Best Supplements for the Immune System – Our Top Picks

We all face the risk of contracting a disease or being hit by a virus on a daily basis. The environment and the people around us can be the next reason why we are coughing or lying on a hospital bed with an IV line. Our body has the chance to defend itself on a daily basis thanks to the immune system, but sometimes it does not get the job done. A germ might be able to slip through and slap you with a cold, but if you notice that it is getting a little bit frequent then your immune system might need some help.

There are vitamins and minerals that can help bolster our defenses against those that would bring nothing but problems to our bodies. Engaging in exercise and avoiding unhealthy habits do not directly enhance the immune system but these acts can certainly help bodily processes function a lot better. Try to catch up on sleep and avoid stress as much as possible to keep yourself more resilient against diseases.

Read on and find out more about the supplements for the immune system:

Best Supplements for the Immune System

Probiotics

immune-system-supplements-kimchiThere are hundreds of bacteria that dwell in your digestive tract. Good bacteria are found to possess many benefits including the strengthening of the immune system. A study published in July 2014 at the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport split participants into two groups with the first one receiving placebo while the other received probiotic supplementation. After four weeks the probiotic group experienced either shorter duration or lesser instances of infections, but there was no difference in severity in both groups. There are many food sources aside from yogurt that are rich in probiotics like kombucha tea, kefir, miso soup, kimchi, and tempeh. Supplements are also readily available in many health stores. Be wary of probiotic products as certain processing techniques may actually kill the good bacteria.


 

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are renowned for their benefits concerning cardiovascular health and inflammation. Regular intake is recommended to maintain proper cholesterol and blood pressure levels. A Journal of Leukocyte Biology study published in April 2013 shed some light regarding the immune-enhancing capabilities of omega-3. Researchers fed fish oil abundant in DHA (an omega-3) to a group of mice, and after five weeks they discovered a more enhanced activation of B cells and production of antibodies on the rodents. This may be one of the reasons why frequent consumption of omega-3 rich Mediterranean cuisine is linked to longevity. Two to three servings a week is the recommended dietary intake while fish oil supplements can be an option as well. Salmon, sardines, and halibut are some of the aquatic sources of omega-3. Chia seeds, flax seeds, eggs, and hummus are for those who do not fancy eating fish.

 

Vitamin D

immune-system-supplements-vitamin-d

Vitamin D is well-known for being very easy to obtain. Expose yourself to sunlight and you can get adequate amounts of it. It helps in maintaining strong teeth and bones, regulates calcium intake, and has also been found to be a crucial component in the activation of the body’s defenses. T cells are the immune system’s destroyers of infections and they rely on vitamin D to become active. If there are insufficient levels of the vitamin in the blood then these T cells will remain dormant and will not seek out harmful foreign invaders. Get more doses of vitamin D by staying under the sun and eating its food sources like fatty fish, eggs, and beef liver. The MK7 form of vitamin K2, abundant in a Japanese fermented soy food called “natto”, should also be taken along vitamin D to prevent toxicity.

 

Vitamin C

Antioxidants help protect the body against toxins that can trigger many health conditions. Vitamin C is among these defenders with some other added health benefits like better skin health and enhanced wound healing. The vitamin bolsters the production of white blood cells and antibodies that defend the body from bacteria and viruses. Interferon, a protein that acts as the first defense against viruses, is also enhanced by vitamin C. Given how great the amounts of the vitamin are used up to defend the body, deficiencies of it can result in a weaker immune system. Vitamin C is not produced internally so the body only has to rely on external sources. Also it is water-soluble which means it is excreted quite fast. Stock up on citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, and berries as these are vitamin C’s optimal food sources.

 

Zinc

immune-system-supplements-zincZinc is an important trace element for the immune system’s cells. If levels of zinc are inadequate then these protective cells may not work quite well. The mineral also helps balance the immune response during an infection, and again if there is a deficiency in zinc then excessive inflammation can occur. An experiment involving mice was published in Cell Reports where zinc-deficient rodents triggered an excessive episode of inflammation as a response to sepsis. They were given a supplementation of zinc which eventually improved their conditions. Oysters, shellfish, eggs, meat, and whole grains are ideal food sources of the mineral. Some people take zinc lozenges at the onset of cold and its associated symptoms and they report a massive reduction in the cold’s duration, however this does not work for everybody. It is important to seek first the advice of your doctor regarding the right levels of zinc as it is possible to overdose on the mineral.

 

Magnesium

This is an important mineral as it is part of hundreds of processes that keep the body in top shape. A deficiency of it is linked to the impairment in the function of the immune system as revealed in a study in 2008 performed at the Technical University of Lisbon in Portugal. Not only will this allow viruses to invade the body, this deficiency can also trigger cardiovascular diseases and cause a shortage on other nutrients. Tofu, legumes, leafy greens, and bananas are some of the good sources of magnesium. Magnesium oil is another option to provide the body with the mineral through topical application. Avoid magnesium supplements if you are suffering from kidney disease as the organ might have trouble eliminating excess amounts of the mineral. Overdosing on magnesium can trigger muscle weakness, arrhythmia, and diarrhea.

 

Selenium

immune-system-supplements-selenium

Selenium is a mineral present in almost every cell of the body. It has antioxidant properties and works to boost the production of white blood cells. A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that multivitamins and selenium supplementation minimized the immune decline risk of patients suffering from HIV’s early stages. People who are diagnosed with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or even cancer are found to have inadequate levels of selenium, but it is not yet fully determined if this deficiency caused the disease or vice versa. Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, and sunflower seeds are rich in selenium. Take note of your intake of the mineral as having too much of it can lead to selenosis, a condition with a slew of symptoms like fatigue and nerve damage.

 

 

Take note that his article has been written for informational purposes only based on research and should never be substituted for actual medical advice. Seek first the opinion of an expert regarding these supplements to determine what works for your situation, the right dosage, and to avoid possible complications.

Have you tried any of these supplements? Do you know other supplements for the immune system? Let us know in the comments below.




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Anthony Coyle
I write about anything and everything that catches my fancy, but mostly I try to provide the answers to the questions our readers ask every day. I'm also the guy who's always glued to an LCD screen of some sort.

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