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Immune system wellness

Immune system wellness

Vitamin A deficiency also Immune system wellness the risk of mortality from diarrhea Anti-microbial hand soaps young children Immunw 39 ]. An Immune system wellness website of the National Wellnees of Health. Some employers help with the cost of relevant vaccinations for their employees. For information on vitamin C and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID According to Johns Hopkins Medicinecontrolling stress is key to improving your immune system.

Immune system wellness -

More research is needed. Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids , a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate EGCG , another powerful antioxidant.

Research has suggested that EGCG may have antiviral properties that support the immune system. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.

Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas have decent amounts of potassium , magnesium, and folate , all of which are beneficial to your overall health. Like papayas, kiwis are a rich source of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K , and vitamin C.

The soup may help lower inflammation, which could improve symptoms of a cold. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B6.

Vitamin B6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin , chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function. You may want to focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods and whole grains, engage in at least minutes of physical activity per week, get enough sleep, manage stress with deep breathing or talk therapy, avoid or quit smoking, and limit alcohol consumption.

Preliminary research suggests vitamin C may be involved in the development and function of white blood cells. It seems vitamin C may improve the reproduction of B- and T-cells , which are important white blood cells for the immune system.

The amount of vitamin C needed for increasing white blood cells may depend on the condition and overall health needs. More research in humans is needed to better understand the link between vitamin C and white blood cells.

To raise your white blood cell count , you may want to avoid alcohol and tobacco use, take Omega-3s and zinc, and eat a balanced diet. For example, a study found that the Mediterranean diet had an effect on the white blood cell counts of adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Depending on the cause of low white blood cells, you may also need to take medications like myeloid growth factors.

Antiviral foods may include fermented vegetables kimchi , fermented milk yogurt and kefir , herbs oregano, fennel, peppermint, and aloe vera , garlic, ginger, turmeric, black cumin, cinnamon, licorice root, mushrooms, and citrus fruits. Some foods may boost your immune system while others will help with their antimicrobial properties.

This means they may help fight bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that cause infections. Examples include herbs and spices oregano , cinnamon , clove , and rosemary , cruciferous vegetables kale and rutabaga , citrus fruits, parsley , and a wide range of other plant-based foods.

Eating a variety of vegetables may help you boost your immune system. Red peppers, spinach, and broccoli are good choices, as well as ginger, turmeric, and garlic. Eating all types of fresh fruits regularly may help your immune system function well.

Bananas, in particular, contain a substance called lectin. One study in rodents found that banana lectin may enhance the immune system. Fresh foods can provide our bodies with the nutrients our immune system needs to work correctly. You need a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, and spices in your diet to enable your body to stay as healthy as possible.

Good choices of foods to boost the immune system include citrus fruits, spinach, almonds, papaya, and green tea. Although eating a balanced diet is key to boosting your immunity, foods alone cannot and should not replace medical treatment, unless your healthcare professional recommends it.

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available. VIEW ALL HISTORY. Consider these tips for choosing the right vitamins and supplements for your needs.

Life can get busy and sometimes overwhelming, and low energy can make it even harder to cope with day-to-day stressors. Regular physical activity helps you feel better, sleep better, and reduce anxiety. Combined with eating well, physical activity can help a person maintain a healthy weight.

Following the physical activity recommendations for your age provides immediate and long—term benefits. For example, being physically active helps protect you from the flu. Emerging research also suggests that physical activity may potentially benefit immunity. Excess weight can affect how your body functions.

Obesity, defined as a body mass index BMI of 30 or more in adults, is linked to impaired immune functions. Safe ways to help maintain a healthy weight include reducing stress, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular physical activity. Scientific evidence is building that sleep loss 13 can negatively affect different parts of the immune system.

This can lead to the development of a wide variety of disorders. See the recommended hours of sleep per day for your age. Smoking can make the body less successful at fighting disease. Smoking increases the risk for immune system problems, including rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, excessive alcohol use can weaken the immune system.

Taking care of yourself will help your immune system take care of you. Diet and immune function. Accessed May 13, Western diet and the immune system: an inflammatory connection. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans , 2nd edition [PDF Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; J Sport Health Sci.

Exercise, immunity, and illness. In: Zoladz JA, ed. Muscle and Exercise Physiology. Academic Press. T lymphopaenia in relation to body mass index and TNF—alpha in human obesity: adequate weight reduction can be corrective.

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Schedule a COVID vaccine or booster appointment: Log wellnses to myPennMedicine or Cancer prevention for LGBTQ+ individuals us Immune system wellness to 5pm, Immune system wellness through Friday, at Health Immunf Wellness. In the midst of the recent COVID omicron Immune system wellnessmany are Immmune additional precautions to Immune system wellness healthy. Wllness hands for 20 seconds and practicing social distancing are key to preventing the spread of the virus. However, it's also important to have a strong immune system that can fight back against the germs you may encounter. If you've noticed that you're often sick, feel fatigued or have other nagging symptoms you can't figure out, it may mean your immune system is weakened. It's not a coincidence that you tend to get sick after a big project at work or following an emotional situation at home. Immune system wellness

Schedule a COVID vaccine or booster appointment: Log in to myPennMedicine or call us 8am to 5pm, Monday through Xystem, at Health and Wellness. Memory boosters for older adults the zystem of the recent COVID omicron Imjunemany are taking qellness precautions to stay healthy, Immune system wellness.

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According to a report welless the American DKA diagnosis Association, long-term stress weakens the responses of your eellness system.

The lower your lymphocyte levels, Immue more you're at Immune system wellness for viruses like the wellness cold," explains Nadia Hasan, DONon-toxic personal care products physician dystem Delancey Internal Medicine.

It's perfectly normal for adults to sneeze and sniffle through two Wellnness three colds each year. Systdm people bounce back in sjstem to 10 days. But if you're Immunf catching colds — or have welnless cold that won't Sydtem its course — that's a clear sign your immune system is wellnes to keep up.

If you have frequent diarrhea, gas or ewllness, it could be a sign that your immune system is compromised. Research shows that nearly 70 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract.

The beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that live there defend your gut from infection and support the immune system. Low amounts of these helpful gut bacteria can leave you at risk to viruses, chronic inflammation and even autoimmune disorders.

Your skin goes into damage control mode after you get a burn, cut or scrape. Your body works to protect the wound by sending nutrient-rich blood to the injury to help regenerate new skin. This healing process depends on healthy immune cells.

But if your immune system is sluggish, your skin can't regenerate. Instead, your wounds linger and have a hard time healing. You know that burning the candle at both ends is bound to leave you feeling sluggish.

But if you're getting enough sleep and still suffering from exhaustion, it's worth considering if your immune system is trying to tell you something. When your immune system struggles, so does your energy level.

If the above warning signs are familiar, you need to give your immune system some extra attention. A few lifestyle changes and new habits can naturally keep your immune system strong and healthy:.

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: Immune system wellness

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Maintain a Healthy Weight

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants , broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate.

The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all. Research has shown that steaming or microwaving are the best ways to keep more nutrients in the food.

Garlic adds flavor to food and has long been used for medicinal purposes. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. Garlic may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and people use it to treat high blood pressure.

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses. It may also help with nausea. Ginger may also decrease chronic pain and might even possess cholesterol-lowering properties. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients.

However, light cooking makes it easier to absorb the vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid , an antinutrient. Check out some spinach recipes here. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kind that are flavored and loaded with sugar.

You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead. Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D , so try to select brands fortified with this vitamin. Clinical trials are even in the works to study its possible effects on COVID Research so far suggests that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk for COVID19 and the severity of disease progression in people with the infection.

Experts therefore believe supplementation may protect people with a vitamin D deficiency. However, there is no evidence that vitamin D can treat a COVID19 infection. When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C.

However, this powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system. Nuts, such as almonds , are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.

Adults only need about 15 mg of vitamin E each day. Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous , magnesium , and vitamins B6 and E.

Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.

Sunflower seeds are also high in selenium. Just 1 ounce contains nearly half the selenium that the average adult needs daily. A variety of studies , mostly performed on animals, have looked at its potential to combat viral infections such as swine flu H1N1. You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries.

This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Research shows that high concentrations of curcumin , which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.

Curcumin has promise as an immune booster based on findings from animal studies with antimicrobial properties. More research is needed. Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids , a type of antioxidant.

Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate EGCG , another powerful antioxidant. Research has suggested that EGCG may have antiviral properties that support the immune system.

The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. Papayas have decent amounts of potassium , magnesium, and folate , all of which are beneficial to your overall health.

Like papayas, kiwis are a rich source of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K , and vitamin C. The soup may help lower inflammation, which could improve symptoms of a cold.

Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains nearly one-third of your daily recommended amount of B6. Vitamin B6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body.

Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin , chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function.

You may want to focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods and whole grains, engage in at least minutes of physical activity per week, get enough sleep, manage stress with deep breathing or talk therapy, avoid or quit smoking, and limit alcohol consumption.

Preliminary research suggests vitamin C may be involved in the development and function of white blood cells. It seems vitamin C may improve the reproduction of B- and T-cells , which are important white blood cells for the immune system.

The amount of vitamin C needed for increasing white blood cells may depend on the condition and overall health needs. More research in humans is needed to better understand the link between vitamin C and white blood cells.

To raise your white blood cell count , you may want to avoid alcohol and tobacco use, take Omega-3s and zinc, and eat a balanced diet.

For example, a study found that the Mediterranean diet had an effect on the white blood cell counts of adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Depending on the cause of low white blood cells, you may also need to take medications like myeloid growth factors.

Antiviral foods may include fermented vegetables kimchi , fermented milk yogurt and kefir , herbs oregano, fennel, peppermint, and aloe vera , garlic, ginger, turmeric, black cumin, cinnamon, licorice root, mushrooms, and citrus fruits.

However, 25 OH D levels defined as deficient or adequate vary from study to study. In addition to its well-known effects on calcium absorption and bone health, vitamin D plays a role in immune function [ 5 , 58 , ]. Vitamin D appears to lower viral replication rates, suppress inflammation, and increase levels of T-regulatory cells and their activity [ 16 , 58 , ].

