A Supplements Regimen for Winter
Inside: For the most part, my family has been able to keep healthy during cold and flu season the past several years. How? Today I’m sharing our winter supplements regimen!
Although I wasn’t a very sickly child, and neither was my firstborn, my second baby stayed sick most of her first year of life.
We didn’t know then that she has asthma or that she is sensitive to the same foods as her older sister.
Before she turned one, my second child had several ear infections (which led into glue ear and eventually loss of hearing and surgery for tubes), RSV, croup and full-blown pneumonia. I still remember how pitiful she looked when they had to put her body into a little machine that would hold her upright for lung X-rays because she was not yet standing on her own.
At the time, I was suffering from postpartum depression. All of the sickness combined with trying to potty train my oldest and care for a newborn nearly set me over the edge.
I was also trying to keep up with attending not one but two weekly Bible studies–where my girls were constantly picking up something in the nursery.
Related: What It’s Really Like to Have COVID (and Promising Immune Boosters That Can Actually Help)
I knew that something had to change. And so, our winter supplements regimen was born.
Some hard-core natural mamas and especially the “realest” of real foodies will shake their heads at using supplements. And I can understand why: The bulk of our nutrition should come from real, whole foods–preferably from organic fruits and vegetables and sustainably-raised meats.
But a perfect diet is not always feasible for everyone, and most of our immune systems cannot fight off the onslaught of viruses thrown at us each cold and flu season.
After doing a little research on what vitamins, herbs and other supplements would boost our immune systems, I came up with this regimen three winters ago. I am happy to say that it has helped our family stay mostly illness-free:
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Each day, my husband and I take:
- Multi-vitamins: I take a pre-natal since I am still of childbearing age. My husband takes Smarty Pants Men.
- Fish Oil: boosts cardiovascular system, supports healthy joint mobility and bone density, helps cholesterol levels, mental health, healthy blood sugar levels and sexual and hormonal health. It also helps improve energy levels, which can really drag during the winter sometimes!
- Garlic Capsules: Garlic is a great immunity booster. The very best way to get garlic into your system and to knock out a cold or virus fast is to eat it raw, but we prefer taking the capsules on a daily basis.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are vital for gut health, and we believe that all health starts in the gut!
- Vitamin D3: During the winter months, I take at least 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 each day. Those of us who get adequate sunshine shouldn’t have to worry about supplementing with a lot of Vitamin D, but many Americans are deficient in this vitamin. I take less during the spring and summer, when I am outside more often. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many diseases, and this vitamin is great for the immune system.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is well known as being a great immunity booster. I also recently read that it’s important for healing from adrenal fatigue, which I’ve been battling off and on for about two years now. I take about 1,000 mg per day during the winter months.
- Elderberry Capsules: My husband and I take one elderberry capsule per day during the cold and flu season. We also keep the syrup on hand, but we prefer the capsules because we do not enjoy the taste of the syrup. You can also make your own elderberry syrup. Elderberry is antiviral. Some people call it “nature’s tamiflu.” I am convinced it has helped keep us well!
- 42 Fruits and Veggies: If you can’t get enough fruits and veggies into your diet, 42 Fruits and Veggies will do the trick! This is Vitacost’s version of the pricier Juice Plus. I have a friend who sells Juice Plus, and I am sure the quality is extremely high. However, I began taking 42 Fruits and Veggies when I couldn’t afford anything else. In fact, I took 4 capsules per day throughout my 3rd pregnancy, and I had one of the biggest placentas that my midwife had ever seen. When she looked at it, she said: “This looks like a Juice Plus placenta!” The suggested use for those not pregnant is 2 capsules per day.
- Calcium/Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that has been gaining lots of popularity over the past couple of years because it’s so vital to female health. It helps regulate hormones, sleep cycles and aids in cardiovascular health. It was the number one supplement that an integrative doctor recommended me when she diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. Then, I just picked up these tablets, although I definitely don’t think they are the highest quality. I have recently started using the Trilight Health Blue Green Minerals tincture, which includes calcium and magnesium. Calcium is important for breast health and strong bones. Magnesium is vital for proper calcium absorption, so the two go hand-in-hand.) Natural Calm’s Cal-Mag powder is another calcium/magnesium supplement I have kept on hand since my second pregnancy. I took it almost nightly then because it really helped me sleep better and alleviated leg cramps.
