Nutrients in AlgaeCal Plus That Support Your Immune System

Updated: July 21, 2023

Immune Boosting Nutrients

Did you know every stage of the immune response relies on specific vitamins and minerals to get the job done?

You may be surprised to learn that nine of these key nutrients are found in AlgaeCal Plus!

So in this post, we’ll go over the vitamins and minerals in AlgaeCal Plus that strengthen immunity — including how much you need and the best dietary sources. But first, here’s a quick overview of how the immune system works to help you understand the role each nutrient plays.

How Your Immune System Works

Your immune system is complex and multi-layered. It involves many organs, tissues, and cells throughout your body — and each of these plays a specialized role to protect you from infection and disease.

But to break it down simply, your immune system provides three types of defense: in a new tab)

1. Barriers

Your body has three kinds of barriers to infection: Physical, chemical, and biological. Physical barriers include your skin and mucous membranes. Chemical barriers refer to stomach acid and digestive enzymes. And biological barriers are the beneficial bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract. Note that these barriers technically fall under “innate immunity”. 

2. Innate Immunity 

Innate immunity is your body’s first line of defense. That includes barriers, as mentioned above. It also includes white blood cells that engulf and destroy foreign invaders and damaged cells. The key thing to know about innate immunity is that it’s an immediate and nonspecific response. For example, some nonspecific responses include fever, inflammation, and phagocytosis (a process where phagocytes engulf infected cells). But this system doesn’t develop specific antibodies to counter pathogens.

3. Adaptive Immunity 

Sometimes called “acquired immunity”, this system is your second line of defense. It’s more complex than innate immunity because it develops a specific response to pathogens. So it can take days or weeks to fully deploy. T- and B-cells are the main players in adaptive immunity, and they both target and destroy infected cells, amongst other functions. 

Now, deficiencies in certain nutrients can affect each of these types of defense. So let’s take a look at some of the nutrients in AlgaeCal Plus, and which aspects of immunity they’re involved with!

Vitamins in AlgaeCal Plus That Support Immune Function

Vitamin C Oranges

Vitamin C

Immune System Functions

Vitamin C mainly functions as an antioxidant. That means it protects against and neutralizes a variety of reactive oxygen species (free radicals). Reactive oxygen species are part of the innate immune response. They’re non-specific toxins your body releases to deal with invaders. But in the process, these reactive oxygen species can damage your body’s cells. So vitamin C protects against this kind of immune system “backlash”.

Vitamin C also restores other antioxidants like vitamin E, after your body uses them. So vitamin C protects against oxidative damage in two ways! 

What’s more, vitamin C may increase the production and function of white blood cells from both your innate and adaptive immune systems. But it’s worth noting the evidence for this function comes primarily from in vitro studies, so more research is needed to confirm these effects. 

On a basic level, vitamin C supports your immune system “barriers” too. Your skin actively accumulates vitamin C through two sodium-depending vitamin C transporters. This suggests vitamin C is crucial to your skin’s functions. The symptoms of the vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy, support this theory since it’s characterized by bruising, bleeding gums, and an impaired ability to heal wounds

Research & Recommendations 

Vitamin C’s immune-supportive functions are well-documented, and its benefits go even deeper than the functions discussed above! But human studies of vitamin C supplementation show mixed results. However, given the established functions of vitamin C, these mixed results are likely due to shortcomings in study methods and variables like study populations. 

For example, a recent review looked at six clinical trials to gauge the effect of vitamin C supplementation on pneumonia. They found that overall, vitamin C was mildly beneficial. But the review only included two double-blind, placebo-controlled trials (the gold standard of research). 

And the type of population varied wildly between the studies selected. Two trials examined military recruits. One looked at boys from “lower wage-earning classes”. One examined elderly patients. Another, adults with a wide age range. And finally, burn patients. With such huge variability in circumstances, it’s little wonder the results didn’t all add up!

But if you examine just the two high-quality, double-blind trials, you see that one found a statistically significant reduction (80% or greater) in pneumonia incidence with vitamin C supplementation. And the other found that vitamin C lowered mortality and reduced the severity of pneumonia. Telling results!

Now, when you look at the flip side of vitamin C studies, the benefits of this mineral become even clearer… 

Vitamin C deficiency has been shown to impair immunity and increase risk of infection. So it’s simple logic that getting plenty of vitamin C is in your immune system’s best interest. How much should you be aiming for? The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. 

That said, to support immune function, a much greater intake is likely advisable. In fact, a meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials recommends 1,000 mg a day to boost immunity. And since the tolerable upper intake level (ULs) for adults is 2,000 mg, it’s safe to take a higher dose of vitamin C like this.

Note that AlgaeCal Plus contains 50 mg of vitamin C in a daily dose, so be sure to include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods in your diet (you’ll find a few listed below). And depending how much you get from your diet, you could also supplement further.

Vitamin C Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Defends against oxidative damage caused by immune response.
  • Supports and enhances immune response.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 90 mg / men, 75 mg / women
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 50 mg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Red pepper (raw), 95 mg / ½ cup
  • Orange, 70 mg / 1 medium fruit
  • Kiwi, 64 mg / 1 medium fruit
  • Broccoli (cooked), 51 mg / ½ cup
  • Strawberries (fresh), 49 mg / ½ cup

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit this page and scroll down to the “Best Food Sources of Vitamin C” section!

Special notes: 

Salmon vitamin D source

Vitamin D3

Immune System Functions

Vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D), has a powerful effect on the immune system. In fact, the main vitamin D receptor (VDR) is expressed on many types of immune cells. Think of VDR as a kind of middle man between vitamin D3 and immune cells.

It goes like this: Vitamin D3 attaches to VDR on immune cells, which causes a chain of cellular interactions that regulate specific genes. And studies have shown that vitamin D3 influences both innate and adaptive immune responses in this way.

In terms of innate immunity, vitamin D3 regulates two important proteins: Cathelicidin and defensin. These proteins’ primary responsibility is to kill pathogens. Vitamin D3 has also been shown to increase the production of immune cells. So vitamin D3 helps protect against pathogens in many ways!

Vitamin D3 and adaptive immunity have a very different relationship. Most of the time, vitamin D3 tells the adaptive immune system to slow down. Scientifically speaking, vitamin D3 reduces the production of antibodies by B-cells. It also suppresses the production of T-cells. These functions are helpful in the case of autoimmune diseases (where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body).

As you can see, vitamin D3 has a hand in both innate and adaptive immunity. And because of all these pivotal roles, vitamin D3 deficiency can contribute to many conditions. On the other hand, supplementing with vitamin D3 has many immunoprotective effects!

Research & Recommendations

Vitamin D3 provides some remarkable immune system benefits. Many randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials have shown that supplementing with vitamin D3 protects against respiratory tract infection (RTI). This is likely due to vitamin D3’s effects on innate immunity. 

Vitamin D3’s benefits for adaptive immunity are a little less clear. It’s well-documented that vitamin D3 deficiency is linked to certain autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes mellitus. But to date, there aren’t a lot of randomized controlled trials on whether vitamin D3 supplementation helps prevent and treat autoimmune diseases.

For example, a systematic review on multiple sclerosis from 2013 included just five randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trials and found the data inconclusive. The researchers noted that larger studies are needed to properly assess the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation.

But while the use of vitamin D3 for autoimmune conditions requires more study, the overall benefits of this vitamin are tremendous. So how much do you need to support optimal immune function? Well, the RDA is set at 600 IUs for adults, and 800 IUs for adults over 70. But there are a few other factors to take into consideration…

First off, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common across the United States. In fact, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that 94.3% of Americans don’t meet the daily requirement for vitamin D. The key point being, if your levels of vitamin D are already low, you’ll need a greater daily intake to restore them.

If you take AlgaeCal Plus, you’ll get 1,600 IUs of vitamin D3 a day! A more optimal amount for health than the RDA… but still well within the tolerable upper intake for adults of 4,000 IUs.

