Many of our patients (both adults and children) tend to come down with an illness right after the start of the school year. While it’s exciting to see all our friends again and get back into a routine, it’s inevitable that all that excitement will be paired with sniffling, watery eyes, congestion, coughing and fatigue.
Our kids are spending a lot of time inside school buildings, playing organized sports, and pushing their immune systems to the max. Understanding how to be proactive with immune support and quash any symptoms before they become bigger problems becomes a priority for every parent.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to all of the immune challenges that students, teachers and families encounter. We would certainly recommend working with one of our Functional Medicine providers for a personalized plan that best fits your family.
There are also several nutrients, plant-based botanicals, and supplements that can help boost immune function, provide symptom relief during illness and may help to shorten the duration of illness.
Here are a few of the immune-supporting staples we always keep on hand:
Vitamin C may help to prevent infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses. Regularly administered vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of colds, and higher doses of vitamin C during an illness can also act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
Known as “the sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting your immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of the population is deficient, so daily supplementation (ideally in the form of vitamin D3) offers the best protection.
For short-term use and particularly for those with moderate vitamin A deficiency, supplementation can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections, particularly with regard to respiratory infections.
Zinc plays a significant role in boosting immunity. Often available as lozenges, zinc can help to reduce the frequency of infections as well as the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Selenium is a key nutrient for immune function. It’s also an antioxidant that helps boost the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. It may particularly help to protect against certain strains of flu virus. Selenium is easily obtained from foods, with the richest source being Brazil nuts.
Honey (preferably raw) is a good demulcent that relieves minor pain and the inflammation of mucous membranes. It has antioxidant properties and some antimicrobial effects. It is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to hot tea.
Garlic contains a variety of compounds that can influence immunity. Some studies have shown that both fresh garlic as well as aged garlic extract and some other garlic supplements may reduce viral upper respiratory infection severity as well as function in the prevention of infection with viruses that can cause colds.
Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that not only support the gut health, but also influence immune system functioning and regulation. Studies have shown that probiotic use can decrease the number of respiratory infections, particularly in children.
Along with the tried and true recommendations: Wash your hands. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. Etc. there are many effective ways to support our bodies from the inside out.
Taking vitamins and natural supplements with our children is also a great time to talk about why we need additional support and that vitamins help keep our bodies and minds strong. You can pick up any of these nutrients in our office or order online.
When illness strikes, don’t wait to inquire about help or treatment. Call our office! Our experienced team of Functional Medicine providers and nurses use common sense treatments and effective in-office therapies to help get you back on your feet fast.
We offer same-day appointments Monday through Friday for our Integrative Acute Care Center.