To prevent swine flu and other viruses, many of us are washing our hands until they're raw, coughing into our sleeves and likely loading up on extra vitamin C.
But the vitamin boost may not help you beat this bug. Extra vitamin supplements may be both a waste of time and dough. In fact, your best defense will cost you practically nothing.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that the more you sleep, the less likely you'll be sacked by swine flu, colds or other viruses.
"It really is just as important as washing your hands," said Dr. Jeremy Weingarten, an internist at Carnegie Mellon.
A new CMU study confirms the benefits of extra vitamin Zs. Whether young or old, we need seven to eight hours a night. Tossing and turning doesn't count.
As for over-the-counter vitamins, the body can only use so much of a good thing.
"Once your cup is full and overflows, you get rid of those extra vitamins," said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg. "If you want to boost your immunity, keep your skin intact (no cracks), keep your nose clean and eat a healthy diet."
Last week, Kellogg's had to defend its claims that vitamin-enriched cereal can support a child's immunity. Kellogg's pins those claims on science. Some doctors aren't convinced. However, no one is debating the immune-boosting value of hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning.
For a nursing baby, a mother's milk is hard to beat as a way to kick-start the immune system. For a senior, time is the immune system's worst enemy. But for all those in between, a little extra sleep is your best weapon and a small price to pay to keep the flu at bay.