Simply put, the immune system is a system that gives you immunity against bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites. One of the main components of your immune system is network of cells known as white blood cells. These cells help to fight off any foreign invaders in the body, it is therefore important that they are plentiful, work well and efficiently.
Vitamins are substances that are found in tiny amounts in our food that are essential for our bodily functions. If we don’t have enough, we may run in to medical conditions and the opposite is true if we have too much.
This video will discuss which essential vitamins and minerals help to increase the production, efficacy and speed of the white blood cells, keeping you healthy and protected.
The guidelines given are based on an average adult’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). This varies individually, for example, if you are pregnant, a child, adolescent or according to any medical conditions and medications you may be taking. It is therefore vital that you discuss your own individual vitamin allowance with your medical doctor.
Amongst other functions, Vitamin A is vital for our immune system. It helps to produce white blood cells. We also know that is helps with vision and there’s a suggestion that it could help with skin or acne if it is deficient.
Current daily recommendations for an adult are 700-900mcg (female and male respectively), the highest tolerable dose is 3000mcg.
Sources in food:
- Sweet Potato
Too much Vitamin A can be toxic causing symptoms such as joint pain, nausea, hair loss and in extreme situations, coma and death. An excess of Vitamin A consumption is if you take over 200mg in one sitting or over 10x the RDA regularly.
Amongst other functions it promotes white blood cell production.
Current RDA is 1.3mg for an adult.
Sources in food:
With excessive amounts 1-6g a day you can get some nasty and potentially irreversible side effects such as nerve damage over time and light sensitivity.
Encourages white blood cell production and helps them function more effectively.
Current RDA for an adult is 75mg for women, 90mg for men. Highest tolerable dose is 2000mg per day
Sources in Food:
- Red Bell pepper
- Brussel sprouts
Side effects of having too much Vitamin C include diarrhoea, cramps and nausea. Some people report migraines at around 6g a day.
Enhances the immune response.
Current RDA for an adult is 15mg/day.
Sources in Food:
- Sunflower seeds
It is important not to take too much Vitamin E as this can be toxic. Vitamin E can also interact with certain medications such as cholesterol lowering drugs and blood thinners. It is vital to consult with your medical doctor prior to any diet changes.
There are also some minerals and other foods that contribute to a healthy immune system.
Boosts some types of white blood cells when they encounter viruses causing the common cold of flu. Studies have shown that it also reduces the duration of sickness as well as the risk of getting sick in the first place.
Current RDA: 1 clove 2-3 a day. Crushing or slicing the clove helps to release the important enzymes.
You could take an Aged Garlic supplement if you prefer but take no more than 600-1200mg a day. Too much garlic can be toxic.
Amongst other functions, Zinc boosts immune cell function and signalling.
Current RDA: 9mg a day, the highest tolerable dose is 40mg per day.
Sources in Food:
Too much Zinc can cause an upset stomach, mouth irritation, fever and cough.
Having a healthy well balanced diet plays an integral part to having a healthy immune system. It is also important to exercise regularly, sleep well, limit alcohol and smoking and washing hands regularly. Taking an over the counter supplement should not be considered a substitute for having a healthy diet, it can be much easier to overdose of vitamins through a supplement than food. Always read the back of the label prior to purchase.
I hope that you’ve found this video useful and as always if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to drop me a line in the comments section below.
With 4 confirmed cases of the novel virus at present in Australia, measures are being taken to help stop the propagation of the virus.
In today’s episode of Dr Nora I talk to you about my battle of finding protective measures to protect myself and my patients.
It is thought that the virus may be transmitted through airborne droplets from sneezing or coughing and it is felt that the P2/N95 mask may offer some protection. As a health care practitioner seeing around 50 patients a day it is my utmost priority to look after my patients and ensure that they are safe. After work I rushed over to my local hardware store and enquired about the mask. Unfortunately, they and all of their other franchises had run out and the only ones left were darth-Vader-esq masks.
After much deliberation I got over the aesthetics and remembered the purpose and brought one. As I drove away I thought I would call local pharmacies to check their stocks. After calling 20 different pharmacies over a span of 60km I was met with the same response ‘sorry we’re out of stock’.
Rather fortunately I drove past the hospital and thought perhaps I could ask my colleagues there and explain the situation. After speaking with the staff in ED they kindly gave me a mask for myself and my staff.
WHAT IS WUHAN CORONAVIRUS?
Wuhan is a city in China where the virus originated from. It is not fully understood how the virus is transmitted but it is believe that it originated in a live seafood market and has so far affected over 1000 people in China with around 40 people dying. It is believed that this who have died from the virus have had underlying medical conditions.
Australia has received its first confirmed case this weekend and to date there are 4 cases in two states, NSW and QLD.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The virus causes symptoms pneumonia, including, fever, cough, shortness of breath and feeling unwell and tired. It is believed that there is an incubation period of around 14 days which means that someone may not know they have the virus immediately.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Those who have travelled to Wuhan or those who have close contacts with someone who has recently travelled or has a confirmed case.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF?
Usual hygiene measures are crucial such as regular hand washing. It has currently not been recommended for the general public to use a mask outside of the health care setting.
If you have a suspicion you may be affected as perhaps you’ve recently travelled from there or know a close contact. You should maintain isolation and seek medical help. It is imperative that before you go to a doctor or the ED you must call ahead so that protective measures may be taken. You will need to be in isolation to protect others around you and hence stop the propagation of this virus.
Tests can be performed to confirm the virus and treatment may be initiated. The virus is new and not much information has been released. Scientists are working on a vaccination though this can take time.
Together with your help we can stop the propagation of the virus.
One of my specialties is sexual health. Did you know that only 34% of young people have ever had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) test?
STI rates are increasing in Queensland and you can help reduce this. Testing is simple and easy and could involve a urine test, a swab or a blood test.
It’s important to check for STI’s at least once a year or after each new partner. Treatment is available and depending on the infection it could just mean a course of antibiotics. If left untreated, you’re at risk of spreading it to others but can also lead to long term health effects such as trouble conceiving later in life.
Don’t sit on it, test it!
If you’d like any more information or would like to get tested pop by and see me in clinic.
But what actually is Gastroenteritis aka “Gastro”? Gastro is a short-term illness triggered by infection and inflammation of the digestive system. The main symptoms include, tummy cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and feeling generally unwell🤕
Infectious gastroenteritis is usually caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. Infection happens when the bacteria, virus or parasite is ingested, either by eating or drinking. So it is really important that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you go to the toilet, before preparing food and keep your kitchen surfaces clean. If you have been in contact with someone with similar symptoms always be sure to wash your hands to reduce transmission.
If you’ve got gastro, it usually settles by itself after 5-7 days, it’s vital during this time that you keep up your fluids and take oral rehydration therapy from the chemist. You may not feel like eating but when your appetite slowly comes back, start with plain food such as toast.
If you’re not sure whether you have gastro or need further help or advice, pop by and see me in clinic.
A recent Australian study has shown that GP’s are prescribing up to 9 times more antibiotics than recommended. A lot of cough or cold-like symptoms are caused by viruses which don’t respond to antibiotics.
If you are in any doubt whether you’re suffering from a viral or bacterial infection come and see me in clinic today to make sure you’re getting the right treatment.