Immune Support: 3 Supplements You Should Consider Taking
Sometimes we all need a little help keeping our immune system at its peak performance. Our bodies are constantly fighting off germs and bacteria that we come into contact with, and factors such as stress, diet, and sleep can all affect our body's ability to keep us healthy. Below are some supplements that can help support your body's immune system, keeping you happy and healthy.
What is Vitamin D3 and why is it necessary?
Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D3 is naturally produced by your body when you are exposed to sunlight. Responsible for regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and plays a key role in maintaining normal function of the body’s immune system, improving your body’s defense against certain diseases.
Vitamin D is also important for normal growth and development of teeth and bones, may play a role in mood regulation and hinder symptoms of depression.
When combined with a calcium supplement, may even help suppress appetite and aid with weight loss.
Who may have lower levels of vitamin D?
Some of the factors that may affect your body’s ability to produce enough vitamin D on its own include:
- Lack of exposure to sunlight (either by not spending enough time outside, being in an area with high pollution, or large buildings that block sunlight)
- Using sunscreens
- Having darker skin (higher levels of melanin reduce the amount of vitamin D your body is able to absorb)
- Muscle/ bone aches and pains
- A general sense of not feeling well
- Stress/hairline fractures in bones (especially in legs, hips, and pelvis)
What is the recommended amount of vitamin D?
The daily recommended intake provided by the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences is approximately 600 to 800 IU (international units) per day.
Can you take too much vitamin D?
Although uncommon, vitamin D levels can reach toxic levels by taking excessive amounts of vitamin D3 over an extended period of time.
Reaching dangerous levels of vitamin D is not possible through diet and sun exposure alone, however, vitamin D is stored in body fat and released slowly into the bloodstream, and for those who reach toxic levels of vitamin D, it may last months after you stop taking the supplement.
Some signs that you may be taking too much vitamin D include:
- Elevated vitamin D levels
- Elevated calcium levels
- Digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea)
- bone loss
- Kidney failure
How do I get more vitamin D3?
Low levels of vitamin D are common, since most people don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.
Some foods that contain Vitamin D include:
- Egg yolk
- Milk (fortified- vitamin D added)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Yogurt (fortified)
- Orange juice (fortified)
What is Echinacea and why is it beneficial?
Also called purple coneflower, echinacea is one of the most utilized herbs worldwide, and has been used by Native Americans for the treatment of various illnesses for centuries.
Echinacea is packed with antioxidant compounds, and can help defend your cells from stress that contributes to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Echinacea benefits can include:
- Improve immunity
- May be beneficial treating of symptoms of the common cold and flu
- May reduce pain and inflammation
- May alleviate migraines
- May lower blood sugar levels
- May reduce feelings of anxiety
- May treat skin concerns (such as eczema)
- May help manage uncontrolled cell growth (which causes cancer)
What is the recommended amount of echinacea?
It is best to follow the recommendations of each specific brand/ supplement. However, the doses that are recommended for immunity support are 300 to 500 mg 3 times a day (for powdered supplements) and 2.5 ml 3 times a day (up to 10ml daily) for liquid supplements.
What are the risk factors of taking echinacea?
The following side effects may occur when taking echinacea:
- Itchy skin
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
These side effects are thought to be more common for those individuals who experience allergies to other flowers (such as daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed, etc.)
For individuals with autoimmune disorders or are taking immunosuppressants, echinacea may stimulate the immune system in a harmful way, therefore should consult a healthcare professional before taking the supplement, or avoid it altogether.
What is Vitamin B12 and why is it necessary?
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that is not able to be naturally produced by the body.
Benefits of vitamin B12 include:
- Helps with red blood cell formation and anemia prevention
- May help prevent major birth defects
- May support bone health and prevent osteoporosis
- May reduce your risk of macular degeneration
- May improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression
- May benefit your brain by preventing the loss of neurons
- May give you a boost of energy
- May improve heart health by decreasing homocysteine
- Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails
Who may have lower levels of vitamin B12?
- Older adults
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- People with gastrointestinal disorders (such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease)
- Those who have had gastrointestinal surgeries
- People on a strict vegetarian/ vegan diet
- Those who take metformin for blood sugar control
- Those taking proton pump inhibitors for chronic heartburn
How do I get more vitamin B12?
Foods that contain vitamin B12 include:
- Milk and diary products
- Animal liver and kidneys
- Fish (sardines, tuna, trout, salmon)
- Cereal (fortified)
- Nutritional yeast (fortified)
- Non-dairy milk (fortified)
What is the recommended amount of B12?
While countless supplements options are available, to make sure you're immune system is in tip-top fighting shape we recommend Nutriair Immune and B- Complex to help you manage your daily intake of vitamin D3, vitamin B12, and echinacea extract.
Before taking any new supplements it is best to consult a healthcare professional, especially for individuals with preexisting medical conditions, allergies, and pregnant and nursing women. After determining that a specific supplement is right for you, it is best to start off with the lowest recommended dosage and increase over time to determine how your body will react. If you experience any negative side effects, discontinue use and seek medical attention immediately.
Vitamin D3, echinacea, and vitamin B12 can be great options for individuals who are looking to boost their immune system, and can contribute to many other characteristics of overall health.