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Immune Support Supplements - What Are They and Do They Work?

immune support products

The wonders of immune system do not cease to amaze as it protects our bodies from harmful bacteria and viruses, helps to ward off infections and provides the necessary anti-bodies needed. It even has the ability to remember viruses and be prepared to be even more effective during the next attack. But, because of a variety of factors, there are periods of time when our built-in immune system can use a helping hand from immune support supplements.

Pin Immune Support Supplements

The market for nutritional supplements is filled with all types of formulations of immunity strengthening supplements and vitamins. It’s important to familiarize ourselves with the most potent types of supplements and compare ingredients as we select them.

Factors That Can Weaken Immunity

One factor that can weaken our immune system is a poor and unhealthy diet. Typical diets today include a variety of sugary drinks and processed foods with poor nutritional value. When our bodies consume sugar the immune system cells that are responsible for attacking bacteria are weakened[1]. Web M.D. notes that this harmful effect can last for a couple of hours after drinking a few sugary drinks[2]. Other factors that can affect our immune systems are a lack of sleep[3] and exercise[4], which can lead to high levels of stress hormones and in turn, promote inflammation in the body. Many steps can be taken to reduce stress and eliminate stressful issues in life with the goal of strengthening the immune system. In addition, high quality immune system supplements may also help in this regard.

Immune Systems and the Elderly

A special health report from Harvard Health Publications discusses how age affects the functions of the immune system[5]. It is generally agreed that the aging process reduces immune response capabilities in some way. This study also shows that as lymphocytes die off, an elderly immune system can actually lose its memory of the microbes it’s supposed to fight off, failing to recognize these microbes when they reappear in the body. A form of malnutrition known as micronutrient malnutrition can sometimes affect the elderly, even in highly developed countries. This condition happens when a person lacks essential vitamins and trace minerals in their diet. This might be the result of elderly people tending to eat less in general, resulting in an incomplete diet. An important question to ask would be whether immune system supplements would benefit the elderly[6].

Super Foods That Can Strengthen Immunity

Our immune systems can be kept strong and working efficiently by shopping smart in our supermarket’s produce section. According to Web M.D., there are a variety of fruits and vegetables, also known as super foods, that we can add to our diet to maintain optimum health. These foods contain antioxidants, which are some of the most important components needed to strengthen the immune system. In order to consume the three main antioxidant vitamins, beta-carotene[7], vitamin C[8] and vitamin E[9], we can select colorful foods such as those with red, orange and yellow hues.

For a beta-carotene power packed medley one can select kale, green peppers, squash and tomatoes. Sweet treats that also include beta-carotene and other carotenoids are apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, nectarine, peaches, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes and watermelon. Delicious vitamin C rich foods such as blueberries, strawberries, snow peas, kiwi, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts also contain immune boosting antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables that contain vital vitamin E are spinach, turnip greens, nuts, papaya and pumpkin, chili pepper. This is just a partial list of antioxidant rich food sources. Cinnamon, while classified as a spice, is another grreat immune support super food. Figs garlic, ginger, green tea, tomatoes, mushrooms and pomegranates also provide great benefits.

The Role of Beta Glucan Supplements

Many would agree that an extremely effective way to fortify the immune system is by taking supplements that include Beta Glucans. These are long chain polysaccharides, also known as special poly-glucose and complex sugar. Beta glucans can be found in a variety of sources, from the bran of certain cereal grains to certain types of mushrooms, fungi and in baker’s yeast. They work by stimulating our blood cells, also known as macrophages, which activates many important immune body functions, essentially boosting the immune system[10]. This in turn can provide what the body needs to battle harmful bacteria and germs. Beta glucans also work to increase the number of immune cells, further benefiting the overall condition of the immune system. Damaged tissues are repaired in a more effective way and the removal of cellular waste from oxidative deterioration is increased. Lipid levels can also significantly be reduced with the use of beta glucan. It does this by lowering bad cholesterol and LDL as well as by regulating the general cholesterol level in the body[11]. This in turn helps to ward off adverse conditions and strengthen immunity[12]. There are various immune’s support supplements that can provide adequate amounts of Beta glucans along with other helpful nutrients.

Boost Immunity With Zinc

Another key antioxidant that can support the immune system from damaging free radicals is Zinc[13]. Free radicals are harmful byproducts of oxygen-based reactions that can cause damage to cells. Zinc can play a part in protecting the body in various ways, such as by promoting wound healing and protecting against certain skin conditions[14]. It also supports the immune system by helping to increase the production of white blood cells, which the body sends out to attack invaders[15]. Other benefits of Zinc include increased production of reproductive health, better blood sugar control, a healthier metabolism, an improved brain function, stronger skeletal growth and a healthier production of multiple thyroid hormones. There are also several food sources that are high in zinc and high in protein. These can be found in cheddar cheese, oysters, peanuts and roast beef.

The Immune Boosting Benefits of Selenium

Selenium is a trace element that is considered a necessary mineral as well as a powerful antioxidant. Our bodies utilize selenium in the manufacturing of selenoproteins. These are strong enzymes that can provide protection from aging and stress. Since stress can trigger a faster production rate of free radicals, selenium is seen as important in tolerating stress since it helps to clean up these extra byproducts[16]. A healthier functioning thyroid, which is where immune system cells mature, can be an added benefit of selenium. The efficiency of certain vitamins and powerful antioxidant can be boosted when combined with selenium[17]. For example when combined with vitamin E, excess inflammation issues. Since an overdose of selenium may be toxic, care must be taken when taking any selenium immune support supplements by sticking to the appropriate recommended dosages.

When selecting beneficial and high quality immune support supplements it’s important to seek out a company with a proven track record. Along with supplements, a diet rich in super foods that provide antioxidant support, along with all the essential vitamins and minerals, can prove to be beneficial in boosting the immune system.

  1. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/family-nutrition/sugar/harmful-effects-excess-sugar
  2. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/sodas-and-your-health-risks-debated
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
  4. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007165.htm
  5. http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm
  6. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ss10/nutrition.html
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10511324
  8. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/
  9. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002406.htm
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634
  11. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=104429
  12. http://www.jhoonline.org/content/2/1/25
  13. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/ss03/zinc.html
  14. http://knowledgeofhealth.com/modern-day-zinc-deficiency-epidemic/
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257729/
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16105679
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2698273/