Four ways to bullet-proof your immunity this winter that you might not know.

So you probably know that vitamin C helps to stop a cold in its tracks but have you heard of these four additional ways to bullet proof your immune system?

Get your stores of vitamin D to full power

Most people’s vitamin D blood level is below 50nmol/l. You want to get this up to 80nmol/l for maximum protection. While 15mcg, which is what’s in in the multivitamin I take, is enough for most of the year, if your vitamin D level is average you want to boost this during the winter by taking the equivalent of 30mcg daily.

However TAKING VITAMIN D ONCE A WEEK works just as well.

Here’s what I do and why: if I’m already taking 15mcg every day I need an additional 15mcg x 7 = 105mcg a week. I take a vitamin D emulsion that gives 25mcg(1000iu) per drop. So, I just take 4 drops once a week.

A recent study of teenagers confirms this. The researchers found they needed up to 30mcg of vitamin D during the winter to boost vitamin D levels to a healthy level. Vitamin D boosts immune system’s ability to respond against invaders.

Eat a clove of garlic every day

Garlic not only boosts immunity, it triggers genes that ‘upregulate’ immunity a recent study shows. This effect has been shown to happen with just one raw clove of garlic a day.

A study this year showed that those eating garlic daily for 90 days showed reduced cold and flu severity, with a reduction in the number of symptoms, the number of days participants functioned suboptimally, and the number of work/school days missed.

I have a clove of garlic every day. Admittedly, I use it in cooking – I don’t think steam frying lessens its power much, but I also squeeze a raw clove into salad dressings.

Up your anthocyandins

These are the blue/red colour in berries. They’re especially rich in bilberries, black elderberries and montmorency cherries and blueberries and have been shown to inhibit neuraminidase which is the enzyme that viruses use to break into cells.

The vitamin C I take, twice a day, gives me a concentrated extract of both black elderberry and bilberry, but I also bump up my daily levels with a shot of either CherryActive or BlueberryActive every day. By the way, on a cold day make it hot – it’s delicious and warming.

Have a cold shower or swim

If you have a hot shower, and then a quick burst of cold shower, it stimulates your metabolism and boosts your immunity. So does cold water swimming. This is because you make more immune cells, according to investigators at Britain’s Thrombosis Research Institute.

However, if you get a cold keep warm. Have warm baths and showers. Your immune system can kill bugs better with a higher temperature – that’s why the body turns up its temperature when fighting an infection. You can help it.

Remember, if you get the first signs of a cold take a high dose vitamin C tablet containing zinc and black elderberry, every hour, or two tablets every two hours, until the cold ‘breaks’. Ginger also helps reduce throat inflammation.