Game of Thrones called it: Winter is coming. As the days get colder and shorter, and people around us get sniffly, it’s more important than ever to boost your immunity to help you thrive through the colder months. As always, eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to give your body what it needs to thrive. Here are a few vitamins which are especially associated with strengthening immunity, and foods to include to ensure you feel your best.

Vitamin C

This one needs no introduction! We’re often told that Vitamin C can ‘cure’ you of your cold – while this is actually not proven, it does help build our immunity so that we are less likely to develop colds in the first place, so aim to eat a diet rich in Vitamin C all year round. Vitamin C is readily available in lots of our food sources – we may automatically think of citrus like orange and mandarin, but it is even more potent in foods like capsicum, leafy greens like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, kiwifruit and guava.

Echinacea

Echinachea is actually a daisy-like flower native to the United States, and is a common ingredient in immune-boosting supplements because it contains a huge range of essential nutrients. Studies have found mixed results, but it is generally considered most effective in tincture (liquid), rather than pill form. Check with a professional before starting these supplements.

Olive Leaf Extract

A traditional natural remedy, olive leaf extract  has been used since the 1800s for various health benefits like decreasing joint pain, regulating the heartrate, diminishing food cravings, and of course strengthening immunity! It can be made into a tea if you have access to an actual olive tree, or for the simpler solution you can simply purchase a supplement in a liquid or pill form and take a regular dose (you can also include it in liquid form in your skincare!). Aim for an organic or pesticide-free version where possible. If you are pregnant or on blood pressure or diabetic medications, check with a professional first as olive leaf can lower your blood pressure, but there are generally minimal side effects and it is safe for most people.

Vitamin D

We absorb Vitamin D from sun exposure, so it makes sense that many of us dip in our Vitamin D levels through winter. Our ability to absorb Vitamin D depends on a few factors, like the sun where we live, our level of sun exposure, and the darkness of our skin. This is not to say that we should spend lots of time in direct sunlight – our ability to absorb Vitamin D is capped, so after a certain amount of time, and in some types of sunlight, we may be doing ourselves more harm than good by increasing our chances of skin cancer. We can supplement our Vitamin D intake (especially in winter) with oily fish or fish oils (like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines), egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Image by Aaron Burden.