The human immune system is an incredible thing. It’s something we often take for granted – until we’re sick, and we realize just how important and incredible this essential network can be to keep us fit and healthy.
A normal, healthy person shouldn’t need any supplementary support to keep their immune system in good working order. But many people are finding they are becoming more susceptible to picking up transient bugs and viruses – with cases of bygone diseases and conditions back on the rise.
So can you really boost your immune system function with vitamins? Read on to find out how.
Why do we need immune support?
It’s important to say that a fully functioning immune system is dependent on a highly complex and delicately balanced variety of factors, all of which play a vital role. This means that one or two vitamins alone isn’t going to have a significant impact on your entire immune function – unless you’re deficient in a certain nutrient.
Now more than ever immune health is often compromised due to poor diet, stress, or a combination of the two. Lifestyle and medical factors which impair natural immunity include:
*Poor diet: Malnutrition caused by an over-reliance on processed sugary and fatty foods, not eating enough, or having a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables on a regular basis, can cause immune system deficiency.
*Obesity: Carrying excess weight has been shown to cause low-grade chronic inflammation, in turn making obese individuals more at risk of developing a number of illnesses such as flu and colds.
*Environmental toxins: Smoking, air pollution, chemicals such as pesticides and alcohol all contain substances known to suppress the normal activity of immune cells.
*Chronic stress: You may have noticed that you or someone close to you got sick after a stressful event. This is because during times when we’re run down, burned out or emotionally stressed, immune function can be impaired. Long-term stress decreases white blood cell mobility and suppresses inflammation, which is necessary for a rapid immune response.
*Chronic illness: A number of chronic illnesses can significantly impact immune function – including autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases which attack and disable immune cells.
*Poor sleep quality: Not getting enough sleep, or enough good quality sleep, lowers immune function.
What are immune support vitamins?
‘Immune support vitamins’ is a collective name given to the number of vitamins and nutrients that are known to contribute to and support natural immune function. Bearing the above list in mind, traditional immune supporting vitamins (those that directly interact with immune system function in the body) have been joined by those that help to reduce factors that could negatively impact immunity, such as stress and poor sleep. Some of the most well-known and effective immune support vitamins include:
*Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, supporting renewal and repair at a cellular level.
*Vitamin D: Synthesized with sunlight, vitamin D plays an essential role in immune function.
*Pro- and pre-biotics: Pro and prebiotics support gut health to ensure that good bacteria are abundant, warding off potential gastrointestinal illnesses.
*Echinacea – Strictly not a vitamin, but a herbal extract, echinacea has been found in studies to minimize the development of viruses, especially those in the cold and flu family.
*Omega 3 – Omega 3 supports healthy cellular uptake of essential vitamins – so if you’re lacking, you may find that your immune system suffers even if you have a relatively healthy diet.
Who are immune support vitamins best suited to?
Many people can benefit from immune support vitamins. As mentioned above – just one single-nutrient deficiency can cause impaired immune function, so understanding your overall health and any areas of concern to address is key.
Whether you’re taking them for a short period of time such as stocking up during winter months when seasonal illnesses begin to circulate, or struggle with leaky gut or other digestive disorders which affect your diet or vitamin absorption, immune vitamins can help you to feel well and avoid suffering unexpected illness. Always consult a licensed physician before incorporating any new vitamin or supplement into your daily routine.
Choosing the right type of immune support vitamin for you isn’t always easy, and you may require specialist help tailored to your needs from a physician or naturopath. For 360 support, try our ___ blend for increased energy and vitality.
For more tips on maintaining a healthy immune system, head over to our blogs here.