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Last Updated on August 19, 2021

Best 7 Supplements to Boost Immune System

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Best 7 Supplements to Boost Immune System

As you are likely well aware, keeping your immune system in optimal condition is now more important than ever.

Fortunately, there are many ways to maintain a healthy immune system. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals should be a top priority, along with regular exercise and plenty of sleep.

But it is not always possible to eat perfectly every day, especially if you have a busy schedule. This is where dietary supplements can come in handy. There are plenty of supplements to boost the immune system, from probiotics for your gut microbiome to zinc for proper DNA replication.

And if you are confused about which supplements to choose, do not fret – we have compiled a list of the top 7 supplements to boost your immune system.

1. Probiotics

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria that support the health of the bacteria already living in your gut. Aside from helping your body digest and absorb nutrients from food, they also help ‘crowd out’ harmful bacteria and yeasts. Probiotics also help your body to absorb important vitamins and minerals.

Your gut microbiome plays a major role in the health of your immune system. In fact, up to 70 percent of your immune system cells are located in the walls of your gut.

Research has shown that probiotics can help promote the production of bacteriocins (bacteria-killing agents) and short-chain fatty acids, lower gut pH, and compete for binding sites on the cells of the gut lining. All of these measures prevent harmful bacteria from establishing themselves in your body.

More importantly, taking probiotics has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infection and flu-like symptoms when a patient’s temperature is higher than 38 °C.[1]

Boosting your immune system should begin with supporting your gut microbiome. As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut” – which means that if your gut isn’t healthy, neither are you.

My favorite immune-supportive probiotic is from Balance One. It’s made with a patented time-release technology called BIO-tract, which gets the probiotic bacteria safely past stomach acid and into your gut. These tablets deliver 15 times more bacteria to your gut than regular probiotics in vegetable capsules. This supplement also contains 12 probiotic strains and 15 billion CFUs of probiotic bacteria.

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    Learn more about Balance One.

    2. Vitamin C

    Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins, but few people realize how vital it really is. It’s an essential micronutrient and potent antioxidant. Vitamin C is crucial for proper immune function, contributing to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

    Vitamin C can accumulate in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, where it can perform several important immune activities. It is involved in chemotaxis (the movement of important microorganisms) and phagocytosis, which essentially means that it helps to remove harmful pathogens and cell debris from your body.

    Vitamin C also has a role in killing harmful microbes. It has also been found to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, which can significantly improve overall immune defenses. Supplementation with vitamin C can help in both preventing and treating respiratory and systemic infections.[2]

    Vitamin C has been demonstrated to reduce the length and severity of the common cold.

    An excellent source of Vitamin C is Life Extension Vitamin C with Bio Quercetin Phytosome. This immune-booster delivers 1000mg of vitamin C and quercetin encased in a plant-derived phytosome delivery system to boost bioavailability.

      Learn more about Life Extension Vitamin C with Bio Quercetin Phytosome.

      3. Cod Liver Oil

      Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamins A, D, and omega-3 fatty acids. It not only provides important nutrients for your cells and bones but for your immune system, too.

      Vitamin A is essential for a healthy immune system, bone growth, eye health, and cellular growth. It is also an important antioxidant that helps ward off harmful free radicals that can damage your cells.

      Vitamin D is vital for the healthy function of your immune system cells. In fact, the high content of vitamin D in cod liver oil was the reason it was originally used to treat tuberculosis. More recently, in-vitro studies have suggested that vitamin D in cod liver oil plays an important part in activating human macrophages in the defense system, helping ward off serious diseases including mycobacterium tuberculosis.[3]

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      At the same time, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in cod liver oil demonstrate powerful anti-inflammatory effects while also supporting cellular growth and repair.

      Check out Nordic Natural Arctic Optimal Wellness Cod Liver Oil, which is made from fresh, omega-3-rich fish caught in clean waters.

        Learn more about Nordic Natural Arctic Optimal Wellness Cod Liver Oil.

        4. Garlic

        Garlic is one of the greatest natural immune-boosters on earth. It is not only proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol, but it is also great for warding off the pathogens that cause colds and flu.

        One of garlic’s most important antifungal agents is ajoene, an organosulfur compound that has been shown to kill off a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. Ajoene is formed from a compound named allicin and an enzyme named alliinase. When garlic is chopped or crushed, allicin and alliinase come together to form ajoene, the powerful antimicrobial agent.

        These compounds work alongside garlic’s other powerful antioxidants to fight off infection and support the immune system. A study by the University of Florida found that taking aged garlic helped participants reduce the severity of their cold and flu symptoms, as well as shortening the duration of those symptoms.[4]

        Aged garlic has also been found to support digestion and detoxification while reducing inflammation.

