Who’s Afraid of Cold and Flu Season? Not NYBC!

As the days get shorter and we approach the end of October, here in the Northern Hemisphere many worry about the Cold and Flu Season. Colds and flus aren’t fun for anyone, and people with compromised immune systems may be especially vulnerable. Here are some recommendations from NYBC, both in the prevention department and in the symptom alleviation department. Using these supplements, we believe, can make the Cold and Flu Season a lot less scary!

Vitamin D. According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 2000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C. Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention. According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking between one and three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose–especially when you’re fighting cold or flu symptoms.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides. Also note that NYBC stocks several varieties of probiotic supplements, including Jarrow’s Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, which has helped many maintain healthy digestive function, always a key to getting proper nutrition into your system and thus supporting immune strength.

And this just in: See posts on this blog for Beta Glucan, which, according to very recent research reports, may be of substantial benefit for fighting colds.

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.


Beta Glucan studied for colds: European Journal of Nutrition

NYBC has stocked Beta Glucan for quite a while, due to the variety of evidence about its capacity to enhance immune system function. On a more personal level, some at NYBC have taken to using it as a cold remedy or cold preventative, and generally–we’re speaking of the “anecdotal” level of evidence–have found it worthwhile.

Now we’re pleased to note a newly published, well-designed study in the European Journal of Nutrition that finds that beta glucan can reduce the number of colds by about 25%, and also acts to significantly decrease cold symptoms, including sleep disruption.

See NYBC’s product description:


Reference: Auinger, A. et al. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects.
European Journal of Nutrition. January, 2013.

Vitamin C: what to take, how to take, and why take

The NYBC purchasing co-op stocks several different choices for those who wish to supplement with Vitamin C. We are in the cold season in North America, after all, and, yes, there is evidence that Vitamin C has some effect in shortening the duration and decreasing the intensity of colds. But there are other reasons as well to supplement with this critical antioxidant Vitamin–see some details below.

1. Super C Powder (SuperNutrition).</ Each bottle, 82 grams of sugar-free powder. Each one half teaspoon contains:

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid/Ascorbate) – MG – 1,690
Sodium (as sodium bicarbonate) – MCG – 57.5
Potassium (As Chloride & Succinate) – MG – 50
Other Ingredients
Bicarbonate (from sodium & potassium bicarbonate) – MG – 175
Natural Lemon flavoring (from lemons) – Trace

Suggested use is to sip, over 10-15 minutes, a quarter teaspoon in at least one half cup of water (for 845 mg of vitamin C). Or 1/2 tsp in one half cup of water for 1690 mg of C, or a full tsp in a full cup of water for 3,380 mg of vitamin C. Remember that taking too high a dose of C all at once can cause diarrhea!

2. Esterol (Allergy Research Group). Each bottle, 200 tablets. Each tablet contains 675 mg of ester C polyascorbate, 75 mg of calcium polyascorbate, 50 mg of rutin, 25 mg of quercetin, and 2.5 mg of grape seed proanthocyanidins (antioxidant compounds which are also found in high concentrations in blueberries).

This ARG product contains ascorbic acid and calcium in a formulation designed to enhance absorption and retention of vitamin C. (One of the problems in supplementing with Vitamin C is rapid removal from the system.) The ester formulation is non-acidic and should be minimally irritating to the intestines.

ARG Info Sheet on Esterol:


3. C powder, Calcium Ascorbate (Source Naturals) Each bottle, 8 ounces of vitamin C as calcium ascorbate. A serving of 1/2 a rounded teaspoon (about 2.7 grams) provides 2,150 mg of vitamin C as calcium ascorbate and 245 mg of calcium. This is a non-acidic form of vitamin C and thus will not harm the teeth (as a powdered ascorbic acid might). It also provides a bit of extra calcium.

4. C1000 – Ascorbic Acid plus Olea Fruit Extract (Jarrow) Vitamin C Overview: Vitamin C is another critical nutrient, an antioxidant and highly efficient free radical scavenger, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal which should be in any HIV protocol. Vitamin C is responsible for the reactivation of key antioxidants, particularly vitamin E, beta-carotene, and glutathione, after they have been oxidized by donating electrons to neutralize a free radical (known as the redox process). Vitamin C and certain sulfur amino acids are the only water-soluble nutrients which can be taken in sufficiently large, yet safe, quantities to effectively conduct this redox process. Vitamin C is available in both quick and slow release tablets, powders, as well as esterified form (vitamin C chemically bonded with one or more minerals in a compound containing aldonolactones; (see U.S. patent #4,822,816) and effervescent forms. However, note that the Vitamin C Foundation flat out states that ascorbic acid is the only worthwhile vitamin C and everything else is just marketing nonsense. They claim there is no convincing evidence to support superior bioavailability of these other forms that supports their excessive cost. (Of course, take any powdered form of ascorbic acid with care to avoid damaging tooth enamel.)

Advocating for Vitamin D: higher dosages as a preventive measure with wide-ranging health benefits, from reduction of cancer risk to prevention of colds and flus

We took a look recently at the website of the Vitamin D Council, a nonprofit educational organization that advocates for wider use of this supplement, and suggests that the long-accepted dosage recommendations are too low. This is a widely discussed viewpoint, which comes following a flood of interesting research on Vitamin D in the last decade, including a great deal sponsored by the federal government. Here’s the link: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/

Some of the website’s main points:

–Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and more.

–A recent federally-funded study found that supplementing with 1100 IU Vitamin D3 plus calcium daily yielded a substantial decrease in cancer rates among post-menopausal women. This daily dosage of D is significantly higher than the 400 IUs traditionally recommended.

–The “flu season” may actually be a “Vitamin D deficiency season,” since a decrease in sun exposure leads to a fall in the body’s Vitamin D levels. Thus one of the most effective preventives for colds and flu may be increasing Vitamin D supplementation during the winter.

–There may be significant benefit to doses of D as high as 5000 IUs daily, especially for those who have a marked deficiency. (This is perhaps one of the more controversial positions endorsed by this website.)

For more, see the NYBC entry:

Vitamin D3

Note the NYBC also stocks Jarrow’s Bone Up, a supplement that conveniently provides dosages of both D3 (1000 IU) and Calcium (1000mg) closely reflecting those used in the federally-funded study that showed a substantial reduction in cancer rates.