As the world becomes progressively concerned with fighting off illness, taking the simple steps to maintaining a healthy immune system can be the defining factor in your ability to ward off illness.
What exactly is the immune system?
The immune system is responsible for fighting foreign invaders in the body, like pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and also terminating cells within the body when they become cancerous. Additionally, your immune system plays a vital role in tissue repair and standard cell maintenance1. The immune system is precisely that — a system comprised of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection. The best way to get your immune system functioning up-to-par? Harmony and balance.
Harmony and balance
Daily habits can be your first line of defense when it comes to ensuring satisfactory health outcomes. Following general day-to-day guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as:
- Don't smoke
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get adequate sleep
- Basic steps to minimize infection (washing hands, cooking meats thoroughly etc)
- Minimize stress
How Vitamin B12 Supports Healthy Immune Function
Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the process of cellular growth throughout the body. Without enough of it, your cells become “deficient” in their ability to regenerate healthy cells. The WHO has described malnutrition as “the cellular inequality involving supply of nutrients and the body’s demand for them to guarantee augmentation, maintenance and specific occupations.”4 When facing a foreign pathogen, cells duplicate each other to overwhelm the external threat. Your body will have a strong immune response if it’s led by strong, healthy cells.
According to a report by the Journal of Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, Vitamin B12 deficiency causes suppression of protective immune responses to viruses and bacteria in an animal model5. Inadequate levels of Vitamin B12 can drastically alter immune responses by affecting the production of nucleic acid, protein synthesis, inhibiting the activity of immune cells, and interfering with metabolic processes6. It can be postulated that Vitamin B12 deficiency inhibits your immune systems capability to protect the body from viruses and bacteria.
- 1Calabrese, L. (2017, July 28). How to Train and Maintain Your Immune System. Retrieved March 23, 2020, from https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-07-28/how-to-train-and-maintain-your-immune-system
- 2Mikkelsen, Kathleen & Apostolopoulos, Vasso. (2019). Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, and the Immune System. 10.1007/978-3-030-16073-9_6.
- 3Tatina T. Todorova, Neli Ermenlieva and Gabriela Tsankova (April 26th 2017). Vitamin B12: Could It Be a Promising Immunotherapy? Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/immunotherapy-myths-reality-ideas-future/vitamin-b12-could-it-be-a-promising-immunotherapy-
- 4Farhan Saeed, Muhammad Nadeem, Rabia Shabir Ahmed, Muhammad Tahir Nadeem, Muhammad Sajid Arshad & Azmat Ullah (2016) Studying the impact of nutritional immunology underlying the modulation of immune responses by nutritional compounds – a review, Food and Agricultural Immunology, 27:2, 205-229, DOI: 10.1080/09540105.2015.1079600
- 5Vellema, P., Rutten, V., Hoek, A., Moll, L., & Wentink, G. (1996). The effect of cobalt supplementation on the immune response in vitamin B 12 deficient Texel lambs. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 55, 151–161.
- 6Mahmood L. The metabolic processes of folic acid and Vitamin B12 deficiency. J Health Res Rev [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Mar 24];1:5-9. Available from: http://www.jhrr.org/text.asp?2014/1/1/5/143318