The Best Science Backed Supplements to support Immune Health
Poor immune system health can cause a decrease in the body’s ability to regulate immune function, modulate the activity of white blood cells and to handle physical stress.
Having a healthy immune system is essential for maintaining a healthy life.
Here are the best science supported supplements for immune health found in Immune Support by Beyond Vita®:
Echinacea refers to a group of nine very similar plant species and Echinacea angustifolia is one of them. They have been used traditionally to treat infections and to increase immunity.
Echinacea has been shown to increase immune function.1
In a 2003 study, echinacea extract was able to up-regulate genes tied to immune function in the study participants. The researchers noted that this indicates echinacea may help reduce the duration and intensity of cold and flu symptoms.2
Echinacea may help increase immunity by modulating and better activating immune response.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is a plant native to South Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka that is also known as green chireta or creat. In India it has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for the common cold and sinus infections.
In a 2010 double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 223 participants, researchers found that andrographis extract decreased the severity of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms compared to the control group.12 In a second study involving 130 children, andrographis extract accelerated the recovery time from the common cold.13
Andrographis may help boost immunity by modulating immune response.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), is a flowering plant that is one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Astragalus can help increase immunity by stimulating the immune system.
In a review of several studies, a 2 month study with 14 health volunteers showed astragalus significantly stimulated the production of white blood cells which are used by the immune system to help fight infections. Another study reported that astragalus increased the production of antibodies by the immune system.19
Astragalus can help increase immunity by activating immune cells and antibodies.
Olive leaf is the leaf from the olive tree that is native to the area around the Mediterranean.
Oleuropein from olive leaf extract has antimicrobial and antiviral properties.24
In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, researchers found that hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein both have broad antimicrobial activity against several different strains of bacteria. They claim olive leaf is a potential source of promising antimicrobial agents for the treatment of respiratory tract infections.25
In a 2019 clinical trial on olive leaf extract and upper respiratory illness, researchers found that olive leaf decreased the average duration of illness and decreased sick days in the participants.26
Olive leaf can help benefit immunity through modulating the immune system in addition to exerting antimicrobial and antiviral activity.
Elderberry is a tree that Native Americans traditionally used to to treat infections. The tree’s berries contain various bioactive flavonoids including rutin, quercetin and anthocyanins.
In another study, researchers found elderberry reduced the duration of flu symptoms and increased antibodies in participants. The researchers concluded that elderberry has immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effects.30
A 2016 double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial found that elderberry significantly reduced the duration and severity of the common cold in study participants.31
Elderberry may help stimulate the immune system and help reduce the effect of infections.
Arabinogalactan can help increase immunity when it’s broken down by bacteria in the intestines. Once it’s broken down it can interact with M cells that later activate T cells, B cells and other immune cells to increase immunity.36,37
In a 2013 randomized and placebo-controlled trial, researchers found that arabinogalactan supplementation was able to decrease the number of study participants who were affected by a cold compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that arabinogalactan helped to increase the body’s defenses against the common cold.38
In another study researchers claim that arabinogalactan could be used for the improvement of symptoms related to the common cold.39
Arabinogalactan may help stimulate the immune system and reduce the frequency and severity of the common cold.
7. Siberian Ginseng
Siberian ginseng, is a small plant from Northeastern Asia.
In a randomized and controlled trial, researchers gave Siberian ginseng extract to 50 healthy volunteers and researchers concluded that it can help increase cellular defenses.40
Another study found that Siberian ginseng enhanced the activation of immune cells called T lymphocytes and natural killer cells.41
Reishi mushroom is a fungus from Asia that has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system.
In a 2003 study on the effects of reishi mushroom extract on the immune function of cancer patients, researchers found the mushroom extract enhanced the immune response of the study participants.44
Another study also supports finding that reishi extract has immune system modulating effects in patients with cancer.45
Researchers in a 28 day trial on football players found that reishi mushroom supplementation was able to strengthen the participant’s immune systems by increasing the counts of several immune cells and blood levels of cytokines. The researchers concluded that polysaccharides from the mushroom could be the main active compounds which strengthen immune function.46
Reishi extract can help strengthen the immune system.
