Want to know the best supplements to boost your immune system?
Now everybody knows what it’s like being sick and unless you’re crazy there isn’t a person who actually likes it. It seems like every time winter rolls around you’re catching every virus, flu, and cold that comes your way.
It’s no secret having a weakened immune system will make you more susceptible to colds and the flu. But there are supplements you can take that have been proven with science to help boost your immune system.
And unless you live in a bubble then you will undoubtedly be exposed to viruses that can cause colds and the flu. But there are ways to fight back against them other than washing your hands and not touching your face.
So if you’re wanting to lower the chances of having to go through the sicknesses that are the cold and flu then be sure to keep reading to discover the best supplements to boost your immune system.
What Vitamins & Minerals Are Good for Boosting Immune System?
Once you’re able to strengthen your immune system you’ll not only lower the odds of getting sick but your body will be healthier and stronger.
Chronic inflammation and stress in your body is one of the underlying causes of having a weak immune system (1). Being able to lower this inflammation will have your body better able to fight off viruses. Much of this can be done by improving your diet with eating the foods on my approved food list. And you can also try lowering stress levels and improving your sleep quality.
But if your body is missing vital vitamins and minerals then your immune system won’t be operating as strong as it could (2). And if your immune system isn’t its strongest then the odds of you getting sick from a cold or flu get higher and higher.
This is why it’s important to make sure your body isn’t deficient in these micronutrients. Otherwise, your body and immune system will not be operating at its best. So let’s get into the top 10 supplements you can take to increase your immune system.
Now just about everybody on the planet has heard taking vitamin C can help boost the immune system (3). But that doesn’t mean we’re getting enough of it.
Once winter comes around people tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. This can contribute to deficiencies in vitamin C (4). So it’s a good idea to replenish this lost vitamin C by supplementing it.
Vitamin C helps your body’s defenses by supporting the actual cells of your immune system (5). Vitamin C is also needed (along with collagen) to strengthen your skin so pathogens aren’t able to get into your body (6). Plus vitamin C goes to work in your body by killing some of the pathogens that can cause sickness and disease.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) attacks the respiratory system so it might be a good idea to take vitamin C since it has been found to be effective at fighting respiratory infections (7).
Ever notice more people get sick in the winter?
The dark, cold and wet days of the winter can contribute greatly to the likelihood you are to get sick. This is because of the lack of sunshine in the winter also means a lack of vitamin D in you as well (8). And studies have found vitamin D deficiency to be linked to increased risk of becoming sick (9).
Your body makes vitamin D when sunshine hits your body. It then converts it to cholesterol and then into actual vitamin D. The white blood cells in your immune system have vitamin D receptors. Research has found vitamin D to help your immune system activate T cells which are needed to fight disease and infections (10).
Vitamin D3 might also help with Coronavirus as it’s been found to help fight acute respiratory infections (11).
Now a lot of people have heard about vitamin C and D for boosting your immune system but zinc is rarely mentioned. Crazy enough adding more zinc to your diet can have a more profound effect on your body’s defenses than vitamin C or D (12).
Zinc is a mineral that can help prevent your body from spiraling into high levels of inflammation. Like said earlier having too much inflammation in your body can lead to serious health problems and an increased risk for disease or sickness.
Studies have also shown zinc to be effective at fighting Coronavirus (13). This is because zinc is thought to prevent the replication of bad viruses in your body. But unfortunately up to 1/3 of the world population is deficient in zinc (14). Now you don’t have to go overboard and take a high amount of zinc but just make sure your levels aren’t deficient.
Whenever I feel a cold coming on I immediately start loading up on L-lysine supplements. It’s an amino acid that your body uses for antibody production. Your immune system uses these antibodies to fight off disease and illnesses. Studies have even found taking L-lysine was effective at preventing cold sores (19). L-lysine is also an important part of collagen which is also useful for preventing signs of aging such as wrinkles and saggy skin (20). Lysine is highest in meats like steak, chicken and pork.
Magnesium is another vital micronutrient that is used in over 300 enzymatic reactions in your body (21). Unfortunately, it’s also another micronutrient that’s become heavily deficient in much of the population (22). Studies have found being deficient in magnesium can lead to negative changes in the balance of your immune system and inflammation (23).
Chronic inflammation in your body is an underlying factor in having a weakened immune system. So the better you’re able to lower this inflammation the stronger your immune system is going to be at fighting sicknesses. Unfortunately, most people eat way too many foods that contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. This throws off the balance to omega-3 fatty acids in the body causing chronic inflammation. It’s best to supplement with omega-3s with dietary supplements like krill oil or fish oil to correct this imbalance to give your immune system a boost (24,25).
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Echinacea is a plant and a popular herbal supplement for battling colds and the flu. There are numerous studies finding it to be effective for boosting the immune system (26). One study found those taking echinacea lowered their risk of getting sick by half (27).
But many experts question the validity of the studies with one study finding no evidence it helps with colds. Yet a recent 2015 review study found echinacea could help the immune system by increasing the amount of “good guys” in your body to fight off sicknesses. They found this could reduce your risk of getting sick by over 1/3 (28).
Need an excuse to eat more garlic?
Now you can eat as much as you want since it’ll help to keep the delicate balance in your immune system. Garlic has been found in studies to enhance the function of critical cells in your immune system to fight off and kill dangerous viruses (29). Plus studies have also found garlic to be useful in improving the inflammatory response when a virus enters your body (30).
Garlic contains a vital ingredient called allicin. It’s a powerful compound and immune system boosters that has been found to be the secret ingredient to battling the cold and flu. Studies have found supplementing with garlic resulted in lowering the risk of getting sick in the first place by over half and reducing the time of being sick by more than 2/3rds (31).
Another highly underrated illness fighter is the amino acid glutamine. The cells in your immune system use glutamine as one of its main fuel sources. A review study found your immune system heavily depends on glutamine to survive and to fight off dangerous viruses and pathogens (32).
Glutamine is also useful at improving the health of your gut where most of your immune system is (33). Unfortunately, when many people become sick when their body isn’t able to produce enough glutamine to fight off invading pathogens. This is why it’s not a bad idea to supplement it if you feel like you’re low.
How can I boost my immune system fast?
I’d first start off by replenishing any micronutrient deficiencies you may have. This is what causes your immune system to be low. Adequate levels of vitamin C, D, Zinc, Magnesium, etc. are all necessary for a strong immune system. Most people can easily become vitamins deficient in these vital micronutrients which could lead to a compromised immune system. Make sure you’re also getting plenty of quality sleep, eating healthy, stay well hydrated and exercising will keep illness away.
The Last Word
At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do to prevent yourself from getting a cold or the flu. But living a healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising, sleeping well and taking all the right vitamins and minerals will give your immune system a fighting chance.
Sometimes you’re going to get sick no matter what you do. So it’s best to strengthen your immune system the best you can so you can shorten how long you have it and lessen the symptoms.
And making sure you’re getting enough of the vitamins and minerals above through supplementing will be key to boosting your immune system during cold and flu season.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.