Your immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes, and chemicals that constantly defends your body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins, and bacteria.
Keeping your immune system healthy year-round is key to preventing infection and disease. Making healthy lifestyle choices by consuming nutritious foods and getting enough sleep and exercise are the most important ways to bolster your immune system.
In addition, research has shown that supplementing with certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances can improve immune response and potentially protect against illness.
However, note that some supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Some may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements.
The 10 Best Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now
Licorice contains many substances, including glycyrrhizin, that may help protect against viral infections. According to test-tube research, glycyrrhizin exhibits antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory-syndrome-related coronavirus(SARS-CoV).
This herb contains andrographolide, a terpenoid compound found to have antiviral effects against respiratory-disease-causing viruses, including enterovirus D68 and influenza A.
Garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It has been shown to enhance immune health by stimulating protective white blood cells like NK cells and macrophages. However, human research is limited.
Selenium is a mineral that’s essential for immune health. Animal research demonstrates that selenium supplements may enhance antiviral defence against influenza strains, including H1N1.
Astragalus is an herb commonly used in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Animal research suggests that its extract may significantly improve immune-related responses.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used since ancient times to prevent and treat infection and disease. Many types of medicinal mushrooms have been studied for their immune-boosting potential. Over 270 recognized species of medicinal mushrooms are known to have immune-enhancing properties.
Cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, shitake, reishi, and turkey tail are all types that have been shown to benefit immune health. Some research demonstrates that supplementing with specific types of medicinal mushrooms may enhance immune health in several ways, as well as reduce symptoms of certain conditions, including asthma and lung infections.
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which has long been used to treat infections, is being researched for its effects on immune health. In test-tube studies, elderberry extract demonstrates potent antibacterial and antiviral potential against bacterial pathogens responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and strains of the influenza virus,
What’s more, it has been shown to enhance immune system response and may help shorten the duration and severity of colds, as well as reduce symptoms related to viral infections.
Vitamin C is perhaps the most popular supplement taken to protect against infection due to its important role in immune health. This vitamin supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It’s also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones.
Vitamin C also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress can negatively affect immune health and is linked to numerous diseases.
Zinc is a mineral that’s commonly added to supplements and other healthcare products like lozenges that are meant to boost your immune system. This is because zinc is essential for an immune system function. Zinc is needed for immune cell development and communication and plays an important role in the inflammatory response.
A deficiency in this nutrient significantly affects your immune system’s ability to function properly, resulting in an increased risk of infection and disease, including pneumonia.
Zinc deficiency affects around 2 billion people worldwide and is very common in older adults. In fact, up to 30% of older adults are considered deficient in this nutrient. Numerous studies reveal that zinc supplements may protect against respiratory tract infections like the common cold.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. Vitamin D enhances the pathogen-fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defence and decrease inflammation, which helps promote an immune response.
Many people are deficient in this important vitamin, which may negatively affect immune function. In fact, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of upper respiratory tract infections, including influenza and allergic asthma.
Source: | Healthline