Vitamin D3 Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Regulates proteins that kill pathogens.
  • Influences immune cell development.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 600 IUs / adults, 800 IUs / adults 70+
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 1,600 IUs / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Cod liver oil, 1 tbsp / 1,360 IUs
  • Salmon (cooked), 3 oz / 447 IUs
  • Tuna (canned), 3 oz / 154 IUs
  • Sardines (canned), 2 / 46 IUs
  • Beef liver (cooked), 3 oz / 42 IUs

For more information on the best sources of vitamin D, visit this page!

Special notes: 

Dairy leach calcium - Cheese

Vitamin K2 

Immune System Functions

Vitamin K2’s effects on the immune system aren’t well understood, yet. But scientists agree it has a role to play.

Vitamin K2 may affect immunity indirectly through a protein called protein S. Researchers suggest that protein S is related to something called C4B-binding protein (C4BP). And C4BP can help B-cells survive. (Remember, B-cells target and destroy infected cells.) Note that this relationship requires more study.

It’s also been reported that vitamin K2 has anti-inflammatory effects. It pulls this off by suppressing inflammatory protein signals, which are part of your innate immune response. So vitamin K2 may moderate some of the damaging effects of innate immunity.

Finally, vitamin K2 also has anti-tumorigenic effects. Simply put, it may suppress cancer growth. Again, how it pulls this off requires more study. But it looks like vitamin K2 can block the cell cycle and induce cell death (apoptosis).

As you can see, we still have a lot to learn about vitamin K2’s role in immune function. But human studies provide us with clues about its benefits…

Research & Recommendations

There has been some research on the relationship between vitamin K2 and inflammatory diseases. Specifically, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been linked to low levels of this vitamin. But the “why” remains unclear.

More extensive research has been conducted on the link between vitamin K2 and cancer. In fact, several human studies show that vitamin K2 has anticancer effects. For example, one study showed that vitamin K2 can help prevent the production of cancer of the liver.

And a meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials found that vitamin K2 helped prevent the formation of secondary tumors and increased survival rate in cancer patients. These cancer protective effects are likely due, in part, to vitamin K2’s ability to induce apoptosis.

So even though more research is needed to understand all the ways vitamin K2 supports immunity, there clearly exists a beneficial relationship.

But again, since vitamin K2 hasn’t been as well-studied as other nutrients, the National Institutes of Health haven’t established an RDA. Instead, they set an adequate intake (AI). For women, the AI is 90 mcg a day, and for men, it’s 120 mcg. Note that AlgaeCal Plus provides an ideal dose of 100 mcg a day.

Vitamin K2 Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Affects immune and inflammatory responses.
  • Inhibits cell growth and promotes apoptosis.

Intake guidelines: 

  • AI: 90 mcg / day women, 120 mcg / day men
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 100 mcg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Natto, 1 oz / 283 mcg
  • French Brie-style cheese, 1 oz / 21 mcg
  • Norwegian Jarlsberg cheese, 1 oz / 6-19.5 mcg
  • Emmentaler, 1 oz / 6-19.5 mcg
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 oz / 2.9 mcg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit this page and scroll down to the “Richest Food Sources of Vitamin K2” section!

Special notes: 

  • Like vitamin D3, vitamin K2 is hard to come by in food sources. Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made with fermented soybeans, is the exception.
  • Although an RDA for vitamin K2 hasn’t been established, research shows that as little as 90 mcg is beneficial for health.

Minerals in AlgaeCal Plus That Support Immune Function 



Immune System Functions

Calcium is most often discussed in relation to bone health. Yet, research shows it’s crucial for immune function too!

Calcium signaling is the key. Simply put, calcium signaling refers to calcium working as a messenger. By flooding in and out of cells, it “signals” various functions throughout the body. And it does this with lymphocytes (white blood cells) too.

Lymphocytes have calcium channels that allow the mineral to move in and out of cells. These channels aren’t fully understood yet, but the main pathway is called store-operated calcium (SOC).

Now, when lymphocytes encounter an antigen, antigen receptors are activated. And when that happens, calcium floods into the triggered lymphocyte. In turn, this triggers all sorts of functions. Most importantly, it switches the lymphocyte into “action mode”.

As you can see, calcium is a key part of the adaptive immune response! Research has also shown that calcium is the initial trigger for the healing process. Similar to the mechanism described above, calcium floods into the wounded area and signals enzymes that recruit white blood cells to come help.

