10 October 2022


Building your defences: What does the science say about optimising your immune system?

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As the record-breaking heat of the summer becomes a distant memory and the evenings draw in, the  media is full of gloomy reports about a host of winter bugs that are predicted to descend upon us over the next few months, such as colds, Covid and flu. For most people, a minor infection, such as a common cold or gastrointestinal upset, may just be a slight inconvenience for a few days, but for an athlete it can limit their ability to train and even compete in major competitions.

While it’s highly unlikely that we can avoid all of the bugs that circulate in the community, there are a number of things we can do to strengthen our immune system and reduce the risk of infection. These include not smoking, eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables, maintaining a healthy body weight, getting sufficient sleep, only drinking alcohol in moderation, minimising stress levels, exercising regularly, and taking steps to reduce the risk of infection such as handwashing.

One of the most important things that we can do to maintain robust immunity is to consume a diet that is sufficient to meet our requirements for energy, fat, carbohydrate, protein and a range of vitamins and minerals. However, this can be difficult to achieve even when consuming a well-balanced diet. Consequently, various supplements are often consumed to provide additional support for the immune system to enable it to deal with the rigours of hard training. Typically, these consist of a selection of vitamins and minerals known to play a role in immune function. Although these are can be beneficial, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the use of a range of novel ingredients to enhance immune function in addition to the traditionally used micronutrients.

This is where Time 4 Nutrition’s range of evidence based immune boosting supplements can be a valuable addition to your nutrition strategy.

As we take a brief look at each of these products, and a sample of the science that supports their use, you’ll begin to see how they may benefit you.

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM – Time 4 Ultimate Vitamin D

Time 4 Ultimate Vit-D is a combination of substances designed to optimise the body’s supply, absorption and use of vitamin D. These include vitamin D3, vitamin K2, magnesium and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which plays an essential role in many functions of the body, ranging from bone health to neuromuscular function and muscle growth and repair. Its important role in immunity has received considerable attention in the scientific literature over the last couple of years, with a number of studies highlighting its role in the prevention and treatment of viral illnesses such as colds, flu and Covid 19.

Vitamin D – What does the science say?

Baeke and colleagues (1) reviewed the modulating effects of vitamin D on the immune system. They noted that vitamin D targets various immune cells, including monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells (DCs), as well as T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Therefore, playing a role in modulating both innate and adaptive immune responses.

In a review of the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for athletes, Grant and colleagues (2) noted that clinical trials have confirmed that vitamin D supplementation reduces risk of acute respiratory tract infections, and approximately 30 observational studies have shown that incidence, severity, and death from COVID-19 are inversely correlated with vitamin D concentrations. Vitamin D supplementation is already familiar to many athletes and sports teams because it improves athletic performance and increases playing longevity. The authors recommend that athletes should consider vitamin D supplementation to serve as an additional means by which to reduce risk of COVID-19 and its consequences.

Grant et al., (3) investigated the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections. The authors noted that vitamin D can reduce risk of infections through several mechanisms. These include inducing reactions that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines which produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines, substances that are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells.

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Time 4 Immune Pro is a potent combination of natural substances designed to enhance the body’s immunity. These include NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine), beta-glucans, quercetin, vitamin C, elderberry extract (Sambucas Nigra), zinc and vitamin D.

Time 4 Immune Pro – What does the science say?

A review by Shi and Puyo (4) highlighted the beneficial effects of NAC on immune function. These include boosting the immune system, suppressing viral replication, and reducing inflammation. The review cited a study by De Flora et al., which demonstrated that oral administration of NAC significantly improved cell-mediated immunity, shifting from a lack of reaction from immune cells to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, to normal immune function in seniors. They also noted that treatment significantly decreased the frequency of influenza, as well as the severity and duration of most symptoms. The authors concluded that NAC has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating characteristics that may prove beneficial in the treatment and prevention of SARS-Cov-2.

A study by Nieman et al., (5) investigated the effects of quercetin supplementation on incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and exercise-induced changes in immune function. Trained male cyclists were randomised to quercetin or placebo groups. The results of the study showed that quercetin significantly reduced URTI incidence in cyclists during the 2 week period after intensified exercise versus placebo ingestion.

