Boost Your Immune System During the School Year
By Dr. Jillian Finker
With school back in full swing, it’s a good idea to implement a few supplements and lifestyle choices that can help bolster our immune systems. Three optimal immune boosting supplements to always keep on hand include vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc. Additionally, stress reducing lifestyle choices can also strengthen our immune systems and keep us strong and healthy through the fall and winter months.
Our vitamin D levels need to be in the optimal range for good immunity. It’s wise to ask our healthcare providers to include the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test when getting blood tests. Usually, these levels are low unless you’re already taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement. Since we still have plenty of days of sunshine left in the season, aim to get at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin daily. Ideally this exposure takes place in the early morning or evening hours, to avoid sunburn.
Many studies show that taking high doses of vitamin C reduces the length of respiratory infections and the flu, especially during stressful times. Most of us do not get enough of this vitamin from our diet. It is important to check with our doctor and take adequate supplementation levels for it to have efficacy. Also, always eat real foods like fresh vegetables and some fruits that are high in vitamin C.
Zinc has been shown in studies to inhibit viral replication and decrease the duration of the common cold. When tested, most people are deficient in zinc. Therefore, this is probably one of the most critical supplements to be taking during this season.
It’s commonly known that high levels of stress can harm the immune system. We see this all the time in autoimmune diseases that flare during times of high stress. It’s important to make sure that relaxation is part of our daily routine. This needs to become a habit and occur daily for at least 30 minutes. Yoga, journaling and tai chi are different methods that induce calmness. For those of us that find relaxation difficult, there are supplements, botanicals or hormones that naturally help the body calm down. Don’t forget to double-check with your naturopathic doctor before taking any nutraceuticals.