For DEEP IMMUNE SUPPORT, a multivitamin including a B50 complex powerfully supports adrenal activity, and also boosts immunity on three levels: Physical barriers such as skin and mucous membranes are strengthened; cellular immunity is enhanced; and antibody production is faster and more accurate for the body’s needs. Optimal adrenal function is also key for brisker immune responses. In all these ways, a B-complex rich multi leads to fewer recurring or chronic infections, and lower risk of long-term autoimmune disorders, or abnormal or precancerous cell changes.
A broad array of vitamins and minerals are crucial for deep immune enhancement. Vitamins C, E and zinc are needed to maintain healthy physical barriers. Vitamins B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, zinc, and selenium are all critical for supporting immunity at a cellular level. For antibody production, a full spectrum of B vitamins and mineral micronutrients are essential for antibody formation and release. An apt quote is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “An army marches on its stomach.” The immune system army, like any fighting force, depends on optimal nourishment for peak function.
Unfortunately, many people lack adequate micronutrients to keep them healthy year-round. Immune defenses can be impaired by poor vitamin and mineral levels, increasing susceptibility to infection. A truly healthy immune system depends on receiving a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time; a quick infusion of vitamin C or zinc at the first sign of a sniffle will not keep immunity robust and functional. Even a healthy, balanced, whole food diet often lacks ample vitamins and minerals, especially because of today’s depleted soils. A specialized multivitamin can fill in dietary gaps. Also, it can overcome poor absorption, where nutrients cannot pass adequately through the intestinal lining, due to chronic disease states, aging digestive systems, and lower caloric intake.
Vitamins are essential nutrient molecules needed for enzymes to work in the body. Enzymes are generally proteins that speed up chemical reactions for energy production, new cell formation, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, and for building new tissues. Enzymes work with coenzymes and they cannot function without their essential vitamin partners. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K; the body can store them in fat cells to use on demand. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-group and vitamin C. They are only stored in small amounts and they rapidly flush out of the body, so deficiencies can more readily occur. Many vitamins have key roles in immune cell and antibody function, and in protecting the body’s essential skin and mucous membrane barriers.
Minerals are single elements that are necessary for adequate functioning of the immune system, including copper, zinc, and selenium, and for many other body systems. Minerals are often catalysts for enzymes to create chemical bonds to form new tissue, or break bonds to liberate energy. Certain hormones cannot function without minerals. Minerals are categorized into those of which we need more than 100mg per day: calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride; and trace minerals that we need smaller amounts of such as boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc. Scientific evidence has shown that deficiencies of trace elements can impede the immune system, reducing antibody responses, cell-mediated immunity, and natural killer (NK) cell activity.
Adequate amounts of all micronutrients are required for optimal immune function from infancy to older age. It is important to ensure good antioxidant levels of vitamins C, E, and A, and micronutrients like zinc, copper, iron, and selenium. These components of antioxidant enzymes are needed to remove oxidative metabolic waste, and to combat oxidative stress from sleep deprivation, emotional stress, and common lifestyle factors, which can greatly impair immune function.1
A deficit of micronutrients at any stage of life damages immune system function with decreased resistance to infections, an increase in severity of symptoms, and greater risk of autoimmune and related chronic disorders. Micronutrient vitamins and minerals are crucial for immunity, and many people of all ages have single or multiple nutrient deficiencies. For optimal immunological action, ample micronutrient supplementation can restore concentrations to healthy levels.
The vitamin B-50 complex comprises 50 mg each of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6. Humans are unable to make the family of vitamin B and must obtain it mostly from diet. Several B-complex members are essential for optimal immune activity, and also for adrenal function which in turn helps peak immunity. Because bacteria can synthesize vitamin B, our immune system uses this as a point of difference to recognize infection. Specialized immune cells can recognize bacterial vitamin B synthesis, and this signal sets off their fight against infection.
Vitamin B6 is required in the synthesis and metabolism of amino acids, the building blocks of antibodies and other proteins. Human and other tissue studies have demonstrated that vitamin B6 deficiency impairs aspects of adaptive immunity, including both humoral (blood) and cell-mediated immunity. This means that without enough vitamin B6, both the creation of protein antibodies and the ability of white cells to hasten to attack or clear foreign material would be lessened. Researchers are discovering the importance of the abundance of T-white blood cells lining mucosal surfaces in the intestine, mouth, lungs, and other orifices. These T-cells play a protective role in the immune system response to many infections. A deficiency of vitamin B6 has been shown to impede white blood cell proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, as well as antibody production.2 As soon as any vitamin B6 deficiency is corrected, immune function is restored.