In addition, almost all immune cells e. These capabilities suggest that vitamin D can modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses [ 5 , 16 , , 85 , 87 , 88 ]. It also impairs macrophage function and interleukin production [ 5 ]. Dietary surveys indicate that most people in the United States consume less than recommended amounts of vitamin D [ 90 ].

Nevertheless, according to a — analysis of serum 25 OH D concentrations, most people in the United States age 1 year and older have adequate vitamin D status [ 91 ]. Sun exposure, which increases serum 25 OH D levels, is one of the reasons serum 25 OH D levels are usually higher than would be predicted on the basis of dietary vitamin D intakes alone [ 78 ].

Researchers have investigated whether higher vitamin D status can reduce the risk of seasonal infections, having observed that low vitamin D status due to less sun exposure and higher risk of upper respiratory tract infections are more common in the winter [ 87 , 92 ].

An analysis of data on the association between 25 OH D levels and recent upper respiratory tract infections in 18, participants age 12 years and older from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey — suggests that lower vitamin D levels are associated with a higher risk of respiratory tract infections [ 93 ].

In another analysis, vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency were associated with a higher mortality risk from respiratory diseases than vitamin D sufficiency during 15 years of follow-up in 9, adults age 50—75 years in Germany [ 94 ].

Results from clinicals trials have been mixed but suggest that vitamin D supplementation might modestly reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections. For example, in a clinical trial in Japan, children age 6 to 15 years took 30 mcg 1, IU vitamin D3 or placebo daily during 4 winter months [ 95 ].

In this trial, both groups had adequate mean 25 OH D levels for bone and overall health at baseline. Results have been mixed from systematic reviews and meta-analyses that have examined the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections.

Results were negative in a Cochrane Review that evaluated the use of vitamin D supplementation for preventing infections, including pneumonia, in children younger than 5 years [ 98 ]. The review included two trials that examined pneumonia incidence in a total of 3, participants; one trial was placebo controlled, and the other had a control group that received no treatment.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections mostly upper respiratory tract infections had mixed findings.

This analysis included 25 clinical trials and a total of 10, participants from newborns to adults age 95 years [ 99 ]. Study durations ranged from 7 weeks to 1. However, vitamin D supplementation was beneficial only in participants who took supplements daily or weekly, not in those who took one or more bolus doses.

A subsequent systematic review and meta-analysis by the same research team that included 46 clinical trials and a total of 75, participants age 0 to 95 years found some benefits of vitamin D supplementation [ ].

Other systematic reviews and meta-analyses have also found that vitamin D supplementation helps reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections and influenza in children and adults [ ] and that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of community-acquired pneumonia in children and adults [ ].

In addition, serum 25 OH D concentrations are inversely associated with risk and severity of acute respiratory tract infections [ ]. In contrast, a meta-analysis of 30 clinical trials in a total of 30, participants age 3 to 81 years found that vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections [ ].

Mixed findings were reported in a meta-analysis of six trials in a total of 6, children and seven trials in a total of 3, adults [ 54 ]. Vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections in adolescents and adults in two clinical trials whose results were published in [ , ].

In one of these trials, 34, men and women age 18 to 75 years in Norway who were not taking daily vitamin D supplements took 5 mL cod liver oil containing 10 mcg IU vitamin D3 or placebo for up to 6 months during the winter [ ]. The cod liver oil did not reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections.

The other trial involved 6, participants age 16 years or older in the United Kingdom who were not taking vitamin D supplements [ ]. Half of the participants were offered a vitamin D blood test. The other participants were not offered vitamin D tests or supplementation, and the study did not use a placebo.

Neither lower nor higher doses of vitamin D3 reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infections. Researchers have also examined whether vitamin D supplementation helps treat respiratory tract infections, but results suggest that it has limited, if any, benefits.

A meta-analysis included 18 clinical trials in a total of 3, participants with mean ages between 12 months and 62 years [ ]. It assessed whether one-time, daily, or occasional vitamin D doses ranging from 15 to 15, mcg IU to , IU , depending on dosing schedule, for up to 8 months helped treat respiratory infections.

Treatment outcomes differed among trials but included sputum conversion for pulmonary tuberculosis , survival rate, and no need for ICU admission.

Vitamin D supplementation had some small beneficial effects on treatment outcomes, but when the authors analyzed only the 12 high-quality trials, the differences between groups in the trials were no longer statistically significant.

Inflammation and comorbidities from HIV infection may also contribute to low vitamin D levels [ ]. Low vitamin D levels could partly explain why people with HIV appear to have a higher risk of major bone fractures [ ].

Vitamin D deficiency might also increase HIV infection severity [ ]. Observational studies show associations between low vitamin D status and increased risk of pulmonary tuberculosis and mortality in people with HIV [ ]. In addition, low levels of vitamin D in pregnant people with HIV are associated with poor fetal and infant growth [ ].

Results from clinical trials, however, have not shown that vitamin D supplementation improves outcomes in people with HIV [ , ]. Vitamin D3 supplementation did not affect rates of mortality or pulmonary tuberculosis. Moreover, vitamin D3 supplementation did not affect secondary outcomes, including risk of HIV progression, viral suppression, comorbidities nausea, vomiting, cough, fever, or diarrhea , changes in body weight, or depression [ ].

Another clinical trial in Tanzania examined the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation during pregnancy and lactation in 2, people with HIV [ ]. Vitamin D3 supplementation did not affect the risk of maternal HIV progression or death. The results also showed no difference in the risk of small-for-gestational-age birth or of infant stunting at 1 year.

Daily intakes of up to 25— mcg 1, IU—4, IU vitamin D, depending on age, in foods and dietary supplements are safe for infants and children, and up to mcg 4, IU is safe for adults, including those who are pregnant or lactating [ 78 ].

These ULs, however, do not apply to people taking vitamin D under the care of a physician. Higher intakes usually from supplements can lead to nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, confusion, pain, loss of appetite, dehydration, excessive urination and thirst, and kidney stones.

In extreme cases, vitamin D toxicity causes renal failure, calcification of soft tissues throughout the body including in coronary vessels and heart valves , cardiac arrhythmias, and even death [ ].

Several types of medications might interact with vitamin D. For example, orlistat, statins, and steroids can reduce vitamin D levels [ , ]. In addition, taking vitamin D supplements with thiazide diuretics might lead to hypercalcemia [ ]. More information on vitamin D is available in the ODS health professional fact sheet on vitamin D.

For information on vitamin D and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Vitamin E, also called alpha-tocopherol, is an essential nutrient that is present in several foods , including nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables.

The RDA for vitamin E is 4 to 15 mg for infants and children, depending on age, and 15 to 19 mg for adults, including those who are pregnant or lactating [ 56 ]. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that plays an important role in immune function by helping maintain cell membrane integrity and epithelial barriers and by enhancing antibody production, lymphocyte proliferation, and natural killer cell activity [ 4 , 5 , 15 , 17 , 25 , 58 , 79 , ].

Vitamin E also limits inflammation by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory cytokines [ ]. Human and animal studies suggest that vitamin E deficiency impairs humoral and cell-mediated immunity, is associated with reduced natural killer cell activity, and increases susceptibility to infections [ 5 , , ].

Frank vitamin E deficiency is rare, except in people with intestinal malabsorption disorders [ 56 , 79 ]. Research on the ability of vitamin E to improve immune function tends to use supplemental vitamin E rather than simply ensuring that study participants achieve adequate vitamin E status because it is thought that higher doses may be needed to achieve beneficial effects [ ].

However, study findings have been mixed. However, vitamin E supplementation did not affect the risk of death from pneumonia within 30 days of the initial hospitalization. A few clinical trials that have examined the effects of vitamin E supplementation on respiratory tract infections in infants and young children or in older adults suggest that vitamin E offers limited benefits and might even increase symptom severity.

A clinical trial in a low-income urban area in India examined the effects of mg alpha-tocopherol and mg ascorbic acid twice daily or placebo for 5 days in infants and young children age 2 to 35 months who were hospitalized with severe acute lower respiratory tract infections and receiving standard care [ ].

Supplementation did not affect the time required to recover from illness. Another clinical trial in which healthy men and women age 60 years or older took one of four different treatments daily for about 15 months identified no benefits and, in fact, found potential risks of vitamin E supplementation to prevent respiratory tract infections.

All but one of the participants had adequate vitamin E concentrations at the start of the study. The vitamin E supplements did not affect the incidence of acute respiratory tract infections throughout the trial. Moreover, participants who took the vitamin E supplement had longer durations of illness, more severe symptoms including fever and activity restrictions , and greater numbers of symptoms than those who did not take vitamin E.

Results were also negative in a similar trial in adults age 65 or older living in nursing homes to determine whether daily supplementation with IU vitamin E 91 mg, as dl -alpha-tocopherol for 1 year reduced the risk of upper or lower respiratory tract infections [ ].

Vitamin E supplementation did not affect the incidence of upper or lower respiratory tract infections or the total durations of the infections. Vitamin E supplementation for a median of 6.

Among the 5, participants who smoked more than 19 cigarettes per day or did not exercise, however, vitamin E supplementation did not affect the risk of pneumonia. All intake levels of vitamin E found naturally in foods are considered safe. These ULs, however, do not apply to people taking vitamin E under the care of a physician.

Vitamin E supplementation might interact with certain medications, including anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications. It might also reduce the effectiveness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy by protecting tumor cells from the action of these agents [ 76 , , ].

More information on vitamin E is available in the ODS health professional fact sheet on vitamin E. For information on vitamin E and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Selenium is an essential mineral contained in many foods , including Brazil nuts, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products as well as bread, cereals, and other grain products.

The RDA for selenium is 15 to 70 mcg for infants and children, depending on age, and 55 to 70 mcg for adults, including those who are pregnant or lactating [ 56 ]. Human and animal studies suggest that selenium helps support both the innate and adaptive immune systems through its role in T-cell maturation and function and in natural killer cell activity [ 2 , 25 , 58 , ].

