“Immunity” has almost become a buzzword. We have all learned the importance of a strong immune system and perhaps tried every single thing we came across on social media.
However, “developing” immunity is not as simplistic as popping a pill. It requires working on lifestyle habits, maintaining regular exercise, and fulfilling the body’s nutritional requirements with real, whole foods. We can view this utilizing the 80-20 rule. Nutrition (what, when, how, and how much we eat) perhaps plays a ~20% role, and lifestyle habits (sufficient sleep, water intake, abstaining from alcohol and cigarettes, exercise, and non-sedentary lifestyle) play a ~80% role.
Here in this blog, we’ll talk about some ways you can naturally help boost your immune system through natural supplements. We’ll learn about common nutritional deficiencies, and how they can impact the body’s immune system—we’ll also look at some common online myths surrounding supplements.
Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Let’s get to the root of mineral & vitamin deficiencies and understand why there are such prevalent nutritional deficiencies in the diet. In previous generations, crop cultivation was limited to twice a year, and the farmland was left unattended in between.
It gave the land and soil time to regain minerals and nutrients organically and be ready for the next round of cultivation. There was also a higher emphasis placed on biodiversity and soil diversity, rather than mass cultivation on a scale previously never seen.
However, as the world’s population rapidly increased, the need for land to build infrastructure and the demand for food increased—people started using farmland to build infrastructure, and farmers had to use fewer acres of land to produce more food and meet growing demand. This deprives the soil of essential nutrients, while farmers increase the use of fertilizers and pesticides to ensure a more lucrative yield, leading to a decline in bioavailable nutrients.
Further to this, people have grown accustomed to busier lifestyles, which often reduces the ability to put more effort into composing healthy, nutritionally dense meals. Instead, people opt for fast food, take-out through delivery services, or snack and junk food.
Lack of nutrition leads to various deficiencies that, combined with lifestyle factors, can give rise to diseases—cancer, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders. While supplements can’t replace healthy eating and never will—supplements can help to compensate for nutritional deficiencies in the human body.
There are many myths about supplements and their association with pharmaceutical medicine. It is important to note that supplements are not pharmaceutical medicines. When sourced from natural minerals or plant sources, they are extracts or concentrated minerals meant to bridge the divide where diet falls short.
Supplements and how they can boost Immunity
Let’s look at a few supplements that help naturally boost immunity and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Protein is a basic building block of the body. Before birth till death, human beings need protein each and every day for survival and to carry on essential life functions. Humans need a minimum of 1 g and a maximum of 2g protein per kg body weight, depending on your lifestyle and physical activity.
2) Omega-3 fatty acids
An essential polyunsaturated fat is critical for our immune health. Omega-3 supports the integrity of cell membranes, allowing immune cells to communicate effectively and respond to threats. It helps regulate immune cell function, reduce inflammation, and improve immune cell production. It also strengthens the body’s ability to defend against infections and maintain immune system harmony. As per the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health, daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids should be around 1.1-1.6 grams a day for a healthy and active lifestyle.
Calcium is a mineral essential for bone health. Bones start getting weak after 30 years. It is an ideal time to supplement calcium to fulfill the body’s requirements and avoid leg pains. However, It is recommended that one should start taking calcium supplements after 25 years of age to keep their bones strong and healthy for a long time.
4) Vitamin D
Vitamin D, popularly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a critical vitamin for calcium absorption and bone health. It helps immune cells function better and helps regulate the immune response. The recommended daily vitamin D consumption for adults between 19 to 70 years should be 15 micrograms (mcg) and 20 mcg for people above 70 years.
5) Vitamin C
Vitamin C, known for its antioxidant properties, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps protect cells from damage and supports immunity cell production. Immunity cells help in healing wounds faster. The recommended daily consumption of vitamin C should be 75 milligrams (mg) for women and 90 mg for men.
Our gut is home to good and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria create uneasiness and indigestion, whereas good bacteria promote a healthy balance of gut microflora, good digestive health, and improved immunity. 10-20 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) in a daily probiotic supplement is a good starting point to help support gut bacteria.
Zinc is a vital mineral that aids the development and functioning of immune cells. It fastens wound healing processes. Zinc cell division in the body supports its defense mechanisms. Daily zinc requirement varies for different age groups. However, the daily recommended Zinc consumption should be 11 micrograms (mcg) for adult males and 8 mcg for adult females.
Iron is another vital mineral that supports immune health. It proliferates and improves the functioning of immune cells, aiding in the body’s defense against infections. Adequate iron in the body promotes white blood cell production, and transportation of oxygen to organs, helping energy production and overall immune function. The daily recommended for 19-year-old and above males is 8.7mg a day and 14.8mg a day for females between 19 to 49 years. Females 50 years and above should limit iron intake to 8.7mg a day.
These and countless other supplements can aid in boosting overall immunity—but they aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s also important to note that every person’s body and its requirements will vary depending on individual lifestyle, bodily functions, and physique.
So it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare practitioner or nutritionist before taking any supplement long-term. Moreover, remember that while supplements have potential immune-boosting benefits; a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and good hygiene practices are also equally vital for maintaining a strong immune system.