Immunity is a complex system that protects the body from harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. Immunity is divided into innate and adaptive and must constantly carefully separate the beneficial and harmful microorganisms.
Congenital immunity performs many functions. One of its main tasks is to direct cells of the immune system to those areas of the body where a possible or real threat is observed to stop the development of infection. He is like a general directing troops to repel an enemy invasion. Congenital immunity also helps to activate the second line of the body's immune defense - adaptive immunity.
The response of an adaptive (or acquired) immune system is based on the action of vaccines and their effectiveness in protecting against infections. In a sense, adaptive immunity is akin to an alarm triggered when a thief enters an apartment to give you time to take the necessary measures and avoid trouble.
The cells of the innate immune system that forms the first line of defense include basophils, dendritic cells, eosinophils, macrophages, mast cells, neutrophils, and natural killer cells.
An adaptive immune system is also called acquired. It includes B cells and T cells.
For the optimal functioning of our immunity, a healthy diet, good sleep, regular physical activity and stress reduction are extremely important. No drugs or supplements can replace a healthy lifestyle.
However, there is evidence that some supplements, vitamins, plants, and adaptogens can help to further strengthen the immune system when a healthy lifestyle is not enough.
N-acetyl L-cysteine is a precursor of glutathione and a powerful antioxidant. It is produced from the natural amino acid L-cysteine . Glutathione is present in humans and animals, in plants and fungi. It helps protect cells from oxidative damage and can help protect your immune system. Studies 1 show an inverse relationship between the level of glutathione in the blood and the risk of developing diseases and infections, especially in the elderly.
Studies 2 also demonstrate the importance of glutathione in maintaining sufficient activity of white blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight infections. According to a 2011 study 3 , the following diseases are associated with decreased levels of glutathione in the blood. Accordingly, its high level can help protect against the disease.
- Acute lung damage / acute respiratory failure syndrome
- Chronical bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Various bacterial and viral infections
According to the Journal of Nutrition, nearly 45% of Americans do not consume enough zinc in their diet , which plays an important role in more than three hundred biochemical reactions in the body. Over 15% of the global population is deficient in zinc 4 .
With age, the absorption of important minerals such as zinc may deteriorate. In addition, inadequate intake of zinc-rich foods or regular alcohol consumption can lead to chronic zinc deficiency. According to a study published in Nutrients 5 in 2018, zinc deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of developing infectious and autoimmune diseases .
A 2005 study 5 showed that zinc can help reduce the virulence of SARS coronavirus. However, at the moment there is no evidence that this effect persists with respect to the COVID-19 virus. In addition, a 2017 study 6 showed that zinc can help prevent other coronaviruses from entering the body's cells.
A 2016 study 7 noted the important role of zinc in promoting the interaction of cells in the immune system. Also, in a study in 2017, published in Nutrients 8 , describes the important role of zinc in the innate and adaptive immunity.
Recommended dosage: lozenges for resorption, 30 mg (according to the label). You can take other types of zinc supplements according to the instructions on the label. Zinc is also found in most multivitamin formulas .
Vitamin C , also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is one of the most studied vitamins in the last 50 years. Studies show that one of the many beneficial properties of vitamin C is its possible beneficial effect in enhancing immunity.
According to a 2018 study published in Antioxidants 9 , Vitamin C is important for the growth and functioning of white blood cells. Currently, studies are underway 10 intravenous administration of vitamin C as a remedy for coronavirus COVID-19. No specific results have yet been obtained.
With a deficiency of vitamin C, the body's immune response worsens - this follows from a study published in 2017 in Nutrients 11 . It is recommended that you take a minimum of 200 mg of vitamin C per day. Recommended dosage for most people: 500-2000 mg per day.
Reishi mushrooms (varnished tinder, varnished ganoderma, ganoderma lucidum, Lingzhi) are used in oriental medicine. They are common in hot and humid Asian regions. They can be eaten, taken in the form of powder or additives. They are believed to be beneficial for immunity.
A 2003 study noted that Reishi mushrooms can help increase the activity of natural killer cells that destroy viruses. A 2008 study 12 demonstrated that these fungi can also help T cells. Finally, in a study in 2019, published in Scientific Reports 13 , describes the antiviral activity of the active ingedienta Reishi mushroom. Recommended dosage: as per label.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), are extremely important for our health. These primarily include eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids. It is believed that they have many beneficial properties for the body as a whole, including the immune system.
According to a 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal 14 , most people’s diets lack in essential fatty acids. And this is bad, since they are useful for immunity (judging by the results of other studies).
A 2019 study of 15 describes how omega-3s can help strengthen adaptive and innate immunity. So, in a 2017 study, 16 noted the important role of these acids in the work of macrophages (cells that eliminate harmful and foreign particles), and in a 2012 study, 17 showed how omega-3s can help macrophages digest pathogenic bacteria.
