By: JennyMarie Greenough, LAc, Dipl. Oriental Medicine

Hi, Jenny-Marie here at Raja Wellness and today I’m going to address a question we hear frequently in our clinic: “What vitamins should I take to keep my immune system healthy?”

Now like anything else that pertains to nutrition and herbal medicine, the answer is, “That depends”. There really isn’t a one-size fits all vitamin because we are all unique bodies with a number of factors that will influence our needs. Age, gender, exercise habits, stress-levels, type of work, and where you live can greatly influence what your body needs. However, there are a couple of key vitamins that are generally going to be safe for most people and help your immune system to function at its best.

One product that I recommend to most people is something called Catalyn by Standard Process. This product was developed to offset the nutritional gaps in most people’s diets that started to happen when eating organ meats - like liver and kidneys - fell out of favor in our culture. Liver and kidney are full of Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Folate, heme iron (the kind you body can easily use), copper and choline. All of these contribute to your health and B6 in particular has many important functions in supporting the immune system. The best option would be to include liver in your diet and I have a surprisingly tasty recipe from my Grandmother that you can find here. For those people who don’t want to do that, Catalyn is a great option. It does contain animal products and is not appropriate for anyone with an alpha gal allergy or those who don’t want to consume animal products- for them, a product called Floradix is a plant-based liquid supplement that is a good alternative.

Depending on where you live, vitamin D may be in short supply- those of us at higher latitudes have less time during the year when the sun is high enough in the sky for us to get adequate sunlight to trigger our bodies’ production of vitamin D. Others may not be as efficient at producing it; things like stress and diet may actually deplete your natural levels of vitamin D. This is an easy test to get via bloodwork from your physician to check your levels and be sure you aren’t getting too much or too little. If you do need a little extra, I prefer the liquid forms of vitamin D for ease of absorption. Metagenics makes a great liquid D with 1000 IU’s in each drop and has a refreshing subtle minty taste. Again, this is not going to be a good supplement for any one with an alpha gal allergy, or who is avoiding products derived from animal sources. However, we do carry a liquid vitamin D that is derived from lichen (which is a symbiotic association of algae and fungi) by Pure Encapsulations.

Next is Vitamin C, which if you eat plenty of dark leafy greens, bell peppers and citrus - you should get enough from your diet. However, in times of stress, your body may need more of this than you can easily get from food, and there is some evidence that higher doses may help your body fight off invaders. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University has some great research on this (“I will include a link below in the description”-include link). Vitamin C has a short half-life in the body and if you get too much of it can cause diarrhea as the body dumps the excess. I like using lower doses of pure ascorbic acid in a loose form myself so I can take more frequent, smaller doses when needed. However, a 500mg capsule gives good dosing options to people. There are buffered forms of ascorbic acid available and these work better for some people than the pure ascorbic acid. Buffered forms of vitamin C work by binding ascorbic acid with minerals to reduce stomach upset. As long as the capsules are vegetarian - Vitamin C is generally safe for those with alpha gal allergies or who avoid animal products.

Lastly is calcium, which we all know is good for the bones - but it also plays an important role in our immune system and defending against viruses in particular. For this purpose, I like Calcium Lactate from Standard Process which comes in a form your body can use very, very quickly. Again, not suitable for those with alpha gal allergies or who avoid animal products - but Pure Encapsulations has a vegan Calcium-D-Glucarate that is a good alternative option. Tofu is also an excellent vegan source of calcium and p lants high in calcium include black-eyed peas and dark leafy greens.

So as always, these are general recommendations and we welcome any questions and can offer virtual consults if needed to address your specific concerns. Be sure to review any changes in your supplements with your doctor.

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