YOUR OPTIONS FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS: A PRIMER
In a perfect world, we’d all have immune systems that always kept us from getting sick and required no maintenance, right? But since our world is less than perfect, we’ve got to put forth the effort to support it. Our immune systems are complex networks made up of certain organs, cells, and glands in our bodies. The challenges to our immune systems abound–everything from Covid-19 to cancer. In the face of those things, you might be tempted to just take a multi-vitamin to cover all your bases and call it good. But educating yourself about specific ways to strengthen your immune system and which immune system vitamins are best is better. So what are your best options? Read on!
What Exactly Is the Immune System?
Did you know that your immune system is made up of no less than eight organs, glands, and types of cells? Collectively, they work to keep bacteria and viruses out or destroy them if they get in. They are:
White blood cells
They’re the army that searches for, attacks, and destroys germs that get in. And they either circulate in your bloodstream or live in certain tissues, waiting to be called into action.
Remember how your doctor usually feels your neck if you visit him or her for a possible infection? That’s because swollen, tender lymph nodes are a sign that your body is fighting an infection. Picture them bulging with immune cells that analyze any foreign invaders brought into your body. They’re in charge of recognizing those germs and activating specific white blood cells to fend off those invaders.
Consider this organ the “barracks” for your white blood cell army.
Tonsils and adenoids
They’re more of a front-line defense and can make antibodies to fight off throat and lung infections.
You could call this small organ in your upper chest under your breast bone the white blood cells’ boot camp. This is where they learn to recognize and remember invaders so that an attack can be quickly mounted the next time that invader tries to fight its way in.
Stem cells in the center of your bones develop into a variety of other types of cells, including white blood cells.
This shield that covers your entire body also secretes protective immune system cells.
Stomach and bowel
You have good bacteria in your intestines that kill harmful bacteria.
So, strengthening your immune system means supporting each of those components in functioning well. It’s kind of like sending your soldiers guns. And each component requires different kinds of support. The way you strengthen your stomach and bowel, for instance, is different from how you’d support your white blood cells. Fortunately, you’ve got lots of ways to strengthen each and every part of your immune system.
How Do You Strengthen Your Immune System?
You’ve probably heard a million times that the best ways to strengthen your immune system are:
- Eating good
- Getting good sleep
- Washing your hands
- Cutting out smoking
- Supplementing with immune system vitamins
This is because these actions do one of three things. They either:
- Help provide the specific micronutrients your body needs to strengthen your immune system
- Make more white blood cells
- Stop the depletion of the micronutrients already in your body
The experts at Harvard Medical School say that “following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly.”
If you’re weak in those vitamins because of high stress, poor sleep, or poor diet, you might need a little help getting the vitamins you need to support your immune system. That’s where supplementation comes in.
But which vitamins and supplements are the best? The ones that not only complement your efforts, make up for any deficiencies you might have, or strengthen any of the individual components of your immune system. Which ones are those? Read on!
What are the Best Immune System Vitamins to Take?
Vitamin D does a lot of things. It helps your body absorb calcium. It can reduce cancer cell growth (according to some studies), reduce inflammation, and help control infections. Most importantly, in terms of the immune system, vitamin D boosts immune cells’ production of microbe-fighting proteins. Most people should supplement their diet with either vitamin D2 or D3. This is because few foods naturally contain the vitamin, and many people are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin” because they live in places with relatively little sunshine or don’t get outside very often.
And, since vitamin K acts in synergy with vitamin D, products like our Ortho Molecular K-Force can round out your “assault” on things like upper respiratory infections.
Turmeric, or rather its main component of curcumin, has been shown in many human clinical trials to be effective treating various diseases once they’re contracted. It also helps you fight infection by strengthening your gut microbiota. While you might not think that bacteria living in your intestine would have anything to do with fighting infection, they actually do a lot. In fact, they control how your immune system works! “By communicating with immune cells,” says Ruairi Robertson, PhD of Healthline.com, “the gut microbiome can control how your body responds to infection.”
So strengthening your gut microbiome with products like our Ortho Molecular Turiva should be a priority. Think of it like giving your commander-in-chief a steak dinner.
Similarly, products that enhance micronutrient absorption from the foods you eat can also beef up your defensive barriers. Flora Bites, for instance, helps children digest their food better and keep those nutrients that’ll strengthen their immune systems. Each orange-flavored cube contains a 5 billion CFU blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, as well as 20 mg of vitamin C. Ortho Molecular’s Ortho Biotic does the same thing for adults.
Zinc is a popular recommendation for fighting or shortening colds, but why is that exactly? Unlike vitamins D and K, zinc is a trace mineral, which means it’s an essential mineral needed only in small doses. It’s found in cells throughout the body and helps in immune cell growth. But, since your body can’t store zinc in significant amounts, you need to either eat beef, pork, dark chicken meat, nuts, whole grains, legumes, or yeast regularly or supplement with products like our Reacted Zinc to get enough.
You know that antibodies help you fight off bacteria, viruses, and other harmful invaders. What you might not know are that antibodies are actually specific proteins that your immune cells make to do the fighting. And immunoglobulins are a type of antibody. Having too few immunoglobulins in your body, according to Melinda Ratini, DO, MS of WebMed, gives you a greater chance of getting infections. Having too many could mean you have allergies or an overactive immune system. Our IgG Protect is a highly concentrated immunoglobulin formula that, taken as directed, helps you get the immunoglobulins you need.
The Short of It
So really, when we’re talking immune system vitamins, we’re talking about not just vitamins, but also minerals, probiotics, and immunoglobulins. A complex system fighting an enemy on many fronts needs a variety of tools to meet the challenge! Between healthy lifestyle choices and supplementation with immune system vitamins and supplements like vitamin D, Zinc, turmeric, and immunoglobulins, you’ve got the “weapons” you need to win the war!
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