With COVID-19 on all our minds, many of us are wondering: What can I do to strengthen my immune system and better protect myself against the disease?
One thing you can do is start consuming more of an important immune system booster— vitamins. Vitamins are a crucial component of a healthy immune system. Though we’re technically supposed to get all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need from our diet, foods these days are highly processed and often lack their original nutritional value. That’s why many of us have vitamin deficiencies, maybe without even realizing it.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the benefits vitamins have for your immune system, the side effects of having a vitamin deficiency, and which vitamins are best for the immune system to support your body’s needs.
What Are Vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds and essential nutrients that your body needs in the right amounts to function. Again, vitamins are typically taken in through food, although your body can create Vitamin D on its own when it’s exposed to sunlight. There are 13 known types of vitamins, but which vitamin is best for the immune system? That depends. We won’t discuss all 13 of these vitamins today, but we will dive deeper into a few of the most important ones.
How Do Vitamins Support Your Immune System?
Different vitamins have different benefits for your immune system, though they all play an important role. Here are some of the most vital ones.
According to Cleveland Clinic, Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for your immune system. Some of your body’s best Vitamin C sources are fruits such as oranges, strawberries, and grapefruits, and veggies such as broccoli, spinach, and kale.
Eating these healthy foods is a great way to boost your body’s Vitamin C level and improve your immune system. However, even people who consume a healthy amount of these foods can develop Vitamin C deficiencies. Your body has difficulty storing Vitamin C and doesn’t produce any on its own. For this reason, consider taking supplements in addition to increasing your intake of Vitamin C-heavy foods. It’s one of the best vitamins to boost your immune system, so the more your body gets the better.
Vitamin D is essential for your body in many ways. It plays an important role in the strength of your teeth and bones. You should also choose Vitamin D for your immune system health. It helps your body fight off diseases, from minor ones such as the flu to serious health conditions such as type 1 diabetes. Despite its shared name, Vitamin D functions differently than other vitamins. As Medical News Today explains, it's technically a prohormone. It’s unique in that your body can actually produce Vitamin D on its own when exposed to the sun.
However, it's still possible to develop a Vitamin D deficiency, especially in winter months when we tend to stay indoors. Fortunately, there are plenty of Vitamin D supplements you can take to increase your levels. Vitamin E
As an immune system booster, Vitamin E is highly effective. It’s abundant in foods such as nuts and seeds and is also found in some greens, like spinach. Vitamin E is important because it acts as an antioxidant, which plays an important role in your immune system. Antioxidants slow down (sometimes even manage to prevent) damaging substances from harming your cells. Naturally, this means that antioxidants are a crucial part of your body’s immune response. They are adept at acting like shields, helping your cells fight off the effects of antigens (invasive substances that enter your body, such as bacteria or viruses).
What Happens When You Have a Vitamin Deficiency?
The effects of a vitamin deficiency depend on which vitamin(s) your body is missing, so if you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency, research your symptoms to determine which vitamin you’re missing.
Here are a few symptoms you might develop if your body is missing any of the vitamins described above.
A Vitamin C deficiency might cause something called megaloblastic anemia. This means that your bone marrow produces red blood cells which are an unusual structure and often not fully developed. Megaloblastic anemia can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, and sometimes shortness of breath (certainly not a good symptom to develop in a pandemic). Plus, your immune system uses Vitamin C as a booster, so having a deficiency can make you more likely to get sick.
Megaloblastic anemia develops slowly and thus is often not noticeable at first. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you notice that you’re not consuming many foods containing Vitamin C, take supplements to increase your levels and start feeling better.
Because of the important role Vitamin D plays in your immune system, a deficiency of this immune system vitamincan negatively impact your quality of living. A Vitamin D deficiency can result in some or all of the following:
- Common cold and flu: A weakened immune system increases your chances of getting sick
- Depressive Mood:A Vitamin D deficiency will impact your mood, potentially making you feel angry or depressed
- Fatigue: You’ll be more likely to experience fatigue and exhaustion
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it's important to increase your levels as quickly as possible. A long lasting deficiency can cause serious health complications, including cardiovascular issues and pregnancy complications. So don’t hesitate to take a supplement if you’re worried that your body isn’t getting enough Vitamin D!
You don’t have to worry too much about having a Vitamin E deficiency because it’s fairly uncommon. In excess, it can actually do more harm than good.
However, if you have a small child, be aware that a Vitamin E deficiency can cause infants to develop a condition called hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is when red blood cells are destroyed even faster than your body can create them. Hemolytics anemia can cause your child to develop symptoms such as unusual coloring, fever, and dizziness.
Additionally, having a Vitamin E deficiency means that your body is missing out on one of its greatest benefits: It acts as an antioxidant, helping your body fight off foreign substances and keeping you safe from getting sick.
In order to keep your child safe from these harmful effects, consider adding Vitamin E supplements to their diet. It’s abundant in several kid-friendly foods like avocados and kiwis.
What Supplements Should You Take to Give Your Body the Vitamins It Needs?
As we’ve already discussed, if you or your child has a vitamin deficiency, supplements are an easy way to get your body’s levels back to normal. But what immune system vitaminsupplements should you take, exactly?
As everyone’s body has a different response, we recommend you do some of your own research. However, here are a few suggestions.
Take a Multivitamin Supplement
Multivitamin supplements can be catered to fit your body’s specific needs. Simply determine which vitamin your body needs to replenish and pick out a multivitamin supplement that contains mostly that specific vitamin. As denoted by their names, multivitamins are a combination of various different vitamins, all of which are healthy for your body and will improve your immune system.
Multivitamins are easy to find at pharmacies and grocery stores. So next time you go shopping, keep your eye out!
Take a Supplement Whose Ingredients Are Full of Vitamins
Let’s say you’re shopping for another supplement, which isn’t specifically a multivitamin. Find out which ingredients contain which vitamins and search for them in the supplements you’re looking for.
One example of this is lemon, which is high in Vitamin C. It also contains other healthful components such as potassium and folate, which fall into the Vitamin B category. Many supplements contain lemon, so if you’re worried about your Vitamin C intake, simply pick out one of these.
Another example of this is the immune system booster Vitamin D, which is rarely found in food, except for fish. That’s why taking fish oil supplements is a simple way to fix a Vitamin D defficency. This is a fairly easy technique and works for other vitamins as well.
Take an Immune Boosting Supplement
This tip isn’t vitamin-specific, but rather applies to your overall health. If you’re worried about your immune system (or simply want to give it a helping hand), consider taking an immune-boosting supplement.
Essential oils are great for this purpose: They smell nice, are soothing, and give your immune system the extra push it needs. The essential oil lavender, for example, acts as an anti-fungal and an anti-inflammatory. It’s even known to decrease anxiety (which negatively impacts your health—you can read more about that here).
Again, it's important to do your research. Determine which essential oils work best for you and which essential oil supplements fit your body’s needs. It may take some time to figure out what works for you, but trust us, it will be worth it!
Let Teramune Give You a Boost
To read more about essential oils, stress, and other health-related topics, check out the other informative blogs on our website. If you’re ready to try an immune-boosting supplement, choose Teramune. Our essential oil blend is certified organic, vegan, and non-GMO. Shop our entire collection and learn how to use our products so you can enjoy a healthier, happy you both during and long after any pandemic that may come our way.