It may also reduce the risk of infections [ 2 , 15 , 25 , 58 , ]. As a component of enzymes that have antioxidant activities, selenium might help reduce the systemic inflammatory response that can lead to ARDS and organ failure [ 27 , 58 , , ].

Low selenium status in humans has been associated with lower natural killer cell activity, increased risk of some bacterial infections, and increased virulence of certain viruses, including hepatitis B and C [ 2 , 5 , 10 , 15 , 27 , , , ]. However, evidence is conflicting whether selenium supplementation enhances immunity against pathogens in humans [ ].

Studies have also examined whether intravenous selenium which is classified as a drug in the United States benefits adults with sepsis; those who are critically ill and requiring mechanical ventilation; adults who are undergoing elective major surgery; or those who are critically ill from burns, head injury, brain hemorrhage, or stroke [ , , ].

The results of these studies provide no clear evidence of benefit. Selenium status varies by geographic region because of differences in the amounts of selenium in soil and in local foods consumed [ 56 , ]. Selenium deficiency is very rare in the United States and Canada, but low selenium status is common in some areas of the world, such as parts of Europe and China [ , ].

In children and adults with HIV, selenium deficiency is associated with a higher risk of morbidity and mortality [ ]. However, studies that examined whether micronutrient supplementation, including selenium, affects risk of HIV transmission or disease outcomes in children and adults have had mixed results.

An observational study in Thailand did not identify associations between selenium status in children with HIV and treatment outcomes [ ]. This study included boys and girls with HIV median age 7. Baseline selenium levels all of which were adequate showed no associations with ART treatment outcomes.

Clinical trials have found limited beneficial effects of selenium supplementation on immune function in people with HIV. Selenium supplementation provided no benefits in another trial that randomized men and women with HIV mean age Two Cochrane Reviews also concluded that selenium supplements offer little, if any, benefit for people with HIV.

The authors found that evidence was insufficient to determine whether supplementation with selenium alone is beneficial. Researchers have also examined whether blood selenium levels or selenium supplementation affect pregnancy outcomes in people with HIV.

Findings from these studies suggest that low blood selenium levels are associated with a higher risk of preterm delivery and that selenium supplementation might reduce the risk of preterm delivery but has mixed effects on other outcomes.

For example, a cross-sectional study in Nigeria of pregnant individuals age 15—49 years with HIV found that those with a selenium deficiency defined as blood selenium less than 0. In a clinical trial in Nigeria, researchers examined whether selenium supplementation affects pregnancy outcomes and disease progression in 90 pregnant individuals mean age These ULs, however, do not apply to people taking selenium under the care of a physician.

Higher intakes of selenium can cause a garlic odor in the breath and a metallic taste in the mouth as well as hair and nail loss or brittleness [ 56 ].

Other signs and symptoms of excess selenium intakes include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, mottled teeth, fatigue, irritability, and nervous system abnormalities. Cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent used to treat ovarian, bladder, lung, and other cancers, can reduce selenium levels in hair, plasma, and serum [ , ].

The evidence from studies examining whether selenium supplementation helps reduce the side effects of cisplatin and other chemotherapy agents is uncertain [ , ].

More information on selenium is available in the ODS health professional fact sheet on selenium. For information on selenium and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Zinc is an essential nutrient contained in a wide variety of foods , including oysters, crab, lobster, beef, pork, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products.

The RDA for zinc is 2—13 mg for infants and children, depending on age, and 8—12 mg for adults, including those who are pregnant or lactating [ 29 ].

Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is necessary for the catalytic activity of approximately enzymes and it plays a role in many body processes, including both the innate and adaptive immune systems [ 2 , 5 , 29 , 58 , ].

Zinc also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps maintain the integrity of tissue barriers, such as the respiratory epithelia [ 5 , 58 , 83 , ]. Zinc deficiency adversely affects immune function by impairing the formation, activation, and maturation of lymphocytes.

In addition, zinc deficiency decreases ratios of helper to suppressor T cells, production of interleukin-2, and activity of natural killer cells and cytotoxic T cells [ 2 , 4 , 5 , 27 , , , ]. Furthermore, zinc deficiency is associated with elevated levels of proinflammatory mediators [ ].

These effects on immune response probably increase susceptibility to infections [ ] and inflammatory diseases, especially those affecting the lungs [ ]. Studies have found associations between low zinc status and higher risk of viral infections [ 79 ], and people with zinc deficiency have a higher risk of diarrhea and respiratory diseases [ 2 ].

Poor zinc status is also common among people with HIV or hepatitis C and is a risk factor for pneumonia in older adults [ 27 , 58 , , , ]. Some research suggests that zinc supplementation increases the number of T cells in the blood of older adults living in nursing homes [ ].

population might obtain marginal amounts of zinc [ ]. Older adults are among the groups most likely to have low intakes.

Researchers have hypothesized that zinc could reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms by directly inhibiting rhinovirus binding and replication in the nasal mucosa and suppressing inflammation [ , ].

In studies of the effects of zinc supplements on the common cold, zinc is usually administered in a lozenge or syrup that temporarily sticks to the mouth and throat, placing the zinc in contact with the rhinovirus in those areas.

The results from clinical trials that have examined the effects of supplemental zinc on the common cold have been inconsistent. Overall, however, supplemental zinc in lozenge or syrup form appears to reduce the duration, but not the severity, of signs and symptoms of the common cold when taken shortly after a person develops a cold [ ].

In one clinical trial that found beneficial effects of zinc on the common cold, 50 adults took a zinc acetate lozenge In comparison with placebo, the zinc lozenges reduced the duration of colds by 3 days and the severity of cold symptoms cough, nasal discharge, and muscle aches [ ].

Results were more mixed in another clinical trial in which adults with experimentally induced colds took lozenges containing zinc gluconate Illnesses lasted 1 day less with the zinc gluconate lozenges than with the placebo, but the lozenges had no effect on symptom severity. Furthermore, the 5.

In a second trial described in the same report, neither zinc gluconate nor zinc acetate lozenges affected the duration or severity of cold symptoms in comparison with placebo in adults with colds [ ].

A systematic review and meta-analysis found that zinc appears to reduce the duration of the common cold but has mixed effects on the severity of signs and symptoms [ ]. It included 28 clinical trials including the three described above with a total of 5, participants mostly adults younger than 65 years who had a community-acquired viral respiratory tract infection or were inoculated with a rhinovirus.

Most trials provided zinc in the form of zinc acetate or gluconate lozenges with total daily zinc doses of 45 to mg for up to 2 weeks, but some trials used nasal sprays or gels. In participants who used products containing zinc, symptoms resolved an average of 2 days earlier than in those who took a placebo.

Zinc also reduced the severity of symptoms on the third day of illness. However, average daily symptom severity did not differ between those who were and were not treated with zinc supplements.

In addition, zinc did not affect the risk of developing a cold after rhinovirus inoculation. Other recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses have also found that zinc shortens the duration of the signs and symptoms of colds but does not reduce the risk of colds [ 54 , 67 , ].

Poor zinc status is associated with greater susceptibility to pneumonia, more severe disease, and higher mortality risk in children [ ]. Several clinical trials have examined the effects of zinc supplementation on the incidence of pneumonia and as an adjunctive treatment for pneumonia.

However, most research suggests that the adjunctive use of zinc supplements to treat pneumonia in children does not affect mortality or time to recovery.

A systematic review and meta-analysis included 11 clinical trials in children age 2 to 60 months with mostly severe pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries [ ]. Another meta-analysis of six placebo-controlled trials that included 2, children age 2 to 60 months found that zinc supplementation reduced mortality rates from severe pneumonia but not rates of treatment failure or changes in antibiotic therapy [ ].

Diarrhea is associated with high mortality rates among children in low-income countries, where it causes about , deaths annually [ , ]. Zinc supplementation may benefit children with acute diarrhea, especially in low-income countries, where zinc deficiency is common.

Clinical trials show that zinc supplementation helps shorten the duration of diarrhea in children in low-income countries. A Cochrane Review included 33 trials that compared the effects of zinc supplementation with those of placebo in 10, children age 1 month to 5 years who had acute or persistent diarrhea [ ].

Most studies were conducted in Asian countries that had high rates of zinc deficiency. Zinc was administered in the form of zinc acetate, zinc gluconate, or zinc sulphate. In addition, evidence that the authors deemed to have high certainty showed that zinc supplementation reduces the duration of diarrhea in children with signs of malnutrition by about a day.

In children younger than 6 months, however, zinc supplementation did not affect mean duration of diarrhea or persistence of diarrhea for 7 days.

A systematic review and meta-analysis had similar findings. It examined the use of zinc alone or in combination with other treatments for acute diarrhea and gastroenteritis in studies in 32, children, mostly from low- and middle-income countries [ ].

Analyses showed that zinc alone or in combination reduced the duration of diarrhea by about ¾ to 1½ days. The authors concluded that zinc was one of the most effective interventions of those examined, especially when it was combined with Saccharomyces boulardii a probiotic or smectite a natural clay that contains minerals , for reducing the duration of acute diarrhea and gastroenteritis in children.

The WHO and UNICEF recommend supplementation with 20 mg zinc per day, or 10 mg for infants younger than 6 months, for 10 to 14 days to treat acute childhood diarrhea [ ]. However, most trials of zinc supplementation for diarrhea have been conducted in low-income countries [ ].

In well-nourished children, zinc supplements might have only a marginal effect on diarrhea duration. HIV infection reduces the absorption and metabolism of zinc from foods [ ].

In addition, people with HIV often have diarrhea, which can result in excessive losses of zinc. For these reasons, people with HIV often have low plasma or serum zinc levels.

Several clinical trials have found some beneficial effects of zinc supplementation to manage the morbidity and mortality associated with HIV infection.

However, findings were less positive in two Cochrane Reviews and another trial not included in either Cochrane Review that assessed the potential benefits of supplementation with micronutrients, including zinc, or placebo in various populations with HIV. However, zinc supplementation did not affect viral load or mortality rates in this second trial.

