It has long been understood how inadequate nutrition increases the risk of contracting the common cold, couple this with high activity levels and you can find yourself laid up in bed for a few days recovering.
Ironic then how someone can enter a gym with the intention of improving their health and wellbeing only to indirectly increase their risk of getting a cold and feeling pretty rough in the process! The gym is without doubt one of the main places people pick up colds, for two main reasons, because of the sheer volume of bodily fluids that spread on equipment, the floor or around the drinks fountain, and 2.) because people push themselves too hard without adequate recovery and nutrition.
The old wives tale of needing vitamin C to reduce the onset of the common cold is actually quite true! There is compelling evidence to suggest that deficiencies in vitamin C and vitamin E can significantly increase the risk of colds, especially in heavily trained individuals.
A recent study in the journal Immunology & Cell Biology discussed how prolonged bouts of exercise and heavy training regimes, coupled with inadequate levels of protein, fat soluble vitamins A, D and E, as well as vitamins B6 and B12 are vital to maintaining a healthy immune system.
More and more evidence is surfacing on the importance of vitamin D too, it is understood that vitamin D can reduce infection episode incidence and duration meaning adequate levels may keep you cold free for longer! One theory for the higher incidence of common colds in the winter months is due to the lower exposure to sunlight, one of our main sources of vitamin D.
From a supplement point of view one of the best combinations are the daily consumption of probiotics, a multi-vitamin and mineral and a good quality protein supplement. Protein deficiency is one of the main causes of overtraining syndrome and suppressed immune response, so make sure you’re getting enough when following an intense exercise regime.