Dr Bollmann, Skin Care Specialist, Anti-Aging Expert
Two viruses in the news we need to be worried about - Ebola and Influenza (flu season is here). Fortunately, we have flu vaccine and I urge everyone to get this. Influenza can be severe, and frequently has long recovery times, which can mean missed work and other complications. Oh, and 50,000 deaths from influenza in the US last year.
One of the best ways to help prevent viral illness and complications is to stimulate the immune system.
Below are the Top Natural Immune Enhancers:
|Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and protects against free radical cellular damage. Research by Braun et al revealed that 67% of those surveyed believed that taking supplementary vitamin C helped to reduce cold symptoms. Vitamin C may also reduce the symptoms and duration of infection of other viruses such as mumps, herpes, measles and the flu.
|Vitamin D is a potent immune system modulator. Research has shown that the vitamin D receptor is expressed by most cells of the immune system, including T-cells (white blood cells that are crucial to the immune system) white blood cell crucial to the immune system) and antigen-presenting cells (cells that present foreign substances capable of eliciting an immune response, such as bacteria, to the immune system), such as dendritic cells (specialized cells that present antigens (foreign substances) to specific cells of the immune system) and macrophages (a type of white blood cell that protects the body against infection.) There is also evidence to suggest that vitamin D exerts a variety of effects on immune system function that may enhance innate immunity.
|The immune-boosting B vitamins include: folic acid, B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin or cyanocobalamin.)
|Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the Indian spice turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), and is responsible for the spice’s bright yellow color. In recent years curcumin has been linked to multiple health benefits, and has demonstrated anticancer, antioxidant, antiarthritic, antiamyloid, anti-ischemic, and anti-inflammatory properties in both in vitro and animal studies.
|Selenium is vital for the proper functioning of the immune system, and that it can increase levels of white blood cells, therefore enhancing the body's ability to fight illness and infection. Selenium may also inhibit viral replication.
|Zinc promotes resistance to infections, particularly in aging, a time when the immune system slows down. Zinc has been shown to increase the activity of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell that destroys tumor cells and cells infected with certain organisms) and to boost the production of antibodies (proteins produced by the immune system that recognize and help to fight infection) in response to infection
|Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, a small organ set behind and between the eyes. Melatonin plays a major role in setting the body's internal clock and is vital for sleep. Melatonin is also important for the functioning of the immune system. Chen et al found that rats fed a diet supplemented with melatonin showed an increase in the production of interleukin-2 (a chemical messenger called a cytokine that can improve the body's natural response to disease), and thymocytes (cells that mature to become T-lymphocytes, which are responsible for attacking infectious invaders.) The results of this study also showed that melatonin suppresses an inflammatory response that causes arthritis in rats. Maestroni found that melatonin administered to lab animals enhances the release of Th1 cells (helper cells that coordinate the immune response to infectious agents). While in humans, Maestroni observed that melatonin enhances the production of interleukin-6 (a chemical messenger called a cytokine that activates B-lymphocytes, which secrete antibodies in response to infectious agents.) Taken together, these findings suggest that melatonin plays a role in mounting the proper immune defense when an organism is exposed to infectious agents.