The immune system is your body’s primary mechanism of defense, responsible for protecting you from potentially harmful invaders. It is made up of various cells, tissues, and substances including the skin barrier, red and white blood cells, microbiota, antibodies, and cytokines (cell signaling molecules).
The immune system may be generally broken down into the innate immune response, your first line of defense, and the adaptive immune response, which is highly specific against particular intruders. Immune system dysfunction may result in allergies, infections, tumors, and autoimmunity.
An integrative treatment plan including a healthy lifestyle, a nutritious diet such as the Mediterranean diet, adequate sleep, regular exercise, and dietary supplements may help you to support immune health and prevent disease.
Below is some useful information about top recommended supplements for immune health, including popular products from my dispensary.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus is a botanical herb with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, and anticancer properties. While astragalus has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to treat individuals with increased susceptibility to infections, studies suggest it may improve outcomes of inflammatory conditions and certain cancers. Research has also shown that astragalus may help stimulate the immune response by increasing white blood cell count.
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The first milk that comes from a mammal after giving birth, known as colostrum, is high in immunomodulatory compounds and growth factors. As a dietary supplement, bovine colostrum may help support immune and gastrointestinal health. Colostrum contains compounds known as immunoglobulins which may prevent upper respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, and certain types of inflammation.
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Probiotics, beneficial live microorganisms, may support immune health by modulating innate and adaptive immune responses and inhibiting the growth of pathogens. Probiotic supplements may help to protect healthy individuals against respiratory infections such as the common cold and the flu. Additionally, research has shown that probiotics may be effective in certain immune conditions, including allergies, eczema, human papillomavirus (HPV), and certain drug-resistant infections.
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Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function by supporting both innate and adaptive immune systems. Vitamin C may be obtained from dietary sources such as citrus fruit, papaya, broccoli, and kiwifruit, as well as from dietary supplements. Vitamin C deficiency may result in lowered immunity and a higher risk of infections. Supplementing with vitamin C has been shown to be effective in treating respiratory and systemic infections.
The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of vitamin C are:
Birth to 6 months: 40 mg
Infants 7-12 months: 50 mg
Children 1-3 years: 15 mg
Children 4-8 years: 25 mg
Children 9-13 years: 45 mg
Boys 14-18 years: 75 mg
Girls 14-18 years: 65 mg
Adult men: 90 mg
Adult women: 75 mg
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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin required in mineral metabolism, bone health, and immune function. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of autoimmune conditions, including type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and multiple sclerosis (MS). Research suggests that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of autoimmune conditions, support immune tolerance in autoimmune conditions, and enhance the antimicrobial effect of certain immune cells.
The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of vitamin D are:
Birth to 12 months 400 IU
Children 1-13 years 600 IU
Teens 14-18 years 600 IU
Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU.
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