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How can I boost my immune system? 

Our immune system helps fight illness. A stronger immune system means our bodies can fight harder against the viruses and bacteria that can potentially make us sick. There are many products on the market that claim to build the immune system. Many of these products have little or no scientific data to support their effectiveness. However, a few products have been studied to varying degrees.

Although widely believed to significantly affect the course of the common cold, studies of Vitamin C have shown inconsistent results. Some research suggests that Vitamin C does nothing to shorten the duration of the common cold, whereas other studies suggest it may play a small role in prevention. The verdict is still out.

Another uncertain supplement is Vitamin E. At this time, studies show very mixed results. But unlike Vitamin C, too much Vitamin E may actually be harmful, so take it cautiously. Another widely used product believed to help prevent the common cold is Echinacea. Unfortunately, there is little data to suggest that it does much of anything for prevention.

So if you want to build your immune system, stick to the tried and true methods. Maintain a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Taking a standard daily multivitamin may help also help to support the immune system.

If you would like more information about your immune system and to make an appointment with an East Jefferson General Hospital internist, please call HealthFinder at 504-456-5000 or visit us online at www.ejgh.org.

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