Monolaurin has shown antiviral activity against viruses enveloped with a lipid membrane and as a result it may be an effective antiviral agent.49,50 Researchers suspect some lipids like monolaurin can envelope some viruses, then deactivate them or make them more susceptible to a person’s own immune system.51,52
Researchers also believe that bacteria can absorb monolaurin and incorporate the substance into it’s membrane. This could interfere with replication and allow a person’s immune system to easily destroy the bacteria.53
Monolaurin may also be able to block the production of some toxins that bacteria produce.54
Additionally, a study from 2016 on Candida albicans biofilms found monolaurin may also have antifungal properties.58
Monolaurin may be able to improve immune function by interfering with the activity of certain viruses and bacteria.
10. Beta Glucans
Beta glucans, also known as β-glucans, are a group of biologically active polysaccharides found in cereals, bacteria and fungi. Two main beta glucans are beta 1,3 and beta 1,6.
A 2014 review of several human clinical trials found that beta glucan supplementation is safe and effective for strengthening the immune system.59
Another study found that beta glucans exert their immunomodulatory effects by binding to surface receptors on immune cells to activate them which strengthens the immune system.60
Researchers in another study found beta glucans to be effective at enhancing immune response and function while reducing susceptibility of infection.61
Beta glucans act as an immunostimulating agent through activating macrophages.62
Also, in a large 80 patient study into the effects of beta glucans, researchers noted that they are strong activators of cellular immunity through macrophage activation. They also noted beta glucans help offer protection against infection.63
Beta glucans can help activate the immune system to boost immunity.
11. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin that is required for the body to function properly that must be taken in through a person’s diet.
Vitamin C has been shown to increase the activity of immune cells and increase resistance to bacterial and viral infections.64
Vitamin C may also reduce the duration of the common cold.69
Vitamin C may help increase immunity by increasing immune cell activity.
12. Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency can impair immune function and lead to a poor level of resistance to infection.70
A 2015 meta-analysis of 15 studies involving a total of 3,998 patients found that a low vitamin D level was significantly associated with an increased risk of tuberculosis.71 Another review and meta-analysis concluded that vitamin D supplementation may be useful as a combination therapy in patients with tuberculosis.72
Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to be associated with a higher risk of mortality in patients with AIDS.73
In another study, researchers found that vitamin D can improve T cell function and they concluded that vitamin D is a key factor in increasing immunity.74
Vitamin D may help increase the strength and activity of the immune system.
Low levels of zinc have been shown to contribute to impaired immune system function.75
Zinc also may be an important factor in the activation of immunoregulatory genes.78
A 2016 randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study found that 3 months of zinc supplementation increased T cell numbers and function in 54 participants.79
Zinc may help improve immune system function and increase immunity.
Selenium can also help a person’s immune system to keep their body healthy from potential threats such as bacteria, viruses and parasites.
A study found selenium supplementation resulted in an 82.3% increase in natural killer cell activity.87
It can also help protect immunity while aging.88
Selenium can help boost immunity.
According to a 2015 study, CoQ10 promotes immune system function.89
Models of the immune system have demonstrated that CoQ10 is essential for the optimal function of the immune system and could be used to modulate it.90
In addition, CoQ10 supplementation may be useful during times of immune system stress.91
Researchers suspect CoQ10 can boost the immune system since CoQ10 plays a key role in energy metabolism and immune cells are highly energy dependent.92
CoQ10 may help improve immune system function.
16. Curcumin and Turmeric
A 2018 study also claims curcumin can affect multiple additional immune cells including macrophages, lymphocytes, dendritic cells and natural killer cells.95
Curcumin may help improve immunity by activating the immune system.
These are the best science-backed supplements to promote immune function and health.*
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