Immunity and Nutrient Supplementation

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic many people have been looking for new ways to improve their immune system. A range of nutrients can play an important role in up-regulating our immunity.

Current supplementation recommendations

Vitamin D is the only vitamin supplement recommended for the general public. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and when we test our clients, we often find levels are too low.  

Technically a hormone, vitamin D is produced within the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B rays in the sunlight. In the UK the correct wavelengths are only found in summer sunlight.

It is often difficult to spend sufficient time outdoors, particularly in winter. Additionally the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D decreases with age, so deficiencies are more common in older people.

With regards to dietary intake, vitamin D is only found in foods of animal origin. The most significant food source is oily fish and fish liver oil, although small amounts are also found in egg yolk, dairy fat, liver and other offal. These days some foods are fortified with added vitamin D including breakfast cereals and some processed milks.

However, the amount of vitamin D in these foods is low and usually not enough to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D in your body.

We encourage all our clients to consider supplementation  during the winter months from about September to late March/early April. Dosage can be more accurate after testing, but a minimum dose of 1000iu is a good starting point.

Vitamin D is possibly best known for its very important role in bone health. It is essential for the absorption of dietary calcium, and helps to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, and the stimulation of bone mineralisation. 

But Vitamin D also has recognised effects on the regulation of cell differentiation, immunity and autoimmunity; it is a crucial vitamin for a healthy immune system.

Vitamin D plays an important role in immune system regulation, including immune response to viral infections. Many studies have also found vitamin D deficiency is related to an increased respiratory infection risk. This highlights the importance of supplementing in the winter months to ensure your immune system is functioning optimally.

Other vitamins to consider

Vitamins A, B’s, C, E and K are also known to support the immune system, and a deficiency in these vitamins can negatively impact the functioning of the immune system. Does this mean you need to take these vitamin supplements? 

There are some cases where targeted supplementation can certainly be beneficial. However our approach is always ‘Food First’ and so below are some examples of foods to include in your daily diet for each vitamin:

  • Vitamin A: cheese, mango, eggs, oily fish, liver, carrots.
  • Vitamin B1: peas, nuts, liver, wholegrain breads.
  • Vitamin B2: milk, eggs, mushrooms, yoghurt.
  • Vitamin B3: fish, eggs, wheat flour, meat.
  • Vitamin B5: chicken, avocados, mushrooms, eggs.
  • Vitamin B6: pork, peanuts, oats, bananas, milk
  • Vitamin B7: egg yolk, nuts, beans.
  • Vitamin B9: broccoli, liver, peas, chickpeas, kale.
  • Vitamin B12: fish, meat, milk, cheese, eggs.
  • Vitamin C: oranges, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, potatoes.
  • Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, plant oils such as rapeseed and olive oil.
  • Vitamin K: leafy green vegetables, cereal grains.

How we can help you

Functional medicine utilises a range of interventions including diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs, stress management techniques, movement and other therapeutic interventions. One of the tools used in functional medicine is the use of functional testing. We are able to test for nutritional deficiencies to thoroughly investigate imbalances in the body that need addressing.

During your nutritional consultation, we will review your current diet and lifestyle, physical symptoms and previous lab tests. This allows our approach to be personalised and targeted.

If you would like more information on how we can help you, book a free discovery call with our friendly and experienced team today. We will listen to your story and explain how our services can best support you.

Let us help you feel better