Subtle dietary alterations and the use of nutritional supplements can help support the immune system, in other words helping the body to fight infections and to prevent the cold developing into something more serious.


Self-help for colds and flu – supplements:-


Vitamin C – is fundamental to immune health and research has shown that during infections, body levels of this nutrient become depleted². As a result, many people choose to supplement with 1-2g of Vitamin C to maintain good health. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce both the symptoms and the duration of the common cold³. Vitamin C is also beneficial at reducing susceptibility to colds, especially in those with low dietary intakes of this nutrient¹.


Vitamin A – (a fat-soluble nutrient) is required for maintaining the health of the mucous membranes and increased intakes may help to protect against colds and flu. Additionally, vitamin E is a key contributor to immune function. Optimal intakes may help to maintain immune response.


Zinc – is required for healthy immune function and frequent infections may suggest that there is a mild deficiency of this mineral. In certain forms, zinc is able to interact with certain cold-causing viruses – interrupting the infection4,5, thereby significantly reducing the duration and symptoms of colds6.


Echinacea purpurea – is traditionally used as an immunostimulant. Studies have shown this herb is an effective anti-viral against influenza by stimulating the production of white blood cells that can help aid recovery7. Taken regularly, echinacea may help to reduce susceptibility to infections8.


Garlic – is regularly used to boost the immune system.Garlic products such as aged garlic extract, contain compounds which are extremely effective at stimulating immune actvity10 and can also be helpful fr those with respiratory infections.


Further Advice


To help ward off infections, it is important to eat a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables. additionally, a good quality multivitamin and mineral may help to safeguard against low dietary intakes.


It is important to maintain good dietary intakes of vitamin C from foods such as blackcurrants, kiwi fruits, green peppers, brussels sprouts and oranges.


When suffering from a cold or “flu”, remember to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Hot spicy soups are ideal for relieving nasal congestion12.


It is advisable to avoid caffeine and high intakes of fat as they can depress immune function.

All information contain in the post is for information purposes only, and is not intended in anyway to take place the advice from a Doctor or any other healthcare professional.

1. “The BMA Complete family health encyclopedia” Ed. Dr T Smith 1995.
2. Ann Nutr Metab, 1997, 41;6:344-352
3.Br J Nutr, 1997,77; 1:59-72
4.Alt ther health med, 1996,2;6:63-72
5.Med Hyp, 1996,46;3:295-302
6.Nutrition Reviews, 1997, 55;3:82-85
7.Health plus 1993-1997
8.Forum Immunologie, 1992, 8:2-12.
9.Herbal Medicines. A guide for health care proffesionals, C A Newall et al, The pharmaceutical press, 1996.
10. Fed Proc, 1987, 46;3:441.
11.The Natural Pharmacy, S Lininger, Prima Health, 1998.
12. Healing through Nutrition, Werbach M, Thorsons, 1995.