Covid-19: Can 'boosting' your immune system protect you?

Covid-19: Can ‘boosting’ your immune system protect you?

  • April 10, 2020

“Spanish Influenza – what it is and how it should be treated,” read the reassuringly factual headline to an advert for Vick’s VapoRub back in 1918. The text beneath included nuggets of wisdom such as “stay quiet” and “take a laxative”. Oh, and to apply their ointment liberally, of course. 

The 1918 flu pandemic was the most lethal in recorded history, infecting up to 500 million people (a quarter of the world’s population at the time) and killing tens of millions worldwide.

But with crisis comes opportunity, and the – sometimes literal – snake oil salesmen were out in force. Vick’s VapoRub had stiff competition from a panoply of crackpot remedies, including Miller’s Antiseptic Snake Oil, Dr Bell’s Pine Tar Honey, Schenck’s Mandrake Pills, Dr Jones’s Liniment, Hill’s Cascara Quinine Bromide, and A. Wulfing & Co’s famous mint lozenges. Their adverts made regular appearances in the newspapers, where they starred alongside increasingly alarming headlines.

Fast-forward to 2020, and not much has changed. Though the Covid-19 pandemic is separated from the Spanish flu by over a century of scientific discoveries, there are still plenty of questionable medicinal concoctions and folk remedies floating around. This time, the theme is “boosting” the immune system.

Of the rumours currently circulating on social media, one of the more bizarre is the idea that you can raise your white blood cell count by masturbating more. And as always, nutritional advice abounds. This time, we’re being encouraged to seek out foods rich in antioxidants and vitamin C (back in 1918, the public were told to eat more onions), while pseudoscientists are peddling trendy products such as kombucha and probiotics.

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According to one source, cayenne pepper and green tea can provide better protection against Covid-19 than face masks – a bold and highly dubious claim, considering that some face masks reduce your risk of contracting respiratory viruses by a factor of five. (Read more about what evidence exists for the idea that spices can affect your health, and how hot drinks will not protect you from Covid-19).

There’s no such thing as boosted immunity

Unfortunately, the idea that pills, trendy superfoods or wellness habits can provide a shortcut to a healthy immune system is a myth. In fact, the concept of “boosting” your immune system doesn’t hold any scientific meaning whatsoever.

“There are three different components to immunity,” says Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University. “There’s things like skin, the airways and the mucus membranes that are there to begin with, and they provide a barrier to infection. But once the virus gets past these defences, then you have to induce the ‘innate’ immune response.” This consists of chemicals and cells which can rapidly raise the alert and begin fighting off any intruder.

Doctor shares advice on how to boost your immune system - Shelby County Reporter

Doctor shares advice on how to boost your immune system – Shelby County Reporter

  • April 9, 2020

As COVID-19 run rampant through the United States, many Americans may be wondering what they can do to improve or boost their immune systems, as a healthy immune system is one of the best defenses against the devastating effects of the virus.

Dr. Patrick Proctor, a cardiologist with HeartSouth in Alabaster, said residents don’t need to take an array of multivitamins and supplements to have a healthy and strong immune system. He said the best way to do that is through eating a balanced diet.

“Our bodies don’t tolerate deficiencies in micronutrients very well,” he said.

Micronutrients refer to the vitamins and minerals that humans need for energy production, immune function, blood clotting, growth, bone health, fluid balance and several other processes. Zinc, folic acid, vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, iron and copper are examples of micronutrients.

“I commonly see people identify one substance and they find and consume foods that are high in that one thing, thinking that they’re helping their immune system,” Proctor said. “In reality, they haven’t done themselves a favor at all because they’re forgetting about balance.”

Proctor said the over consumption of some micronutrients, like vitamin A, can actually cause other problems. This is most seen when people take high doses of micronutrients in pill-form. Proctor urged residents not to rely on herbs and supplements to boost their immune systems.

When consumed properly through food, vitamin A helps to build up the surface of the eye, mucous membranes and the skin be effective barriers to bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of eye infections, respiratory problems and other infectious diseases. Foods rich in vitamin A are typically bright in color, like sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, mangoes and eggs. Dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, are also good sources of vitamin A.

Proctor said many people’s diets are lacking the right mix of fruits and vegetables. People’s diets tend to include a lot of fast food and high-starch foods, he said.