        Kyolic Original Garlic is made from organically-grown garlic that has been aged up to 20 months. This optimizes its nutritional content and reduces its pungent odor while also being easier on the digestive system.

          Learn more about Kyolic Original Garlic.

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          5. Vitamin D

          Because the vitamin D receptor is expressed on your immune cells, vitamin D supplements boost your immune system function. Studies have shown that they can improve the response of your innate and adaptive immune systems, which helps to protect your body from invading pathogens.

          In fact, Vitamin D was used to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics.

          Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to autoimmune diseases. Low levels of vitamin D are not the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease, but low levels of vitamin D can make autoimmune disease states worse.

          Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with a higher risk of infections. In 2010, the National Institute of Health warned that low vitamin D levels can predispose you to frequent colds and influenza.[5]

          A good choice for your vitamin D supplement is Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3, which provides 1000IU; the amount recommended for maintaining maintain optimal blood levels. It is free from artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives and comes in easy-to-swallow soft-gels.

            Learn more about Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3.

            6. Oil of Oregano

            Oregano oil contains several healing compounds including carvacrol, thymol, and terpinene. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory problems for centuries and can also be an effective way to shorten and reduce cold and flu symptoms.

            A study by the University of West England found that oregano’s active ingredient carvacrol was a more effective antimicrobial than 18 different pharmaceutical drugs. The study showed that even a small amount of carvacrol was enough to sterilize septic water, kill giardia and treat fungal infections.[6]

            The researchers concluded that oregano’s ability to kill microbes was even more effective than pharmaceutical antibiotics such as streptomycin and penicillin. This can help you to maintain a healthy gut microbiome as well as support overall immune function.

            Oregano oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of clinical strains of serious bacteria such as E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, even when the bacteria had developed different patterns of resistance. This action is likely due to carvacrol, one of the main compounds in oregano oil.

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            Look for Gaia Herbs Oregano Liquid Capsules, an herbal immune support supplement that is made only with non-GMO ingredients that are rigorously purity-tested.

              Learn more about Gaia Herbs Oregano Liquid Capsules.

              7. Zinc

              Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for healthy immune function. It plays a role in several aspects of the immune system, from your skin to the way your lymphocytes work. It is also required for the healing of wounds. It helps your body metabolize many important vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients required for everyday health.

              Zinc is vital for the healthy development and function of your immune cells, including neutrophils and natural killer cells. People who are deficient in zinc may suffer poor immune function, particularly when it comes to T lymphocytes, cytokine production, and B lymphocyte help. Low zinc levels may also impair the development of B lymphocytes and antibody production.

              Some studies have shown that zinc lozenges may reduce the duration of a cold by up around 1-2 days. Other zinc supplements may also reduce the number of upper respiratory infections in children.[7]

              More importantly, zinc has major roles in basic cellular functions such as DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell division, and cell activation. Zinc is also an important antioxidant and helps to stabilize membranes.

              You cannot go wrong with Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate – a hypoallergenic, research-based dietary supplement that is bioavailable and generally very well-tolerated.

                Learn more about Pure Encapsulations Zinc Picolinate.

                More Supplements for a Healthier Body

                Featured photo credit: Kaylee Garrett via unsplash.com

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                Reference

                [1] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Prospective study of probiotic supplementation results in immune stimulation and improvement of upper respiratory infection rate
                [2] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin C and Infections
                [3] Science Direct: Cod Liver Oil
                [4] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds
                [5] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic
                [6] The Telegraph: Oregano could help eradicate MRSA superbug
                [7] National Institute of Health: Zinc

                More by this author

                Lisa Richards

                Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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                Published on September 17, 2021

                How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

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                How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

                Probiotics are a popular topic among health enthusiasts and medical professionals, alike, and rightfully so! As individuals seek to improve their health by becoming advocates for themselves, probiotics are often a good choice to become part of their new health-focused regimen.

                However, there are some ways that will allow you to maximize the health benefits that you can get from probiotics. Read on to learn more about how to take probiotics for the best health benefits.

                What Are Probiotics?

                Probiotics

                are living bacteria that provide countless health benefits when ingested. These bacteria are naturally occurring in the gut but can—and should—be replenished through external means. The gut contains beneficial bacteria that make up the microbiota and plays a key role in maintaining health in both the body and mind. A healthy gut keeps the digestive process working smoothly, which prevents free radical and toxin build up in the body known to lead to many acute and chronic illnesses[1]

                It is also thought that probiotics secrete substances that trigger the immune system to react more strongly, thereby preventing pathogens from being able to take root and cause illness.[2]

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                Can You Take Too Many Probiotics?

