It is that time of the year when flu season comes in full swing. With the weather changing so drastically, it’s common to start noticing an itchy throat, runny nose, or congested sinuses.
There are a few things you can do to prophylactically help decrease the intensity and frequency of the cold season through supplementation! By boosting the immune system, our bodies become more able to fight off any viruses or bacteria that come our way. 3 supplements that work wonders on our immune system are: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc.
· Vitamin C plays a huge role in maintaining a strong immune defensive system by stimulating neutrophils, a white blood cell that kills bacteria and fungi, to migrate to the area of infection to destroy invading microbes. It also prevents damaging host tissue by self-destructing when it engulfs foreign material to prevent it from spreading.
o Recommended daily allowance for adults: 90mg for men, 75 mg for women
o Vitamin C Sources: Bell peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli, dark green leafy veggies
Vitamin D supports the innate and adaptive immune systems by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines and promoting the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This not only helps with the inflammatory state of our body but also helps avoid an over-exaggerated immune response after getting sick. Vitamin D has been seen to induce regulatory T-cells which are crucial for controlling immune system responses.
o Recommended daily allowance for adults: 10,000 IU/d
- It is suggested to supplement Magnesium as well since it helps activate Vitamin D.
o Vitamin D Sources: Cod liver oil, trout, salmon, mushrooms, dairy/non-dairy milks
Zinc is important in mediating important cells in the innate immune system like T and B cells, neutrophils, macrophages, and more. Research has shown that high intracellular levels of zinc help to neutralize highly reactive chemicals (ROS) and can intoxicate engulfed pathogens in order to avoid spreading.
o Recommended daily allowance for adults: 11mg daily for men, 8mg daily for women.
o Zinc Sources: Seafood, meat, eggs, whole grains, leafy and root veggies
Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017; 9(11):1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211
Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, Baggerly CA, French CB, Aliano JL, Bhattoa HP. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 2;12(4):988. doi: 10.3390/nu12040988. PMID: 32252338; PMCID: PMC7231123.
Prietl B, Treiber G, Pieber TR, Amrein K. Vitamin D and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2013; 5(7):2502-2521. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu5072502
Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017; 9(12):1286. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9121286