How To Choose Immunity Supplements

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

                                               vi.      Zinc

                                              vii.      Selenium

                                            viii.      Carotenoids

                                               ix.      Flavonoids

 

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.

 

References

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.