Strengthen immune system

What helps immune system?

• Inadequate dietary protein cripples the immune system. Deficiency of this nutrient alone accounts for the greater susceptibility to disease seen in impoverished nations, where complete protein (one containing all the essential amino acid building blocks of protein) is often a luxury. Complete proteins are readily available in this country in lean meat, fish, poultry, egg white, and dairy products. Recommendation: Your body must have a minimum of 1/2 gram of complete protein for every pound of your lean muscle tissue every day to build and repair the tissues and to maintain a healthy immune system.

• Strengthen immune systemYour body takes essential fatty acids from your diet and through a series of alterations produces the "good" and the "bad" prostaglandin messengers. The "good" prostaglandins act to stimulate immune function, but more important is a balance between the "good" and "bad." Recommendation: To facilitate the best response from essential fatty acids, begin with the proper macronutrient framework. Then to that nutritionally sound base add gamma-linoleic acid to EPA fish oil in a ratio of 1:4 (GLA:EPA) 1 to 3 times daily. The EicoPro essential fatty acid product manufactured by Eicotec, Inc., of Marblehead Massachusetts, contains ultrapure sources of linoleic acid and fish oils already combined in this ratio. If you cannot get that product, you can purchase linoleic acid in a product called evening primrose oil at most health and nutrition stores, and EPA fish oil as well. Because it is not as pure a form, the milligram dosing will be different. You can make a reasonable substitute by combining evening primrose oil capsules with fish oil capsules plus vitamin E. Take 500 mg of evening primrose oil (a source of linoleic acid in capsule form), plus 1000 mg EPA fish oil, plus 200 IU vitamin E 1 to 3 times a day. (Warning to diabetics: EPA fish oil can cause blood sugar fluctuations in some diabetics. Carefully monitor your blood sugar if you use this supplemental oil and discontinue its use if your blood sugar becomes difficult to control.)

• Strengthen immune system: Deficiency of vitamin A reduces the vigilance of your immune defenders against invaders and supplementation improves their response. Because your body stores vitamin A, supplementation can sometimes result in toxic side effects building up. Your body, however, can make vitamin A from its forerunner, beta-carotene, as it needs to; therefore, by supplementing with this relative to vitamin A, you can avoid toxicity problems. Your personal physician can perform a blood test to check for vitamin deficiency, and if your levels are truly low, you may need to supplement with vitamin A itself to quickly bring your levels up to normal. Recommendation: If you are deficient in vitamin A, take 25,000 1U of vitamin A daily for 1 week, then switch to beta-carotene. Take 15,000 to 25,000 IU betacarotene per day to maintain adequate raw materials for your body to turn into vitamin A.

• The vitamins of the B-complex help to stimulate your immune defenses in the face of physical stress, such as following surgery or trauma. When the levels of these vitamins fall too low, your body's ability to make antibodies to fight infection declines markedly and you fall victim to frequent infections. Recommendation: Take 100 mg vitamin B-complex per day. Also, several specific vitamins in the complex serve important immune stimulating functions as well.

■ Strengthen immune system: Deficiency of folic acid decreases the ability of your immune defenders to respond readily to invaders. Recommendation: Take a minimum of 1 gram of folic acid each day.

•  Deficiencies of both pantothenic acid and riboflavin (vitamin B2) reduce your production of antibodies to fight infection. Recommendation: Take 100 mg pantothenic acid and 50 mg riboflavin daily.

• Strengthen immune systemYour body must have adequate vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) to build new immune fighters when the call goes out that an invader has attacked. The templates for these fighters reside in the lymph nodes, the bone marrow, and the blood itself. When you need to be defended, these templates duplicate themselves rapidly, turning out identical copies to swell the ranks of defenders against the foreign invader. Vitamin B6 assists in copying the encoded genetic message that must pass from one immune cell to its copy. Recommendation: Take 50 mg of vitamin B6 3 times per day.

• Strengthen immune system: Deficiency of vitamin B12 reduces the vigor of response of your immune defenders and slightly reduces their killing power. Recommendation: Take B12 in oral or sublingual form in a dose of 1000 to 2000 micrograms daily.

•  Manganese is necessary for proper immune function, and it works with the B vitamins to provide a general feeling of wellbeing. Recommendation: Supplement with 2 mg daily.

• Coenzyme Q10 protects the cells and heart function by enhancing oxygen. Recommendation: Boost your immune system with 100 mg daily.

•  Deficiency of vitamin C can impair your immune defense system in several ways: It prevents some immune fighters from responding as readily to the distress signal sent out to attract them to the area of invasion by bacteria, viruses, and the like; it reduces the production of antibodies to fight against infection; and it may even impair the killing power of the immune defenders. Recommendation: Supplement daily with a minimum of 500 mg time-release vitamin C twice daily. Research experts in this area feel (and 1 agree with them) that a total daily adult dose should be more in the neighborhood of 4 to 8 grams per day, but we would encourage you to at least meet the 1 gram minimum. You may wish to reread the discussion in Section we concerning this important vitamin, its uses, and how to determine your own body's tolerance level for it.

•  Strengthen immune system: Deficiency of vitamin E depresses the ability of your immune system to defend you. Supplementation of this vitamin improves resistance to disease in all age groups; however, it is especially beneficial for older people. Recommendation: Adults should take vitamin E, as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate, in a minimum dose of 200 to 400 IU per day, with older men and women needing as much as 600 to 800 IU per day. Warning: Vitamin E can cause elevation of your blood pressure. Please refer to the discussion of this vitamin in the A-to-Z Nutrient listings for information on how to safely increase your dose of vitamin E.

• Strengthen immune systemSelenium deficiency weakens your immune system in several ways: It hinders your production of antibodies to fight infection, it reduces the killing power of certain defenders, and it reduces the numbers of the cells that send out the "call to arms" signals to attract killing immune defenders to the area under attack. Your body also requires selenium to produce its own natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger, glutathione peroxidase, which protects your own tissues from being damaged by the killing chemicals released against the invaders by your immune defenders. Recommendation: Take 100 to 200 micrograms of selenium picolinate or selenium aspartate each day. Warning: Do not overuse selenium, because some medical research has suggested that excessive intake of this mineral might actually impair the immune system.

•  Strengthen immune system: Deficiency of iron impairs the killing power of some of your immune defenders as well as the ability of certain others to copy and propagate themselves to increase their ranks in time of need. Recommendation: If you are deficient in iron (discovered by blood testing through your personal physician), you should take 20 mg iron glycinate twice a day, or if you cannot find this chelated form of the mineral, take a combination of 90 mg ferrous sulfate plus 500 mg vitamin C 3 times daily. If you are not iron deficient, do not supplement with additional iron, but do keep your body's iron stores up by eating foods rich in iron regularly.

•  In all ages, but especially in the sagging immunity frequently seen as we age, zinc deficiency clearly plays an important role. But even when there is no true deficiency, supplementation with extra zinc can improve the responsiveness of your immune defense system to attack. Recommendation: Take zinc in chelated form, such as zinc picolinate or zinc aspartate, in a dose of 50 to 80 mg per day. To balance the zinc, take 3 mg of copper daily. Warning: Supplementation of zinc in its ionic form can create deficiencies of other minerals, such as copper, by competing with them for absorption from the intestine. Chelation of the minerals prevents this competition among minerals to get into the body, allowing you to fully absorb each of them.

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