How To Boost Your Immune System

Your immune system requires harmony and balance to function well, but how can this be achieved?

The key is to look at boosting your immunity as an ongoing system rather than a single entity; it is a lifestyle change that will bring happiness and balance to your life. It is not a quick fix or fad.

To adopt a healthy living strategy, consider:

  • Diet – are your meals balanced?
  • Exercise – a few minutes of exercise per day can make all the difference
  • Stress – what are your coping mechanisms?
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Sleep – are you getting enough?
  • Be kind to yourself, surround yourself with positive people and think positive thoughts

It is vital to ensure you are getting a good balance of vitamins and minerals so that each of these areas can function properly, meaning your body and mind have the support they need.

Zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral which cannot be stored in the body. Various forms are available, with some forms (such as zinc picolinate) being better absorbed than others. Some of its functions include:

  • Has a role in immune function
  • Important for adequate wound healing
  • Supports normal growth and development
  • Required for proper taste and smell
  • Required for the functioning of over 100 enzymes in the body
  • Required for DNA synthesis and cell division

Found in: almonds, dairy foods, oysters, beef, lobster and baked beans.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D in NZ - PCNZ Vitamin D is needed by every cell in the body, it either comes from the sun, food or by taking supplements. Vitamin D3 is the best form to supplement with for:

  • Optimal immune function
  • Absorption and use of calcium for bone health
  • Muscle and nerve function (with low levels you can get bone and muscle pain)
  • Normal blood clotting

Found in: oily fish, cod liver oil, beef liver and eggs.

The sun’s UV rays on your skin begin the production of vitamin D within the skin. Levels in New Zealand are lowest in November after coming out of winter and highest in February during summer.

Those living at the equator have very high levels of vitamin D, which is safe and optimal as at this level the body is able to manage bone health and have enough for other functions, including immunity.

You need 20 minutes in sun in shorts and a t-shirt daily to produce enough vitamin D, but this is limited by:

  • Presence of clouds and pollution
  • Wearing of sun block
  • Your age
  • Time of year and latitude
  • Colour of your skin (darker skin needs more sunlight to produce vitamin D)
  • The amount of exposed skin

Consider latitude, as living in certain areas means there may be times in the year where you have a reduced ability to make vitamin D using the suns rays and the skin. If you live further from the equator, the opportunity for making vitamin D through sun exposure goes down, due to the weakness and angle of the suns rays.

Living at the equator allows vitamin D production all year round if exposed to the sun accordingly. However as we move further south or north, many places will have no vitamin D production through the skin, even if exposed, during some of the winter months.

Vitamin B12
Hydroxo and cyano forms are available, but methylcobalamin is the best form of vitamin B12 as it is also a coenzyme and is well absorbed sublingually (under the tongue). Vitamin B12 is known to have the following beneficial effects:

  • Relieves fatigue and improves mood
  • Brain protection
  • Detoxification
  • Resets sleep schedule
  • Influences genetic expression
  • Reduces nerve pain and protects nerves e.g. peripheral nerve problems , MS and neural tube defects

Reasons for having low B12 include:

  • Not eating animal products (vegetarians/vegans)
  • Absorption issues for those with pernicious anaemia, gluten sensitivity or coeliac
  • Presence of H. pylori infection (stomach ulcers)
  • MTHFR genetic mutation
  • Poor gut bacteria

Found in: dairy products, red meat, eggs and shellfish.

Vitamin C
There are various forms of vitamin C available. Calcium ascorbate with bioflavonoids is a good source as these potentiate the activity of vitamin C. Vitamin C has the following benefits:

  • Boosts immune function
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps to lower cholesterol levels

Found in: oranges, sweet red peppers and kiwi fruit (higher doses are needed via supplementation for the protective benefits of vitamin C).

Please note – this is a brief overview on some of the key nutrients often used to assist in maintaining an optimal immune system.

If you would like further information on any of the nutrients listed above or how to boost your own immune system, please call us on 09 442-1727 or email us at info@pharmaceutical.co.nz

References
*Vitamin D Council. How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? [Online] Available: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/. Last accessed: 15th July 2015.

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