If there was ever an important time to take the steps to support your body's immune system, it's now, as we face the coronavirus pandemic. Eating a nutrient-dense diet, getting a good night's sleep, and managing your stress levels are all great ways to start—but if you want to deliver a potent boost to your immune system, you might also want to consider bolstering your diet with vitamins and other supplements. But what vitamins and supplements do you need to keep your immune system functioning at a high level (and help yourself stay healthy in the process)? Ahead, our experts weigh in.
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If you're looking to deliver a boost to your immune system, Vitamin C is a must and is "most widely recommended. You can get that in a fat-soluble form called a liposomal vitamin C, [which] can help shore up the immune system and usher out toxins," says Audrey Christie, a functional and integrative nurse with a dual masters in nursing and nutrition. "Vitamin C and other antioxidants [also] help to stimulate white blood cell production and produce certain antibodies that neutralize invading bacteria and viruses."
Vitamin C is in high demand right now. But the good news is, if you have trouble finding it, there are plenty of ways to get your daily dose of vitamin C directly from your diet. "Consume all of the fresh produce you can find and get a good variety of phytonutrients," says Christie. "Being heavy-handed with your herbs and spices in the kitchen can [also] add a lot of bioavailable vitamins to your body."
Vitamin D is known for elevating your mood, but it can also bump your immune system. "Research has shown that the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off viruses," says Dr. Jodie Horton, M.D., and Love Wellness Advisor. Sunlight is the primary delivery system for vitamin D, but because we're still transitioning from winter into spring—and because social distancing is keeping many people in their homes—the best thing you can do to make sure you're getting enough vitamin D is to take a supplement.
Taking a vitamin D supplement will help increase your levels—and, just as importantly, make sure you stay at the right level to support your immune systems. "Taking vitamin D3 not only boosts vitamin D levels but helps maintain them," says Dr. Horton.
You might not immediately link your immune system to your gut, but the truth is, a significant portion of immune function is directly tied to this part of your body. "Around 70 to 80 percent of your immune system is found in your gut," says Dr. Horton. And because the gut plays such a critical role in immune function, it's important to do everything you can to support its overarching health. The best way to do so? Probiotics. "Studies show that probiotics are important in restoring and maintaining normal gut bacteria that is critical in fighting infections," says Dr. Horton. "They also stimulate antibodies that help improve immune function and decrease inflammation and your risk of infection."