Supercharge Your Immune System

Sharing is just part of the nature of families. But when chilly weather drives everyone indoors, sharing includes whatever sneezes and sniffles they may have. You can’t escape every germ, but you can prepare your body to fight cold and flu viruses and potentially lessen the duration of sickness. One of your most valuable weapons is often overlooked: Vitamin C.

How Powerful Is It?

Besides providing essential structural support to blood vessels, gums, and bones, Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties find and destroy potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Studies have also shown that higher levels may help the heart function properly, help to lower bad cholesterol, increase alertness, energy and mental clarity, lower blood pressure, and could even increase the average lifespan by as much as six years. It could also be your first line of defense when colds or the flu strike. Sounds super to me!

Takes the “C” out of “Cold”

Studies vary regarding the use of Vitamin C in treating colds and flu. Experts agree that while it may not reduce the number of colds a person has, it can shorten the duration. One recent study found that children regularly taking vitamin C had cold symptoms for 14% fewer days. For adults, days with cold symptoms fell 8% with regular vitamin C use.

What Else Can You Do?

If you’re not prone to taking vitamins or just want to do more to stay healthy this Winter, there are plenty of easy, common sense tips for staying well:

• Wash your hands often. Why? The Naval Health Research Center ordered 40,000 recruits to wash their hands 5 times daily. Their incidence of respiratory illness went down by 45%.

• Lower the heat in your house 5 degrees. Warm, dry air lets viruses thrive. Then when your mucous membranes dry out, they can’t trap the germs to keep you from getting sick. The dry air of an overheated home provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive.

• Wipe your nose -- don't blow. Using dye and X rays, a University of Virginia study found that the force of blowing propels drainage back into your sinuses causing pressure and increasing risk of infection.