However, the supplements blunted the rise in hemoglobin concentrations between baseline and 6 weeks after delivery. These ULs, however, do not apply to people taking zinc under the care of a physician. Higher intakes can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and a metallic taste in the mouth [ 29 , 32 ].

In clinical trials in children, zinc supplementation to treat diarrhea increased the risk of vomiting more than placebo [ , ]. Zinc supplements might interact with several types of medications.

For example, zinc can reduce the absorption of some types of antibiotics and penicillamine, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis [ , ].

Other medications, such as thiazide diuretics and certain antibiotics, can reduce zinc absorption [ , ]. More information on zinc is available in the ODS health professional fact sheet on zinc. For information on zinc and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Andrographis paniculata , also known as Chuān Xīn Lián, is an herb that is native to subtropical and Southeast Asia [ ].

Its leaves and other aerial above-ground parts are used in traditional Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Thai medicine for relieving symptoms of the common cold, influenza, and other respiratory tract infections [ ]. The active constituents of andrographis are believed to be andrographolide and related compounds, which are diterpene lactones that might have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating effects [ , , ].

Results from several clinical trials suggest that andrographis might reduce the duration of upper respiratory tract infections and the severity of symptoms. One of these trials used a common andrographis preparation called Kan Jang.

The trial included 50 men and women age 18 to 50 years with the common cold who took four tablets of Kan Jang each containing 85 mg of an andrographis extract three times daily for 5 days 1, mg total daily dose or placebo within 3 days of developing cold symptoms [ ].

Participants who took Kan Jang experienced milder symptoms, recovered sooner, and took fewer days of sick leave than those who took placebo. In another clinical trial, men and women age 18 to 60 years with upper respiratory tract infections took either KalmCold containing mg of an andrographis extract twice daily or placebo for 5 days [ ].

The results showed no differences in symptom severity during days 1 to 3 of treatment. However, between days 3 and 5, participants who took KalmCold experienced milder symptoms—including cough, nasal discharge, headache, fever, and sore throat but not earache —than those who took placebo. Two systematic reviews and meta-analyses of clinical trials found that andrographis preparations had beneficial effects on symptoms and duration of the common cold.

The more recent of these analyses, published in , included 33 clinical trials including the two described above that evaluated the effects of andrographis alone or in combination with other herbs on symptoms of acute upper and lower respiratory tract infections in a total of 7, participants [ ]. Treatment protocols varied widely, but typical daily doses ranged from to 1, mg andrographis extract for 3 to 7 days; studies compared andrographis with placebo, usual care, or other herbal interventions.

The analyses showed that andrographis significantly reduced the severity of cough, sore throat, and overall symptoms. However, the authors noted that the findings should be interpreted with caution because the studies were heterogenous and many were of poor quality.

Similar findings were reported from a systematic review and meta-analysis [ ]. It included six clinical trials including the two described above that administered Kan Jang or KalmCold All studies in this analysis compared andrographis with placebo, not usual care or other herbal interventions as in the meta-analysis described above.

Andrographis reduced the frequency and severity of cough to a greater extent than placebo. Three earlier systematic reviews also showed that andrographis appears to alleviate symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections [ , , ].

Although these findings suggest that andrographis might be useful to manage the symptoms and reduce the duration of upper respiratory tract infections, the evidence has several weaknesses.

For example, the studies used different andrographis formulations, and many of the clinical trials were conducted by investigators affiliated with the manufacturer of Kan Jang or KalmCold [ , ].

Clinical trials have found minor adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, vertigo, skin rashes, diarrhea, and fatigue [ , , ]. Allergic reactions might also occur [ , ].

Findings from some animal studies suggest that andrographis might adversely affect fertility, so experts recommend against its use by men and women during the preconception period and by people who are pregnant [ , , ].

According to animal and laboratory studies, andrographis might decrease blood pressure and inhibit platelet aggregation, so it could interact with antihypertensive and anticoagulant medications by enhancing their effects [ ]. Because of its potential immune-stimulating effects, andrographis might also reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressants [ , ].

For information on andrographis and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Echinacea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is an herb that grows in North America and Europe [ ].

Although the genus Echinacea has many species, extracts of E. purpurea , E. angustifolia , and E. pallida are the most frequently used in dietary supplements.

The echinacea supplements on the market in the United States often contain extracts from multiple species and plant parts [ ]. Echinacea contains volatile terpenes, polysaccharides, polyacetylenes, alkamides, phenolic compounds, caffeic acid esters, and glycoproteins [ ].

Echinacea might have antibacterial activities, stimulate monocytes and natural killer cells, and inhibit virus binding to host cells [ 3 , ]. It might also reduce inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines [ 3 ]. Most studies of echinacea have assessed whether it helps prevent and treat the common cold and other upper respiratory illnesses, but it has also been used in traditional medicine to promote wound healing [ , ].

Results from clinical trials examining the effects of echinacea for the common cold have been mixed. Overall, studies suggest echinacea might slightly reduce the risk of developing a cold but does not shorten the duration or severity of illness. For example, one clinical trial examined the effects of echinacea on the risk of the common cold in men and women mean age 23 years [ ].

purpurea extract Echinaforce or placebo; if participants came down with a cold during the study, they increased their dose to 4, mg per day. Participants taking echinacea had fewer colds and fewer days with cold symptoms than those taking a placebo.

Another clinical trial examined whether echinacea helps treat the common cold in male and female participants age 12 to 80 years who developed cold symptoms within 36 hours before enrollment [ ]. Participants took E.

purpurea and E. angustifolia extracts four times a day for a combined dose of 10, mg during the first 24 hours and then 5, mg for 4 days or placebo. Echinacea did not shorten illness duration or severity.

A systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effects of echinacea E. purpurea , E angustifolia , E. pallida , or more than one form to prevent upper respiratory tract infections or reduce the duration of illness [ ].

Nine clinical trials eight in adults and one in children were included in the prevention meta-analysis portion of this analysis, and seven all in adults were included in the duration meta-analysis, including the two trials described above [ , ].

A Cochrane Review of echinacea use for preventing and treating the common cold had similar results [ ]. The review included 24 clinical trials with a total of 4, participants. Limited research has also examined whether echinacea is beneficial for influenza.

One clinical trial found that echinacea had similar effects to oseltamivir Tamiflu , a medication used to treat influenza. This trial included male and female participants age 12 to 70 who had had influenza symptoms for up to 48 hours [ ]. Participants took either E. The results showed no difference between E.

Purpurea and oseltamivir followed by placebo in rapidity of recovery from influenza after 1 day, 5 days, or 10 days of treatment. In addition, participants taking echinacea experienced fewer adverse events, especially nausea and vomiting. Additional research is needed to confirm this finding.

Echinacea appears to be safe. In rare cases, echinacea can cause allergic reactions [ ]. The safety of echinacea during pregnancy is not known, so experts recommend against the use of echinacea supplements by people who are pregnant [ ].

Echinacea might interact with several medications. For example, echinacea might increase cytochrome P activity, thereby reducing levels of some drugs metabolized by these enzymes [ ].

In addition, echinacea might reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressants due to its potential immunostimulatory activity [ ]. For information on echinacea and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Elderberry contains many compounds—including anthocyanins, flavonols, and phenolic acids—that might have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, and immune-stimulating effects [ 3 , ].

Studies of the effects of elderberry have primarily used elderberry extracts, not the berries themselves [ ]. Components of elderberry might help prevent respiratory infections by inhibiting virus binding to host cells and by stimulating the immune system [ ].

A few clinical trials have examined the effects of elderberry on the common cold and influenza. The results from these trials have been mixed. However, overall, they suggest that elderberry might help relieve symptoms of respiratory tract infections.

One clinical trial examined whether elderberry extract helps prevent and treat the common cold [ ]. Elderberry extract did not reduce the number of participants who developed a cold.

However, among participants who did develop a cold, elderberry extract reduced cold duration by about 2 days and reduced the severity of symptoms. A meta-analysis included four clinical trials including the trial described above of the effects of elderberry supplementation on upper respiratory symptoms caused by the common cold or flu in a total of participants age 5 to 59 years [ ].

The analysis showed that elderberry supplementation reduced the duration of upper respiratory symptoms, and the effect was stronger for symptoms of influenza than for those caused by the common cold.

A review included the same four trials as well as one that administered an herbal preparation containing both elderberry and Echinacea purpurea [ ]. The results showed that elderberry might help relieve symptoms of the common cold and influenza when taken close to the onset of symptoms and for up to 2 weeks.

In contrast, in a clinical trial, 87 male and female participants age 5 years and older with influenza for less than 48 hours took 15 ml 5, mg elderberry extract twice daily for ages 5 to 12 years and four times daily for ages 13 and older or placebo for 5 days [ ]. Elderberry had no effect on the duration or severity of illness.

A systematic review of five clinical trials of elderberry to treat viral respiratory illnesses found beneficial effects on some, but not all, outcomes [ ].

The results showed that elderberry supplementation for 2 to 16 days might reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and the duration of flu but does not appear to reduce the risk of the common cold.

However, the authors noted that the studies were small, heterogeneous, and of poor quality. Elderberry flowers and ripe fruit appear to be safe for consumption. However, the bark, leaves, seeds, and raw or unripe fruit of S.

nigra contain a cyanogenic glycoside that is potentially toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration due to diuresis, and cyanide poisoning [ , , ]. The heat from cooking destroys this toxin, so cooked elderberry fruit and properly processed commercial products do not pose this safety concern [ 3 , , , , ].

Elderberry might affect insulin and glucose metabolism, so according to experts, people with diabetes should use it with caution [ ]. The safety of elderberry during pregnancy is not known, so experts recommend against the use of elderberry supplements by people who are pregnant [ , ].

Recent analyses suggest that some elderberry supplements are highly diluted or have been adulterated with a cheaper ingredient, such as black rice extract, instead of elderberry [ , ]. Due to its potential immunostimulatory activity, elderberry might reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressant medications [ ].

For information on elderberry and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Garlic Allium sativum is a vegetable with a long history of culinary use.

