Vitamin D, Echinacea, Garlic, Nux Vomica, Green Superfoods
With the arrival of colder temperatures for the last 2-3 weeks for much of the U.S. and Canada, it’s time for a followup to last year’s ““5 Great Supplements for Winter”” post. That article espoused Singer’s Saving Grace throat spray, vitamin C powder packets, OscillococcinumTM (homeopathic flu remedy), Rescue Remedy and Olba’s Inhaler as five of my trusted companions during the chillier part of the year. Here are five more supplements for the winter months.
- Vitamin D -the most common forms come from cod liver oil and sheep’s wool. The lanolin version from sheep’s wool is the closest to a ‘vegetarian’ form since it technically doesn’t have you ingesting an animal part, and no animals are harmed during the process. Unlike vitamin C, there aren’t a whole lot of non-animal/dairy food sources of this nutrient. Many people also supplement with D in the winter because the northern climes they live in don’t provide enough winter sunlight for them to get their usual amount of skin-absorbed and synthesized vitamin D that they get during the warmer months. Capsules or drops in the 400, 1000 and 2000 IU dosages are popular. There’s been a noticeable uptick since 2010 of doctors and nutritionists starting to recommend higher dosages of this supplement for their patients, and of manufacturers rolling out potencies as high as 5000 IU.
- Echinacea -tincture, tea or capsule form. The purple coneflower; echinacea angustifolia and echinacea purpurea are the two most commonly used species. Echinacea helps support the immune system and produce white blood cells. Usually ‘pulsed’; that is, taken for three to four weeks and then stopped, for a break, before resuming. Once a bug or cold is three days old, echinacea is not as impactful. Thus, it is a good immune supporting supplement when you’re not sick or if taken at the first signs of an oncoming illness. I prefer the liquid tincture forms, which usually come in 1- or 2-oz. dropper bottles in a vegetable glycerin or grain alcohol base. The alcohol-based tinctures tend to have a longer shelf life (sometimes by years) than the sweeter tasting glycerin ones, but you can prolong the efficacy of the glycerin-based tinctures by storing them in the fridge after opening them and using them up within six months. Good echinacea (tincture) causes a distinctive tingling sensation on the tongue after ingestion.
- Garlic -cloves, oil or freeze-dried powder. Garlic is phenomenal, whether roasted, stir-fried, baked or raw. It’s one of the plant-world’s most indispensable herbs. Some people don’t like the taste of garlic and would prefer to take a capsule instead. You can find it in two forms: garlic oil in a soft gel or powdered form in a capsule. Freeze-dried and fresh sources are preferable if you’re not going to take it in food form. Pay attention to see whether it’s organic, what the allicin content is, whether it’s standardized or not, and check the label to see whether it’s billed as ‘odorless’ if you don’t want to offend your vampire friends. Allicin is garlic’s most researched component, but garlic has over 100 identified compounds. Garlic has been clinically proven to be an effective antioxidant with antiviral and anti-fungal properties, beneficial to cholesterol and blood pressure health, and more. The premier brand manufacturer of garlic supplements is Kyolic if you prefer take it in pill form.
- Green Superfood powders -cannisters if for home use, packets for work or travel. Energy, immune support, greenfoods (spirulina, wheatgrass, etc.), antioxidants, stress support and adaptogens, digestive enzymes and more; these blends provide a little of everything. My favorites are Vibrant Health’s Green Vibrance and Amazing Grass’ Green Superfood (or just their Wheatgrass-only powder if you’re looking for something simpler). They stir up quickly in a glass of apple or orange juice and help to provide nutrients which you might be lacking during holiday and work travel, and which are outside of the offerings of the average multi-vitamin and everyday food intake.
- Hangover remedy/Nux Vomica. Not just for hangovers, but any kind of overindulgence, this homeopathic remedy is a great first choice for the morning after too much eating, drinking, etc. A 6X or 6C strength should cover most needs, but the 30C potency that is most common in U.S. stores will do the trick just fine. Nux vomica is the most popularly used homeopathic remedy for digestive and overindulgence problems: nausea, heartburn, indigestion, etc. Thus, it’s a great remedy to have handy around any of the big food or holiday imbibing parties. In some health food stores, you can find it re-packaged as “Hangover Remedy” near the checkout registers (as I’m sure “Vomica” didn’t name test well with the marketing focus groups). Homeopathic remedies are safe to use and will not interfere with other supplements or prescription meds.
Handy Tip: Sneezing and coughing into your elbow/sleeve when at work or out in public is not only polite, it’s a good habit to develop year round. As is washing your hands with soap and water after being out and about. Keeping the spread of germs, both yours and others, to a minimum helps everybody make it through the holidays and snowy months that much easier. Happy Winter!