Have you ever felt as if your immune system is under par? Are you frustrated as you go down with yet ANOTHER cold?
We all need an adequate nutrient intake for our immune system to function efficiently. Although we are brought up to think that we can get all the nutrition we need from our diet, there are several reasons why that is not the case nowadays, related to our increased need for antioxidants and vitamins at the same time as a reduction in what is available to us in our food.
A good multivitamin can enhance our immune system by supporting our body’s natural defences on both a structural and cellular level. However, most multivitamins really aren’t up to the standards we need – if only I had known that a few years ago!
A recent article published in the British Journal of Nutrition summarizes the roles of select vitamins and trace elements in immune function.
Adequate intakes of micronutrients are required for the immune system to function efficiently. Micronutrient deficiency suppresses immunity by affecting antibody responses, leading to imbalances in the immune system. This situation increases susceptibility to infections, which increases disease and death risk. In addition, infections aggravate micronutrient deficiencies by reducing nutrient intake, increasing losses, and interfering with utilization by altering metabolic pathways. Inadequate intakes of micronutrients are common in people with eating disorders, smokers (active and passive), individuals with chronic alcohol abuse, certain diseases, during pregnancy and lactation, and in the elderly.
Micronutrients contribute to the body’s natural defences on three levels by supporting physical barriers (skin/mucosa), cellular immunity, and antibody production. Vitamins A, C, E, and the mineral zinc assist in enhancing the skin barrier function. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folic acid, and the minerals iron, zinc, copper and selenium work synergistically to support the protective activities of the immune cells. Finally, all these micronutrients, with the exception of vitamin C and iron, are essential for the production of antibodies.
Overall, inadequate intake and status of these vitamins and minerals may lead to a suppressed immune system, which increases the risk of infections and aggravates malnutrition. Therefore, supplementation with a multivitamin that includes these micronutrients can support the body’s natural defence system by enhancing all three levels of immunity.
Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S29-35.
So – you see, our bodies get into a vicious cycle if we are not careful! We don’t take in enough nutrients, this increases our infection rates, the infections stop us absorbing so many nutrients, and so it goes on!