The best immune-boosting nutrient is...
Your immune system is like your bank account. It's important at every age -- but the older you get, the more essential it is to your overall wellbeing.
I can't do much about your bank account. But I can help you with your immune system, because I have a long list of ways you can invest in your good health.
And the one deposit you should make daily is a stash of vitamin D, because new research confirms that the sunshine vitamin just might be the most powerful immune-boosting nutrient of all.
To put it simply: The more you have as you age, the lower your levels of damaging inflammation. And if your D levels drop, your levels of the inflammation markers IL-6 and C-reactive protein start to rise, according to the study of nearly 1,000 Irish men and women ages 60 and up.
Low D levels also increase the ratio of IL-6 to IL-10 as well as CRP to lL-10. In plain English, IL-10 is the opposite of an inflammation marker. It's an inflammation fighter.
You want more IL-10 and less of that other stuff -- but when your D levels sink, the scales get tipped in the wrong direction, as the study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism clearly shows.
That's not the only way vitamin D can boost your immune system. That's not even the most important way.
The most critical part of your immune system are your T cells. They're like your soldiers in the fight against disease, because they seek out and destroy viruses and other invaders.
And they get their marching orders from vitamin D.
When T cells detect a virus or another invader, they start looking for that D before they can start to fight. If they don't find it, or don't find enough, they shut down.
And you get sick.
Of course, D is also essential to everything from bone health to brain function, so you really need to make sure you have enough. But if you're like most people, you're not even getting close to what you need.
While your body is designed to make D from sunlight, that's not always the best (or even safest) way to get it. For that, I recommend a supplement with a minimum of 2,000 IUs per day.
Many people will need more, and some people will need double that level or higher. Your doctor can help figure out how much you have now, what you need and the best way to get it.