It’s that time of year again when everyone around you is starting to get sick. You wash your hands feverishly, ramp up the vitamin C, and hope that you won’t be next. For the next few weeks, I want my blog posts to help you in your mission to stay healthy as winter approaches. First, we’ll begin with a few minerals that support the immune system. These minerals can be used as both preventative medicine when you are healthy and as supportive medicine when you are already sick.
Magnesium -- this important micronutrient participates in the immune response in numerous ways. Though it is mostly known for muscle health and heart health, magnesium proves to be necessary in making and activating immune cells. One of the interesting things about magnesium is that it has a strong relation to both the specific and nonspecific immune systems, these are also known as adaptive and innate immunity. The innate immune system involves the nonspecific barriers like our skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells that attack any foreign body. The adaptive immune system is more specific and involves memory to foreign invaders the immune system has seen before. Magnesium helps strengthen both of these immune responses, which means it is necessary and helpful against all bugs and all types of illness.
Zinc -- an important mineral for skin health, men’s reproductive health, metabolic health, and immunity. Zinc keeps you healthy by making the immune cells function better. Without zinc, immunity suffers. There are a few early signs that you may not be getting enough zinc, and they are all on our nails! Having hang nails, white lines on the fingernails, called Beau’s lines, and/or poor nail growth can be early indicators of not getting enough zinc.
Vitamin D -- technically vitamin D is not a mineral, but it is the super important oddball that has to be included. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, and this time of year we get less sunshine and thus less vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital to the body’s health and well-being. It helps bring calcium into the bones, it helps keep the heart healthy, and studies show it even helps prevent certain cancers. In addition, vitamin D acts as a conductor for the body’s immune cells. It stimulates certain immune cells and blocks others. It controls inflammation and cascades immune responses. Vitamin D is the backbone to year-round immunity.
Tune in next week for where you can find these immune-boosting minerals!