Nov 27, 2023
The Best Immune Support Supplements
The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against infections, illnesses, and diseases. The immune system when working optimally can prevent illness by detecting and destroying foreign invaders and by counteracting free radicals.
Research studies suggest that some components of unhealthy lifestyles like poor diet, smoking, stress, alcohol consumption, poor mental health, low micronutrient levels, poor sleep, aging may significantly impair the immune system. A weakened immune system can increase the risks of wound healing and susceptibility to contracting infectious diseases.
Micronutrients contribute to the body’s natural defenses in diverse paths. Microminerals support the synthesis of nucleotide and nucleic acid in the immune cells, they function as cofactors for several enzymes and are associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamins contribute to immune defense by supporting the metabolism and cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
Availability of adequate amounts of micronutrients is critical for stronger immune function and deficiency can suppress immunity by affecting innate, T-cell mediated, and adaptive antibody responses, leading to dysregulation of the balanced host response.
Implementing optimal nutrition, with micronutrients and antioxidant supplementation might be a cost-effective, underestimated strategy to help reduce the burden of infectious diseases.
INNATE AND ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The innate immune system is a non-specific immune system (natural killer cells and phagocytes) that provides a general defense against harmful germs and substances that enter the body through the skin and digestive system.
The adaptive immune system is also known as the acquired or specific immune system that makes antibodies and uses them to specifically fight certain germs that the body has previously come in contact with.
Vitamin E is known to modulate immune function by affecting both antibody production and cell-mediated immune functions. The deficiency of this vitamin is known to impair antibody production and T-cell function.
- Vitamin E impacts T-cell membrane integrity and affects inflammatory mediators generated by other immune cells.
- Improves T cell-mediated functions including thymic T cell differentiation, lymphocyte proliferation, and interleukin 2 productions.
- Promotes enhanced resistance to infectious diseases in the elderly, in whom plasma vitamin D levels are low.
- Regulates the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.
- Increases innate immune functions including NK cell activity and macrophage phagocytic capacity and leukocyte phagocytic activity.
A deficiency of vitamin C reduces the body’s resistance against pathogens.
- Vitamin C influences several aspects of the immune system, particularly barrier integrity and leukocyte function.
- Enhances the differentiation and proliferation of T and B cells, and reduces the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- Plays a role in maintaining redox homeostasis within cells.
- A potent scavenger of free radicals, improves barrier integrity, chemotactic ability, and anti-bacterial activity of neutrophils.
- Accumulates in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and generation of reactive oxygen species.
- Modulates cytokine production and decreases histamine levels.
- Supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens.
Vitamin D modulates several aspects of our immune function. It is synthesized in the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. Low vitamin D has been correlated with a higher incidence of autoimmune disease. Most people benefit from vitamin D supplementation, especially in the winter months or if they don’t spend much time outdoors regularly.
Stimulates immune cells to produce antimicrobial peptides, and modulates macrophages, monocytes, and dendritic cell functions.
- Limits the production of inflammatory cytokines.
- Inhibits B cell proliferation, and blocks B cell differentiation and immunoglobulin secretion.
- Enhances the antimicrobial activity of macrophages and the activity of NADPH-dependent oxidase.
Aging can affect multiple aspects of the immune system, including neutrophils, phagocytosis, cytokine production, and antibody production. Zinc deficiency is known to affect the function of T and B cells, depress immune function, neutrophil functions, and natural killer cell activity. Zinc supplementation increases interleukin production, and supports the development and function of cells mediating innate immunity.
- Helps in the maintenance of the barrier function of the skin, which is essential in the pulmonary and intestinal epithelia that constitute the first barrier to protect from pathogens.
- Can limit the production of inflammatory cytokines, and regulates the activity of monocytes, neutrophils, B and T cells.
- Has direct antiviral effects, and shortens the duration of cold symptoms in adults.
- Zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and NK cells. Phagocytosis, intracellular killing, and cytokine production are affected by zinc deficiency.
Suboptimal antioxidant levels are linked to impaired immune responses and increased susceptibility to infections. Low glutathione levels in the body will hamper the function of immune cells. NAC is a synthetic form of cysteine, supplementing with NAC serves as a precursor to boost glutathione production, thereby immunity. When consumed, NAC breaks down into cysteine, which is further metabolized to glutathione.
- Increases CD4+ T cell numbers in individuals with suboptimal intracellular glutathione levels.
- Helps maintain optimal glutathione status, the master antioxidant in the body, and may restore normal responses of immune cells.
- Reduces production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Immune cells are sensitive to oxidative stress due to the high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their plasma membranes. Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant carotenoid with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
- Improves immune response by increasing the production of antibody-producing cells.
- Increases levels of the antioxidant enzyme catalase, superoxide dismutase, and peroxidase.
- Reduces the number of inflammatory markers, and suppresses overactive immune responses by affecting inflammatory factors such as interleukins.
- Potent quencher of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.
- Increases the number and activity of lymphocytes and natural killer cells.
Curcumin is a potent scavenger of reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species.
- Modulates the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.
- Inhibits reactive-oxygen species generating enzymes such as lipooxygenase, cyclooxygenase, and xanthine hydrogenase.
- Can increase levels of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase.
- Can modulate the activity of glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase enzyme activity in the neutralization of free radicals.
- Possesses antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that help your immune system to ward off infections.
- Downregulates the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, interleukins, and chemokines.
The gut microbiota that resides in the gastrointestinal tract plays a key role in regulating immune homeostasis. As per studies, any alterations in the gut microbiota can cause immune dysregulation, which has a profound effect on both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
The viability of probiotics is crucial in the interaction with intestinal epithelial cells.
- Probiotics stimulate the production of immunoglobulins, thereby protect against invasive bacteria.
- Suppresses the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, and modulates cytokine secretion.
- Modulate the function of dendritic cells, macrophages, T and B lymphocytes.
- Enhance innate immunity and modulate pathogen-induced inflammation.