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Autumn is here, which means cooler weather, changing leaves, and holiday plans. However, the season brings with it bouts of flu and colds, as well. Consider these three supplements to help boost your immune system this fall:
Most commonly used to both shorten the duration and reduce the symptoms of the flu and common cold, echinacea is one of the most common herbs in America. Several chemicals contribute to its therapeutic effects, including polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids.1
The herb’s efficacy in preventing and treating the common cold is still under debate; however, “a review of 14 clinical trials found that Echinacea reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent and the duration of a cold by one to four days … Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly,” according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.1
Selenium is essential for a strong, healthy immune system. It can influence antioxidant activities, thyroid hormone metabolism, and regulation of redox-active proteins activity, all of which are associated with specific processes that affect the immune system, according to an article in The Journal of Nutrition.2
“Dietary selenium is essential for an optimum immune response, although the mechanisms of this requirement are not always fully understood,” the article states. “Adequate dietary selenium is essential for the activity of virtually all arms of the immune system.”2
Specifically, zinc affects the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems in the body. The response of zinc supplements depends on a person’s diet, age, and health. Those who do not get enough zinc, however, increase their susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.3
According to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system, from the a barrier of the skin to gene regulation within lymphocytes. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.”3
As with any supplement, albeit for weight, strength, or immunity, always consult a doctor before taking any dosage.
1Ehrlich S. “Echinacea.” University of Maryland Medica Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/echinacea. Last reviewed January 2012. Accessed September 2014.
2Arthur J, Beckett G, McKenzie R. Selenium in the Immune System. J. Nutr. 2003:133(5):1457S-1459S.
3Prasad A, Shankar A. Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998:68(supl):447S-63S.