These Are the Vitamins to Take for a Stronger Immune System

You probably know how important the state of your immune system is to your overall health. During cold and flu season, you can hear everyone talking about all the things they are doing to take care of themselves. And right now, during a global pandemic, everyone is wondering how to boost their immune systems. If you are asking yourself this exact question, the answer is a bit complex.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the immune system is a network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies), and chemicals. It protects your body from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that cause infections and diseases.
But since our bodies are different, it means that our immune systems are also different. "Signs that a person has a weak immune system are really individual," explains Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN of Maya Feller Nutrition of Brooklyn. "If you experience significant systemic changes or symptoms, it is important that you contact your GP or specialist so that they can help determine the appropriate course of action."
While your body and immune system may have very specific needs, there are some general habits that you can learn to take care of yourself. A holistic approach helps because the immune system is made up of all parts of the body. Feller recommends starting with these four points: limiting exposure to toxins (including smoking cessation and drinking in moderation), time for physical activity, establishing and maintaining good sleep hygiene, and nourishing your body with an abundance of phytonutrient-rich vitamins and minerals.
Paying attention to your immune system should be a year-round task and not something you only worry about during cold and flu seasons. "It's important to look at the immune system like a muscle - you have to exercise it to optimize its function," said The Well's chief medical officer Frank Lipman, MD. "Especially at times like this, it's not about boosting your immune system. It's about having a well-oiled, functioning immune system so that it functions properly when it is needed. You don't want it to overwork and possibly trigger a cytokine storm. But you don't want it to underperform either. "
But sometimes you can do all of this to take care of your immune system and still need a little extra help. "Dietary supplements can help with some of the above nutrients if you are unable to get adequate amounts in your diet, are deficient, have increased needs, and / or are more prone to colds, viruses, etc.," says Tamar Samuels, MS, RDN, NBC-HWC, a Registered Dietitian, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and Co-Founder of Culina Health.
Taking nutritional supplements should be your second step after following healthy diet and lifestyle habits. However, if you do choose this route, it is important that you speak with your doctor, nutritionist, or other health care professional before beginning a new treatment regimen. Some supplements can affect your pre-existing medical conditions or the medications you are taking. Your doctor may even order specific tests to determine your needs and recommend personalized dosages from them. And remember to do your research when buying any dietary supplements - read the labels, check the recommended dosages, and look for the brands yourself.
With this in mind, dietitians and doctors shared some common vitamins and nutrients (and their supplement forms) that can support the immune system below.
Vitamin D
Hum Nutrition Here Comes the Sun D3 ($ 12)
Vitamin D plays a role in the production and proliferation of important immune cells, and its active form helps regulate several antimicrobial proteins, adds Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, a registered nutritionist and founder of Street Smart Nutrition.
Sources of vitamin D are few, but you can get the nutrient from certain foods like fish and egg yolks. Your body produces vitamin D from sun exposure, but this can be difficult during the winter months. Because it can be difficult to get enough of them naturally, many people are deficient and need to take supplements on a daily basis.
"In general, it's important to get high levels of vitamin D. Most people can start on 5000 IU (125 µg) per day. People with autoimmune diseases should probably start on 10,000 IU per day," says Dr. Steven Gundry, Author, Medical Director at the International Heart and Lung Institute, and Founder of GundryMD.
GundryMD Vitamin D 5000 ($ 25)
vitamin C
Naturally Made Vitamin C ($ 8)
This vitamin helps fight colds, boosts antioxidant activity, and helps absorb other nutrients like iron, Samuels says. "Research shows that high vitamin C intake is linked to a reduced risk of common chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer and certain neurological disorders," she explains. "When it comes to fighting off infection, the immune-boosting powers of vitamin C are likely related to its antioxidant properties. That is, vitamin C (which is itself an antioxidant) helps regenerate other antioxidants (like vitamin E) in the body, which causes it decreases the number of harmful free radicals that can aid infection. "
Increasing your vitamin C levels can also decrease the duration of the common cold, adds Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, a registered nutritionist and founder of Real Nutrition.
Garden of Life Vitamin C ($ 25)
Vitamin A.