And researchers keep discovering new functions for calcium in immunity. Another study found that a calcium-based signal regulates the production of two types of immune cells: T follicular helper cells and T follicular regulatory cells. The main message of this study?

In the words of the senior researcher, Stefan Feske, MD, “Calcium signals play a vital role in keeping the immune system finely balanced, ramping responses up and down at the appropriate time.”

Research & Recommendations

Calcium works hand in hand with your immune cells. Specifically, T-cells require a steady supply of calcium to perform.

The effects of calcium deficiency demonstrate the importance of this relationship. Many chronic diseases are linked to calcium deficiency, and several of these diseases are directly related to immune function.

For example, a lot of evidence exists for a link between calcium deficiency and colorectal cancer. In fact, as early as 1985, a 19-year prospective trial identified low calcium intake as a risk factor for colon cancer. And many studies since have confirmed this relationship [1, 2, 3].

Autoimmune diseases have also been connected to calcium intake. But the research on this connection is limited. A small pilot study found that treatment with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium helped reduce the relapse rate for patients with multiple sclerosis. But other than that, most of the available evidence is from animal studies.

Suffice to say, more research on the link between calcium and immune conditions is needed. But the importance of calcium for immune function is undeniable. So how much calcium should you be getting?

The RDA for adults 51 years of age and older is 1,200 mg for women and 1,000 mg for men. For adults between the ages of 19 and 50, the RDA is 1,000 mg.

Now, AlgaeCal Plus provides 720 mg of calcium a day. This takes into account that the average western diet typically provides 400 to 500 mg of calcium a day. So 720 mg is actually an ideal dose!

On the other hand, traditional supplements often come as 1,000 or 1,200 mg of calcium on its own (or with vitamin D). But since diet provides more calcium on top of that, this can lead to excessive intake — which is worsened by the fact that these supplements often lack the right balance of minerals and vitamins needed for your body to properly use calcium.

But AlgaeCal Plus provides all of the vitamins and minerals you need to take full advantage of the calcium provided — in a thoughtful amount.

Calcium Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Acts as a messenger and regulates immune responses.
  • Initial triggers for the healing process.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 1,200 mg / women 51+, 1,000 mg / men 51+
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 720 mg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Yogurt (plain), 8 oz / 415 mg
  • Mozzarella, 1.5 oz / 333 mg
  • Sardines (canned with bones), 3 oz / 325 mg
  • Milk, 1 cup / 299 mg
  • Salmon (canned with bones), 3 oz / 181 mg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit our “Top Calcium-Rich Foods” list!

Special notes:

  • Of course, dairy is one of the best sources of calcium. But if you’re vegan, not to worry. Other good sources include soy milk (1 cup / 299 mg), tofu (½ cup / 253 mg), and kale (1 cup / 94 mg).
  • The calcium in AlgaeCal Plus is plant-derived and comes from a unique strain of marine algae called Lithothamnion superpositum.
fresh chicken liver pate


Immune System Functions

Copper is a key component of a group of enzymes called the “cuproenzymes”. Many cuproenzymes are known to have antioxidant properties. And one in particular, superoxide dismutase, protects immune cells from oxidative damage.

Other than this function, the exact role copper plays in the immune system is unclear. Nonetheless, it’s well-accepted that it plays a role.

Scientists believe it may contribute to the innate immune response to bacterial infections. This theory lines up with the fact that copper has antimicrobial properties. In other words, bacteria beware! It’s also supported by the fact that copper accumulates at sites of inflammation, which suggests it’s contributing to the process in some way.

Research & Recommendations

Deficiency tells us a lot about the importance of a nutrient. And when a person is deficient in copper, it leads to neutropenia — a condition where you have an abnormally low number of immune cells called neutrophils.

Now, neutrophils are white blood cells that destroy bacteria. So neutropenia and copper deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Even though the “why” isn’t yet understood, the message is clear: You need copper for proper immune function.

That said, it’s a balance when it comes to this mineral. Not enough is bad for immune function, but too much may also be harmful. In a small study, nine men were fed 7.8 mg of copper a day for approximately five months. At this intake, copper actually led to a decrease in antibody production. Now, this was an extremely small study, but it’s worth noting because you shouldn’t overdo it with this mineral.

