Advertising

Last Updated on May 14, 2021

Best 7 Supplements to Boost Immune System

Best 7 Supplements to Boost Immune System
Advertising

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.

Advertising

    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]

      Advertising

      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.

          Advertising

          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.

            Advertising

            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: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

                Advertising

                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

                3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth What Are Probiotics And How To Use Them For the Best Health Benefits 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews) 3 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Gut Inflammation What Helps Yeast Infections: Foods To Eat And Avoid

                Trending in Probiotic

                1 What Are Probiotics And How To Use Them For the Best Health Benefits 2 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews) 3 3 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Gut Inflammation 4 What Helps Yeast Infections: Foods To Eat And Avoid 5 What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising

                Published on July 16, 2021

                What Are Probiotics And How To Use Them For the Best Health Benefits

                What Are Probiotics And How To Use Them For the Best Health Benefits
                Advertising

                “Probiotics” is a word that most of us are probably familiar with. It’s something that people often recommended to others who are looking to improve their health, especially in terms of their diet. Although probiotics are well-known to bring several health benefits, it’s still important for us to know more about them if we want to incorporate them in our road to a healthier body.

                Read on to learn more about what probiotics are and how you can maximize their health benefits.

                What Are Probiotics?

                Probiotics are “friendly” gut bacteria that are essential for normal, healthy functioning. Research shows that they have an important role in maintaining the health of the gut, the immune system, nervous system, and overall wellbeing.[1]

                The word “probiotics” is derived from the Latin pro (for) and Greek bios (life). These live microorganisms can be bacterial, viral, or yeast, and can generally only be seen under a microscope.

                You can learn more about probiotics here: Prebiotic vs Probiotic: What’s the Difference and Why Are They Important?

                How Can Probiotics Help?

                Probiotics have been shown to have a wide range of benefits for our health.

                1. Probiotics Help With Digestion

                Probiotics use a special process called fermentation to break down the food you eat. When food passes through the small intestine and into the colon, probiotics work with digestive enzymes to break down the food matter and absorb its nutrients. Without this help, digestion can be slowed or impaired, causing food to pass through your body without the benefits you need.

                2. Probiotics Help Reduce Gastrointestinal Issues

                Probiotics can help to reduce the risk of gas, bloating, and diarrhea, especially when traveling or taking antibiotics. Several studies suggest that probiotics are associated with a reduced risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. One study showing that taking probiotics reduced the incidence of diarrhea by up to 42%.[2][3]

                Advertising

                Taking probiotics can also prevent or treat infectious diarrhea not caused by antibiotics. A major review involving 35 different studies shows that certain strains of probiotics helped to reduce the duration of infectious diarrhea with a day.[4] This makes probiotics a good choice for those traveling or working in environments where bacteria are present, such as schools or hospitals.

                3. Probiotics Provide Valuable Nutrients

                Fermentation in the large intestine produces valuable enzymes and nutrients that your body needs for healthy functioning.[5] These enzymes help to break down protein and fat, while the nutrients include B vitamins, vitamin K, and short-chain fatty acids. All of these byproducts can help with energy production, tissue repair and maintenance, cognitive function, and hundreds of other processes. Probiotics support the fermentation process, promoting the breakdown of nutrients and proper digestion.

                4. Probiotics Support Immune Function

                More than 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut. The cells lining your gut interact with both your innate and adaptive immune systems, which means your gut is the first line of defense between your internal body systems and external pathogens. Any harmful microbes that enter your body from food, the air, or surfaces you are exposed to must first get through several defense systems before reaching the bloodstream.[6]

                Your gut bacteria are constantly secreting huge quantities of antibodies into the gut. This helps your body manage any harmful bacteria you might encounter in everyday life. Infections, diseases, and even autoimmune conditions are most often the result of your gut bacteria being unable to do their job properly.

                5. Maintain Gut Integrity

                Your gut lining is naturally permeable, which allows nutrients to pass from the food you eat into your bloodstream. At the same time, the bacteria lining the wall of your gut act as a barrier to prevent harmful substances such as antigens, toxins, and other invaders from entering the bloodstream. They also support the uptake of nutrients, electrolytes, water, and other beneficial substances from the intestines. This is vital for healthy digestion and the normal functioning of the body. It also helps to prevent the development of food allergies, which can result from increased intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut).

                When to Take Probiotics

                Research shows that probiotics are best taken just before or during a meal. This allows them to survive their journey through the gut.[7]

                Survivability has all to do with the pH balance of your stomach. The lower the pH, the more acidity. The higher the pH, the more alkalinity. Stomach pH is very low—around 2 to 3. This is too harsh an environment for most bacteria to survive. However, after a meal, the pH of your stomach contents temporarily rises to a more alkaline value of around 7. The reduced acidity means there is less chance of the probiotics being destroyed.

                Taking probiotics within 30 minutes of a meal or during a meal has been shown to help beneficial bacteria survive in much higher numbers than when taken 30 minutes after a meal.

