Winter Viruses and Immunity 

Date: 18-06-2024

by Dr John Walters

With the change of season and the onset of colder weather, many viruses and winter infections appear more commonly in our community. 

Adequate levels of vitamin C are important for the human body to manage these infections. This need for vitamin C increases whenever the body or mind is under physical or psychological stress and certainly during winter with the cold weather and the increase in community viral infections. As humans, we are one of the few animal species who have lost the capacity to make our own vitamin C.  

There is a long history of the clinical use of vitamin C going back to the 1930s and there are many available research papers demonstrating its importance in immunity. As with most conditions, prevention is better than cure and support for the immune system can assist in minimizing the severity of an infection. That said, once a winter virus has become established, the infection will often take its course. 

Vitamin C taken as a tablet, capsule or powder is very safe. When taken by mouth, the dose can be increased until the digestive system can absorb no more. This leads to soft stools at which time the daily dose can be reduced. 

Vitamin D is another essential for good immunity and is protective against many medical conditions including viral infections. Most people who live in the southern states of Australia need supplementation with vitamin D3 during winter as we cannot make adequate vitamin D in the skin during these months. Vitamin K2 is often combined with vitamin D3 as it helps absorption of calcium into bones rather than into the heart or arteries. 

Other effective immunostimulants with antiviral benefits during winter include Echinacea, Andrographis, zinc, ginger and licorice root. 

These measures all reduce the risk of becoming sick with seasonal infections and reduce the risk of complications arising from infections.  

During the short cold winter days it is also important to remember to keep exercising! 

*The content of this post is general in nature, the information should not be relied on as advice, and persons should seek advice relevant to their circumstances.

Dr John Walters has been involved in the practice and promotion of integrative medicine for more than 35 years. John’s commitment in his medical practice is to treat patients individually according to their specific history, needs and lifestyle. He uses an educational emphasis with patients to help them understand and optimise their healing and ongoing well-being and health. Click here to book an appointment with Dr Walters.