photo of natural suppplements
Natural supplements and herbal remedies can help boost immunity during the winter. [Photo: Bigstock]

A handy guide to winter supplements

14 January, 2015

Working out the best supplements to help you through the winter months can be difficult

To help you stay well when the weather is cold here are some tips on those vital supplements your body needs to ward off flu, sore throats, and sniffles this winter and keep you fighting fit.

  • Vitamin C: vitamin C helps to keep the immune system healthy as well as reducing the duration and severity of colds.
  • Co-enzyme Q10: the winter months can make our energy levels drop, making us feel tired and run-down. Co-enzyme Q10 is a good supplement for boosting those levels by increasing oxygen use in cells.
  • Echinacea: the best known herbal treatment for warding off the common cold, ‘flu and tonsillitis. It has anti-viral and antibiotic properties and is thought to increase the number of white blood cells, helping to fight infection. Echinacea has a very distinctive taste and can be taken as a tincture, in tablets, lozenges, syrups and tea.
  • Elderberry: though less well known than echinacea, elderberry extract is a traditional herbal remedy for colds, ‘flu and throat infections.
  • Garlic: studies suggest that the active ingredient in garlic, allicin, was shown to help ward off colds and improve symptoms. Garlic may also help lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Magnesium: an essential component of bones and teeth. It also helps to ensure the smooth function of nerves and muscles, including regulating the heartbeat. Deficiency leads to lethargy, fatigue, cramps, muscle tremors and heart-rhythm abnormalities.
  • Calendula: also good for treating skin complaints and ulcers, marigold tincture can be used as a gargle for throat infections.
  • St John’s Wort: helps relieve mild depression including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is thought to work by improving the function of neurotransmitters in the brain and needs to be taken daily over a period of time before an effect is seen. Always consult your GP before taking St John’s Wort as it reacts with certain prescribed drugs such as oral contraceptives and warfarin, reducing their efficacy.
  • Zinc: an anti-viral mineral that strengthens the immune system. It is often taken with vitamin C in tablet or lozenge form.