Getting the right nutrients is key to healthy immune function. That’s why it’s best to eat a well-balanced diet, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep.
But if you’re still looking for an extra boost, you can also try taking immune system support supplements. Here are some that have been shown to work.
Vitamin D is a critical vitamin for immune system health, and a deficiency can result in serious complications. It’s often viewed as a bone-health supplement, but it also can help lower your risk of developing autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS).
It’s important to get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure or other foods that are fortified with it. However, many people live in areas where the sun isn’t high enough during winter to produce sufficient levels of vitamin D.
It’s also important to consider that vitamin D can be toxic if taken in excess, so it’s not recommended to take more than the recommended dosage without a doctor’s supervision. Taking vitamin D too much may lead to kidney failure, calcification of soft tissues throughout the body (including in coronary vessels and heart valves), cardiac arrhythmias, and death.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most important vitamins for immune system support. It’s water-soluble and can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and fortified foods. It’s essential to help maintain a healthy immune system and helps boost your resistance to the common cold and flu.
It is also important for the growth, development and repair of tissues in the body. It’s involved in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that is vital for the growth of connective tissue and aids wound healing. It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting against damage by reactive molecules called free radicals.
It has also been shown that intravenous (IV) administration of vitamin C can reduce respiratory infections, such as the common cold, and pneumonia. However, a high dose of IV vitamin C can cause serious side effects in some people, so it should only be used under close medical supervision.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in immune system support. It protects the body against oxidative stress and also helps to promote proper cell signaling.
Vitamin E also supports the innate and adaptive immune systems by modulating the production of cytokines that regulate immunity and cellular response. The synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1b and tumor necrosis factor a (TNF-a) is reduced in response to vitamin E treatment. In a co-culture of young T cells and macrophages from old mice, T cell proliferation and IL-2 secretion were improved when the two were pre-incubated with 10 ug/mL vitamin E for 4 h.
Another way vitamin E influences immune response is by inhibiting the inflammatory cytokine prostaglandin (PG) E2. This lipid mediator stimulates cyclooxygenase (COX) activity that leads to activation of cAMP. This in turn, suppresses the expression of T cell cytokines and other early signaling events in the innate and adaptive immune system.
Zinc is one of the most important vitamins for immune system support. It helps with the production of white blood cells (also known as lymphocytes), cellular signals and antibodies that protect you against infections, cancers and autoimmunity.
It also boosts the strength and activity of other immune-boosting chemicals called cytokines. These molecules trigger the release of other substances, such as interleukins and tumor necrosis factor alpha, that reduce inflammation, prevent infection, and kill foreign invaders.
Zinc can help you maintain a healthy immune system throughout your life. In addition to helping you fight off colds, pneumonia and other infections, it may also slow the progression of age-related eye disease like macular degeneration (AMD).