Garlic is also available as a dietary supplement in softgel, capsule, tablet, and liquid forms [ ]. Researchers have studied garlic mainly to determine whether it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but it might also have antiviral properties [ 32 , ].

These properties are often attributed to two compounds in garlic—allicin and ajoen [ ]. Garlic might also have antimicrobial and antifungal activity [ ]. Some dietary supplements contain aged garlic extract, prepared from sliced garlic that is soaked in an aqueous ethanol solution for up to 20 months.

The extract is then filtered and concentrated [ , ]. Aged garlic extract contains compounds, such as lectins, fructo-oligosaccharide, and N-alpha-fructosyl arginine, that might affect immune cell function [ ].

It also contains S-allyl-L-cysteine and other compounds that might have antioxidant effects and reduce some inflammatory markers [ , ]. Only a few clinical trials have examined whether garlic supplements help prevent or treat the common cold or influenza, and results are inconclusive.

One trial included healthy men and women mean age 26 years who took 2. After 45 days, the researchers took blood samples from the participants and cultured the natural killer cells and gamma delta T cells. The natural killer cells and gamma delta T cells from participants who took the extract had a higher proliferation rate than those from participants who took placebo.

After 90 days, the number of illnesses colds and influenza did not differ between groups, nor did the average number of symptoms per illness. However, participants who took aged garlic extract reported a smaller total number of symptoms during the study. Results were more positive in another trial, in which men and women mean age 53 years took one capsule of a garlic supplement dose not specified or placebo daily for 12 weeks between November and February [ ].

Participants who took garlic had fewer colds 24 among the full study population during the study than those who took placebo 65 colds. In addition, colds lasted an average of only 1. Garlic is safely consumed worldwide as a culinary ingredient [ ], and garlic and its derivatives are generally recognized as safe, according to the U.

Food and Drug Administration FDA [ ]. The adverse effects of garlic dietary supplements are minor and include bad breath, body odor, and skin rash [ 32 , , ].

Garlic might interact with medications. For example, garlic might have anticoagulant effects, so it might interact with warfarin Coumadin and similar medications [ , , ]. However, the findings from reported case studies on this interaction are inconclusive [ ].

Garlic might also reduce blood pressure, so it might interact with antihypertensive medications [ ]. Ginseng is the common name of several species of the genus Panax , most commonly Panax ginseng also called Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng and Panax quinquefolius American ginseng [ , ].

Asian ginseng is endemic to China and Korea, whereas American ginseng is endemic to the United States and Canada [ ].

Triterpene glycosides, also known as ginsenosides, are some of the main purported active constituents of ginseng [ , ]. Although ginseng contains numerous ginsenosides, research has focused on the Rb1 ginsenoside and compound K, a bioactive substance formed when the intestinal microbiota metabolize ginsenosides [ , ].

Animal and laboratory studies suggest that ginseng stimulates B-lymphocyte proliferation and increases production of some interleukins and interferon-gamma [ ]; these cytokines affect immune activation and modulation [ 1 ].

Ginseng might also inhibit virus replication and have anti-inflammatory activity. However, whether ginseng has a clinically meaningful effect on immune function in humans is not clear [ , ]. Another botanical, eleuthero Eleutherococus senticosus , is sometimes confused with true ginseng.

Eleuthero used to be called Siberian ginseng, but it comes from the Eleutherococcus genus of plants, not the Panax genus, and it does not contain ginsenosides [ ].

Several clinical trials have examined whether ginseng helps prevent upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and influenza.

Although the evidence is limited, results from these trials suggest that ginseng might help reduce the risk of developing colds and other respiratory tract infections.

However, its effects on symptom severity and duration are unclear. In one clinical trial, healthy men and women age 30 to 70 years who had not received an influenza vaccine in the previous 6 months took 1 g Panax ginseng extract three times daily or placebo for 12 weeks [ ].

Participants taking ginseng were less likely to develop an acute respiratory infection during the study period. However, for study participants who did develop an infection, symptom duration and severity did not differ between groups.

A few clinical trials have examined the effects of CVT-E COLD-fX , a patented ginseng extract that contains mg Panax quinquefolius in each capsule. One of these trials included men and women age 18 to 65 years with a history of at least two colds during the previous year who had not received an influenza vaccine in the past 6 months [ ].

Participants took either two capsules per day of Cold-fX for a daily dose of mg ginseng or placebo for 4 months starting in November. Participants who took ginseng developed fewer self-reported colds mean 0.

In addition, ginseng reduced the total number of days with cold symptoms from a mean of A systematic review and meta-analysis of ginseng to prevent or treat acute upper respiratory tract infections included 10 clinical trials of Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius extracts including those described above in a total of 2, participants [ ].

The authors noted that the risk of bias was high to unclear for most trials and that the limitations of the evidence prevented them from drawing conclusions.

Ginseng appears to be safe. Most of its adverse effects, including headache, sleep difficulty, and gastrointestinal symptoms, are minor [ , , ]. However, doses of more than 2. A few case reports of vaginal bleeding and mastalgia breast pain in the s and s from the use of ginseng preparations raised concerns about the safety of ginseng; as a result, some scientists concluded that ginseng has estrogenic effects [ ].

However, one of these case reports involved use of Rumanian ginseng [ ], and whether this was true ginseng is not clear. In addition, eleuthero was often referred to, incorrectly, as ginseng at that time because it was called Siberian ginseng.

So, it is unclear whether these case reports reflected the effects of true ginseng. Nevertheless, some experts caution that ginseng might not be safe for use during pregnancy [ , , ]. Ginseng might interact with many medications.

For example, it might increase the risk of hypoglycemia if taken with antidiabetes medications, increase the risk of adverse effects if taken with stimulants, and reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressants [ , ].

For information on ginseng and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Tea Camellia sinensis is a popular beverage around the world that has several purported health benefits.

Tea is usually classified into one of three types—green, black, and oolong—according to the way in which the tea leaves are processed [ ]. Green tea is made from dried and steamed tea leaves, whereas black and oolong teas are made from fermented tea leaves.

Tea extracts are also available as dietary supplements. The purported health effects may vary by the type of tea as well as whether it is consumed as a beverage or dietary supplement.

Tea is one of the richest sources of catechins, which are polyphenolic flavonoids, especially epigallocatechin gallate EGCG [ , ]. A typical mL cup of brewed green tea contains 50 to mg of catechins [ ], whereas the same amount of brewed black tea contains about 14 to 88 mg of catechins [ ].

Amounts vary, however, among tea samples and by brewing time. Studies are evaluating the potential health benefits of EGCG and other catechins, including their ability to modulate the immune system and their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties [ , ].

Laboratory studies suggest that catechins might also have antiviral effects against the influenza A and B viruses [ ]. Laboratory research suggests that tea and tea catechins might have antiviral activity. Researchers have therefore examined whether drinking tea or taking supplemental tea catechins affects the risk, duration, and severity of influenza or other respiratory tract infections.

However, evidence from clinical trials is limited and mixed. Studies that found beneficial effects include a clinical trial that examined the effects of catechins and theanine an amino acid in tea on the risk of influenza in male and female health care workers age 21 years or older in Japan [ ].

However, for laboratory-confirmed influenza, the incidence of influenza did not differ between groups. A systematic review and meta-analysis also showed that tea and tea catechins had some beneficial effects on the risk of influenza and other upper respiratory tract infections, although the evidence had some limitations [ ].

Eat healthy The Immune system wellness system defends the body from pathogens that cause disease and is comprised Immkne innate responses, which are Immnue first line Reliable power systems defense, and Immune system wellness responses, which become engaged Immune system wellness syxtem ]. Increased cortisol levels in the Immunne can cause inflammation, which alters how your body's immune system responds to infections. Zinc supplements might interact with several types of medications. So, what can you do? Vitamin A supplementation did not affect the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Human and animal studies suggest that selenium helps support both the innate and adaptive immune systems through its role in T-cell maturation and function and in natural killer cell activity [ 22558].
Keep the immune system strong

Front Immunol. Increased risk of influenza among vaccinated adults who are obese. Int J Obes Lond. Obesity as a predictor of poor antibody response to hepatitis B plasma vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccine immunoresponsiveness in adolescents: a revaccination proposal after primary vaccination. Comparison of a triple antigen and a single antigen recombinant vaccine for adult hepatitis B vaccination. J Med Virol. Reduced tetanus antibody titers in overweight children.

Swindt, Christina [corrected to Schwindt, Christina]]. Sleep and health: Everywhere and in both directions. Arch Intern Med. Skip directly to site content Skip directly to search.

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Close Research at Penn Clinical Trials Translational Research. Antibodies Antibodies help the body to fight microbes or the toxins poisons they produce. Complement system The complement system is made up of proteins whose actions complement the work done by antibodies.

Lymphatic system The lymphatic system is a network of delicate tubes throughout the body. The main roles of the lymphatic system are to: manage the fluid levels in the body react to bacteria deal with cancer cells deal with cell products that otherwise would result in disease or disorders absorb some of the fats in our diet from the intestine.

The lymphatic system is made up of: lymph nodes also called lymph glands — which trap microbes lymph vessels — tubes that carry lymph, the colourless fluid that bathes your body's tissues and contains infection-fighting white blood cells white blood cells lymphocytes.

Spleen The spleen is a blood-filtering organ that removes microbes and destroys old or damaged red blood cells. Bone marrow Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside your bones.

Thymus The thymus filters and monitors your blood content. The body's other defences against microbes As well as the immune system, the body has several other ways to defend itself against microbes, including: skin — a waterproof barrier that secretes oil with bacteria-killing properties lungs — mucous in the lungs phlegm traps foreign particles, and small hairs cilia wave the mucous upwards so it can be coughed out digestive tract — the mucous lining contains antibodies, and the acid in the stomach can kill most microbes other defences — body fluids like skin oil, saliva and tears contain anti-bacterial enzymes that help reduce the risk of infection.

The constant flushing of the urinary tract and the bowel also helps. Fever is an immune system response A rise in body temperature, or fever , can happen with some infections.

