Dear Dr. Roach: I follow you regularly, but I haven’t heard one word on ways to build your immunity. Supplements abound, offering strength for the immune system. For me, some have been a tremendous support. I’m 65 and thankfully healthy, but I take vitamin Bs and Ds, and many other body-support supplements. Why no mention of supplements? Surely you believe in commonsense vitamins and nutritional supplements. Of course, I also eat lots of fruits and vegetables, etc., but our foods simply do NOT provide enough. — S.S.
Answer: I don’t recommend vitamins or supplements to build the immune system because I disagree with you that our foods don’t provide enough. I am all for common sense, but what one generation considers common sense can be proven completely wrong in another generation. I believe in data, and there are now strong data showing that additional vitamin supplementation in people who consume a healthy diet provides no benefit. There is also not much evidence that dietary supplements lead to any measurable improvements in healthy people.
For people with an unhealthy diet, efforts to make their diet healthier are more likely to result in a better outcome than supplements. The immune system cannot be boosted through supplements. It may work poorly through frank deficiencies, but this is uncommon.