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Supplements for a Healthy Immune System

As we ease into another winter season in the northern hemisphere, seasonality of disease processes is going to be top of mind. Regardless of what virus is making the rounds, we know that more people tend to be impacted during the winter months.

There are a number of reasons for this. Summer months have us outside and we get more exposure to sunlight which contributes to Vitamin D stores in our body. We are more active. We get more fresh air. Vacation, beach or cottage time, and other fun summer activities add joy to our lives and yes, even happiness has been linked to improved immune response. As we retreat to our “normal routines” of school and activities in the fall combined with more stress, less sun, less outdoor time, and a drop in temperatures, etc., our immune systems are tested more strenuously.

 

The logical question would be – how can I best support my immune system? I want to dive deeply into supplementation. I believe in supplementation because I know our soils are depleted and can’t possibly be providing the same levels of nutrition to our foods as was formerly the case. I attend a presentation at a nutrition conference and someone commented that it takes up to 100 oranges to get the same amount of vitamin C than 1 orange gave us just 50 yrs ago. That’s alarming! So even if you do eat a really healthy, balanced diet, we’re not getting the nutrients we need from our food thus making supplementation a necessity not a luxury. Top of mind these days still has to be supporting our immune system. There is a lot of research (like this paper here) to shine line on the concept of the importance of supplementation for immune support.

 

*Please note the following are recommendations and not to be used in place of medical advice.

 

Vitamin D

This would have been a very simple and affordable solution to the Covid crisis that impacted the world. If every human being had been granted access to Vitamin D, our cases, hospitalizations and likely deaths would have been significantly reduced. Vitamin D is the number one supplement for immune support, in my opinon. nTruthfully, current recommendations for supplemental Vitamin D are too low. A 2017 study from Finland shows that we need to drastically increase our intake of Vitamin D. (1) Nutritionally, we only are meant to get about 20% of our vitamin D and that’s primarily from food sources people do not eat: wild eggs, quality fish, and non-pasteurized milk. 80% of our exposure should come from UV-B rays but we are taught to stay out of the sun and in Canada, we receive even less during the winter months. The study indicates that children can safely consume between 1000-3000 IU/day and adults can safely take upwards of 8000 IU/day.

 

Vitamin D supplementation, especially in low sun seasons, should be a daily requirement for health as 70% of the population of North America has inadequate stores of Vitamin D. nFor more information, dive into this podcast interview I did with Megan Pennington, an Integrative Health Practitioner who specializes in digestive health, autoimmunity and inflammatory conditions.

 

Zinc

There is an abundance of research to show that those who are deficient in Zinc are more susceptible to pathogens and resultantly, infection. Zinc is crucial for a number of immune system functions including the normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity, affecting development of acquired immunity, impacting Th1 cytokine production, supporting B lymphocyte function, antibody production, and more. (2) nIt has a function in over 300 catalytic enzymatic reactions, is a co-factor in the structure of cells, and has a regulating function in over 2000 transcriptive factors in your body. nWhereas Vitamin D can be stored in your body, Zinc is a vitamin that is eliminated after its daily requirements are met. It can be found in your diet in certain types of seafood, legumes, and grains however 30% of individuals are deficient in Zinc. Therefore, it may be important as a daily supplement. The recommended daily allowance for Zinc is 8-11 mg per day for adult females and males respectively. For children, see this graph here.

 

Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavin-oid often found in onions, leafy greens, broccoli, green tea, apples, and berries. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits.(3) Another study noted its properties as anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agents.(4)nWhen it comes to immune support, it regulates the immune response to outside threats by cell signaling pathways needed for proper cellular function. It has a host of other benefits to the circulatory system and nervous system as well as positively impacting the liver and skin.

 

Vitamin C

 

Remember when Vitamin C was all the rage when it came to immune support and then other vitamins and nutrients took the spotlight from it? Vitamin C is still extremely important when it comes to your immune system.

Vitamin C is the fourth leading vitamin deficiency in the United States. While available in a slew of vegetables and fruits, many people still lack this vitamin. It’s most bioavailable form in supplements is ascorbic acid. We were taught growing up thinking that Vitamin C deficiency only shows as scurvy however immune function is depleted when Vitamin C is low. Similar to Zinc, your body’s storage capacity requires regular adequate intake of Vitamin C.

 

Probiotics/Prebiotics

Probiotics are designed to dose you with good gut bacteria and restore your gut biome (this is so important for immunity!). Specific to current concerns, it has been shown that a variety of microbe help prevent against respiratory disease. (5)nPrebiotic fibres are equally important as bacteria need to feast on a variety of them to maintain their growth and proliferation. nI personally use PB Assist from doTERRA as well as the doTERRA Fibre supplement which provides a good range of prebiotics fibres.

 

Digestive Enzymes

The purpose of digestive enzymes is to help break down food to better absorb nutrients from what you eat. If you look at the basis of “let food be thy medicine”, nutrient absorption is crucial. My choice of digestive enzymes. is Terrazyme from doTERRA.

 

Life Long Vitality

This is a daily use three part supplement, from doTERRA, I have used for five years now. It consists of a whole food (that means made from food) multi vitamin/nutrient, fish oil, essential oil, and cellular complex. It has multiple health benefits, including supporting immune system function, which you can read about here. nnAt the end of the day, your health is nobody’s responsibility other than yours. How you choose to support it is up to you and the outcome as a result of choices needs to be one you also accept. I firmly believe in taking time to educate yourself on what self and health care options are out there and I hope this post is a stepping stone for you on this path.

 

Until next time, here’s to your good health!

 

Sourcesn(1) Dimitrios T. Papadimitriou, “the Big Vitamin D Mistake”, J Prev Med Public Health. 2017 Jul; 50(4): 278–281n(2) A H Shankar 1, A S Prasad, “Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection”, American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 1998 Aug; 68(2 Suppl):447S-463Sn(3) Jae Kwang Kim, Sang Un Park, “Quercetin and its role in biological functions: an updated review”, Excli Journal, 2018; 17: 856–863.n(4) Salvatore Chirumbolo, “The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function”, Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets, 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85.n(5) https://internationalprobiotics.org/covid-19-a-role-for-probiotics-in-immunity/nimmune systemHealthHome Health Tool Boximmune supportquercetinvitamin Dsupplementsprobioticslife long vitalityvitamin Cterrazymedigestive enzymeszinc

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