Good News For Immune Systems Everywhere!
Finding the best way support your immune system can be confusing to navigate but faced with a global pandemic, there are some key vitamins that stand out as essential soldiers for immune health, according to Jen Mackinder, Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist & Head of Communications, Gusto Organic.
Our immune system consists of a network of cells, tissues and organs that are continuously barraged by pathogens (viruses, bacteria and infections). We are all dependent on the health and integrity of our immune system to protect us.
There are two parts to the immune system: the innate immune system, which is the immunity you are born with, and the adaptive system you develop over time as you get exposed to different pathogens.
Our innate system includes all of our body’s first line defences and includes the skin, nose, throat, lungs, as well as tears, tissue fluids, stomach acid and sticky mucosal linings and provides broad protection and is quick to react to any threat.
Our adaptive is more specific, and when these barriers are compromised, and infections and viruses are present, our adaptive system kicks in. This is a specialised response. Our leukocytes (white blood cells) initiate a response, including the release of cells and proteins that fight off infection.
Optimising our gut microbiota that resides in the gastrointestinal tract and provides vital health benefits is a key component of immune health, as the gut houses 70% of the immune system. Therefore, alterations of gut microbial communities can cause immune dysregulation, leading to autoimmune disorders and a weakened immune system.
In fact, the largest mass of immune-supporting cells is housed in the gut. These can be enhanced by dietary changes like eating prebiotic foods that feed bacteria such as garlic, onions, leeks, oats, chicory and asparagus.
It’s equally important to replenish good bacteria in our guts, which can often be depleted by antibiotics. Probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeasts, are great for digestive systems and can be taken in supplement form, but can also found in foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
Other things to be mindful of are refined sugars and processed foods, these can strip out nutrients and damage cells and are immune suppressing as they push nutrients out of cells in the same way as artificial sweeteners and preservatives do. Research indicates cakes, sweets, chocolates, sugary juices and drinks packed with added sugar negatively impact the immune system.
Processed meats are often modified to lengthen shelf life with additives that also deplete the immune system. Limiting these can help reduce inflammation and fight off infection.
Coffee is another weakener of the immune system as our bodies absorb caffeine so quickly that the body prioritises the coffee over other nutrients. Many coffee drinkers also suffer from low iron, the absorption of which is greatly affected by caffeine. Opt for decaffeinated or turmeric lattes, herbal teas or water.
Cigarettes and alcohol are also a culprit, and detrimentally affect the immune system by circulating toxins around our bodies.
We are so reliant on our immune function's health and integrity – from colds, viruses and recurrent infections to allergies and debilitating autoimmune conditions, which impact many people daily. Ensuring we have adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals together with a healthy lifestyle, stress management, exercise, gut health, and the use of plant-based medicines is critical to our health.
The combination of immune-supporting properties in Gusto’s Super DC makes it unique. Not only does it provide high strength Vitamin D (200% RI*) and Vitamin C (2500% RI*), bit it includes Zinc (50%* RI), Vitamin A (50% RI), Vitamin K (100% RI) and Folic Acid (100% RI*), which all play their part in protecting our bodies against pathogens.
Vitamin D has dominated column inches in recent months, with new evidence highlighting vitamin D's mechanisms, a crucial component of the immune system and critical for warding off infection, which acts as a defence against bacterial, viral or yeast infections.
Vitamin D3, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is synthesised from the sun. There are few dietary sources of vitamin D, oily fish, liver, eggs and butter providing the richest sources. Therefore, a deficiency is extremely common, with an estimated 40% of people lacking this essential vitamin which are exacerbated during the winter months when we get less exposure to the sun, and the sun’s rays are at their weakest.
Lack of vitamin D can result in symptoms such as a burning mouth, softening of bones and teeth, osteoporosis, rickets, inflammation, type 2 diabetes, joint pain and a weakened immune system and are common among individuals with inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders.
