Prepping for Cold & Flu Season: Revisiting Our Supplement Line-Up
Posted Aug 11 2010 4:30am
Despite the sweltering 90 degree heat, the start of school has me thinking about fall and winter and the inevitable allergies and illnesses that come with those seasons. I’m almost afraid to the type these words for fear of jinxing us, but last winter was our best in 5 years thanks to a number of things including vitamins and supplements. So I’m looking in my cabinets and re-evaluating what we’re taking, what’s working and what’s not.
I went through this same process about this time last year and wrote about the supplements we decided to take. Since then, I’ve learned a few new things and tried a few new brands so we are making some changes. Below is an updated list of the supplements we’ve settled on and why as well as some tips on where to find them. In general, I’ve found these are considered universally safe, beneficial and worth the investment.
(Please remember to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements. These choices were made based on conversations about our specific nutritional and medical needs.)
Probiotics: Did you know that 70% of the immune system resides in our digestive system? (I found that interesting, but I’m kinda dorky like that.) Probiotics restore microflora (good bacteria) in our guts. They are especially useful after antibiotic treatments (which kill good and bad bacteria), but can also help regulate bowl movements, boost the immune system and protect against illness.
Probiotics can be a short term treatment after antibiotics or a daily supplement. We originally started taking them because we had all been on so many antibiotics, but we’ve decided to keep them on the daily supplement list because the good bacteria is essential for digestion, absorption and assimilation. It seems to me that all the good food we’re eating is more effective when it can be properly digested, absorbed into our bodies. Our boys also struggle with allergies and eczema, especially in the fall and winter. Research suggests that probiotics are helpful in treating allergies, asthma and eczema. They may also be helpful in treating Chron’s Disease, IBS, constipation, lactose intolerance, and may even improve metabolism.
We’ve been using a new brand over the last month – Vidazorb. One of my favorite things about it is that it does not require refrigeration, which makes it easier to take with us when we travel. Most probiotics require refrigeration to keep the good bugs alive, but lab tests of Vidazorb have proven it contains live bugs for up to 2 years (via independent lab testing) without refrigeration. The tablets are chewable and come in several flavors. We tried orange/pineapple and I’m a fan. Bam-Bam (our youngest) wants to eat them like candy, but Nature Boy (our oldest) isn’t a fan of the consistency. He’s pretty picky that way. Luckily, they are really easy to crush using the back of a spoon. If I mix the resulting powder in Nature Boy’s morning drink he doesn’t even know it’s there. We’ve been taking probiotics for a little over a year and all of the wonderful benefits seemed to continue. I found the taste really light, not too sweet and more pleasant than swallowing 4 pills of my old supplement. I just chewed up 1 tablet 3 times a day with my meals.
(I did not receive any money for this post, but was given a complimentary bottle of Vidazorb® Super C Probiotic Supplement to try. I was under no obligation to write a review or participate in a giveaway.)
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Where to find it:
Vidazorb – multiple flavors and combinations – online only
Nature’s Sunshine – Sunshine Heroes Probiotics – online only
Culturelle for kids – in the refrigerated vitamin section at Whole Foods
Probiotic Yogurts and Cheeses – at Whole Foods and some other grocers
Probugs Kefir Drink – at Whole Foods and other grocers
Vitamin D: I think most of us associate Vitamin D with the health of our bones and teeth. At least I always did. I originally started taking it because my dad has osteoporosis. I thought it was a good idea for me to take some preventative measures. Last year I added it to the boys’ daily supplements at the recommendation of our pediatrician. I love Vitamin D for its ability to ward off illness, boost our moods, reduce the risk of cancer, quell inflammation, and much more. Vitamin D may also positively impact high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. You can check your vitamin D levels by requesting a simple blood test from your doctor.
Omega-3 (DHA and EPA): Research suggests that most of us are deficient in Omega-3. I’ve been reading a lot about Omega-3 lately and it is one fat I don’t want to be deficient in. Omega-3s raise HDL (good cholesterol), Reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), dilate the blood vessels to reduce blood pressure, reduce clotting, inflammation and triglycerides. The evidence that Omega-3 fats prevent heart disease is significant and growing. But what really has me sold on Omega-3 is the impact of the fat on our brains. Omega-3 fats from fish are essential to brain function because our brains cannot produce necessary DHA and EPA from plant oils like flaxseed. (Other parts of our bodies can benefit from the Omega-3 in plant oils, but not our brains.) I recently read that in children, Omega-3 fat deficiencies are linked to dyslexia, poor motor skills, and ADHD. In adults, deficiencies can be linked to anger, hostility and depression. Omega-3 is brain food and it’s a new addition to our supplement line up. Our choice is cod liver oil (rich in Omega-3 fats as well as vitamin A and vitamin D). Choose your fish oil wisely. It should be wild and unrefined. I like Nordic Naturals.
Where to find it:
Fish and Cod liver oil supplements
I know that’s a lot to digest (no pun intended). But it boils down to this. We’ve picked 3 supplements for our family – probiotics, Vitamin D and Omega-3. Because I take cod liver oil, I can get my Vitamin D and Omega-3s in one supplement, which means all I have to add is the probiotic. This is manageable for us from a time and money perspective.
What do you think about supplements? Do you take them? If so, which ones?