Common disorders of the immune system It is common for people to have an over- or underactive immune system. Overactivity of the immune system External Link can take many forms, including: allergic diseases — where the immune system makes an overly strong response to allergens. Allergic diseases are very common.

They include: allergies to foods , medications or stinging insects anaphylaxis life-threatening allergy hay fever allergic rhinitis sinus disease asthma hives urticaria dermatitis eczema. autoimmune diseases — where the immune system mounts a response against normal components of the body.

Autoimmune diseases range from common to rare. They include: multiple sclerosis autoimmune thyroid disease type 1 diabetes systemic lupus erythematosus rheumatoid arthritis systemic vasculitis.

Immunoglobulin therapy Immunoglobulins commonly known as antibodies are used to treat people who are unable to make enough of their own, or whose antibodies do not work properly.

Immunisation Immunisation works by copying the body's natural immune response. Together, these factors are referred to as HALO, which is defined as: Health — some health conditions or factors may make you more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.

For example, premature birth, asthma, diabetes, heart , lung, spleen or kidney conditions, Down syndrome and HIV will mean you may benefit from additional or more frequent immunisations. Age — at different ages you need protection from different vaccine-preventable diseases. Australia's National Immunisation Program External Link sets out recommended immunisations for babies, children, older people and other people at risk, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Most recommended vaccines are available at no cost to these groups. Lifestyle — lifestyle choices can have an impact on your immunisation needs. Travelling overseas to certain places , planning a family, sexual activity , smoking , and playing contact sport that may expose you directly to someone else's blood, will mean you may benefit from additional or more frequent immunisations.

Occupation — you are likely to need extra immunisations, or need to have them more often, if you work in an occupation that exposes you to vaccine-preventable diseases or puts you into contact with people who are more susceptible to problems from vaccine-preventable diseases such as babies or young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic or acute health conditions.

For example, if you work in aged care, childcare, healthcare, emergency services or sewerage repair and maintenance, discuss your immunisation needs with your doctor. Some employers help with the cost of relevant vaccinations for their employees.

ASCIA National Immunodeficiency Strategy for Australia and New Zealand External Link , Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy ASCIA. The immune system External Link , Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy ASCIA.

Subcutaneous immunoglobulin SCIg therapy general information External Link , Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy ASCIA.

Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia AIFA External Link. Immune system research External Link , National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA.

What is your immune system? External Link , , WebMD, USA.

5 Immune System Boosters to Try

However, the authors noted that the studies were small, heterogeneous, and of poor quality. Elderberry flowers and ripe fruit appear to be safe for consumption.

However, the bark, leaves, seeds, and raw or unripe fruit of S. nigra contain a cyanogenic glycoside that is potentially toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration due to diuresis, and cyanide poisoning [ , , ]. The heat from cooking destroys this toxin, so cooked elderberry fruit and properly processed commercial products do not pose this safety concern [ 3 , , , , ].

Elderberry might affect insulin and glucose metabolism, so according to experts, people with diabetes should use it with caution [ ]. The safety of elderberry during pregnancy is not known, so experts recommend against the use of elderberry supplements by people who are pregnant [ , ].

Recent analyses suggest that some elderberry supplements are highly diluted or have been adulterated with a cheaper ingredient, such as black rice extract, instead of elderberry [ , ]. Due to its potential immunostimulatory activity, elderberry might reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressant medications [ ].

For information on elderberry and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Garlic Allium sativum is a vegetable with a long history of culinary use.

Garlic is also available as a dietary supplement in softgel, capsule, tablet, and liquid forms [ ]. Researchers have studied garlic mainly to determine whether it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but it might also have antiviral properties [ 32 , ]. These properties are often attributed to two compounds in garlic—allicin and ajoen [ ].

Garlic might also have antimicrobial and antifungal activity [ ]. Some dietary supplements contain aged garlic extract, prepared from sliced garlic that is soaked in an aqueous ethanol solution for up to 20 months. The extract is then filtered and concentrated [ , ].

Aged garlic extract contains compounds, such as lectins, fructo-oligosaccharide, and N-alpha-fructosyl arginine, that might affect immune cell function [ ]. It also contains S-allyl-L-cysteine and other compounds that might have antioxidant effects and reduce some inflammatory markers [ , ].

Only a few clinical trials have examined whether garlic supplements help prevent or treat the common cold or influenza, and results are inconclusive. One trial included healthy men and women mean age 26 years who took 2. After 45 days, the researchers took blood samples from the participants and cultured the natural killer cells and gamma delta T cells.

The natural killer cells and gamma delta T cells from participants who took the extract had a higher proliferation rate than those from participants who took placebo. After 90 days, the number of illnesses colds and influenza did not differ between groups, nor did the average number of symptoms per illness.

However, participants who took aged garlic extract reported a smaller total number of symptoms during the study. Results were more positive in another trial, in which men and women mean age 53 years took one capsule of a garlic supplement dose not specified or placebo daily for 12 weeks between November and February [ ].

Participants who took garlic had fewer colds 24 among the full study population during the study than those who took placebo 65 colds. In addition, colds lasted an average of only 1. Garlic is safely consumed worldwide as a culinary ingredient [ ], and garlic and its derivatives are generally recognized as safe, according to the U.

Food and Drug Administration FDA [ ]. The adverse effects of garlic dietary supplements are minor and include bad breath, body odor, and skin rash [ 32 , , ]. Garlic might interact with medications.

For example, garlic might have anticoagulant effects, so it might interact with warfarin Coumadin and similar medications [ , , ]. However, the findings from reported case studies on this interaction are inconclusive [ ].

Garlic might also reduce blood pressure, so it might interact with antihypertensive medications [ ]. Ginseng is the common name of several species of the genus Panax , most commonly Panax ginseng also called Asian ginseng or Korean ginseng and Panax quinquefolius American ginseng [ , ]. Asian ginseng is endemic to China and Korea, whereas American ginseng is endemic to the United States and Canada [ ].

Triterpene glycosides, also known as ginsenosides, are some of the main purported active constituents of ginseng [ , ]. Although ginseng contains numerous ginsenosides, research has focused on the Rb1 ginsenoside and compound K, a bioactive substance formed when the intestinal microbiota metabolize ginsenosides [ , ].

Animal and laboratory studies suggest that ginseng stimulates B-lymphocyte proliferation and increases production of some interleukins and interferon-gamma [ ]; these cytokines affect immune activation and modulation [ 1 ].

Ginseng might also inhibit virus replication and have anti-inflammatory activity. However, whether ginseng has a clinically meaningful effect on immune function in humans is not clear [ , ]. Another botanical, eleuthero Eleutherococus senticosus , is sometimes confused with true ginseng.

Eleuthero used to be called Siberian ginseng, but it comes from the Eleutherococcus genus of plants, not the Panax genus, and it does not contain ginsenosides [ ].

Several clinical trials have examined whether ginseng helps prevent upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and influenza.

Although the evidence is limited, results from these trials suggest that ginseng might help reduce the risk of developing colds and other respiratory tract infections.

However, its effects on symptom severity and duration are unclear. In one clinical trial, healthy men and women age 30 to 70 years who had not received an influenza vaccine in the previous 6 months took 1 g Panax ginseng extract three times daily or placebo for 12 weeks [ ]. Participants taking ginseng were less likely to develop an acute respiratory infection during the study period.

However, for study participants who did develop an infection, symptom duration and severity did not differ between groups. A few clinical trials have examined the effects of CVT-E COLD-fX , a patented ginseng extract that contains mg Panax quinquefolius in each capsule. One of these trials included men and women age 18 to 65 years with a history of at least two colds during the previous year who had not received an influenza vaccine in the past 6 months [ ].

Participants took either two capsules per day of Cold-fX for a daily dose of mg ginseng or placebo for 4 months starting in November. Participants who took ginseng developed fewer self-reported colds mean 0.

In addition, ginseng reduced the total number of days with cold symptoms from a mean of A systematic review and meta-analysis of ginseng to prevent or treat acute upper respiratory tract infections included 10 clinical trials of Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius extracts including those described above in a total of 2, participants [ ].

The authors noted that the risk of bias was high to unclear for most trials and that the limitations of the evidence prevented them from drawing conclusions. Ginseng appears to be safe. Most of its adverse effects, including headache, sleep difficulty, and gastrointestinal symptoms, are minor [ , , ].

However, doses of more than 2. A few case reports of vaginal bleeding and mastalgia breast pain in the s and s from the use of ginseng preparations raised concerns about the safety of ginseng; as a result, some scientists concluded that ginseng has estrogenic effects [ ].

However, one of these case reports involved use of Rumanian ginseng [ ], and whether this was true ginseng is not clear. In addition, eleuthero was often referred to, incorrectly, as ginseng at that time because it was called Siberian ginseng.

So, it is unclear whether these case reports reflected the effects of true ginseng. Nevertheless, some experts caution that ginseng might not be safe for use during pregnancy [ , , ]. Ginseng might interact with many medications. For example, it might increase the risk of hypoglycemia if taken with antidiabetes medications, increase the risk of adverse effects if taken with stimulants, and reduce the effectiveness of immunosuppressants [ , ].

For information on ginseng and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Tea Camellia sinensis is a popular beverage around the world that has several purported health benefits.

Tea is usually classified into one of three types—green, black, and oolong—according to the way in which the tea leaves are processed [ ]. Green tea is made from dried and steamed tea leaves, whereas black and oolong teas are made from fermented tea leaves. Tea extracts are also available as dietary supplements.

The purported health effects may vary by the type of tea as well as whether it is consumed as a beverage or dietary supplement.

Tea is one of the richest sources of catechins, which are polyphenolic flavonoids, especially epigallocatechin gallate EGCG [ , ]. A typical mL cup of brewed green tea contains 50 to mg of catechins [ ], whereas the same amount of brewed black tea contains about 14 to 88 mg of catechins [ ].

Amounts vary, however, among tea samples and by brewing time. Studies are evaluating the potential health benefits of EGCG and other catechins, including their ability to modulate the immune system and their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties [ , ].

