What food supplements should you take to strengthen the immune system and which ones should not

Vitamin supplements are the order of the day, and many people tend to self-prescribe them. In these dark times, when the isolation by coronavirus makes us pay much more attention to the state of our defenses, We tell you what the experts say about the use of some of the most famous supplements to strengthen your immune system.

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Vitamin D

If you do not know what vitamins you should take right now to strengthen your immune system, we want to tell you, first of all, that it is important to have a healthy and varied diet to obtain the necessary nutrients through the diet, but it is true that sometimes you have to supplement in case of deficit.

With confinement due to coronavirus you probably need to increase your levels of vitamin D that with the diet it is difficult to get to have a sufficient and healthy amount of this vitamin and the way to synthesize it is through the sun. Vitamin D plays a huge role in keeping the immune system strong. Dr. Luis López Tallaj, expert in anti-aging medicine from the University of Seville and member of SEMAL, argues that daily vitamin D3 supplementation is recommended at a dose of 5000 IU in adults and 600 IU in children, and to improve its absorption, it is recommended to take the supplements after lunch or dinner. López Tallaj explains that vitamin D3 supplementation "boosts the immune system and protects against viruses and the common cold." It also recommends a controlled exposure to the sun and increase the consumption of foods such as salmon, eggs, butter or mushrooms to achieve good levels of vitamin D in the body.

Doctors Mar Mira and Sofía Ruiz del Cueto from the MIRA + CUETO clinic assure that “vitamin D can prevent upper respiratory infections. This is especially important in this confinement situation where we reduce sun exposure. Remember that sunlight, in addition to synthesizing vitamins, can inactivate the virus. So, if possible, sunbathe 15 min a day ”. You know, open the window or go out on the balcony to take advantage of the sun's rays.

Vitamin C

Much has been said for decades about vitamin C as a panacea to both prevent and shorten colds. This popular belief has been debunked on several occasions, including one in 2013 when Harri Hemila and Elizabeth Chalker of the Helsinki Department of Public Health reviewed the trials conducted on more than eleven thousand people over the years and came to the same conclusion: high doses of vitamin C do not reduce the chance of catching a cold, nor does it have a significant power in reducing symptoms. So well, the orange juice that Grandma recommended you can be very comforting, but when it comes to dealing with viruses, we are sorry to say that it has little efficacy.


Surely you are aware of the benefits associated with the use of this medicinal plant, which you can find in pharmacies and herbalists. Echinacea or echinacea has become a classic natural remedy in times of colds and colds to prevent them or to minimize associated symptoms.. Does echinacea really have these properties?

Antonio García, pharmaceutical technical director of MARNYS Laboratories and doctor of pharmacy, explains that “the correct functioning of the immune system is vital to maintain an optimal state of health. We can complement our usual diet with dietary supplements that contribute to the maintenance of normal immune function and strengthen our defenses against external agents. In this sense, nature offers us multiple possibilities with ingredients such as echinacea among others ”. We don't know if you have a friend who doesn't catch a cold all year long, if you do, ask her, she's probably taking echinacea.

In case you have doubts, the experts continue to tell us the wonders of this plant, “the mechanism of action of echinacea is based on an increase in immunity. In studies, both in animals and humans, Echinacea preparations administered orally or parenterally act on the immune system producing various effects: stimulation of phagocytosis and induction of lymphocyte production and other cells of the immune system ”explains Luz García Toro, communication director of Arkopharma Laboratories. And this is confirmed by a meta-analysis published by the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet, in which researchers from the University of Connecticut have carried out a review of fourteen studies analyzing the properties of this medicinal plant in the treatment of the common cold. . The authors conclude that early intervention with a standardized formulation of echinacea was found to reduce the severity of symptoms in subjects with upper respiratory tract infection.

In accordance with these conclusions, we can rest easier by supplementing our healthy diet with an echinacea supplement that helps us strengthen our defenses or minimize symptoms in case of cold.


Have a good rest and restful sleep is essential to keep the immune system strong, something that in these days of isolation, in times of great stress or anxiety, becomes a bit of an uphill task since falling asleep represents for many a titanic effort.

One of the most widely used supplements to achieve good sleep quality is melatonin. From Arkopharma Laboratories they tell us about this substance that you should take into account if you have problems falling into the arms of Morpheus. "Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted in the pineal gland, in the brain and produced from serotonin, and this from tryptophan. Melatonin is involved in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, therefore its synthesis varies throughout the day. Its secretion depends on the amount of light and occurs during the night with a maximum peak at 3 a.m. " experts say.

Dr. López Tallaj recommends a 10 mg regimen of melatonin half an hour before going to bed, "Does not present side effects or associated addiction problems, as occurs, in some cases, with benzodiazepines, especially if taken without control," he explains.

Are antioxidant supplements recommended?

This will surprise you as much as we do and if you don't believe it, keep reading. A study published in the International Journal of the Molecular Sciences has concluded that "Although antioxidants have been considered beneficial, a series of clinical trials have shown harmful effects.. The most extreme results evidenced a higher mortality in people taking antioxidant supplements. Although the mechanisms are not explained in those trials, the results suggest that disrupting the delicate balance between antioxidants and reactive species produces antioxidant-induced stress if the antioxidants overwhelm the physiological production of the reactive species. " How do you stay Make a note of this because it is important, it can be harmful to upset the natural balance between free radicals, which forms the body as a defense mechanism, and antioxidants.

Would this analysis then assume that taking antioxidant supplements would not be a good idea to increase defenses? The scientists of these clinical trials explain that "although these conclusions remain speculative, the best advice would be to take antioxidants from food sources instead of self-prescribed supplements. The most likely way to increase endogenous antioxidant defense would be to do moderate aerobic exercise as a healthy daily routine. "

Doctors Mar Mira and Sofía Ruiz del Cueto affirm that “it would not be advisable to take antioxidants since In infected people, the oxidative response is the basic defense tool of our cells.If we block it, we will leave them defenseless against the virus. ”

In conclusion, the intake of antioxidants (vitamin E, polyphenols, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotenes …) would be advisable to reinforce the defenses in healthy people as long as it is through the diet and not in the form of supplements, which they are taken in bulk and without a prescription, so as not to alter the balance of the reactive oxygen species (the so-called free radicals) and the antioxidants that are generated in the body. You can add antioxidants to your diet by eating moderately (so as not to limit the cellular oxidative response) foods such as red fruits, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries … and regularly practicing physical exercise to strengthen your defenses without the need to consume supplements with high doses of antioxidants that could be harmful.

Take into account your lifestyle and your needs when choosing supplements, Most of the nutrients and compounds that strengthen the immune system can be obtained through a healthy diet, regular physical exercise and good rest.. Put yourself in the hands of experts so that they can assess the needs of your body because they will not be the same throughout the year or in changing circumstances.

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