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AIDING YOUR Immune System
By Laurel Sterling

Typically, this is the time of year, from September to May where our immune systems are more taxed than ever! Many people fall short on many key nutrients, which are needed for the immune system to function optimally, for a variety of reasons. Convenience food and fastfood choices, poor nutrient quality in soils, and the loss of nutrients due to long transit time, storage, and cooking are some reasons why.

First and foremost, we need to start with a high-quality multi-vitamin/ mineral which will fill in the gaps where diet lacks and help support a healthy immune system. Next, I would add in additional vitamin D3. Vitamin D is considered nature's sunshine vitamin, and it is a vitamin we actually can make in our bodies only under proper conditions. Many of us believe that we and our children are getting enough of the vitamin D that we need from sunlight and from our foods; however, large-scale studies find that deficiency is widespread in not just adults, but in children as well.

Vitamin D is incredibly important throughout our entire body as vitamin D receptors are found everywhere from immune cells to the brain. Vitamin D promotes healthy growth and development, supports teeth, bone, and muscle health, assists with a healthy immune and cardiovascular system as well as aiding in a healthier mood. During the upcoming longer, colder winter months, we need lots of extra protection, and vitamin D3 is the key immune system modulator.

There are not very many naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D. It can be found in the flesh of fatty fish like salmon (approx. 500IU in 3oz), mackerel, and tuna. It also is in fish liver oils. Some mushrooms provide the D2 form which still needs to be converted by the body to the most bioavailable D3 form. Most of the dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods such as orange juice, non-dairy beverages, egg yolks (from vitamin D3 supplemented hens), and in some dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese). Therefore, many look to supplemental vitamin D3.

Carlson offers supplemental D3 in many formats like softgels, unflavored drops that can be put right on food or into liquids. Their latest addition is a delicious D3 gummy that both children and adults will be sure to love! These are a tasty option for those who just don't want to take one more pill.

Zinc is a dietary trace mineral that affects multiple aspects of the immune system, and it is a mineral that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components too. It is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating immunity, helps heal wounds, protein synthesis, aids vision, and supports normal growth. There is plenty of zinc available in the diet, but if you are not eating enough zinc-rich foods regularly (fish, red meat, poultry, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, oysters, shrimp, green leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, etc.) your stores may be depleted.

Supplementing with more zinc especially this time of year has been found to be effective in countering pathogens like the common cold. Carlson offers well-absorbed forms of zinc that can be found in delightfully flavored lozenges for older children and adults. Lozenges are a great option for anyone with issues swallowing pills. The RDA for women is 8mg and for men 11mg. The RDA for children varies on their age.

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