Another way to ensure that the body is primed to fight off viruses is by eating protein-rich foods like eggs, lean meat, nuts and seeds.

“A common myth is that exercise will weaken your immune system,” Proctor said. “This has been studied extensively and exercise has been found to improve circulation, which is also important to the immune system.

“Another thing that’s important to note is that smoking will lower the body’s defenses against respiratory infections like COVID-19. Excessive consumption of alcohol will do that same thing.”

Proctor said one of the most common mistakes made when it comes to immune system health is inadequate sleep.

“Poor sleep will impact your immune system,” Proctor said. “There are a lot of people experiencing chronic sleep deprivation. The benefits of proper sleep go well beyond immune system function.”

 

 

Enhance Immune Function With Integrative Medicine

Enhance Immune Function With Integrative Medicine

  • April 9, 2020
Photo from Adobe Stock / Visual Generation

Partner Content

Gov. Cuomo’s Brother Using Natural Remedies, Homeopathics and Energy Healing to Boost the Immune System 

According to the New York Times, in his battle against coronavirus, Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor, brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is making progress after a brutal week.

His wife, Cristina Cuomo, posted in an update on Instagram on April 6, that, “After one week of up and down symptoms he seems slightly better”.

Talking about her husband’s do-it-yourself treatment protocol, which was mainly alternative medicine, she listed the oxygenated herbs, natural remedies, and homeopathy to boost Chris’s immune system.

She sought help from an “energy medicine physician” with training in “Ayurveda, medical radiesthesia, radionics, energy healing, nutrition, herbal medicine, and detoxification methods.”

In the battle against COVID-19, there are more people like Chris seeking help from nutrition, natural remedies, herbal medicine, and energy healing.

The Energetic Profile of Coronavirus 

Coronavirus is a peculiar being. The virus hijacks the cellular tools of its host – animal, plant, or human – to reproduce. Because the virus lives inside its host’s cells, medicines like antibiotics cannot kill the virus. In addition to having a chemical profile, the virus also has an energetic profile.

Clinical reports emerging from China indicate the SARS-2 virus is energetically a combination of cold and damp. It loves a cold and dry climate, and, when it attacks the human body, it brings in cold and dry energy to the body that causes symptoms such as dry cough, fever (body’s reaction to the cold), shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. The individual energetic constitution and the ability of defense determine the energetic outcome between host and virus. The worst scenario is an overproduction of heat and damp energy that drown the lungs with phlegm because of the body’s counter-reaction to the dry and cold energy of the virus.

Viral treatments must work with our innate immune system. Fortunately, our immune system is able to regularly work through viral challenges with intelligence and sophistication that modern medicine will forever be chasing to comprehend.

Persistent Stress Weakens Our Immune System

Stress is the reaction of one’s body, mind, and spirit to a life event that breaks one’s physical, social and mental equilibrium.  It serves as a strong signal to the person that something important is happening, and that one should assess and respond. It is protective and productive.

When stress becomes persistent, people begin to feel that they are losing control of the situation, feeling anxious, overwhelmed and paralyzed.  Some people’s reactions may be out of proportion to the current coronavirus pandemic. They may be feeling scared, depressed, panicky, and having difficulty sleeping. This stress causes harm to our immune system.  As a result, people are more vulnerable to infections.

The major immune system response to stress and anxiety is the activation of a cell’s release of inflammatory cytokines, including the triad of interleukins 1 and 6 and tumor necrosis factor.  Overproduction of inflammatory cytokine can cause severe respiratory distress and failure, known as cytokine storms. The reason younger people without pre-existing health problems, suffered severe symptoms or death from the virus was most likely due to the overreaction of the immune response.

Naturopathic Remedies and Nutrients for a Better Immune System

In addition to advising the people to avoid inflammatory food, such as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat, refined carbohydrates, and excessive alcohol, Yang Institute’s integrative medicine physicians, naturopathic physician, nutrition, health, and wellness coach, acupuncturists and herbalists work together to address both the chemical and energetic profile of the virus that damages our immune system.

