Part-5 by: Jonathan Vellinga, MD
As restrictions begin to loosen, we will begin enjoying being out and around people more. This also means that our immune systems will once again be exposed to a greater variety of pathogens and will need even greater support. In the last article, we provided information on the main supplements we recommend to boost your immune system and minimize your chance of becoming sick. If you begin to feel unwell, with a painful throat, stuffy nose, achy body, or any other symptom associated with a cold or flu, we have many more supplements that can kick your immune system into high gear and help alleviate your symptoms more quickly.
The essential supplements in our immune boosting treatment kit are vitamin D3, vitamin C, probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii, Argentyn 23 Colloidal Silver, and melatonin. Depending on your symptoms, we recommend that you also consider beta-glucan, andrographis and mushroom extracts, n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), magnesium, fish oil, zinc, tocotrienols, liposomal glutathione, ImmunoThrive, Biocidin TS throat spray, and Mucostop.
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.
Vitamin D3, vitamin C, probiotics with Saccharomyces boulardii, beta-glucan, and melatonin are the five supplements that we include in the immune boosting prevention kit. They were discussed in great detail in our last article, so we will not repeat that information. You should definitely consider taking them if you feel sick.
Andrographis and Mushroom Extracts
Andrographis is a plant that has long been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine. Studies have found that it is effective at preventing and treating colds (1, 2, 3), may be effective in treating upper respiratory tract infections (4) and influenza (5, 6), and supports the immune system (7). It modulates the innate and adaptive immune responses by regulating the activation of macrophages and antibody production (8) and also has anti-inflammatory effects (9). Andrographis should NOT be taken if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Mushrooms have many different effects on the human body, depending on the species. Shiitake, reishi, maitake, fu-ling, cordyceps, turkey tail, and oyster mushrooms are the seven species that we recommend, as they all have been shown to support immune function (10).
N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
NAC is an amino acid that works as an antioxidant and expectorant. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and NAC replenishes glutathione in the lungs, helping to reduce inflammation (11). NAC helps thin mucus secretions, which makes it easier to breathe, improves lung function, and reduces the risk of developing infection (11, 12).
The body does make cysteine on its own, but you must consume enough vitamin B6, B12, and folate for it to do so. Protein-rich foods provide cysteine. Pork, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, cheese, legumes, oatmeal, and sunflower seeds are excellent sources. If you do not get enough through dietary sources or are feeling poorly, it is helpful to supplement this important amino acid.
Glutathione is an antioxidant found in most cells and everyone benefits from maintaining proper amounts. It helps cellular detoxification (13), enhances natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, and lymphocyte proliferation (14).
Asparagus, spinach, avocados, cabbage, and broccoli are good sources. Trizomal Glutathione is a supplement that contains a unique blend of acetyl glutathione, liposomal glutathione, and NAC to help support intracellular and antioxidant production and balance the immune system.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the human body, and it plays a role in hundreds of functions and reactions. It supports the immune system (15), is essential for healthy bones (16), lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes (17), cardiovascular disease (18), and anxiety (19), and improves airway flow (20), just to name a few.
Keeping the rest of your body in optimal health will help guard against illness and allow your body to focus on fighting pathogens that you are exposed to. A healthy body allows your symptoms to be milder if you do fall ill. Since magnesium is vital to so many processes, including immune function, if you are deficient in magnesium your body can be weakened in a wide variety of ways, leaving you vulnerable to illness. Therefore, it is vital to consume the correct amounts of magnesium.
If you eat a balanced diet, you probably get enough magnesium. Spinach, cashews, almonds, peanuts and peanuts butter, soy milk, and black beans are all excellent sources. If you are ill or have dietary restrictions or a poor diet, you may need to take a magnesium supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can decrease airway inflammation markers (21). Airway inflammation can be caused by illness, allergies, and many dietary and environmental influences. Just one single high-fat meal increases airway inflammation in healthy individuals but “omega-3 fatty acid supplementation via fish oil protects against [high-fat meal] associated changes in airway health (22).
If allergies or environmental or dietary factors have already created inflammation in your airways, then they are more likely to respond poorly to additional inflammation caused by exposure to a virus. Therefore, it is a good idea to consume healthy sources of omega 3 fatty acids or take a fish oil supplement, especially if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms.
Zinc is a vital nutrient for a healthy immune system (23). It is required for the normal functioning of white blood cells. Zinc induces the expression of antimicrobial peptides (24), is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory actions, and is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity. Additionally, supplementation decreases both oxidative stress markers and the generation of inflammatory cytokines (25).
Zinc supplementation reduces how often a person gets colds, shortens the duration of symptoms, and greatly reduces the severity of symptoms (26).
Unfortunately, many people have a zinc deficiency, and the elderly are even more likely to lack adequate amounts of this vital nutrient. We highly recommend that you take this supplement if you begin to feel unwell.