Having a deficiency in just one of six important nutrients is enough to put an immune system at risk. A deficiency can begin by attacking a body, exhibiting minor symptoms before escalating to a full-blown autoimmune disease.
If you are diagnosed or even suspect such a diagnosis, you must check whether infections, toxins, and/or stress might be sabotaging your immune system. Also, be sure to check for deficiency in key nutrients. Restoring acceptable levels is vital in reversing autoimmune disease, and preventing another autoimmune condition from developing.
Research has linked six nutrient deficiencies that are very common in autoimmune patients:
1. Vitamin D
“In Lebanon we live in a warm climate and get plenty of sunlight”
“It is OK: All Lebanese are Vitamin D deficient!”
These are a few things that I hear at my clinic when I address vitamin D deficiency.
This type of deficiency is particularly problematic for autoimmune patients because Vitamin D plays a critical role in our immune system.
It regulates our autoimmune response by stimulating regulatory T cells, which are responsible for differentiating between dangerous invaders and body, or “self,” cells.
Vitamin D supports the immune system against viral and bacterial infections that trigger or worsen autoimmune conditions.
2. Omega 3s
Because our diets tend to contain more polyunsaturated vegetable oils than those found in fatty fish, many Lebanese are deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Research has shown that Omega 3 oils are vital to decrease inflammatory response and boost the immune system.
3. B vitamins
Besides providing energy to our cells, B vitamins impact immune function, sleep, hormones, nerves, circulation, mood, and digestion.
Vitamin B12, for example, is essential for the production of white blood cells, which are important components of the immune system. Low B12 levels eventually decrease the white blood cell count and negatively impact the immune system.
Selenium, the unknown mineral, studies show that it is essential for modulating immune and inflammatory responses. It is also a critical nutrient for supporting thyroid function.
Zinc affects multiple aspects of our immune system, from one’s skin barrier, the outermost layer of the epidermis, to gene regulation within lymphocytes, a form of small white blood cells with a single round nucleus.
Zinc is essential for the production of white blood cells. People with Zinc deficiencies may need additional immune system response support.
Magnesium is important for immunity function and a healthy heart. Most people have chronically low levels of magnesium due to high levels of stress and high sugar in their dietary intake. Magnesium deficiency can lead to an increased production of proinflammatory cytokines, which can have a negative impact on immune response.
Causes of nutrient deficiencies in autoimmune patients
A diet that is nutrient poor and high in inflammatory foods is a notable factor. Eating white flour products, processed foods, and refined sugar makes one’s diet devoid of nutrients.
In addition to nutrient-poor, processed foods, a diet high in inflammatory foods can also cause nutrient deficiencies. Foods including gluten, dairy products, sugar, and caffeine stimulate an immune response and cause a leaky gut.
“I believe that there are no such things as unhealthy foods, just unhealthy diets.”
How to Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies
Addressing the underlying causes of these deficiencies by increasing the quality of your diet can replenish your health and strengthen your immune system.
Eat a nutrient-dense diet
• Omega 3: fatty fish, flax, and chia oil or seeds
• Vitamin D: fatty fish
• Selenium: red meat, garlic, turkey, and liver
• Magnesium: fish, figs, avocado, bananas, and dark leafy greens such as spinach and chard
• Zinc: oysters and seafoods
• B vitamins: nutritional yeast, leafy greens, fresh or dried fruit, seafood and avocado
Add high-quality supplements
After optimizing your diet, you may still need to add supplements to your daily regimen. Our nutrient-depleted soil, high-stress lifestyles, and toxic environments make it very difficult to get all of our nutrients from food alone.
Fortunately, high-quality supplements can fill in the gap. Here are the supplements I recommend that everyone with autoimmunity issues take on a daily basis:
• Multivitamin: Daily to build a foundation for optimal health. It should contain the full recommended levels of selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
• Vitamin D: Choose vitamin D that combines D3 (the active form of vitamin D) with vitamin K2; these nutrients are complementary and work together toward proper immune, brain and hormone functioning, and increased bone health. The K2 also prevents calcium buildup in your heart from the intake of vitamin D.
• Omega 3: They often come from fatty fish which can be high in mercury. Make sure the Omega 3 you chose is GMP certified to ensure its purity and highpotency.
• B vitamins: The best source for this is a multivitamin which contains all eight B vitamins in a form that is easily absorbable.
Starting with these simple steps can lead to drastic improvements. Take back control of your health.
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