You know to have a bulletproof immune system, you need to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a perfectly balanced diet, enough rest, and regular exercise, in addition to having an impeccable, stress-free life.
Sounds easy, right?
If you are like most people, you know that it's not always possible to do everything you know you should to have a robust immune system. In these cases, supplements could help to fill gaps in critical immune-boosting nutrients in your diet.
Here, look at the science behind seven supplements well-known to support the immune system. Remember that supplements could act differently in different people, so it's essential that you check with your healthcare team before following a supplement regime.
7 Supplements That May Help Boost Your Immune System
Zinc is found in billions of cells in the body. It has a vital role in giving us the ability to smell and taste, plays an essential role in cell division and wound healing, and is an important component for the body's natural immune system.
Expert reviews on zinc supplements showed that when you take zinc as a supplement regularly for at least 5 months, it can reduce your risk of becoming sick with the common cold. Additionally, when you take zinc supplements within 24 hours of first showing symptoms of a cold, it can help reduce the severity of symptoms or the number of days you are ill with a cold.
Selenium is a trace mineral needed in the body for reproductive health, normal thyroid gland function, and DNA production. It is an antioxidant mineral, meaning that it can help protect the body from damage caused by infections and free radicals.
Research shows that selenium supplementation for three months helps improve older adults' immune function by increasing the function and expression of immune system cells. Getting enough selenium is also crucial to supporting gut health.
In supplement form, it can be found as selenomethionine and sodium selenate. In general, selenomethionine has higher antioxidant activity and is more efficiently utilized by the body.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health, but it is also vital for nervous system function and supporting the immune system in fighting off bacteria that could cause illness or infections.
Vitamin D has been closely studied for its role in the immune systems. Researchers have found that it likely has a role in regulating critical immune cells and the inflammatory response when dangerous pathogens are present.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D supplementation may help protect against acute respiratory tract infections and enhance immunity against certain bacteria. Vitamin D has recently gained a lot of attention because a deficiency in the vitamin may increase the severity and mortality risk of people infected with COVID-19.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat naturally found in foods such as fish and some nuts and seeds. It is also found in supplements, like fish oil.
There are several types of Omega-3 fatty acids that have different roles in the body. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), for example, is almost exclusively found in fish and other marine sources, and it has an essential role in eye and brain health and development. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) has a vital role in supporting heart health, and it is found in seed sources.
All types of omega-3 fatty acids, regardless of the source, have anti-inflammatory properties, making them an immune system ally. A recent study demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids can support and regulate both innate immune cells and adaptive immune cells, making it essential to get enough of the nutrient in the diet.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is perhaps the nutrient best known to help support the immune system. It has powerful antioxidant properties and can help scavenge free radicals that can damage cells and cause inflammation. Additionally, vitamin C is vital for collagen production, which is needed by the body to help heal wounds, and it helps to increase the absorption of iron.
Since vitamin C has an important role in immune health, it is essential to get enough vitamin C from the diet or supplements.
6. N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
Compared to the other nutrients on this list, N-Acetylcysteine is quite a mouthful. It is a substance that has been used for the treatment of many illnesses and disorders, including exposure to harmful pesticides. NAC has powerful antioxidant activity and helps restore the levels of glutathione, a naturally-occurring antioxidant, in the body.
The interest in NAC has grown in the last several months, as it is being explored as a potential prevention and treatment therapy for cases of severe COVID-19.
7. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are "good" bacteria that live in the gut and have an essential role in digestion, proper nutrition, brain health, and immune health. They actively fight against potentially harmful microorganisms that come into the digestive system through the food and drinks we consume. They also help to modulate inflammation and stimulate the immune system when the body is exposed to harmful viruses and bacteria.
Prebiotics are essentially "food" for probiotic bacteria, and they help to create an environment in the gut where probiotics can thrive.
Your body naturally establishes probiotic population in the gut through exposure to the environment. However, when you've taken antibiotics, have had digestive issues, or have a generally compromised immune system, taking probiotics and prebiotics in supplement form can help to deliver a new, healthy population of good bacteria to the gut to re-establish gut health.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is essential to keeping your immune system in tip-top shape and preparing it if you are exposed to harmful bacteria or viruses. In reality, it is difficult to consistently meet dietary, sleep, and physical activity goals. Many people's immune systems may benefit from taking supplements, including several of those we mention here.
Are you wondering where you can get the best quality versions of these supplements? Check out the shop to browse our diverse selection of immune-boosting supplements