Lou Garland on boosting your immune system

We are all excited to get back to the way things were pre-COVID and hopefully with the vaccine rollout finally here, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In order to respond as best we can to the vaccine, we want our immune cells to be functioning optimally, below are some things that are becoming apparent as research continues.

Vitamin D positively influences the function of immune cells, as well as preventing inappropriate immune reactions. Vitamin D levels have been shown to be markedly low in severe COVID-19 patients. Many New Zealanders have below optimal Vitamin D levels therefore supplementation pre-vaccination may be of benefit. 2000 - 4000iu per day is considered to be a safe dose, or if you prefer you can have a blood test to check your levels before supplementing - ask your doctor about this.

Zinc and Vitamin A also work to enhance the immune response. The highest food sources of these nutrients are meat and dairy, therefore you may need to supplement if you are vegetarian/vegan.

Of course, we can't forget good old Vitamin C, as you probably already know, this critical vitamin has many supportive roles across the immune system. If you are choosing to supplement 1000mg of Vitamin C daily is a good maintenance dose.

It is important to remember that while most research is on Vitamins A, C, D and Zinc, every nutrient plays a role in immune regularity and synergy, therefore it is best to eat a varied diet full of colourful fruit, vegetables and whole foods.

Interestingly, good sleep is important for a healthy vaccine response. Previous studies on vaccine recipients have shown that people with severely restricted sleep hours were less likely to mount a strong antibody response to the vaccine. This is especially relevant for the night before and the night of being vaccinated - a simple thing that you can do to give yourself the best chance of creating a strong resilience to the virus.

Take care and all the best, we can get through this together!

Louise is a registered naturopath and medical herbalist. She is currently not taking any new clients, however, you might like to look at her hand-blended herbal teas and skin balms here: wildlove.co.nz