As you are likely well aware, keeping your immune system in optimal condition is now more important than ever.
Fortunately, there are many ways to maintain a healthy immune system. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals should be a top priority, along with regular exercise and plenty of sleep.
But it is not always possible to eat perfectly every day, especially if you have a busy schedule. This is where dietary supplements can come in handy. There are plenty of supplements to boost the immune system, from probiotics for your gut microbiome to zinc for proper DNA replication.
And if you are confused about which supplements to choose, do not fret – we have compiled a list of the top 7 supplements to boost your immune system.
Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that support the health of the bacteria already living in your gut. Aside from helping your body digest and absorb nutrients from food, they also help ‘crowd out’ harmful bacteria and yeasts. Probiotics also help your body to absorb important vitamins and minerals.
Your gut microbiome plays a major role in the health of your immune system. In fact, up to 70 percent of your immune system cells are located in the walls of your gut.
Research has shown that probiotics can help promote the production of bacteriocins (bacteria-killing agents) and short-chain fatty acids, lower gut pH, and compete for binding sites on the cells of the gut lining. All of these measures prevent harmful bacteria from establishing themselves in your body.
More importantly, taking probiotics has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infection and flu-like symptoms when a patient’s temperature is higher than 38 °C.
Boosting your immune system should begin with supporting your gut microbiome. As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut” – which means that if your gut isn’t healthy, neither are you.
My favorite immune-supportive probiotic is from Balance One. It’s made with a patented time-release technology called BIO-tract, which gets the probiotic bacteria safely past stomach acid and into your gut. These tablets deliver 15 times more bacteria to your gut than regular probiotics in vegetable capsules. This supplement also contains 12 probiotic strains and 15 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria.
Learn more about Balance One.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins, but few people realize how vital it really is. It’s an essential micronutrient and potent antioxidant. Vitamin C is crucial for proper immune function, contributing to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
Vitamin C can accumulate in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, where it can perform several important immune activities. It is involved in chemotaxis (the movement of important microorganisms) and phagocytosis, which essentially means that it helps to remove harmful pathogens and cell debris from your body.
Vitamin C also has a role in killing harmful microbes. It has also been found to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, which can significantly improve overall immune defenses. Supplementation with vitamin C can help in both preventing and treating respiratory and systemic infections.
Vitamin C has been demonstrated to reduce the length and severity of the common cold.
An excellent source of Vitamin C is Life Extension Vitamin C with Bio Quercetin Phytosome. This immune-booster delivers 1000mg of vitamin C and quercetin encased in a plant-derived phytosome delivery system to boost bioavailability.
Learn more about Life Extension Vitamin C with Bio Quercetin Phytosome.
3. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamins A, D, and omega-3 fatty acids. It not only provides important nutrients for your cells and bones but for your immune system, too.
Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system, bone growth, eye health, and cellular growth. It is also an important antioxidant that helps ward off harmful free radicals that can damage your cells.
Vitamin D is vital for the healthy function of your immune system cells. In fact, the high content of vitamin D in cod liver oil was the reason it was originally used to treat tuberculosis. More recently, in-vitro studies have suggested that vitamin D in cod liver oil plays an important part in activating human macrophages in the defense system, helping ward off serious diseases including mycobacterium tuberculosis.
At the same time, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in cod liver oil demonstrate powerful anti-inflammatory effects while also supporting cellular growth and repair.
Check out Nordic Natural Arctic Optimal Wellness Cod Liver Oil, which is made from fresh, omega-3-rich fish caught in clean waters.
Learn more about Nordic Natural Arctic Optimal Wellness Cod Liver Oil.
Garlic is one of the greatest natural immune-boosters on earth. It is not only proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, but it is also great for warding off the pathogens that cause colds and flu.
One of garlic’s most important antifungal agents is ajoene, an organosulfur compound that has been shown to kill off a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. Ajoene is formed from a compound named allicin and an enzyme named alliinase. When garlic is chopped or crushed, allicin and alliinase come together to form ajoene, the powerful antimicrobial agent.
These compounds work alongside garlic’s other powerful antioxidants to fight off infection and support the immune system. A study by the University of Florida found that taking aged garlic helped participants reduce the severity of their cold and flu symptoms, as well as shortening the duration of those symptoms.
Aged garlic has also been found to support digestion and detoxification while reducing inflammation.
Kyolic Original Garlic is made from organically-grown garlic that has been aged up to 20 months. This optimizes its nutritional content and reduces its pungent odor while also being easier on the digestive system.
Learn more about Kyolic Original Garlic.
5. Vitamin D
Because the vitamin D receptor is expressed on your immune cells, vitamin D supplements boost your immune system function. Studies have shown that they can improve the response of your innate and adaptive immune systems, which helps to protect your body from invading pathogens.
In fact, Vitamin D was used to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune diseases. Low levels of vitamin D are not the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease, but low levels of vitamin D can make autoimmune disease states worse.
Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with a higher risk of infections. In 2010, the National Institute of Health warned that low vitamin D levels can predispose you to frequent colds and influenza.
A good choice for your vitamin D supplement is Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3, which provides 1000IU; the amount recommended for maintaining maintain optimal blood levels. It is free from artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives and comes in easy-to-swallow soft-gels.
Learn more about Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3.
6. Oil of Oregano
Oregano oil contains several healing compounds including carvacrol, thymol, and terpinene. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory problems for centuries and can also be an effective way to shorten and reduce cold and flu symptoms.
A study by the University of West England found that oregano’s active ingredient carvacrol was a more effective antimicrobial than 18 different pharmaceutical drugs. The study showed that even a small amount of carvacrol was enough to sterilize septic water, kill giardia and treat fungal infections.
The researchers concluded that oregano’s ability to kill microbes was even more effective than pharmaceutical antibiotics such as streptomycin and penicillin. This can help you to maintain a healthy gut microbiome as well as support overall immune function.
Oregano oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of clinical strains of serious bacteria such as E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, even when the bacteria had developed different patterns of resistance. This action is likely due to carvacrol, one of the main compounds in oregano oil.
Look for Gaia Herbs Oregano Liquid Capsules, an herbal immune support supplement that is made only with non-GMO ingredients that are rigorously purity-tested.
Learn more about Gaia Herbs Oregano Liquid Capsules.
Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for healthy immune function. It plays a role in several aspects of the immune system, from your skin to the way your lymphocytes work. It is also required for the healing of wounds. It helps your body metabolize many important vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients required for everyday health.
Zinc is vital for the healthy development and function of your immune cells, including neutrophils and natural killer cells. People who are deficient in zinc may suffer poor immune function, particularly when it comes to T lymphocytes, cytokine production, and B lymphocyte help. Low zinc levels may also impair the development of B lymphocytes and antibody production.
Some studies have shown that zinc lozenges may reduce the duration of a cold by up around 1-2 days. Other zinc supplements may also reduce the number of upper respiratory infections in children.
More importantly, zinc has major roles in basic cellular functions such as DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell division, and cell activation. Zinc is also an important antioxidant and helps to stabilize membranes.
You cannot go wrong with Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate – a hypoallergenic, research-based dietary supplement that is bioavailable and generally very well-tolerated.
Learn more about Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate