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Supplemental Immunity

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The world of supplements, herbs,and everything vitamins can be a little overwhelming and confusing. We would think, as nurses, that we’d have a firm grasp on the immune system?? I mean, c’mon, we take care of compromised immune systems on a daily basis! But even with our knowledge and experience, the world of supplementation is down right maddening!

Flavanoid, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, natural herbs, synthetic herbs, prescription, over-the-counter.. AAGGHH.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? How do you pick out the snake-oil salesmen?

For me personally it comes down to two simple concepts:

What am I not getting enough of?

What is my body not making enough of?

How do I get all of my vitamins?

The simple answer is: fix your diet. No, I didn’t say go on a diet! I said fix your eating habits. We all know you are supposed to have a ‘balanced’ diet.

What is my body not making enough of?

There are just certain things your body cannot make enough of. There are certain things that your body requires in order to make certain things. This list is quite endless and equally as maddening. We all remember Vitamin D don’t we?

So where do you turn?

The bottom line: Take supplements in moderation. Our bodies can only utilize and use a certain amount of ANY supplement, after that it’s just waste. Every nurse’s body is different, so don’t be afraid to go to a registered dietitian and have a metabolic work-up.

Also, really and truely – start eating right. Start exercising. Get adequate sleep. These three things will do more for you than anything in any bottle. That said, here are three supplements that can help the nurse’s immune system that I recommend:

Vitamin C (500mg) & Zinc (25mg)

Each support the immune system differently, but both have been promoted as effective. I myself only take Vitamin C. Take them with food if possible.

Multivitamin (any brand will do)

I truly believe that one multivitamin will give you the extra micro and macro nutrients that you could be missing from your diet. Once again everyone’s body will absorb and use a different amount.

Remember: Moderation is the key! There is such a thing as overkill.

Take care of yourselves out there.

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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2 Responses to Supplemental Immunity

  1. Great article Sean. For the elderly and the intestinally challenged, vitamin ‘capsules’ are best. Most vitamin ‘tablets’ are packed so tightly (for the purpose of swallowing) that the body can not break them down for proper absorption.
    You can also investigate the advantages of acidophilus, always buy the pill form from a market who has kept the capsule refrigerated. Once the capsules reach room temperature the ‘friendly’ bacteria die and are no longer useful.
    Lastly, for those with a sweet tooth, you can’t beat ”locally harvested” raw honey for increasing your immune system. Note though, that this is NEVER to be given to a child under the age of 12 months.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Kellie Thanks for your suggestions!