NOW Food Vitamin A ($ 5)
"Similar to vitamin C, this nutrient can help support the function and integrity of the cells in the barriers we rely on in the skin, airways and GI tract," explains Harbstreet. "Vitamin A is also essential for T and B cell lymphocytes, which are involved in an antibody response to an antigen in the body."
Vitamin A is found in plant foods like carrots and pumpkin in the form of carotenoids, which are antioxidants that help fight inflammation.
365 Everyday Carrots ($ 2)
B vitamins
Thorne Basic B Complex ($ 23)
"B vitamins - especially vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (or folic acid) and vitamin B12 - support a strong immune function," explains Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, cook, nutritionist, Reiki master and founder of the Culinary Alchemy program. "A deficiency in vitamin B6 is linked to a decrease in antibody production, among other functions that weaken the immune system. A deficiency in vitamins B9 and B12 can 'drastically change' the immune response through a variety of processes. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products A vitamin B12 supplement is especially important if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. "
TwinLab B-12 points ($ 10)
zinc
Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance ($ 6)
Samuels says that zinc is an essential mineral that must be ingested through food and that you must consume it on a daily basis because the body lacks the ability to store the mineral. "Zinc supports the function of immune cells like neutrophils and macrophages," she explains. As a result, a zinc deficiency can lead to a higher risk of infection. You've likely seen zinc lozenges at your pharmacy. Although the research is contradicting, it is believed that the nutrient may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms associated with the common cold by preventing it from penetrating Virus in the cells prevents and prevents it from multiplying in the body. "
Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, a registered nutritionist and co-founder of Culina Health, adds that zinc can relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough.
Garden of Life Zinc ($ 10)
Prebiotics and probiotics
Seed Daily Synbiotic ($ 50)
"The digestive and immune systems are interrelated, and a balanced digestive system is critical to immune function," says Poon. "In addition to a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, adding probiotics to your diet can support your digestive tract by adding good bacteria that support a balanced microbiome. Prebiotics are fibers that serve as fuel for probiotics."
The Nue Co. Prebiotic + Probiotic ($ 75)
Vitamin E.
Naturally Made Vitamin E ($ 14)
According to Rissetto, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off infection. It can be found in food sources such as nuts and seeds, or in supplement form.
Terrasoul Superfoods Sunflower Seeds ($ 12)
elder
Nature's Way Sambucus Elderberry Gums ($ 12)
According to Lipman, elderberry provides powerful antioxidants that aid the immune response. Elderberries come in a variety of forms, from syrup to gum.
Maryruth Organics Store Organic Elderberry Syrup Black Sambucus Liquid ($ 20)
N-acetylcysteine ​​(NAC)
The Well Clean-Up Crew ($ 42)
"This is an all-round supplement that supports detoxification, respiratory health and muscle recovery after exercise," says Lipman. "NAC is a precursor to glutathione, the body's most powerful antioxidant."
Life Extension N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine ​​($ 11)
Arabinogalactan
Pure Encapsulations Arabinogalactan ($ 38)
"This supplement comes from a natural fiber found on the larch tree, a conifer that thrives in the cooler climates of the north," explains Poon. "Arabinogalactan is an incredible substance that studies have shown to be particularly useful in helping the body fight the common cold."
Thorne Arabinex ($ 47)
Curcumin
The Well Turmeric Protect ($ 56)
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric roots. Lipman says it's best known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also promotes healthy aging and has benefits for the liver, joints, and eyes.
BioSchwartz Turmeric Curcumin with BioPerine ($ 19)
selenium
Pure Encapsulations Selenium ($ 12)
"[It] is important for immune system health and can also help prevent or reduce your susceptibility to the flu. You can easily meet your needs by eating two Brazil nuts a day," says Shapiro.
I'm a Nut Raw Brazil Nuts ($ 19)
Astragalus
Astragalus sun potion ($ 57)
"This plant has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years," explains Poon. "Aside from its mythical therapeutic status, astragalus has many evidence-based benefits, including immune support, preventing heart disease and diabetes, and increasing strength and endurance."
It's important to note that people taking immunosuppressants, anticoagulants, and diuretics shouldn't take astragalus, she adds.
Gaia Herbs Astragalus Supreme ($ 13)
Next up: 9 Expert-Approved Vitamin Brands You Need to Know About
This article originally appeared on The Thirty
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