By Jim Nicolai, M.D. for YouBeauty.com
These key supplements can bolster your body’s reserves before the seasonal dip in immune functioning and mood.
Living in Indiana for most of my life, the transition of summer into fall was always my favorite time of year. Arizona autumns are a bit subtler than what goes on in the midwest, but for me, fall is still special.
First off, let’s get our priorities straight and call it like it is: Football is finally here. Enough said.
And once you start watching games on Monday night, you begin to appreciate everything else about the season: cooling down enough to put on jeans and sleeves; wearing browns, reds and greens to match the changing leaves; soups, stews and chili.
There’s a piece to fall that seems slower than summer. Sure, school starts back up and we resume routines, but there also seems to be a bit of introspection and an invitation to take it all in. I have vivid memories of driving down the winding roads of Indiana, sighing with pleasure as I gazed at explosions of color in the countryside. Fall has a scent that is calming and serene.
This seasonal ebb encourages us to check in with our own rhythms and changes. Less sunlight, dropping temperatures and craving for different food allows us to take stock of what the season may be prompting us to do. For some of us, this is a time when our mood begins to change, getting crankier or more depressed as overcast days become the norm. Fall may also be an opportunity for us to start putting on excess weight as the holidays kick in at the end of October.
More than anything, fall offers us an opportunity to prepare as winter looms. Autumn is the ideal time to shore up immune system function and the rest of the body’s reserves for the seasonal dip that is sure to come.
Supplement-wise, this is the time when vitamin D levels begin to dip below optimal levels, inciting a whole host of symptoms from seasonal depression to lowered immunity. When I start moving into fall, I arm my supplemental tool chest with the following aids:
- Extra Vitamin D: My typical recommendation of 1,000-2,000 IU daily may go higher (up to 4,000 IU) in individuals who live in cold, dark climates; are susceptible to upper respiratory infections, asthma and sinus problems; or have problems with seasonal dips in mood.
- Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes: I use these aids to help optimize gastrointestinal function, especially digestion during times when food gets heavier. It’s especially important to use probiotics after any infection requiring antibiotic medications.
- Immune-Boosting Mushrooms: Edible mushrooms like shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms are delicious additions to soups and sauces. They boost the body's immune system by optimizing natural killer cell function. These white blood cells troll around the body looking for foreign invaders to eliminate. I love supplement combinations of cordyceps and reishi that are less edible but more powerful in their anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. You can take extracts of these in liquid or capsule form.