Jessica Bippen, MS, RD, highlights the best supplements for the immune system. Plus: how to boost your immune system naturally with diet and lifestyle tips.
You can help your immune system function optimally all year long by being proactive.
First and foremost, making healthy lifestyle choices by consuming nutritious foods should be a top priority. Add in exercising and getting enough sleep, and you have a solid immune-boosting foundation. However, it’s understandable to want extra support.
Enter: vitamins for immune support. Taking immune-boosting supplements can further keep your health in tip-top shape.
4 of the Best Supplements for Immunity
Probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C, and multivitamins are among the best supplements for the immune system. Not only are they backed by science, but you can also easily incorporate these supplements daily.
Keep reading to learn more about the best immune-booster supplements worth taking.
With 70 percent of your immune cells located in the gut, it’s no surprise that research supports the link between gut health and immune function. The gut houses and produces an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA). This antibody supports mucous production and immune defenses in both the lungs and the gut.
In addition, your gut barrier is your first line of defense against pathogens in your intestinal tract. The microbes that inhabit your gut also help maintain the barrier. These good bacteria secrete antimicrobial chemicals to destroy pathogens, while also providing fuel (as short-chain fatty acids) to tighten junctions between intestinal cells.
Basically, they work around the clock to keep your gut barrier strong.
Best probiotic for the immune system: One of the best ways to support your gut and optimize your immune system is to take a daily probiotic like Gut Instinct. Among the best supplements for immunity, Gut Instinct packs 10 acid-resistant probiotics stains with 25 billion CFUs per capsule.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can improve innate and adaptive immune responses.
The process begins with vitamin D activating the white blood cells that are part of your body’s innate and adaptive immune response. These cells are located throughout the body, including those lining the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Once these cells are activated, they’re able to fight off viruses and bacteria that can compromise your health.
Next, some research indicates daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation lowers the risk of certain respiratory conditions. The greatest prevention occurs in individuals who are highly deficient in vitamin D.
Best vitamin D supplement for immunity: The best way to get enough of this immune-boosting vitamin (while still saving your skin!) is through supplements. Here Comes the Sun is HUM’s vegan vitamin D formula that contains the RDA of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3. Since the body produces vitamin D3, it naturally prefers this form.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in the body. It may boost your immune system by:
- strengthening your skin’s defense system
- allowing white blood cells to function more effectively
- helping wounds heal faster
Next, it’s a common misconception that vitamin C prevents the common cold. Now although vitamin C may not keep you from catching a cold, taking 600 to 800 milligrams of it may decrease the severity and length of cold symptoms.
Best vitamin C supplement for immunity: When it comes to the best vitamins for immunity, look for esterified vitamin C, which binds ascorbic acid to fatty acids in order to enhance absorption. Air Patrol uses this highly absorbable form of vitamin C so you can feel confident your body keeps what it needs.
All vitamins and minerals play a role in your overall well-being. Your body needs a certain amount of each of the essential nutrients to function optimally.
Ideally, you’ll get these nutrients through the food you eat. Yet unfortunately, most Americans don’t eat in a way that provides the proper amount of these nutrients daily. On top of that, there are many factors that pose difficulty for individuals to meet their needs—even within healthy, well-rounded diets.
A daily multivitamin can give you the extra support you need to help fill in gaps from your diet. Think of a multivitamin as an insurance policy.
To meet your daily vitamin and mineral needs, aim to eat a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods, such as:
- whole grains
- lean protein
- healthy fats
From there, adding in your multivitamin for immune support will help ensure you’re meeting your needs and creating a well-rounded foundation.
Best multivitamin for the immune system: HUM’s Base Control is a highly absorbable, vegetarian multivitamin that’s available in two forms (with and without iron). That way, you can personalize your multivitamin to your individual needs. Base Control delivers 22 essential nutrients—14 of them providing 100 percent of your RDA—plus a little extra for water-soluble nutrients like B6, B12, and vitamin C.
How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
In addition to taking the best immune-boosting vitamins above, try to incorporate some (if not all!) of these nutrition and lifestyle practices to stay healthy.
- Aim for at least five servings of fruits and veggies per day. Phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods have properties that can enhance your immune system’s response.
- Balance your plate. Round out meals with complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and colorful fruits and veggies. Doing so can help you regulate your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling more satisfied after meals.
- Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, especially added sugar. When consumed in excess, sugars can weaken immune function and incite a number of health conditions.
- Prioritize high-quality sleep. Aim for full sleep cycles (around seven and a half hours) per night. Try to get in bed early, minimize pre-bedtime blue light exposure, and create an evening routine that helps you relax before bed.
- Exercise regularly. Daily movement in any form is beneficial for your body and supports optimal immune function. Try to take 10,000 steps per day and/or incorporate in strength training for an added bonus.
- Protect yourself against pathogens. Wash your hands correctly—and often—to stop harmful organisms in their tracks. Keep hand sanitizer with you for settings in which a sink and soap are unavailable. Most importantly, if you’re feeling under the weather, visit your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and protocol. After, stay home until you fully recover.
The Bottom Line
To reiterate, the best supplements for immunity include probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D and multivitamins. Fortunately, they can help protect your immunity from the inside out.
However, it’s important to make sure you’re also focusing on healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits to take a proactive approach to optimizing your well-being—especially during cold and flu season.
Above all, maintain a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and get enough sleep to create a solid foundation for keeping your immune system healthy.