We advise our patients to take certain nutrients to optimize the chemistry of your immune system, including:

  • Vitamin C and E,  as antioxidants because the virus infection increases the production of free radicals out of oxidative stress, known as a free radical storm.
  • Vitamins A and D, both known to support immune balance.
  • The hormone melatonin, often used as a sleep aid, has been directly correlated with reduced SARS-2 viral severity2 and helps with oxygenation.
  • Essential Fatty Acid Omega-3, as an enhancement to the integrity of the membrane of the cells and cellular organelles. It is also known to ease anxiety.
  • Zinc supplements that are essential to the normal immune functions. Research in Japan has shown that Zinc protects the lungs on a cellular level.

Seven Energy Remedies for Stress Reduction 

Energetically, we recommend home remedies and lifestyle choices that you can follow to reduce the chance of being a friendly host to a Damp pathogen, such as the novel Coronavirus.

  • Managing your emotional stress. Sadness hurts your lungs and over-worrying weakens your defense against the virus and produces excessive phlegm in the lungs.
  • To reduce worry and anxiety, breathe deeply and trust that you, your family, and the world at large will do its best on a daily basis to work through this crisis together.
  • Physical exercise, at least three times per week, is necessary for the circulation of body fluids.
  • Replace intake of Damp sticky foods such as white sugar, bread, and milk, and replace them with fruits, vegetables, and salty soup broths such as miso.
  • Apply a dab of essential oil, such as eucalyptus or tea tree, below your nostrils before going out of the house
  • Cleanse your upper respiratory tract on a daily basis using neti pots for the nasal cavities and gargling with salt water for the throat.
  • Keep the room warm, bright, and humid. Coronavirus hates it.
  • Learning Tai Chi or Qi Gong exercises that mobilize and balance the body’s energy of defense.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Used to Support Lungs and Immune Energy

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine played critical roles in China and other Asian countries in defeating the novel coronavirus epidemics.  In contrast to Western medicine, which attempts to kill the virus at the cost of hurting the host, the body itself.

Acupuncture and herbal remedies focus on supporting and balancing the energy of the immune system so the body can kill or eliminate the virus by itself. They are safe and effective therapies for enhancing immune function.

At Yang Institute, the experienced experts of integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer consultations for treatment recommendations and disease prevention via telemedicine while the physical office is temporarily closed.

Please contact Yang Institute or call for a free consultation.

Yang Institute of Integrative Medicine, Tel: (610) 520-1128
We offer Telemedicine
1608 Walnut Street, Philadelphia I Bryn Mawr, PA I Marlton, NJ


*What’s this? This content is made possible by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the attitude, views, or opinions of the Main Line Today editorial staff.

Healthy, delicious, easy recipes that will help boost your immune system

Healthy, delicious, easy recipes that will help boost your immune system

  • April 9, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — With coronavirus on the rise, it’s important to take proactive measures to boost your immune system. The good news: the key to keeping your immunity strong is right in front of you, on your plate (and in your pantry or freezer). While a healthy immune system relies on a balanced variety of vitamins and minerals over time, which is why it’s so important to ensure consistent, positive eating habits, there are 3 super booster vitamins that can help turbocharge your immunity. Jennifer Tyler Lee shares three easy ways to boost your immunity using vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables.

3 super booster vitamins: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B6. All three of these vitamins work to support immune system function, and they also provide other added benefits like antioxidants for fighting free radicals and in the case of Vitamin C, iron absorption.

Key points:
Super booster vitamins = C, E, B6
Better to get vitamins from food than supplements
Keep these stocked in your pantry or freezer

Targets:
Vitamin C: RDV = 75mg women, 90mg men (NIH info Vitamin C)
Vitamin E: RDV: 15mg women & men (NIH info Vitamin E)
Vitamin B6: RDV: 1.3mg women & men, up to 1.7mg for older people (NIH info Vitamin B6)

1) Strawberry Peach Smoothie = 70% RDI Vitamin C *for women

Based on one 16oz smoothie
70% RDI Vitamin C *for women
23% RDI Vitamin B6
5% RDI Vitamin E

Extra boost of Vitamin C:
Oranges for peaches boosts to 113% RDI *for women
Mango for peaches boosts to 90% RDI

Extra boost of Vitamin E:
Unsweetened almond milk for regular milk boosts to 54% RDI

Extra boost of anti-inflammatory properties by adding a teaspoon of fresh ginger

2) Chinese Chicken Salad = 73% RDI Vitamin B6

Based on 1 serving of salad with chicken
73% RDI Vitamin B6
38% RDI Vitamin C *for women
25% RDI Vitamin E