Laboratory studies suggest that catechins might also have antiviral effects against the influenza A and B viruses [ ]. Laboratory research suggests that tea and tea catechins might have antiviral activity. Researchers have therefore examined whether drinking tea or taking supplemental tea catechins affects the risk, duration, and severity of influenza or other respiratory tract infections.

However, evidence from clinical trials is limited and mixed. Studies that found beneficial effects include a clinical trial that examined the effects of catechins and theanine an amino acid in tea on the risk of influenza in male and female health care workers age 21 years or older in Japan [ ].

However, for laboratory-confirmed influenza, the incidence of influenza did not differ between groups. A systematic review and meta-analysis also showed that tea and tea catechins had some beneficial effects on the risk of influenza and other upper respiratory tract infections, although the evidence had some limitations [ ].

The analysis included five prospective cohort studies and clinical trials that administered tea as a dietary supplement or beverage including the trial described above in a total of 1, participants.

Results were also mixed in a clinical trial examining whether drinking mL of a bottled beverage containing mg of catechins for 12 weeks during the winter affected the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections in healthy Japanese men and women mean age Catechins reduced the duration and severity of a runny nose, nasal congestion, and headache but did not affect other symptoms, including sore throat, cough, and fever.

Drinking moderate amounts of tea is safe. Green tea extract causes mostly mild to moderate adverse effects, including nausea, constipation, abdominal discomfort, and increased blood pressure [ ].

However, some green tea extracts might cause liver damage, especially when taken on an empty stomach [ , ]. In addition, at least 50 case reports since have linked consumption of green tea extracts, primarily ethanolic extracts of green tea, with liver damage [ ]. In a systematic review of the safety of green tea products, the U.

Pharmacopeia USP evaluated 75 case reports of liver damage and animal pharmacological and toxicological information [ ]. On the basis of the 35 case reports associated with supplements containing only green tea extract, the USP concluded that the consumption of green tea products definitely caused four cases of liver damage, probably or was highly likely to have caused 25 cases, and possibly caused five cases.

The USP notes that problems are more likely when green tea extract is taken on an empty stomach and, therefore, advises taking green tea extracts with food to minimize the risk of liver damage [ , ].

In addition, tea contains caffeine, which can cause sleep disturbances and feelings of nervousness, jitteriness, and shakiness [ ]. These levels do not apply to people who are pregnant and may need to limit caffeine consumption further [ ].

Tea and its constituents might interact with certain medications. For example, green tea extract decreases plasma levels of atorvastatin, a statin medication [ ].

Glutamine is an amino acid that is present in a wide variety of foods that contain protein, including beef, fish, poultry, soy and other beans, eggs, rice, corn and other grains, and milk and other dairy products [ ]. The body also produces glutamine endogenously. In normal conditions, the body can synthesize adequate amounts of glutamine to meet metabolic needs, so glutamine is not classified as an essential amino acid [ ].

However, under extreme physiological stress, endogenous glutamine synthesis cannot keep up with metabolic need. Therefore, glutamine is classified as conditionally essential [ ]. In the immune system, glutamine is involved in lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine production as well as macrophage and neutrophil function [ ].

Low glutamine levels are associated with poor immunologic function and an increased risk of mortality in patients in the ICU [ , ]. Many patients who are critically ill or have undergone major surgery have low plasma and muscle glutamine levels [ ].

Results from some studies suggest that glutamine reduces rates of infection and mortality in critically ill patients and reduces hospital length of stay and mortality in patients with burn injuries [ , ].

Clinical studies have administered glutamine both enterally and parenterally. When administered through these routes, glutamine is classified as a drug, not a dietary supplement, in the United States. Researchers have examined whether glutamine administration affects immune parameters and disease prognosis in critically ill patients.

The evidence from these studies is limited and mixed. For example, a crossover trial examined the effects of enteral nutrition containing glutamine on immune function in moderately ill patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome from a pulmonary infection in the ICU [ ].

Thirty patients age 30 to 92 years received enteral nutrition containing 30 g added glutamine for 2 days followed by enteral nutrition containing 30 g added calcium caseinate for 2 days or the same formulations but in reverse order. A 1-day washout period with standard enteral nutrition separated each treatment period.

Glutamine administration resulted in higher lymphocyte counts than calcium caseinate administration, suggesting enhanced immune function, but did not affect interleukin levels.

Results from clinical trials in patients with critical illness have also been mixed. One trial in the United Kingdom included 84 men and women mean age 65 to 66 years in the ICU [ ].

Patients received a standard parenteral formulation with or without 25 g added glutamine per day. Treatment duration was not specified, but administration continued until death or as long as clinically required. Patients who received the formulation with added glutamine had a lower risk of death during the subsequent 6 months than those who received the standard formulation.

In another clinical trial in Scotland, critically ill men and women mean age 63 to 65 years in the ICU received one of four parenteral treatments daily: standard formulation, standard formulation containing Glutamine did not affect the risk of new infections during the 14 days after randomization or mortality rates in the ICU or during the subsequent 6 months.

It also had no effect on ICU or hospital length of stay, need for antibiotics, or rates of organ failure. Findings from a Cochrane Review suggest that glutamine may have beneficial effects on some but not all outcomes in patients who have critical illness or are recovering from major surgery.

This review examined the effects of glutamine administration on various outcomes, including rates of infection and mortality, in adults who were critically ill or had undergone major surgery, such as abdominal or thoracic surgery [ ].

It included 53 clinical trials including the two described above in a total of 4, participants that administered glutamine enterally or parenterally. It also reduced the length of hospital stay by about 3. However, glutamine did not affect mortality rates, and it prolonged ICU stays by about 0.

The authors of a review that examined the effects of micronutrient supplementation, including glutamine, in adults with conditions or infections similar to COVID concluded that evidence from human studies is very limited and that baseline nutrient status may affect study results [ ].

Oral, enteral, and parenteral glutamine administration is considered safe [ , , ]. Reported side effects are mainly gastrointestinal and include nausea, bloating, belching, pain, and flatulence [ ]. Other research suggests that oral doses up to 0.

Children age 4 to 18 years tolerate doses of 0. The Food and Nutrition Board has not established a UL for glutamine [ ]. The board notes that very few, if any, adverse effects have been reported from glutamine administration.

N-acetylcysteine NAC is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. NAC is an antioxidant that has mucolytic activity, so it helps reduce respiratory mucus levels [ ].

NAC might improve immune system function and suppress viral replication [ , , ]. NAC also appears to decrease levels of interleukin-6 and have other anti-inflammatory effects [ , , ]. Much of the research on NAC has used an inhaled, liquid form of this compound.

This form—which is classified as a drug in the United States, not a dietary supplement—is approved by FDA as a mucolytic agent and for decreasing respiratory secretion viscosity [ ]. NAC administered orally or intravenously also has FDA approval as a drug to treat acetaminophen poisoning [ , ]. Products containing NAC are also sold as dietary supplements [ ].

In addition to its direct effects in the body, NAC raises intracellular levels of glutathione, which is a tripeptide of glutamine, cysteine, and glycine [ , , , , ]. Laboratory and animal studies suggest that glutathione has antioxidant activity and appears to have antiviral and antimicrobial effects and enhance natural killer cell and neutrophil activity [ , , , ].

Glutathione may also have anti-inflammatory effects via altered cytokine expression [ , , ]. Adequate glutathione levels are needed for optimal innate and adaptive immune system function, including proper T-cell activation and differentiation [ , , ].

Most research indicates that oral glutathione supplementation does not raise intracellular glutathione levels because glutathione is hydrolyzed in the gastrointestinal tract [ ]. As a result, NAC is often used in research studies because of its effects on intracellular glutathione levels.

HIV infection appears to increase production of free radicals and deplete levels of free glutathione [ ]. Therefore, people with HIV may have decreased intracellular levels of glutathione, which could increase their susceptibility to infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis [ ].

Low glutathione levels have been associated with shorter survival in people with HIV [ ], and NAC supplementation increases blood and T-cell levels of glutathione [ ].

However, clinical research on the effects of NAC supplementation on the immune system in humans is very limited. In one clinical trial, researchers examined the effects of oral to 6, mg NAC, depending on plasma glutamine levels, every other day for 7 months or placebo in 37 men and women with HIV who were taking ART [ ].

An accompanying clinical trial described in the same publication evaluated the same treatment in 29 men and women with HIV who were not taking ART. In addition, NAC supplementation had inconsistent effects on viral load. As an FDA-approved drug, the safety profile of NAC has been evaluated [ ].

The American College of Chest Physicians and the Canadian Thoracic Society note that NAC has a low risk of adverse effects [ ]. Reported side effects of oral NAC include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, indigestion, and epigastric discomfort [ , ].

No safety concerns have been reported for products labeled as dietary supplements that contain NAC. NAC might have anticoagulant effects and reduce blood pressure, so it could have additive effects if taken with anticoagulants and antihypertensive medications [ ].

The combination of NAC and nitroglycerine, used to treat angina, can cause hypotension and severe headaches [ , ]. For information on NAC and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Omega-3 fatty acids omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids PUFAs that are present in certain foods , such as flaxseed and fatty fish, as well as dietary supplements, such as those containing fish oil.

Several omega-3s exist, including alpha linolenic acid ALA , but most scientific research focuses on the long-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid EPA and docosahexaenoic acid DHA. The main food sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish and fish oil. The Food and Nutrition Board established an adequate intake AI; intake assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy for total omega-3s of 0.

The Food and Nutrition Board did not establish intake recommendations for EPA and DHA in because, unlike ALA, EPA and DHA were not classified as essential. Omega-3 fatty acids are components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes.

Omega-3s also form eicosanoids, which are signaling molecules that affect the cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems [ 58 , , ]. Omega-6 fatty acids, the other major class of PUFAs, also form eicosanoids, which tend to be more potent mediators of inflammation, vasoconstriction, and platelet aggregation than those made from omega-3s.

Therefore, higher concentrations of omega-3s than of omega-6s tip the eicosanoid balance toward less inflammatory activity [ , , ]. Higher intakes and higher blood levels of EPA and DHA are associated with lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 [ , , , ].