Each day, my girls (age 2, 4 and 6) take:
- Multi-vitamin: Right now we are using the Smarty Pants .
- Cod Liver Oil: This is one of several children’s brands we have used.
- Garlic Capsules: These are actually chewable, and for some reason our girls love them. They will beg for more!
- Probiotics: This is the brand we prefer, although it can be a little pricey.
- Vitamin D3: I usually give the girls two of these per day, which translates into 1,000 IUs.
- Vitamin C: I’m not as stringent with giving this to the girls as I am about the Vitamin D because they LOVE eating oranges, but I will give them this when we have it.
- Elderberry Gummies: Our girls hate the taste of elderberry syrup but they LOVE elderberry gummies! They think they are fruit snacks! We have been using this brand a lot but we are currently trying out these.
Related: 10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and Flus
Along with our daily regimen, we take homeopathic influenzenium flu pellets each month to guard against the flu. We dissolve a couple pellets under our tongue each month.
At the First Sign of Illness
At the first signs of illness (for me, it’s a stratchy throat or achey body) or if we have been exposed to an illness, we:
- take more garlic
- increase our vitamin D
- add more vitamin C
- take more elderberry
- add in echinacea (We give our girls these echinacea/vitamin C/zinc gummies, which they LOVE!)
- add in essential oils like Immune Boom or oregano (diluted and applied to our feet)
- take detox baths with Redmond Bath Salts
- take 3-5 flu pellets up to 3 times per day (especially if we think it’s the flu)
When we are really sick, we dig into our natural medicine cabinet.
This winter supplements regimen has helped us stay mostly illness–free during the cold and flu seasons the past few years. The only times it hasn’t worked was when we slacked and didn’t follow this regimen (like when the whole family–but me–came down with the stomach virus last spring!).
Supplements are not the be all, end all.
Sometimes, even the best natural remedies fail. Give yourself grace! Remember that proper nutrition, exercise and rest all trump supplements, but supplements definitely help! We typically only take all of these during the cold and flu season.
I get almost all of my supplements from Amazon. You can often use their Subscribe & Save to save even more.
Looking for even more ways to boost your immune system? Check out this immune-boosting, anti-viral protocol from my personal naturopath, Dr. Lexi Lain, of Summit Vitality.
Related: How to Take a Detox Bath
Do you have a winter supplements regimen? How do you keep healthy during cold and flu season?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am just a mom who likes to research and share information with others. This post is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult your trusted healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health.
Thanks for sharing! My question is how do you get your younger children to take the capsules? Do you break them open and mix the powders with juice?
Thank you for your time!
Hi Sheila! Well, most of the kids’ versions are gummies or chewables, but when I do use capsules/powders, I usually mix them in their drinks. They actually like the probiotic powder directly on their tongues!
I think that you would benefit from adding magnesium into the mix for general health and wellness. its making a big difference in my overall health.
Hi Heidi! I actually take it and totally forgot about this in my post! I have added it in. Thanks! 🙂
Thanks for sharing that! I was a little confused by the mini cheeseburger advertisement right after the great article
LOL, Katy! I don’t have control over those ads. I hate when stuff like that shows up, but it’s necessary to pay the expenses of my site. Thanks!
Do you worry about overdosing on anything like vitamin C? I’m never sure about giving my kids a multivitamin and extra vitamin C.
Hi Meagan, I am not worried because my healthcare provider told me we would just urinate out any extra. But I would not do anything without consulting your trusted healthcare provider! Thanks!
I would only worry about the Vit. C being derived from GMO corn. I’m not sure if the ascorbic acid is derived from GMO’s, but that would be my first question when choosing What brand to take.
What Gen said is a good point. A lot of citric and ascorbic acid is derived from GMO corn and not from actual citrus. So that is something to be aware of.
Our natural medicine cabinet holds two items. Tincture of Taheebo and Colloidal Silver. We also like to use echinacea tea to soothe sore throats and boost immunity. On a daily basis for 14 years we have taken a whole food supplemement called Body Balance from Lifeforce International. When someone starts feeling sick we add Taheebo and silver to the body balance and up the daily dose of Body Balance to 3-4 times per day. My five children ( ages 5-20) have never been on any types of prescription meds, including antibiotics. What I’ve noticed is that if they do get sick it lasts about 2 days as long as we stay on top of their doses. Www.mylifeforce.net/20331454
Thanks for the great tip! I have never heard of that and will have to check it out!
