There are various supplements to boost the immune system. This article lists down a few of the popular ones. We take a deeper look on how particular supplements are able to boost the body’s immunity against infections.
1. Probiotics 1,2,3
● Probiotics are friendly bacteria that can improve gut health. It maintains a healthy gut flora, thereby able to strengthen the immune system.
● A high amount of probiotics (“CFU” or colony forming units) may not be the best way to identify a good probiotic supplement as it is the bacteria strain which determines its effectiveness.
● Friendly bacteria strains that are known to boost the immune system are the following:
i. Bifidobacterium breve
ii. B. bifidum
iii. B. longum
iv. B. lactis
v. Lactobacillus acidophilus
vi. L. reuteri
vii. L. rhamnosus
● Choosing a probiotic supplement with prebiotics may be helpful. Prebiotics are soluble fibers that can complement probiotics to allow them to thrive in the body.
2. Black Elderberry 4,5
● Black elderberry has been used traditionally as a herb to boost the immune system
● Research has shown it can boost the immune system function by increasing production of immunity cells (cytokines and TNF-alpha) that can kill bacteria and viruses.
● It also contains flavonoids which are high in antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity of flavonoids acts against oxidative stress that may lead to cell damage.
● Black elderberry extract has been scientifically supported by strong clinical studies – one study showed it was able to reduce the duration of flu symptoms by 3 days.
3. Vitamin C 6
● Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, it is also known as ascorbic acid. It is well known to boost the immune system.
● Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that acts against oxidative stress that may lead to cell damage.
● It supports the cell wall, therefore maintaining a barrier against harmful bacteria. It also enhances the ability of white blood cells (i.e. neutrophils) to fight against harmful microorganisms.
● Adequate intakes of vitamin C can reduce incidences of respiratory tract infections.
4. Multivitamins 7
● Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system.
● Whereas a lack of certain nutrients will reduce the immune response.
● The following nutrients are known to contribute to the immune system function.
● If you are looking for a multivitamin that can specifically boost your immune system, make sure it contains the following:
i. Vitamin A
ii. Vitamin D
iii. Vitamin E
iv. Vitamin B6
v. Vitamin C
5. Honey 8
● Honey has been a highly valued natural food product since ancient times. Modern research has shown honey to have many health benefits, such as boosting the immune system.
● Honey is found have anti-inflammatory properties as it is able to trigger a production of immune cells such as neutrophils, T cells, B cells and cytokines.
● Honey also possesses antioxidant properties. This is due to the presence of flavonoids, polyphenols and Vitamin C which are found in honey.
● Studies have shown that Manuka honey has antimicrobial activity as it can prevent the growth of bacteria such as E.Coli and S.aureus.
6. Echinacea 9
● Echinacea is a herb that is native to North America. It is now widely popular used as a homeopathic preparation around the world. It is especially popular in Germany.
● Echinacea has been shown to stimulate production of immune cells.
● Studies have suggested that Echinacea supplement may be useful for treatment of respiratory infections such as colds and flu as it improved symptoms of sore throat, cough and runny nose.
● Studies have shown that people who took Echinacea recovered faster from the flu.
1. The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. F Purchiaroni, A Tortora, A Gasbarrini, et al. (2013) European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.
2. The top 11 probiotic strains and why they’re so important to your health. 1MD editorial staff. (Web accessed April 2019) Web link: https://1md.org/article/probiotics-strains-health-guide-1md
3. Can you strengthen the immune system with probiotics and protect yourself from the flu? G Siska. Pharmacy Times. (Web accessed April 2019) Web link: https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/gunda-siska-pharmd/2018/01/can-you-strengthen-the-immune-system-with-probiotics-and-protect-yourself-from-the-flu
4. The effect of sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product on the product of human cytokines. V Barak, T Halperin & I Kalickman (2001). European Cytokine Network.
5. About Sambucol. (Web accessed April 2019). Web link: https://sambucol.com.my/
6. Vitamin C and immune function. AC Carr & S Maggini. (2017), Nutrients.
7. Nutrition and immunity in man. S Gredel. 2nd Edition. (2011) International Life Science Institute. ILSI Europe.
8. Honey and health: a review of recent clinical research. S Samarghandian, T Farkondeh, F Samini. (2017). Pharmacognosy Research.
9. Immune system effects of Echinacea, ginseng and astragalus: a review. KI Block and MN Mead. (2003) Integrative Cancer Therapies.