Alternative good source of Vitamin B6:
Salmon= 67% RDI

*could also mention toasted chickpeas here

Extra boost of Vitamin E
Add sunflower seeds to boost to 39% RDI

3) Fruit and Nut Granola = 17% RDI Vitamin E

Based on cup serving of granola

17% RDI Vitamin E

Extra boost of vitamin E:
Serve with almond milk to boost to 40% RDI
Swap almonds for walnuts to boost to 29% RDI
Swap sunflower seeds for walnuts to boost to 27% RDI

Extra boost of vitamin C:
Add strawberries to boost to 47% RDI

Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Superfoods help to boost our immune systems

Superfoods help to boost our immune systems

  • April 9, 2020

By now we all know that we need to lessen the toll of the pandemic on our health care system by slowing the rate of infection. The best ways to do that are through social distancing and being vigilant about handwashing. But there’s another way we can help flatten the curve, and that’s by boosting our immune systems and decreasing our chances of being sick. We can do it by getting enough rest and exercise—and by feeding our bodies the right kind of foods.

And while grocery store shelves might seem scant when it comes to some necessities, fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful throughout the Valley. For a healthy approach to eating, the regular recommendations apply: Avoid processed foods, and opt for whole foods instead.

“It’s really important that, in terms of fruits and vegetables, you’re getting those in every single day and in an abundant amount,” says Patricia Kaytia, owner of Fruits & Roots Cold Pressed Juice Bar + Wellness Kitchen. “Fruits and vegetables are something that should be part of every single meal, and it should take up most of your plate.”

There’s a certain group of foods—the so-called superfoods—that are known to help the immune response and reduce inflammation in our bodies. These include citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, shellfish, ginger, turmeric, beans, almonds and hazelnuts. They contain micronutrients like zinc, selenium and iron and vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and folate (B-9), all of which have been shown to ward off some of the symptoms of the common cold and other respiratory infections.

“Anyone can learn about these superfoods, but it’s also about taking the approach to your entire lifestyle,” says Robert McCormick, brand chef for True Food Kitchen. “Are you getting enough sleep? Are you hydrated? Getting some fresh air? Food-wise, some things to look for are mushrooms, clean proteins, shellfish, ginger and turmeric. I start my day with a little lemon juice and sea salt to rehydrate and rebalance. This wakes your body up before you even reach for that first cup of coffee.”

That holistic approach to health is more important now than ever before, and McCormick says sheltering at home gives all of us an opportunity to embrace it. “I’ve been able to cook at home for my family and spend time with my kids. We eat dinner every night and play board games after,” he says. “I look at it as a positive. Living a life that’s not always on the go can only help with our immune systems.”

Whatever your eating habits were before the health crisis, every day marks a chance to make better choices, and knowing what to eat is just as important as knowing what not to eat. “This might be a time for us to say, ‘This is an opportunity for me to shift my focus and become a little bit more stringent on not how much I’m eating or how often I’m eating but what I’m eating,” Kaytia says. “You might want to stay away from refined carbs, refined sugars, the things that pull us in and make us want more, those items that force you to have cravings but are completely nutritionally stripped and offer your body no nutritional benefit at all.

“If it’s going into your body, think of it like gas. Do you want to put in unleaded? Do you want to put in the middle [grade]? Or do you want to put in the premium? Your body needs the right fuel to stay strong.”

Boost your immune system naturally

Boost your immune system naturally

  • April 9, 2020

WITH THE drop in temperature it’s likely you cold be feeling a little under the weather.

If you’re constantly eating the wrong food and not nourishing your body the way you should be, you’re more than likely at risk of falling ill.

One of the reasons we catch colds and flus and other serious viruses, is because our immune system is low. Stress is another cause of the common cold and flu like symptoms, which can cause a weakened immune system. 

Adequate rest is one of the first things you’re told to do in
a bid to boost your immune system.  Find
out what other steps you can take with LS to help promote your immune system
naturally.

Natural
Immune Boosters

Ginger, one of natures top anti-inflammatories, is known for it highly beneficial healing properties.  It is incredible for digestion and reduces pain and swelling. Ginger as well as an anti-inflammatory, is antiseptic and an antioxidant. For cold and flu specifically, ginger contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes, which target upper respiratory viruses, such as the common cold. Ginger soothes the stomach and throat, has properties to suppress a cough, and is considered a natural pain and fever reducer. Also works in clearing nasal passages when inhaled.

