Zinc is an essential mineral involved in regulating signalling pathways in innate and adaptive immune functions. Zinc deficiency affects roughly 30% of the elderly population, which contributes to their weakened immune system and related chronic disorders. Research has shown that zinc supplementation is beneficial in improving a range of diseases, including diarrhea, hepatitis C, pneumonia, and other infections caused by weakened immunity.
Echinacea and Elderberry
Both Echinacea and Elderberry are natural immune boosters used in traditional herbal medicine since ancient times. They contain high levels of antioxidants, flavanols, vitamins and minerals that counteract toxic molecules in the body, such as reactive oxygen species. By lowering the levels of oxidative stress. echinacea and elderberry help prevent infections and reduce inflammation, exerting both short- and long-term health benefits.
For example, elderberries have shown protective effects against influenza types A, B, and herpes simplex-1 virus. Notably, several clinical trials supported the use of elderberry extracts in combating flu in humans. For example, one study revealed that echinacea hot drink together with elderberry is as effective as oseltamivir, the gold standard treatment for influenza.
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that cannot be synthesized or stored by our body. Therefore, daily intake from the diet or supplementation is critical. As a cofactor for a battery of enzymes, Vitamin C’s functions range from protection against pathogens to overcoming oxidative stress. Therefore, it is not surprising that deficiency leads to higher susceptibility to infections, whilst supplementation could help maintain strong immunity.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin under sunlight, which is deficient in many people due to inadequate sun exposure. Apart from bone health, vitamin D is also important for the health of innate and adaptive immune cells, such as white blood cells. Interestingly, vitamin D was already used to treat infections like tuberculosis before we had antibiotics. A more recent study of 19,000 subjects with lower vitamin D revealed a higher risk of respiratory infections.