During the current pandemic – now more than ever – we are all turning to immune-boosting supplements. That is a given. And we all know now that certain vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc are good for immunity, because they have all received a lot of attention in the press. You probably know them already. However, there are many other immune-boosting supplements that don’t get the same press and, in my expert opinion, there are highly effective ways to build an immunity force field around your body. I recommend a host of other supplements to my clients through Urban Healing. Here is a quick run-through of the supplements I think you should also be taking that aren’t in the spotlight.
Vitamin A – 600 μg once a day provides an immunity force field
Vitamin A maintains a number of immune cell types from both the innate and acquired immune system including modulation of T-helper cells and secretory IgA. In layman’s terms: it helps provide an immune force field for the body. And this is why Vitamin A is seen as one of the best immune system boosters. Vitamin A comes from retinol and it is generally low in the average diet; the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed 44% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin A.
NAC 300 mg twice a day is a lung booster
NAC (N-Acetyl cysteine) is a sulphur compound that increases the body’s production of the antioxidant glutathione, including levels within the lungs. Low levels of lung glutathione have been shown in medical literature to be present in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), as well as in viral and bacterial pneumonia. When NAC was given to ARDS patients their outcomes were improved. Because of this impact on lung health, I believe taking NAC is an excellent choice to be added to your immune-boosting supplements. I recommend taking Adaptivir Immune Support Tonic.
Beta glucans can boost immunity even more
β-Glucans are plant chemicals found in mushrooms and other foods such as oats. They have been long known to be one of the best immune system boosters. β-Glucans provide immune system support by enhancing certain white blood cells including macrophages, neutrophils, and Natural Killer cells. Studies conducted with shiitake extracts in vitro and in animal models reveal β-Glucans immune-boosting effects, increasing innate immunity as well as showing antiviral effects. They have also been shown to be immune-modulating. These make medicinal mushrooms or a beta-glucan extract to be great immune-boosting supplements.
Probiotic and prebiotic food will boost your gut health and thus your immunity
The gut microbiota is the name given to the rich community of microbes that live in the intestine. They have many effects on health including effects on the immune system particularly through T-cell modulation and their related anti-inflammatory cytokines. Prebiotic and probiotic supplementation may boost the immune system and even reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections. Recent studies strongly suggest probiotic supplementation in pretreatment and during acute infection. The microbiota can be boosted by eating foods such as fermented vegetables, like kimchi, and prebiotic foods like asparagus and onions, and herbal medicines like astragalus and dandelion. As well as dietary changes a prebiotic or probiotic can be added as part of your immune-boosting supplements.
Quercetin 500 mg a day will be anti-inflammatory
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in high amounts in nettle leaf, red onion, and apples. It is known for its anti-inflammatory effect. In addition to the antiviral properties of quercetin, this potent chemical also was shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on chemicals like NLRP3 inflammasome which is involved in ARDS. Which is why this supplement is regularly suggested by health care providers as one of the top immune-boosting supplements.
Selenium 40mcg once a day will help regulate immune response
The immune system relies on adequate dietary selenium intake. Adequate levels of selenium are important for initiating immunity, but they are also involved in regulating excessive immune responses. Selenium levels also have an impact on the severity of viral infection, in selenium deficiency, benign strains of coxsackie and influenza viruses can mutate to highly pathogenic strains. There have been some direct studies on the effects of selenium deficiency and the recent global pandemic, a review of these studies suggested that at-risk groups should be given Vitamin D, Zinc, and Selenium supplementation. Although many think of vitamin D and Zinc supplementation few think of selenium when choosing their immune-boosting supplements.
Fish oils will fight inflammation
We often think of fish oil in terms of heart health and joint pain rather than part of immune-boosting supplements. However, maintaining the balance of inflammation in the body is a vital part of preventing severe symptoms in viral infections. Omega-3 oils are found in fish and certain plant sources like hemp seed and are seen as anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 oils are found in many cooking oils like canola, sunflower seed, and soybean oil but not in olive oil. A low ratio of omega-6 relative to omega-3 fats can shift the production of prostaglandins from the series-2 (inflammatory) to the series-3 (anti-inflammatory).
Experts suggest an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of 1:1 to 2:1, which is in alignment with traditional diets, being the best bet for keeping inflammation in check. In most western diets the ratio is more like 15:1. Eating fish twice a week is a good way to boost intake of Omega-3 fats although many find a fish oil supplement more convenient and it has been suggested a preventative measure in the pandemic to help put the body in an anti-inflammatory state.
Plant foods contain thousands of phytonutrients, which have been categorized into phytonutrient families. One of the groups of plant compounds shown to be helpful for boosting immunity are polyphenols, a category consisting of more than 8,000 different compounds such as flavonoids (e.g., isoflavones and anthocyanins) and non-flavonoids (e.g., phenolic acids and stilbenes).
These compounds are ubiquitously found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. On a physiological level, they can serve as foodstuff for the gut microbiome, resulting in the production of favorable metabolites for immune-boosting. At the molecular level, they are thought to regulate immune function through several mechanisms, including favorably modifying inflammatory pathways. This, coupled with their anti-inflammatory properties, they can inhibit oxidative enzymes responsible for free radical generation. A plant-filled diet is one of the best immune system boosters. But as well as adding fruits and veggies to the diet, polyphenols can also be added as part of your immune-boosting supplements.
Photo credit: The 2004 computer animated superhero film, The Incredibles. A Robin Shobin favorite film. It stars the voices of Holly Hunter, Jason Lee and Samuel L. Jackson to name a few.