Turmeric is also anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and an antiseptic. It’s active ingredient, curcumin, is responsible for reducing cancer tumour growth, treating arthritis and joint pain, clearing respiratory infections, easing coughs, and improving overall immunity.

Cayenne Pepper is an anti-irritant, anti-cold and flu and anti-fungal. It helps with digestion, prevents blood clot formation, relieves joint pain, prevents migraines and is a powerful spice used in the treatment for colds and flus. Capsaicin, the main component is known for its healing action. Cayenne can reduce fever by bringing your body temperature down. Also a great way to clear mucus from the body.

Manuka honey is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal. It’s important to get a good quality honey so that you can reap the full benefits.  A great way to add some flavour, to your tea.

Method

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. raw, grated turmeric or
    organic Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. raw, grated Ginger
  • Dash to a 1/4 tsp. Cayenne powder 
  • 1/2-1 Tbs. Organic Manuka Honey

10 Ways To Support Your Immune System

  1. Hygiene, wash your
    hands.
  • Add spices to
    your food such as, ginger, oregano, rosemary, turmeric, and cinnamon.
  • Eat fresh
    foods, healthy fats and reduce sugar intake.
  • Drink warm
    fluids such as warm water, tea, soup and broth.
  • Take up some
    exercise such as yoga and pilates.
  • Meditation and
    mindfulness.
  1. Positivity is
    key.

Supplements

Echinacea

The echinacea plant can be particularly helpful for fighting infections of the respiratory tract. It may have a preventative action but also helps to relieve symptoms and can speed up recovery.

Elderberries

This
powerful natural antioxidants, is a natural source of vitamin C. Elderberry is
a powerful fruit shown to ‘de-activate’ viruses, helping to stop them spreading
through the body. It is said to also help the immune system in a similar way to
Echinacea, so together are a powerful combination.

Pukka Elderberry & Echinacea, Organic Herbal Fruit Tea £10

Mushrooms

There are approximately
400 species of fungi that have been identified with medicinal properties, and
many have antiviral, antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory qualities. Mushrooms
are high in beta glucans a natural substance that fights off infection.

Pukka Herbs Mushroom Gold, Organic Maitake, Reishi and Shiitake
£17.01 www.amazon.co.uk

Cold
& Flu Shot:

  • 1 tablespoon
    of honey
  • Juice of 1
    lemon
  • Juice of one
    orange
  • 1-2 cloves of
    crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of
    fresh garlic
  • Pinch of
    cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of
    turmeric
  • Pinch of black
    pepper
  • 1 tablespoon
    of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 table spoon
    of hot water

*Consult a doctor before
taking any of these supplements if you are on any medication or have an
illness.

Instagram:
@chantelle_kimberley

Twitter: @chantelle_k1m

Chantellekimberley14@gmail.com

Vitamin D is crucial for immune health -- make sure you're getting enough

Vitamin D is crucial for immune health — make sure you’re getting enough

  • April 9, 2020
gettyimages-907329974

Vitamin D is important for many functions in your body, not just your bone health.


Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to extend shutdowns, quarantines and social distancing measures — many people are wondering how to keep themselves well. You know that social distancing, working from home and staying inside in general is one way to protect yourself — but are there other measures you can take?

Boosting your immune system is one of the best things you can do because it is your body’s key defense when it comes to fighting a virus. Even if you are exposed to a virus, the coronavirus or others, if your immune system is strong, you have a better chance of not getting sick. Vitamin C is a popular choice for supporting immunity, but another key nutrient for your immune system is vitamin D. Once thought as the vitamin for strong bones, vitamin D actually does a lot more for your body — including support your immune system. 

Studies suggest that vitamin D can help prevent respiratory infections or reduce the severity of them, especially if you have a deficiency. They jury’s out on how exactly it can protect you from the coronavirus, but some medical experts recommend taking a vitamin D supplement to help boost your immune system. 

Below, Jacyln Tolentino, a physician at Parsley Health in Los Angeles, explains how vitamin D works, how to get enough of it, what happens when you have a deficiency and if it can help protect your immune system.

Why is vitamin D important? 

