The healthier we are, the less likely we are to come down with coughs and colds. Unfortunately modern farming methods with the emphasis on the 3 nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, do not favour our best health. Add to this a diet of processed foods and poor digestive function and it is no wonder that colds that should last 2 – 3 days last for weeks. The healthier we are, the better everything works and the better we age. In this blog I am going to look at some important vitamins and minerals that improve immune function.
First is to avoid getting cold – so always wear your trousers. If you do get cold, then the amino acid Glutamine gets used, so a spoonful of glutamine in water will help restore the immune system.
Second is Zinc. Low levels of zinc weaken the functioning of the immune system right from the macrophages to the killer cells. The body needs zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes12 One of my clients is a Year One teacher. She takes zinc orotate/aspartate religiously and never catches a cold – which is quite remarkable given her exposure to the coughs and sneezes of the little ones that she works with every day.
Third up is Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. The best source of Vitamin D is from sunlight and most of us get precious little of that, even those living in very sunny countries. To get the benefits of the sun, we actually have to be out and in it and it has to be high enough in the sky to deliver the D. The following video is about a study on children which showed that those taking a Vit D supplement caught less colds than those taking a placebo. The clip also quite clearly states the importance of taking D as a preventative for other diseases such as heart attacks, breast cancer or bone thinning. It is a vital nutrient because every cell in the body has a receptor for it, so low levels cause very many health problems and thus increased levels are good for prevention of many diseases.
It is important that the supplemental D is Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol.
Fourth on the list is probiotics. Probiotics increase white blood cells and antibody production.
Finally the study by Philip Calder and Samantha Kew3 lists the following nutrients as important in immune strength: essential amino acids4, essential fatty acids5, vitamin A, vitamins B3, B6, B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, iron and selenium. A very high quality multi will cover some of these.
Other things that help: getting enough sleep. Eating well. Drinking enough water. Stress reduction. Moderate exercise – a review by Nieman6found that brisk walking nearly everyday compared with inactivity reduced the number of sickness days by a half over a 12 – 15 week period.
So if this lot is sorted, the chances of living a longer, happier and more productive life will also rise.
- Solomons NW ‘Mild human zinc deficiency produces and imbalance between cell-mediated and humoral immunity. NutrRev 12998 Jan, 56 (1 Pt1):27:8. abstract [↩]
- Barrett Sugarman. Zinc and Infection. Clin Infec. Dis. (1983) 5(1): 137-147 doi:10:1093/clinids/5.1.137 [↩]
- Calder PC, Kew S, The immune system: a target for functional foods? British Journal of Nutrition (2002), 88, S165 – !176 DOI: 10.1079/BNJ2002682 [↩]
- these are the complete proteins found in meat and fish. The digestive process breaks them down into the components called amino acids [↩]
- otherwise the omega 3s [↩]
- Nieman DC, Pedersen BK. Exercise and Immune function: Recent Developments. Sports Medicine Vol 27 No2 Feb 1999 pp73-80(8). Abstract [↩]