4 Best Supplements for Healthy Travel
It’s summertime and that can only mean one thing: travel!
Regardless of whether you’re planning a low-key, local “staycation,” a road trip to a different part of the country, or a big international trip, travel can wreak havoc on your body. It can strain your immune system, mess with your sleep, and even cause you to pack on a few extra pounds.
That’s not to say traveling isn’t worth it…it is. The stress release you get from stepping away from your day-to-day responsibilities—and the quality time that vacationing allows you to spend with your loved ones—makes it time well spent.
But still, it’s good to prepare yourself for certain possibilities before and during travel. Here’s my advice on how you can stay healthy this summer
Bolster Your Immune System
Nothing ruins a vacation like getting sick. If you lead a healthy lifestyle—eat a balanced diet, take health-protective supplements, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, keep stress levels in check—then you have an excellent foundation that automatically fosters strong immunity. This can protect you from a lot of ailments that affect many people when they travel.
Even so, it’s always a good idea to take some extra precautions. if you’re traveling by air (or any public transportation for that matter), sitting in tight quarters for several hours exposes you to viruses, bacteria, and other germs that could turn fun into misery.
Here are my recommendations for bolstering your immune system and protecting against illness:
- Vitamin C. According to a study that looked at vitamin C and cold prevention, “Several cells of the immune system can indeed accumulate vitamin C and need the vitamin to perform their task, especially phagocytes and t-cells. Thus a vitamin C deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain pathogens whilst a higher supply enhances several immune system parameters.”Vitamin C is known to support the immune system. Our immune cells have molecules that help transport vitamin C into the cells. When we’re sick, or a new virus or other bug enters our system, those transporters work extra hard to deliver vitamin C to the cells to help fight off the infection. (This is why our blood levels of vitamin C tend to drop when we’re sick.)The more vitamin C contained in our immune cells, the better they’re able to either fight off a potential or existing illness. I suggest taking 1,000 mg a day, starting at least a week before you travel.
- Colloidal silver is a suspension of tiny silver particles in a liquid base. Mainstream medicine has a bone to pick with colloidal silver, most notably because long-term use can sometimes cause a condition called argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin. If used properly, though, colloidal silver can benefit the body in many ways, thanks to its proven antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.In a study published in 2013, researchers found that colloidal silver inhibited the growth of both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, as well as some types of fungi. It also shows anti-inflammatory and antiviral promise, helping to prevent and fight colds, flu, and pneumonia.Follow usage instructions for the colloidal silver product you buy. Start using it a day or two before travel, but do not use for longer than two weeks at a time to lessen the risk of argyria.
- Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, keep harmful bacteria in check and prevent them from gaining a stronghold—which can lead to any number of illnesses and infections. In fact, up to 80% of your immune system strength comes courtesy of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. So the fewer friendly bugs you have in your system, the more prone you are to getting sick.Research confirms the power of probiotics in decreasing risk of illness. In one study, researchers gave 30 rugby players either probiotics or placebo every day for four weeks. During probiotic treatment, the players never experienced any sign of upper respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, compared to 6 in the placebo group.For best results, start taking the probiotic at least a month before you travel. Look for a product that contains a blend of different strains of bacteria, with at least 10 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per dose. (This refers to the number of live and active bacteria found in each serving.)
If you are traveling across time zones, jet lag can be a real concern. There are two things I recommend to alleviate jet lag symptoms: The hormone melatonin and a homeopathic remedy called No Jet Lag.
Produced by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle. As an added bonus, it has also been shown to strengthen immunity.
You can take supplemental melatonin to help re-regulate your sleep cycle while you travel across time zones. The usual dose is 1 mg taken half an hour before your preferred bedtime. There is a fast-acting option, which helps you fall asleep quickly, and a time-release option that allows you to stay asleep through the night. So depending on your sleep issues while traveling, choose accordingly.
If you can’t or don’t want to use melatonin, then try one of my favorite homeopathic remedies when I travel: “No Jet Lag.” You can find this product in most pharmacies, in stores like Target, and online.
No Jet Lag combines five homeopathic herbs, including chamomile and Arnica Montana, to help alleviate symptoms of jet lag such as muscle soreness, sleepiness or sleeplessness, irritability, and anxiety. You take one tablet at takeoff, then again every two hours during the flight, and again after landing.
I hope these suggestions keep you safe, happy, and most importantly healthy as you embark on your summer travel plans. Bon voyage!
- Ströhle A and Hahn A. Vitamin C and immune function. Med Monatsschr Pharm. 2009 Feb;32(2):49-54. Last accessed May 14, 2018.
- Haywood BA, et al. Probiotic supplementation reduces the duration and incidence of infections but not severity in elite rugby union players. J Sci Med Sport. 2014 Jul;17(4):356-60. Last accessed May 14, 2018.
- Morrill K, et al. Spectrum of antimicrobial activity associated with ionic colloidal silver. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Mar;19(3):224-31. Last accessed May 14, 2018.
Last Updated: September 2, 2020
Originally Published: September 1, 2014