Supplements can boost immunity
We know that eating a balanced, wholesome, nutrient-dense diet that prioritizes plants is one way to keep healthy.
The best way to get vitamins and minerals is through food, but some people turn to supplements as another way to help boost their immune system. Here are some to consider, keeping in mind that it’s important to always consult a health professional before taking any new supplement, as some can have side effects, and to never exceed the recommended dosage.
Abundant in guavas, kiwifruit, bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, and broccoli, among other fruits and veggies, vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
It is a powerful antioxidant and could possibly reduce the risk of some cancers, according to the Dietitians of Canada’s UnlockFood website. It helps heal cuts and wounds, protects you from bruising, and keeps gums healthy. Vitamin C also forms and repairs blood, bones, and other tissues.
Severe deficiencies in vitamin C can lead to bleeding gums, poor healing of wounds, tender joints, loose teeth, and infections.
However, our body doesn’t store excess vitamin C, and whatever we don’t use is excreted in the urine.
This vitamin is essential for supporting certain biochemical reactions of the immune system. Vitamin B6 can be found in chicken, cold-water fish, chickpeas, and green vegetables. A deficiency of B6 can lead to a reduced production of antibodies required to ward off infections. Being low in this vitamin might also diminish the body’s production of white blood cells, including T cells, which regulate immune function and response. Need more? B6 helps the body make interleukin-2, a protein that helps direct the actions of white blood cells.
An essential mineral, zinc is vital for the development, function, and signalling of immune cells. By stimulating particular immune cells, zinc can reduce oxidative stress, speed up wound healing, minimize inflammation, and decrease the risk of age-related diseases, such as pneumonia.
This fat-soluble vitamin plays several roles in the body, one of them being its contribution to immune-system health.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin because the body absorbs it through the sun’s rays, vitamin D has anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. It strengthens the functioning of immune cells, including macrophages and T-cells, which help protect the body against infection. Very low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a greater susceptibility to immune-related disorders, respiratory diseases, viral and bacterial respiratory infections, and decreased lung function.
The health of our microbiome extends far beyond the gut itself; it seems that bacterial balance in our digestive system can affect our overall health, including that of our immune system. Probiotics help achieve that healthy balance of gut bacteria. It’s possible that probiotics can support immune-system health by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. Some probiotics may enhance the body’s production of antibodies.
Echinacea plants are abundant in antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of chronic disease and protect the body from oxidative stress. As a result, echinacea may help keep some infections and viruses at bay, although no studies have conclusively proven more than a possible slight benefit.
It’s possible that oil of oregano has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral effects. One of its main compounds is carvacrol, which research suggests may offer some protection against certain bacteria. Oregano oil can be found as a tincture or in capsule form. Some people swear by it to relieve symptoms of cold and flu.