So how much copper is beneficial for immunity? Well, the RDA is set at 900 mcg for adults 19 years and older. So stick to this recommendation to reap the immune health benefits of copper. But there’s no need to be concerned if you consume a little more either. The tolerable upper limit for adults is quite substantial at 10,000 mcg a day. And if you take AlgaeCal Plus, you’ll get 2 mcg of copper a day — a small but beneficial complement to dietary sources!

Copper Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Key component of antioxidant enzymes.
  • May help innate immune cells kill bacteria. 

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 900 mcg / day
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 2 mcg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Beef liver (pan-fried), 3 oz / 12,400 mcg
  • Oysters (cooked), 3 oz / 4850 mcg
  • Baking chocolate (unsweetened), 1 oz / 938 mcg
  • Potatoes (cooked), 1 medium / 675 mcg
  • Mushrooms (cooked), ½ cup / 72 mcg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit this page and scroll down to “Selected Food Sources of Copper”!

Special notes: 

  • Liver is an extremely rich source of copper and can provide over 1000 times the RDA!
  • Many foods are rich in copper, so you don’t need to worry too much about getting enough. If you eat a healthy diet, your copper intake should be covered.
Prunes and osteoporosis


Immune System Functions

A growing pool of research shows that boron affects immune function in several different ways. The most well-studied of these effects relates to inflammation.

Specifically, boron regulates the inflammatory process by reducing the activity of certain enzymes. Think of these enzymes like agitators urging inflammation on. Boron tells them to relax. So this mineral is key for moderating the effects of inflammation caused by the innate immune response.

Boron may also benefit the healing process. This benefit requires more study, but early research shows boron facilitates the activity of enzymes found in fibroblasts — the most common type of cells in connective tissue. Fibroblasts produce collagen and extracellular matrix (a network of cells that provide structural support). And they play a crucial role in wound healing. So by making life easy on these enzymes, boron indirectly supports the healing process.

Research & Recommendations

There aren’t many high-quality human studies on boron and immunity yet. Still, there’s a couple worth discussing!

One double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial examined the effects of dietary boron on inflammation. This trial included 20 patients with osteoarthritis. Patients received either 6 mg of boron a day or a placebo for eight weeks.

Now, right away you can see there are some limitations, like small sample size and short study duration. But since the type of study is strong, the results do hold promise. The patients who received boron reported significant improvements in measures of their condition (joint swelling and restricted movement).

There are quite a few animal studies that support the beneficial effects of boron on immunity as well. For example, a recent study in mice found that boron induced the production of white blood cells and increased anti-inflammatory action. Again, very promising! But of course, more high-quality human research is called for.

Now, since there’s not enough data on boron yet, there’s no RDA. But the World Health Organization states that an “acceptable safe range” for adults is 1-13 mg a day. There is, however, a tolerable upper intake level (UL) set at 20 mg a day for adults 19 and over. And AlgaeCal Plus provides an ideal dose of 3 mg a day — well within the intake guidelines!

Boron Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Regulates the inflammatory process.
  • Supports wound healing.

Intake guidelines: 

  • World Health Organization guideline: 1-13 mg a day for adults
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 3 mg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Prune juice, 1 cup / 1.43 mg
  • Avocado (raw), ½ cup / 1.07 mg
  • Raisins, 1.5 oz / 0.95 mg
  • Peaches, 1 medium / 0.80 mg
  • Apples, 1 medium / 0.66 mg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit our “Top Boron-Rich Food Sources” page!

Special notes: 

  • Boron is a trace mineral, so there’s very small amounts of it in food! Thankfully, you only need a small amount to reap its health benefits.
  • Prunes are a great source of boron, and studies have even shown that prunes are beneficial for bone health!
almonds nuts on a wooden table


Immune System Functions

Magnesium is one of the most crucial minerals for your body. After all, it’s involved in over 300 biochemical reactions! And yes, it contributes to a strong immune system too.

But it’s worth noting most of the research on exactly how magnesium supports immunity has been in animals so far. Nonetheless, this research suggests magnesium affects both your innate and adaptive immune system.

