Note: Each week, family physician
Regina Chinsio-Kwong, DO from
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Laguna Niguel will offer insight on a different vitamin—why you
need it, how to incorporate it into your diet and how it affects your
health. If you are considering taking any kind of supplement, consult
with a medical professional first.
WHAT IT DOES: Our immune system works hard to keep us healthy, but there are times (like
cold and flu season) where it can't shut down all the germs trying
to get a foothold in your body. Immune support supplements aim to keep
the body's immune system in top shape through various blends of herbs
such as astragalus, echinacea, ginseng, licorice root, cat's claw
and a variety of mushrooms. These supplements can also contain vitamins
(such as vitamins C and D) and minerals (zinc).
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE: Dosages depend on factors that include the ingredients in the supplement
(different herbs, vitamins and minerals have different recommended allowances)
and the manufacturer's listed recommendations.
HOW TO INCLUDE IT IN YOUR DIET: Again, supplement intake should be guided by the label instructions, as
well as a doctor's advice. Everyone should try to get nutrients from
foods before considering herbal immune support. Optimal dietary intake
for immune support is at least eight servings of non-starchy vegetables
a day and two servings of fruit per day.
HEALTH IMPACT: Everyone's immune system responds differently (and everyone's
immune system can change with age), so it's difficult for scientific
research to determine whether immune support supplements work. There are
also potential health impacts, depending on the supplement. For instance,
astragalus can negatively affect auto-immune conditions such as lupus
and rheumatoid arthritis, while echinacea can cause skin conditions such
as rashes and hives, irregular heartbeat and stomach problems, or interact
with other medications. It is important to review any possible supplement
use with a doctor.
RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT BRANDS:
Integrative Therapeutics, Metagenics, Orthomolecular, Pure Encapsulations,
* Given current issues with herbal product quality and labeling issues,
it is strongly recommended to use brands that are NSF verified, USP certified
products, or brands where third party testing is performed.
Read more from the Value of Vitamin Series about
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.