Between the picnics, barbecues and family gatherings that come with the spring and summer months, the last thing you want to do is miss out on a day of fun in the sun because you’re feeling under the weather. Our immune system naturally weakens as we age and/or are exposed to toxins, making it especially important to get the daily dose of the vitamins and minerals necessary to our body’s overall health. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a start, but it most likely will not provide you with the nutritional boost needed to truly bolster your immune health. If you regularly feel run down or are concerned about maintaining your overall health as you age, consult with your doctor about taking these five key supplements to boost your immune system.
Did you know over 70% of our immune system cells are found in the digestive system? With this in mind, it’s no surprise probiotics make the list of key supplements for immune health. Also known as the “healthy gut hero,” probiotics act as a “good” bacteria that balances out “bad” bacteria to keep your gut working properly. Ensuring that your gut is protected from being overrun by harmful bacteria will keep your immune system cells strong and functioning at their optimal level.
Recommended Probiotic Intake: With names like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus and dosages ranging from 1 billion to 350 billion live units, determining the right type of probiotic supplement to take should be determined based on a conversation with your doctor. Finding the proper probiotic dosage to maintain the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut requires a deeper look into the individual needs and habits of each person, such as their diet, health history and antibiotics they might be taking. While it isn’t necessarily harmful to consume too many probiotics, it is best to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional to find your ideal daily intake. Keep in mind that many are grown in dairy. Therefore if you have a sensitivity to dairy, be sure to find a dairy free version.
For a full body cleanse and immunity boost, look no further than ginger root. Ginger is a long standing go-to supplement for immune health due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which help fight, treat and protect against infection. Ginger is also known as a natural purifier of the lymphatic system, a network of organs and tissues that help rid the body of harmful toxins and waste. Utilizing ginger root to clear the lymphatic system will allow lymph – a fluid containing infection fighting white blood cells – to transport throughout the body.
Recommended Ginger Root Intake: Adults should not exceed more than 4 grams of ginger root per day in capsule form, powders or in food/drinks. Ginger taken in regular quantities could act as a blood thinner, so discuss with your doctor first if you are taking any anticoagulant medication.
Zinc is one of the most essential minerals when looking to promote a healthy immune system for several reasons. The body requires zinc to activate T-cells, a subtype of white blood cells produced by the thymus gland. When activated, these T-cells act as an infection assassin, hunting down and eliminating virus-infected and even cancerous cells from the body. Zinc is also a powerful antioxidant, and has been known to shorten the duration and severity of the common cold when taken regularly.
Recommended Zinc Intake: Healthy adult men should strive for about 11 milligrams of zinc per day, while healthy adult women should aim for 8 milligrams of zinc per day. Those who eat zinc-rich diets containing beef, chicken, shellfish, kidney beans or fortified cereals should first consult with a doctor before taking zinc supplements to prevent potential zinc toxicity.
Elderberry is an age-old immune booster used as a natural remedy for fighting infections for hundreds of years. Elderberries are packed with the antioxidant anthocyanin, which helps to protect against cell damage and maintain a healthy immune response. They are also rich in flavonoids, which are extremely effective in reducing swelling, fighting inflammation and preventing upper respiratory infections.
Recommended Elderberry Intake: There is no universally suggested dosage for elderberry, as the recommended intake varies depending on your method of ingestion (extract, capsule or lozenge) and the intended use. To maintain immune health, strive for one tablespoon, capsule or lozenge of elderberry per day. To fight an illness, repeat every 4-6 hours as suggested by your doctor.
Another centuries old natural remedy, echinacea makes the list of supplements to boost your immune system because of its antiviral and antimicrobial properties. In addition to bolstering immune health, echinacea is a natural adaptogen, or stress reliever. Ridding your body of stressors, whether physical, chemical or environmental, will help to ensure your immune system stays in its prime illness fighting shape.
Recommended Echinacea Intake: Echinacea supplements are most effective when taking 1-2 capsules 2-4 times per day for up to ten days. However, those suffering from inflammation of the throat might find warm echinacea in liquid form (such as loose tea leaves or extracts) to be soothing. In this instance, strive for 1-2 grams of tea leaves or .75ml of echinacea root extract for the optimal effect.
Choosing the Right Supplements to Boost Your Immune System
With so many variables in play, determining the perfect combination of supplements to boost your immune system can be quite the challenge. For this reason, it’s crucial to first discuss your concerns with a functional medicine doctor. Together, you and your doctor will assess your age, diet and health history in order to determine the ideal supplements tailored to your needs and lifestyle.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. If you’re ready to start your journey to a healthier, happier life, schedule your visit today!