Germs are everywhere. All-day long, you are bombarded by immune challengers that could potentially make you sick. Fortunately, your body has a robust defense against these microbes-your immune system. When it's functioning at its best, your immune system can fight off many immune challenges before they can cause illness. As a result, you must support it. Read on to learn how taking a combination of zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D supplements may help keep your immune system running smoothly.
What Vitamins and Minerals Boost the Immune System?
The following vitamins and minerals play a role in immune support:
Vitamin C helps defend the body from free radicals that lead to oxidative stress. In addition, it allows your body to clean out damaged cells and produce healthy cells that support a robust immune response. Multiple studies have shown that vitamin C benefits the immune system. Research suggests that it may enhance the immune system’s ability to produce white blood cells, which are key elements of the body’s immune response against foreign microorganisms.
Vitamin D is a critical component of your immune system. It helps germ-fighting white blood cells do battle and regulate inflammation. Research shows that the vitamin D receptor is present on immune cells and vitamin D is a key regulator of the body’s immune response. Vitamin D helps to support both arms of the immune response in important ways, including the innate and adaptive immune responses. As a modulator of immune function, it also keeps the immune response in balance. An overactive immune system can lead to excess inflammation and ultimately cause damage to cells in the body. Vitamin D pushes the cells of the immune system away from producing inflammatory cytokines towards the increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Zinc benefits the immune system in various ways. It modulates inflammation and helps cells communicate to carry out immune system activity. The mineral acts as a shield to help prevent germs from entering cells. Scientific evidence suggests zinc may make people less likely to develop respiratory tract infections. In addition, the mineral may shorten recovery time for people with respiratory tract challenges.
Vitamin Deficiency and Immune System Function
The benefits of zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C make these three nutrients essential to immune system function and overall health and well-being. Those who suffer from a vitamin C, zinc, or vitamin D deficiency may also have impaired immune systems.
- Vitamin C deficiency is rare in the U.S. Only about 7% of Americans develop vitamin C deficiency. Those most at risk are individuals who: abuse alcohol, do not eat a well-balanced diet, smokers, and individuals with diabetes and digestive disorders. However, the benefits of vitamin C go beyond the immediate needs of replenishing a deficiency. Vitamin C is a key antioxidant in the body and extra vitamin C offers additional protection for immune health.
- Vitamin D deficiency is much more common. The nutrient is not found in many foods. Instead of absorbing it from other sources, your body manufactures vitamin D when you're exposed to sunlight. People who spend most of their time indoors may develop vitamin D deficiency, which has been shown to increase the risk of developing immune health challenges.
- Zinc deficiency affects roughly 30% of all adults, and research suggests that approximately 16% of all respiratory immune challenges worldwide are linked to a lack of the mineral. Vegetarians, pregnant and nursing women, those who abuse alcohol, and individuals with sickle cell disease and gastrointestinal problems are most at risk for deficiency.
How To Boost Your Immune System
Follow these tips to support immune system function:
Take an immune booster supplement.
Supplementation can significantly decrease your risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Specifically, taking a combination of vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc may help support your immune system. Combination products that provide a balanced dose of each nutrient make it simple to meet your immune system's nutritional needs without juggling multiple products.
As you compare your options, look for supplements containing vitamin D3, a form of vitamin D, easy for the body to digest and utilize. Although supplements are generally safe, you should always discuss new ones with your doctor and follow the dosage instructions recommended by the manufacturer unless your medical provider gives you other advice.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
In addition to taking supplements, strive to eat various healthy foods every day. A well-balanced diet includes:
- Whole grains and legumes
- Fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors
- Lean proteins
- Low-fat dairy products
- Healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
Get enough rest.
Much of your immune system's activities take place while you sleep. If you're not getting enough shuteye every night, your immunity may suffer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. You can improve your sleep quality by avoiding blue light-producing screens close to bedtime, reducing your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and following a set sleep schedule where you go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day.