Along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, targeted supplements are an excellent way to support immune function. Here are some top recommendations.
Vitamin A and its precursor, beta carotene, and vitamin D3 may be the most studied vitamins for immunity. These two vitamins support various immune cells, including lymphocytes, leukocytes, T-cells and B-cells. They also help regulate proteins produced by the immune system called cytokines, which help alert the body to an infection.
Additionally, vitamin C improves natural killer cell function, and B complex supports the actions of white blood cells.
It’s long been known that people with zinc deficiencies are more susceptible to infections. Zinc also supports many types of immune cells: T-cells, B-cells, macrophages, and more. Selenium is another important mineral for immune health.
Probiotic (aka friendly) bacteria act as a counterbalancing force against infections, and support numerous areas of health. These microbes promote healthy immune function in the digestive tract, in part by increasing immunoglobin-A, an important component of immunity. They also help reduce inflammation and improve digestive function. Since a large percentage of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, making sure you have healthy balance of beneficial bacterial is important.
A variety of mushrooms support immune health by helping to “train” the immune system to function optimally. I recommend a formula with the varieties coriolus, reishi, maitake, cordyceps, agaricus and umbellatus. Each mushroom has its own special benefits, so taking a combination gives you broad coverage.
Modified citrus pectin
Another ingredient that supports immunity is modified citrus pectin (MCP), derived from the pith of citrus peels. Preclinical and clinical research shows MCP supports immunity, cellular health, and the safe detoxification of heavy metals, including lead.
“Differential Effect on Cell-Mediated Immunity in Human Volunteers After Intake of Different Lactobacilli” by C. Rask et al., Clin Exp Immunol, 5/13
“The Role of Modified Citrus Pectin as an Effective Chelator of Lead in Children . . .” by ZY Zhao et al., Altern Ther Health Med, 7-8/08
“The Transcription Factor T-bet is Essential for the Development of NKp46+ Innate Lymphocytes Via the Notch Pathway” by L.C. Rankin et al., Nat Immunol, 4/13
“You AhR What You Eat: Linking Diet and Immunity” by LV Hooper, Cell, 10/28/11
“Vitamin Effects on the Immune System: Vitamins A and D Take Centre Stage” by J.R. Mora et al., Nat Rev Immunol, 9/08
"Zinc: Role in Immunity, Oxidative Stress, and Chronic Inflammation" by A.S. Prasad, Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 8/25/09