Immune System Question

What are the best ways to boost one’s immune system? Are their specific vitamins or supplements one can take that actually work?

My 28 yo daughter gets sick a lot and I think it’s because she’s not taking care of herself and her immune system is suffering as a result.

Supplements and vitamins are for those people who have a deficit. You’d need a doctor doing a blood screen to figure that out. I advise against just chugging down some stuff over the counter without knowing what she needs exactly.

The basics for good health: get enough sleep, get some exercise, eat healthy (veggies, fruits, fresh stuff, not a lot of prepared food, not much fat, salt, sugar). Get enough sunlight, both for Vitamin D and against seasonal depression.

And the mental aspect is often forgotten: have a healthy relationship that makes you happy; find a good balance between eustress and dis-stress (that is, neither too little nor too much work; work that is challenging not boring, but manageable); enough time for hobbies outside work.

If she’s depressed, that lowers the immune system for example. If she is getting no exercise, or doing too much exercise, that lowers the immune system. If she is around a lot of sick people, she might get infected no matter what.

One aspect of immune system is genetics and early childhood years, and there’s nothing you can do about it at all. So if she has done the above points, and still gets sick a lot, she either has to change her enviroment (get away from sick people or from the city, get a different job), or accept that she doesn’t have an immune system like Superman.

If she has specific problems - allergies for example - there are some alternative methods that work for some people.

If she bruises easily, or if her immune system has suddenly changed (she only got one cold per year five years ago, but now she’s had three and the winter isn’t over) she needs to get a full checkup from a doctor. Leukemia or another cancer or organ problem could be behind a sudden change. (I most certainly don’t want to scare you. I think it’s a remote possibility, and more likely it’s her current lifestyle - but you didn’t give any details).

Boost your immune system? Easy: Exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep, keep alcohol and other drugs to moderate levels, find (healthy) ways to avoid and/or release stress. All of these will in general contribute to overall better health.

I suppose there’s also a chance – if she’s continually sniffly and runny nose/sneezing – that there’s something she’s allergic to. In which case removing that thing from her presence will help.

But unless there’s a specific vitamin your daughter is deficient in (and this is highly unlikely) there’s no magic pill she can pop to get healthier.
Or, what constanze said earlier and better. Darn ninja posters. Wasn’t there when I started replying, you know.

Besides all the good suggestions you’ve read, she might consider going in for a checkup. She might have some underlying issue(s)–mild or serious.

Of course, *she *has to want to go. At 28, she is no longer a minor.

Cite please, this sounds like woo-woo

**Links between immunity and conditions leading to psychotherapy. [Review] [109 refs]
Picardi A. Tarolla E. Tarsitani L. Biondi M.
Rivista di Psichiatria. 44(3):149-63, 2009 May-Jun.
[Journal Article. Review] **

**Decreased immune response in alexithymic women: a cross-sectional study.
Guilbaud O. Curt F. Perrin C. Chaouat G. Berthoz S. Dugre-Le Bigre C. Wallier J. Strebler M. Touitou C. Jeammet P. Corcos M.
Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 63(4):297-304, 2009 May. **

Alexithymia is not depression, and is defined as:

  1. difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  2. difficulty describing feelings to other people
  3. constricted imaginal processes, as evidenced by a scarcity of fantasies
  4. a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style.

The first study I didnt find very convincing. The second one had to do with alexithymic patients. I was questioning the relation between feeling depressed/down with lowered immunity.

Sorry, scam, I was trying to include different mental disorders as well.

The only evidence I know of is anecdotal, but drinking plenty of fluids (e.g. water) seems to be helpful in staying healthy.

Thanks for the replies. I have suggested that she start taking a daily multi-vitamin, and see a doctor about her immune system, in the past… I was hoping for a magic pill. :smack:

What you have to realize is a vitamin is really a catalyst. It provides the “spark” for the body to make the needed reactions. Think of it like lighting an oven. You can use a match or a blow torch. Both will light the oven, but if a match is all you need then a blow torch isn’t going to help light the oven faster or better.

In the Western World, vitamin deficencies are rare outside of elderly people and children under 5.

My personal bias is that people who feel ill and sluggish don’t get enough sleep. Either by choice or by not sleeping well at night. If you’re snoring, waking up or other forms of sleep apnea or not sleeping well and this leads to feeling run-down and tired throughout the day.

As I said, this is just what I’ve noticed.

What is the 28 year old sick with?

This notion that one can somehow “boost” the immune system is a myth.
There is nothing you can do except staying away from things that harm you:smoking, ethanol etc…

Vitamins are only needed in deficiency (very rare in the young population)

all this “drink a lot of water” ,eat this eat that is nothing but nonsense. Or at least I have never seen anything backed up by science.

Beside vaccinations there is no way to boost your immunity. Boosted immunity is by the way what people with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis have

I agree with scamartistry.

I also wanted to point out that rather than “boost” one’s immune system, a better goal may be to control or constrain the immune system. What you don’t want is an immune system that is so ‘activated’ that it starts fighting off its own body.

Along those lines, one thing you can do (for young kids at least) is to not overdo his/her protection from germs. All types of evidence indicates that in the absence of sufficient exposure to things like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, there is a much higher likelihood of the kid developing things such as multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes, and allergies in general (conditions where antibodies are made against ‘self’, i.e. autoimmune diseases). It’s as though if the immune system is not kept busy, it will get into mischief. More formally, the immune system needs to be stimulated not just to make antibodies and the cells which make them, but it also must be stimulated to make regulatory cells, i.e. cells that prevent autoimmune attack.

Although not strictly an autoimmune disease, asthma is another disorder which arises when there has not been sufficient exposure to “germs” as a young kid. So, for example, kids raised on farms or those attending day care (both environments which are chock full of “germs”), have much less asthma as they get older. For those interested in this, see “hygiene hypothesis” in Wiki for a start.

Well, many dudes today don’t have a very good gut colony, so probiotics have been shown to increase your “immune system” for certain things.

Honestly, a container of Activa or some equivilant each day might not be a bad idea. Probiotics are also available in pill form, etc.

*I am not a real Doctor. *

Do you have a cite for this claim?

That is obvious

Mark Crislip, an infectious disease doctor who does the podcast Quackcast, points out that your body’s immune system is a balancing act between reacting sufficiently to invading germs, and not being so active that it attacks your body’s own cells. Increasing your immune response would be basically provoking an inflammation response, which is unhealthy in multiple ways.

Fortunately, products which claim to boost your immune system don’t really do anything. If they did, it would be unhealthy.

Reference: Boost Your Immune System and DIE!

This is boringly logical and does not help anyone find miracle supplement shortcuts.

Excellent advice though. :slight_smile:

People who suffer from chronic depression often have sleep disorders, eating disorders (including under- or over-eating), shallow breathing or lack of exercise or meaningful social contact . . . any of which can weaken the immune system.

On the other hand, many people with OCD spend much of their time washing their hands . . . which is a good way to keep from catching anything.

Probiotics have definitely been shown to prevent colon cancer, see here for example:

That study doesn’t say that probiotics have been shown to prevent or lower the risk of colon cancer. Rather, it suggests a mechanism by which probiotics could lower the risk of colon cancer. Do you know of any studies which show that this mechanism is actually clinically significant?