Supplements That Boost Your Immune System
It’s a miracle how your body can fight off viruses and bacteria without any help from you. In fact, its defense systems are so strong that your immune system is able to handle nearly anything. Sometimes, however, something throws it off track and the immune system doesn’t work as well as you need it to. And when that happens, you need to give your body a little bit of a boost. Start with more vitamin C and Omega 3.
The immune system is a critical body system, so it’s important to take care of it. Here are some of the most common ways to boost your immune system.
- Get enough sleep (8 hours)
- Drink lots of water (100 oz per day)
- Practice stress management techniques
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Take supplements such as probiotics, vitamin C, Vitamin D, and others.
Here are some supplements that will help by boosting the immune system.
Vitamin C is good for you
WebMD notes with some authority the truth that most doctors and most moms know already, explaining that vitamin C is good for you. Vitamin C is thought to be a great way to alleviate the more serious symptoms of the common cold, which is why a lot of doctors recommend taking supplements or drinking orange juice the moment the sniffles start to manifest. Furthermore vitamin C includes protection against a wide variety of ailments, including immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and skin wrinkling. Studies going back 100 years bear this out.
The question arises of what the optimal daily dosage of vitamin C is to maintain health: 500 milligrams, above and beyond five servings of fruits and vegetables, in the form of a supplement seems to be what is recommended. One should take the supplement in the form of a non acidic buffered form in order to avoid stomach irritation. There is no downside to taking this amount, though it’s common for people to take up to 2,000 milligrams per day.
The alternative is to consume nine servings of fruits and vegetables, but it is noted that only 10 to 20 percent of American adults get that recommended amount. Taking the supplement and eating five servings seems to be the happy medium.
Some of the fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C include cantaloupe, orange juice, cooked broccoli, red cabbage, green pepper, red pepper, kiwi, and tomato juice. One should incorporate these into their diet to get the full benefit of vitamin C. Fruit contains sugar however so if weight loss is a goal one might go with more vegetables than fruits.
Omega 3 is good for you
Why are omega 3 supplements good for you? WebMD notes that omega-3, usually found in fish oil, can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure, thus guarding against cardiovascular diseases and strokes. It helps to alleviate irregular heart beat and hardening of the arteries. There is also some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can address a variety of other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, depression, cancer, and ADHD.
The problem is that the human body does not make its own omega-3, so it has to be added to our diet. It is an essential fatty acid for our bodies to function normally. The The Mayo Clinic notes that countries where omega-3 derived from fish oil is a bigger part of the diet, such as Japan, have lower instances of heart disease and strokes than the United States, where amounts are lower.
Omega-3 can be garnered through a diet higher in fish. However many people note that eating certain kinds of fish increases the possibility of mercury poisoning. Thus they usually prefer to get their omega-3 through fish oil supplements.
What is the optimal daily dosage of omega-3?
Opinions seem to vary on that question, however there are some risks associated with too much omega-3 laden fish oil, including an increased possibility of bleeding, increased levels of low-density lipoprotein, also known as “bad” cholesterol, blood sugar problems, and a fishy body odor. For people who have heart disease, the use of omega-3 fish oil supplements should be pursued under the supervision of a health care professional. That being said, I usually recommend 2 capsules with two meals per day.
Vitamin D is known as a vitamin, but it is actually a lot more than that. It is a hormone that regulates different systems in the body. It is very important for the immune system. You get some from diet and exposure to the sun, but during times when there is not a lot of sunshine, or when you’re sick, you need to supplement it. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and supports nervous system function, cell growth, and more. Some natural sources of Vitamin D include oily fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolks. When supplementing with Vitamin D, a daily intake of 1,000–4,000 IU, or 25–100 micrograms, should be enough for most people.
Zinc is another mineral that is essential for good immune system function. Zinc supports a number of functions in the human body. It helps the body to make proteins and DNA, supports wound healing, contributes to growth and development, and supports the immune system as an antioxidant. Low levels of Zinc have an increased risk of respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Wounds that take a long time to heal are often the result of Zinc deficiency.
Some food sources of Zinc are beans, meat, and fish. It is also available as a dietary supplement. The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Your doctor may recommend a higher dosage if you are deficient in this mineral.
Selenium is a trace mineral that is responsible for just about every cell in your body, including the cells that make up your immune system. Your body needs enough selenium to be sure that it functions optimally, so take 100 milligrams of selenium each day, or as directed on the supplement label. Take a supplement with over 5 grams of selenium per day, so you get enough. Look for a high-quality supplement that also has other benefits, like boosting healthy hair and nails.
