These days, you can’t go a, well, day without seeing a headline about immune health. Taking good care of our immune system is more important than ever—and we know more about immunity to boot. But all the information can get overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve created this quick guide, to help you brush up on the “what” of your immune system and simplify the “how” of supporting it.
What Is the Immune System & How Does It Work?
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, organs, and tissues—from your white blood cells to your spleen to your bone marrow—that works around the clock to keep you healthy. It helps protect your body from harmful substances and changes called antigens: think germs such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi; toxins in the environment; and even your own damaged cells.1, 2
When your body encounters an antigen, your immune system kicks into gear and mounts an immune response. Two subsystems communicate and work together to safeguard you and provide immunity: your innate immune system and your acquired immune system.1,3
Innate immunity: You’re born with an innate immune system, which forms your first line of defense. This type of general immunity offers a barrier between your body and an antigen—your skin, for example, along with mucus membranes in your throat and gut.
Acquired immunity: Your acquired immune system, sometimes called your active or adaptive immune system, builds as you move through life, developing with exposure to antigens—say, through infection or a vaccine. It makes antibodies to attack the antigens you come into contact with and keep them from doing damage. And, it stores a “memory” of these antigens, so that it can recognize them in the future and respond swiftly if they try to invade again.
How to Support the Immune System
Of course, the immune system doesn’t always run smoothly. Lifestyle choices, medications, and more can impair immune function. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can help keep it performing as it should.
Habits for Immune Health & Overall Wellness
It should come as no surprise that to keep the system that keeps you healthy operating well, you need to employ healthy habits that contribute to overall well-being. That means not smoking, avoiding too much alcohol, and exercising regularly, as well as the following:
- Eat a balanced diet. All of our cells require adequate nutrition, and this includes immune cells. What’s more, some micronutrients have very specific and very important roles to play in immune system function.4 Emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins—while limiting added sugars and saturated fat—can help ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need to stay healthy.
- Get good sleep. Research shows that sleep and immune function are closely connected, with some studies indicating even a small amount of sleep loss can negatively impact immune cell activity.5 Adults need 7-9 hours a night; get tips for better sleep from Dr. Pamela Peeke, head of the Solaray Science Advisory Team.
- Watch your stress. Scientists have been researching the link between stress and immunity for decades. In fact, there’s an entire field of study dedicated to it, called psychoneuroimmunology. It’s a complicated relationship, but the take-home message is this: When your immune system is constantly switched on by everyday stress, it gets fatigued and can’t perform at its best.6 Meditation can help reduce stress, as can breathwork, movement, or writing in a gratitude journal.
5 Standout Supplements for Immune Support*
In addition to making prudent lifestyle choices, a variety of supplements can help you maintain a strong immune system. You may have seen us talk about our top three supplements for immune support before.* We’ll include them but also expand on that list here.
#1. A high-quality multivitamin. As mentioned above, the immune system depends on specific nutrients—and overall dietary nourishment—for optimal functioning. Unfortunately, many of us don’t consume ample quantities of nutrient-dense foods to meet the daily recommended intakes, much less the quantities needed to sustain peak performance. It’s just the reality of the Standard American Diet and our busy lives, which doesn’t always allow us to carry out our well-intentioned plans when it comes to wholesome eating. Sometimes Food Is Not Enough.
While supplements can’t take the place of quality fruits and vegetables, they can be an essential addition to a balanced diet, helping you fill in any nutrient gaps and cover your nutritional bases.
We offer a large lineup of multivitamins, including our Liposomal Multivitamins, specially formulated for whole-body wellness and immune support.* They are designed using liposomal absorption technology to help ensure the nutrients survive digestion so they can be used by the body.* (Learn more about this advanced approach.)
#2. Vitamin C. In addition to supporting antioxidant production, cardiovascular wellness, and blood vessel health, this vitamin is an immune support powerhouse.* It’s crucial to many aspects of a healthy immune system: For instance, it helps encourage the production of important immune cells.7
Our Vitamin C Collection includes a liposomal formula for 35% more absorption; timed-release formulas, for both fast-acting and long-lasting support; and formulas buffered with minerals for gentle digestion and nutrient bioavailability.* We also offer vitamin C with quercetin and bromelain. One of our best sellers, Solaray Vitamin C 1000 mg contains the same amount of vitamin C found in 12 oranges.
#3. Vitamin D. Yes, vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and teeth, but it’s also important for overall immune function.*
The body synthesizes vitamin D when skin is exposed to the sun. We may not always get enough daily exposure to sunlight, especially during the colder months—aka immune season, when we need vitamin D the most. That’s where supplements come in.
We offer several vitamin D formulas: Customer favorites include those with vitamin D-3, the same type of this vitamin hormone produced by the human body. Our best-selling Vitamin D3 + K2 includes vitamin K2 for synergistic support.
#4. Zinc. Often called the “gatekeeper of the immune system,” our immune cells—virtually all of them—are highly dependent upon this mineral for their functioning.8
But, it can be difficult to get enough zinc from food alone. We offer an array of zinc products, including several, such as Bio Zinc, formulated for enhanced absorption.*
#5. ImmuFight. The Solaray ImmuFight line includes five targeted formulas expertly crafted for efficacious immune support.* Each powerful blend contains vitamin c, vitamin d, and zinc, plus potent antioxidant nutrients, herbs, probiotics, and more to further help boost your overall wellness.
For example, ImmuFight Maximum Daily Defense, a Taste for Life Immunity Essentials Award winner, also includes a bioflavanoid concentrate plus grapefruit and monolaurin. For the ultimate response, ImmuFight Ultimate Immune Support adds in organic fermented mushrooms. The beta glucans in beneficial mushrooms such as reishi and chaga are believed to support healthy immune function.*
Support Your Immune System, Support Your Wellness
Without an immune system, we simply wouldn’t be able to fight the external substances and internal changes that threaten our health. Thus, doing everything we can to support it is vitally important—during challenging immune seasons and all year-round.
Simple lifestyle strategies, from a healthy diet to minimizing stress, can go a long way toward ensuring a strong immune system. Incorporating immune-supporting nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc as well as targeted immunity supplements like ImmuFight into your wellness routine is another smart strategy to help you stay feeling your best.*
- “How Does the Immune System Work?” NIH National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364.
- “Immune System,” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21196-immune-system.
- “Immune Response,” Medline Plus, NIH National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000821.htm.
- Caroline E. Childs, Philip C. Calder & Elizabeth A. Miles, “Diet and Immune Function,” Nutrients 11, no. 8 (2019), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551.
- “Sleep and the Immune System,” CDC, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/work-hour-training-for-nurses/longhours/mod2/05.html.
- Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller, “Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry,” Psychological Bulletin 130, no. 4 (2004): 601-630, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287.
- Anitra Carr and Silvia Maggini, “Vitamin C and Immune Function,” Nutrients 9, no. 11 (2017): 1211, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683.
- Inga Wessels, Martina Maywald, and Lothar Rink, “Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function,” Nutrients9, no. 12 (2017): 1286, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748737.