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The best vitamins & minerals for preventing a winter cold

Young woman having flu blowing her noseWith so much attention given to the prevention and treatment of the flu, it seems that the other big winter illness — the common cold — is getting less attention. While the common cold is typically the gentler sickness of the two —it still tends to produce a runny or blocked nose, fatigue, a sore throat and congestion.

To protect ourselves from getting a cold or the flu you should try to wash your hands regularly, not share cups or water bottles and stay out of busy public places. But what about your diet? Is there anything you can take that will make you less likely to get the cold? And once you’re in the clutches of one, is there anything that can make a cold’s duration shorter or its symptoms less severe?

While there are numerous cold remedies on the market, here are the highlights of a few popular nutritional supplements and their possible benefits in preventing the common cold.

Vitamin C

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps the body in fighting infection and is known to have a strong anti-viral effect. Vitamin C is known to neutralise free radicals, boost the immune system and kill infection-causing viruses in the body. Taking vitamin C routinely can help to prevent viral infections.


Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell. It has antioxidant effects and is vital to the body’s resistance to infection. New studies have shown that Zinc can shorten the duration of the common cold and flu symptoms, if taken in the initial stages of infection.

Vitamin D

If you’re deficient or low of vitamin D, your risk of catching colds and the flu raises by at least a third.  As a rule 20 minutes of exposure in the sun can help raise your vitamin D levels, but this might be hard to achieve during the winter months. If you feel you are not getting enough sunshine you can choose to supplement your diet with a vitamin D tablet.


Garlic has been found to reduce your chance of catching a cold. It’s a natural antibiotic, which may help  your body fight against infection. Raw garlic is the most beneficial, but if you don’t fancy that, try a capsule.