Immune system boosting supplements
Our immune system dictates our susceptibility to virus infections. It is influenced, among others, by our genes, work, living environment, length and quality of sleep, diet or different stimulants, like coffee or cigarettes. Among all of these, diet is a key element in boosting our bodies' ability to fight infections. If we have a wide array of micro- and macroelements (in other words – caloric surplus) already in our organism, the best we can do is to rearrange their composition and enjoy a diverse diet, rich in vitamins and minerals.
On the other hand, if we are in the state of caloric deficiency – for example while trying to lose weight – the amount of microelements in our body is greatly decreased. In addition to that, the spring-summer season means better availability of fresh fruits and veggies, and that makes our diet varied and nourishing. That means, of course, that this selection is reduced during wintertime, where it's much harder to find good, fresh citrus or vegetables. Because of that, the average person is usually unable to obtain all of the necessary elements from their food – and that's where the supplements market comes into play.
Different supplements that we can buy are usually based on vitamin C, vitamin D3, omega-3 fatty acids, glutamine, antioxidants or herbal remedies. A lot of them is quite similar to each other, yet they differ in their concentration, ingredients, price and quality.
Here's the brief list of the most popular and widely available supplements:
- Omega-3 fatty acids – they are not only incredibly important for keeping your cardiovascular system, but new research also suggests their role in protecting against cancer and ageing. They are most commonly found in fish and seafood, as well as different plant oils (like linseed or flax oil). Unfortunately, due to our culinary traditions, we tend to stick to meats like chicken or pork; consider swapping them for more fish to boost the amount of these substances in your body, in combination with supplementing them externally.
- Vitamin D3 – it's essential not only to keep your entire skeleton durable and strong, but it also plays a big role in the production of hormones and providing calcium-phosphorus balance. Natural synthesis of D3 is stimulated by sunlight – because of that, it is important to supplement it if we live a more sedentary lifestyle and we don't spend a lot of time outside. This especially affects students and office workers, as they tend to spend most of their days in enclosed areas. You should also remember that between October and March the synthesis will be harshly reduced anyway, because of the reduced amount of daylight!
- Vitamin C – also known as ascorbic acid is necessary for our bodies to function, but, unfortunately, we are unable to synthesize it ourselves. It's an antioxidant, takes part in creating multiple enzymes, helps to synthesize collagen and quickens the process of wound healing. And yet it is mostly known for boosting our immune system and curing common colds. The best sources are quite seasonal, like citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, parsley or rosehips. Because of that, especially during the winter season, pills or powders containing vitamin C can be extremely useful.
Apart from these, multiple other supplements might be worth introducing into your life, yet they are not obligatory. It should be noted, though, that they are beneficial even in short-term, especially in harsh times, such as when you're stressed, tired, aiming for mass reduction or you observe lessened cognitive functions in yourself. In moments like these, it is useful to take some of these supplements to repair the damage done by stress and such. The most popular ones are:
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)
- green tea extract
- golden root, also known as king's crown
- fermented garlic
You should remember that your resistance comes from your intestines. In other words, awareness of what you eat and trimming these nutrients to your personal needs and preferences is the key to success.
Supplements should only help and improve your immune system and should not be treated as a focal point of your dietary nutrient intake.