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Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It makes up approximately 60 percent of our skeletal muscle, and while it is perhaps best known for its important role in protein synthesis, it actually plays multiple roles in the maintenance of a variety of cells and organs in the body. Along With the amino acids, cysteine and glycine, glutamine forms glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, which plays an important role in combating oxidative stress. One of the most important functions of glutamine is its role in the immune system, which can become compromised when sufficient amounts are unavailable.

Time 4 Glutamine – What does the science say?

A study by Song et al., (6) sought to determine whether supplementation with glutamine alters immune function in athletes during heavy load training. 24 athletes were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a control group. The study participants exercised using heavy training loads for 6 weeks. Those in the experimental group took glutamine orally once a day beginning 3 weeks after initial testing, while athletes in the control group were given a placebo. Immune function was assessed by measuring various immunity markers. The results of the study showed that supplementation with glutamine improved several aspects of immunity including T-cell and NK cells. The authors concluded that glutamine supplementation may be able to restore immune function and reduce the immunosuppressive effects of heavy-load training.



While some bacteria are detrimental to good health, the importance of ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria is now widely acknowledged, with a range of probiotic food products and supplements available to encourage the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria. This is with good reason when you consider that an estimated 70-85% of the immune system lies in the gut.

Time 4 Synbiotic contains a potent combination of 5 specific strains of live, friendly bacteria called probiotics and a blend of prebiotic fibre. These include organic psyllium husk powder, organic acacia fibre powder and the microorganisms Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium Longum.

Time 4 Synbiotic – What does the science say?

King and colleagues (7) investigated the effect of probiotic supplements, specifically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, on the duration of acute respiratory infections in otherwise healthy children and adults. The results showed that those subjects consuming a probiotic supplement had significantly fewer days of illness per person, shorter illness episodes and fewer numbers of days absent from day care/school/work in comparison to those who had taken a placebo.

Sazawal et al., (8) conducted a review to evaluate the evidence for the use of probiotic supplements, including Lactobacillus Acidophilus, in the prevention of acute diarrhoea. The results suggests that probiotics significantly reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhoea by 52%, reduced the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea by 8%, and that of acute diarrhoea of diverse causes by 34%. Probiotic supplements reduced the associated risk of acute diarrhoea among children by 57%, and by 26% among adults. The protective effect did not vary significantly among the probiotic strains Saccharomyces Boulardii, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, and other strains used alone or in combinations of two or more strains.


BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM – Time 4 Vit and Min + Vit C

Time 4 Vit and Min + Vit C is a comprehensive blend of vitamins and minerals shown to be essential for optimal health & performance and immune function. These include thiamine (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, zinc.

Time 4 Vit&Min + Vit C – What does the science say?

A review by Carr and Maggini (9) highlighted the many important roles vitamin C plays in the function of the immune system. Specifically, the authors noted that it contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It also supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress. It accumulates in phagocytic cells, which have the ability to deal with foreign particles, such as bacteria, and can ultimately enhance microbial killing. It is also needed for the controlled death and clearance of the spent white blood cells from sites of infection, thereby decreasing potential tissue damage.

Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.

Read and colleagues (10) examined the role of zinc in antiviral immunity. The authors noted that zinc deficiency is strikingly common. Consequently, zinc status is a critical factor that can influence antiviral immunity, particularly as zinc-deficient populations are often most at risk of acquiring viral infections such as HIV or hepatitis C virus. The review highlighted the abundance of evidence that has accumulated over the past 50 years to demonstrate the antiviral activity of zinc against a variety of viruses, and how the therapeutic use of zinc for viral infections such as herpes simplex virus and the common cold has stemmed from these findings.

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How to boost you immune system – Summary

Unless we live in isolation, it’s highly unlikely that we can avoid all of the illnesses that circulate in the community. Even with healthiest lifestyle and the most comprehensive diet, we cannot make our immune system fool-proof, but science has demonstrated that there are a number of substances used in the Time 4 Nutrition range of supplements that can help to enhance our immune function and so reduce the chances of infection and severe illness. With the season of coughs and sneezes fast approaching, now is the time to fortify our natural defences.