When it comes to immunity and the nutrients that support it, we often only think as far as vitamin C. Although our trusty vitamin C is an absolute staple in the line up of nutrient superheroes, there are a few more nutrients and powerful herbs we’d recommend you're getting in to boost a strong immune system and keep well.
On top of this, did you know that it’s not just about the right nutrients and herbs when we’re wanting to boost up our immunity, but also the form they are in and the strength? Different forms are more powerful than others and specific strengths are needed for them to be effective.
Read on to find out which key nutrients and herbs have your back when it comes to immunity and what forms and strengths of each you need to help you and your family get back to better, fast.
For all its wonder, vitamin C has two key downsides that we have to work to address: we can't make it on our own, and it doesn't stay in our body for very long. That means we need to keep topping it up with extra sources: from supplements and foods rich in it.
There are so many reasons vitamin C is so super. In addition to fighting infection, vitamin C also works as an antioxidant, protecting our bodies from damage and is involved in the growth of our bones, tendons, ligaments and skin and helps us absorb other essential nutrients, such as iron, better.
When seeking out vitamin C from foods make sure you're eating FRESH! It's said that 80% of the water soluble vitamins in fresh produce (like vitamin C) are lost within four days of harvest, so picking it straight from the tree or ground is best!
Or, when choosing a supplement, look for high-quality, high-strength source of vitamin C with improved bioavailability with the addition of bioflavonoids and zinc.
Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is famous for coming to us from the sun and it's important when it comes to our wellness for many reasons, but in this instance it plays a key role in regulating our immune system.
The sun is a fickle friend when it comes to vitamin D. We're (rightly) so careful exposing ourselves to the sun and our bodies can only make vitamin D from it between the hours of 10am and 3pm, and only in the summertime. This is also known as peak burn time so we need to ensure we're topping up our stores in other ways.
84% of New Zealanders are vitamin D deficient, suggesting we need to know more about where we get this crucial vitamin from. We can address this deficiency via our diet as it is abundant in animal fats, oily fish, eggs, liver, mushrooms, and raw (unpasturised) dairy.
Vitamin D is so important to our health because it has a key role in regulating our immune system, controls belly fat via insulin control, plays a key role in pancreatic enzyme creation, and controls the levels of calcium in our blood and bones.
Even with a diet abundant in vitamin D, a nutritional support product can ensure a higher concentration and a guaranteed daily dose. This is especially important for vegetarians for whom a vitamin D-rich diet may be more difficult, given the number of animal sources.
Zinc is a vital mineral and is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in our bodies and is essential for healthy immune function, energy and metabolic regulation as it is needed to make insulin. It is also key to male reproductive health and for healing wounds (like ulcers) and having effective senses like taste and smell - especially important when we have a cold! Evidence shows that when zinc is taken at the beginning of a cold, it can shorten the length of the illness. Hooray! However, an interesting fact about zinc is that you need zinc to absorb zinc. That means, if your body is using all the zinc it has to recover from an illness, or maybe an operation, it can be hard to keep stores high from food alone. That's when a zinc supplement can come in and do some of the heavy lifting. Evidence shows that when zinc is taken at the beginning of a cold, it can shorten the length of the illness. Ideally, men will have about 9.5mg of zinc a day and women 7mg. It is rich in a lot of common foods like seafood (especially oysters), chicken, and pork, red meat, cashews, chickpeas, and hard cheese so keeping these in your diet is a good idea if zinc deficiency is a concern. If you're not sure on how your zinc levels stack up, the most effective way to check this is with a taste test. If the liquid tastes like water, or like not much at all, that means you don't have enough in your diet and a supplement is highly recommended. Look out for zinc picolinate as it is one of the most bioavailable forms that our body can absorb easily and fast.
Echinacea is best-known for its cold-fighting properties and is an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. In addition to cold and flu, its most common uses are to ease inflammation, migraines, and pain.
The echinacea plant is also loaded with antioxidants which defend cells against oxidative stress which can lead to chronic disease.
Its use around the world is unsurprising given its link to strong immunity, lowering blood sugar levels, reducing feelings of anxiety, anti-inflammatory properties, and easing skin concerns.
Since echinacea root isn’t something we would usually include in our diet, it’s most commonly taken in supplement form. When seeking out echicacia in a supplement, be sure to find one that has at least 500mg in the extracted form which is the most potent and powerful, (not the dried herb form).
When it comes to immunity, beta glucan aids in the easing of upper respiratory tract infections like sore throats, blocked noses, sinus issues, laryngitis, or the common cold.
Beta Glucan is a form of soluble dietary fibre and is strongly linked to lowering cholesterol and supporting healthy heart function. It slows down the digestion of our food which means sugar isn’t absorbed as quickly and we are getting the most out of our food.
It is most commonly found in barley fibre, oats and whole grains, algae, seaweed, and some mushrooms like Shiitake.
Studies show that a beta glucan supplement in a dose of 500mg a day for 12 days improves quality of life in otherwise healthy people.
Holy Basil Leaf
With a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine, different parts of Holy Basil leaf plant are used to support the likes of bronchitis, nausea, eczema, and stomach ulcers.
Because it acts as an adaptogen, it is an anti-stress ingredient that promotes mental balance. It also has anti-stress properties and modulates the immune system for enhanced immune response. The leaf is high in vitamins a and c, as well as zinc, calcium, chlorophyll, and iron making it an excellent all-rounder.
Because it’s a whole leaf, it can be incorporated into cooking and tea but it does have quite a bitter taste and some people consider it spicy. Taking it in supplement form is much more convenient and ensures you get a sufficient dose, every day.
Ginger has broad antibacterial properties and has long been used to ease symptoms of nausea as it balances the levels of hydrochloridric acid in the stomach. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress, and antioxidant effects. It has also shown to be highly effective in easing nausea, aiding chronic indigestion, and preventing vomiting. Having fresh ginger root sliced in hot water with honey and lemon is a delicious tea that soothes a sore throat. It can be blended into a morning smoothie, curries, or pickled on sushi for added spice, and it can also be taken as an oral supplement. For some people, the flavour of ginger is too spicy or it’s not convenient to take every day so which is why capsules are so easy. If you do opt for a supplement, look for one with minimum 20% gingerols.
Orally, marshmallow leaf and root have been used for generations to aid digestion, respiratory, and skin conditions. It's helpful for coughs as research shows it loosens mucus and boasts antibacterial properties. This means that if taken when already sick, it works to ease some of the nasty symptoms that come with cold and flu. Because marshmallow root is not a common part of our diets - it's most conveniently taken in capsule form. When looking for a marshmallow root supplement, be sure to choose one that tells you the extract amount on the ingredient list as that’s where the potency is. Some supplements are made up of the entire plant but the root is where the magic is.
- Want to protect and boost your immune system with all of these superhero nutrients and herbs? Find all of them in BePure's immune range to support you and your family keeping well this winter.
- Get a FREE Vit D Restore (High-strength 100% natural vitamin D for optimal health and energy status, think of it as ‘liquid sunshine' in a bottle) when you shop our Rapid Action Immune Pack - Limited time offer.