As we approach winter and the flu season looms on the horizon, many people are looking towards taking supplements. There is, of course, the added threat of COVID-19 this year, and while it’s hoped that winter 2020 doesn’t see cases rise too much, taking control of your immune system is a good idea.
There are no supplements, vitamins or minerals that can directly protect you against illness. This includes COVID-19. But there is plenty of evidence to show that some supplements containing key vitamins and minerals can boost your immune system to help keep your body healthy.
Your immune system is made up of all kinds of processes, cells and chemicals that work together to defend the body from invading pathogens. These pathogens can be any kind of toxins, bacteria and viruses. If you have a strong immune system, you’re less likely to contract one of these illnesses, and if you do more likely to recover quickly.
However, supplements are not a substitute for a healthy, active lifestyle. Eating well, sleeping enough and taking exercise are the key drivers for a healthy body, mind and strong immune system. Supplements should be added to these steps to ensure you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy.
Always check with your healthcare provider before you start taking supplements of any kind. This is particularly important if you are on any other medications, whether prescription or over the counter. Some supplements can interact with other medications in an adverse way.
One of the most important vitamins to ensure proper functioning of the immune system, vitamin D is essential for the body. It helps white blood cells in their constant fight against illness and helps to manage inflammation throughout the body, which itself affects the immune system.
Many people are unknowingly deficient in vitamin D, particularly as they get older. Lockdown this year has led to a surge in cases of people who are vitamin D deficient as staying inside for months affected how much sunshine they absorbed through their skin. Low levels of vitamin D are directly linked by researchers with an increased chance of contracting upper respiratory tract infections, such as flu and allergic asthma.
According to scientists, a vitamin D supplement could improve the immune system and offer some protection against infections in the upper respiratory tract.
Calcium and magnesium are two essential elements that work with vitamin C to enable the nerves and muscles to work properly. When these parts of the body are working well, the immune system is automatically boosted too.
It’s common to find that supplements that contain calcium also include other essential vitamins and minerals that work together
Vitamin C is one of the most commonly used supplements by people hoping to improve their resistance to infection and illness. It supports the body’s immune system and helps the white blood cells to fight off infection. Vitamin C is also a necessary part of the cell’s life cycle and helps cells to die off and be replaced.
Scientific research also shows that a regular intake of vitamin C can help to reduce the odds of catching the common cold, particularly for people who are under a great deal of physical stress. An antioxidant, vitamin C has also been proven to cut down the time of suffering for people with a common cold or upper respiratory infection. Many people don’t get enough vitamin C from their food, and they are particularly in need of a high-quality supplement.
Zinc is an essential mineral for the body’s immune system. It is important for the development of the immune cells and to keep the overall inflammatory response under control. If you don’t have enough zinc, you may be at a higher risk of contracting infections, and in particularly pneumonia.
Approximately two billion people at any one time are deficient in zinc, and it’s especially common among older people. If you’ve already caught a cold or other respiratory illness there is some research to support the idea that zinc can speed your recovery.
There are many more supplements available on the market that can help to strengthen the immune system. None of them, however, can replace the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, sleep properly, exercise regularly and take steps to manage your stress and your immune system will already be in good shape. Supplements can then be added to ensure it stays that way.