Immune system cells can easily incorporate EPA and DHA, which might also affect immune function by upregulating the activity of macrophages, neutrophils, T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and other immune cells [ 2 , , ].

In addition, omega-3s may have antimicrobial and antiviral effects [ 58 , ]. Omega-3 deficiency can cause rough, scaly skin and dermatitis [ ]. Almost everyone in the United States obtains sufficient ALA to avoid deficiency, but many people might benefit from higher intakes of EPA and DHA [ ]. ARDS, a serious lung condition, is characterized by inflammation and multi-organ dysfunction that causes low blood oxygen levels.

It usually results from another disease, such as COVID, or injury. Because omega-3s can affect inflammation, researchers have hypothesized that these fatty acids might improve outcomes in patients with ARDS. Several clinical trials and meta-analyses have examined whether omega-3s, administered enterally or parenterally which are not classified as dietary supplements in the United States , benefit patients with ARDS.

The authors of meta-analyses published in and concluded that these treatments reduce the risk of mortality and organ failure, improve oxygenation status, and reduce the length of ICU stay and time on mechanical ventilation [ , ].

However, more recent clinical trials and meta-analyses have yielded contrasting findings [ , ]. Some but not all findings were positive in one clinical trial with 58 men and women mean age 63 to 64 years who had mild to moderate ARDS, were on mechanical ventilation, and received a standard enteral formula that did or did not contain mg omega-3s including mg EPA and mg DHA three times daily for 14 days [ ].

Omega-3s improved some measures of oxygenation and lung function but did not affect number of ventilator-free days, length of ICU stay, day mortality rates, or rates of multi-organ failure.

No benefits were found in another clinical trial in which 90 men and women mean age 49 to 51 years on mechanical ventilation who had acute lung injury, a mild form of ARDS, received either enteral fish oil containing 9, mg EPA and 6, mg DHA daily or placebo for 14 days [ ].

Fish oil did not affect pulmonary or systematic inflammation, number of ventilator-free or ICU-free days, or rates of organ failure or day mortality. Results were similar in a systematic review and meta-analysis that included seven clinical trials one of which was the trial described above [ ] that compared enteral omega-3 supplementation with a control diet or placebo in a total of adults with ARDS [ ].

The most common omega-3s used were EPA and DHA, often in combination with gamma-linolenic acid an omega-6 fatty acid ; some studies also coadministered antioxidants. The results showed no differences in rates of day all-cause mortality or numbers of ventilator-free days or ICU-free days, although omega-3 supplementation did improve oxygenation status at some time points.

The evidence was inconclusive in a Cochrane Review of 10 clinical trials including the two trials described above that included a total of 1, adults in ICUs and examined the effects of immunonutrition for ARDS [ ]. The treatments consisted of EPA with or without DHA and gamma-linolenic acid for up to 28 days.

One study also administered antioxidants. The treatment was administered enterally in nine studies and parenterally in one study. The omega-3 treatments did not affect all-cause mortality rates, but the quality of this evidence was low.

The authors were unable to determine whether the treatments affected ICU length of stay, number of days on a ventilator, or oxygenation because the evidence was of very low quality.

In their guidelines on nutrition support therapy for adults who are critically ill, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition state that they cannot recommend routine use of enteral formulas that contain omega-3s or other anti-inflammatory lipids in patients with ARDS because the data are conflicting [ ].

Immune system development begins before birth and continues for several months to a few years [ ]. The membranes of immune system cells contain long-chain PUFAs—including EPA, DHA, and the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid ARA —that play a role in immune system development [ ].

For this reason, researchers have examined whether consumption of infant formula enriched with long-chain PUFAs during the first year of life has health benefits. Much of this research has focused on the effects of these infant formulas on allergic manifestations, including atopic dermatitis, food allergies, and asthma, in infants and young children.

However, researchers have also examined whether these formulas affect the risk of respiratory infections. Several observational studies have examined whether infants who consume formula enriched with long-chain PUFAs during the first year of life have a lower risk of respiratory tract infections.

Findings from these studies have been mixed, and some effects may depend on infant age and omega-3 dose. For example, an observational study analyzed data from 8, formula-fed infants born in France in [ ]. The rest consumed unenriched formulas.

Between age 2 months and 5. However, infants who consumed formulas containing 3. Infants who consumed enriched formulas had lower rates of bronchitis or bronchiolitis at age 5, 7, and 9 months than those who consumed unenriched formulas or formulas with low levels of DHA and ARA. At age 12 months, infants consuming enriched formulas also had a lower risk of upper airway infections.

However, the incidence of all other respiratory illnesses at various ages was similar between groups. Very few clinical trials have examined the effects of infant formula containing added long-chain PUFAs on the risk of respiratory tract infections.

Infants who received the formula containing DHA and ARA did not have a lower risk of nonallergic respiratory illnesses e. In another clinical trial in Thailand, healthy children age 9 to 12 years consumed milk containing fish oil providing mg EPA and 1, mg DHA per day or placebo, 5 days per week for 6 months [ ].

Only Children consuming fish oil also had fewer episodes of illness and total days of illness. However, the percentage of children with fever did not differ between groups. EFSA also notes that these doses have not been shown to cause bleeding problems or to adversely affect immune function, glucose homeostasis, or lipid peroxidation.

Commonly reported side effects of omega-3 supplements are usually mild and include unpleasant taste, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, headache, and odoriferous sweat [ , ]. Because of their antiplatelet effects, high doses of omega-3s might interact with anticoagulants [ ].

However, according to the FDA-approved package inserts for omega-3 pharmaceutical preparations, studies have not found that these medications cause clinically significant bleeding episodes [ ]. Omega-3s might also interact with other medications. For example, omega-3s might increase the risk of hypotension if taken with antihypertensive agents and might increase levels of cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug [ ].

More information on omega-3s is available in the ODS health professional fact sheet on omega-3s. For information on omega-3s and COVID, please see the ODS health professional fact sheet, Dietary Supplements in the Time of COVID Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts [ ].

They include certain bacteria e. Probiotics are naturally present in some fermented foods, added to some food products, and available as dietary supplements.

Probiotics are identified by their strain, which includes the genus, the species, the subspecies if applicable , and an alphanumeric strain designation [ ]. The units of measure for probiotics are colony-forming units CFUs , which indicate the number of viable cells. Common amounts used in dietary supplements are 1 x 10 9 1 billion CFU; commonly designated as 10 9 CFU and 1 x 10 10 10 billion or 10 10 CFU.

Probiotics act mainly in the gastrointestinal tract [ 7 ]. They might improve immune function in several ways, including by enhancing gut barrier function, increasing immunoglobulin production, inhibiting viral replication, and enhancing the phagocytic activity of white blood cells.

However, the mechanisms of their potential effects on immune function are unclear [ 7 , , ]. The thymus filters and monitors your blood content.

It produces the white blood cells called T-lymphocytes. As well as the immune system, the body has several other ways to defend itself against microbes, including:. A rise in body temperature, or fever , can happen with some infections.

This is actually an immune system response. A rise in temperature can kill some microbes. Fever also triggers the body's repair process. It is common for people to have an over- or underactive immune system. Overactivity of the immune system External Link can take many forms, including:. An underactive immune system does not function correctly and makes people vulnerable to infections.

It can be life threatening in severe cases. People who have had an organ transplant need immunosuppression treatment to prevent the body from attacking the transplanted organ. Immunoglobulins commonly known as antibodies are used to treat people who are unable to make enough of their own, or whose antibodies do not work properly.

This treatment is known as immunoglobulin replacement therapy IRT External Link. Until recently, immunoglobulin therapy in Australia mostly involved delivery of immunoglobulins through a drip into the vein — known as intravenous immunoglobulin IVIg therapy.

Now, subcutaneous immunoglobulin SCIg therapy External Link can be delivered into the fatty tissue under the skin, which may offer benefits for some patients. This is known as subcutaneous infusion or SCIg therapy.

Subcutaneous immunoglobulin is similar to intravenous immunoglobulin. It is made from plasma — the liquid part of blood containing important proteins like antibodies. Download the Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin - information sheet for patients External Link to read more about this type of treatment.

Many health services are now offering SCIg therapy to eligible patients with specific immune conditions. Immunisation works by copying the body's natural immune response. A vaccine a small amount of a specially treated virus, bacterium or toxin is injected into the body.

The body then makes antibodies to it. If a vaccinated person is exposed to the actual virus, bacterium or toxin, they won't get sick because their body will recognise it and know how to attack it successfully.

Vaccinations are available against many diseases, including measles and tetanus. The immunisations you may need are decided by your health, age, lifestyle and occupation. Together, these factors are referred to as HALO, which is defined as:.

View the HALO infographic External Link to find out more. This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:. Content on this website is provided for information purposes only.

Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional.

The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website.

All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances.

The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website. Skip to main content. Immune system. Remember to wash produce before eating or using it in recipes.

Clean glasses, forks, spoons and other utensils to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria. Getting adequate sleep and managing stress can be just as important as healthy eating to prevent the flu. Even if you eat healthily, get plenty of rest, drink adequate fluids and manage your stress, you may still catch the flu.

If so, your illness may not last as long, and you may not feel so bad. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are many healing benefits of chicken soup. Your favorite recipe likely has properties that fight inflammation, promote hydration and get mucus flowing.

Drink plenty of liquids, such as water, broth or sports drinks with electrolytes. When taken before cold symptoms start, vitamin C may shorten the duration, but it doesn't keep you from getting sick. You may have heard that milk and other dairy products worsen congestion during an illness.

Research has not proven this to be true. Bring broth to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, ginger and garlic; cook uncovered over medium heat until vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Add noodles and chicken; simmer until the noodles are just tender, 8—10 minutes. Stir in dill and lemon juice.

Nutrition per serving 1½ cups : calories, 4 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 38 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, g sodium.

Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Center Serves 4 Serve as condiment with chicken steak, fish, fried eggs or toast. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Sautee onions for two minutes. Then add all the spices; toast and stir for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, apples, vinegar and sugar.

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4 Wellness Shots that will help Boost your Immune System

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