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Supplements That You Didn't Know Can Boost Your Immunity


Americans religiously take their vitamins. A recent Gallup poll found that roughly half of Americans take a daily vitamin or supplement to boost their nutrition and health. That means that over a hundred million Americans have the daily habit of taking some kind of supplement to try and benefit their health. The human body is a walking collection of repeating chemical reactions. In the age of a global pandemic, the reasons that many people are searching for immunity supplements have likely changed. While these supplements may have been primarily taken with specific and personal goals for compromised immunity, we must now all be aware of our health and our body's immune response. We have provided below a list of some supplements that are commonly used to help boost immunity. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but one of the best things to support your immune system is a healthy diet and exercise, potentially along with additional supplements recommended by your physician. 

  • Zinc: Up to 40% of Americans suffer from a deficiency of this immune-boosting compound. The daily recommended value is about 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. 
  • L-Lysine: An essential amino acid that is foundational to the healthy functioning of your immune system. It helps augment your body’s defense against foreign pathogens, including viral threats. This compound can also help reduce the adverse impacts of stress on the body.
  • Probiotics: These are essential to gut health, and gut health is vital to overall health. Any comprehensive immunity regimen should include probiotics because 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system. This often-forgot-about fact leads people away from this simple and effective remedy. 
  • Group-Specific Immunity: Sometimes, supplements for specific groups of people will contain a diverse set of compounds to promote immunity. For example, in prenatal vitamins, many essential nutrients can help boost a mother's immune system during pregnancy specifically. Senior citizens have very different nutritional needs than their younger counterparts, and may not be able to have a high absorption rate and utilization like younger individuals. So, finding a specific supplement that fits the demographic group or particular health need you are addressing can be an easy and effective way to find exactly the kind of supplements you might need. 
  • Medicinal Mushrooms: There are dozens of types of medicinal mushrooms containing compounds that can promote immunity. One such mixture that has gained popularity in the United States and Asia is AHCC®. This supplement is derived from the mycelia, or root of the mushroom, rather than the fruiting bodies. Concentrating on extracting the vital nutrients in this part of the mushroom can enhance the immune-boosting properties of this widely researched supplement. While you should leave mushroom hunting to the professionals and should not try and harvest this on your own, obtaining this in the form of supplements can be beneficial to your immune system. 
  • Antioxidants are substances that your body produces or are found in things you consume that can help fight damage caused by free radicals. Consuming high amounts of antioxidants can protect and bolster the immune response. You can find supplements that contain these, but there are also plenty of antioxidants in berries, red grapes, red cabbage, nuts, and dark chocolate. You can reduce oxidative stress by eliminating free radicals and adding antioxidants to your diet.
  • Vitamin D is not commonly associated with immunity. However, it can provide valuable help to the immune response. Deficiency in vitamin D is related to more severe and frequent infections. You can find this in supplements, but another great source is directly from food, including fish like tuna, trout, and salmon, as well as in milk, yogurt, and plant-based kinds of milk like soy milk.
  • Ginger may be better known for the calming effects that it can have on folks suffering from stomach problems. However, it contains both significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which give it a lot of utility for supporting the human immune system. Freshly crushed or grated ginger can easily be added to smoothies or meals. You can also find supplements that contain ginger. 
  • Elderberry has been used throughout history for a few different medicinal uses. Precisely, the plant is thought to possess anti-viral properties. It is commonly taken in a syrup form. However, it can also be found in other ways, such as tinctures. It is believed to activate immune cells and reduce the duration and severity of colds and health issues. 
  • Echinacea is one of the other herbs that people commonly use for immunity. It was used in ancient cultures to help treat health issues. This can also come in many different forms, just like the elderberry. There is not a lot of solid research supporting how exactly the mechanism works by which the substance helps boost immunity. 

This initial list provides a brief overview of some of the mainstream supplements that are commonly used to promote immunity. However, we think it is also essential to give you a guide that gives some information about what to avoid in supplements as well. This is because there is a lack of regulatory accountability in the claims made as to the effects and contents of supplements. Customers are usually on their own in parsing through a litany of false claims. So, we’ve also included a list below of things you can avoid to make sure you don't get hosed by vendors merely looking to make a quick buck off of your legitimate interest in health and wellness.  

Avoid additives and fillers. Individual companies will use these ingredients copiously, most commonly using magnesium stearate, gelatin, and soy lecithin. These are generally unnecessary compared to other important vitamins and minerals found in supplements. 

Don’t put 100% trust in online reviews. While they can sometimes be a useful review, it’s been suggested that over half of Amazon reviews are paid content. It can be difficult to navigate a lot of content on the internet that is specifically designed to trap you into buying a product. Look at the vendor's values and make sure they align with your own. 

If a company doesn't provide a money-back guarantee, then practicing extra caution is advisable. If you're having trouble getting clarity on something like this, it could be a warning sign that you should find a different vendor!

What To Be Aware Of When Seeking Vitamins

Although vitamins are generally considered safe, there are still things that any informed consumer should be aware of before purchasing any product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the contents of medicine and food to ensure purity and to prevent contaminants from entering these necessities, does not guarantee the truthfulness of claims that health and wellness vendors make about their products. Vitamins are regulated as a supplement. This effectively means that the federal government does not verify the claims made by vitamin sellers or the contents of their products. Fear not, there are many private methods for finding the best vendors in the space. Make sure to vet the company you’re purchasing your supplements from, and also make sure they can independently verify the contents of their supplements. 

It’s also advisable to always check with your medical professional or primary care physician when integrating a supplement into your health and wellness routine. While the above interactions are the most common and well-understood, specificities to each person's individual health and body may significantly affect interactions of vitamins. In other words, if you have a health or genetic condition that sets you apart from the general population, vitamins may not work the same way on your body the way they do on others.  

Who Should NOT Take Vitamins and Supplements?

Some people who have underlying health conditions should avoid vitamins unless specifically recommended by a physician. While vitamins are mostly a good thing and can supply proper nutrients for our body, sometimes too much can cause serious problems.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should generally avoid certain vitamin supplements. They should only be taking prenatal vitamins specifically made for pregnant women and approved by their physician.
  • People who take certain heart medications should generally avoid vitamin supplements because of adverse interactions.
  • People who have an immediately pending surgery should generally avoid vitamins. Some vitamins can cause excessive bleeding during surgery

These guidelines are, of course, general, and can at any time be overridden by the advice of your primary care physician. If there is one thing to glean from this article, it is that everybody's vitamin needs are quite different. You cannot rely on general information to construct your vitamin regiment. It is much safer to consult your physician. If possible and financially feasible, it is also beneficial to take a  micronutrient test to precisely determine what deficiencies you may have, which you can then share with your health professional to figure out the right treatment for you. 

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