A strong immune response could be considered among the many important factors essential to training success. It’s also one of the most overlooked and underappreciated. While strong immunity is needed on a daily basis, a rapid response to an ever-increasing number of unique pathogens and an ability to stave off infection has never been more important than it is today.
Because you’re reading this article means there’s a good chance your training and nutrition are better structured and balanced than much of the general population. You’re ever-motivated to reach your training targets so you take every precaution to preserve what is most important of all: your health and wellbeing. This means your immunity is likely to be better than average – excellent even. But is your supplement game as good as it could be?
A well-balanced diet along with regular training and appositive mindset go a long way to boosting immunity, to give us the edge when it comes to staying consistent and on track to achieving fitness excellence.1, 4 But if we’re not consuming a complete array of immune-enhancing supplements there’s a strong possibility that our immune systems will be underequipped to fight off the vast number of pathogenic organisms (including bacteria, parasites, and viruses) we are exposed to daily.
Without excellent immunity, our ability to fully recover from intense training is likely to be impaired. In addition, we’ll be more lethargic and less mentally and physically able to apply the intensity needed to build more muscle. Most worryingly of all, we may become more susceptible to falling ill. However mild such an illness might be, we may be forced to switch our focus to health restoration rather than keeping it on training progress.
Aside from avoiding chronic stress and environmental stressors such as drugs (specifically cigarettes and alcohol) along with getting sufficient sleep, optimal nutrition, and staying well-hydrated, we need to ensure all of the nutrients required to build immunity are supplied daily. By taking the following five key supplements, we will have done much to strengthen the system to which all other systems are largely dependent. We must now, more than ever, keep our shelves stocked with proven immune-boosters such as those profiled below.
Featured among VITASTACK’s seven separate functions is an Immunocharge Antioxidant Immune Support blend of nutrients specifically developed to keep the body in a high state of recovery while assisting free radical elimination and enhancing overall immune function.
Included among its many nutrients is a high potency version of Vitamin C. In addition, VITASTACK’s Skeletocore support matrix contains another hefty serving of this key vitamin, to provide a total of 725mg of fast acting and rapidly absorbed C.
Note: take additional C from a reputable product to supply an optimal daily dosage (following the above recommended guidelines).
Today’s highest potency whey product is isolate. However, not all isolates are created equal and, in fact, many such products are rendered suboptimal due to inferior processing methods. It’s worth mentioning here that the bioactive peptides discussed above (which have a particularly fragile three-dimensional structure) can only be adequately preserved with the correct whey processing methods.
The current market leader in whey fortification, ISOFLEX, uses an advanced extraction process to not only ensure the highest potency product but also to safeguard the immunity-boosting bioactive protein fractions (peptides) contained within.
For a Glutamine product to be sufficiently potent to address both muscle recovery and immune enhancement, it must be of the highest bioavailability, be easy to ingest, and be rapidly and completely absorbed within the body.
Using a hyper-particulation process called GLUTASURE, ALLMAX GLUTAMINE is manufactured to be the fastest acting and most rapidly absorbed Glutamine product on today’s market. ALLMAX GLUTAMINE was developed on the premise that only with a clinically-dosed product delivered in a fast and efficient fashion can the best results in immune enhancement be achieved.
CREATINE MONOHYDRATE (Pharmaceutical Grade)
ALLMAX CREATINE MONOHYDRATE provides the full range of benefits associated with Creatine usage, including immunity-enhancement and cellular hydration. However, being micronized and pharmaceutical grade, its more rapidly absorbed than other such products and of the highest purity and bioavailability. This means its benefits can be achieved faster and to a greater degree.
Developed to boost testosterone production and enhance strength and vitality, ALLMAX ZMX2 features among a select listing of ingredients a full complement of the most bioactive form of Zinc on today’s market (in pure ionically-bound Gluconate form for maximum absorption and bioavailability).
ZMX2 also contains Vitamin B6, an important cofactor nutrient in the effective metabolism of Zinc and yet another reason why the Zinc in ZMX2 is absorbed and assimilated to a much higher extent than might otherwise be possible. At 30mg per dosage, one serving of ZMX2 will more than adequately cover your daily requirement for Zinc.
Topping the list of immune builders is our most trusted micronutrient, Vitamin C. Because our bodies don’t produce or store Vitamin C, this essential water-soluble nutrient must be supplied daily; a failure to do so may result in poor immunity and increased risk of infection, not to mention suboptimal recovery from training.2, 5, 14, 34
Vitamin C remains king of the immune-boosters due, in large part, to its role in producing white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes, our body’s first line of defence when it comes to eliminating the thousands of pathogenic molecules which contribute to cellular damage.
