Are Immune System Boosters real? You may have heard claims that a certain food or nutritional supplement can boost your immune system, but not everything about the immune system is fully understood and most research regarding improving immune function and fighting infection is preliminary. Even when something is found to have an effect on immune function, it is difficult to measure its ability to prevent infection.
The immune system is made up of many cells and components. No food has been found to affect the entire immune system as a whole. Because of this, recommendations for good immune health are the same as recommendations for overall health.
Studies have shown that when a person has deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, such as A, C, D or E, zinc or selenium, may increase infection risk. Studies also show that increased supplementation beyond the body’s needs does not improve immune function.
Claims that vitamin C can prevent a cold lack sufficient evidence. Any reduction in symptoms is not dramatic enough to support this claim or use of the supplement. Similar claims about zinc supplementation yield the same results and actually show too much zinc can weaken the immune system.
There is also no convincing evidence that herbs or other supplements can fight off infection. Supplements are often unregulated, meaning they may not even contain the ingredients they claim to.
The best way to improve your immune health is to improve your overall health. Follow these steps to keep your immune system in top shape.
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A varied, healthy diet will ensure you get the nutrients you need for immune health
- Get 30 minutes of physical activity per day
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night
- Wash your hands thoroughly, scrubbing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
For more health and wellness tips, visit our wellness page at communitycancercenter.org/wellness.