Taking immune system supplements can give your body the boost it needs to ward off illness. Here are some of the best supplements you can take for optimal immune health.
More research has been done on the immune enhancing effects of vitamin C than most any other nutrient. Vitamin C has been shown to increase white blood cells, antibodies and interferon which all help the body to ward off foreign invaders such as viruses.
Many fruits and vegetables are naturally high in vitamin C and supplements are relatively inexpensive. Just 2 grams of vitamin C per day are needed to experience immune enhancing effects. It's best to space vitamin C supplements throughout the day, because the body will only absorb so much at one time and will excrete the excess in urine.
Vitamin E helps to stimulate the body's production of natural killer cells. These cells are used by your body to destroy unhealthy germs and cancer cells. Vitamin E may also reverse some, age related, immune system decline.
Nuts, seeds, some vegetable oils and grains are good sources of vitamin E. However, to get in optimal amounts of vitamin E, most people will need to supplement. Most expert recommend dosages from 100-400 IU daily. It's easier for the body to utilize natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) than synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol). You would have to take almost twice as much of the synthetic vitamin E to equal the effectiveness of the natural variety.
Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body to produce natural killer cells and T- cells. Beta carotene has also been shown to help prevent cancer by stimulating the immune system to produce a substance called tumor necrosis factor, which attacks cancer cells.
Many orange, red, yellow and dark green fruits and vegetables are good sources of beta carotene and other carotenoides that work together to produce these beneficial results. Adults need 6-15 mg of beta carotene per day.
This important mineral helps to increase the production of white blood cells and killer cells. There is some evidence that shows that zinc supplements can slow cancer growth. Zinc has also been shown to increase T cells in the elderly.
Good sources of dietary zinc are oysters, beef, dark meat turkey and beans. A dose of 15-25 mg of zinc per day should be enough for optimal health. Too much zinc, in the form of supplements, (over 75 mg) could actually inhibit immune system function.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase the activity of phagocytes. These white blood cells help to eat up bacteria through out the body. These essential fatty acids also help to protect the body from over-reacting to infections. One study found that children who took one half teaspoon of flax oil per day had fewer and less severe respiratory infections than those who did not.
Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in flax and oily fish (tuna, salmon and mackerel). If you are not getting enough fatty fish into your diet, you can supplement with 2 teaspoons of flax or fish oil daily.
Taking these supplements in conjunction with a healthy diet will help to ensure a healthy immune system.