Aside from fighting the foreign invaders of our immune system, studies have shown that vitamin D works in combination with vitamin A to maintain healthy skin. These vitamins control the growth of new skin cells and promote keratinocytes, the critical cell found in our skin. This synergy also aids the development of new white blood cells, essential for recognising and attacking viruses and bacteria.
Synergistically, vitamin D works together with vitamin C to help regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscle.
Studies have shown that vitamin D increases insulin sensitivity, helping with Type 2 diabetes as well as providing protection against respiratory infections and reducing inflammation.
Another crucial vitamin for immune health is Vitamin C, otherwise known as Ascorbic Acid, which helps with collagen synthesis and healthy cartilage maintenance. It plays a significant role in supporting immune function by down regulating the inflammation pathway. Many studies have proven that this essential vitamin reduces the duration of colds and recurrent infections and aids with wound healing.
Consuming a much higher dose of vitamin C is hugely beneficial, with little or no downside. As it's a water-soluble vitamin, the body tends to absorb what it needs and excretes what it doesn’t.
Studies have shown that vitamin C can support and strengthen the physical barriers of the immune system and enhance the ability of white blood cells to fend off infections.
Gusto Super DC has been created using plant-based vitamin C for slow absorption and ascorbic acid for fast absorption enabling a sustained release and a vitamin hit!
Did you know that all animals except humans, primates, guinea pigs, and a handful of other species can make their vitamin C? Humans have lost the essential enzymes that synthesise vitamin C, leaving us completely reliant on our diet to get our daily dose.
No surprise that vitamin C deficiencies are common and can leave us more susceptible to infection or leave us feeling ill for longer.
Lack of vitamin C contributes to fatigue, as this essential vitamin helps us absorb iron, vital for making red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Another key component of Super DC is Zinc. Zinc deficiency is common, with around 75% of us deficient in the world.
Zinc (50% RI* in Super DC) supports the metabolism of vitamin A, which protects cells from oxidative stress and is responsible for hundreds of body processes. Zinc is really important for fighting off infection and to support wound healing from the inside and outside of our bodies as it keeps our cell membranes strong preventing pathogens from entering into cells. Hence, deficiencies make us much more susceptible and weaken our immune system.
Super DC contains 100% RI of Folic Acid, which plays a part in synthesising protein and DNA. Otherwise known as B9, it produces and maintains new cells and helps prevent alterations to DNA, causing health conditions, compromising immune system health, and depleting natural killer cells, which decrease with age and help fight infection.
Vitamin D and Vitamin K (100% RI in Super DC) both have roles in the metabolism of calcium. Vitamin D helps to increase the absorption of calcium in the gut, and vitamin K assists with the deposit of calcium from the blood into the bones, where they are needed to ensure bones are strong and healthy. In the absence of K2,
calcium may accumulate to more significant levels with harmful effects such as calcification of soft tissue.
Lastly, Vitamin A (50% RI in Super DC) can support immune dysfunctions in the gut, together with systemic immune disorders and can be critical in keeping your innate immune system’s physical barriers such as the lining of your gut super healthy.
Our approach at Gusto has been a direct response to the recent pandemic. We have created a fusion of vitamins and minerals that work in tandem to optimise immune health.
Super DC is made with 500mg from plant extracts, packed full of phytonutrients that protect our cells against free radical damage made from powerful plant extracts in the form of White Mulberries, White Grapes, and Elderberries, as well as the Acerola Cherry, an untapped functional super fruit, and one of the richest natural sources of ascorbic acid.
Elderberries have been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat flu and the common cold. Bursting with brightly coloured pigments that act as natural antioxidants, Elderberries are a natural vitamin C source. Several studies have found Elderberry can reduce cold and flu symptoms by several days.
Super DC’s ingredients combine a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and plant extracts that work together to bring an effective vitamin dose, not only delivering on its promise to support immune systems, but also providing a delicious explosion of taste that we naturally associate with wellbeing.
*RI – Reference Intake