin C, the RDI is officially up to 90 mg for adult men, which is enough to prevent serious deficiency and possibly scurvy. However, since it is water-soluble and our body cannot store it, researchers suggest it is safe to take even up to 1000 mg per day. This amount is recommended if you want to be less susceptible to infection, or reduce its duration and severity.
Depending on your diet, you might need to take vitamin C supplements. Goodwill Pharma’s VITAMIN C 250 Direct Albert Szent-Györgyi Granules are convenient and have a refreshing orange flavour.
Vitamin D has several important functions, such as regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption, and supporting normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is vital for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, and warding off diseases.
Your body can produce sufficient amounts of this “sunshine vitamin“ when exposed to sunlight. In the less sunny months, though, you might need to resort to foods rich in vitamin D, such as the fishes – salmon, herring, mackerel, cod, tuna and sardines.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 IU (international units). Goodwill Vitamin D3 is an optimal solution for the most vital (and often deficient) form of this vitamin – D3.
Zinc is an essential micronutrient crucial to almost every aspect of your health. Research shows that this mineral enhances immune function, stabilises blood sugar levels, and helps keep your skin, eyes, and heart healthy.
You can find it in foods such as oysters, crab beef, or pork. The daily needs range from 8 to 11 mg. Goodwill Zinc provides the optimal amount of this element.
Magnesium keeps your immunity strong by improving the white blood cells’ ability to seek out and destroy germs. You can find it in various foods, such as dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, or bananas. If you need a supplement, Magnewill Rapid is a convenient solution with three highly bioavailable magnesium salts in powder form.
Astaxanthin – a rising star
Astaxanthin is a red pigment that belongs to a group of chemicals called carotenoids. It occurs in certain algae and causes the pink-red colour in salmon.
It is one of the most powerful antioxidants today. Thanks to its unique ability to pass the cell membrane, it protects cells from external and internal oxidative stress.
Among other things, it can support our immune system by protecting cells from Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS. Immune cells produce these Reactive Oxygen Species as a part of their anti-pathogen reaction. It also makes them vulnerable to oxidative stress.
Astax + 3 Direct contains high quality astaxanthin from shellfish, enriched with vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.
What you autumn know
Autumn is a time when the strength of our immunity is put to the test. We cannot cure or even prevent some of the usual infections, but we can certainly make ourselves less susceptible. We can also reduce their intensity and duration.
A healthy lifestyle and diet go a long way towards boosting our immunity. However, we might often need an extra push from carefully chosen supplements such as the golden oldies – vitamins C and D, zinc or magnesium.
We have at our disposal a powerful new weapon against the seasonal challenges in the form of the super antioxidant – Astaxanthin.
If you want to learn more about this fascinating supplement and get more useful information and advice on health, read our blog.