immune support vitamins

How To Support Immunity While Pregnant*

pregnant woman next to vegetables for immunity support
By Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

How To Boost Immunity While PregnantOne of your biggest concerns right now is probably immune support during your pregnancy in both yourself and your unborn child. A number of ingredients in fertility supplements are also researched for their ability to maintain a healthy immune system. In this article, I’ll talk about some of those ingredients including N-acetyl cysteine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), resveratrol, zinc, vitamins C and D, and L-carnitine.

N-Acetyl Cysteine

N-acetyl cysteine—NAC for short—gets rid of extra mucous.1 In doing so, it keeps the respiratory tract and sinuses comfortable and healthy.1 NAC defends mucosal membranes by boosting levels of secretory IgA.1 This acts like a natural barrier in the nose and mouth to keep unwanted organisms from adhering to tissues in this area of the body.1 What’s more, NAC is an antioxidant that supports a healthy inflammatory response.1

In a randomized, double-blind study, 262 elderly subjects were given either 600 mg of NAC or a placebo for six months.2 Participants in the NAC group had stronger immune systems in the winter. In a clinical trial, intravenous NAC supported lung health by improving oxygen delivery.3

Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 levels are often low in people feeling under the weather.4 In one study, 48% of adults who were facing wintertime health challenges were low in CoQ10 compared with only 7% of healthy controls.4 The low CoQ10 levels weren’t linked to the severity of symptoms.

These same results didn’t occur in children. In a pediatric study, researchers found no difference between CoQ10 levels in children with the seasonal flu and healthy children.5 However, in this study, the CoQ10 levels of kids with a different type of influenza (H1N1) were much lower than controls and people who had the seasonal flu.5

CoQ10 promotes the health of immune cells.6 CoQ10 also supports healthy levels of proteins known as cytokines.4 This leads to a healthy inflammatory response, which is important for people who want to keep their lungs and respiratory system healthy.

In a human study, compared with a placebo, 180 mg/day of CoQ10 supported healthy levels of antibodies in people receiving a vaccine.7 Another study in humans, this one of 30 athletes aged 14-18 years, investigated the effects of either 60 mg/day CoQ10, 600 mg/day L-carnitine, or a placebo for four weeks.8 Athletes receiving either L-carnitine or CoQ10 experienced improved immune cell function.


This plant-derived substance enhances immune cell function.9 Additionally, 1,000 mg for 28 days in a group of human subjects supported a healthy inflammatory response by blocking cytokines.9 This potential to support a healthy inflammatory response may be particularly useful in women seeking immune support while pregnant. Immunity problems are usually related to the overactivation of the immune system and the resulting inflammatory response.10 Supporting a healthy inflammatory response can help maintain lung health and keep you feeling energetic and well.10

Most of the research on resveratrol and immunity comes from cell culture and animal experiments. In these studies, resveratrol kept cells strong and healthy and supported the health of lungs in mice with the influenza virus.11

Vitamin D

Winter is linked to lower vitamin D levels. This seasonal drop in vitamin D may be the reason why many people feel under the weather at this time of year.12 Cells in the immune system have vitamin D receptors.12 This suggests vitamin D plays a critical role in immunity. Cell culture studies show this vitamin—really a hormone—is involved in the immune response.13


Zinc is known for its ability to support immunity. Even a mild zinc deficiency can lead to reduced immunity and poor immune cell function.14 Researchers have studied the use of zinc supplements in supporting the health of people with the common cold. In a randomized trial, 200 healthy children received either oral zinc sulfate (15 mg) or a placebo daily for seven months.15 When the children were coming down with a cold, their dosage was increased to 15 mg twice per day. The children in the zinc group developed significantly less colds compared to the placebo group. The children in the zinc group also missed less school. Many of the studies done on zinc and colds used zinc lozenges. Many—but not all of these studies—found zinc to be beneficial.16-18

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the best known immune support supplements. A review of studies that included 29 controlled trials and 11,077 subjects investigated the effect of at least 200 mg of vitamin C on immunity.19 The review found that vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of colds, but not the incidence. However, in five studies of participants under physical stress from exercise training in cold northern climates, vitamin C cut the incidence of the common cold in half.20

Pregnancy Immune Support

Immune support while pregnant or trying to conceive may involve taking an antioxidant supplement that contains the ingredients mentioned in this article. Each of these ingredients is a safe way to keep your immune system—and that of your partner’s—in top form. As always check with your OB/Midwife.

Dr. Chris Meletis

Dr. Chris MeletisDr. Chris Meletis is an educator, international author and lecturer. His personal mission is “Changing World’s Health One Person at a Time.” Dr Meletis has authored 18 books and over 200 national scientific articles in journals including Natural Health, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Life Extension, Natural Pharmacy, and articles.

Dr. Meletis served as Dean of Naturopathic Medicine and Chief Medical Officer for 7 years for the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now the National University of Natural Medicine). He was awarded the 2003 Physician of the Year by the American Association of Naturopathic Physician of the Year by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He has a deep passion for helping the underprivileged and spearheaded the creation of 16 free natural medicine healthcare clinics in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon.


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