The 5 Top Supplements for Your Immune System
Your immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes, and chemicals that constantly defends your body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins, and bacteria. Keeping your immune system healthy year-round is key to preventing infection and disease.
Making healthy lifestyle choices by consuming nutritious foods and getting enough sleep and exercise are the most important ways to bolster your immune system.
In addition, research has shown that supplementing with certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances can help improve immune response and potentially protect against illness. Here are the top 5 supplements that can assist with immunity.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system.
Vitamin D enhances the pathogen-fighting effects of white blood cells that are an important part of your immune defense, and decreases inflammation, which helps promote immune response. Many people are deficient in this important vitamin, which may negatively affect immune function.
Some studies show that supplementing with vitamin D may improve immune response. In fact, recent research suggests that taking this vitamin may protect against respiratory tract infections.
Good sources of Vitamin D include sunshine, oily fish (salmon, sardines, herrings), red meat, liver and egg yolks.
Zinc is a mineral that's commonly added to supplements and other healthcare products like lozenges that are meant to boost your immune system. This is because zinc is essential for immune system function.
Zinc is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in inflammatory response. Zinc also specifically protects tissue barriers in the body and help prevent foreign pathogens from entering.
A deficiency in this nutrient significantly affects your immune system's ability to function properly, resulting in an increased risk of infection and disease, including pneumonia. According to research, 16% of all deep respiratory infections worldwide have been found to be due to zinc deficiency.
Good sources of dietary zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin C is perhaps the most popular supplement taken to protect against infection due to its important role in immune health.
This vitamin supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It's also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones.
Vitamin C also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress can negatively affect immune health and is linked to numerous diseases.
Good sources of vitamin C includes citrus fruits, peppers (capsicum), strawberries, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which has long been used to treat infections, is being researched for its effects on immune health.
In test-tube studies, elderberry extract demonstrates potent antibacterial and antiviral potential against bacterial pathogens responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and strains of the influenza virus.
What's more, it has been shown to enhance immune system response and may help shorten the duration and severity of colds as well as reduce symptoms related to viral infections.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used since ancient times to prevent and treat infection and disease. Many types of medicinal mushrooms have been studied for their immune-boosting potential.
Over 270 recognized species of medicinal mushrooms are known to have immune-enhancing properties. Cordyceps, lion's mane, maitake, shitake, reishi, and turkey tail are all types that have been shown to benefit immune health.
Some research demonstrates that supplementing with specific types of medicinal mushrooms may enhance immune health in several ways as well as reduce symptoms of certain conditions, including asthma and lung infections.
Vitamin D is by far the most important nutrient when it comes to immunity and many people are lacking enough. If you can't get enough sunshine to allow your body to create it, make sure you're having oily fish or cod liver oil or a good quality supplement.
A number of immune boosting vitamins are found in egg yolks. Have eggs regularly, and get organic free range if you possibly can. The nutrient content is way higher.