Q. Dear Terry, “What are some of your top vitamins for a strong immune system?” – Jimmy N., Dearborn, MI
A. Dear Jimmy, There are many important nutrients that the immune system needs to function optimally, including four key vitamins and two minerals.
Vitamin A is an essential component of an effective immune response. I prefer vitamin A in the retinol form because it moderates the activity of key immune system cells – macrophages and natural killer cells. These specialized cells are necessary when trying to fight off any bacterial or viral attack.
I think that almost everyone associates vitamin C with fighting colds – and with good reason. It can reduce your chances of getting a cold by as much as 50 percent when taken as a preventive. A deficiency in this valuable nutrient will make you more prone to a variety of illnesses, including pneumonia. Vitamin C works through our innate (first-line defense) and adaptive (specialized defenses) immune responses.
Many people are deficient in vitamin D3 because we don’t obtain enough through diet or have enough year-round exposure to sunlight. If you’re low in vitamin D, you may be more susceptible to allergies, influenza viruses, and other upper respiratory ailments. Each significant increase (10 nmol/L) in vitamin D levels has been associated with a 7% lower risk of infections.
Vitamin E is well recognized as being an essential nutrient for the immune system. Vitamin E is actually a collection of components called tocopherols and you really need the full family for immune support. These mixed tocopherols – alpha, beta, delta, and gamma – are more effective than a single type.
Selenium strengthens immune resistance by aiding in the structure of our cells and preventing free radical stress to our DNA. Selenium activates a powerful antioxidant system in our body, called glutathione peroxidase (GPx). Additionally, selenium promotes the body’s own immune defenses to fight bacterial or viral invaders.
Lastly, zinc is an incredibly important mineral and has even been called the “gatekeeper of the immune system.” It is a required nutrient for specialized cells of our immune system that fight harmful pathogens, like rhinovirus, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus. Zinc has even been shown to decrease death from any cause.
I would take 2,500 IU of vitamin A (as retinyl acetate), 250 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), 2,500 IU of vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol), 15 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha and mixed tocopherols), 15 mg of zinc (as zinc bisglycinate chelate), and 60 mcg of selenium (as selenium yeast or glycinate), once or twice per day.
Terry . . . Naturally
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