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Vitamins, Minerals, and the Immune System

 

The Most Important Vitamins & Minerals that assist the Immune System



Many vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body requires for optimal health. But with the everyday burdens we all face--jobs, finances, relationships--our health can quickly be worn down, so extra vitamins and minerals can help keep us, and our immune systems, healthy.


Significance



Extra supplementation of some vitamins and minerals can be extremely helpful in keeping the immune system healthy and fighting off infection during cold and flu season and throughout the year when faced with extra stressors that can deplete the body's reserves. If you can prevent yourself from getting sick or boost your immune system enough to fight infection quickly, you also help to protect those around you.

Function



Several vitamins and minerals are important for the immune system. Zinc has antibacterial and antiviral properties and stimulates white blood cell function to fight infection. Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant activity and can reduce the duration and severity of colds. Vitamin A increases the activity of white blood cells, supports mucous membranes--which trap microbes and help expel them from the body, and supports cell membranes. The B-complex vitamins are readily depleted by stress and illness, but are absolutely essential for the production of energy by the body's cells, including cells of the immune system.

Prevention/Solution



When you feel the first symptoms of a cold or flu coming on, add extra zinc to your supplement regimen--15-30 mg daily. You can also find zinc solutions in throat sprays and nasal swabs, which place the zinc in one of the main areas of the body where bacteria and viruses can enter and grow.

Bump up your vitamin C intake during cold and flu season and when you are under extra stress. Increase your daily vitamin C intake by adding 250 to 500 mg every 2 to 3 hours until you experience loose stools, then back off the daily dose by 500 mg.

To fight colds and flu take 25,000 IU beta-carotene daily to increase vitamin A levels in the body. You can also take 5,000 IU of vitamin A daily, but only for one week to avoid the potential of toxicity.

Take a B-complex supplement daily that contains 15 mg thiamine (B1), 5 mg riboflavin (B2), 25 mg niacinamide (B3), 50 mg pantothenic acid (B5), 10 mg B6, 200 mcg folate and 500 mcg B12.

Considerations



Copper levels in the body can be depleted with excess zinc intake. Make sure that you are taking 3 mg copper for every 30 mg zinc that you are taking.

Warning



Vitamin A should not be taken if you are pregnant since it can cause birth defects in large doses. Vitamin A should also never be taken in levels higher than 10,000 IU per day and never for more than one week without consulting your doctor. High levels of vitamin A can cause side effects like headaches, fatigue and even liver damage. Zinc can cause stomach upset and aggravate stomach ulcers when taken in high doses.
 
     


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