In addition, a potent antioxidant, Vitamin C helps save our immune cells from free radical while also enabling these cells to function more efficiently.13, 21 Equally as important, Vitamin C strengthens the skin cells, thus bolstering our body’s most important protective barrier, to reduce the likelihood that pathogens will make it into circulation in the first place.11 And should we get sick, Vitamin C can shorten recovery time and get us back in the gym faster.
Due to its water-soluble status (it’s constantly being eliminated from the body), it’s recommended that Vitamin C be taken in divided 1000mg doses, 2-3 times per day (even higher if one is extra susceptible to falling ill and thus requires additional immunity).
Protein is essential for the growth and support of all the cells of the body. This includes the specialized proteins of the immune system – specifically the five antibodies (IgG, IgA, IgM, IgE, and IgD) that are responsible for fighting illness and disease.24 Like all other factors concerning health and wellbeing, the quality and quantity of the protein we put in our bodies dictates the degree to which our immune cells can be encouraged to grow, function, and thrive.
Poor quality and/or an inadequate supply of protein can thus lead to compromised immune function and greater susceptibility illness and disease. Without the right kind of protein provided a sufficiently high quantity the body may not be able to construct enough white blood cells to combat the various viruses, bacteria and parasites to which we are routinely exposed.
So, what the body needs for stronger immunity begins with what the body also needs to become bigger and stronger: ample high-quality dietary protein. Here, the superior bioavailability and absorption of whey isolate is the perfect match for immune support (along with muscle growth and general health).
Besides being of the highest biological value and thus optimally placed to enhance constructive metabolism (muscle anabolism), whey is unique from other proteins by virtue of its ability to supply the building blocks for glutathione production.28, 15, 32
Of specific importance to cellular healing due to its powerful antioxidant properties (its arguably the body’s most powerful intracellular antioxidant), glutathione also specifically enhances immunity by ensuring the optimal functioning of lymphocytes and other cells of the immune system.7, 11, 15, 18
For this reason alone, whey remains an important means to boosting immune function. Indeed, the United States Dairy Export Council consider immunity enhancement to be one of whey protein’s biggest selling points: “In comparison to most other protein sources, whey proteins are unique in their ability to optimize a number of key aspects of immune function.”
But whey does much more than boost immunity through glutathione production. Further extending the muscle building benefits of whey to immune enhancement are a range of bioactive peptides, of which whey contains a plentiful supply.6
Such immune-specific peptides (which include lactoferrin and the immunoglobulins) have been shown to be absorbed and utilized more readily than free amino acids.33 Their potency is such that they have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, enhance cancer cell sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs, and reduce toxic side effects (of chemotherapy) on normal cells.27, 31
Considered conditionally essential – meaning it may be required in higher doses than those produced by the body under normal circumstances – Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in human muscle and plasma and of crucial importance to those who repeatedly subject their bodies to high amounts of physical stress.
In fact, supplemental Glutamine could be considered especially important for all lifters who find themselves having to recover from arduous training. This is because the body’s ability to produce Glutamine is often outpaced by the rate at which this muscle amino is utilized to provide energy for cellular biosynthesis (which is especially prevalent in those who train daily).
Muscle Glutamine levels have been shown to drop drastically whenever the body enters a catabolic stress state; this includes repeated intensive training and is one reason why many lifters must spend long periods recovering from the iron. Indeed, at the extreme end of the spectrum, athletes recovering from overtraining syndrome have repeatedly been shown to exhibit low resting plasma* Glutamine levels compared to healthy active control subjects.29
Not only are low Glutamine reserves bad for muscle recovery and growth, but they may also spell disaster for our immune status. This is due to the fact that Glutamine is utilised at an especially high rate by the cells of the immune system while also being required to support optimal lymphocyte proliferation and the production of cytokines* by lymphocytes and macrophages (here, various cytokines, in particular Interleukin-1, are produced by the immune cells to stimulate the immune response).8, 19, 29
So, any reduction in Glutamine below that needed for muscle restoration can also signal poor immunity and contribute a lowered immune response. In support of its immune enhancing properties, studies have shown that when plasma Glutamine concentrations in immune-compromised patients is kept high, immune function is maintained as normal.3 For example, when given to patients following bone marrow transplantation, those who received Glutamine experienced a lower level of infection and a shorter stay in hospital compared to less fortunate patients who were given Glutamine-free support.30
Plasma: the liquid part of the blood that carries cells and proteins throughout the body.
Cytokines: a broad category of small proteins important in cell signaling.
The most heavily-researched of high-performance supplements, Creatine has been scientifically proven to aid the body on multiple levels, most notably as an ergogenic aid to enhance anaerobic exercise performance (i.e., it enables strength athletes to train harder, heavier, and for longer).
Considering the fact that it’s been marketed since the early 90s and has been benefiting athletes of all codes ever since, its interesting to note that Creatine’s long list of benefits continue to be further expanded with ongoing research. Most recently Creatine has been under investigation as a powerful immunity-enhancer.
