- Kelin M
Top 9 Vitamins for Boosting Immune System
Everyone's family has a secret for keeping illness at bay: eating oranges, chicken soup, putting pepper in your socks, or even a shot of hard liquor!
The truth is that while none of these remedies are scientifically proven to keep you from getting sick, what we do know is that a healthy lifestyle is key to helping your body fight off contagious illness and for a faster recovery when you do fall ill.
A healthy lifestyle includes more than just supplements. Prioritize sleep, movement, self-care, and consuming nutrient-dense foods to help your body's defenses.
You can't necessarily "boost" your immune system or prevent illness altogether, but you can help your immune system perform as well as possible. To do so, you need to make sure you're consuming enough of the most important vitamins for the immune system.
Best Vitamins for Immune System
Zinc is known as a "gatekeeper of immune function". That's because it's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and necessary for wound healing.
It helps produce and activate immune cells and prevents pathogens from entering the body. Zinc has even been proven to reduce both the severity and duration of colds.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A in an effective therapy in the treatment of many infectious illnesses. It plays an important role in immune function and in preventing inflammation.
It keeps skin and tissues healthy, helps develop the immune system, and regulates cellular and humoral immune responses and processes.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D enhances white blood cells' pathogen-fighting abilities. It decreases inflammation to promote immune response.
Deficiencies in vitamin D are very common, and it's been shown that low levels increase your chances of upper respiratory tract infections, asthma, and influenza. A review of 11,321 participants showed that reversing a deficiency significantly lowered the risk of infection.
Vitamin D supplementation can help improve one's response to antiviral treatments, for example against hepatitis C.
It's even been suggested that because of its positive effects on the immune system, supplementing with vitamin D could help protect against COVID-19. Vitamin D can expedite healing of affected areas, especially the lungs.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation. It protects against damage from oxidative stress due to an increase in free radicals, which is a root cause of many diseases.
It can shorten cold duration and severity and acts as an antihistamine.
Vitamin C is also required for cell death, which is when old cells are cleared out to make way for new ones (an important component of immune health).
Elderberry is the most popular folk remedy and has been used since 400 BC. Hippocrates even called the elder tree his "medicine chest".
They're packed with bioflavonoids, which give them demonstrated antiviral (for example, against influenza A and B) and antibacterial effects.
On top of that, they increase cytokine (immune response and inflammation-regulating molecule) activity, which enhances immune response and has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of both colds and upper respiratory infections.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to neutralize free radical damage.
It can expel stuck mucus thereby relieving congestion in the lungs. It's been found that it acts as an antiviral as well by inhibiting entry (for example, of infuenza virus) and preventing infection.
7. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
Cysteine is a semiessential amino acid that's important for respiratory and immune function. N-acetyle cysteine, or NAC, is its supplement form.
It helps your body produce glutathione, the body's most abundant antioxidant that's responsible for longevity and protection against free radical damage. Supplementing with NAC can help reduce your risk of many diseases and improve your longevity.
Adaptogens are healing herbs that help the body cope with stress and anxiety. This is especially important for immunity, as stress leaves us vulnerable to infection.
Adaptogens support and modulate the endocrine and immune systems. They reduce inflammation and can adapt to the needs of the body (whether it needs extra energy or to be calmed down) to enhance immunity.
This key nutrient helps the immune system and may enhance antiviral immunity. It helps protect against both viral and bacterial infections.
Other Supplements that Can Help
Curcumin: this is a potent anti-inflammatory that modulates the immune system
Echinacea: similar in function to curcumin, with additional antiviral properties against respiratory viruses
Garlic: can reduce severity of viruses or even prevent them
Iron: important for immune cell function and carrying oxygen to cells
Raw honey: acts as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial
The supplements recommended above are suggestions, but it's important to consult your doctor for a specific diagnosis and recommendations. A healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients along with enough sleep and exercise won't prevent all illness, but it's a great insurance plan.