Supporting immune health is suddenly top of mind for a lot of people, but during the last 16 years of my work in the natural health industry, I’ve seen countless examples of people’s health and wellbeing being supported by the products and lifestyle advice available. I’ve also seen an explosion of research into many of the ingredients, and the good reasons why people are using them.
So, if you’re looking for some targeted immune support to have on hand at home, it’s a good idea to consider which nutrients you may want to top up on, and botanicals that have research for their use supporting the way the body naturally responds to immune threats. Alongside your chosen supplements, you can give your immune system some extra love with rest and exercise in good balance, by managing stress, eating a varied diet high in plenty of plant foods and low in sugar and practicing good hygiene. You’ll be putting your best foot forward to stay well and keep healthy in no time.
I’ve put together a guide on six popular and well-researched natural ingredients you can consider adding to your daily routine. They are all suitable for both children and adults, but if you’ve got an existing health condition, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider to see if they’re a good choice for you.
Vitamin A supports the body’s innate immunity within the mucous membranes that line the respiratory tract. It’s essential for a strong healthy immune response. Vitamin A supports healthy macrophage and neutrophils (white blood cells) that our immune system uses to resist immune challenges. Vitamin A can be found naturally in fatty substances like Cod Liver Oil, cream, and eggs. Beta carotene can be turned into Vitamin A and is found in brightly coloured orange, yellow, and red fruit and vegetables.
- Vitamin A – consider if you find your lungs need support each winter
Taking Vitamin C has been shown to support a quick healthy recovery as well as the intensity of the ills and chills. Vitamin C supports the body by keeping the normal resistance healthy and strong when it responds to immune challenges. Liposomal and Ester C have been shown to stay in the body for longer periods and be better absorbed than normal oral Vitamin C. Kiwifruit, guava, capsicum are all good sources of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin C – consider if you’re not eating much fresh food .
Healthy Vitamin D levels have been associated with a well-functioning immune system. This well researched ingredient has been shown to support a fast recovery from ills and chills when levels of Vitamin D are optimal in the body. The Ministry of Health reports that around 5% of adults in NZ are deficient in this essential nutrient, with another 27% below the recommended blood level. Risk factors for low Vitamin D levels include not being exposed to sunlight regularly or having naturally dark skin.
- Vitamin D – consider if you cover up with sunblock all year round, or you’re inside a lot.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) root is an excellent option to take in preparation for ills and chills season or when travelling and wanting to support a primed healthy immune response. Echinacea root supports the body’s healthy active response to immune threats. Echinacea supports a balanced and well-functioning immune system and the number of T-helper cells working actively for our immune system.
- Echinacea – consider if you’re travelling or on-the-go a lot.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) became famous in 2009 when it was shown to be highly effective at supporting the way the body naturally responds to immune challenges. Elderberry also supports the body’s response to temperature changes during ills and chills. This immune tonic is not only excellent support, but also delicious. Elderberry is available as a chewable gummie, great for all ages, powders and liquids which can be made into tasty drinks, and the usual capsules.
- Elderberry – consider if you want something on-hand in case you need it.
This mineral is essential for the normal functioning of the immune system. Zinc has a wide body of research behind it to show how it can assist the body’s natural response to ills and chills. Zinc in a lozenge form supports the throat tissue and a normal fast recovery time. Zinc is an immune ‘all-rounder’ and provides great support to keep us healthy. Zinc is commonly found in meat, almonds, pumpkin seeds, seafood, and seeds.
- Zinc – consider if you’re eating a vegan or vegetarian diet.
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