Theobromine is another antioxidant that gives your body the fuel it needs to defend itself from viruses and bacteria, and it works best in combination with other antioxidants. Take 100 milligrams of theobromine each day.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that many people don’t get enough of. There is actually a deficiency of magnesium in many parts of the world and it causes chronic inflammation in the body. Studies have also shown that magnesium is responsible for a decrease in symptoms of the common cold. People who suffer from IBS and the diarrhea that often accompanies it are even more at risk for deficiency.
When I think of herbs for immune support, what first comes to mind are some of the familiar ones that everyone has heard of: ginkgo biloba, bitter melon, ginger, and turmeric. And while these herbs may have some promise, it seems most of these have been overhyped as an all-star immune booster. In fact, I’m not sure how much there is to these products, other than they seem to improve skin or lower inflammation. I’ve heard some claims that people use these products for cancer, but I haven’t had any specific people tell me they are any good for that. Herbs are great to give in a supplement because they can be taken at any time without worry about absorption.
Astragalus is an herb used to support immune system function, lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, colds, upper respiratory infections, and protecting the liver. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.
Astragalus has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is often used in topical preparations for wound care because it helps the skin. Astragalus root has been shown to kill viruses and bacteria in animal studies with mice. It also helps protect the heart from inflammation (myocarditis).
Recommended dosages differ depending on the purpose for supplementing. An average of 60 mg per day is sufficient for most people. Check with your doctor before taking herbal supplements to avoid any potential drug interactions.
Turmeric is another name that has been used in immune system function. Turmeric is not an herb, but a spice that is very popular in Indian cuisine. The ingredient in Turmeric that makes it so good is Curcumin. It’s what gives it that nice deep, yellow-orange coloring.
Curcumin is known as an anti-inflammatory and moderates many of the natural bacteria fighters in the body. It also helps enhance antibody responses in patients with asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Manuka Honey comes from Australia and New Zealand, and is a powerful antioxidant. Honey has been used for centuries to as a natural antibiotic to fight germs and bacteria and help speed wound healing. It helps reduce inflammation and eases pain. It has been used to treat infections like gum disease, and to treat burns. It is often taken by the spoonful or added to a hot cup of tea.
Garlic is a flavor enhancer in food, but it is also a very powerful antioxidant. Related to the onion family, Garlic produces allicin, which is what gives it that pungent aroma that we love so much. It helps lower blood pressure, fights inflammation, and kills bacteria. If you don’t particularly like the taste of garlic, you can take it in supplement form as well. A typical dose is one 300 milligrams (mg) two to three times a day, or one to two cloves if eaten.
Ginger is a root that is used in many food recipes to enhance the flavor and spiciness of many dishes. It is also a very powerful immune system booster. It helps the body fight germs and bacteria, helps combat nausea, and fights infectious. Used in combination with other supplements, it is a powerful ally in protecting the immune system from viruses and disease.
Echinacea is a flowering herb that is often used in herbal remedies for colds, coughs, and fever. It helps shorten the duration of a cold, reduce symptoms, reduce inflammation, and boosts the immune system response. It has antioxidant and antiviral properties. As with many herbal supplements, you should seek approval from your doctor before taking any herbal supplements to avoid possible interactions with medications.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lessens mucus. Elderberry is often used as a cold remedy, to boost the immune system, and helps protect the heart. A popular use is in syrups, gummies, and lozenges. A typical dose is 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of elderberry syrup taken four times daily to treat cold or flu symptoms.
Elderberry can be taken as a nutritional supplement or used in food recipes. The fruit needs to be cooked before consuming. Eating the raw berries will make you sick.
When taken as a supplement, check with your doctor for possible interactions with medications as it may interact with certain drugs like Prednisone and similar medicines.
Probiotics are tiny micro-organisms that live in your gut. These beneficial bacteria play a big role in your overall health and immune system. Probiotics help the body produce antibodies, which help fight off disease. There are different strains of probiotics to try out so you can find what works best for you. Natural sources include fermented vegetables, kefir, and yogurt. Supplements are also available in capsules. The recommended dosage is 10 to 20 billion CFUs per day for adults and 5 to 10 billion CFUs per day for children.
Taking care of your health by strengthening your immune system will help you prevent many seasonal colds, flu, and other infections. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications to avoid potential interactions that could be life-threatening. Get plenty of restful sleep, exercise, eat good nutritious food, and supplement your diet with some of these natural immune system boosters for optimum health.
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