The premise is that by saturating the body with vitamins you boost your immunity and protect against viruses and colds.The reality though is that immunity is built over time and not borrowed in the short term by overdosing on over the counter vitamins when you feel a tickle in your throat. In fact, taking too many supplements or improper dosages can actually have the opposite effect. Dr Kanin, a wellness specialist with the Vitallife Wellness Center at Bumrungrad International, has some useful advice on using supplements to maintain strong immune function.
“If you serious about building a strong immune system,” says Dr Kanin, “then supplements can help, but understand that that supplements support a healthy lifestyle, not replace it.” Dr Kanin recommends that people who catch colds and flus easily or tend to feel run down should get a proper assessment from a trained professional first. Otherwise, she says, you risk wasting your money or risking your health.
In the world of supplements, there are a few key players that pack a powerful punch in boosting immune function
and fighting off illness. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid vital to maintaining a healthy gut lining and boosting overall immunity. Glutamine levels decline in the body after training, and so does the body’s ability to fight off infections. Ensuring steady glutamine levels can enhance recovery and reduce susceptibility to colds and flu.
Vitamin C is another key nutrient that researchers know has a strong impact on our immune system as well as being a powerful antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals. Studies show that vitamin C supplementation increases the response of neutrophils and lymphocytes, the ‘front-line soldiers’ of the immune system.
Vitamin A is not only essential for maintaining healthy mucous membranes in the body, but it helps fight off infection too. Researchers have discovered that vitamin A deficiency impairs mucosal immunity and leaves the body more prone to respiratory infections. Dry mucous membranes in our nose and throat, often causes by air conditioning, also make it easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate our immune defenses.
Zinc is another heavyweight associated with more than 300 different functions in the body, including immune function. Zinc is an important fuel for the thymus gland, which produces special T-lymphocyte white blood cells that are produced once the invaders have penetrated our first line of defenses.
In addition to vitamin supplements, honey, ginger and chili pepper are all heavyweight immune builders that help fight off colds and flu. Honey is one of the strongest anti-bacterial agents found in nature and ginger and cayenne “warm” the body, stimulating circulation of energy and blood. Dr Kanin also says that we should never forget the importance of water and hydration as an immune boosting tool. Water is the “liquid of life” and hydration keeps cells healthy and strong to fight off bacteria and viruses. This is especially the case for athletes and office workers, who tend dehydrate easily.
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