Vitamins to Support Immune System Function

vitamins to support immune system

Many people turn to foods or vitamin supplements that are claimed to support immune system function. Yet a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep and stress reduction best prime the immune system for health.

Vitamin C helps immune cells work properly and encourages cellular death, which clears away old cells to make room for new ones (25). These summer fruit-flavoured gummies are packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc and live friendly bacteria.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in many systems and processes throughout the body. It’s perhaps best known as an immune system superstar. It has been shown to support a variety of immune mechanisms, including epithelial barrier function against pathogens, phagocytosis and the generation of reactive oxygen species.

It’s also been found to support the normal maturation of T-cells and B-cells, both critical components of your natural defenses. It’s a powerful antioxidant, which can help reduce the build-up of harmful molecules called free radicals. This can protect against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

You can get enough vitamin C through your diet by eating foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, kale, potatoes, berries and bell peppers. Or you can find it in dietary supplements. Just be sure to choose a supplement with a proper delivery system, which helps ensure your body can absorb the vitamin without it getting flushed out.

Vitamin D

The vitamin D family consists of fat-soluble secosteroids that regulate intestinal calcium absorption and are converted in hepatocytes to the active form 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D). Vitamin D is also known for its immunomodulatory actions.

One of the first observations that linked vitamin D to immune function was the finding that activated lymphocytes express the vitamin D receptor (VDR). VDR expression is induced in mature lymphocytes in the thymus when they proliferate and are exposed to mitogens.

Later studies revealed that 1,25(OH)2D can alter innate and adaptive immune responses by modulating antigen-presenting cells, regulating the cytokine balance, and promoting CD4+ CD25+ Tregs. These non-classical effects have been associated with an improved outcome in TB treatment and disease resolution in patients receiving vitamin D supplementation. However, results from test-tube experiments have yet to be replicated in placebo-controlled trials.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects cells against free radical damage by limiting the production of ROS and decreasing oxidative stress. It is also believed to enhance antibody responses and improve innate immune function.

In vivo studies suggest that vitamin E supplementation can significantly improve the impaired immunity found in older people. For example, supplementation of old mice with 500 ug/kg of -tocopheryl acetate for four weeks enhanced the ability of naive T cells to form an effective immune synapse and increase their IL-2 production. This improved response to bacterial pneumonia infection led to reduced lethal septicemia [50].

Different forms of vitamin E (a-, g-, and d-tocopherol) exert differential effects on immune cell functions. One study showed that while a-tocopherol enhanced mitogen-stimulated lymphocyte proliferation, the other two tocopherol homologues inhibited it [83]. This differentiation between the tocopherols could be due to their different abilities to modulate Klotho expression. The differential cellular effects of the various tocopherols warrant further investigation.

Vitamin B

A group of eight vitamins in the B vitamin family, including folic acid and vitamin B12, support healthy immune system function. Folate and vitamin B12 are required for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.

Studies suggest that riboflavin (vitamin B2) may improve immune response by enhancing leukocyte functions such as phagocytosis and increasing antibody synthesis. Riboflavin also has antioxidant activity, which destroys free radicals that can damage cells.

It is important to note that while certain vitamins and minerals can help to improve immune system function, they cannot boost your immune system above its normal working capability. It is a common misconception that immune boosting foods and supplements can transform your natural immune system into some sort of hulk-strength version, which simply isn’t true. A healthy immune system requires balance and a diverse range of nutrients to function properly. The best way to protect yourself from illness and disease is to maintain a balanced diet that includes all the recommended vitamins and minerals.