                Advertising

                Read more about when to take probiotics here: When to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits?

                Side Effects of Probiotics

                Because most of your body’s microflora lives in your gut, this is the area most prone to side effects from probiotics. Typical symptoms may include gas, bloating, cramps, or a feeling of fullness. You may also experience a change in bowel movements. This may because the healthy bacteria are expanding in the gut, colonizing the small intestine and colon.

                Extra gas may also be caused by bacteria-induced changes to your gut motility or transit time. These alterations can sometimes cause abnormal intestinal spasms or prevent your stomach muscles from fully emptying the stomach of food you’ve eaten.

                These symptoms usually subside after a week or two of taking the probiotic. If you really can’t cope, try reducing your daily dose to half that recommended on the label. You can then gradually increase your dose over the following weeks. This allows your gut to adjust to the new influx of bacteria slowly.

                How to Choose a Good Probiotic

                A good probiotic should be designed in a way that allows the bacteria to survive the harsh acidic environment of your stomach. This means that the bacteria have a better chance of arriving at your intestines, ready to establish themselves and do their work.

                Look for a probiotic supplement that uses some form of time-release technology, such as BIO-tract or delayed-release capsules that protects the probiotic bacteria and prevents them from being broken down in your stomach.[8]

                CFU stands for “colony-forming unit.” This is the amount of live and active bacteria contained in each dose. There are hundreds of different strains of bacteria, and all of them have unique properties. Some of the best bacterial strains to look for in a probiotic are L. Plantarum (for protecting the membrane that surrounds your gut), L. paracasei (for its antibacterial properties that can ward off pathogens like E. coli and Candida albicans), and L. acidophilus (to regulate acidity in your gut and boost your immune system).

                Generally speaking, the higher the CFU count, the more effective the probiotic. However, this depends on the way the probiotics are delivered.

                Advertising

                Many supplement manufacturers include fillers and unnecessary ingredients to lengthen shelf life or make the contents easier to pour into capsules. Be sure to read the ingredients label carefully as some of these “extras” can be harmful to gut health.

                What Is a Good Probiotic?

                Several factors go into making a good probiotic. Try to look past marketing claims about CFU counts of 50 billion, 100 billion, even 200 billion! Many supplements with high CFU counts often deliver only a few of those bacteria past your stomach acid.

                Time-release tablets that use patented technologies like BIO-tract can deliver 15 times more bacteria to the gut than an equivalent probiotic in a vegetable capsule. For example, Balance ONE Probiotic contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria. The time-release technology means it delivers the same amount of bacteria to your gut as a 225 billion CFU probiotic in a vegetable capsule.

                A good probiotic should also contain at least 5 strains and preferably 10. All of those strains have different benefits and characteristics. Look for a good selection of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains. The more you take, the more benefits for you!

                Here’s my pick of the top 3 probiotics.

                1. Balance ONE Probiotic

                This probiotic supplement contains 12 strains of probiotics with 15 billion CFUs per tablet. These include the most-researched strains, such as Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and more.

                The Balance ONE Probiotic is also free from unnecessary fillers and allergens, including nuts, dairy, gluten. It’s non-GMO and vegan. It only contains strains that are already present in the human gut without any Soil-Based Organisms (SBOs) or active yeasts.

                The most important feature of the Balance ONE probiotic is its patented delivery system known as BIO-tract. This special patented process involves compressing the probiotic bacteria into tablets. This means that Balance ONE probiotics can survive passage through the acidic conditions of the stomach without being destroyed. Studies have shown that this delivery method gets 15 times as many bacteria past stomach acid compared to regular vegetable capsules.[9]

                Advertising

                You can find it here.

                2. Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic

                This is a good probiotic that contains a wide variety of strains and a powerful dose. It contains a guaranteed 30 billion live probiotic cultures, including 12 probiotic strains, which makes it a good all-rounder.

                Renew Life Ultimate uses delayed-release vegetable capsules, which, while not as effective as the BIO-tract system, are still an effective way to deliver bacteria to the gut. It has multiple strains for effective support and is free from gluten, dairy, and soy.

                You can find it here.

                3. Vitamin Bounty – Pro 25 Probiotic and Prebiotic

                With 25 billion organisms per dose, Vitamin Bounty is a great maintenance probiotic. It includes 13 probiotic strains to help support overall digestive health, and it’s made with a delayed-release capsule that protects the live bacteria from stomach acidity. This helps in the delivery of the bacteria to the intestines and improves efficacy. The Fermented Greens also provide prebiotic benefits.

                You can find it here.

                Final Thoughts

                We now know that probiotics provide us with several significant health benefits while possibly giving us some minor side effects. So, the next step is to determine what food or supplements we should look for. You can start with the recommended ones in this article. Probiotics are very beneficial for our bodies, and choosing the right brand for us can further improve the benefits we get from them.

                Featured photo credit: Daily Nouri via unsplash.com

                Advertising

                Reference

                Read Next