I went searching the shelves at work to find some better options for a winter survival kit. The pic shows what I found and below is some more information about the ones that feature most in my household.
Supplements and Herbs for your Winter Survival Kit
There are many supplements floating around my household, but these are some that feature prominently and get more use throughout winter:
Vitamin C – this supports the immune system to function, enhances response to viruses and bacteria and promotes healing. Sodium Ascorbate may be a gentler option on the stomach than Ascorbic Acid, although many tablets that you find for sale are a combination of both. For these if you are coming down with a virus, or you have another sort of infection take regularly (hourly) to bowel tolerance. Vitamin C only lasts in the body for up to an hour so frequent dosing is important. If you reach bowel tolerance (smelly farts or diarrhoea) then don’t stop taking it, just cut back on the amount or the frequency.
Liposomal Vitamin C is another form and can be used in conjunction with Sodium Ascorbate or Ascorbic Acid. It is not absorbed through the gut so does not have the bowel tolerance effect. There is some absorption through mucous membranes so even having this in your mouth without swallowing will get some into your system.
Zinc – an essential mineral which supports the immune response and healing. If you have white spots on your fingernails you were zinc deficient at that time. Pharmacies and Health shops will often do a Zinc test to check if you are deficient, even if not deficient Zinc needs are increased when you are unwell so supplementation can be beneficial. A loss of smell or taste can be another marker that Zinc is low (this was seen in a number of Coronavirus cases)
Echinacea – (actually not in this picture), this is the herbal remedy I use most often for treatment of colds or infections. A good tincture will have a tingling and/or numbing effect in the mouth, for kids I like the kiwi herb Children’s Echinature as it does a brilliant job of making it palatable, and as an adult if you can’t stand that there are many different capsules and tablets available.
Elderberry is another favourite of mine, with antiviral properties and a taste like blackcurrant syrup, which means kids like it! It’s also safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding and can be used daily as a preventative in times of stress or exposure, and increased to four times daily as a treatment.
I have not mentioned everything- it would be impossible to go through everything in detail in one post. Other things you could consider are Garlic, Horseradish, Olive Leaf and Goldenseal. Vitamin A is also necessary for immune function, as is Vitamin D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
While we are talking about Winter survival, I want to talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This can affect up to 10% of people (more common in women) and is characterised by depression, fatigue and increased sleep, reduced activity and social withdrawal that starts in autumn and get worse throughout winter until the warmer weather returns. While many people may get the Winter Blues when it is cold and miserable, SAD is a diagnosis made after at least two winter episodes of major depression. If this sounds like you then you will need the support of a Health Professional and look at a range of things.
For a milder lower mood I recommend a Vitamin D3 supplement (often comes in combination with Vitamin K2), as well as trying to get outside when weather permits to get the sunlight, not just for Vitamin D but you help set your Circadian clock.