A deficit in any of the other B-complex vitamins can result in a marked reduction in the number of white cells that produce essential antibodies. All of the B vitamins work together, though they function in different areas of the immune process, to provide necessary activation and protection of a functional immune system.3
Antioxidant vitamins in generous amounts are essential for peak immune function and long-term prevention of immune-related chronic diseases. Vitamins A, C, and E work to enhance white blood cell and antibody activity, and they help to maintain the linings of the respiratory and digestive tracts which act as barriers against infection.
Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting both the innate and adaptive immune system aspects. It increases the number and the activity of white blood cells, and elevates levels of antibodies. Vitamin C protects phagocyte white cells as they ingest foreign material or microbial invaders. For the skin and epithelial barriers, vitamin C is an essential building block for collagen from which they are formed, and its antioxidant actions protect underlying tissues. The sciences of nutrition and immunology are tightly linked, since better nutritional status can improve the actions of the immune system. More than half a century of research has shown vitamin C to be a crucial player in immune cell function, and many aspects of the immune system.
Several studies have shown how vitamin C supplementation stimulates both the number and the activity of leukocytes, or white blood cells. In one study of 45 healthy male university students, 25 of them ingested 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day for a period of 75 days; 20 students received no extra-dietary vitamin C. The results showed that “ascorbic acid supplementation caused a statistically significant increase in the serum levels of IgA, IgM and C-3 complement.” 4 These are key proteins required for healthy immunity.
Bioflavonoids are plant pigments that give fruits and flowers their colors and are a crucial component in nature of the vitamin C complex, so it is preferable to use them together. Bioflavonoids enhance the absorption of vitamin C and improve its utilization throughout the body. In addition, for immunity, clinical evidence indicates that the flavonoids have anti-inflammatory actions, act as antioxidants, and modulate gene expression to support healthy enzyme activities.5
Natural carotenes help deep immune function by acting upon both humoral (blood) and cellular immunity. Carotenes are a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments found in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants including fruits, vegetables, algae, and whole grains. They shield plants from sun-induced free radical damage, providing powerful protection for a lifetime in the sun. Plant carotenoids are water-soluble and do not accumulate in our bodies, so toxicity is almost unheard of. More than five hundred carotenoids are known, some of which convert into active vitamin A in our tissues.
Carotenes are natural compounds characterized by a broad spectrum of biological effects, including powerful benefits for the immune system. The ability of carotenoids to enhance widespread aspects of humoral (blood) and cellular immune function opens prospects for using them for a wide range of diseases such as chronic infections, neurodegenerative disorders, inflammatory ailments, and cardiovascular disease.
A comprehensive review in 2014 of carotenoids in immunity, highlighted their role in immune system gene regulation, apoptosis (cell death), and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels).6 This means that natural carotenes support the expression of genes that code for antibody production and immune action. They help to regulate the appropriate demise of diseased, damaged, dead, or infected cells. And carotenes enhance the formation of new vessels to increase blood flow that delivers more immune white cells and antibodies to tissues.
We recommend only natural mixed carotenes derived from plant food sources which are safest and most effective. We prefer the full range of carotenoids, including naturally occurring carotene isomers alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lutein, all of which are potent immune supporters. We do not use any formula with synthetic beta-carotene which is relatively ineffective and potentially unsafe. We are also cautious about animal-derived vitamin A palmitate, or retinol, as long-term use of that can detract from bone density and is not suitable for post-menopausal women. Plant mixed carotenes are equally effective for deep immune boosting and eye protection.
Carotenes, along with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and selenium, help protect tissues from scavenging free radicals which would impede immune function, and reduce oxidative stress and cell damage. They boost the cells’ own protective glutathione levels, and enhance the actions of superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes, which block cell damage from reactive oxygen species. All these effects foster optimal immune action.
