Posted on Sep 14, 2020, 3 p.m.
In a recent interview the expert in infectious disease, Anthony Fauci, said that he takes vitamin D supplements to keep a healthy immune system, and there is plenty of good science behind his recommendation too with evidence that being deficient in either making one more susceptible to infection.
While he is recommending taking your vitamins now that school is starting and we are approaching flu season, however, he said that most other immune-boosting claims are useless, and that there is little evidence of other supplements making much difference in preventing illness.
"If you're deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself, taking vitamin D supplements," he said. "The other vitamin that people take is vitamin C because it's a good antioxidant, so if people want to take a gram or so of vitamin C, that would be fine."
There is actually a rather large body of evidence supporting the supplementation of vitamins C and D as the best bet for boosting immune health. Vitamin D deficiency has been consistently and extensively linked to an increased risk of infection, particularly to respiratory diseases. Studies suggest that most people are deficient in vitamin D, especially due to restrictions keeping one inside or in the darker winter months as the body naturally produces this nutrient in response to sunlight.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin playing many roles within the body and it has been linked to impressive benefits such as being documented as a potent antioxidant, and getting enough of this nutrient is key to a healthy immune system. It has been shown to be of assistance in recovering from an illness such as the common cold. Studies show that it increases blood antioxidant levels which helps the body’s natural defences against inflammation. Vitamin C may also reduce the risk of chronic diseases due to the antioxidant properties fighting free radical damage that leads to oxidative stress, and this may help to lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, help prevent iron deficiency, protect thinking and memory, and boost the immune system.
He still recommends masks, distancing and hand hygiene as the best practices. When asked if there was anything else that concerned parents could give their children to boost their immunity he said "The answer, to the dismay of many, is no.” adding “Forget about them," he said. "Any of the other concoctions and herbs I would not do."
Despite his dismissal of additional ways to boost the immune system there are others that disagree, such as in the case of fermented foods or probiotics that contain beneficial bacteria that will populate the digestive tract. Research has shown that a flourishing population of beneficial gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal healthy cells and harmful invaders. Gut microbiota provides essential health benefits to the host, particularly by regulating immune homeostasis, and it has become obvious that alterations of the gut microbial communities can cause immune dysregulation, leading to autoimmune disorders, among others. The balance of bacteria in the gut influences the balance of our immune system as the gut houses around 70% of the cells that make up the immune system. The short story is that science shows that if you want to fix/protect your health you should start with your gut, which will literally affect your entire body.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.