As you very well know, getting sick isn’t fun… at all. It can ruin your plans, it can destroy your dreams, and it can very well put an end to your dear life. We strive for so many things in life, but you know what everyone’s top priority should be? Good health. Everything else can literally wait. Living a healthy, active lifestyle, and investing in the right supplements to boost immune system function can do wonders for your health.
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What To Do Before Buying Immunity Boosting Supplements
Just because your best friend or favorite celebrity says the supplement they’re taking is amazing doesn’t mean you should take one as well. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to dietary supplements. Before you purchase any supplement, it’s best to seek medical advice.
Are you deficient in a specific vitamin, mineral, or nutrient? What do you want to achieve by supplementing? What are you hoping to ‘fix’ or improve?
A trained medical professional will be able to give you answers suited to your specific condition. They may request blood tests to confirm any deficiencies. They can then suggest the right supplements and/or medication to treat your condition.
Also, while supplements do work, it’s still preferable to actually get those immunity-boosting nutrients from food. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important as it helps your body get a variety of nutrients that helps you go, grow, and glow! And besides, eating food is always a more enjoyable experience than swallowing a bunch of pills.
That said, when it comes to cost and convenience, supplements often come out ahead. Healthy, organic, and nutritious foods are often costly and/or not easily available. But supplements? You’ll find them readily available, with most brands packing in at least a month’s worth of supplements per bottle.
Just a word of caution though. If you are taking any medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding, then speaking with a licensed physician is a must. The last thing you want is for the supplement to interfere with your prescription and/or your sensitive condition.
The 12 Best Supplements To Boost Immune System Function
If you don’t already know what to look for, searching for the best supplements to boost immunity is like looking for a needle in a haystack. For instance, on Amazon alone, searching for ‘supplement’ in the Health & Household category will yield over 50,000 products! Of course, not all of them are designed to strengthen your immunity. Hopefully, this list of 12 immunity-boosting supplements will help narrow down your search.
Eating fruits and veggies rich in vitamin C should be part of your diet, but if not, supplementation is the way to go.
Supplementing with Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is quite common nowadays – and for good reason, too. It’s a powerful antioxidant with scientifically proven immunity-boosting properties.
Vitamin C helps with collagen formation for bones, cartilage, teeth, gums, blood vessels, and skin. Plus, it also helps with iron absorption, so if you’re supplementing with iron, vitamin C will help improve its absorption in the intestine.
The daily recommended intake is 75mg for women and 90mg for men. But more often than not, vitamin C supplements go way beyond that. Many brands offer 500mg-2000mg and even more, but anything in excess of what your body needs gets excreted in urine.
Did you know a significant part of your body’s immune system resides in your gut? It’s therefore important to ensure your gut stays healthy and all the good bacteria are able to keep the bad ones in check. A healthy gut helps the body fight off infections which may lead to improvement in overall health.
This is where probiotics or live cultures come in. Eating fermented foods (which naturally contain probiotics) such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, miso, and sauerkraut helps gut health. But in terms of colony-forming units or CFU, fermented foods are outmatched by probiotic supplements that are especially formulated to contain billions of active cultures per serving!
Intelligent Labs offers 3 kinds of probiotics supplements. All of our probiotics include prebiotic or non-digestible fiber. It serves as food for the probiotics, so they don’t die out prematurely.
Sunbathing – or even just going out when the sun’s high up – is enough for your exposed skin to make vitamin D. Hence, the nickname the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
When the sun’s UVB rays hit your skin – or more specifically the cholesterol in it – vitamin D synthesis occurs.
Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to the sun isn’t exactly a good thing, especially for some skin types. Skin cancer is a real threat, so more often than not, supplementation is a good alternative. Also, depending on where you live in the world, you may not get enough sunlight, so getting your ‘sunshine vitamin’ in tablet or capsule form is certainly convenient.
In addition to playing an important role in your immune system, vitamin D also works in tandem with calcium by helping your body absorb more of this important nutrient. For the elderly, it’s very important to have sufficient vitamin D levels to help prevent muscle weakness and postural instability; this lessens the risk of falling accidents.
Zinc is a trace mineral with well-known positive effects on the immune system. It contributes to a lot of different functions in the body, such as macronutrient selection, fatty acids / vitamin A / carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, fertility, and reproduction. It also helps maintain your hair, nails, skin, vision, and for men, their testosterone levels.
Zinc is available in most food sources like meat, eggs, fruits, whole grains, shellfish, legumes, seeds, dairy, and nuts.
Folate or Folic Acid
Before you buy a folic acid supplement, we highly recommend you check first if you carry the defective MTHFR gene.
If you do, then you need a supplement that uses the 5-MTHF form of folic acid to ensure your body’s actually reaping all the amazing health benefits of folate.
While folate and folic acid are commonly used interchangeably, there’s actually a slight difference. Folate is found naturally in whole foods like eggs, beans, fruits, and green leafy vegetables. Folic acid is the synthesized version of folate and is commonly used in processed foods and supplements.
