Flu season is just around the corner in Texas, making it a good time for residents of Bethesda Gardens Frisco to shift their focus to self-care. Make sure you're getting adequate nutrition to boost your immune system well before winter settles in. With the right vitamins and minerals, your body will be better equipped to fight off viruses and function at its peak, both physically and mentally.
The best way to prepare for winter is to get a yearly flu vaccine, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's also important to stay active and eat nutritiously. Ideally, you should get your nutrients by consuming fresh, whole foods, but you can also consider supplements to fill in nutritional gaps.
Before significantly changing your wellness routine, ask your health care provider if you need to take a supplement, as some may interact with medications or underlying conditions. Your doctor can advise what vitamins and minerals best support your wellness and recommend appropriate doses.
Here are some supplements you can consider taking to prepare for the winter so you can be energized and healthy throughout the coming season.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage and strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C doesn’t prevent you from catching a virus, but people who take supplements regularly may experience shorter colds or milder symptoms when they do get sick. According to the National Institutes of Health, using vitamin C after a cold starts doesn’t appear to help.
When you're sitting down for a meal, load up on citrus fruit, kiwi, cantaloupe, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli and leafy greens, which are all excellent sources of vitamin C. You can also keep some cut fruits and veggies in your assisted living apartment for a healthy snack.
Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D after exposure to sunlight, but as the cooler weather settles in, you may spend less time out in the sun. It's important to keep your vitamin D levels up, however. This vital nutrient is needed to increase calcium absorption, support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D also helps boost serotonin and regulate mood.
Vitamin D is found naturally in foods such as egg yolks and fatty fish. Some foods are also fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice, milk and cereal.
Vitamin B is a group of eight vitamins that help regulate the nervous system and mental well-being, which can be important for those experiencing the winter doldrums.
The B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin).
Vitamin B supplements can help:
Opt for whole grains, leafy greens, beans and peas at mealtime for extra vitamin B. Animal proteins such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy are also rich sources of B vitamins.
Echinacea, also known as coneflower, is a flowering plant used in traditional medicine. The flowers, leaves, roots and stems are believed to have antiviral properties and are often used to help boost the immune system.
While this herbal supplement is promoted to prevent or treat the common cold, clinical research into its effectiveness has produced mixed results. Some studies suggest echinacea can reduce the duration of a cold if taken as soon as symptoms occur, while other trials show the remedy has no effect on symptoms at all. More research is needed, but those who want to try to ease their sniffles and sore throats with echinacea can find the supplement in various forms, including capsules, tablets, extracts, liquids, ointments and tea.
Studies have shown that zinc may have an effect on respiratory infections such as colds, influenza and pneumonia. It's not clear that zinc prevents illness, but it does appear that supplements such as zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of a cold. One study found that zinc was associated with a significant reduction in symptoms by the third day of an illness and that nearly one in five people still had symptoms a week later if they didn't use zinc.
Most people get enough zinc in their diet from red meat, poultry, fish, legumes and nuts. Be sure to consult your doctor if you want to take a supplement, as this mineral is only needed in small amounts to support the immune system, blood clotting and thyroid function.
Winter can be a challenging time for seniors, and not only because of respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu. The colder weather, shorter days and changes in routine can also cause seasonal blues.
In addition to looking after your nutritional needs, stay active during the day and get plenty of sleep at night. It's also beneficial for your mental health to stay socially active and connected with your community. Enjoy some fresh air in the courtyard at Bethesda Gardens Frisco, participate in an exercise class, or play ping-pong or cards with fellow residents.
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