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So now you know what the immune system is, what it does and what happens if things go wrong. In this last installment of our four part series on the immune system we’re going to cover what you do about it.
Follow the Research
Vitamin D – Super Protection
Vitamin D is getting a lot of press these days, as low levels have been linked to numerous disorders including rickets, depression, pain, cancer and immune imbalances. One of the challenges with taking the necessary amount of vitamin D is the outdated acceptable upper limit for vitamin D3 consumption, which was set at 2000 IU. However, researchers point out that more recent studies have shown that 10,000 IU is the safe upper limit. 1 Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D – however, research shows that even in the sunniest areas of the world, vitamin D deficiency is common as most of us cover up the majority of our skin. Therefore, a high quality vitamin D3 supplement can fill in the gaps.
We generally recommend Bio-D-Mulsion Forte – 1 drop (2000 IU) every other day for children 3-5 years of age; 1 drop daily for children 5-12 years of age; 1 drop twice daily for kids older than 12 years old as well as for adults.
Vitamin D levels can and should be monitored to insure optimal levels and to adjust supplementation. This is a simple blood test that can be done at any hospital or clinic. The test you should request is called 25 (OH) Vitamin D and ideal levels are between 40-60 ng/ml.
Probiotics to Rebalance and Support Proper Immune Function
As we discussed in part 2 of this series, research has shown that as much as 70% of your immune function originates in your gut, and a major component of that system is the organisms that live in your GI tract. These organisms (mainly bacteria and yeasts) not only help you digest and absorb nutrients, they protect you from most of the bacteria and viruses you may be exposed to. This is especially true for children.
In fact, research has shown that daily probiotic supplementation is a safe, effective way for children to reduce fever, runny nose, cough duration and incidence and antibiotic prescription use, as well as the number of missed school days due to illness.2 The numbers are even more amazing.
Relative to placebo, kids taking a combination probiotic reduced their incidence of fever 73%, coughing by 62%, and runny nose by 59%. Antibiotic use was reduced 84% relative to placebo, and kids taking probiotics missed almost a third fewer days of school than those that did not.
What this all means is that you can help your kids be much healthier, especially during the cold and flu season, by giving them the right amount of vitamin D and a high quality, multi-strain probiotic. We generally use FloraBoost – 1 scoop daily (mixed with juice or water on an empty stomach) for kids between 15-60 lbs.; 1 scoop twice daily for kids 60-100 lbs.; adults should use Ortho Biotic – 1 capsule 1-2 times daily on an empty stomach.
Calming Yourself and Your Immune System
What does stress have to do with immune function? Everything! If you take a minute and think about it, everybody has experienced this – you have a deadline approaching, you start sleeping less, worrying more, not watching what you eat and drink, over use stimulants or other non-health promoting substances and – whamo, you get sick. Stress affects immune not only through the biochemical changes that occur in your body due to your reaction to the stress itself, but also through what you do to your body during times of stress (like getting less sleep/rest, polluting the body with caffeine, nicotine, sugar, alcohol, etc.). The result is often decreased immunity.
Daily stress reduction doesn’t have to mean you practice yoga or tai chi for 2 hours every day (although that would certainly be beneficial!); simple strategies practiced regularly can add up to big benefits. Try taking a nice, deep breath every time you send or receive an email or phone call. Take a sip of water or tea every 10-15 minutes. Get some form of exercise in everyday (something you really like). Take 5 minutes to do something you really enjoy each day. None of these things take much time, but they will pay huge dividends if you practice them every day.
Nature has provided many substances to help calm your stress response and support immunity. Ashwagandha is a plant native to India and parts of Africa. For more than 4000 years it has been used as an immune system rebalancer and remedy for nervous disorders. Rhodiola, ginseng, and skullcap root have also shown to help support the immune system during times of stress. We use a great formula called AdreneVive – 2 capsules 1-2x/day, to help reduce the overload on the body during times of stress, calm the mind and help maintain healthy immune status.
Ideal Immune Health
Optimal immune health will allow you to enjoy a long and fulfilling life. It doesn’t mean that you will never become ill, but it does mean that you immune system will respond appropriately when challenges arise.
If you have other things that you have found useful, please share them in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you!