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6 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System

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Many Americans are deficient in micronutrients, which can drag down immunity. These six supplements can help you rebuild your immune system.

“Micronutrient deficiency is an epidemic,” says functional nutritionist Dee Harris, RDN, noting that the standard American diet, typically high in processed foods and low on fiber, causes nutrient depletion and stress on the body. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will deliver many of the nutrients your body and immune system need, but certain supplements can offer extra support and help you reach optimal levels of vital nutrients.

1. Multivitamin: “For a healthy immune system, I think about the first part of the alphabet — vitamins A, B, C, D, and E,” says Rountree. “A quality multivitamin is the star.”

Harris recommends brands containing an active form of B12 and B9 (folate).

2. Vitamin D: Deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to both common and more severe upper-respiratory infections. While conventional medicine says vitamin-D blood levels over 30 ng/ML are adequate, Harris says that, from a functional-medicine perspective, optimal levels are much higher — between 60 and 80.

The sun is a generous provider of vitamin D: Those with fair skin may need as little as 10 to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure daily to make several thousand IUs, while those with darker skin tones may require up to two hours of exposure. Alternatively, most adults can supplement with up to 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily, particularly in the dark winter months. (Work with your healthcare provider to check your D levels every few months.)

3. Zinc: “Zinc is important to the function of lymphocytes that defend against viruses,” says preventive-medicine specialist David Katz, MD. He recommends taking up to 30 mg of zinc daily, whether in a multivitamin or on its own. (See “Zinc Essentials” to learn more about how to optimize this vital mineral.)

4. NAC: Short for N-acetyl-L-cysteine, NAC helps the body make the antioxidant glutathione, which plays an important role in protecting against cellular damage and supporting immune health. In one clinical study, elderly people receiving 600 mg of NAC daily experienced fewer days of sickness from the flu than a placebo group, and showed fewer symptoms, despite similar infection rates.

5. Probiotic: The microbiome plays a critical role in immunity, says Katz. You can support a diverse and healthy microbiome by taking a quality probiotic. Harris recommends brands that contain a blend of Bifido and Lactobacillus bacteria and offer at least 100 billion CFUs.

6. Herbs: Herbs such as astragalus, echinacea, Chinese skullcap, and ashwagandha have been used as immuno-regulators in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine for millennia. (For more on their protective and healing properties, see “9 Healing Herbs”.)

This originally appeared as “Supplement Wisely” in “6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.


Mo Perry
is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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Health & Fitness

The 4 Communication Styles – Experience Life

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How knowing these four different communication styles can improve your relationships.

When I was in seventh grade, my friends and I developed a pattern of sulking, almost on a monthly rotation. We’d take turns getting upset about something relatively minor — one friend wouldn’t call when she said she would, another would flirt with that cute boy we’d all been crushing on.

Whatever the origin of the sulk, the aggrieved party would insist, “I’m not mad.” Resolving the conflict became impossible, because no one would ever admit they were angry.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that behavior is a classic example of passive-aggressive communication — and it’s an ineffective way to get your point across.

So why do some people persist in long sighs, insincere denials, and other hallmarks of passive aggression? It’s not that they’re stuck in middle school, experts say. It’s just one of the four basic communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive.

Our communication style can be a powerful tool in building meaningful connections with others. Though our way of communicating may vary depending on the situation and the individual, we all tend to gravitate toward one dominant mode — and sometimes get entrenched in bad habits.

Research suggests the assertive style is the healthiest and most effective, although it’s normal to use one of the other types on occasion. When communication breaks down, it’s often because of conflicting styles.

“Communicating effectively is a good way to lower the amount of stress we’re experiencing individually and collectively,” says psychologist Randy Paterson, PhD, author of The Assertiveness Workbook. “As we think about the pain in the world, think about how much stems from people feeling profoundly alienated from one another.”

Understanding your own com­munication style — and learning how to identify the types of those around you — can foster more compassion and mutual respect in your most important relationships.

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