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What Are the Best Supplements for a Healthy Immune System?

Having a healthy functioning immune system has never been more important then it is right now. Many people may have never really thought too much about how their body fights off infection and what variables improve or hinder their bodies response. The rea

2021-04-26 13:56:42

immune healthProbioticsimmunitychagavitamin d


Having a healthy functioning immune system has never been more important then it is right now. Many people may have never really thought too much about how their body fights off infection and what variables improve or hinder their bodies response. The reality that has come to light with the COVID-19 pandemic is that we need to be aware of our immune function and take care of our bodies so they can provide us with the best protection possible. While we still don’t completely understand why COVID-19 causes more severe disease in some then others, there are some variables that have been correlated with more severe disease. These include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions that would have effects on immune system function(1). While a healthy diet and lifestyle are the cornerstone of a healthy immune system there are some supplements that have evidence for enhancing the bodies immune system.

 

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is actually a steroid that is produced in your body when it is exposed to sunlight but can also be supplemented and consumed in some foods. Deficiency in vitamin D is common, especially in northern hemisphere and in winter when we have limited direct exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can have a negative impact on a variety of disease including the bodies response to viral infections. Receptors for vitamin D are found in especially high levels in the cells of the immune and respiratory systems which would explain why a deficiency is associated with increased risk of respiratory infections(2). In the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 there was a clear association of increased rate of fatalities with decreased exposure to sunlight and this may also partially explain the timing of the main flu season every year(2). So especially when you may not being getting out into the sun as much, supplementing with vitamin D is a good idea. More is not always better as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be stored in the tissues of the body and become toxic. Speak with you medical provider about getting your vitamin D levels tested incase you may need more then the recommended 1000-2000 LU/day dose. 

 

Chaga

Chaga is a mushroom that has been used for many years in traditional medicine circles, especially throughout Russia and western Siberia. It is found growing on living trees over the course of many years in northern climates, including Canada. The actions of chaga extract has been investigated in several animal studies and it was found to prevent viruses from entering into cells, inhibit different viral enzyme activities and boost the function of several immune cells in the body(3). One top of these immune effects, chaga has shown to suppress tumor growth and decrease blood sugar levels, making this mushroom a potential adjunctive treatment for diabetic and cancer patients(4). The immune boosting properties would also be beneficial to these populations as immune system function is impaired in both these patient populations. More human studies need to be conducted to understand these actions further but the use of mushrooms as a functional and medicinal food dates back to the evolution of man! Including chaga and other mushrooms in your diet, as a tea or taken in supplements can have many beneficial health effects. 

 

Probiotics

More and more we are realizing the effects that our bodies microbiome has on our overall health. Increasing the diversity of healthy gut bacteria has shown to significantly improve immune function. Probiotics can improve the bodies mucous membranes which act as a barrier to keep unwanted microbes out, they can prevent adhesion of unwanted bacteria and viral particles to the mucosal surfaces in the body, and most importantly they can modulate the immunes system overall function(5). They do this by increase the production and activity of the many different types of immune cells in the body. Studies comparing COVID-19 patients with both healthy controls and other hospitalized patients found significant disturbances in the gut microbiota in the COVID-19 patients(5).  It has been concluded in studies that probiotic use could achieve greater than 54 million fewer days of infection, avert 2 million does of antibiotic use, and avoid more than 4 million missed work days due to illness(5). While more research is needed to further understand which probiotic strains and combinations achieve the best results for different kinds of illness, taking a probiotic supplement that has a variety of strains may be a good option to optimize your immune system. 

 

 

1.         Shevel E. Conditions Favoring Increased COVID-19 Morbidity and Mortality: Their Common Denominator and its Early Treatment. Mo Med. 2021 Apr;118(2):113–5. 

2.         Hetta HF, Muhammad K, El-Masry EA, Taha AE, Ahmed EA, Phares C, et al. The interplay between vitamin D and COVID-19: protective or bystander? :15. 

3.         Duru KC, Kovaleva EG, Danilova IG, Bijl P. The pharmacological potential and possible molecular mechanisms of action of Inonotus obliquus from preclinical studies. :15. 

4.         Balandaykin ME, Zmitrovich IV. Review on Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Higher Basidiomycetes): Realm of Medicinal Applications and Approaches on Estimating its Resource Potential. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(2):10. 

5.         Harper A, Vijayakumar V, Ouwehand AC, Ter Haar J, Obis D, Espadaler J, et al. Viral Infections, the Microbiome, and Probiotics. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020;10:596166. 


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