As an immune system booster, Creatine may function through at least two mechanisms of action. First, it may serve as a molecular battery for immune cells. It’s believed to do this by improving energy storage and distribution to power the immune response. The lead researcher of one key study put it succinctly: “This creatine-powered hybrid engine system enables killer T cells to make the most of their available energy supply in an environment where they have to compete with fast-growing tumor cells for nutrients.”9
Another of creatine’s immune-boosting benefits is its ability to increase the total water content of our bodies – optimal hydration being a key component when strengthening resistance to infection.10, 16, 17, 23, 25 The immune system fundamentally depends on the bloodstream (which is made up of 90% water) to transport nutrients, fluids, and communication signals to the various organs of the body. With less blood volume due to dehydration (however mild), the efficiency of these transport mechanisms is greatly compromised, which leads to poor immunity among other health problems.
In addition, the lymphatic system (a key part of the immune system) is better able to drain away toxins and unwanted materials when well hydrated, yet another reason to increase water intake as a means strengthening immunity. A renowned cell volumizer, Creatine shuttles water into our cells, thus increasing the total water content of our bodies, thereby optimizing hydration and, in turn, immunity.
Zinc’s ability to enhance a great many markers of health and wellbeing makes it a super-supplement par excellence. It might even be said that being a Zinc-deficient lifter is tantamount to being a protein-deficient lifter, such is this essential mineral’s importance to a host of strength-training outcomes (including testosterone production). Perhaps most important for general health and wellbeing is Zinc’s ability to improve immunity.
The essential requirement among humans for Zinc fortification was noted 40 years ago in the Middle East, at which time a large number of Zinc deficient patients were found to have severe immune dysfunctions.22 Since this time, Zinc has been heralded as critical to the body’s immune response; due to its central role in the immune system, Zinc deficient people are known to experience an increased susceptibility to a wide range of pathogens.
Zinc affects the immune system in multiple ways. Firstly, it enhances the protective barrier of the skin while assisting gene regulation within lymphocytes (small white blood cells commonly found in the lymphatic system). In addition, Zinc is needed to ensure the healthy development and function of cells that mediate nonspecific immunity (non-specific immune cells respond to different types of antigen, or foreign invader, and function as the first line of defense against infection or injury). These include neutrophils and natural killer cells.
Zinc deficiency also plays a key role in the development of acquired immunity, a subsystem of the immune system made up of of specialized, systemic cells and processes that serve to eliminate pathogens by preventing their growth. Furthermore, for those deficient in Zinc, B lymphocyte development and antibody production (particularly immunoglobulin G) can also be compromised.
A Zinc deficiency can also adversely affect the development and functioning of the macrophage, a cell pivotal to many immunologic functions. Without a sufficient supply of macrophages at the ready, intracellular killing, cytokine production, and phagocytosis (where other cells or particles are ingested or engulfed by phagocytes) may all be compromised.26
Recent research has pointed to yet another immune-boosting benefit of Zinc: a balanced immune response.20 Like all systems of the body, sound immunity depends of the perfect synchronization of its many different parts to ensure an optimal immune response.
While an under-reactive immune response may not be strong enough to counter a pathogenic threat, an over-reactive response can lead to the immune system spiralling out of control, with excessive inflammation being one of its more deleterious consequences.
Enlisted in the fight against infection, Zinc, in this case, is shuttled into first responder immune cells, whereupon it serves as a braking mechanism to help balance out the immune response (thereby offsetting the potential harm caused by an over-reactive immune system). Finally, and equally essential, Zinc is one of our most powerful antioxidants and, as such, assists other such immune-boosters to rid the body of cell-damaging free radicals.
- Abdurachman, N. et al. (2018). The Role of Psychological Wellbeing in Boosting Immune Response: an Optimal Effort for Tackling Intervention. African journal of infectious diseases, 12(1 Suppl), 54–61.
- Bakaev, V. V. et al. (2004). Ascorbic Acid in Blood Serum of Patients With Pulmonary Tuberculosis and Pneumonia Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. Feb;8(2):263-6
- Calder, P. C. et al. (1999). Glutamine and the Immune System. Amino Acids. 17(3):227-41.
- Cassa Macedo, A. et al. (2019). Boosting the Immune System, From Science to Myth: Analysis the Infosphere With Google. Frontiers in medicine, 6, 165.
- Carr, A. C. et al. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. Nov 3;9(11):1211.
- Chen, C. et al. (2019). Immune promotive effect of bioactive peptides may be mediated by regulating the expression of SOCS1/miR-155. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 18(3), 1850–1862.
- Droge, w. et al. (2000). Glutathione and Immune Function Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Nov;59(4):595-600.
