Supporting and Defending Your Immune System
Our immune system is an incredible machine – amazingly complex, and able to protect us from all kinds of foreign invaders.
This machine is able and willing to work for us incessantly, and it truly is a wonder how much the human immune system is able to overcome.
But to do this, to win the fight against illness and infection, it needs resources. Like any machine, our immune system won’t work without the materials and fuel that it requires – but we must understand that this requirement is constantly changing. How much vitamin C you need on a daily basis is highly dependent upon the current state of your physiology. Zinc will be depleted much more quickly under certain conditions. The rate at which you are burning through glutathione also says quite a bit about your current health status. Things change, our physiology changes, and our immunity definitely changes. Setting the conditions to optimize (or at least not sabotage) your immune system function can take some serious consideration and work. Some foundational principles that will help determine whether your immune system will show up on game day or not include:
- Making sure you get enough sleep
- That you are managing your stress levels as much as possible
- Stay active and exercise (hopefully lift some weights as well!)
- Prioritize eating a diet which supports overall health with an emphasis on key nutrients
Further than that, we can look to modern tools we now have available to us that are able to enhance immune system function. Although we already have tools available like the amazing peptide, thymosin ɑ1, which stimulates and supports immune system function at various levels, we are now extremely happy to offer the new Tri-Blend Immune injections for enhancing immunity
This new injection has been designed to replenish key nutrients that play fundamental roles in the health of our immune system and the capability it has to protect us on a daily basis. Glutathione, vitamin C, and zinc, are all invaluable resources for promoting overall health, especially during times of illness and infection. Glutathione, our body’s “master antioxidant” is arguably the most important compound in your body right now, and it can absolutely make or break your ability to ward off disease and dysfunction. Vitamin C, everyone’s favorite go-to for immune health, actually lives up to most of the hype surrounding it – backed by both mechanistic and clinical research. Zinc, perhaps the most underutilized tool for supporting immune health, is absolutely vital if you want to ensure that you aren’t compromising your ability to intelligently and effectively protect yourself from disease and also avoid dysfunction. Separate from their ability to improve immune system function, each of these have one other major similarity:
They are all used up at an advanced rate when the body is under increased stress from illness, infection, psychological stress, excessive exercise, poor diet, environmental exposures, etc. This is why it is absolutely crucial to replace them when experiencing these conditions, and to do so often.
Normally, this can be done through dietary intake of zinc and vitamin C directly from the diet, as well as the precursors for glutathione (oral glutathione doesn’t make it past the stomach before being broken down). However, there are many issues to this approach if you want to fully ensure that your levels of these immune-health heroes are replenished and supported consistently. Problems such as poor absorption, variations in nutritional content between food sources, a diet generally lacking in specific amino acids, and our tendency towards choosing foods that are inherently void of vitamins or minerals can largely negate the whole food approach to nutrition in this specific context. Again, under normal conditions, the diet is, and will always be an irreplaceable source of nutrition. However, if we are wanting to verify, without question, that we are providing our immune system with the resources it needs to adapt to and overcome countless unseen obstacles, we must be far more precise. We are able to obtain this precision and peace of mind by directly introducing effective amounts of glutathione, vitamin C, and zinc directly into our circulatory system via a quick and easy injection. There is a sea of research that stands behind each of these three ingredients, and that is exactly what we want to focus on here. There is no single factor that will make or break your immune system, but each individual factor can weaken the system. That is why it is so unbelievably important to take care of the lifestyle factors that can either support or destroy your immunity (check out our Ultimate Guide to Immune Health).
For now though, let’s go over the specific research behind glutathione, vitamin C, and zinc, and explain just how important they are for immunity and overall health.
It would be a little disrespectful not to begin by discussing glutathione first and foremost.
This amazing antioxidant is found in virtually every cell in the human body – earning itself a nickname as the “master antioxidant”. It is, quite literally, the definition of essential for protecting your cells against oxidative stress and the degradation that unfortunately, comes as part of the aging process. Glutathione is the primary protective compound for the skin, eyes, and other tissues, and without it the process of detoxification by the liver, kidneys, lungs, and other organs could not take place. The antioxidant potential of glutathione is so important that any attempt at creating homeostasis (balance) throughout the body without it would be utterly impossible. As if these major roles in human health weren’t enough, glutathione takes part in DNA repair, immune cell function, and a whole lot more.
