I've gotten a lot of questions lately regarding what we are doing to build up everyone's immune systems for the cold/flu season. I've got my plan together now, so I thought I'd share it.
1. Water. Everyone is going to drink more water. I think a few of us are truly camels in our family, so those especially will be challenged by this. For me, I bought one of those BPA-free 2 L personal water jugs to drink from so that I reach my goal of 100 oz. in a day.
2. Echinacea. For preventative use, my daughter attending public school is taking a double dose once a day 5 days a week. 5 days on with 2 days off during the weekend keeps her immune system sharpened. Currently, she is using Viramune by Trilight Health. I also recently placed an order for a highly rated Echinacea product form iherb.com. It is called: Esberitox. This product is new for us, but I'm looking forward to trying out their chewable form. For treatment of colds, depending on how well each of us fights off the cold, we start the echinacea in some form. If the kids shake it off pretty quick, then I don't give them any. If they seem to be struggling and are running a fever, then I start the echinacea.
3. TrilightHealth.com is a long time favorite herbal company of mine. We have used it for 10 years now. My favorites to keep on hand: Viramune (for basic colds), Scout Out (for colds that turn worse, especially for us adults), Throat Care (by far, the best sore throat soother around...my kids ask for it every time and I always grab for it...even throughout the night), UrinaryTone w/cranberries (has always done a better job than antibiotics for UTIs for me.) My husband was very skeptical when I first started using these. He used to laugh and tell me that he wasn't going to 'drink grass' to get better. However, we have been antibiotic free for 5 years now, and I am convinced these have helped. He is now a regular proponent of these herbs and uses them himself.
4. Probiotics. Since the colon is one of the first lines of internal defense against viruses/bacteria, our entire family will be on this all year long. It's safe for all ages. We are currently using Jarro-Dophilus + FOS by Jarrow Formulas. It also has received very reliable ratings at iherb.com. With some many probiotics on the market, it is really important to get one that actually makes it alive to the colon. One of the things I have really liked about this product is that the capsules are small enough for my 10 and 7 year old to swallow whole, and of course, I just sprinkle it on applesauce, etc. for my 4 and 1 year old.
5. Vitamin D!! The research available now is so compelling regarding the connection between Vitamin D and immunity to colds/flu. The current recommendations in multi-vitamins appear to not be enough. From the research I could find online, it appears that a good maintenance amount per day (include all sources: milk, multi-vits, other vits.) is 4000 IU for adults, 2000 IU for children (1000 for toddlers). Adults should take 15,000 IU for three days at the onset of a cold. Again, I found products at iherb.com that I am excited to try. For the kids, Rainbow Light Vitamin D 1000 IU Sunny Gummies. For my husband and I, Bluebonnet nutrition, Vitamin D3, Natural Lanolin Source 1000 IU. If the kids are outside for more than a good hour in the day, then I will back down their necessary amount by 500 IU. Through the late spring to early fall, I won't be supplementing with extra vitamin D for my older children, since they are outside so much. If they are using sunscreen that day (i.e. at the beach), then I will give them extra vitamin D since sunscreen prevents Vitamin D absorption from the sun.
6. Multi-vitamins. I almost forgot the obvious! The kids are taking Animal Parade (comes in liquid and chewable forms). I am taking New Chapter Organics. These both are made from whole food sources. I like that since the body recognizes them as food and thus these have a higher absorption rate. That is why the % will be lower in these than in manufactured vitamins. My husband is taking Source Naturals Life Force Multiple. We have ordered these from amazon.com and have found them at our local health food store.
There are plenty of vitamin and supplement options out there, and a lot of them are not good or effective at all. Not all vitamins are created equal, so make sure you do your research and ask around about good ones for your family. Staff at local health food stores can be very helpful with this. Also, check online sites for ratings and see what people are saying about them. Dr. Mercola's site is a site that I often check to see what his opinion is on things. It's good to be informed and balanced when spending money and hoping things will work.
Whew! Well that's our plan.