The jury is still out to find clear evidence on some claimed immune-boosting supplements. There are commonly used immune-boosting supplements that lacks evidence of it really doing the flu-fighting job.

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If there is a deficiency of fat soluble Vit A and E and water soluble Vit B6, B12 and Vit C, it will impair immunity but large amounts in supplementation does not have clear evidence of enhancing immune function.

Vitamins C
Very commonly used but lacks evidence in athletes. Just like with multi-vitamins, contrary to popular belief, there is lack of clear evidence that large doses Vit C will enhance immunity in ATHLETES.  Some scientists and doctors still believe that 1000mg of Vit C may prevent colds and flu. As any excess will be excreted and not do any harm, it can add up in costs.

Co-ingestion of carbohydrate and protein in the recovery phase should replenish critical sources of glucose and glutamine. Although glutamine levels decrease during prolonged running there is not enough evidence to show that glutamine supplementation enhances immunity. The British Olympics teams however uses glutamine to aid in immune function and apart from being expensive there is no harm in taking glutamine supplementation directly post training.

In summary the following tried, tested and scientifically proven practical strategies can be followed to enhance immune function:

Practical strategies to enhance immune function

Carbohydrates Consume 30-60g per hour during exercise and a pre-event meal consisting of 150-300g carbohydrates 2-3 hours before. Bananas or Energy drinks
Recovery Consume carbohydrates and protein post exercise to aid in recovery Chocolate milk, in winter try low fat latte
Zinc Only use supplementation at the onset of cold symptoms. Consume foods that are naturally high in zinc Oysters, chicken livers, beef, breakfast cereals, dark chocolate, peanuts, garlic, chickpeas are all naturally high in zinc
Avoid getting a dry mouth Consume enough fluids during and after exercise and during rest
Ensure good hygiene at all times Wash hands regularly or use alcohol gel if not possible to wash hands.
Get adequate sleep Sleep deprivation will suppress immune system. When undergoing heavy training you will need sufficient sleep.  Listen to your body… You will know when you are sleep deprived.


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