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Do common immune-boosting supplements actually help?

Over the past few weeks it has come to our attention that many customers are patronizing stores with the express interest of purchasing immune products containing particular ingredients. 

These ingredients are the ones that are widely promoted on media outlets as “immune-boosting.” But do these ingredients actually help?

We’ve narrowed these ingredients to four, and in this blog we are going to tell you a little about each one. What the ingredient is, where it can be found, and what it does. 

Vitamin C

Courtesy of Pixabay.

What is it?  Also known as “ascorbic acid,” Vitamin C is a water-soluble compound that is also a crucial nutrient for our health. 

Where can it be found?  While some animals are able to create their own sources of vitamin C, people have to get it from other sources. You can find it packaged as a supplement, but most medical experts would recommend getting it naturally from fruits and vegetables. This would include oranges, cantaloupe, chili peppers, and kale. 

What does it do?  Many see vitamin C as the cure for any ailment of our immune system, but that’s not necessarily the case. Beyond its original use as a treatment for scurvy there isn’t much data to support the hypothesis, even as a simple preventative for the common cold. There is far more evidence for vitamin C as support for blood vessel health and a builder of connective tissue. Vitamin C helps tighten the blood vessel’s endothelial barrier against inflammation, and also helps produce collagen, the most prominent protein in mammals, which is vital to the health of connective tissue. 

Zinc

Courtesy of Unsplash.

What is it?  Zinc is both a chemical element and an “essential mineral” for human health. 

Where can it be found?  Zinc is found in cells throughout the body, however there is no sort of “zinc production center” in the body, so it must be acquired from outside sources. Many different foods are known to contain zinc, with red meat and poultry providing the majority of zinc forAmericans. However, zinc is also found in large amounts in oysters, and is also present in other foods such as beans, nuts and whole grains. 

What does it do?  Many view zinc as having a role in battling the symptoms of the common cold, as it is often found in over-the-counter medicine and cold lozenges. Zinc’s role in the immune system is a little indirect. Zinc is necessary for activating T Cells that help the body by controlling and regulating immune responses, and also by attacking infected cells. Zinc is also believed to have a hand in healing wounds and supporting healthy levels of growth during childhood. However, you do not need much of it. In fact, most adults are not recommended to take more than 40mg a day at the very most. Many studies have investigated the links between overindulging in Zinc and the suppression of the body’s ability to absorb copper.

Vitamin D

Courtesy of Unsplash.

What is it?  Unlike vitamin C, vitamin D is a fat-soluble group of secosteroids. 

Where can it be found? Vitamin D is actually only present in a surprisingly small amount of foods, including: egg yolks, red meat, and oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. However, vitamin D can be created by our own bodies when we are exposed to sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and its relationship to sunlight in our recent blog

What does it do?  Vitamin D is primarily seen as a promoter of bone health. According to the NHS, this is because it has the ability to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are nutrients necessary for the growth of bones, teeth, and muscles. It has also been revealed that a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to bone conditions in children such as rickets, and osteomalacia in adults. There have also been some studies that have started to reveal a potential relationship between vitamin D and immune boosting properties. This excerpt was taken from the US National Library of Medicine:

“Vitamin D has important functions beyond those of calcium and bone homeostasis which include modulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in autoimmune disease. Cells of the immune system are capable of synthesizing and responding to vitamin D. Immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D suggesting that the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.”

Elderberries

Courtesy of Pixabay.

What are they?  A genus of flowering plants within the family known as Adoxaceae. The most common species is the Sambucus Nigra, or more commonly, the European elderberry. 

Where are they found?  As the name suggests, the tree is most commonly found on the continent of Europe, but there are instances of it flowering elsewhere as well. 

What does it do?  The Elderberry has been used for centuries in herbal medicine for a variety of different treatments of swelling, pain relief, and inflammation. This is most likely due to its antioxidant properties. Elderberries have also been infused into diuretics such as tea in the hope of relieving conditions such as constipation. When it comes to the treatment of illnesses such as the common cold and influenza, there are still questions to be answered. While the vitamin C and antioxidants may help alleviate certain symptoms of influenza, there is currently insufficient evidence to suggest that Elderberries are directly responsible for helping shorten the amount time someone will spend with a common cold. 

There is a world of immune-boosting products beyond these traditional supplements. 

The best thing you can do for your body is to look for supplements that can help the body defend itself. This was our approach in creating four distinct immune-boosting formulas. Click here to view our immune-boosting products and get your body the protection it deserves.

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