Vitamin D is unique because it’s one of only two vitamins that your body can produce on its own (the other is vitamin K), and you can also get it from other sources like food or supplements. It’s also technically a hormone that regulates how much calcium is in your blood. Unlike other vitamins, it requires conversion in the liver and kidneys to make it an active hormone. “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies use to absorb and maintain healthy calcium and phosphorus levels, which are necessary to grow and maintain our bones,” Tolentino says. 

You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is important for your bones, but it supports your body in other ways, too.”While we generally associate vitamin D with musculoskeletal health, it actually has several functions in the body, including the role it plays in immune function and reducing inflammation,” Tolentino says. 

Vitamin D and immune health 

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, and a deficiency in it is shown to increase your susceptibility to infection. “Some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is even associated with greater risk of self-reported upper respiratory tract infections,” Tolentino says. Further, “low serum levels of calcidiol [a form of vitamin D]  are also associated with higher susceptibility to infections like tuberculosis, influenza, and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract,” Tolentino says. 

One of the main functions of vitamin D is to help activate T cells, aka the “killer cells” in the body. T cells actually detect and destroy foreign pathogens — like viruses. “That makes vitamin D especially crucial for maintaining a functioning immune system that’s capable of fighting back foreign pathogens,” Tolentino says.

It’s important to know that although the coronavirus does affect the respiratory system, researchers and doctors know little about it at this time. The best ways to reduce your risk of being infected with the coronavirus is to follow CDC and WHO guidelines, what your local officials say and to take care of your health as much as you can overall. Vitamin D is known to help the immune system, which is promising for protecting you from many different types of illness.

gettyimages-1061269304

Exposing your skin to the sun is one way to get vitamin D.


Getty Images

How to get enough vitamin D

As of 2014, experts predicted that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D or a deficiency making it one of the most common vitamin deficiencies. If you suspect you are low in vitamin D, you should ask your doctor for a test. This way you can make sure you are supplementing the right levels if you do need more. Always ask your doctor before starting a new supplement.

The recommendation for vitamin D for adults is between 600-800 IU, although that number is up for debate among the science and medical community.

There are three ways to get vitamin D: through food (since it is naturally occurring in some food), from direct sun exposure on your skin and through supplements.

Food sources of vitamin D

“Vitamin D naturally occurs in egg yolks, beef liver, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish or sardines and fish liver oils. Unfortunately, vitamin D isn’t naturally occurring in lots of foods, which is why some foods have vitamin D added to them. Vitamin D is added to cereals, dairy and plant milks and orange juice,” Tolentino says. 

Even though you can get vitamin D from food, it’s difficult to get enough from that source on its own since the amount of vitamin D in most foods is pretty small. “It’s not that easy to get your daily recommended intake of vitamin D through food. We’re just not eating large quantities of most of these foods. How much beef liver or sardines are you realistically eating every day?” Tolentino says. 

Sunlight exposure and vitamin D

Vitamin D is associated with the sun for a reason — your body can produce its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to the sun for a period of time. About 15 minutes of sun exposure per day is what many experts say is sufficient to make vitamin D. This means you want to have a good amount of skin uncovered by clothing or sunscreen (like your arms and legs) since those things inhibit Vitamin D production, according to Tolentino. 

How much sun you should get is also a bit complicated. “UVB radiation from the sun triggers vitamin D synthesis in our bodies, but there are a lot of factors to consider here,” says Tolentino

She continues, “Where you live (your geographic location), sunscreen usage and coverage and the amount of melanin in your skin can all impact vitamin D absorption. That makes it really difficult to provide generalized guidelines for the appropriate amount of sun exposure. What may be a sufficient or healthy amount of time in the sun with no sun protection for one person might not be advisable for another person.”

gettyimages-460715759

You body can easily absorb a liquid vitamin D or tincture since you can take the drops under your tongue.


Getty Images

Vitamin D supplements

Because it’s hard to get enough vitamin D from food, and you may be spending most of your time inside, many people need to supplement to get enough vitamin D. 

“Vitamin D supplementation may be the most practical solution for many people, especially if you live in the northern half of the country (latitudes above the 37th parallel north), have been advised not to venture out in the sun for long periods of time — especially without sun protection due to skin cancer risk, or have a diet lacking in the foods listed above,” Tolentino says.

