Supporting the Immune System with Antioxidants

Antioxidants are essential to your immune system and health overall, and that is because they protect against free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants are not only sourced from plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables but also animal-based foods, and one that comes to my mind is cholesterol as a potent antioxidant. So yes, consuming quality animal-based food to get cholesterol is a good thing for boosting your immune system. 

So What are Oxidant and Antioxidant?

The oxidant is a compound such as oxygen that is an element by itself that oxidizes other compounds. And compounds that prevent oxidation are called antioxidants. And compounds that promote it are called pro- oxidants. Isn’t interesting that we can’t live without oxygen and at the same time it has a damaging effect because of its reactive property! That’s why you want to limit oxidative stress to minimize the damage to your cells including your immune system cells.

One more thing about oxidants, one of the defense mechanisms your immune system utilizes is oxidants to kill pathogens in the body so oxidants can be a beneficial resource for the body in a limited amount of course. 

Your Body’s System of Antioxidants

There are external (ex., consuming foods and supplements) and internal sources of compounds that work as antioxidants. These internal sources that your body produces like vitamins and enzymes to fight off free radicals and protect your cells from being damaged and ultimately from dying.

As long as you take care of your health by limiting the exposure of oxidants, then you should have a long and healthy life but if you don’t then the aging process along with diseases will come "knocking on your door" so to speak sooner than later. The immune cells along with other cells in your body need help to stay protected from continuous attacks of oxidants and they get this support from two major bodily defense tools:

  • Precious reserve of antioxidants 
  • And various enzymes

However, there is a limited amount in the body of these antioxidants thus replenishing it from external sources like food or supplements is essential. 

Antioxidants: Foods vs. Supplements

If you have been reading my other immune-boosting articles then you probably realize by now those whole foods are my first choice and then using some quality antioxidant supplements would be my next choice, but food comes first. 

So why is that? Because of Food Synergy Effect.

The word synergy means the cumulative effect of two or more substances that produce more potent results and these results can be positive or negative. In the case of antioxidants that are found in whole foods which can mean tens, hundreds, or even thousands of interactive phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, which work together for better health outcomes.

In my opinion, they are more beneficial and safer than using isolated and reduced single compounds that have been either singled out or even worse synthetically made in science laboratory just because they are the active ingredients. Things in Nature interact together and not in the reductionist and isolated way as many scientists or food company laboratories view it. 

For example, one study shows that lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes has a better effect on Cardiovascular disease if ingested as whole food than taking it in the form of supplements (1) (2).

 So cover your bases with whole foods first and then carefully choose antioxidant supplements that are made from whole foods using gentle processes to preserve the precious nutrients in them as still active when you consume them.

Using Isolated Antioxidant Supplements

There is a place for you to use antioxidant supplements to enhance your immune system and any health problem you might have but please do it with a qualified health practitioner who has experience working with nutrition. When it is a reasonable idea to supplement your body, here are few good examples:  

  1. Don’t follow a healthy diet some of the times for whatever circumstance 
  2. Pregnant and lactating women might need extra dense nutrients from supplements
  3. Recovering from injury, burns, illness, or surgery where your immune cells need additional nutrients that are hard to get from whole foods only. 
  4. Vegans and Vegetarians will lack certain active vitamins (and antioxidants) that are only found in animal-based foods.

Some of my Choices of Antioxidants Supplements

1-Cod Liver Oil (Vitamin A, D, EPA, DHA)

2- Dried Gooseberry or Acerola fruit (vitamin C and tens of other phytochemicals/ cofactors/bioflavonoids naturally occurring)  

3-Extra-Virgin Butter Oil (vitamin K2, E, A, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Butyric Acid,  and Wultzen Factor) 

4-Bee Pollen(Amino acids, numerous enzymes, vitamins, and minerals)

5-Sea salts such as Celtic salt and land salts such as the Himalayan pink salt 


You know whether, by Nature or God, Earth has been evolving (still is) for more than 4.5 billion years ago and everything on or inside Earth seems to be an intricate, complex system. Where one thing affects or depends on the other and your antioxidants are no different. To support your immune system with antioxidants use what you have evolved on that is animal and plant-based whole foods and then choosing your antioxidant supplements carefully so you can thrive in this life. So, try not to be cheap on yourself by selecting low-quality supplements thinking you saved money because you will pay the price and your health sooner or later.