Mounting a Strong Defense: 10 Supplements for Strengthening Your Immune System

After over a year of weathering the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are still doing their best to stay healthy and get their lives back on track.

Now is not the time for anyone to be letting his or her guard down.

Instead, people should be strengthening their immune systems with a healthy diet and the ten key supplements below.

Consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements!


1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is known as an immune booster thanks to its ability to stimulate the production of lymphocytes.

These white blood cells are essential for protecting the body against infections. They both produce antibodies and attack foreign viruses and bacteria directly to protect against a wide range of pathogens.

Vitamin A is also a well-known antioxidant, so find supplements at that contain a high concentration of natural, plant-based vitamin A that can support immune functions.


2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C assists in the production of collagen, which is essential for keeping the linings of the nose, lungs, and stomach healthy and preventing viral intrusions. Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant.

It helps to protect the body against oxidative stress, a process caused by the excess release of free radicals, often during a healthy immune response.

Oxidative stress can lower immunity and may also drive the aging process, so it’s wise to take advantage of vitamin C’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Plant-based sources of vitamin C include berries, spinach, citrus fruits, and peppers, so look for natural supplements that contain these ingredients.


3. Vitamin E

Like vitamins A and C, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E strengthens and protects the cell walls, improving their defenses against viral intrusion and reducing inflammation.

It also supports the function of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that contributes to mounting a robust immune response.

T-cells work by identifying pathogens, then cloning themselves repeatedly to essentially overwhelm the invading cells. This immune response is most effective in people with lower levels of oxidative stress.


4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is so essential to supporting immunity that many immune cells have receptors that bind to it.

It activates T-cells when they’re needed, but prevents them from overreacting. Vitamin D also regulates cytokine production and helps the body’s immune cells attach themselves to the antigens on the surface of bacteria or viruses so they can eradicate the invading cells.

Since dietary sources of vitamin D are limited, most people should be taking a supplement that contains this essential, immune-boosting nutrient.


5. Vitamin B2

Also referred to as riboflavin, vitamin B2 supports the health of red blood cells.

It’s also an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress and give the immune system a healthy boost to help prevent infections.

Riboflavin can be found in a few kinds of foods, including green vegetables, eggs, and lean meats, but many people also choose to take natural supplements that boost their B2 levels for maximum protection.


6. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays at least two vital roles in supporting robust immunity.

It optimizes the communication between cytokines and another type of signaling protein used by people’s immune systems called chemokines to mount a stronger defense against foreign cells.

Vitamin B6 can also increase the number of antibodies available to fight infections.


7. Vitamin B9

Also called folate, vitamin B9 is primarily associated with supporting healthy immune function as people age.

Older adults produce fewer T-cells, which can make it more difficult to mount a healthy immune response. Folate assists in the production of T-cells, helping them proliferate so people can fend off viral and bacterial infections more effectively as they age.


8. Zinc

Older people are also more prone to zinc deficiencies, which can contribute to more rapid degradation of the thymus gland.

This gland is most active in children. Until puberty, it acts as an additional source of T-cells to ward off infection, but once children become adults, their thymus glands slowly lose function.

By the time they reach old age, many people’s thymus glands do little to nothing to help boost immunity, but taking zinc supplements can help support the health of this essential gland.

There’s no way to stop the thymus gland from shrinking entirely, but taking natural supplements that contain plenty of zinc can help people ward off infections better as they age.


9. Selenium

Selenium isn’t the best-known nutrient, but some doctors now believe it may be key to mounting an effective immune response against viral infections.

Recent research uncovered a correlation between selenium deficiencies and impaired immune responses.

In other words, people who don’t get enough selenium don’t produce as many T-cells or beneficial cytokines, so their bodies can’t respond as well to viral infections.


10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Certain types of omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system.

The most important of them in this context are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both of which help with reducing inflammation and promoting healing following bacterial or viral attacks.

Since omega-3 fatty acids can only be found in certain types of fish, seafood, and algae, most people don’t consume enough of them through diet alone. They should take supplements.


What to Look For in a Supplement

The best supplements contain vitamins and nutrients derived from nature, not synthesized in labs. Look for detailed ingredient lists that state not just what nutrients are in the supplement, but also where they came from.

It’s incredibly difficult to get enough of all the key nutrients described above through diet alone, but that doesn’t mean people should resort to using chemical analogs when natural supplements are widely available.


The Bottom Line

Maintaining a strong immune system isn’t just a matter of eating healthy.

Most people can’t get enough of all the antioxidants and other essential, immune-boosting compounds they need that way. Health-conscious consumers can turn to all-natural supplements for immune support. Don’t wait until a viral or bacterial infection rears its ugly head to start thinking about how to stay healthy.

Immune-boosting supplements work best when taken daily as part of a healthy lifestyle.