Which Vitamins Support Immunity?
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against disease. This dedicated group of cells, tissues and organs works hard to keep the ‘foreign invaders’ you encounter every day (like viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi) from entering the body and making you sick. To do its job well, it has to be in good health itself. You need a strong immune system to help ward off disease.
Antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C and E) are the most important for helping to maintain a healthy immune system. Buy why antioxidants? Before we get into details, it helps to understand what your immune system is up against.
Your Immune System May be Under Attack
There are harmful substances in your body called free-radicals that interfere with the health and functioning of your immune system. You can think of free-radicals as ‘rogue’ molecules that hang around the body causing damage to healthy cells, setting off harmful chain reactions and impeding the your immune system function. Needless to say, not the kind of guys you want hanging around the party.
Free-radicals are produced within the body in small quantities as byproducts during normal cell metabolism. Your body has mechanisms in place to deal with this type of free radicals. In these quantities, they are generally not harmful.
It’s free-radicals generated by external sources (like cigarette smoke, pesticides, excessive alcohol and other toxins) that we need to concern ourselves with. When we’re frequently exposed to external toxins, the body’s natural free-radical defense system becomes overwhelmed, and free-radicals may continue to build up, potentially compromising our health.
Here’s where antioxidants come to the rescue. Antioxidants help to neutralize the damage caused to your immune system by free radicals by either preventing harmful chain reactions from beginning, or stopping them in their tracks. A healthy immune system can devote all its energies to keeping viruses, bacteria and parasites from harming the body.
The best sources of antioxidant vitamins are brightly colored fruits and vegetables. You’ll find the most antioxidants in produce with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Different antioxidant vitamins provide different benefits, so aim for a rainbow of colors to help cover all your bases.
Choose a Well-Balanced Multivitamin
You may also want to consider adding a well-balanced multivitamin like Geritol® to your daily routine. On days when you aren’t able to get the vital antioxidants your body needs from your diet, a multivitamin provides convenient back-up. Geritol® multivitamin contains 100% Daily Value of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.
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How to boost your immune system. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm January 18, 2013.
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