How to ensure proper immune function
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March 25, 2020

How to Ensure Proper Immune Function

We have received a lot of questions about how to keep an optimal immune system. Maybe you have an underlying immune condition like Hashimoto’s Thyroid disease or maybe you want to prevent infections. Well look no further we are going to dig deep into how to optimize immune function.

First, we need to understand that our immune system needs many micronutrients in order to function. There is a bidirectional relationship between immune function and micronutrient status1. What this means is that the lower your micronutrient status, the less effective your immune system will be. There are a couple of micronutrients that we are going to highlight, vitamin D, Selenium and Vitamin C.

Let’s start digging!

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Vitamin D

There is a lot of talk about vitamin D and immunity, and there has been some talk that vitamin D affect a receptor called ACE2 and this could make you more vulnerable to the coronavirus2. This mechanism is contradicted in other studies that show that ACE inhibitors (which upregulate ACE2) actually protect against the virus.

To quote:

“This speculation about the safety of ACE-i or ARB treatment in relation to COVID-19 does not have a sound scientific basis or evidence to support it,” Simone and colleagues wrote. “Indeed, there is evidence from studies in animals suggesting that these medications might be rather protective against serious lung complications in patients with COVID-19 infection, but to date there is no data in humans.”

Giovanni de Simone, MD, Chair of the ESC Council on Hypertension

But what about the other functions that vitamin D has in the body? Vitamin D receptors are present in your immune cells and they are used for proper function3. The problem is that having really high levels of vitamin D can cause trouble (Read: How Much Vitamin D Should You Take). We should be careful with supplementation, but having good levels is essential.

On your next visit, have your doctor run a simple test, and get those levels optimal!

Selenium

We all know that selenium is necessary for proper thyroid function (Read: Supplements to Take for Hashimotos), but did you know that selenium also protects you from viral infections? There have been studies that show that areas with low selenium in the soil have a greater number of viral respiratory infections3, and that proper selenium status also helps with the ability of your body to fight, stop and prevent further infections3.

Vitamin C

There is a lot of research on the antiviral activity of Vitamin C. This has influenced the healthcare system so much that in fact, there is a current clinical trial for the use of High Dose Vitamin C IV to help with the novel coronavirus infection5. While we won’t know the results from this trial until later this year, we have reliable data that it protects against respiratory infections. For example a study showed that although high dose vitamin C intake did not prevent colds, it did shorten the duration of the cold. This is because believe it or not, a lot of people have inadequate intake of vitamin C!

How do you know which nutrients to focus on?

There are two options:

The best way to help your immune system without having to calculate individual foods or measuring brazil nuts and oysters is to take a solid multivitamin. Make sure that your multivitamin is appropriate for you, many multivitamins have high levels of iodine which will put you at risk or even aggravate thyroid conditions.

If you want to avoid taking more supplements, your doctor can order a nutritional analysis test and in that way you can be more surgical with your approach to these micronutrients.

I hope you find this information helpful, please let’s continue to practice physical isolation during this pandemic, you can help flatten the curve.

Bonus! Medicinal Herbs.

I have to make a special shout out for medicinal herbs. We understand that the world is changing, and that these infectious diseases are probably going to come around again. The prestigious journal NATURE recently published a report stating that the most promising answer for these infectious diseases will be natural herbal remedies.

To quote:

“Plants are important not only for food but also for medicine. Understanding the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of herbs, as well as the pathways of secondary metabolite synthesis, is important for drug development. Investing in research into ethnobotany, phytochemistry, plant physiology and ecology will be vital in protecting the global population from current and future pandemics.”

Nature Plants (https://rdcu.be/b27X)

At this point, we don’t have any science-led recommendations on which plants will work against this viral infection, but we know that traditionally Echinacea, Astragalus, Andrographis, Elderberry and Licorice have been used to help modulate your immune system. Work with your practitioner to create the perfect combination to help you optimize your immune system.

Dr-Guillermo-Ruiz

Written by Dr. Guillermo Ruiz of Integrative Health. Dr. Ruiz is an Associate Physician with Integrative Health, interested in the treatment of endocrine disease with a focus on thyroid health. Under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Christianson, Dr. Ruiz expanded his knowledge on the treatment of Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease and has completed advanced endocrinology training in order to better address and resolve endocrine disease.

Learn more about Dr. Ruiz here

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