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Cold and Flu Guide: The Next Generation

MDI Digital

Germ Warmfare

When cold or flu viruses are in your neighborhood or daycare, or lurking on your television remote, it's time to ramp up prevention efforts. A few simple steps could head off a week or two of yuck. Evidence is mounting that getting enough vitamin D makes a big difference, perhaps cutting the number of colds in half (three to four colds a year is a whole lot better than six to eight!) and cutting swab-proven flu by as much as two thirds. Kids' vitamin D levels tend to be lowest during cold and flu season. I suggest giving them 1,000 to 1,200 IU a day.

Recent well-designed studies also suggest that taking a probiotic (beneficial bacteria) supplement can dramatically reduce the odds of kids' getting a fever, cough, or runny nose during cold and flu season. And if they do get sick, kids taking the probiotics tend to get better two or three days faster. You can talk to your pediatrician about specific brands, but they are available over-the-counter for purchase on your own, too. Just look for a mixture of at least two types of beneficial bacteria and a total of at least 10 billion CFU.

Try to stay clear of coughs and sneezes, cough into the inside of the elbow, and wash hands frequently, to help reduce family spread. Keep oft-touched germy surfaces clean, too. Thymol is a powerful, natural ingredient to look for in hand sanitizers and disinfectants that will kill germs without creating risk for your family.