Nutrient Status and Immune Vitality

September 13, 2021 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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 Nutrient Status and Immune Vitality
Do you ever read the label on food packages? Or check out the Nutrition Facts for the online recipe? When you see the list of nutrients and see something listed as 8% or 15% of the % Daily Value, do you think “I’m doing great with my nutrient intake!”? In today’s environment, it is often a challenge to reach 100 percent daily value, let alone optimal health intake. Unmet nutritional needs put your body at higher risk of health challenges. Are your nutritional needs being met?

Read Food Labels

Food nutrition labels focus on percentages of macronutrients, i.e. proteins, carbohydrates, added sugars, fats, and fiber. This is the most basic level of nutritional needs.

To meet these needs while also gaining important micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, strive to consume whole foods at least 75 percent of the time. Work to maintain proper meal timing and portion control, i.e. The Leptin Diet, for optimal hormonal and metabolic benefits. An intake ratio of carbs:proteins:fats of 40:30:30 or 50:25:25 is helpful for many individuals. Dietary extremes with other ratios are generally not helpful long-term unless medically prescribed. Drink about 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day or about ½ of your body weight in ounces of water. Reduce added sugar as much as possible. Learn more about the impact of added sugar on your health at Your Sweet Tooth Adversely Impacts Gut and Brain Health.

The food nutrition label also provide some very basic information on micronutrients, i.e. vitamins and minerals. The percentages listed may be the daily value, RDA (recommended dietary allowance) or AI (adequate intake). This information, however, does not tell you your personal needs based on your absorption and digestive tract health, gene SNPs/weakness, receptor site integrity, drug-nutrient depletions, toxins and food preparation effects on nutrients.

From Labels, Amounts to Function and Physiology

Nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, affect vast metabolic activity and systems including cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin, leptin, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, liver, spleen, heart, respiratory tract, kidneys, digestive tract, bones, muscles, blood flow and production, immune system and lymphatics, etc. They are required for the Kreb’s cycle and energy production with mitochondria and growth and development and aging well with health and vitality. They feed your tissues and directly impact your structure and cellular function. They are essential for immune surveillance, mucosal barrier integrity, and immune resilience.

Your diet, nutrition, and lifestyle cause genes to turn on or off, which affects you and subsequent generations. This impacts gene expression and illness risk.

The impact of diet and nutrients, like vitamin C, on health date back to at least 1550 BC. These studies have been documented in the ancient Egyptian papers The Papyrus Ebers. Modern day peer reviewed literature continues to provide vast information and proof of just how important nutrients are for health. This positive information almost never makes its way to public through traditional media. It is important to learn how nutrients affect physiology and risk management for today’s concerns.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps manufacture interferon, an immune compound essential for fighting germs. It is critical for innate and adaptive immune system function. Vitamin C is essential for collagen formation and the mucosal structural barriers found in blood vessels, skin, and other tissues. It helps immune cells engulf and destroy invaders and quenches some of the most dangerous free radicals – reactive oxygen species. Vitamin C is essential for stress management with the adrenal glands and cortisol production. They work together synergistically for management of all stressors and immune activities.

The RDA for vitamin C is a 75-90 mg/day for adults. Linus Pauling is famous for his work with high dose vitamin C for immune vitality. He often used 15 grams or more per day. Clinical trials confirm that a dose of 6-8 grams and higher of vitamin C support immune and respiratory health.

Vitamin C along with vitamin E, carotenoids, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium help support antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways that intrinsically affect blood flow management and the endothelial lining of your blood vessels, as well as immune health. For more information go to Vitamin C for Stress, Collagen, Immunity.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B 1 or thiamin also works synergistically with vitamin C and cortisol to help your body manage oxidative stress and immune energy needs. Vitamin B1 is vital to cellular energy production, mitochondria, and nervous system function, which impacts immune vitality and vigor.

Thiamin need is increased by the Standard American Diet of high calorie, nutrient poor, white flour, white sugar, processed foods diet. Thiamin is necessary to metabolize the very foods that increase its dietary requirements. If thiamin is depleted from consumption of processed carbohydrates, your cellular energy mechanisms are compromised. This leaves your immune system energetics compromised.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D affects every cell in your body. It activates numerous gene signals and activity. Vitamin D affects signaling pathways that modulate the immune system, pain and inflammation management, cytokine levels, and much more. Vitamin D supports natural protective barriers, adaptive immunity and enhances innate cellular immunity.

To make adequate vitamin D in your body, you must get 20 minutes of mid-day sun on 40 percent of your skin or consume vitamin D fortified foods. Vitamin D activation in your body also depends directly on your glutathione levels, the most important antioxidant system in your body.

For more information, go to

Vitamin D and Your Immune System – Are Your Getting Enough?

Glutathione and Vitamin D: A Powerful Essential Connection.

Glutathione Antioxidant for Cell Life and Vitality

Other Powerhouse Nutrients

Other powerhouse nutrients for health, immune function, and vitality include, zinc, vitamin B12, magnesium vitamin A, vitamin E, GLA (good omega-6), carotenes, and several other B vitamins. These nutrients affect white blood cell and T-cell production and function. They are needed for mucosal barrier integrity and management of foreign invaders, engulfment of immune and cellular trash, and quenching free radicals.

All these nutrients, along with previously mentioned vitamin C, vitamin B1, glutathione, and vitamin D, affect mitochondria and cellular energy, which is critical for immune vitality. Low levels of any of these nutrients have been identified with a decline in health, impaired energy production, and compromised immune vitality and resilience.

Support Your Gut Flora Too

Over 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut, which talks directly with your gut flora. Use of antibiotics, steroids, acid-blocking drugs and other medications, high sugar, high fat diets, gluten intolerance and food allergies, and high stress readily contribute to gut dysbiosis.

Imbalance or loss of beneficial bacteria markedly affects your nutritional status and immune health with consequences throughout your entire body. If your gut flora is unhealthy, it affects your ability to keep your immune system strong. It impacts detoxification of environmental toxins, hormones, and natural waste products. It affects hormone activation, insulin, leptin, and blood sugar management.

Beneficial flora are immune modulatory, as they affect cytokine pathways and activate anti-inflammatory pathways in the digestive tract, respiratory tract, and other mucosal barriers. They can engulf microbial invaders. Healthy gut flora affects how well you absorb nutrients from your diet. When you lack beneficial flora, it ultimately affects your nutritional status and your whole body.

Do You Get a Gold Star for Your Nutrient Intake?

The name of the game is nutritional fortification for health and vitality. Avoid synthetic, artificial petroleum derived vitamins and low bioavailability minerals used to “fortify” nutritionally devoid foods. Know the quality difference in supplements.

Avoid “Frankenfoods” and GMO’s, packaged foods with a long-shelf life, high sugar, foods raised/treated with antibiotics, growth hormone factors, pesticides/herbicides like Roundup, and synthetic food substances as much as you can. Focus your diet on natural, whole, heirloom foods, which taste better and provide quality nutrition.

America spends the greatest amount of money on health care per capita, yet we are at #35 on the list of healthy countries. Does your daily dietary intake meet the basic RDA status? How close are you to optimal intake? Read food labels and do a diet diary. You might be surprised at what you are missing. Optimize your nutrient intake as if your life depends upon it because it does.

Additional resources:

Vitamin A – An Essential Nutrient for Immune, Respiratory and Gut Health

B Vitamin Deficiency: Are You at Risk?

Insufficient Magnesium – Public Health Crisis Declared

Zinc: Do You Need More?

Zinc Essential for Immunity, Sense of Smell, and More

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