Today, we round off all things immunity by looking at nutrients/supplements to improve our immune tolerance.
Strengthening our ‘Immune tolerance’ aims to decrease the burden of illness and infection by giving us a greater capacity to endure microbes.
Therefore, athletes become less sick and can continue their training programme/cycle without large absences or interruptions.
When it comes to supplement interventions, Walsh (2019) has analysed the claimed benefits of six nutrients that have the potential to work in athletes:
Potential: An anti-inflammatory, essential fat soluble vitamin known to influence immunity. Main source is via skin exposure which usually accounts for 90% of daily intake – many deficient during winter months.
Moderate-Strong Benefit: Deficiency increases URI (upper respiratory infection) risk. Supplementing Autumn-Spring is advisable to maintain sufficiency (1,000IU per day).
Potential: A potent antioxidant responsible for combating cellular damage caused by an increased inflammatory response.
Strong Benefit: Cochrane review showed a ~50% decrease in URI incidence when taking 250-1,000mg/day. Use both as a preventative and ‘cure’.
Potential: Probiotics are live microorganisms and when taken for several weeks can increase the number of beneficial gut bacteria.
Moderate-Strong Benefit: When taken a daily dose of ~ 1010 live bacteria shows a ~50% decrease in URI incidence and a ~2 day shortening of illness.
𝗣𝗼𝗹𝘆𝗽𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗼𝗹𝘀 (𝗶.𝗲. 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻), 𝗢𝗺𝗲𝗴𝗮-𝟯’𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗩𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗻 𝗘
Potential: These nutrients are claimed to have either an anti-inflammatory, anti-pathogenic or antioxidant benefit.
No or limited benefit: In some cases, there’s evidence that high dose vitamin E is pro-inflammatory and increase URI risk under heavy exertion, but may be beneficial in the frail/elderly. No evidence for Omega-3’s reducing URI risk where there’s some evidence showing supplementation increases oxidative stress after supplementation. There are some putative anti-viral effects of quercetin, but limited influence on overall immunity.
Therefore, when it comes to improving our immune tolerance and enduring those nasty bugs, let’s focus on Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Probiotics.
p.s. there’s still zero research in any nutritional strategy fighting COVID-19. So, keep washing your hands, staying 2m apart and most importantly…staying at home
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