                Taking too many probiotics is not a common issue. For those who have taken too many probiotics (and each person will need to find their own tolerance level), they will likely experience gut disruptions and gastrointestinal side effects.

                Probiotics are generally safe regardless of the amount taken, and any side effects are generally mild. It is impossible to take a toxic level of probiotics. The most common side effects of taking more probiotics than you can tolerate are gas, bloating, and diarrhea. These side effects can be treated individually and are generally corrected after 24 to 48 hours and stopping the probiotics until they are resolved.

                It can be tempting to discontinue probiotic use altogether after a negative experience out of fear of another bad reaction, but simply reducing your dose and taking your probiotic as directed should prevent further issues. It is important for those with a weakened immune system or serious illness to discuss probiotic use with their healthcare provider before starting a probiotic regimen.

                Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

                As probiotics grow in use, prebiotics is beginning to get attention as well. Prebiotics come in supplement form but can also be fiber-rich foods that feed good gut bacteria. Probiotics replenish the good bacteria in the gut while prebiotics maintains the gut microbiome by feeding the good bacteria we have in the gut. Because of this relationship between prebiotics and probiotics, it is perfectly acceptable to take them together. However, if your diet already contains healthy, fiber-rich foods then you will likely not require prebiotic supplements.

                Prebiotics contain fibers and natural sugars that encourage the growth of essential gut bacteria. They are easy to digest and keep the gut in balance. Prebiotic foods contain fiber and can include bananas, garlic, and dark leafy greens. Probiotic foods contain live cultures and include miso, some yogurts, kimchi, and sauerkraut.[3]

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                You can learn more in my other article: Prebiotic vs Probiotic: What’s the Difference and Why Are They Important?

                Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant?

                When carrying a child, a mother wants to create the safest environment possible. This is a time where the mother-to-be will begin integrating new and recommended health practices like exercise, supplements, and new diet habits. One question that is asked by pregnant women is whether or not probiotics are safe to take while pregnant. The benefits of probiotics are well documented, and many pregnant women want to know if probiotics will benefit them as well.

                Pregnancy may be a good time to integrate a probiotic into your regimen simply due to the increased potential for an imbalance in gut bacteria that pregnancy naturally produces. Stress, medications, diarrhea, and vomiting as well as certain diet choices can cause bad bacteria to overrun the gut and lead to a dampened immune response, inflammation, fatigue, and more.

                The simple answer is yes, probiotics are generally safe to take while pregnant. However, it is always recommended to discuss any introduction or discontinuation of supplements with your healthcare provider.

                Many studies have shown that not only are probiotics safe to take while pregnant but also that they can add great benefits for mother and baby. A 2019 study by Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology found that the pregnant women’s gut microbiota improved through probiotic supplementation and that her immune system was enhanced.[4]

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                During pregnancy, the pregnant mom’s immune system will go into a dampened state as the body works to protect and grow the fetus. This places her at greater risk for common illnesses she may have been able to fight off naturally before. Therefore, integrating a probiotic into her supplement regimen may help keep her and her baby safe from unwanted and avoidable illness.

                One important factor to consider when taking a probiotic during pregnancy is the quality of the product you are purchasing. Not all probiotics are created equal. To maximize benefits while also avoiding unnecessary ingredients, it is crucial to choose a high quality and reputable probiotic.

                When Is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?

                As with many supplements and medications, there are certain times and factors that can change their efficacy, for good or bad. Research shows that the best time to take a probiotic is 30 minutes before a meal.[5] Consistency is key when it comes to taking a probiotic and experiencing as many of the potential health benefits as possible. This means that it is necessary to take it daily to ensure routine and regular replenishment of the gut’s bacteria.

                The stomach is a highly acidic environment, which can make it difficult for many supplements to pass through in their most bioavailable form. The same is true for probiotics. Look for a high-quality probiotic that uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely to the gut.

                The composition of your meal can also help or hinder your probiotic’s efficacy. A large meal will move more slowly through the stomach and trigger more stomach acid production. If your probiotic is taken along or prior to this type of meal, the probiotic will move more slowly and be exposed to a hostile environment for longer.

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                The Bottom Line

                When taking a probiotic, the most important thing to consider is product quality. Carefully read packaging and websites to ensure you are getting a product that is safe, pure, and effective. Look for a probiotic that will release its bacteria slowly and deliver them safely past your stomach acid.

                Probiotics have been shown to support the immune system, prevent gastrointestinal issues, combat side effects from chronic conditions, and give extra support during pregnancy. These are just a few from a long list of scientifically backed benefits. Regardless of your motivation, just about every individual can benefit from adding a probiotic to their supplement and health regimen.

                Lastly, here’s my recommendations on probiotics: 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews)

                Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

                Reference

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