Our immune cells in particular are big fans of glutathione, and our immune system in general owes a debt of gratitude to this ubiquitous antioxidant for all the work it puts in. Glutathione is made in the body from the amino acids glutamate, glycine, and cysteine – more than one of which is typically missing in the Standard American Diet (SAD). In addition to these three amino acids, creating and utilizing glutathione effectively requires cofactors such as vitamins C,E,B1,B2,B6,B12, and folate as well as selenium, magnesium, zinc, and alpha lipoic acid. Each of these cofactors contributes to gluathione’s ability to protect cells, kill free radicals, and eliminate toxins – basically everything you want it to do! Ok, we admit, all of these physiology facts don’t necessarily answer the question as to why glutathione is included in our Tri-Blend Immune injection to support immune health.
In reality, any immune boosting supplementation plan would be incomplete without adding glutathione or, at the very least, the precursors and cofactors that are required for creating and utilizing it effectively. Our immune system simply works better if there is an appropriate amount of glutathione within the immune cells. This balance is closely maintained by the body, until there are extraneous variables that can dramatically increase the rate at which you burn through glutathione. Some factors that can do exactly that include:
- Increased immune activity
- Increased oxidative stress
- Use of certain drugs/medications
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Pesticide exposure
- Harmful chemicals
- Strenuous and excessive exercise
- Poor diet
- Chronic stress/anxiety/depression
- Age (we lose the ability to create glutathione as we age)
- Chronic illness
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Radiation exposure
As you can see from this list, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to developing some degree of glutathione depletion. What do they all have in common? They all increase what is called the total physiological load on the body – burning through glutathione and other antioxidant compounds. When free radical production goes up, so does your use of glutathione and the need for more to be created. Because of this increased workload and constant demand, glutathione depletion has been consistently and fundamentally linked to lower immune function and increased vulnerability to infection.
Replacing your spent glutathione, and supporting the process of maintaining a balance of it throughout the body are two obvious considerations to address when seeking to optimize immune system function. Glutathione is central to immunity and your ability to fend off foreign invaders, cellular damage, and much more – without it, we wouldn’t stand a chance. Next on this list is vitamin C. Although it is commonly used as a sort of hail-mary approach to fighting off illness, often by downing as much as possible as a last ditch effort before the cold or flu fully kicks in, vitamin C is actually one of the most reliable and effective tools you have at your disposal to enhance the capabilities of your immune system.
Vitamin C (ascorbate)
Public perceptions of vitamin C seem to vary widely.
Some people deem it the key to health and vitality, others as an example of shady supplement sales tactics aimed at moving products. Well, as with anything, whether or not vitamin C will be effective for you is incredibly individual. That being said, there are quite a few reasons for which vitamin C supplementation may not only be a good idea, but it may also be instrumental for proper immune system function.
Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen and connective tissue, and maintaining healthy teeth and gums. It is also used for keeping your blood vessels and skin healthy and strong, modulating cortisol, balancing endogenous inflammatory molecules, and it is required for the creation of some hormones and neurotransmitters. Even more importantly, vitamin C is able to act as both an antioxidant (to squelch free radicals and protect you from oxidative damage), and a pro-oxidant (to help neutralize microbes or other pathogens). As you can see, even under normal conditions vitamin C is pretty important. Once you have entered a state of disease due to illness, infection, chronic stress, or any number of other persistent stressors, your levels of this handy vitamin begin to deplete rapidly – inhibiting countless functions within the immune system. Nearly every animal except humans (and guinea pigs) can create more vitamin C as their demand increases in order to bring them back into balance. As humans we are stuck with what we (hopefully) get from our diet. If your demand for C increases however, strategic supplementation becomes more of a necessity to ensure your intake is keeping up with it.
Specific to the ability of your immune system to fully function, vitamin C is utterly irreplaceable. Classifying C as irreplaceable for immunity is surely justified due to the fact that it supports various cellular functions in both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Innate immunity (built in and non-specific) is enabled by C partially because of the protective effect it has on the skin and mucosal barriers – stopping would-be invaders before they can even enter. More complex than the innate immune system, the adaptive response is reliant on vitamin C to do the following:
- Enhance the effectiveness and ability for immune system cells to move to targeted areas
- Increase the clearance of used immune cells and facilitate the healing process
- Boost the quantity and proliferation of B cells and T cells
- Help modulate levels of inflammation (not too high, not too low)
Although both the innate and adaptive immune responses rely heavily upon Vitamin C to work, that doesn’t mean constantly popping mega doses of C is your key to invincibility.
