One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more people are learning how supplements benefit the immune system. Here is an explanation of how supplements can be a powerful tool in your wellness arsenal and what types of supplements you should consider.
Understanding How Supplements Benefit the Immune System
The body’s immune system is defined as the vast network of major organs and cells that work in unison to guard against harmful environmental toxins and microorganisms that cause harm. A properly functioning immune system is vital for a healthy lifestyle. Conversely, a weakened immune system puts you at risk of developing everything from a minor cold to a serious infection.
In order to create an environment where the immune system will thrive, you need to nourish your body with the right micronutrients. There are a number of micronutrients that will work to boost immune function. Even the best-laid dietary plans can fall short of providing all the nutrients that your immune system needs to fire on all cylinders. A targeted supplement plan will help to fill in the gaps so that you know you are cultivating proper immune function.
Vitamin C and the Immune System
Many people already understand the role that vitamin C plays in the support of healthy immune function. Also known as ascorbic acid, this water-soluble vitamin is a powerhouse for immune support, thanks to its ability to promote tissue growth and repair, help with wound healing, promote iron absorption and more. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it boosts the body’s capability to guard against harmful free radicals, lowering the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
Those individuals who are deficient in vitamin C are at an increased risk of infection, making it important that you get plenty of this nutrient each day. Because the body does not make vitamin C on its own, you will need to obtain it either through food sources or supplements.
Vitamin D and the Immune System
Vitamin D is another nutrient that has been identified as being helpful in the support of a healthy immune system. This fat-soluble vitamin is primarily produced when the ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin. However, you can also obtain vitamin D through some specific foods and through supplementation.
This important vitamin plays many roles in the body. While most people associate vitamin D with bone strength, it also serves a function in regulating the immune system. Without proper intake of vitamin D, you are at a higher risk of developing a number of autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Numerous bodies of research have pointed to vitamin D as being potentially instrumental in preventing the common cold while also shortening the duration of symptoms. In recent months, the vitamin has also been increasingly studied for its potential ability to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19.
Probiotics and the Immune System
Probiotics are live microorganisms that deliver a host of health benefits to the body. While you can find probiotics naturally occurring in some types of fermented foods, they are most commonly obtained through the use of supplements. Probiotics are recognized by their specific strain, with some strains providing greater immune system boosts.
How a probiotic strain is structured determines the effect that it will have on the immune system. Each strain will influence the immune function in varying ways, making it important that you choose the right strain of probiotics if boosting your immune system is your goal. As a whole, all probiotics share the common effect of secreting metabolites in an effort to boost immune function.
Although the specific impacts of probiotics on your body’s ability to block illness and disease may differ, many of these supplements are designed to promote wellness in the gut and in the respiratory tract.
What About COVID-19 and the Role of Supplements?
As more is learned about COVID-19, it becomes clear that a well-functioning immune system is one of your best lines of defense in preventing serious illness or hospitalization. While the research is not definitive at this point, it certainly does not hurt to stay on top of your supplement game if guarding against this virus is important to you. Even if you contract the virus, you will have put your body in the best position to fight against serious illness if it is healthy to start with.
The bottom line is that a well-executed supplement routine can go a long way in improving the function of your immune system.