How Elderberry, Vitamin D, & Zinc May Help Support Your Immune System
Disease prevention is critical to health and wellness. The immune system protects the body from toxins and infections caused by bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens. It is the body’s first line of defense, so it is important to boost its functions.
Read on to find out how elderberry, vitamin D, and zinc can support your immune system.
The Immune-Boosting Benefit of Elderberry
The dark violet-black juicy drupe is loaded with many nutrients, so much so that it owes its color to the presence of anthocyanins, a group of phenolic compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immuno-modulatory effects. It is a rich source of fiber, vitamins like vitamin A, B1, B6, B9, C, and E; trace elements like copper, zinc, and iron; minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium; and phytochemicals that have protective, nourishing, and healing effects on cells. Simply put, elderberry is a superfood.
Because of its rich nutrient and antioxidant profile, elderberry helps support optimal cell functioning, promote homeostasis, and boost the immune system. Its antioxidant compounds scavenge free radicals that may cause oxidative damage to vital cells and biomolecules, thereby playing a key role in disease prevention.
Elderberry was used centuries ago in folk medicine to treat colds and flu and has even proven effective in relieving symptoms of influenza A and B viral infections. It works by inhibiting the growth of bacterial and viral pathogens. Indeed, taking elderberry extracts can help lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of illnesses.
How Vitamin D Affects the Immune System
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is an essential vitamin that functions primarily in bone, nerve, and heart health. However, it interacts with certain cells in the immune system and can determine immune responses to a great extent.
Vitamin D is an immunomodulator that has its receptors on all white blood cells (WBC). It usually regulates the growth of B-cells, a type of immune cells that make antibodies and communicate with dendritic cells to activate another group of WBC called T-cells. Simply put, vitamin D helps ensure immune homeostasis. Low vitamin D levels are closely linked to increased inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is almost impossible as the vitamin is produced from sunlight exposure, so supplementation is very important.
Zinc And the Immune System
The thymus gland requires enough zinc to make T-cells, a type of white blood cell that is responsible for killing infected cells, training other immune cells, and regulating immune response to diseases. In the event of zinc deficiency, the thymus gland will start to shrink, causing a lag in immune response, a decrease in the recovery rate of infections, delay in wound healing, or prolonged inflammation that may lead to autoimmune diseases.
Rich food sources of zinc include fortified foods, animal products like red meat, poultry, oysters, milk, seafood, and plants like pumpkin seeds, chickpea, beans, nuts, and dark leafy greens. Although zinc is readily available in food, up to 31% of the world population suffers deficiency because of stress, alcohol consumption, reduced dietary intake, and malabsorption diseases.