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Winter ills and What to Do...

By: New Zealand Doctors Speaking out with Science PART TWO




As mentioned in Winter ills Part 1 today I will discuss supplements that can help prevent and/or treat winter ills such as cods and flu’s. Certainly our micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are best consumed in whole foods such as vegetables but there are so many factors that make the availability, amounts needed and absorbability of micronutrients challenging to achieve from wholefoods. I will discuss these in another blog but for now below is a list of the supplements I recommend for supporting your immune system and how they particularly help.


In general, when purchasing supplements it is worth spending as much as you can comfortably afford as you will be getting better quality products with higher amounts of more easily absorbed forms of the ingredients (link to other blog titled ‘2023 NZDSOS DEC 1ST Supplement’). It is also sensible to have your supplements prescribed by a Functional/Integrative Medicine provider who is trained to select the most effective and safest products for you as an individual. However, some general recommendations are provided below:

♦ Multivitamin/mineral: This will help ensure you get the basic vitamins and minerals your body needs for essential processes including immune function.

♦ Fish oils: These can help boost the immune system in a number of ways, as well as having other health benefits. Please ensure you use brands that don’t contain any heavy metal impurities like some brands can. In addition, better brands are usually stored correctly to avoid the oils becoming rancid (‘going off’) which can create damage rather than healing. Food sources include oily fish such as salmon.

♦ Probiotics: To help repopulate your gut with healthy ‘bugs’ that act as a barrier against bad ‘bugs’ and is part of the immune system. The best probiotics are ones that contain several species of good bacteria and at least 10 billion ‘bugs’ per dose. Prebiotic foods include ‘active’ yoghurt and sauerkraut.

♦ Prebiotics: These act as ‘fuel’ to help ‘feed’ the probiotics. More and more probiotics are being released that contain prebiotics as well, but prebiotics can be easily sourced. Food sources include Dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, and onions.

♦ Vitamin C: There is very powerful evidence that vitamin C supports the immune system https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9925039/ . If possible, choose a liposomal vitamin C that is also formulated with R-lipoic acid which helps ‘recycle’ the vitamin C. Extra vitamin C can be beneficial if you develop a ‘cold’ or ‘flu’ and the best way is in the form of a vitamin C infusion https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2752063. Citrus foods, tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli) are some common food sources.

♦ Vitamin D3 (ideally with vitamin K2): According to studies if you have a vitamin D deficiency you are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu. Supplementing with vitamin D over the winter is critical for optimal immune function. Ideally you should have your vitamin D levels tested first so that the dose can be targeted to you, as it is possible to overdose on vitamin D. The best way to increase vitamin D levels are to expose yourself to the sun.. This of course needs to be done safely with exposure times ranging from 1-20 mins to achieve 1000IU of vitamin D (the minimum needed for health) which depends on many factors as per the helpful chart at this link https://niwa.co.nz/sites/niwa.co.nz/files/import/attachments/risks.pdf

♦ Zinc: One more easily absorbed form is zinc picolinate though other forms may be appropriate depending on your circumstances. As with vitamin D (but even more importantly you should have your vitamin D levels tested first so that the dose can be targeted to you, as it is possible to overdose on vitamin D. Meat, shellfish, and legumes (e.g. chickpeas) have the highest amounts of food based zinc.

♦ Beta Glucans: These can support overall immunity, help your body’s’ first line of defense against viruses and bacteria, and aid your white blood cells to bind to and kill viruses and bacteria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10302218/#:~:text=%CE%B2%2Dglucan%20has%20been%20found,biological%20effect%20regulator%20%5B2%5D. Food sources include oats, mushrooms, and quinoa.

♦ Herbs/mushrooms/extracts: Those that are immune boosting or anti-microbial include astragalus, elderberry, beta glucans, green tea extract, certain mushrooms, echinacea, goldenseal, cordycap, and andrographis. Please seek the advice of a medical herbalist or Functional Medicine practitioner to guide you as to which herbs will be best for you.

Please stay tuned for Part 3 where I will describe strategies to relieve symptoms if you do succumb to winter ills. In the meantime, please do all you can to boost your immunity.



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elocal Digital Edition – June 2024 (#278)

elocal Digital Edition
June 2024 (#278)


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