You can find vitamin D in many different types of supplements, including multivitamins and vitamin D capsules. “Vitamin D supplements generally come in two forms — D3 and D2. D2 is a form derived from plants and is the form often found in fortified foods. D3 is the vitamin D naturally produced by our bodies and is the type found in animal sources,” Tolentino says.

Tolentino prefers D3 with vitamin K2, since she says K2 works synergistically with D3. “Research suggests that vitamin D3 — the type of vitamin D naturally produced in the human body – tends to raise blood concentrations more, and maintain those levels for a longer period of time.” She also says a liquid vitamin D in a tincture form that includes fat (like coconut oil or MCT) can be helpful since a liquid supplement can be taken under the tongue, which speeds absorption. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, taking it with a fat source helps the body absorb it better, too.

What can happen if you are deficient in vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies can mean your immune system is more vulnerable, but there are some other important conditions to know about too.

“Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to a condition called rickets in children, and osteomalacia in adults. Osteomalacia is the softening and weakening of bones, and symptoms include joint and bone pain, muscle weakness, difficulty walking and bones that are easily fractured,” Tolentino says. 

Another connection that scientists are researching is the link between mood disorders and vitamin D deficiency. Many studies have looked at depression risk specifically, like this one that found a link between vitamin D deficiency and risk for depression in older adults. In another study, adults with depression were given vitamin D supplementation and it did help improve symptoms in many of them.

Too much of a good thing: overdoing vitamin D 

It’s important to not overdo vitamin D supplements since taking unsafe amounts of it can have negative effects on your health, like kidney problems, kidney stones, or hypercalcemia, a toxic condition where there is too much calcium in the blood. Generally, taking more than 4,000 IU per day is considered too much. 

This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before you take a supplement, and also ask for a test. If you think you get a decent amount of sun, eat foods with vitamin D regularly, and your levels are healthy, your doctor will likely say you don’t need any extra.


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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

How to strengthen your immune system to combat illnesses

How to strengthen your immune system to combat illnesses

  • April 9, 2020

(CNN) – Whether it is coronavirus, the flu or a standard cold, we could all use a boost to our body’s immune system to help ward off illness.

Combat any illness by starting with a strong immune system. (Source: CNN)

Isolating due to the coronavirus is not the only way you can help keep yourself from getting sick. Boosting your immune system is a good idea to ward off illness and you can do that from the comfort of your own home.

Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways you can get your body the immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs. Lean meats, milk and nuts can be great sources of protein, while beans and nuts can give you some zinc.

Physical activity is a known stress reducer, but it can also help your immune system. Regular exercise may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, that weaken your immune system.

Stress can impact your immune system, so take a moment and meditate. Slow down and focus on your breath, even for just a few minutes a day.

One of the most important things you can do for your body overall is get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests adults gets seven to eight hours of sleep each night and add one or two 30 minute naps during the day to help stay refreshed.

Copyright 2020 CNN. All rights reserved.

Wellness and health coadh Barbara J. Hulin

Learn How to Boost Your Immune System via Hulin’s Online Class

  • April 9, 2020

It is true that staying home is an effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from contracting the novel coronavirus. However, you need to step up your game by improving your immune system.

Barbara J. Hulin, a Maryland-based health and wellness coach, is offering to teach you how to maximize your immune system in a virtual event on April 10 from 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT.

The certified coach’s guiding specifically focuses on women’s health and small businesses owned by women.

“Maximize Your Immune System, it’s a virtual master class that’s a perfect bounce into the spring season for busy, professional women who want a doable, simple way to protect themselves and have top level health, at any stage!” Hulin says in an event brief.

The class promises to teach attendees how to boost their immune system and feel confident about keeping their body away from various diseases, along with how to feel uncomfortable in one’s skin or get a good night’s sleep.

“By simply following a holistic system to clean up your body’s internal system you can also drop the weight, the fat around the middle, cool down the personal summers, get better sleep, have more energy and be a calmer you! All things that can help you with boosting your immune and maintaining a clean body for clean health,” she says.

“If you’re a busy professional woman, like me, who is serious about tapping into your unique way to stay strong, elevate your health and keep it there, make this investment in yourself and save your spot now!”

You can register for the online class through Eventbrite for $57.

6 tips for a strong immune system

6 tips for a strong immune system

  • April 9, 2020

You can’t really ‘boost’ your immune system, but certain lifestyle decisions will make its job easier.