- de Oliviera, D. C. et al. (2016). Glutamine metabolism and its effects on immune response: molecular mechanism and gene expression. Nutrire 201641:14
- Di Biase, S. et al. (2019). Creatine uptake regulates CD8 T cell antitumor immunity. The Journal of Experimental Medicine, (12): 2869–2882.
- Easton, C. et al. (2007). Creatine and Glycerol Hyperhydration in Trained Subjects Before Exercise in the Heat Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Feb;17(1):70-91.
- 11. Fuchs, J. et al. (1998). Modulation of UV-light-induced skin inflammation by d-alpha-tocopherol and l-ascorbic acid: a clinical study using solar simulated radiation Free Radical Biology and Medicine Volume 25, Issue 9, December, Pages 1006-1012
- Ghezzi, P. (2011). Role of glutathione in immunity and inflammation in the lung. International journal of general medicine, 4, 105–113.
- Hemilä, H. et al. (2013). Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD005532.
- Huijskens, M. et al. (2014). Technical Advance: Ascorbic Acid Induces Development of Double-Positive T Cells From Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells in the Absence of Stromal Cells J Leukoc Biol. Dec;96(6):1165-75.
- Lothian, J. B. et al. (2006). Effect of Whey Protein to Modulate Immune Response in Children With Atopic Asthma. Int J Food Sci Nutr. May-Jun 2006;57(3-4):204-11.
- Moeller, K. T. et al. (2013). The effect of hydration state and energy balance on innate immunity of a desert reptile. Frontiers in zoology, 10(1), 23.
- Mendes, R. R. et al. (2004). Effects of Creatine Supplementation on the Performance and Body Composition of Competitive Swimmers. J Nutr Biochem. Aug;15(8):473-8.
- Mulder, A. M. et al. (2008). Bovine lactoferrin supplementation supports immune and antioxidant status in healthy human males. Nutr Res. 2008;28(9):583-589. PMID: 19083463
- Newsholme, E. A. et al. (1997). The Proposed Role of Glutamine in Some Cells of the Immune System and Speculative Consequences for the Whole Animal Nutrition. Jul-Aug13(7-8):728-30.
- Ohio State University. (2013, February 7). Zinc helps against infection by tapping brakes in immune response. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130207131344.htm
- Parker-Pope, T. Can I Boost My Immune System? New York Times. [Online] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/well/live/can-i-boost-my-immune-system.html – retrieved on 15.4.20
- Prasad A. S. (2008). Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.), 14(5-6), 353–357.
- Powers, M. E. et al. (2003). Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution. Journal of athletic training, 38(1), 44–50.
- Schroeder, H.W. Et al. (2010). Structure and function of immunoglobulins. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 125(2 Suppl 2):S41-52. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2009.09.046
- Sobolewski, E. J. et al. (2011). The Physiological Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Hydration: A Review. American journal of lifestyle Medicine. Volume: 5 issue: 4, page(s): 320-327
- Shankar, A. H. et al. (1998). Zinc and Immune Function: The Biological Basis of Altered Resistance to Infection Am J Clin Nutr. Aug;68(2 Suppl):447S-463S.
- Su, X. et al. (2014). Combination therapy of anti-cancer bioactive peptide with Cisplatin decreases chemotherapy dosing and toxicity to improve the quality of life in xenograft nude mice bears human gastric Cell Biosci. 4:7–19.
- Vitetta, L. et al. (2013). The clinical efficacy of a bovine lactoferrin/whey protein Ig-rich fraction (Lf/IgF) for the common cold: a double blind randomized study. Complement Ther Med.21(3):164-171.
- Walsh, N. P. et al. (1998). Glutamine, Exercise and Immune Function. Links and Possible Mechanisms Sports Med. 1998 Sep;26(3):177-91.
- Wilmore, D. W. et al. (2001). The Effect of Glutamine Supplementation in Patients Following Elective Surgery and Accidental Injury. J Nutr Sep;131(9 Suppl):2543S-9S; discussion 2550S-1S.
- Xing, Z. et al. (2016). Anticancer bioactive peptide-3 inhibits human gastric cancer growth by targeting miR-338-5p. Cell Biosci. 6:53.
- Yamauchi, K. et al. (1998). Effects of orally administered bovine lactoferrin on the immune system of healthy volunteers. Adv Exp Med Biol 443:261-265. PMID: 9781368
- Zimecki, M. et al. (1999). Lactoferrin increases the output of neutrophil precursors and attenuates the spontaneous production of TNF-alpha and IL-6 by peripheral blood cells. Arch Immunol Ther Exp. 47(2):113-118. PMID: 10202564
- 20 Vitamins and Supplements to boost immune Health for COVID-19. MedicineNet. [Online] https://www.medicinenet.com/covid_19_supplements/article.htm