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How to Fend Off the Flu

And what to do if you do get sick

Stack the Deck in Your Favor

Choosing a multivitamin with extra vitamin E and C may help reduce flu symptoms. A 2002 study showed that seniors who took 200 IU of vitamin E daily for a year had 20% fewer colds. Typical multivitamins contain just 30 IU of vitamin E, and this is one vitamin that is easier to supplement in pill form than in food. Food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts, asparagus, spinach, and other green, leafy vegetables.

Linus Pauling became famous for advocating extra vitamin C for cold and flu symptoms a decade ago, but the validity of his advice has been called into question in the last few years. Some researchers maintain that extra vitamin C is effective only for elite athletes. Others suggest that high doses of vitamin C can reduce symptoms and/or reduce your sick time by a day or two.

Whatever the case, drinking orange and grapefruit juice and eating vitamin C-rich tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage are unlikely to do any harm -- and are excellent choices when you're feeling under the weather. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it's hard to get too much from food sources.

The Road to Recovery

As you start to feel better, slowly add more foods back to your diet. Oatmeal, scrambled eggs, yogurt, bananas, turkey, and toast are examples of foods that are usually well-tolerated after a bout with the flu.

You may have your own homemade food remedies that you prefer as you transition back into your eating plan. Just take your time, and get back into your eating and exercise routine when you fully recover.

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Reviewed on January 21, 2005

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