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Boosting Your Immune System

By Drs. Rick and Jan Hanson
page 3 of 3

Depending on what your supplement contains and how your immune system is doing, you could add one or more of the nutrients listed below.

  • Vitamin A - As long as you are not pregnant (or could become pregnant) and do not have a liver disease, you could take 10,000 IU/day, or as much as 50,000 IU/day for a few days at the onset of a cold or flu.

  • B-vitamins - Each day, take a high-potency B-complex, and a sublingual B-12 tablet.

  • Vitamin C - For a week or two, you could take up to 10 grams/day; decrease if you develop diarrhea or your stomach hurts.

  • Vitamin D - We recommend 400-600 IU/day. If you think you might have an autoimmune condition, ask your doctor for what's called the "Vitamin D 25-OH" test, and increase your daily dosage if the test results are low.

  • Vitamin E - Try 800 IU/day.

  • Quercetin - This bioflavenoid helps settle the immune system and reduce the symptoms of allergies and food sensitivities; try 400-500 mg, three times a day, taken before meals.

  • Iron - Getting enough iron is best accomplished through eating liver from beef or chickens raised on organic foods and no artificial chemicals. The next best source of iron is a chelated supplement, such as iron glycinate, ferrous succinate, ferrous sulfate, or ferrous fumorate. But check with your doctor to make sure you're actually anemic since excessive iron can lower immune function.

  • Selenium - Try 200 mcg/day.

  • Zinc - For purposes of preventing illness, you could take 50 mg/day of zinc citrate, picolinate, or gluconate for one to two months, and then decrease to 30 mg/day. If you feel a cold coming on, zinc lozenges can be helpful (about 25 mg every two hours up to about 250 mg per day); one study found this dosing shortened the duration of colds by 64%.

In Conclusion
Fundamentally, your body is a warehouse with trillions of molecules, and the bottom-line is to keep adding good ones and getting rid of bad ones. That's a great way to stay healthy!

* * *

(Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 15 and 18. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at or email them with questions or comments at; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.)

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