In addition to helping with immune system function, folate also contributes to normal psychological function, blood formation, amino acid synthesis, maternal tissue growth in pregnant women, and even protects babies from neural tube defects.
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that your body needs to function properly. It helps with metabolism, red blood cell formation, and makes you feel less tired all the time. It also helps with normal psychological function and contributes to both the nervous and immune systems.
The demographic most prone to a vitamin B12 deficiency are the elderly, vegans, and diabetics taking the drug metformin. (Looking for a natural metformin alternative? Discover more about a natural metformin alternative here!)
Supplementing with vitamin B12 is important if you don’t eat enough vitamin B12-rich food sources. These include liver, chicken, beef, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, and more.
Also known as pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 is commonly found in foods such as chicken, pork, fish, whole grains, eggs, beans, potatoes, bananas, and veggies. If you’re somehow lacking in this vitamin, that is, you have a kidney condition or your intestine can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, then supplementation is necessary.
Vitamin B6 contributes to a lot of important functions in the body. These include red blood cell formation, homocysteine / protein / glycogen metabolism, regulation of hormonal activity, psychological function, and nervous and immunity systems support.
Omega-3 has a long list of health benefits. In addition to its immunity-boosting properties, it’s also an anti-inflammatory that helps with exercise recovery and sports performance. It benefits the brain, heart and blood, and even the eyes.
There are 3 types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA or alpha-linolenic acid helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid helps with normal brain and eye development in fetuses and breastfed infants. Both EPA and DHA contribute to normal function of the heart.
When it comes to Omega-3 fish oil supplements, choose a brand that uses omega-3 in natural triglyceride form, NOT the low-quality ethyl ester form. Also, science shows that a 3:2 EPA:DHA ratio provides the most optimal health benefits, so choose a supplement that has this ratio.
Each serving of Intelligent Labs Ultra-Pure Omega-3 Fish Oil Capsules contains 1224mg EPA and 816mg DHA, which follows the 3:2 ratio. It also comes in natural triglyceride form, so you know you’re getting a very high-quality fish oil supplement!
Vitamin A – and its precursor beta-carotene – is essential for maintaining eye health. Unsurprisingly, a deficiency in this vitamin will lead to poor eyesight. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which help enhance the immunity response. Additionally, it also helps with iron metabolism as well as the maintenance of mucous membranes.
Vitamin A-rich foods include beef liver, cod liver oil, sweet potato, spinach, pumpkin, carrots, milk, broccoli, and other orange / yellow veggies and fruits. If you’re eating enough of these foods, then supplementation may not be necessary. Follow the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A as too much can be toxic to your body.
Iron is an essential trace element which plays a key role in blood production. It helps with the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin, as well as normal oxygen transport in the body. If your iron stores are low, you’ll get iron deficiency anemia which leaves you breathless and extremely tired all the time. Since iron is essential for a healthy immune system, you’re bound to get sick more often, too.
While iron is important to the immune system, too much of it can actually be pretty toxic to the body and can even be fatal. So, it’s important to seek medical advice first before supplementing with this nutrient.
Another essential trace mineral, selenium is also vital to your health, specifically your immune system. Since the human body can’t make selenium on its own, you need to take a sufficient dose from food or supplements.
Healthy levels of selenium is important for proper thyroid function, which includes the production of thyroid hormones. It directly affects your body’s metabolism, growth, and development. Additionally, this mineral also contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress, which leads to a faster immune response.
Copper might be better known for its use in electrical machinery. But it’s surprisingly important for the immune system to function properly! This mineral isn’t something our bodies can produce. So, we need to get it in minute amounts from our food or from supplements. Copper-rich food includes leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, oysters, organ meat like liver, lobster, and dark chocolate.
That said, dietary copper contributes to the normal function of the nervous and immune systems. It also helps transport iron in the body, protect cells from oxidative stress, and maintain normal connective tissues.
Why Is It So Important To Boost Your Immune System?
Your immune system is a part of you. It’s literally your body’s first line of defense against all the pathogens you come into contact with every single day. You don’t see these microscopic enemies – germs, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and the like. But you can certainly feel the havoc they wreak on your body when they overcome your immune system.
By strengthening your immunity, you’re giving your body the ‘weapons’ it needs to fight and defeat these invaders. Weapons, yes, because your immune system isn’t a single entity. It’s a very complex system that works together to protect you! A weak immune system, on the other hand, will have a negative impact on your health and, ergo, your life.
That said, one of the best ways to strengthen your immunity is by taking the right dietary supplements. These supplements help fill in the missing essential-for-immunity nutrients that you don’t get enough of from food.
Modern science and technology have given us access to food supplements that are designed to boost the immune system and our health in general. But obviously, not all supplements are created equal. So, please do your due diligence to ensure you’re getting exactly what your body needs.