Animal studies have found magnesium deficiency activates immune cells that promote inflammation. Whereas, high magnesium decreases some types of inflammatory activity. More research is needed to confirm how this works, but it seems healthy levels of magnesium protect against the inflammatory actions of the innate immune system.

Magnesium may also play a role in apoptosis. (Remember, apoptosis means cell death.) Apoptosis is key for the immune system because it helps control the immune response. So by supporting this process, magnesium also helps regulate the immune response.

These mechanisms certainly require more study. But human studies of the role magnesium plays in different conditions demonstrate the importance of this mineral to immune function…

Research & Recommendations

Magnesium is helpful for asthma, a condition that involves immune responses. And several studies show that magnesium can help alleviate asthma symptoms. Researchers believe this is due to magnesium’s anti-inflammatory and bronchodilating (ability to expand air passages) effects.

In older adults, magnesium deficiency may increase vulnerability to certain conditions. For example, magnesium imbalance has been linked to stress susceptibility, defective membrane functions, inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and (yes!) immune dysfunction.

Of course, the immune system plays a role in all of these conditions. And the fact that magnesium impacts such a variety of conditions is a testament to its crucial nature.

So how much magnesium is best? The RDA for adults 31 and older is 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men. A daily dose of AlgaeCal Plus falls right into this range at 350 mg a day!

Magnesium Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Protects against inflammatory immune response.
  • Helps regulate immune response by supporting apoptosis.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 320 mg / women, 420 mg / men
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 350 mg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Almonds (roasted), 1 oz / 80 mg
  • Spinach (boiled), ½ cup / 78 mg
  • Cashews (roasted), 1 oz / 74 mg
  • Black beans (cooked), ½ cup / 60 mg
  • Edamame (cooked), ½ cup / 50 mg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit our “Best Magnesium-Rich Foods for Optimal Health” page!

Special notes: 

  • If you’re getting the recommended 1,200 mg of calcium a day, then the RDA for magnesium is actually too low. The ideal balance of calcium to magnesium is 2:1. That means you actually need 600 mg of magnesium to balance your calcium.
  • Look to magnesium-rich foods to up your intake and achieve this balance. Thankfully, magnesium is abundant in many foods — check out our page above for the top 35!
vitamin D rich food


Immune System Functions

You need selenium to mount a proper immune response. This is because selenium is required to activate a group of enzymes called selenoproteins.

The selenoproteins have two crucial immune system functions. They act as “redox regulators”, meaning they regulate cell death and survival. And they’re powerful cellular antioxidants, meaning they fight oxidative damage caused by your innate immune response.

One of the key selenoproteins is called glutathione peroxidase (GPx). GPx’s main role is to protect against oxidative stress by removing free radicals. But GPx also restores other antioxidants your body has already used, like vitamin C. (Remember, vitamin C restores antioxidants too, so this chain of events fights oxidative stress in many ways!)

Finally, preliminary research also suggests selenium helps regulate the production of immune system messengers called cytokines and eicosanoids — yet another way this mineral contributes to the immune response.

Research & Recommendations

Again, a lot can be gleaned by looking at the effects of selenium deficiency. A deficiency in this trace mineral impairs both types of immunity: Innate and adaptive.

Antibody production, one of your adaptive system’s functions, goes down during deficiency. Cell-mediated immunity, a response that doesn’t involve specific antibodies, also suffers. So it’s clear how crucial selenium is for your immune system.

In fact, selenium deficiency may contribute to the progression of some viral infections. Thankfully, research also shows that it’s possible to reduce these effects by supplementing with selenium.

But it’s worth noting selenium affects the immune response in several different ways. So it’s important not to overdo it with this mineral either. Balance is key. What’s a good balance? The RDA for selenium is 55 mcg a day for adults. With AlgaeCal Plus, you’re getting 3.3 mcg a day. So you’ll want to include some selenium-rich foods like the ones listed below in your diet too!

It’s worth noting that at extremely high levels (more than the No-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Level (NOAEL) of 800 mcg a day) selenium toxicity can occur. So stick to around 55 mcg. But don’t worry if you go a little over. The tolerable upper limit for adults is 400 mcg.

