Immune System Supplements: How Do They Work?
When we are in poor health, every part of our lives can be affected — from our social lives, to our finances, to our careers.
That’s why it’s so important to support your immune system so that it can work to defend you against unwanted sickness and promote good health all around. Because of this, more and more people are turning to immune system supplements to help support their immune systems.
Today, we will go through everything you need to know about immune system supplements. By the end, you’ll have a good understanding of what these supplements are trying to do, how they do it, what ingredients they use to accomplish their goals, and what to look for in your supplements. Let’s get started.
What Is the Goal of Immune System Supplements?
To start things off, it’s important to understand the purpose of immune system supplements, how they work, and what to look for.
Many people believe that the only time an immune supplement is needed is when you're feeling under the weather. In fact, providing nourishment for your body and meeting all of your daily requirements for nutrients makes sense to do at least seasonally, and for some of us, daily.
Dietary supplements with a focus on immune support give your body an adequate dose of the micronutrients your immune system needs to function. They help keep your natural immune system in tip-top shape, utilizing the power that already lies within your body to support your health.
How Do They Do It?
In order to have a healthy immune system, the various parts of your immune system require certain vitamins and minerals to function. Think of carbs, proteins, and fats as the fuel for your body and vitamins and minerals as the tools your body uses to accomplish a certain task.
The health benefits of immune supplements stem from your immune system having all of the tools it needs to get stuff done! The result is properly supported immune function for your body.
These vitamins help keep your immune response strong, maintaining solid immune health so that your body is always ready to defend itself.
What Do Immune Supplements Do Specifically?
There are a few ways that immune system supplements seek to help your body. In general, there are a few different areas where your body is prone to weakness. Supplements work to help support those areas by giving your body the nutrients they need to stay strong.
One way supplements do this is with antioxidants. To understand antioxidants, we first need to understand free radicals.
Free radicals are independent molecules in the human body that have an unpaired electron. These molecules aren’t part of a larger body part; rather, they’re floating freely.
Because of this extra electron, these molecules are highly reactive, and if they come in contact with your cells, they can cause damage to them in the form of oxidative stress, which can cause damage to lipids, proteins, and even your DNA.
This damage can cause aging and illness in your body, so it’s important to try and fight it. Antioxidants are the solution. They donate one of their own electrons to the free radicals, making the molecule less reactive, so oxidative stress is reduced throughout the body.
Scientists are discovering more and more about free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies and healthcare. Getting enough antioxidants is a great way to support your body’s health and combat oxidative stress.
Your digestive system is another area that needs help in your body. It’s one of the most complex systems in your body because of the delicate balance of bacteria living in your gut. Your intestines contain a microbiome of healthy bacteria that helps your body break down foods and absorb the nutrients you give it.
This community of bacteria is an incredibly important part of your health. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to digest the foods that are of paramount importance to our diets. Not only that, but these healthy bacteria also help to crowd out any bad bacteria that enter our digestive tract.
Probiotics contain healthy bacteria that support this community in your gut, which contributes to maintaining your gut health and supporting immune function.
Immune System Function
Supplements also aim to help support your immune system and immune cells in general. Maintaining a diet with all the nutrients you need for a healthy immune system can be incredibly difficult. Immune supplements help bridge that nutritional gap.
Supplements can help your white blood cells, T cells, and B cells support your wellness and keep your lymphatic system functioning properly. Supplements can also help your bone marrow produce red and white blood cells and so much more.
Multivitamins and other supplements help you maintain a healthy diet, complete with the micronutrients you need, to support your immune system and body.
What Vitamins and Minerals Are Common in Immune Supplements?
Generally, some micronutrients are more important than others when it comes to immune health. Here are some of the most common ingredients you might find in an immunity supplement.
Vitamin A is an incredibly important vitamin for the immune system. You’ve probably heard the old wives' tale that the vitamin A in carrots helps you see well at night. This is partly true, as it supports eye health, but it does far more than that.
In the immune system, vitamin A supports healthy white blood cells, and it helps support the activity of immune system cells. It’s found in many animal products and plants like carrots and leafy greens.