Health is on everyone’s minds these days, and the nagging worry about how the coronavirus would affect us individually, should we be unfortunate enough to contract it. The question of how to boost one’s immune system is understandably a popular one, but as dietitian Cara Rosenbloom explains in the Washington Post, it’s not really what you want:

“A ‘boost’ in that [immune system] process would not be a good thing. Scientifically, it would mean your immune system was overactive, and overactive immune systems lead to autoimmune disorders. You just want the immune system to function normally, so it helps prevent infection.”

Instead, there are some basic, common-sense steps you can take to ensure its normal, and thus optimal, functioning. As you’ll see, these aren’t much different from establishing a healthy daily lifestyle. Even if you’ve been slacking off on these healthy habits, it’s never too late to start. In fact, implementing them right now might be exactly what you need to keep the viruses at bay.

1. Get enough sleep.

Too little sleep is like a giant welcome mat for illnesses. It makes your body more susceptible to getting sick, as does an irregular sleep schedule. The Guardian cites a study from last year that found “lack of sleep impaired the disease-fighting ability of a type of lymphocyte called T cells,” and sleep researcher Matthew Walker explained in his book Why We Sleep that a single night of only 4 to 5 hours of sleep causes “your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70 percent.” Increase your odds of fending off illness by allowing yourself a solid 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye nightly.

2. Eat well.

Fuel your body from within by eating a wide range of plant-based, fiber-rich, and colorfully varied foods. Harvard Medical School professor Shiv Pillai told the Washington Post there is no “strong scientific evidence for any specific type of food being linked to better immune function,” so you can ignore the slew of supplements being marketed toward the coronavirus in particular. Instead, focus on getting your nutrition from whole foods. This includes probiotics, which dietitian Natasha Haskey said should be sourced “from food (such as a probiotic-filled yogurt) instead of taking a supplement.”

sweet potato bowlUnsplash / Ella Olsson/Public Domain

3. Don’t stress.

I realize that is difficult advice at a stressful time like this, but stress compromises the immune system greatly. From the Guardian:

“Stress hormones such as cortisol can compromise immune function, a common example of which is when chickenpox strikes twice. If you have had it, the virus never completely goes away. ‘During periods of stress,’ says [profssor Arne Akbar of the British Society for Immunology], ‘it can reactivate again and we get shingles.'”

Do what you can to reduce the stress in your life. Exercise helps, as does finding ways to enjoy yourself that don’t involve spending time in large crowds. Enjoy guilt-free Netflix binges at home on your couch or explore solitary hobbies, such as playing music, board games, baking, or reading books.

4. Keep exercising.

Exercise has many benefits. It helps to maintain immune health by getting white blood cells moving through the body. These tend to be quite sedentary, according to Prof. Akbar, cited above. “Exercise mobilises them by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their surveillance jobs and seek and destroy in other parts of the body.” It reduces stress and boosts feelings of wellbeing and happiness, which are also good for general health.

If you’re already feeling ill, however, you can continue exercising as long as your symptoms are above the chest, i.e. runny or stuffy nose, slightly sore throat, etc. If the symptoms are further down, such as nausea, stomach pain, or nagging cough, take a break for a few days.

biking to work© Harry Cooper Photography/Shutterstock

5. Avoid alcohol.

As tempting as it might be to bury your fears in a nightly bottle of wine, don’t do it! The Guardian reports that heavy drinking depletes immune cells, citing Sheena Cruickshank, immunology professor at the University of Manchester in the UK:

“Some studies have suggested that the first-line-of-defence macrophages are not as effective in people who have had a lot of alcohol. And there’s been suggestions that high alcohol consumption can lead to a reduction of the lymphocytes as well. So if the bug gets into you, you’re not going to be as good at containing and fighting it off.”

6. Practice good hygiene.

This advice is everywhere these days, but don’t stop paying attention to it. Keep washing your hands! It’s the simplest and most effective protection against catching unwanted germs. Think, too, about minimizing places for germs to hide, such as under long fingernails, rings, and bracelets, either by wearing fewer of them or including in your hand-scrubbing. Keep some moisturizing lotion handy and apply after drying thoroughly.

You can’t really ‘boost’ your immune system, but certain lifestyle decisions will make its job easier.

capsimmunesystem.org