Part-4 by: Jonathan Vellinga, M.D.
What causes some of us to succumb to every cold or flu we come across while others are lucky enough to stay healthy with seemingly little effort? A healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system are important factors in your ability to fight off infection and disease. Most of us would benefit from taking steps to improve our immune systems. At TCIM, we want to help you reach your optimal health. To assist you, we are providing this series of articles that explain how your immune system works and ways to make it stronger.
In the first article, we discussed the 5 Pillars of Health, which encompass five aspects of life that need to be cared for in order to maintain optimal health. If any area is neglected, the others are also weakened, allowing an opportunity for illness and chronic disease. We also explained ways that you can improve your health in each area.
The second article contained a very brief overview of the components of your immune system, how they work, and why they are vital to your health. We also explained ways that the 5 pillars of health impact specific areas of your immune system. This article is helpful in understanding enough about the immune system to comprehend the rest of this series.
5 goals to strengthen your immune system were the focus of the third article. Each of these five goals targets the immune system in specific ways and we explained how each goal works and provided a few tips to support each goal.
In this article and the rest of the series, we are going to provide you with information on specific supplements that help your immune system prevent or treat illnesses. In addition to recommendations, we will supply resources and scientific references that provide evidence that each supplement is safe and effective, so you can feel confident that you are choosing the best, proven support for your immune system.
Please note that all recommendations should be read with the understanding that they are recommendations to help strengthen one’s immune system and support the body in eliminating environmental toxins through natural means. Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a chronic health condition, it is important to check with your provider before adding or increasing the amounts of any vitamin, supplement, or immune-boosting product.
Our immune boosting prevention kit includes three essentials: vitamin D3, vitamin C, and probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii. We recommend that you also consider beta-glucan and melatonin.
Sufficient amounts of vitamin D3 are critical because, not only does it help you absorb calcium, it is also necessary for healthy immune function. In fact, Vitamin D deficiency can cause you to be more susceptible to infection and autoimmune disease. Vitamin D plays an important role in the innate antimicrobial response and has numerous effects on various cells in the immune system. These effects result in decreased production of inflammatory cytokines and increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (1). This is an important function in moderating the inflammatory response. Clinical trials have provided strong supportive evidence that individuals who took high levels of vitamin D were protected from influenza during the winter season (2, 3).
Vitamin D3 is the nutrient that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. We can also get it from foods that come from animals. Fatty fish are the best food source, although eggs and cheese also have a bit. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens have much higher amounts of vitamin D3. You can get vitamin D2 from some plant sources and fortified foods, but studies have shown that vitamin D3 is more bioavailable, which means that our bodies use it more effectively than D2 (4, 5).
Unfortunately, if you get very little sunlight it is difficult to consume enough vitamin D3 from food sources. For this reason, many people are deficient in this essential nutrient and need to take a supplement to maintain optimal immune health.