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Prevent the Cold and Flu Naturally

By Becky Striepe
December 30, 2012; 4:48 PM ET
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The weather is getting chilly, and that means cozy soups, warm scarves and hats, and toting a hankie as cold and flu season rolls in. I don't know about you guys, but I seem to always come down with at least one case of the cold or a flu each winter, and there's something extra miserable about being sick when it's so cold outside.

This year, don't wait until you're sick to start taking care of yourself! Changing your habits now will help boost your immune system, and even if you can't completely escape the winter ick, you can at least shorten its duration. Here are some tips to help you arm yourself for cold and flu season this year.

Vitamin D

A 2010 study found that kids who took a vitamin D supplement during cold and flu season were twice as likely to avoid the flu as kids who took a placebo. Think your diet could use more vitamin D? You could take a supplement like the kids in the study, or try upping your intake of vitamin D-enriched foods like dairy, juices, and soy products. Mushrooms are also a good dietary source of vitamin D.

If you do decide that you need more vitamin D in your life, just make sure you don't take more than 2000 IU each day. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that it doesn't just go through your system if you take too much. It can actually be toxic if you get more than that 2000 IU per day. The kids in the study were taking taking 1200 IU daily, so staying close to that number should do the trick.

Next>> A couple of simple habits to help prevent cold and flu.

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