Unfortunately, if you think you are getting all your C from that sugar filled orange juice or most other food sources you may be wrong (low carbohydrate veggies are your best bet). Eating vitamin C in the presence of high carbohydrates can dramatically reduce the amount of it that actually gets absorbed – because C and sugar are basically identical twins, they compete for the same transporters. This competitive nature further suggests that when experiencing periods of enhanced physical stress (resulting from illness, infection, or just physical work), psychological stress (chronic anxiety, stress, depression), or even environmental stress (chemical exposure, pollution, mold), your need for supplementing with vitamin C will become an increasing necessity, rather than just a good idea. Beautifully illustrating this point, Critical Care published a study that found chronically ill individuals consistently exhibit low vitamin C levels compared to the healthy population and expectedly, people suffering from sepsis had levels that were even worse.
Everyone likely already knows that vitamin C and our immune system function are closely linked. What people don’t understand however, is exactly how important it is. Although it is relatively rare for people living in a developed country to develop a full blown deficiency (not many people get scurvy these days), individuals experiencing high rates of oxidative stress will deplete C, just like how you can deplete glutathione. It is likely unsurprising then that the final ingredient, zinc, can be just as easily depleted under those same conditions – exactly why it has been included in the Tri-Blend injection formula.
Your body requires a balance of zinc for your immune system to function properly, to have enough antioxidant capability, to control blood glucose levels, and to heal wounds – so basically, mostly everything that has to do with you living a long, healthy, and happy life.
Mechanistically, zinc also contributes to the biochemical symphony that is always playing inside you by acting as a co-factor for many enzymes, as well as various transcription and replication factors. Researchers have been aware of the critical role of zinc for the development and survival of many animals since the 1930’s, but how important it is for human beings wasn’t confirmed until the 1960’s. Flash forward to 2020, and zinc remains a relatively obscure nutrient in the public’s eye. Much like vitamin C, the antioxidant capacity of zinc is far from the only justification for it being included in an injection intended to boost immunity.
An eloquently titled review named “Immune Function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection”, determined that the body of evidence makes it clear, zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system – starting with the outer barrier we call skin and extending all the way down to the regulation of genes involved in immunity. Not to mention that zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of immune cells like neutrophils (key to preventing infection), and natural killer cells which are awesome and protect us from viruses, among many other things. We can also look to the laundry list of effects that can be experienced due to an even marginal zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency can manifest as a more mildly unpleasant experience like:
- Depressed immune function
- Impaired sense of taste/smell
- Night blindness
- Memory impairment
- Decreased sperm count
Push through just a marginal deficiency in zinc towards a more severe depletion and you’ll arrive at much more unpleasant experiences such as:
- Severely depressed immune function
- Frequent infections
It seems that all of these would be less than favorable to experience and could perhaps result in a hospital visit, or worse. Each avoidable experience is owed however, to the countless ways that zinc is used to facilitate biochemical processes in cells across your entire body. It is used for the activation of certain immune cells, producing cytokines, and it even has a role in the creation of antibodies. Even more fundamentally than these roles though, zinc works in the field of DNA replication, RNA transcription, and is involved in cell division. As you can see, zinc is far more interesting than most people are aware of, and it should be at the top of everybody’s immune health priority list. Because zinc is readily available in the diet (most animal based foods have a ton of it), a complete deficiency is rather rare, although plant sources of zinc are not as easily accessed by the body. Thus, supplementation is usually a good idea during times of increased stress, just like we recommend with vitamin c or glutathione. Our body’s are dynamic and so are the requirements you will experience for different nutrients.
Tri-Blend Immune Injection
There is a lot that you need to do in order to make sure that you aren’t crippling your immune system, and even more that you should do in order to make sure it is running optimally. Covering the basics like sleep, stress management, exercise, and diet will get you 99% of the way there – tools like the Tri-Blend Immune injection are here to take you the rest of the way. Administered 2-3 each week, for 2-3 weeks, each injection contains:
- Glutathione/200 mg
- Vitamin C/200 mg
- Zinc/5 mg
The Tri-Blend Immune injection is the newest addition to the host of other tools we utilize at Ikon Health to help you reach your health and fitness goals. We understand that strategies like injections, IV therapies, peptides, and more are but a small piece of the overall puzzle that will ultimately lead to you successfully achieving those goals, and we will be here for the entire journey.