Powerful nutrients to strengthen immunity
With coronavirus at large – strengthening our immune systems with the powerful antiviral, immune-enhancing properties of vitamin D3, vitamin C and probiotics is advantageous. Where even medicine doesn’t yet have a solution, we have at our disposal powerful and effective tools that offer protection and defence. Here are three of the most important immune supporting nutrients – for preventing, enhancing, building and maintaining strong immune health.
Heralded as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ – vitamin D3 is essential for the functioning of a healthy immune system. If you’ve been experiencing or are susceptible to a sore throat, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, cough, viral or chest infections, then you are more than likely vitamin D deficient.
The best source of vitamin D is from sunlight. However, during the winter months with the lack of sunshine most of us become deficient. Now that spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere, making the most where possible of getting a daily 30-40 minute hit of sunshine will go a long way to building up your reserves and strengthening your immunity against infections.
- Solution: during the sun-deprived months, a good quality vitamin D3 supplement is essential. I prefer drops or spray. Sun lamps have also been shown to be a good way to boost vitamin D levels. Some foods like oily fish, egg yolks and cheese contain vitamin D, but not enough to offer much benefit.
- High quality, affordable and easily accessible brands here in the UK include Nutri Advanced Vitamin D3 drops 1000 (30ml) and Better You Vitamin D 1000 Oral Spray (15ml). Available from most good health food retailers like Wholefoods, Revital and Planet Organic, etc.
- Dose: during the coronavirus pandemic most adults could benefit from taking 4000-5000IUs daily for two weeks and then reducing down to 2000IUs daily. Check out the following article five common signs of a Vitamin D deficiency for more insight. When supplementing with Vitamin D, it’s really important to monitor blood levels where possible – so as to avoid toxicity. Hard to do amidst the corona craziness. If in doubt consult a naturopath or nutritionist.
One of the mostly highly studied vitamins. With potent immune stimulating properties, vitamin C enhances white blood cell function and activity; increases antibody responses and levels, thymus secretions, interferon production and much more. Thus making it a lethal weapon in warding off colds, viruses and infections.
- Foods rich in vitamin C include acerola, peppers, kale leaves, parsley, collard greens, broccoli and brussels sprouts. When buying a vitamin C supplement, try to buy one that also contains zinc, magnesium, bioflavonoids and other antioxidants to synergistically enhance the actions of vitamin C.
- The practitioner brand Biomedica C-Max 200g is superior in quality. It also comes in capsules. Available only through my practitioner suppliers: The Natural Dispensary and Amrita Nutrition. Liposomal vitamin C is also an excellent way to maximise vitamin C absorption. Other good brands here in the UK include Altrient lipsomal vitamin C and YourZooki vitamin C Zooki.
- Dose: 3000mg daily for most adults. For best absorption divide into two to three separate doses.
80% of our immune system is said to be located in our gut – so a healthy gut microbiome is an essential part of our immune defence. Our friendly microbes contribute to 80% of our genes, help fight off pathogenic viruses, bacteria and fungi and protect us from infection. However, a poor diet, refined sugar, stress, smoking, antibiotics, medications etc. can seriously deplete the health and biodiversity of our gut microbiota.
Food sources: eating a diet rich in prebiotic foods will feed and nourish our friendly gut bacteria. Good sources include: garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, banana, barley, rye wheat bran and artichokes. Eating foods that are naturally rich in probiotics are also beneficial. Good examples include: yoghurt, kombucha, miso, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut.
Dose: x1 capsule daily for one month.
Note: during the coronavirus outbreak some supplements may be difficult to source. So you might need to shop around and try your luck!
“Without bacteria present, the immune system remains half asleep” – M Velasquez-Manoff
Powerful medical herbs to strengthen immunity
Herbal medicines have been used across ancient healing traditions for thousands of years to strengthen, modulate and enhance immune health. Some provide anti-viral, anti-inflammatory benefits. Others offer potent antioxidant, diaphoretic, antimicrobial and expectorant actions.
Powerful immune-enhancing herbs include: echinacea, astragalus, andrographis, elderberry, garlic, eleuthero root, elecampane, propolis, mullein, pau d’arco, cayenne, angelic, ginger, and olive leaf. They all (plus many more) just happen to be contained within my favourite immune boosting formula:
- Source Naturals Wellness Formula – Herbal Defence Complex: this is honestly the best immune formulation on the market – at least here in the UK. Take note: the standard tablet size is on the ‘large size’ (simply because it’s packed full of goodness). They also do capsules. Dose: follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Available from my practitioner dispensary, Wholefoods and Revital.
- Note: if you are unable to source this product, look out for other herbal immune formulas with a blend of even just a handful of these ingredients. Failing that – echinacea and vitamin C are great for supporting immune health and assist in reducing the severity and duration of infection.
- Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for cautions and contraindications.
So there we have it. If you want specific nutritional advice for what supplements are best for you – you can book a remote appointment with me. Tune in for my upcoming article on the top three household foods to boost your immune system. They may already be in your pantry.
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Take care and keep safe. x
London naturopath, nutritionist, medical herbalist and BodyTalk practitioner Merran Lusher, ND offers science-based intuitive holistic health consultations and healing for mind, body and soul. Merran consolidates other natural therapies into her treatments including energy work, homeopathy, reiki, dietary and lifestyle advice and much more. She runs a busy weekly remote clinic to clients around the world and also consults across two busy London practices in Chelsea and North London. You can read more about her here.