Selenium Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Key component of the antioxidant selenoproteins.
  • Affects the production of immune system messengers.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 55 mcg / day
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 3.3 mcg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Brazil nuts, 1 oz (6-8 nuts) / 544 mcg
  • Tuna (cooked), 3 oz / 92 mcg
  • Halibut (cooked), 3 oz / 47 mcg
  • Sardines (canned), 3 oz / 45 mcg
  • Ham (roasted), 3 oz / 42 mcg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit this page and scroll down to the “Best Food Sources of Selenium” section!

Special notes: 

  • Go easy on brazil nuts! A single serving of six nuts provides more selenium than the tolerable upper limit of 400 mcg a day. If you want to boost your selenium intake, just one brazil nut does the trick.
  • Other than brazil nuts, fish, meat, and dairy products are the best sources of selenium. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, look to rice and beans! One cup of brown rice provides 19 mcg, while one cup of baked beans offers another 13 mcg.
Oysters - magnesium rich foods


Immune System Functions

Zinc is one of the most hyped immunity-supporting minerals and with good reason! It plays key roles in both innate and adaptive immunity.

There are three main ways that zinc affects these immune systems. First, your body needs zinc for the growth and development of immune cells. This applies to both innate and adaptive immune cells. When it comes to immunity, it doesn’t get more essential than that.

Second, zinc is key for the production of antibodies. Without zinc, T-cells can’t function properly. B-cells undergo apoptosis. Monocytes (a type of white blood cell) are impaired. Neutrophils function at reduced capacity… and the list goes on!

And third, zinc is a structural component of many immune cell players. An enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) is one of these players. (If you recall, we discussed SOD a little earlier in relation to copper!) SOD is an antioxidant that contains zinc, and it protects immune cells from oxidative damage generated during an immune response.

Finally, it’s worth noting that zinc helps keep your skin and mucosal membrane “barriers” strong. That’s because it’s a cofactor for enzymes required to repair cell membranes. This also means that zinc helps you heal wounds.

Overall, zinc plays a massive role in the immune system, and has even more functions than the main ones discussed here! So it’s no surprise that human studies reveal zinc deficiency has severe effects… 

Research & Recommendations

Simply put, zinc deficiency compromises your immune system. Your innate immune cells work at reduced capacity, and the number of adaptive immune cells in your body takes a big hit. What’s more, oxidative stress and inflammation goes up.

Because zinc is so important, even a slight deficiency can affect immunity. For older adults, it’s especially important to get plenty of zinc because blood levels of zinc decline with age. Plus, many adults 60 and older don’t get enough zinc to meet their dietary needs.

The good news is, several studies show it’s possible to restore immune function by supplementing with zinc.

For example, in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 50 adults between the ages of 55 and 87, supplemented with 45 mg of zinc a day for 12 months. The researchers found that zinc supplementation reduced the incidence of infections and increased immune system function — as measured by oxidative stress markers and the number of immune cells present.

Now, this was a relatively small sample, but these results have been replicated in other studies. That’s why in a review of “The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging”, scientists concluded that “Zinc ions are indispensable for immune function”.

How much zinc do you need to strengthen immunity? Not a lot! The RDA is set at just 11 mg for men aged 19 and older, and 8 mg for women aged 19 and older. AlgaeCal Plus contains 24.1 mcg in a daily dose. So you get a little bit of zinc! But you’ll want to ensure you get plenty from food sources too. Note that the tolerable upper intake for adults is 40 mg.

Zinc Summary

Main Functions: 

  • Required for growth and development of immune cells.
  • Key for the production of antibodies.
  • Structural component of cells required for immune function.

Intake guidelines: 

  • RDA: 8 mg / women 19+, 11 mg / men 19+
  • AlgaeCal Plus: 24.1 mcg / day

Good dietary sources: 

  • Oysters (cooked), 3 oz / 74 mg
  • Beef chuck roast (braised), 3 oz / 7 mg
  • Crab (cooked), 3 oz / 6.5 mg
  • Lobster (cooked), 3 oz / 3.4 mg
  • Pork chop (cooked), 3 oz / 2.9 mg

For a more comprehensive list of dietary sources, visit this page and scroll down to the “Selected Foods Sources of Zinc” section!

