Written by: Hanna Yu, UGA College of Pharmacy Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2021
Everyone can benefit from a boost to their immune system. Factors like stress or lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, and with COVID-19 occurring globally, ensuring that your body’s immune system is at its peak will be worthwhile. Maintaining it to tip-top shape will help fight off potential illness and help keep yourself healthy. There are numerous ways to help enhance your immune system, but intravenous (IV) therapy is a leading option.
Intravenous therapy (IV) is therapy that delivers fluids directly into a vein. This route has many advantages as a result of its delivery straight to the bloodstream for an immediate effect. Other routes, like taking medication orally or by mouth, have first to be broken down in the digestive system causing there to be a long time for the drug to exhibit its effect on the body. Also, taking a medication by mouth has an increased chance of gastrointestinal (GI) side effects compared to IV therapy, which completely bypasses the GI system. IV therapy is a fast and efficient approach to help the nutrients be able to reach the cells quickly to start their beneficial effects.
A blend of different nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can be included in IV nutrition therapy to help build and preserve your immune system. Some examples of the components include vitamin C, vitamin B, glutathione, and zinc. The quick delivery of these nutrients will help keep your body in the best health possible.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a vitamin that has many roles in the body from maintaining cartilage, helping form collagen, and assisting with iron absorption. It also plays a big role in the immune system. Vitamin C supports immune cells and helps their ability to protect against bacteria and viruses. Additionally, Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which is a substance that protects your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules in your body that are formed naturally when the body breaks down food or is exposed to radiation or tobacco smoke. Free radicals can cause “oxidative stress”, which is when there is an unequal balance between the free radicals and antioxidants. This can lead to cellular damage, which may be involved in cancer, heart disease, and other diseases.
Vitamin B complex is the combination of all the B vitamins, which include B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 (biotin), B-9 (folic acid), and B-12 (cobalamin). The vitamin B complex collectively has many functions in the body, from helping form red and white blood cells, cell growth, and converting nutrients from food into energy. Many immune cells require these B vitamins to function, and the boost of energy is a key way to ensure the immune system is functioning correctly.
Glutathione or GSH is a protein that is made in the liver and is present in almost every cell in the body. It is composed of three protein building blocks or amino acids (cysteine, glycine, and glutamate). Glutathione is also known as the “master antioxidant” due to its main role in protecting the body from “oxidative stress.” Glutathione can help regenerate other antioxidants (vitamins C and E) to help the immune system too. Also, glutathione assists in the detoxification of harmful substances from the body.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral, which means that the body needs only a small amount. However, the effects of zinc are very massive due to its involvement in over 100 biologic reactions in the body. Zinc plays a role in wound healing, vision, DNA creation, cell growth, and immune function. Zinc helps in the development of immune cells, which fight off infections in the body. Zinc may also reduce the length and severity of the common cold when taken within the first 24 hours after cold symptoms start. Lastly, zinc has anti-inflammatory aspects. Inflammation is the body’s response to infection and injury to help protect itself. A deficiency in zinc has been linked to excessive inflammation, which can damage your heart and other organs. During this state of excessive inflammation, the immune system will be working too intensely, causing it to slow down eventually. Having enough zinc can help keep this inflammatory response in check.
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