Supplements For Your Immune System
There is no magic pill that can protect you from coronavirus. Hopefully one day there will be.
For now, the only strategy that’s guaranteed to work is avoiding exposure to infection. Most of us are trying to do just that in self-isolation.
Is there anything else we can do?
A Strong Immune System May Improve Your Odds
We already know that there are people who don’t catch coronavirus even after prolonged exposure.
Some of those who are infected experience mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all.
The groups most vulnerable to complications seem to be those with weakened immune systems – the elderly, the immune-compromised and people with pre-existing conditions.
Obviously, no specific coronavirus-related research has been published yet.
But we do know that a strong immune system provides a natural defence against viral infections.
Supplements Can Boost Your Immune System
One quick and easy way to boost your immune system is targeted supplements.
There are many well-researched products that are scientifically proven to work, as well as traditional and herbal remedies.
Remember – Supplements are not medicines!
Their effects are not always obvious, immediate or guaranteed. But – also unlike medicines – they don’t carry any risks or dangerous side effects.
And in these uncertain times, anything that may improve your chances has got to be worth considering!
Related post: Do Supplements Really Work?
Immune System Supplements: Vitamins
Vitamin C is the most popular immune system supplement with plenty of research to back it up. It contributes to a wide range of immune-related functions such as white blood cell production, autophagy and protection from oxidative stress. Vitamin C may relieve symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections up to 85%. Therapeutic dosages start from 1000mg a day – much more than one can realistically get from food – so a supplement is preferable, especially if you are on a low-carb diet.
1, 2, 3
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of respiratory diseases and infections, both bacterial and viral. It’s also been linked to decreased lung function. We get vitamin D from sunlight, so its deficiency is not uncommon, especially during winter months in Northern countries. 4
Vitamin A contributes to the development of the immune system. It plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses and humoral immune processes. Vitamin A has shown a therapeutic effect when used to support the treatment of infectious diseases. 5
Vitamin E contributes to the production of multiple immunity-related cells, antibodies that recognize and bind to antigens and cytokines that attack foreign compounds and reject virally-infected cells. 6
Immune System Supplements: Minerals
Zinc contributes to immunity-related enzymes and transcription factors. Both are important for the signalling function of your immune system which allows cells to communicate with each other. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help to inhibit the replication of viruses.
7, 8, 9
Selenium contributes to selenoproteins which regulate the activity of reactive oxygen species in your body. Selenium deficiency makes you more vulnerable to viral infections. 10
Immune System Supplements: Probiotics
Your microbiome helps to regulate your immune response. Probiotics stimulate the beneficial bacteria and the mucosal immune cells. They can boost your body’s ability to fight off external stress factors such as viral infections and allergens. 11
You can take probiotics as a supplement or simply eat more fermented foods such as live yoghurt and kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
Immune System Supplements: Omega 3 Oils
Omega-3 essential fatty acids contribute to the health of your cellular membranes. They serve as signalling molecules that help to bring immune cells to the site of infection for healing. They also assist in the production of cytokines that fight off pathogens. You can get omega oils from fatty fish, nuts and seeds – as well as from supplements. 12
Traditional Remedies For The Immune System
Traditional and alternative medicine also has remedies for the immune system.
These usually come from medicinal herbs, spices and mushrooms.
Some of these substances have also been researched scientifically.
Here’s a list of the most popular traditional remedies that have some studies to back them up.
Propolis is a natural resinous mixture produced by honeybees. It increases the cellular immune response The antioxidants present in propolis play a role in its immunomodulatory properties. 13, 14
Echinacea is a popular herbal remedy for a variety of immune-related conditions. It can reduce the severity and duration of common colds and upper respiratory tract infections. 15
Elderberry is a fruit of the Sambucus tree, used by Native Americans and European herbalists to help the body fight off colds, flu, and other respiratory infections. 16, 17
Garlic contains compounds that have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses. 18
Licorice is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat respiratory problems. This is shown to be effective due to the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties of glycyrrhizic acid. 19
Astragalus is another TCM remedy. It boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation. It may also help fight viral infections in humans, including the common cold. 20
Chaga is used in traditional medicine in Russia and other Northern European countries, mainly to boost immunity. Chaga reduces long-term inflammation. It promotes the formation of beneficial cytokines — specialized proteins that regulate the immune system and stimulates white blood cells – essential for fighting off harmful bacteria or viruses. 21
Immune Boost Supplement:
Mega Vitamin C with Zinc, Iron and Copper
- Mega-strong Vitamin C – 1000mg: over 10x more
than in standard supplements
- Enhanced with Zinc, Copper and Iron
- 100% Sugar-Free and Zero-Carb
1 Vitamin C and Immune Function.
Carr AC, Maggini S.
Nutrients. 2017 Nov 3; 9(11): 1211
2 The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections.
Gorton HC, Jarvis K.
J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Oct;22(8):530-3.
3 Vitamin C and Infections.
Nutrients. 2017 Mar 29; 9(4): 339
4 Vitamin D and the Immune System.
Journal of investigative medicine: the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research. 2011 Aug; 59(6): 881-886
5 Vitamin A, infection, and immune function.
Annu Rev Nutr. 2001;21:167-92. Review.
6 The Role of Vitamin E in Immunity.
Lee GY, Han SN.
Nutrients. 2018 Nov 1;10(11). pii: E1614. doi: 10.3390/nu10111614. Review.
7 Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function.
Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L.
Nutrients. 2017 Nov 25;9(12). pii: E1286. doi: 10.3390/nu9121286. Review.
8 Roles of Zinc Signaling in the Immune System.
Hojyo S, Fukada T.
J Immunol Res. 2016;2016:6762343. Epub 2016 Oct 31. Review.
9 Zinc for the common cold.
Singh M, Das RR.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD001364. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3. Review. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;6:CD001364.
10 Selenium, Selenoproteins, and Immunity.
Avery JC, Hoffmann PR.
Nutrients. 2018 Sep 1;10(9). pii: E1203. doi: 10.3390/nu10091203. Review.
11 Probiotics and Paraprobiotics in Viral Infection: Clinical Application and Effects on the Innate and Acquired Immune Systems.
Kanauchi O, Andoh A, AbuBakar S, Yamamoto N.
Curr Pharm Des. 2018;24(6):710-717. doi: 10.2174/1381612824666180116163411. Review.
12 Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells.
Gutiérrez S, Svahn SL, Johansson ME.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Oct 11;20(20). pii: E5028. doi: 10.3390/ijms20205028. Review.
13 Propolis and the immune system: a review.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Aug 15;113(1):1-14. Epub 2007 May 22. Review.
14 Propolis: A Wonder Bees Product and Its Pharmacological Potentials.
Advances in Pharmacological Sciences. 2013 Dec 9; 2013: 308249
15 Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species.
Zhai Z, Liu Y, Wu L, Senchina DS, Wurtele ES, Murphy PA, Kohut ML, Cunnick JE.
Journal of medicinal food. 2007 Sep; 10(3): 423-434
16 A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products.
Porter RS, Bode RF.
Phytother Res. 2017 Apr;31(4):533-554. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5782. Epub 2017 Feb 15. Review.
17 Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA.
Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24; 8(4): 182
18 Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds.
Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI, Flores-Gutiérrez EO, Reyes-Grajeda JP, Carrera-Quintanar L, Ortuño-Sahagún D.
J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi: 10.1155/2015/401630. Epub 2015 Apr 19. Review.
19 Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus.
Cinatl J, Morgenstern B, Bauer G, Chandra P, Rabenau H, Doerr H.
Lancet (London, England). 2003 Jun 14; 361(9374): 2045-2046
20 Anti-Inflammatory and Immunostimulatory Activities of Astragalosides.
Qi Y, Gao F, Hou L, Wan C.
Am J Chin Med. 2017;45(6):1157-1167. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X1750063X. Epub 2017 Aug 22. Review.
21 Immunomodulatory Activity of the Water Extract from Medicinal Mushroom Inonotus obliquus.
Mycobiology. 2005 Sep 30; 33(3): 158-162