In a four-week intervention study, 64 healthy, nonsmoking men showed improved immunologic indicators with high intakes of carotenoids and vitamin C. The number and activity of natural killer cells increased, and secretion of cytokines and lymphocyte proliferation were better. The men also showed notable reductions in plasma C-reactive protein and inflammatory markers.7
Selenium is needed for optimal thyroid function, leading to better immune system activity. It also helps to calm autoimmune disorders, and fight infection. Studies have demonstrated that increased blood levels of selenium are associated with enhanced immune response. Selenium is a trace mineral found in rich soils; the natural selenomethionine form is common in plants. Selenium is a cofactor for enzymes in the antioxidant defense system, and it helps to lower oxidative stress in the body, which reduces inflammation and enhances immunity.
Vitamin D3 is a key immune activator. It works with T-cells, white blood cells that are key to the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and disease. For deep immune support, the vitamin D3 receptor is expressed on immune cells which are activated by higher D3 blood levels, boosting the innate and adaptive immune responses. The immune system defends the body from foreign, invading organisms, promoting protective immunity. Vitamin D deficiency is known to suppress the immune system and increase the risks of infections and autoimmune disorders, as has become clearer since 2010. Vitamin D3 works by entering cells and attaching to vitamin D receptors located within the cell nuclei, which are linked with optimal immune function.
A number of important cross-sectional studies have looked at vitamin D levels and rates of infectious illness such as influenza, bacterial vaginosis, and HIV. All have reported an association between of lower vitamin D levels and increased infections. One such study followed 800 military personnel in Finland for six months. The results documented that recruits with lower vitamin D levels lost significantly more days from active duty due to upper respiratory infections than individuals with higher vitamin D levels. 8
In our clinic, for optimal deep immune support, we prefer a multivitamin-mineral with the full range of purely natural mixed carotenoids, including naturally occurring carotene isomers alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and lutein, which are all potent antioxidants. We will not use any product with synthetic beta-carotene which has been shown to be ineffective and potentially unsafe. We emphasize a B-50 complex as B vitamins function in many areas of the immune process, and work together to activate and protect a functional immune system. Since both vitamins and minerals are food derivatives, they better in the stomach and are more efficiently absorbed when taken with meals.
Recommendation: A multivitamin formula including a B-50 complex, specifically with thiamin (vitamin B1) 50mg, riboflavin (vitamin B2) 50mg, vitamin B3 (as non-flush inositol hexaniacinate) 50mg, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) 50mg, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCL) 50mg. We also like to see folic acid 500mcg, vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) 75mcg. And we prefer vitamin C 400-600mg buffered with calcium or magnesium and rosehips; citrus bioflavonoids 150-200mg, including rutin and hesperidin; natural mixed carotenes 5000IU; selenium in the form of L-selenomethionine 70-80mcg; iodine ideally from sea vegetables such as kelp 70-80mcg; vitamin D2 at least 200IU; vitamin K 10-15mcg. Take these total amounts daily, with meals, or as directed by your health care provider.
- Maggini, Silvia, Adeline Pierre, and Philip C. Calder. “Immune function and micronutrient requirements change over the life course.” Nutrients 10.10 (2018): 1531.
- Rall LC, Meydani SN. Vitamin B6 and immune competence. Nutr Rev. 1993;51(8):217-225.
- Axelrod, A. E. “Role of the B vitamins in the immune response.” Diet and Resistance to Disease. Springer, Boston, MA, 1981. 93-106.
- Prinz, Wetal, et al. “The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on some parameters of the human immunological defence system.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition 47.3 (1977): 248-257.
- Pérez-Cano, Francisco, and Margarida Castell. “Flavonoids, inflammation and immune system.” (2016): 659.
- Pechinskii, S. V., and A. G. Kuregyan. “The impact of carotenoids on immunity.” Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal 47.10 (2014): 509-513.
- Watzl, Bernhard, et al. “A 4-wk intervention with high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit reduces plasma C-reactive protein in healthy, nonsmoking men.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 82.5 (2005): 1052-1058.
- Laaksi I, et al. An association of serum vitamin D concentrations < 40 nmol/L with acute respiratory tract infection in young Finnish men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(3):714-7.
- Alpert, Patricia T. “The role of vitamins and minerals on the immune system.” Home Health Care Management & Practice 29.3 (2017): 199-202.