They say Christmas is ‘the most wonderful time of year’, but if there’s one thing that can ruin the festivities, it’s a stinking cold! It can also delay your progress, forcing you to take time off training.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll avoid catching the dreaded ‘lurgy’ altogether; even those in tip-top shape are not invincible! However, you’ll be pleased to know that there are certain supplements that can help to ward off the common cold, or at the very least, reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Forget ‘elves on shelves’ and make room for these immune-boosting supps! Here are our top five:
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is included in most standard cold/flu remedies – i.e. the powder sachets or capsules – because of its reported ability to fend off colds. In truth, there’s no solid evidence that taking vitamin C will help to prevent the common cold. However, studies suggest that supplementing vitamin C may help to shorten the duration of a cold, and lessen the symptoms.
It’s worth noting that the current recommended daily intake for vitamin C is just 60mg, yet research indicates that a quantity nearer 1,000mg is more likely to be effective. As is the case with many things, prevention is better than a cure, so it’s wise to take vitamin C all year-round, rather than dosing up when the sniffles strike! You can find vitamin C as a lone supplement, or as part of a multi.
Zinc too, has been shown to take the edge off colds and flu. According to research, it helps to reduce inflammation and associated symptoms like fever/chills, aches and pains, a stuffy nose, sinus pain, sore throats and headaches. Again, it’s good to supplement zinc daily, but taking it as soon as the tell-tale scratchy throat arrives may offer potent benefits. A dose of around 6mg is considered optimal.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in skeletal muscle, but it’s also involved in the immune system’s stress response mechanism. If levels fall low, this can negatively impact your well-being, making you more prone to colds. Taking 1-5g of glutamine can help to keep your immune health ticking over nicely.
Glutathione helps to protect cells from oxidative damage, and is believed to play a key role in maintaining immune health. It occurs naturally in whey protein; the cold-pressed varieties are said to be the best source. This is one of the reasons why daily protein shakes can make a difference to your physical health – and not just for their muscle-building properties.
Green Tea Extract
There’s a reason why eastern cultures swear by green tea as a health tonic: it’s rich in a type of polyphenol known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. This is thought to offer many advantages to health, including its reported ability to strengthen the immune system. Taking green tea capsules – a more concentrated form of EGCG and other polyphenols in green tea may help to raise your defence, and protect you from colds.
Of course, there are many additional supplements, superfoods and such that are reported for their benefits to immune health, but the above are apt to be some of the most effective. We hope they help you have a happy, healthy festive season!