Top 10 Supplements for Immunity
The U.S. regulatory system is not perfect. In the case of nutritional supplements, it primarily leaves consumers on their own with little guidance on determining which supplements to consume and which to avoid. This system places a significant burden on the consumer to look out for their own interests, do their due diligence, and ensure that they are not receiving fraudulent or dangerous products. There is an abundance of information out there, and whether or not you may know it, you are responsible for sifting through and determining which ones are valid. This is why it’s always good to select supplement vendors who meet high marks for criteria showing accountability to private actors and science.
That being said, the immune system is being studied and understood better year after year. The more we find out, the more we realize we don’t know. A strong immune system is an amalgamation of cells, processes, and compounds that act in concert to defend your body against external and internal threats. If the immune system function is too strong and not programmed the way it should be, it can attack the body and cause nearly as much damage as it prevents. If the immune system is too weak, then the body can be easily overpowered by daily-encountered pathogens that can make everyday life incredibly expensive and hazardous. Luckily, there are ways you can boost your immune system.
Immune Health Is More Important Than Ever
For the first time in a long time, a global pandemic has interrupted global economies and our ways of life. As available hospital beds in ICU's fill up and the deaths mount past what we couldn’t have even imagined, tens of millions of Americans are wondering if they can take preventative action against sickness. While the efforts of governments and firms across the globe work toward a vaccine, many wonder if there are any additional preventative measures that can be taken. If there were medically verified treatments that could block or prevent illnesses, then they would be advertised and distributed across the mainstream media. There is also, unfortunately, a lot of misinformation out there and false claims concerning immunity. If you gain one thing from this article regarding nutritional supplements and preventing illness, it is this: there is no direct evidence in humans that any dietary supplement will prevent, cure, or treat viruses or any of its symptoms. Please remember that, as it is one of the few facts that are not ambiguous.
Nutritional supplements are not the answer to curing serious illnesses. That being said, some supplements may contribute to immunity. There are also providers of immunity supplements that back their claims with research and evidence. If you are looking to boost immunity, then stick with vendors that follow the criteria below:
- Superior Ingredients
- Clinically Tested in Humans
- Rigorous Quality and Safety Testing
- Exceptionally Protective Packaging
Before trying any of the supplements below, please ensure that your vendor follows the above guidelines for the best results. Also, always consult a physician before starting or changing your daily supplement regimen. Please do not take supplements to treat or cure a disease, as this is not what they are intended for unless specifically prescribed by your physician.
Immune Health Is More Important Than Ever: Top 10 Immunity Supplements to Look Out For
- Vitamin D: This an essential nutrient that almost everyone obtains through their everyday diet or even by getting a little sunshine. It is fat-soluble and therefore should be taken with a large meal if taken as a supplement. This compound appears to enhance the ability of monocytes and macrophages, critical cells in the immune system's defensive response, to attack and destroy external pathogens. Some studies suggest that vitamin D improves immune response and specifically may help defend against respiratory infections. Other studies indicate that Vitamin D may boost the effectiveness of antiviral treatments. Low vitamin D levels are correlated with increased risk of upper respiratory issues and illnesses.
- Zinc: Zinc is a mineral commonly added into multivitamin supplements and other over-the-counter products like lozenges that are marketed to boost your immune system. Zinc has been shown to be helpful in aiding cell-reproduction and communication. It plays an important role in the body's inflammatory response, a crucial part of the immune system’s overall response to invaders and threats. Supplemental zinc has been found to reduce the severity and length of the common cold, though excessive doses can potentially reduce health benefits. Zinc can interfere with other processes, so it’s important to always consult a physician before adding zinc to your health and wellness routine.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known for its assistance in potentially helping your body's immune system fight off colds. Vitamin C can also help with cellular death, which is essential to immune health by keeping new cells in and disposing of older ones that have a higher likelihood of becoming defective or malignant. Vitamin C has the potential to reduce the severity and length of upper respiratory infections, though keep in mind that it is generally not recommended that an individual consumes more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day. Always consult your physician before changing your supplement regimen.
- Elderberry: Black elderberry may not be as well known as the previous three immunity boosters. Nevertheless, it has long been used to treat infections in alternative medicine and is currently being researched for the potential it has in benefiting immune health. In studies, elderberry extract seems to demonstrate antibacterial and antiviral properties. These studies do still need to be expanded on and verified with statistically significant human trials, but the initial results are promising. Elderberry can be helpful, but more research must prove its ultimate utility as an immune booster.
Medicinal Mushrooms: Mushrooms and other fungi have been in use for centuries in alternative and Eastern medicine. There are over two hundred recognized species of mushrooms known to have immune-boosting properties, and research demonstrates that supplementing with specific types of medicinal mushrooms has the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the immune system. In a randomized eight week study using 79 individuals, supplementing mycelium culture extract led to increased activity in the body’s natural killer (NK) cells.* These immune cells are the hunters who find and kill pathogens trying to invade our systems. A patented mix of medicinal mushroom extracts called AHCC® was invented in Japan specifically to make the immune-boosting nutrients in medicinal mushrooms more accessible and absorbable by the human body. This was accomplished by using a proprietary process that reduced the molecular weight of the nutrients.* AHCC® is one of the most common immune supplements in the world!
- Garlic: This culinary staple has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It has also been shown to help the body's immune response by assisting in the stimulation of white blood cells, NK cells, and macrophages.
- Curcumin: This is the main active compound in turmeric, and is what makes turmeric a common ingredient in health and wellness products. Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in immune response.
- Echinacea: This is from the genus of plants that also contains the daisy. In animal studies, echinacea has been shown to help boost immune system properties and help reduce inflammation.
- Selenium: This is an essential mineral that is often hard to get in the conventional American diet. Animal research shows that selenium may help enhance immune health by aiding in the mechanisms that work to protect against viruses.
- B-Complex Vitamins: B Vitamins are vital for a healthy immune system. Many American adults have a deficiency of B vitamins. Simply adding B vitamins to your daily supplement may be able to help boost your immune health due to the many roles that the B-vitamin complex plays in the daily functioning of our bodies as a whole
Please remember that this list is for informational purposes to give you some insight about some potential benefits that these nutrients can offer. While they may be able to help boost immunity, they are by no means meant to treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Always consult with your healthcare provider about any supplements you are thinking of taking.
Medically reviewed by Jimmy Salas Rushford
MD, FAARFM, ABAARM, FMNM, MROCC
Written by Quality of Life – Updated on March 3, 2021
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