Looking for a natural supplement to help you get through this hard time? We’ve gathered some of the best natural ingredients your immune system needs.
*Note: No supplement will cure or prevent disease. Right now it is especially important to understand that no supplement, diet, or other lifestyle modification other than social distancing (physically distancing yourself) and good hygiene practices such as the regular washing of hands can protect you from COVID-19.*
It’s no surprise that using products from plants can boost our health. We have used oranges and lemons to treat scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) since those 18th century sailors discovered the cause of their bleeding gums.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables has long been considered the foundation of good health. So which natural supplements help boost the immune system?
Elderberry extract is rich in vitamins and minerals and is thought to have anti-viral properties.
Reduces upper respiratory tract infections
Supplementation with elderberry has been found to significantly reduce upper respiratory symptoms.
Elderberry extract was given to 312 economy class aircraft passengers departing from Australia. The passengers who consumed the elderberry juice preparation experienced less severe cold symptoms and had a shorter duration of infection.
Boosts antibody levelsAt low doses, curcumin has been shown to increase antibody levels, which increases our ability to fight microbial invaders.
Potent ImmunomodulatorIn lab tests, curcumin activated immune cells which include T cells, B cells and macrophages. These are the major players in our immune response.
Powerful anti-oxidantVitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is thought to help reduce inflammation by mopping up excess free radicals produced by the immune system as it fights infection.
Reduces the intensity and length of the common coldVitamin C is thought to reduce the intensity and length of a cold if taken early enough. There are multiple studies that show conflicting results, which is often the case in nutritional science. Some people show very positive results to supplementation, while others show no change. Supplementation may be something you might want to try to see whether it works for you or not. It’s also important to remember that the body cannot manufacture or store vitamin C so you need regular intake from food or supplementation
ZincZinc is essential for the healthy functioning of your immune system. It is involved in signalling between the innate and acquired immune system.
Decreased incidence of respiratory tract infectionsStudies have shown using zinc supplementation can be beneficial in cases of pneumonia, acute lower respiratory tract infection and the common cold. The elderly are most at risk from zinc deficiency, and because zinc is not stored in the body, it needs to be consumed regularly through diet or with the help of supplementation.
Can supplements help us boost our immune system?
The immune system is finely tuned. Like an engine it needs all of the pieces to work properly. If something is missing, then it most likely will not work at its best.
Supplements can boost the performance of your immune system if you’re deficient in one of the nutrients it needs to perform well, like zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D.
Plant products like elderberry and turmeric contain a mixture of compounds that can be beneficial. Wholefoods like these contain multiple compounds that work together and can sometimes magnify the benefits of a nutrient.
Ideally, you will get all of your nutrients from whole foods, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Especially for those nutrients the body doesn’t store like zinc, or cannot manufacture in the winter like vitamin D.
In these instances, supplements can help fill in the gaps and boost your immune function.
What else can I do to boost my immune system?Eating a whole food diet rich in fruit and vegetables is one of the best things you can do to support your immune function, but it certainly isn’t the only thing. Foods that boost the immune system:
- Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C
- Broccoli is rich in vitamins A,C and E
- Turmeric contains curcumin
- Shellfish such as oysters, crabs and mussels are rich in zinc (Your dietary requirements must be taken in consideration in this case).
- Getting more than 7 hours of quality sleep
- Exercising at mild to moderate intensity
- Quit smoking
- Reduce stress
- Find Joy ← You can blame Marie Kondo for that one
To sum upThe best way to boost your immune system is to eat a healthy diet, and have a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes life gets in the way and you need additional support. Topping up nutritional deficiencies with supplements can boost your nutritional status so your immune system can work at peak performance. References:
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358962/ (historical use)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19710611/ (zinc)
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418896/ (zinc)
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/ (vitamin C)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30670267/ (elderberry)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27023596/ (elderberry)
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11399518/ (elderberry)
- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464619300313?via%3Dihub (elderberry)