These days, it’s paramount that we do all we can to help protect ourselves from harmful bacteria and viruses. We expose ourselves to various daily threats, from the common cold to the flu. So, what can you do to ensure that you stay healthy and happy? Keep your immune system boosted! By ensuring your immune system is running at full capacity, you are potentially preventing some serious ailments that could negatively impact you in the short and long term. Keep reading to find out which immune-boosting supplements you should take to keep yourself protected all year long.
What Is the Immune System?
Your immune system is a complicated network of specialized chemicals, proteins, cells, tissues, and organs that has evolved to protect you from various pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and cancer cells). A healthy immune system can fight off pathogens without damaging itself in the process.
It’s clear to scientists that vitamin D is vital to calcium production and, ultimately, bone health. However, that’s not all vitamin D is suitable for. Scientists have linked vitamin D deficiency to increased autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infection.Furthermore, research suggests that the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may go beyond its positive impact on bone health.
Your body does not produce vitamin D, meaning it’s obtained through your diet or synthesized in your skin (produced by exposing your skin to sunlight). However, many people find it challenging to get enough vitamin D from synthesis alone, as geographical location, season, use of sunscreen, and skin pigmentation all influence its synthesis.
One report of 19,000 subjects shows that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to report the occurrence of a recent upper respiratory infection than those with healthy levels. Another study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during winter may reduce the occurrence of the flu, as the administration of the vitamin D3 supplement resulted in a significant decrease in the occurrence of the flu (42%).
Most people find that to get enough vitamin D in their diet, they must take a supplement of at least 600 to 800IU every day. However, the amount of vitamin D one consumes entirely depends on the vitamin D levels within their blood. Some patients may have to take as much as 10,000 IU every day to boost their levels into a healthy range. If you consume more than 4,000 IU a day, make sure that this consumption is as directed by a healthcare professional. This direction will help you avoid vitamin D toxicity.
This potent antioxidant contributes to immunity by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Innate immunity is the immune system you were born with. In contrast, adaptive immunity requires the innate immune system to call it into action to carry out more sophisticated attacks against pathogens. One critical role vitamin C has in promoting immunity is that it encourages the production of white blood cells (the cells that destroy pathogens).
Vitamin C appears to support the epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin. This means vitamin C could potentially protect the human body against environmental oxidative stress, which can damage cells, proteins, and DNA and age your body.
Supplementation of this vitamin also appears to prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Research indicates that infection prevention requires a vitamin C intake of 100 to 200mg a day. These amounts are enough to saturate plasma levels, optimizing cell and tissue levels. However, treatment of an existing infection requires a significantly higher dosage to combat the increased inflammation and metabolic demand.
Scientists have studied vitamin C and its role in immune cell function for more than 50 years. This research has indicated that severe deficiency can cause scurvy and that individuals with scurvy are much more susceptible to potentially fatal infections like pneumonia. Infections can also lower vitamin C levels, as mentioned, due to increased inflammation and metabolic demand. Early research found that scurvy often followed in populations who suffered from infectious diseases, and modern cases of scurvy have been reported following a respiratory infection. The risk of developing these conditions is exceptionally high in individuals who are already malnourished.
A healthy individual should be consuming 100 to 200mg of vitamin C a day, or they risk becoming deficient. Risk factors for vitamin C deficiency include poor dietary habits, smoking, alcohol use, drug abuse, various diseases, exposure to pollutants and smoke, and excessive physical or psychological stress.
Zinc plays many roles within the human body. However, it’s known to help the immune system fight invading bacteria and viruses. While deficiency is rare in developed nations, research shows that older individuals and children in developing countries are at higher risk of zinc deficiency, thus, putting them at a higher risk of developing pneumonia and other infections. Those in developed countries at risk of zinc deficiency include those who have had gastrointestinal surgery, vegetarians, alcoholics, and people with sickle cell disease. Symptoms of deficiency include impotence in men, hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin sores, and loss of appetite. However, taking too much zinc can result in nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and lowered immunity. That’s not to say that zinc doesn’t have its benefits.
A 2017 study found that taking only 4mg of extra zinc a day for six weeks induced significant differences in the immune cells, making it easier for the body to fight off infections and diseases. Doctors recommend zinc throat lozenges to reduce the sick days one experiences for the common cold. Simply take a throat lozenge every one to two hours within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms and continue that trend while awake until your symptoms dissipate. You can also find zinc supplements in pill and liquid form. If you feel you need more than the recommended upper limit (40mg/day), then speak with your doctor to determine the correct dosage for you.
Research suggests that these delicious supplements may have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects. One of the active ingredients in elderberry gummies is either juice or extract of the berries from the elder plant (Sambucus nigra). These supplements are an excellent choice for people who have trouble swallowing pills or those who take multiple medications or supplements and wish to cut down on how many pills they’re consuming. Elderberry supplements also typically provide other nutrients or herbal extracts that support the immune system, like zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea.
Elderberries are also very rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which give the berry its dark blue-purple hue. Research shows that antioxidants may prevent cellular damage caused by unstable compounds called free radicals.
Other studies suggest that elderberries contain antimicrobial effects that defend against bacteria and viruses. One test-tube study proved that not only does liquid elderberry extract kill certain strains of bacteria, but it can also inhibit the replication of the influenza A and B viruses. In one study, scientists gave 158 people 300mg of elderberry extract for 16 days. Researchers found that the elderberry extract slightly decreased the likelihood of catching a cold and reduced the number of sick days for those who did catch a cold compared to the placebo group.
The human body cannot produce beta-glucan. It is a soluble fiber that you can find in cereal grains, yeast, and certain mushrooms and is also sold as a supplement. However, the Japanese have used it to treat various ailments from cancer to diabetes since 1980. Studies show that beta-glucan acts as an immunomodulatory agent, which triggers a cascade of events that help regulate the immune system, promoting efficiency.
Specifically, beta-glucan stimulates macrophage activity. Macrophages are versatile immune cells that destroy pathogens and stimulate other immune cells to attack. Beta-glucan also stimulates white blood cells, which bind to tumors or viruses, release chemicals, and demolish them.
Lentinan is a type of beta-glucan that you can find in shiitake mushrooms. It’s believed to reduce tumor activity and lessen the adverse side effects of cancer treatment. According to the Biotechnology Research Center in Kawasaki, Japan, “results of the clinical application of lentinan have proven prolongation of the life span of the patients with advanced and recurrent stomach, colorectal, and breast cancer with only little toxic side effects.” Along with its ability to fight against cancer, other studies show that beta-glucans can also help the body fight against bacteria resistant to antibiotics and viruses that result in upper respiratory infections.
Boost Your Immunity with WellRabbit!
At WellRabbit, we know what it takes to help protect our customers against nasty pathogens that threaten to throw them out of commission. Don’t let the flu get the best of you this year! Choose a supplement that naturally boosts your immune system. Whether it’s vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, elderberry gummies, or beta-glucan supplements, make sure you’re using high-quality products. A physician advisory board reviews WellRabbit’s products. You can purchase your supplements from us, knowing that you’re in good hands. So, what are you waiting for?Boost your immunity, and go about your day with confidence, knowing you’re doing all you can to protect yourself.