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How To Naturally Boost Immunity

Filed Under: Ask The ND,Immunity at 11:48 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
Woman Suffering From Cold Lying In Bed With Tissue

When you have a strong immune system you’re less likely to get sick and miss school, work or even just fall behind in life. We are all busy and just don’t have time to get sick. A strong immune system starts with a properly functioning digestive system. About 80% of your immune system is found inside your digestive system, which means a healthier gut equals a healthier you. Another important factor to consider when it comes to building a proper defense is sleep. Sleep is your body’s healing time and research has found a strong link between your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) and the immune system. Sleep deprivation affects your body’s defenses making it more likely for you to get an infection. Along with supplementation, diet can help boost your immunity. Cooking with garlic and onion is a great way to help improve immune function. Lastly, lay off sugar. It suppresses your immune system.


Supplements To Consider

  • Probiotics are a great way to not only improve gut health, but also boost your overall health and well-being. These beneficial bacteria stimulate the maturation and development of the immune system.
  • Vitamin D plays a critical role in your immune response by assisting your body in making well over 200 antimicrobial peptides, which are necessary in fighting off a wide range of infections. This “hormone” is found in high concentrations in the T-lymphocytes and macrophages. The lymphocytic cells and macrophages are our major protectors against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.
  • Elderberry is an herb that has traditionally been used because of its strong antiviral properties. It’s great for both preventing and helping to treat the flu. Don’t worry about giving this to children it’s safe and taste great.
  • Vitamin A has a strong effect on the immune system by modulating many aspects of our immune cells. Vitamin A is required for innate and adaptive immunity and it enhances our immune system that potentiates the antibody response. Vitamin A also maintains and restores the integrity and function of all mucosal surfaces, which is our first barrier against infection.
  • Zinc helps to keep our immune system strong and is one of the most common recommendations to fight off the common cold. Zinc deficiency has been associated with a decreased function of T-cells and other immune cells. Zinc lozenges are a great way to increase your zinc, and reduce the duration of colds.


How To Read The Label

  • Probiotic – First you want to look at the strength of the probiotic, which is written in CFU (colony forming units). Next you want to look at which species are included in the probiotic and take note of any storage information that might be on the bottle. Lastly look for an expiration date and any allergens that might be contained in the product.
  • Vitamin D – Supplements come in 2 forms. The preferred form of supplementation to look for on the label is Vitamin D3.
  • Elderberry – There isn’t much to look for on the label when it comes to elderberry. The one bit of information I do have since it comes in syrup form is to pay attention to the total sugar in the product. Also, make sure it does not contain artificial flavors, colors, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives.
  • Vitamin A – Supplements are mostly in 2 forms, either retinol or retinyl palmitate.
  • Zinc – Available in several forms so make sure you read the label. More easily absorbed forms of zinc are zinc picolinate, zinc citrate and zinc gluconate. The recommended doses for zinc are in the elemental form, so pay attention to how much is contained in your supplement by reading the label.


Potency Considerations

  • Probiotic – A daily dose of 1 billion to 10 or 15 billion organisms can constitute a good dose. Other research states that 20-25 billion can constitute a good daily dose for an individual with a healthy digestive tract.
  • Vitamin D – 500-5,000 IUs depending on lab work
  • Elderberry – Use as instructed on label
  • Vitamin A – Children 1,000IUs, Adults 3,000 IUs Daily
  • Zinc – 15-25 mg per day


What To Look For

  • Vitamin A can be toxic so consult your healthcare provider before starting.
  • Remember to store a probiotic in the refrigerator.
  • A total of more than 100 milligrams of zinc daily can actually weaken your immune system.
  • Other immune boosting vitamins and herbs include Vitamin C, Echinacea and Astragalus.

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