The 15 Best Supplements to Boost Your Immune System
Boost Your Immune System. Dietary supplements have become an incredibly important part of our lives as it’s almost impossible to get all the necessary macro and micronutrients from our food. Our soil is depleted, the water is stripped of minerals, and if we’re not paying too much attention, we could easily be eating genetically modified food that’s nutrient-poor.
This leaves us at risk for inflammation and a variety of health issues, putting our immune system into overload. Luckily, there are many natural supplements out there that can help boost your immune system and help you feel your best.
Your Immune System
The greatest role of your immune system is to protect you from germs and other pathogens that are causing infections and inflammation throughout your body. Keeping it strong is crucial for your overall health and longevity, especially during stressful periods that often leave you at risk of catching something.
Your immune system is complex, and it’s made up of a variety of organs, tissues, cells, and immune proteins that work together to help defeat outside invaders. It’s divided into two main parts:
- The innate immune system: a part of your immune system you’re born with
- The adaptive immune system: a part of your immune system you develop throughout your life as you come across different pathogens
The adaptive immune system changes throughout your life, and it’s the one you need to work on strengthening so that it reacts to harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other toxins in a protective way.
15 Best Supplements to Boost Your Immune System
In addition to living a healthy lifestyle and staying away from processed foods, here are some of the best supplements you can add to your diet and help improve your immune function.
1. Vitamin D
Probably one of the most important supplements we’re all deficient in is vitamin D. It can basically only be obtained from the sun’s rays, and is, therefore, a hard micronutrient to acquire. Especially in areas of the world or times of the year when the sun doesn’t show up as often during the day. Vitamin D plays a huge role in the health and strength of your immune system. As a matter of fact, Vitamin D deficiency is associated with autoimmune diseases and an increased risk of infection. Typically, people supplement with anywhere from 800 to 5000 IU (international units), but it’s best to have your levels measured before you start taking a supplement on your own.
Another important supplement for your immune system is Omega-3. These fatty acids have an incredible effect on your immune cells, strengthening them from the membrane to their function and reaction response. You can obtain them from food (fatty fish, nuts, and seeds), or by taking a supplement. There are two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, and it’s best to find a supplement that contains both.
3. Vitamin C
When you think of Vitamin C, your mind probably goes to oranges or pomegranates. Vitamin C is one of the highest antioxidant vitamins and it’s essential for the health of your immune system. It helps stimulate the activity of your body’s white blood cells, and it fights free radicals and their oxidative damage and inflammation. It’s important to note that your intestines have a limited ability to actually absorb vitamin C, so it’s usually recommended not to exceed 1000mg. Still, consult with your physician before starting a vitamin C supplement.
4. B Vitamins
B Vitamins are a group of vitamins that help optimize your system’s functions from head to toe. They are extremely important for your nervous system, but they also play a huge role in the health of your immune system. Vitamin B deficiency can have a drastic impact on your immune system and the way your body defends itself from infections.
5. Vitamin E
Another important vitamin antioxidant, vitamin E helps neutralize free radicals and prevent them from harming your body. It’s usually hard to be deficient in vitamin E, but certain people have found that by taking around 15mg per day can help them throughout the seasonal viral and bacterial infections that always seem to come this time of year.
Zinc is an important trace mineral that helps strengthen your immune system. It plays a huge role in the development and creation of your immune system cells, and it’s often times called the “gatekeeper of immune function” as it helps protect your immune tissue barriers to defend against any pathogens. Usually found in foods like meat, shellfish, eggs, beans, legumes, and whole grains, it’s rarely ever taken in the right daily amounts. That’s why supplementation is often encouraged, especially during pregnancy.
The active component of turmeric, curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and can help protect against infections. Many studies showcase its ability to strengthen your immune system function and optimize the communication between the immune cells. If you’re using plenty of turmeric in your kitchen, always make sure to add pepper (and preferably white pepper) as it helps activate curcumin.
8. Camu Camu Extract
The extract from this delicious berry is widely known for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. It’s extremely rich in vitamin C, and it’s easily absorbable by your intestines. You can usually find it in powder form and it’s easy to add to smoothies, smoothie bowls, or even healthy desserts.
9. Elderberry Extract
A vast amount of studies show the incredible immune-boosting properties of elderberry (especially black elderberry) against bacteria and viruses that typically cause upper respiratory tract infections. It has also been shown to reduce the duration of infections and colds, as well as facilitate relief for those struggling with the flu. Elderberry berries can often be found on farmer’s markets or in specialized stores, but this supplement is usually taken in syrup form, which is how you’ll find it in most places.
This sweet and delicious treat has been studied for its positive effects on the immune system. Apparently, it can notably modulate the immune system with its anti-inflammatory properties, helping fight off toxins, pathogens, and even cancer cells. When looking for good-quality honey, always make sure to read the source and the ingredient list. If you can get your hands on Manuka honey, invest in a jar – your body and your health will be grateful.
11. Astragalus Root
Astragalus is one of the most common ingredients you’ll find in many immune-boosting supplements. It’s praised for its ability to strengthen your body’s immune function. As a matter of fact, it’s been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Nowadays, multiple studies showcase not only its antiviral and antibacterial properties, but also an efficient relief from the negative chemotherapy symptoms. It can typically be found in many forms from tinctures to capsules and tablets, and it can be taken in conjunction with other adaptogens or as a standalone.
Known for its amazing health-promoting properties for centuries, ginger is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal. Some studies even show its ability to act as an efficient pain reliever. It’s especially known to help with nausea (pregnancy) and digestive issues, helping lower inflammation and promote overall health. It’s often combined with vitamin C in order to further amplify its protective properties.
Selenium is an important trace element that’s become deficient in our diets due to soil depletion. It never used to be one of those minerals we need to pay special attention to, but it’s come to the surface that supplementing with selenium might be exactly what we need to feel better and strengthen our immune system. Studies show it helps boost the production of white blood cells, increasing the body’s ability to fight off infection and inflammation. Additionally, adequate levels of selenium are essential for thyroid health and function.
Often found in cold-fighting and cough-suppressing medications, echinacea is one of the most popular immune-boosting herbs in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s vastly studied for its positive impact on the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and others. Its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties also make it suitable for helping reduce symptoms of other diseases such as fungal infections and urinary tract disorders.
15. Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is often linked to weight loss and detox, but it’s due to its antioxidant properties that it does wonders for your overall immune system. High levels of antioxidants help fight free radicals and their oxidative cell damage, lowering the risk of infection and other diseases.
There are many things we can do to create and maintain a healthy immune system, from paying attention to our diet and activity levels to focusing on reducing our stress levels and taking immune-boosting supplements. Improve your immune health by checking if you’re deficient in any of the abovementioned micronutrients and supplement if needed.
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