It's getting cold!

Although viruses and bacteria surround and attack us all year long, our body is generally quite capable of killing off these invaders before they can do us any harm.

But when the air gets colder, and heaters widen the gap between inside and outside temperatures, our immune system has a much harder time keeping us healthy.

The immune system is a complex organization of organs, glands, enzymes and cells that protect us from outside influences. To function properly, the immune system needs a daily supply of nutrients. If there's a lack of one or more of these nutrients, it cannot execute its various functions and we become vulnerable to pathogenic invaders. We may get the common cold, the flu or a sinus infection.

Often a bacterial infection leads to a viral infection, and vice versa. Once you've got a severe infection, you might need antibiotics, which often have severe side-effects. For these reasons it's much better to prevent an infection than to try and cure it.

Some of the most important nutrients for the immune system are vitamin C and zinc. It's recommended to take these nutrients all year round, but especially in the fall and winter. Generally a daily dose of 15 mg of zinc is sufficient, but sometimes higher doses, up to 50 mg a day, are desirable. Likewise conservative dosages for vitamin C range between 50 and 250 mg a day, while orthomolecular therapists tend to recommend dosages between 500 and 5000 mg a day.

Other vitamins that play an vital role are vitamin A and D, and minerals or trace elements like copper and selenium.

To actively stimulate (rather than support) the immune functions, you can take certain herbs, like garlic, elderberry, echinacea, goldenseal and astragalus, or the bee product propolis.

We recommend the Wellness Formula, a special, award-winning mix of immunity boosting nutrients. Three tablets provide 23 mg of zinc and 1290 mg of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium, copper and a wide variety of herbs.

Another supplement we recommend is the Mega-One, a potent one-a-day multivitamin which can be taken every day of the year.

Of course it's also possible to simply stick to vitamin C, for example Smartlab's vitamin C-1000 complex.

For a complete overview of our multivitamins and food supplements, check out our Healthshop.