Cold and Flu season is one of the most crucial times to keep your immune system strong, yet it can be the most difficult time of year to do so. Some of the most important habits to maintain a healthy immune system are eating healthy and achieving proper amounts of sleep every night. This can be almost impossible in the fall and around the holidays. Late nights, family dinners (and desserts), can derail almost anyone. Luckily, this is where supplementation can really help keep you at optimal performance. Here are 3 key supplements for boosting immune function.
One of the widest known vitamins is Vitamin C.
That’s in orange juice, right?
Well… yes, but in an amount that might surprise you. Most consumer orange juice products will contain around 40mg of Vitamin C per 8oz glass, while a Vitamin C supplement can have 1,000mg of Vitamin C in one serving. That’s approximately 25 - 8oz servings of orange juice!
Vitamin C is naturally found in strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, broccoli, grapefruits, tangerines, and of course, oranges. It is also used in hundreds if not thousands of processes in the body, making it one of the most important Vitamins to consume. Among these are things like aiding in the formation of collagen (hair, skin, nail, joint supporting tissue), increasing the absorption of iron, and is a critical factor in wound healing and the proper function of the body's immune system. It can be difficult to consume enough Vitamin C through diet alone, which makes supplementation a great option. Most quality Vitamin C supplements will absorb very well, and we carry a few whole food based options, which are concentrated versions of the foods they are sourced from. There is even research to show the concentrations of Vitamin C in supplements may help to lessen the severity of cold or flu symptoms.
Don't Forget D
Another key vitamin in the function of the body’s immune system is Vitamin D. Recently gaining popularity due to current events, Vitamin D is being heralded as a savior by some, and being discredited by others. We won’t get into that debate here, as we are simply looking to inform about potential health benefits of supplementing Vitamin D.
Doesn’t the sun give you Vitamin D?
Again, yes, your body does absorb some Vitamin D through the sun's rays. Unfortunately the actual amount your body can utilize is based on many factors including skin type, season, and geographic location among others. This makes it almost impossible to determine if your body is receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin D. In foods, it is commonly consumed in things like salmon, sardines, egg yolks, shrimp, fortified milk, cereals, and yogurts. Like Vitamin C though, it can be easily absorbed in supplement form as well, in generally more consistent amounts than most people consume in their diet.
Vitamin D is important to immune system function, as it is closely linked to the function of B and T cells, which are some of the most important defenses the body has. This is why it plays such a critical role in immune health, and can be so helpful to supplement during cold and flu season.
Better with B's
Another important vitamin for immune function is actually a whole group of vitamins, as the B vitamins all work synergistically within the body. Combining the B vitamins will allow for the best results, as they all serve different functions in the body. B5, B6 and B12 are helpful in energy production as well as fighting infections, as they are present in the production of red blood cells, and a deficiency in these vitamins can lead to a lower production of antibody forming cells.
B Vitamins are found in foods such as eggs, salmon, tuna, red meat, chicken, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. The best way to assure a well balanced intake of B vitamins is to vary the types of foods throughout the day. Again, it can be difficult to consume a wide enough variety of foods to meet the needs of the body in terms of B vitamins, which is where a B Complex supplement can be extremely helpful. Containing a mix of most, if not all of the B vitamins, the B complex can be an easy way to fill the gaps in a diet that is lacking.
While it is possible to consume enough food in your daily diet that supplementation isn’t necessary, it is incredibly difficult. Imagine in one day consuming; 20 oranges (to equal 1 - 1000mg Vitamin C tablet), along with 2 to 3 servings of salmon (to equal 1 2000IU Vitamin D tablet), and roughly 10 servings of Kale (to equal the B6 in a 100mg B Complex, not counting the multiple other B Vitamins in the complex). While of course this is an oversimplification, and those numbers would be lower in a more balanced diet, but the example also doesn’t take into account the numerous other vitamins and minerals the body needs on a daily basis. For most people, a great starting point is a quality multivitamin. This will compliment the vitamins consumed from food, and increase the intake of some that may be lacking. From there; adding additional Vitamin C, D and the B Vitamins, can go a long way to strengthening your immune system.