When it comes to health care, prevention is the best medicine. And when we consider general health maintenance, boosting the immune system is high on the list of many-including those that generally consider themselves to be healthy! Immune boosters are designed to strengthen the immune system, which can ward off or prevent us from experiencing the worst effects of a variety of illnesses. Immune boosters can also help us recover from viral illnesses at a faster rate.
There is increasing awareness that immune support is an important building block for basic health care prevention, and we believe there will be a very sharp contrast between pre- and post-COVID-19 consideration of immune support systems as part of our daily health regime.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought a new way of thinking about preventative health for most of us, and building strong immune support systems will, in the future, become a necessary part of the way we live.
Luckily, some of the best ways of improving immune response are available in foods we eat, as well as easily obtainable supplements. Food rich in antioxidants can be purchased at the neighborhood grocery store, and there are a variety of specialized supplements available through wellness physicians that when taken daily can boost the immune system significantly.
What are these immune system boosters and what do they do? Dr. Ethan Kellum, orthopedic surgeon and wellness physician at Nashville Regenerative Orthopedics, has a video discussion of the three most important supplements for building immune response on the practice’s Facebook page. They are Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc. Here is Dr. Kellum’s explanation of how these and other immune-boosting supplements work, and his recommended dosages.
Vitamin C’s Impressive Prevention Powers
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin known for boosting the human immune system and also for being the one of the three supplements that is readily available in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C helps grow and repair tissue all over the human body, as well as helping maintain healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and skin. It also is a powerful antioxidant, helping to prevent or delay cancer and heart disease and promoting healthy aging. There is some evidence that high doses of vitamin C may decrease the length of cold symptoms as much as 1.5 days.
The typical recommended daily dose of Vitamin C ranges from 15 to 65 mg for children under 16 years, and from 75 to 90 mg for adult women and men, respectively. But doses up to 1,000 can be administered for stoking the immune system, notes Dr. Kellum. Vitamin C supplements of this strength should always be taken under the care of a physician, he stresses.
The foods highest in Vitamin C include:
- Acerola (tart) cherries-1,644
It is important to remember that fruits and vegetables lose vitamin C when they are heated or stored for long periods of time. To obtain the most nutrients out of the fruit or vegetable, eat soon after purchasing or picking and cook lightly or eat raw to avoid or limit nutrient loss.
Vitamin D: Don’t Be Deficient
Dr. Kellum explains, “Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, and one of the vitamins that most people are already deficient in to begin with. Vitamin D helps immune response and definitely fights respiratory infections. You should take about 5,000 International Units (IUs) per day, upwards of 10,000 IUs as a supplement.”
According to their white paper Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin published in PubMed Central, the publication portal for the National Institutes of Health, Rathish Nair and Arun Masee state “An estimated 1 Billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD). Nair and Masee add that “hypovitaminosis D” is generally attributed to reduced exposure to sunlight. The paper makes the following points in terms of the importance of Vitamin D to healthcare maintenance and disease prevention:
- VDD is important to public health because it is a risk factor for total mortality in the general population.
- Current studies suggest that we may need more vitamin D than presently recommended to prevent chronic disease
- As the number of people with VDD increases in recent years, vitamin D has become increasingly important in studies of overall health and prevention of chronic diseases.
- Because few foods contain Vitamin D, guidelines for supplements (such as those provided by Dr. Kellum) are becoming standard practice for wellness physicians.
Many studies over the past two decades support the importance of vitamin D in overall preventative health. A meta-analysis published in 2007 showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with significantly reduced mortality. In her 2011 white paper Vitamin D and the Immune System, Dr. Cynthia Aranow concludes that deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and susceptibility to infection.
Think Zinc for Daily Immune Support
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in cellular metabolism, immune function, neuro-transmission, hormone balance and tissue repair. Its antioxidant properties help the body fend off and recover from simple colds and coughs more quickly. It also helps cells to communicate with each other, providing a stronger basis for inter-cellular immune function.
Zinc deficiency affects more than 2 billion people worldwide. This is why respiratory infections such as COVID-19, SARS and Bird Flu etc. can be dangerous, because we have such a worldwide deficiency.
Because the body has no specialized way to store zinc, it is important to maintain consistent intake through supplements. Zinc tablets and nasal swabs have been found to have a particularly strong efficacy in warding off colds, sinus infections and other everyday nose-throat conditions. Dr. Kellum from Nashville Regenerative Orthopedics says taking a daily dose of 40 mg per day will help boost the adult immune system.
This Essential Amino Acid is an Immunity Strengthening Superstar
Like all amino acids, l-lysine works as a building block for proteins in the body. These proteins help produce essential hormones and enzymes as well as immune cells. Supplements with l-lysine are becoming widely recognized as a natural aid to improving the body’s immune system. The following are some of the heavy-hitting properties of l-lysine:
- L-lysine blocks amino acids such as arginine that are responsible for spreading viruses throughout the body. L-lysine is particularly effective in reducing the number and frequency of cold sore outbreaks.
- L-lysine helps the body absorb minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc.
- Several separate studies indicate that l-lysine may help reduce intestinal distress resulting froml ong-term anxiety.
- Studies suggest that l-lysine can slow the rise in glucose levels after eating and help improve glucose response in people with diabetes.
- Its effects are quite powerful and although it’s found in food, only supplements can deliver the quantities of l-lysine that normal people require for boosting immune support.
- A daily dose of 1,000 mg is typical, but before taking any l-lysine supplements, consult with a physician. Taking too much of this amino acid can cause side effects such as stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Eat It! Immunity-Boosting Ingredients
Two notable immune support compounds can be found in foods as well as supplements. Echinacea and Garlic are all well-known as immune system boosters. Echinacea is sourced from the flower by the same name (otherwise known as coneflower) and can be found in supplements available at any grocery store. Extremely common, Echinacea has been part of a preventative health maintenance routine in millions of households around the world for hundreds of years.
Garlic (allium sativum) is a natural way to bolster immune system strength. If you are wondering how much garlic to eat per day for maximum immune-boosting effects, most health standards state that the minimum effective dose for raw garlic is one segment, or clove eaten two to three times a day.
While some of us would not mind conducting a garlic regimen using the natural product, others dislike the odor and opt for supplements. In that case, an aged garlic supplement (without the garlicky odor or taste) should contain a daily dose ranging from 600 to 1,200 mg per day.
Contact Us for More Immune Support Information
For more information on health and wellness, including foods and compounds that help us boost our immune system, visit our website. Dr. Ethan Kellum has a variety of health and wellness videos on his Facebook page, including his video on immune support.