Boosting Immunity to Fight Viruses


People always search for the best ways to improve their health and boost their immune systems. Some people resort to using herbs and alternative medicines or natural remedies, others consume dietary supplements, and some are keen to adjust their diets.

Dietary Supplements versus Food

It is true that there are some medical conditions that require receiving dietary supplements to make up for the nutrients the body fails to absorb. For example, in some types of anemia, the body cannot absorb vitamin B12; to manage this, vitamin B12 shots are prescribed. Pregnant women also require more folate so they need folic acid supplements. Even when you have a common cold, it is recommended to take vitamin C supplements.

However, supplements should not replace all the nutrients and benefits of consuming food. Moreover, supplements cannot be taken without a certain dose, because according to some studies, their excessive intake are related to some health issues. When consuming these supplements, the body keeps the needed nutrients and usually the excess nutrients are disposed of. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and all vitamins B, are easily excreted from the body; on the contrary, fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E, are stored in the body’s tissues.

Given that fat-soluble vitamins can stay longer in the body, consuming high doses can lead to toxicity and undesirable side effects. High amounts of vitamin D supplements can raise blood calcium levels, which can lead to organ damage, in addition to weight loss, loss of appetite, and irregular heartbeat. High dosage of vitamin E supplements may interfere with blood clotting, causing hemorrhages and hemorrhagic strokes. Even though vitamin C can be easily excreted through urine, receiving huge doses of it, can cause some issues, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, and headache.

Other ways to boost the Immune System

Besides maintaining a balanced diet packed with the important immunity boosting nutrients, there are some other recommendations that may help improve your overall health and eventually improve the immune system. First of all, you have to have a good sleep; around 7–8 hours daily. Lack of sleep will leave you tired and stressed, which may prevent your body from functioning properly, which in turn will impact the immune system. Avoid smoking; smoking directly affects the immune system. Try to exercise regularly; even if just a daily walk for 30 minutes. Light exercise helps release toxins from the body and helps in destressing. Regular exercising also helps in improving metabolism, which is related to the immune system.

At the end, we must bear in mind that consuming healthy diets or dietary supplements, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle will not prevent us from being infected by viruses, and it will not cure us either. This is only a way of many ways to help our frontline defense soldier, the immune system, to perform better in order to fight any disease.


This article was first published in print in SCIplanet, Winter/Spring 2021 issue.

Cover image by Freepik

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