Want To Support Your Immune System, The Easy Way?
You may well have heard of the immune system, but do you really know what it is, why it is so important and how best to support it?
Here, we cast a light on the best ways to ensure you can support your immune system, to help you to stay fighting fit!
What Is The Immune System?
Put simply, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to help keep us healthy. Day to day you probably will not think too much about your immune system but this vital network attacks germs and other harmful substances.
By ensuring you do your utmost to support your immune system, means there is a greater chance of maintaining your usual day today health and wellness.
How To Support Your Immune System
Your diet, supplementation and lifestyle choices can all play a role in supporting your immune system.
There are several vitamins that can help. These include vitamin A, B6, B12, C and D as well as minerals including selenium, zinc and copper. These can be found in various foods, as well as in supplements.
Exercise is also important for immune health, as is getting plenty of good quality sleep, staying at a healthy weight and quitting smoking.
Vitamins To Support Your Immune System
There are an abundance of vitamins that can help support your immune system to work at its optimal level.
Vitamin D is one such vitamin that contributes to a healthy immune system however it is tricky to get your daily recommendation of vitamin D through diet alone. Often dubbed the ‘sunshine vitamin’; we get most if not all of our vitamin D from sunlight.
In the UK though, there is not enough sunlight throughout the autumn and winter months, so the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care encourages us to consider taking a supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D a day between the months of October to March.
It is in fact vitamin D3 specifically that is needed. Vitamin D3 is made when our skin is exposed to sunlight and is absorbed and used far more easily than the other type of vitamin D; vitamin D2.
Other vitamins that can help support your immune system include vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A contributes to the normal function of the immune system with the NHS recommending that men aged 19 to 64 get 700µg a day and women get 600µg a day.
However, as vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is stored by the body, so it isn’t necessary to have every day.
When it comes to vitamin C, it does not just contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system for adults and children, but it also contributes to the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise.
Plus, vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage. When we are exposed to sunlight, cigarette smoke, and pollution (to name a few), free radicals are produced in excess.
According to the NHS, adults aged between 19 and 64 should get 40mg of vitamin C every day.
Next up are B vitamins. There are eight B vitamins in total, however it is vitamins B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid) that should be considered to support the immune system. B vitamins are water soluble, which means our body does not store them, so we must get an adequate amount each and every day, either through food and/or supplementation.
Whilst vitamin B12 can be obtained through food, it is mostly found in animal products, so anyone following a vegan diet may struggle to meet their daily intake. This is where a supplement can come in useful such as Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin B Complex. It provides all the eight essential B vitamins, with 50µg of B12.
Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine, does not just support our immune system, it also supports the functioning of our nervous system as well as contributing to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.
The NHS state that male adults aged 19 to 64 require 1.4mg per day whilst women need 1.2mg per day
Minerals To Support Your Immune System
Zinc, copper, and selenium are all minerals that contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system.
The NHS advise us that adults aged 19 to 64 need 1.2 milligrams (mg) of copper a day.
For selenium, men aged 19 to 64 years need 75μg a day whilst women need 60μg a day.
With zinc, men aged 19 to 64 years need 9.5mg a day whereas women need a little less with 7mg a day.
All three of these minerals can be obtained through food however supplementation can help safeguard your intake, should you feel that you are not getting enough from your diet.
See below for the foods and supplements that contain these essential vitamins and minerals.
Food For A Healthy Immune System
What you eat can play a huge part in ensuring your immune system stays healthy and does its job properly. As all the vitamins and minerals that help support your immune system are found within a vast array of different foods, it is important to enjoy a varied diet.
Vitamin D is one vitamin which is difficult to obtain through diet alone, as it comes primarily from time spent in sunlight. In the UK, an average diet provides just 3-4µg of vitamin D per day and only a little more if oily fish is consumed, so a supplement is advised.
If you do want to improve your vitamin D status through diet, try eating oily fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolks, fortified plant milks and cereals, and fortified mushrooms.
To ensure adequate intakes of vitamin C, eat plenty of fruits (particularly citrus fruits and kiwi fruit) and green vegetables. However, the amounts of vitamin C present in certain foods may vary depending on the cooking process. Some vitamin C is lost when boiling for example.
The NHS states that good sources of vitamin A, also known as retinol, include cheese, oily fish, milk, yogurt, eggs, fortified low fat spreads as well as liver and liver products such as liver pate. A word of note though: avoid liver and liver foods if you are pregnant.
To ensure adequate levels of vitamin B12, include meat, fish, and dairy products in your day-to-day diet. Vitamin B6 foods include salmon, chicken, potatoes, avocados, carrots, pork, peanuts, and oats.
As for the minerals that help support your immune system, copper can be found in shellfish, nuts, and offal; selenium can be obtained from meat, fish, eggs and Brazil nuts; zinc is found in shellfish, bread, cereals products such as wheatgerm, and dairy products including cheese.
Exercise To Support The Immune System
Keeping active is important for many things, including the health of our immune system. However excessive exercise, as well as inactivity itself, can actually have detrimental effects on our immune system health. So, getting the right balance is key.
The NHS say that we should get 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. A moderate-intensity workout would include brisk walking or cycling on flat ground. Try to get outside to exercise too, as this way you can absorb vitamin D from the sun’s rays.
Other Ways To Support Your Immune System
The NHS also highlight the importance of good sleep in ensuring a healthy immune system. We are likely all aware of the impact that bad sleep has on not just our mood and productivity, but prolonged bad or lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system.
Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night if you can.
Supplements For Immune System Support
Alongside a healthy diet, supplements can help safeguard your intake of essential vitamins and minerals needed to support your immune system.
As mentioned, when considering a vitamin D supplement it is important to look for one that provides vitamin D3, as our bodies use and absorb this type far more effectively than vitamin D2. Vitabiotics’ vitamin D supplements all contain vitamin D3.
For those looking for comprehensive nutritional support Vitabiotics Immunace Extra Protection provides 28 nutrients including vitamins C and E and D plus additional nutrients, such as natural lycopene, resveratrol, astaxanthin and alpha lipoic acid. It gives you extra nutritional support with a higher level of vitamin D (compared to Immunace Original) to contribute to the normal function of the immune system.
Vitabiotics Ultra Zinc supplies the body with 15mg of zinc as well as 1mg of copper. Both zinc and copper contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system. The NHS say that zinc is best taken with protein to improve absorption, hence why we recommend taking any supplements with a main meal.
Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin C for daily support is also helpful to maintain a healthy immune system. It provides slow-release vitamin C as well as 25mg of citrus bioflavonoids, for maximum absorption and effectiveness. Bioflavonoids are polyphenol substances present in vegetables and fruits; they possess strong antioxidant properties.
To help ensure children are getting enough vitamins, the NHS advise that all children from six months up to five years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D, as well as foods rich in vitamin C. Specifically, vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system in children.
Wellbaby Multi Vit Drops for babies aged four to 12 months old, and Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Liquid for children from 12 months to 4 years, both include vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin D, as recommended by the UK Department of Health.
For older children, Vitabiotics Wellkid Immune Chewable, for kids aged four to 12 years, provides 24 nutrients, including vitamins A, C and D and is carefully optimised for the specific needs of growing children.
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