The Best Vitamins for Women’s Immune Systems
Maintaining optimal functioning of your immune system makes all the difference when it comes to preventing and successfully fighting off diseases caused by bacterial, viral or parasitical pathogens. Especially designed to quickly detect and eradicate an enormous variety of microorganisms that can cause mild to severe illnesses, the immune system is also responsible for accurately distinguishing harmful agents from the normal, benign bacteria and tissues comprising the body. However, if the immune system is compromised by poor nutrition and insufficient vitamin levels, its ability to attack and eliminate pathogens is severely reduced, a condition that leaves the body exposed and defenseless against hundreds of thousands of potentially debilitating diseases.
Women are especially subject to experiencing more troublesome health conditions when the immune system is impaired primarily due to excessive hormonal fluctuations and the inherent ability to reproduce. Even though research has shown that a woman’s immune system is stronger than the male immune system, it is this added stamina that may indirectly jeopardize the female immune system. During menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause, a woman’s immune system must be vigorous enough adapt to the profound changes occurring in all of the body’s physiological systems, especially the endocrine and reproductive systems. Poorly functioning immune systems that are not fueled by proper nutrition, adequate amounts of certain vitamins, rest and exercise fail to protect women against sicknesses and diseases that could otherwise have been prevented.
Vitamins and Autoimmune Disease in Women
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Organization, the majority of autoimmune diseases target nearly 75 percent of females and only 25 percent of males. Autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, primary biliary cirrhosis and Grave’s disease present a ratio of 10:1 or 9:1 in regards to which sex is more likely to be diagnosed with one of these disorders. Although some autoimmune disorders are thought to be hereditary, many doctors find that the healthy condition of a woman’s immune system can help prevent the development of an autoimmune disease. This is why it is so important that your body is provided with sufficient amounts of certain vitamins at all times.
Vitamins to Optimize Your Immune System
Vitamin C is essential to keeping a woman’s immune system healthy. In addition to providing anti-viral and antioxidant qualities, vitamin C also works like an antihistamine to inhibit inflammation caused by respiratory viruses and allergens. In addition, vitamin C enhances iron absorption, which is necessary for the delivery of oxygen to cells and to promoting hemoglobin fitness. Maintaining sufficient amounts of iron is important for women due to menstruation and the loss of large amounts of red blood cells each month.
White blood cells released by the immune system in response to inflammation rely on the antioxidant properties of vitamin C as well. These white blood cells, or phagocytes, use oxidizing agents when fighting pathogens that have infected the body. Phagocytes are equipped with a special transport system that enables importation of vitamin C antioxidants directly into harmful viruses or bacteria for quick elimination of the pathogens.
Also called the “sunshine vitamin” because exposing the skin to sunlight allows the body to naturally produce it, vitamin D provides the energy trigger needed by white blood cells (T-cells) to attack and eliminate viruses, bacteria and parasites. Moreover, experimental and epidemiological evidence reveals that women found to have abnormally low levels of vitamin D are prone to suffering more autoimmune diseases and cancerous tumors than those with healthy amounts of the vitamin.
Vitamin D benefits a woman’s immune system by facilitating the ability of white blood cells to convert the vitamin into a protein that kills bacteria, in particular the tuberculosis bacteria. Additionally, vitamin D plays a vital role in cell growth regulation, a condition that, when unregulated, can result in some form of cancer and/or tumor.
Over the past decade, intense research into the effects of vitamin E on the immune system has found that this vitamin not only possesses powerful antioxidant qualities but also contains agents responsible for modulating a variety of immune system functions. Women diagnosed with a vitamin E deficiency are often associated with increased incidences of tumors, infections and autoimmune disorders. In addition, immunologists have discovered that vitamin E promotes growth of immature T cells developing in the thymus gland, which contributes to more rapid accumulation of white cells and a more efficient immune system.
As a component of the B-complex suite of vitamins, vitamin B6 is also vitally important to the consistent, healthy functioning of a woman’s immune system. Often used to alleviate premenstrual cramping and menopausal issues, vitamin B6 promotes metabolism of proteins necessary for the healthy performance of T-cells, which are considered the the backbone of the immune system. Vitamin B6 also assists in the manufacturing of hemoglobin, neurotransmitters such as estrogen that are vital to a woman’s overall health and the metabolism of lipids.
While there are many different vitamins that can be used to optimize women’s immune systems, a proactive approach is to take a comprehensive multivitamin, daily, for optimum health, including immune system protection.