Supplements work best alongside a healthy, well-balanced diet and should not be relied upon solely to provide what your body needs. Usually, people who have a healthy lifestyle and include a wide variety of foods (especially if sustainably and organically raised) in their diets such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean meats, and fish, likely won’t need to take supplements. But if you’re finding your immune system needs just a bit of a kick, here are the Top 5 we recommend.
If you’d like to know more about what foods are excellent for immunity, check out our article ‘8 excellent Immune-boosting foods‘.
This is probably the favorite among all the immune boosters, simply because without vitamin C, vital immune cells such as phagocytes and T cells would not be able to carry out essential tasks, such as annihilating the bad guys! Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that keeps your cells and tissue strong and healthy and especially important if you smoke; firstly because smokers will usually be vitamin C deficient due to so much being used up when trying to protect the system, and secondly, it protects the respiratory system from pathogens.
Vitamin D is vital for healthy immune function and is produced when the body is exposed to sunlight, so it is especially important that we find other sources of vitamin D in the winter months when sunlight is limited. Vitamin D plays an important part in the innate antimicrobial response, so without it, our immune system will be less efficient in killing off infected cells. Those who are vitamin D deficient, usually find themselves with autoimmune diseases such as IBS, MS or lupus.
Zinc is so brilliant for controlling infections in the body that some say it can even stop a common cold in its tracks! Scientists have confirmed that zinc regulates immune responses in such a way that it prevents out-of-control inflammation, which if it happens, can be very dangerous. Zinc is an important mineral and another potent antioxidant, essential to our overall bodily health.
Echinacea is one of the oldest immune boosters and has been used for centuries by Native American tribes who used the herb to treat bites, illness, and fever. The components of echinacea stimulate and strengthen the immune response by interacting with cells in the immune system and enhancing the activity of natural killer cells (cells that recognize and kill infected cells). Echinacea is also known to enhance the body’s production of hyaluronic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. Those who have autoimmune diseases are usually recommended high doses of echinacea.
Probiotics are excellent for keeping your gut healthy. The epithelial tissues in the intestines are responsible for protecting the body against pathogens and other harmful substances. For epithelial tissues to secrete and regenerate effectively, this requires an adequate amount of gut flora (bacteria), which communicates with the immune system and helps your body to produce healthy vitamins. This ‘good’ bacteria is essential for not only helping you digest food effectively but to also protect you against invading pathogens.