Special notes: 

  • The richest sources of zinc are fish and meat, but if you’re vegetarian, some options include baked beans (½ cup / 2.9 mg), pumpkin seeds (1 oz / 2.2 mg), or natural supplementation.
  • It’s well-known that taking zinc lozenges when you start to feel a cold coming on can speed recovery!

Nutrients and Your Immune System Takeaways

There’s no “magic bullet” for immune health.

Like with bone health, a strong immune system requires a variety of nutrients. These nutrients work together to fuel and support your body’s functions.

But as humans age, the immune system begins to decline. Factors like diet, environment, and stress all play a role in this process. That’s why it’s especially important for older adults to practice proper nutrition.

So be sure to provide your body with the nutrients outlined in this post — for the sake of your bones and immunity!

AlgaeCal Plus is generally purchased for its bone-building benefits. Now, you can see that it contains supportive amounts of nine different immune-boosting nutrients as well! To find out what AlgaeCal Plus can do for your bone health, click on the banner below.

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Article Comments

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  1. Dayona Dodd

    March 22, 2020 , 9:10 am

    Would love to date this great info in FB but link doesn’t work

  2. Megan AlgaeCal

    March 23, 2020 , 3:11 pm

    Hi Dayona!

    Sorry to hear you’re experiencing some technical difficulties. If you’d like to share this article, you can use this link:

    Glad you enjoyed the information! 🙂

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  3. MarieDeBonis

    March 22, 2020 , 2:32 pm

    Do these vitamins make blood pressure sore

  4. Megan AlgaeCal

    March 23, 2020 , 3:18 pm

    Hi Marie!

    Along with being clinically supported to increase bone density, AlgaeCal showed no side effects in our studies! The results of a recently completed 7-year study show extraordinary safety via a panel of 45 blood chemistries and a quality of life questionnaire. You can see this here.

    Having said that, for specific medical conditions we would recommend checking in with your doctor to see if AlgaeCal is appropriate for you at this time. We have an excellent information sheet you can share with them here.

    Hope this helps! Any other questions, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-820-0184.

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  5. Vivian

    March 31, 2020 , 11:26 am

    Hi . my name is Vivian. I been taking viamins for over fifty years. It has serve its purpose in my body.beyond the purpose. I reley got colds, the flu, viruses.I got a flu shot once in my life that made me very sick.i got tht flu shot in 1993. Necer got another one.

  6. Megan AlgaeCal

    April 3, 2020 , 12:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Vivian!!

    That’s amazing and we’re so glad to hear that you’ve been keeping healthy for over 50 years now… that’s super impressive! Keep up the great work taking care of yourself ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  7. Candis Stanley

    April 2, 2020 , 10:42 am

    This was an excellent presentation. I felt like l was back in school studying nutrition. I loved it. My huge concern is that if l take the recommended amount of Algacal l am close to having diarrhea. I now can only take two tabs and supplement with vitamins and another calcium tablet. I have heard others have this concern too as l have followed discussions about Algaecal. Thank you for this presentation.

  8. Megan AlgaeCal

    April 3, 2020 , 12:22 pm

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the presentation, Candis! ?

    Sorry to hear you’re experiencing this with AlgaeCal! Have you had a chance to reach out to our Bone Health Consultants yet? They would love to work with you to figure out the cause of what you’re experiencing and support you going forward. If this is something you are open to, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-820-0184. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you along your bone health journey ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  9. Frances

    April 17, 2020 , 4:07 pm

    Last night I read a receive with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, avocado, and other ingredients. I can’t find the recipe again. Can you help me?

  10. Blaire AlgaeCal

    April 20, 2020 , 10:35 am

    Hi Frances,

    Thanks for reaching out! It sounds like you’re talking about the delicious green gazpacho recipe, which you can find here. Hope that helps – please let us know if it was a different recipe or if you have any questions ?

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  11. Dian VanDeMark

    May 13, 2022 , 12:39 pm

    A very detailed and interesting article. Thank you!

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,