Omega-3 found in different foods: fish (most rich in these acids mackerel, cod and salmon), walnuts , seeds of chia , flax seeds , seeds hemp , avocado and natto . Recommended dosage: 1000-2000 mg 1-2 times a day.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help not only intestinal function, but also improve overall health and well-being. 80% of the immunity is found in the intestines - therefore beneficial bacteria support health. You should also consider the use of products such as yogurt, kefir, tea kvass . If this is not enough, probiotic supplements will be helpful.
Probiotics are important for the functioning of the immune system. A 2009 study 18 noted that “probiotics can have a positive effect on the severity and duration of symptoms of respiratory tract infections, and their effect on the incidence of such infections has not been identified.”
In a study of 2017 19 shows benefit for their children. After a systematic review, it was concluded that "the use of Lactobacillus rhamnosus does not significantly reduce the duration of a respiratory tract infection."
Finally, in a study in 2017, published in Nutrients 20 , evaluated the use of probiotics and prebiotics in individuals vaccinated against influenza. The study involved 1979 people. The results showed that taking probiotics and prebiotics have a better immune response to the vaccine, that is, their immunity is more responsive to the pathogen, and the likelihood of getting sick will be lower. Recommended dosage: 5-50 billion CFU 1-2 times a day.
Common Ginseng is used for a variety of health problems. It began to be used in Korea, and since then it has been used for more than 2000 years. Ginseng also grows in China and Siberia, and its properties are unique. It should not be confused with other types of ginseng, for example, American or Siberian. Ginseng is also called Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng, or Asian ginseng.
Its active ingredients are ginsenosides.
A 2015 study said ginseng "has a protective effect against RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) through a number of mechanisms, including increasing cell viability, partially inhibiting virus replication, regulating cytokine production, and the delivery of certain immune cells to the lungs."
According to a study published in 2020 in Journal of Ginseng Research 21 , ginseng reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8) produced by cells of the respiratory system and macrophages. Then the scientists note that “In most clinical studies, ginseng in various dosages is a safe and effective way to prevent seasonal diseases, it alleviates symptoms and reduces the risk of developing and the duration of colds and flu.” Recommended dosage: as per label.
|Note: before obtaining more detailed data, the supplements listed below should be taken with caution to those at risk of a “cytokine storm” - a condition that is possible with some acute viral infections. It is believed that the following supplements can increase the level of cytokines IL-1B and IL-18, which is undesirable in acute diseases.|
Echinacea purpurea is a perennial plant that has been used for almost 2000 years. The history of its application dates back to the indigenous population of North America. Echinacea is known for its powerful antioxidant properties and has long been used for infections of the respiratory system, urinary tract and skin. She was 22 safe for prolonged use by children and adults.
A 2015 study published in JAMA 23 found that there was no effect in preventing colds, but said that echinacea could reduce the duration of a common cold due to the alleged support for immunity in the fight against infection.
According to a study published in 2016 by Holistic Nurse Practitioner 24 , echinacea can help prevent a common cold. Other studies have reported a similar effect. Echinacea is often used as tea, supplement or extract. Take as directed on the label.
I accept patients in Southern California, and 80% of them have vitamin D deficiency. In regions where there is little sun, vitamin D deficiency is higher. And in the cold season, it grows even stronger.
Vitamin D is important for regulating the functioning of innate and adaptive immunity and its response to pathogens. Excerpt from the 2015 study 25 : “Vitamin D transmits signals through the Vitamin D receptor (VDR), the zinc-finger nuclear receptor.”
A 2018 study26 demonstrated the importance of taking vitamin D during pregnancy and its role in the development of the fetal immune system. Researchers say: "The level of exposure to vitamin D in the development of the fetus affects the immunity of the newborn, which can help protect against asthmatic diseases (including infectious diseases) in the first years of life."
Vitamin D also appears to have antiviral properties. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 27 , people with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood are at a lower risk of developing upper respiratory infections than people with lower levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Finally, in 2017 a study year published in Journal of the American Geriatric Society 28 , compares the effect of taking the standard and high doses of vitamin D in the elderly. Those taking a high dose of vitamin D had a 40% lower risk of upper respiratory tract infection.
Recommended dosage: The most common dosage is 1000 - 5000 IU. Before starting vitamin D supplementation, you should consult your doctor if you have high levels of calcium in the blood.
Elderberry (Sambucus sp.) Is a flowering plant used for centuries by medicinal purposes by indigenous people around the world. In recent years, elderberry has become increasingly popular. It is believed that it helps strengthen immunity.
A 2016 study29 showed that elderberry can reduce the duration of the manifestation of cold symptoms in air passengers. And in a 2009 study published in Phytochemistry 30 , it was found that elderberry has similar effects as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and amantadine, which are popular with the flu.
In addition, a 2014 study 31 noted that elderberry may be effective in influenza virus. Recommended dosage: as per label.