I love the suggestions – great choices! I have noticed a big difference on my family’s health since I started making homemade kefir and kpmbucha. We also like to take homemade fire cider and elderberry syrup. My goal this year is to make my own vitamins and pickled garlic for extra immune boosting. Our regime is very similar!
You are a pro at being a natural mama!! I love that you make so much of your own!
I was *so* obsessed with those Animal Parade vitamins as a kid! I’m pretty sure I thought they were candy and my mom had to hide them. Thanks for all the great tips!
I’m pretty sure my girls think so too. 😉 LOL
What garlic do you use?
I typically use the vitacost brand or whatever I can get a good deal on.
Can children take Magnesium? I have seen such great results personally with this supplement (my husband and I take Natural Calm – just the Magnesium no the blend with Calcium) and would like to start my son on it but don’t know if he’s old enough. He is two and a half.
Yes, they can, Cori! My 2-year-old is taking this one, but my older two girls find it too chalky: http://amzn.to/1JdyDZ3.
How much do you give your 2 year old for a daily supplement? I’ve gotten conflicting reports and am now quite confused. Ha!
Which supplement? I usually just follow whatever the bottle says.
Hey! Was just wondering how much money you budget each month for these, if you wouldn’t mind sharing? Also, for what months of the year are you taking these? I’m assuming January-April? And what do you budget/take for the other months that are not flu/cold season? I would like to add some of this in to our lives, but I don’t know if we can fit it into our budget…
Hi Danica! I honestly get most of my supplements with Vitacost credits. It has taken me several years to build up my stash of natural supplements and vitamins and when we didn’t have credits, we bought things very slowly and when they were on clearance. When you sign up for Vitacost through someone’s link, you get $10 and they get $10 in credits. Then, when you share your link with your friends, you can continue to earn $10 credits each time. It adds up! We take these October-April-ish. We mostly take multi-vitamins, fish oil and probiotics the rest of the year. I know that isn’t super clear, but that is how we do it–lots of credits. Others use swag bucks, etc.
I wanted to know if you could only pick a few which ones would you choose? Say your top three?
If I could pick nothing else, I would pick elderberry. I would also have echinacea on hand for the first sign of illness and a good multi-vitamin!
SO not looking forward to cold weather and sickness 🙁 I have my EOs, elderberry syrup, multivitamin and a Natural Calm Multi with magnesium ready to go. Hoping they add a good boost to our immunity this year.
Did you use this regiment during your last pregnancy?
To add to the previous comment, did you take the same supplements during pregnancy, or do you scale back on any of them?
I took most of them during pregnancy too…but I always consulted with my midwife before doing so!
Here, in Europe, the supplements are recommended only after blood tests and the blood tests only if the body is in real problems, for a long period. Not bad, because the doctor recommended us to not spend money at the pharmacy ( yep, he is a minimalist) and to buy:
-fish for vitamin D3 and code liver
-daily salads and uncooked vegetables (carrots and broccoli and cabbages are cheap now)
-daily fruits ( now is season for oranges, kiwi, apples, and we have a big reserve of apples)
-in plus, from the tradition I have: bones broth (very cheap, almost for free for bones),and fermentation: of homemade kefir, homemade yogurt, homemade bread with sourdough (I am lazy now so not so often), pickles in water an salt, garlic and onion more as usual.
The only supplement that I have is epson salt, for magnesium, and we use in the bath.
No sick in the last 5 years in my house!
In plus, the doctor identified so;eting critical: we are alergic, so a lot of previous simptoms of cold was related to…dust + cat allergies, but it was similar to any easy cold/virus. We reduced the number of items in the house and …. easy to go, easy to clean, easy to live, easy for the budget.
Hi! What supplements would you recommend for an 18month old to prevent illness? He’s healthy as can be. He already takes multivitamin with iron and has a daily dose of 24 hour allergy. Allergies are really bad in Kentucky, so my doctor recommended that. He had RSV last February and I’m scared to death we are next at being sick!
You can give him elderberry!
Do you have a similar post for what supplements you use year round/summer?
No but that’s an awesome idea!
The best mother. I salute you. Because not only being a housewife, but trying other things that are useful for everyone.