NUTRITION AND IMMUNITY
The human immune system is a highly efficient and complex system that defends the body against foreign infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Physical barriers form the body's first line of defense, including the skin and mucous membranes in the airways and digestive tract. Innate ("non-specific") and adaptive ("specific" or "acquired") mechanisms together form the actual immune system. Unlike other organs, such as the liver or fat, the immune system extends throughout the body and comprises a network of highly specialized immune cells and small molecules.
The principal defensive “soldiers” of the immune system are a class of mobile white blood cells called leucocytes. The leucocytes can be broadly divided into two categories: phagocytes, which ingest and digest invading microorganisms and account for 70-80 percent of total leucocytes in the blood; and lymphocytes, which allow the body to remember and recognize previous invaders, and which account for the remaining 20-30 percent.
Following is a brief look at the immune effects of selected individual nutrients known for their immune-modulating effects.
An adequate supply of vitamin A is needed for the normal development and functioning of many types of blood cells, including lymphocytes. In vitamin A deficiency, the numbers of these cells might be decreased, and their functioning may become abnormal. Networks of cytokines, which influence immune responses, may also be altered during vitamin A deficiency, and antibody responses to antigens may be modified.
Vitamin D is an important immune system regulator. Vitamin D in macrophages regulates the production of an endogenous antibiotic called cathelicidin and modulates the pattern of cytokine secretion. Both cathelicidin and the cytokines enhance the defense against pathogens.
Vitamin E occurs in a variety of plant foods. Vitamin E supplementation increased antibody titers upon vaccination, aleftnd reduced the risk of acquiring respiratory infections or common colds.
Vitamin B6 is widely distributed in foods, with rich sources including fowl, fish, liver, cereals and pulses. It has been known since the 1940s that deficiencies in vitamin B6 impair immune functioning. This effect is not surprising because vitamin B6 is essential for a wide variety of reactions necessary for the synthesis and metabolism of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and there is a need for increased protein synthesis during the immune response.
Major dietary sources of vitamin C are vegetables and fruit. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant. Vitamin C acts as a major antioxidant in the aqueous phase and reinforces the effects of other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, by regenerating their active forms after they have reacted with free radicals. Vitamin C plays an important role in the function of phagocytes, and the failure of these cells to perform normally may contribute to the impairment of the response to infection in vitamin C deficiency. Numerous controlled trials have been conducted upon human volunteers to evaluate the effect of vitamin C on the common cold. The studies show that people who regularly take 200 mg/day of vitamin C or more have slightly shorter colds (about 10%) than those who do not.
Major dietary sources of zinc are meat, dairy products, seafood and cereals. Cells of the immune system contain a large number of enzymes that need zinc to function, so it is not surprising that zinc deficiency has profound effects on immune functioning.
Dietary selenium is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, nuts and seeds. Selenium is essential for an optimal immune response and influences both the innate and acquired immune system. It has a key role in the redox balance, including the protection against DNA damage. Selenium is also an important cofactor of a group of enzymes that contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative damage.
Fatty acids have several functions in immune cells and changes in total fat intake can influence the immune response in humans. They:
Provide energy for immune cells
Are components of cell membrane phospholipids and affect membrane structure and function
Regulate gene expression, for example via signaling processes
Thus, as parents, it is important to monitor and be watchful about your kids’ health. Children often say no to highly nutritious food. In order to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiency - which can lead to poor immunity during key growing stages of life - parents can give healthy and tasty milk modifiers/supplement drinks to meet daily nutritional requirements.
Maltwin, a malt-based health drink, has 24 vital vitamins and minerals. According to the known benefits of these vitamins and minerals, Maltwin can help build immunity, enhance growth, strengthen bones, improve metabolism, and augment brain development.
The unique blend of flavor and micronutrients, ensures the fulfillment of most of your daily nutrition requirements, helps you stay fit and active, and prepares you to be the winner you were born to be!