One year ago, Parsley Health founder Dr. Robin Berzin joined the medical advisory board of a new kind of health brand—Ritual. The company was founded with the belief that vitamins must be created with simplicity, traceability and ingredients that work best in the body. Just a few weeks ago, Ritual launched its first product: Essential for Women, which identifies the nine essential ingredients women need in their most effective (vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy and dairy-free) forms that actually work in the bod—nothing more, nothing less. With cold and flu season coming up, many of us already have vitamins on our minds. So we asked Dr. Luke Bucci, Ritual’s VP of Research and Development, to share, in his view, which nutrients really do the job.
Vitamin C is the real deal. Generally, we get more than enough of it in our diet, so when you’re healthy, there’s really no reason to supplement (it takes energy to metabolize vitamins, so you generally want to take only what you need). But when you’re in contact with people who are sick, or if you feel like you’re coming down with something, two-to-three grams per day will give you some good additional support. The data shows that if you do get sick, taking C will make the sickness less severe and not last as long. I skip the pills and dump half a teaspoon of power in water in the morning.
We all think of Vitamin D as being important for bone health via calcium. But recent research has shown how Vitamin D is helps immune system cells communicate to other immune cells to identify and attack non-self (ie colds and flus). Vitamin D is also responsible for helping immune cells produce antimicrobial peptides called cathelicidins and defensins. Look for D3; that’s the form our bodies absorb best.
I had the great good fortune to work with George Eby, the Texas scientist who patented zinc lozenges for preventing colds and flus. Eby figured out that if you put zinc in the mouth and it’s soluble, it races all over your mouth and up into your sinuses where it can kill viruses. Boom. The key is that it has to be a lozenge, and in the form of zinc acetate, which is the only soluble form of zinc. Since most people aren’t deficient in zinc, you only need to take the lozenges when you are already sick or are just beginning to feel it. Follow directions carefully.
Boron is a “helper nutrient” that works with Vitamin D to keep its levels up and work with hormones estrogen and testosterone when deficient. These functions can help maintain a healthy immune system, a notion that is gaining support.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids DHA & EPA
Omega-3s are used in intravenous feeding solutions for persons needing extra nutritional support to heal. But what about everyday people? Can boosting levels of omega-3s help your immune system? Much suggestive evidence says yes, and some human studies in normal, healthy persons find benefits for specific immune functions after omega-3 supplementation. This makes sense, as we know there is a gap in getting enough omega-3s for optimal health, and omega-3s are well-known to produce a wide array of very healthy and friendly signaling molecules. Moral of the story is to make sure you are getting enough omega-3s of the DHA & EPA variety.
Echinacea is a purple cone flower. It’s a native American flower that actually the Europeans took and developed some really nice drugs from. Liquid tinctures are most effective: they are the only ones that reproducibly work in study after study.