How does my immune system work?
The immune system’s job is to fight off invaders and protect you against infections and illness. (90) One of its main jobs is to recognize free radicals and eliminate them. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause damage to cells. Our bodies produce free radicals during normal cell metabolism, injury or when exposed to environmental triggers, such as tobacco smoke, sunlight and X-rays. (91) Many experts believe that free radicals may cause illness. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, and the mineral selenium. (92)
What supplements may help support a healthy immune system?
Echinacea may work along with the body’s immune system to help keep you healthy. Echinacea may help reduce the symptoms and duration of colds and flu-like illnesses by quickly stimulating the body’s immune system. Newer studies show that echinacea works best when taken to prevent colds and flu. It can also be taken when symptoms first appear and then for seven to 10 days. It is not recommended for long-term use. If you want to try this for your child, you should first take to your pediatrician or pharmacist to make sure it is not dangerous and will not conflict with any traditional care your child receives. (93)
A daily multivitamins help fill the vitamin and mineral gaps in your diet. For some, a multivitamin may lack a needed nutrient or may not provide enough of a nutrient. In such cases, additional supplements may be recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. (36)
These may help reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold when taken routinely throughout the cold season. it is safe when used in moderate amounts, but too much can cause diarrhea and other Gl discomfort. (80)
Vitamin A promotes a healthy immune system. It also helps prevents eye problems, is essential for the growth and development of cells and keeps skin healthy. (94)
Vitamin E plays an important role in the upkeep of a healthy immune system. it also protects against tree-radical damage. (81) Environmental pollution, the sun’s ultraviolet rays, cigarette smoke and certain health conditions can all trigger free-radical damage in our bodies. (95)
Zinc helps your body carry out its normal immune response when invaders attack. Zinc is also involved in your body’s growth and development, nervous system function, antioxidant activity and reproduction. Too much, however, can prevent your immune system from working properly. (9)
Nutrients for immune health
|Echinacea||300 mg standardized, powdered extract (4% phenolics), three times per day until your condition improves. Don’t take for more than 7-10 days. (93)|
|Vitamin C||90 mg per day for men
75 mg per day for women. (63)
|Vitamin D||600 IU per day
Higher amounts may be taken under a doctor’s supervision, (9) especially if deficiency is present.
|Vitamin E||22 IU per day (64)|
|Zinc||15-25 mg per day (96)|