Your immune system is very important when it comes to overall health. The immune system is made up of various parts and processes. You are born with some immunity defenses which is referred to as your innate immune system. You also build up immunity throughout your life which is called acquired immunity. This develops as you are exposed to different types of pathogens and your immune system builds and stores up cells to fight against these invaders. These cells are stored up in your blood and are called white blood cells and antibodies.
Avoiding illness can be difficult but you can build up your immune system defenses by taking care of your health. Consuming a healthy balanced diet, exercising, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep are all methods to help keep your immune system strong. Also, some research has shown evidence suggesting that supplements can help support your immune system. Be advised that you should always consult with your healthcare provider before you start taking any new supplements.
Vitamin C is a well-known vitamin that aids in building a strong immune system and has a lot of health benefits. It is an antioxidant which means that it fights free radicals in the body. Free radicals can cause cancer and other diseases. Secondly, it helps repair tissues, cell growth, and absorb iron. Research completed in 2018, suggests that Vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold by half a day (Ran, et al. 2018).
Vitamin C can be consumed through diet or an over-the-counter supplement. Vitamin C can be commonly found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C for adults is 90 mg daily for men and 75 mg daily for women.
Vitamin D is another well-known vitamin that is recommended often. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D due to diet or environment. Vitamin D is very important to immunity because it helps reduce inflammation, aid in cell growth, metabolism, and absorption of other important nutrients. A research study done in 2017 concluded that Vitamin D supplementation helps protect the body against acute respiratory tract infections (Martineau, et al. 2017).
Vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin from the sun, from foods, and supplements. It can be found in foods such as fish, meats, and fortified foods. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D for adults depends on age and is 600 IU to 800 IU.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that can help the immune system and metabolism. It also has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have suggested that people with zinc deficiency are at an increased risk of viruses, diarrhea, and respiratory disease (Calder, et al., 2020).
Thankfully zinc deficiency is not a common problem in the United States. Zinc can be commonly found in some kinds of seafood, meats, beans, nuts, grains, and dairy products. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc for adults is 8 – 12 mg daily.
Taking care of your immune system is essential to aid in the prevention of illness. Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress help keep your immune system strong. Making sure you get enough vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc could help your immune system prevent illness. Speak with your healthcare professional before you start any new supplement.
Calder PC, Carr AC, Gombart AF, Eggersdorfer M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 23;12(4):1181. doi: 10.3390/nu12041181. PMID: 32340216; PMCID: PMC7230749.
DeSoto, L. (2022, February 2). Supplements for immunity: Benefits and limits. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/do-supplements-really-benefit-the-immune-system#How-to-naturally-boost-the-immune-system
Martineau, A. R., Jolliffe, D. A., Hooper, R. L., Greenberg, L., Aloia, J. F., Bergman, P., Dubnov-Raz, G., Esposito, S., Ganmaa, D., Ginde, A. A., Goodall, E. C., Grant, C. C., Griffiths, C. J., Janssens, W., Laaksi, I., Manaseki-Holland, S., Mauger, D., Murdoch, D. R., Neale, R., … Camargo, C. A. (2017, February 15). Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. The BMJ. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583
Ran, L., Zhao, W., Wang, J., Wang, H., Zhao, Y., Tseng, Y., & Bu, H. (2018, July 5). Extra dose of vitamin C based on a daily supplementation shortens the common cold: A meta-analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials. BioMed Research International. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/1837634/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, October 5). Office of dietary supplements – dietary supplements in the time of covid-19. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/COVID19-HealthProfessional/#h16