Another essential vitamin is vitamin C. You probably know that this nutrient is common in immune system supplements. Here’s why.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant. It’s important for defending your body against pathogens like viral infections and bacterial infections, but it also plays a role in healing wounds. Vitamin C helps support both the part of your immune system that you're born with (called the innate immune system) and the part that learns over time from the various illnesses you experience during your life (called the adaptive immune system).
You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, bell peppers, tomatoes, turmeric, and vitamin C supplements.
Vitamin D, specifically D3, is critical for various reasons. Multiple studies in both adults and children have shown that being deficient in vitamin D is associated with a higher risk and greater severity of infections.
Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common amongst Americans because it is tough to get enough from our diets alone. It’s mostly found in fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Because of our generally low intake, vitamin D supplements can help ensure that our levels of this vitamin are adequate.
Another common and important antioxidant is vitamin E. This vitamin is involved in over 200 chemical reactions in the body, so it plays a key role in your health.
Vitamin E is even more concentrated in your immune cells than in your bloodstream, and is recognized for being critical for modulating immune function.
You can find vitamin E in plant foods with high levels of fat, such as avocados, almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.
Zinc is a very well-known ally for the immune system--many of us have probably seen or used throat lozenges containing zinc when we start to feel a sniffle.
Zinc is vital to the immune system for its role in the production of key immune cells.
Zinc is also important for building various proteins throughout the body, and it even plays a role in the construction of DNA. It’s important for over 100 enzymes in the body to perform certain chemical reactions.
Not to mention, zinc is important for maintaining proper taste and smell, and it even has effects that help support the health of your skin.
Another critical component for immune health is fatty acids due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Many people understand that unsaturated fats are healthy and helpful for our heart health, but not as many people know that they are important for the immune system.
Healthy fats like omega-3s, omega-6s, omega-7s, and omega-9s are helpful throughout the body. They help support a healthy inflammatory response in the body, maintain the health of cell membranes, and provide energy for your body.
Omega-3s can come typically from fatty fish like salmon or tuna, but they also can be found in certain species of algae. So algae-based supplements like ours are great sources of omega-3s for people with a plant-based diet.
Not All Supplements Are Created Equal
Now you know some of the ingredients to look for when you’re shopping for immune system supplements. But that’s not the only thing you should look for.
Depending on where you're buying your supplement, the products you're considering may have been held to a wide range of quality standards. Does this store permit artificial colors and flavors to be used in the supplements they sell? Is this an online-only brand that you've never heard of elsewhere and doesn't seem to have many reviews? While there are regulations about how supplements are manufactured, it takes a reputable company to create products with your best interest in mind.
So it’s important to get your supplements from quality companies that have integrity as a core value. Look for companies that guarantee accurate nutrition information and sustainable farming practices so you know your supplements are the right fit for your own standards and values.
Here at iwi, our immune-boosting EPA supplement is sourced from algae for a plant-based and sustainable way to give your body the support it needs. Our supplement is free of sugar, gelatin, nuts, dairy, hidden additives, and artificial colors and flavors so that you can rest assured that you are getting high-quality immune support.
Other Ways To Help Your Immune System
But supplements aren’t the end of the story when it comes to supporting the health of your immune system. A healthy lifestyle is also of paramount importance if you’re trying to stay healthy. Here are some things you need to do in order to keep your body healthy.
First, make sure you have a healthy diet. Any dietitian or nutritionist will tell you that the food you eat is one of the first steps to healthy living. Make sure you get a healthy dose of vegetables and fruits every day, as they are packed with the micronutrients your body needs. Also, focus on getting your carbs from whole grains and your proteins from lean protein sources to make for a balanced diet.
Also, you need to make sure you stay active. Physical activity is important for keeping all parts of your body strong, not just your musculoskeletal system.
Finally, a healthy amount of sleep is critical to staying healthy. Sleep is when your body gets to recuperate, get rid of various waste from its systems, and generally rest and restore itself. It’s vital to get enough sleep each night so you can support your immune system and the rest of your body as well.
Immune system supplements are a great way to get your body the nutrients it needs to keep your immune system functioning properly. If your diet lacks any important nutrients, it might be a good idea to pick up an immune supplement to make sure your immune system has the tools it needs to work for you as it should.
Now you know everything you need to know about how these supplements work and what to look for when you’re shopping for one.