- Dr. Kate Henry
Supercharge Your Immune System
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
Your immune system is naturally and powerfully anti-viral when you give it the right ingredients.
We all think about amping up our immunity when a new cold, flu or virus is going around. With the new coronavirus making the news, its natural to wonder what you can do to keep yourself from getting sick.
Luckily, there are a few proven, strategic ways to supercharge your immune system. Scroll down learn more about why these strategies work.
Vitamins A, C & D
Herbal medicines & medicinal foods like olive leaf, elderberry, etc.
Vitamin D: Optimize your levels
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the immune system. If your levels are low, you're more likely to get sick. Natural sources of vitamin D include sunlight and foods like cod liver oil. If you haven't been consuming much of either, especially after a long winter, it's a good idea to check your levels to make sure you're not deficient. Ask me or your health care practitioner to measure your levels to determine how much you need to supplement. 2000 IUs of vitamin D per day was shown to prevent influenza and rotavirus infections in several randomized controlled trials. You may need more or less depending on your individual health.
Vitamin A is a building block for both innate and adaptive immunity. It helps to create healthy mucosal membranes in your respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, and aids in the production of immune cells. Most doctors don't check for vitamin A levels because an overt deficiency is uncommon in the U.S., but your levels can absolutely be suboptimal due to a diet low in fruits and veggies.
Consider including more food sources of vitamin A like sweet potatoes, beef liver, carrots and spinach in your meals throughout the week. If you're not able to make these diet changes or think you might need more help, chat with a health professional about how to supplement vitamin A safely. It needs to be done with a doctor and carefully, particularly if you are a woman of reproductive age.
Stay tuned for a post on growing your own garden so that you can keep your immune system optimal all year long. The shortages of food that we're seeing as a result of this virus may happen again. With a small garden, you can be well-stocked with vitamin A-rich veggies no matter what.
Vitamin C, like vitamin A, helps with the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. It also helps white blood cells kill pathogens that could otherwise cause illness.
You can take a low dose of vitamin C daily to keep your immune system ready for battle throughout cold and flu season. Many people take 500mg of vitamin C on a full stomach comfortably without side effects a couple of times per day as part of a health maintenance routine. You'll know you're taking too much if you get loose stools. Start low and increase slowly. If you're allergic to citrus or corn, make sure to read the source of vitamin C on the label of a supplement before taking it.
Consuming a diet high in red and orange fruits and veggies is a natural way to get more vitamin C. Start by adding red peppers to soups, and munching on citrus fruits and broccoli when you can. As a bonus, vitamin C also increases the absorption of other important minerals like iron when taken with food.