Best Supplements to Reduce Inflammation in the Body

When a pathogen evades your body’s barrier defenses, you suffer an injury, or you are exposed to a harmful toxin, it will trigger an acute inflammatory response. Inflammation is a normal immune response to increase blood flow and leakiness in blood vessels near the infection. When inflammatory-inducing chemicals are released, infection-fighting cells swarm the area to kill the invading pathogen and stimulate healing. In response to inflammatory chemicals, you may notice the following signs of inflammation:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pain
  • Some loss of function

The immune system has two primary responses: innate and adaptive. The innate immune system is a more shotgun or generalized response, and the adaptive immune system is highly targeted. Inflammation is part of the innate immune response. Many innocent bystander cells get destroyed as inflammation-inducing chemicals are released. This response is normally short-lived, and your body tissues recover.

When inflammation persists and becomes low-grade chronic inflammation, it is no longer beneficial. The damage from pathogens, toxins, or injuries has been resolved, but inflammatory chemicals continue to be secreted or are secreted without reason. Chronic inflammation can hurt healthy cells, tissues, and organs, which can lead to scarring and permanent damage to the body’s cells and DNA. Cancer, heart disease, dementia, abnormal blood lipids, depression, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, chronic kidney disease, stroke, and diabetes are all linked to chronic inflammation.1,2

Certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, physical inactivity, chronic infections, chronic stress, older age, visceral obesity, pollution, and poor sleep habits, can increase your risk of developing chronic inflammation.2,3 Consuming a healthy diet, exercising, managing stress, and taking vitamins and supplements for inflammation when appropriate can reduce your risk of chronic inflammation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is well known for its bone-building role, but it also has a key role in modulating the immune response. Vitamin D exerts effects on both the adaptive and innate immune systems. There is a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and abnormally regulated inflammatory responses.4 Low vitamin D levels are associated with low-grade systemic inflammation.5 While more research is needed to understand vitamin D’s effect on the immune system, vitamin D supplementation decreased airway inflammation in one study.4,6 This suggests a link between vitamin D levels and chronic inflammation.

Exposure to ultraviolet B radiation is an excellent source of vitamin D. However, the physiological process of absorbing UV radiation through the skin to produce vitamin D is only efficient when the sun’s angle is at 45 degrees or more. In the U.S. and Europe, this means you need to rely on diet or vitamin D supplements for six months of the year to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.7

dietary sources of vitamin D

Vitamin C

Consuming more vitamin C is age-old advice when looking for ways to boost your immune system when you are sick. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps both the innate and adaptive immune systems fight off sickness. Vitamin C also reduces inflammation and supports the skin and mucous membranes as barriers against infections. Researchers have found a link between having higher vitamin C levels and having fewer chemicals that cause inflammation. 8 Vitamin C deficiency leads to impaired immunity and a higher susceptibility to infection.9

Boost your vitamin C by taking a vitamin C supplement or increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Great natural anti-inflammatory sources of vitamin C include:

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Kakadu plums
  • Red cherries
  • Green chili peppers
  • Red and yellow peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli
dietary sources of vitamin C

Glutathione

Glutathione, sometimes called the master antioxidant, is made of three amino acids: glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, normal products of metabolism that may damage cells if they are not disabled.10

Glutathione levels decrease with age and poor health, making it more difficult to detoxify metabolic, drug, and environmental toxins and fight inflammation associated with illnesses, such as COVID-19, and chronic inflammation. Conditions associated with low glutathione levels include diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.11

Glutathione is naturally produced in the body. You can increase your glutathione levels by taking glutathione supplements or through your diet. Consume these natural anti-inflammatory dietary sources of glutathione:

  • Sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens
  • Vitamin C to conserve your body’s glutathione
  • Selenium-rich foods
  • Foods rich in glutathione, like spinach, avocados, asparagus, and okra

Curcumin

Curcumin, a substance in the popular Indian spice turmeric, may reduce inflammation and boost glutathione production. Curcumin reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in cells.12 Curcumin can be found in 100s of products to treat and prevent chronic inflammation and diseases such as arthritis, digestive disease, respiratory infections, diabetes, allergies, and liver disease.13-15

Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed from your gastrointestinal tract. Piperidine, a natural alkaloid in black pepper, can boost curcumin absorption.16 Add turmeric and black pepper to your diet to boost curcumin levels. In high doses or after long-term use, curcumin can cause nausea and diarrhea.17 Pregnant people and people with certain medical conditions, such as gallbladder or kidney disease, or diabetes, should talk to their doctor before supplementing with curcumin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are converted in your body to ALA, an essential fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, reduce inflammation and promote gut health. Research suggests that taking fish oil supplements can increase inflammation-fighting chemicals in your body for up to 24 hours.18

Boost your omega-3 levels by consuming fish oil supplements or fatty fish. Besides reducing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids support cognitive and cardiovascular health. Consume fatty fish and these 8 best foods for better brain health.

sources of Omega-3 fatty acids

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Resveratrol is easily absorbed from the gut, but only a small amount actually reaches body tissues. Once absorbed, resveratrol inhibits inflammatory chemicals. Resveratrol is promising for preventing and treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions if its low bioavailability can be overcome.19

Resveratrol is found in grapes, blueberries, red wine, dark chocolate, and peanuts. You can get resveratrol benefits by consuming these foods and drinks or taking a supplement, such as Age Supplement.

Quercetin

Quercetin is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.20 Quercetin is naturally found in apples, onions, teas, berries, red wine, and supplements such as Immunity Vitamin Pack.

Quercetin is used to treat several medical conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies, and some infections. More research is needed to fully understand quercetin’s potential benefits. In one small study, participants with rheumatoid arthritis reported less stiffness and pain after taking quercetin. After eight weeks of use, blood markers of inflammation had also decreased.21

Selenium

Selenium is an essential micronutrient that enhances immune cell function and reduces inflammation. It also has antioxidant and antiviral effects.20 Selenium combines with proteins in the body to produce selenoproteins which help protect your body cells from inflammatory damage. Selenium protects your body tissues from overactive immunity and from chronic inflammation.22

Consuming selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts, seafood, enriched pasta, turkey, ham, beef liver, chicken, and cottage cheese can help you get more selenium. Performance Vitamin Pack contains selenium, along with other vitamins and minerals that are specifically chosen to support immune function.

a cup of green tea

Green Tea Extract

Green tea is rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), caffeine, and chlorogenic acid, making it an extremely good anti-inflammatory drink. EGCG is an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radicals. Green tea also suppresses the production of inflammatory chemicals.23

Drink green tea, or take green tea extract, to support your immune system and reduce your risk of diseases associated with chronic inflammation.23

Chronic inflammation increases your risk for various diseases, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.23 Natural anti-inflammatory vitamins and nutrients in your diet and supplements can boost your levels of these nutrients and reduce your risk of disease from inflammation. Healthy lifestyle choices such as a diet high in antioxidants and healthy fat sources, daily exercise, stress management, and prioritizing restful sleep can also help support the immune system and reduce chronic inflammation. Read more top tips for immune health in the ultimate guide to immune health.

Disclaimer

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References

1. Roth GA, Abate D, Abate KH, et al. Global, regional, and national age-sex-specific mortality for 282 causes of death in 195 countries and territories, 1980–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2018;392(10159):1736-1788.

2. Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, et al. Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nature Medicine. 2019/12/01 2019;25(12):1822-1832. doi:10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0

3.  Bektas A, Schurman SH, Sen R, Ferrucci L. Aging, inflammation and the environment. Exp Gerontol. May 2018;105:10-18. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2017.12.015

4. Bishop E, Ismailova A, Dimeloe S, Hewison M, White JH. Vitamin D and Immune Regulation: Antibacterial, Antiviral, Anti-Inflammatory. https://doi.org/10.1002/jbm4.10405. JBMR Plus. 2021/01/01 2021;5(1):e10405. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/jbm4.10405

5. Zhou A, Hyppönen E. Vitamin D deficiency and C-reactive protein: a bidirectional Mendelian randomization study. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2022;doi:10.1093/ije/dyac087

6. de Groot JC, van Roon EN, Storm H, et al. Vitamin D reduces eosinophilic airway inflammation in nonatopic asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. Mar 2015;135(3):670-5.e3. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.033

7. Tavera-Mendoza LE, White JH. Cell defenses and the sunshine vitamin. Sci Am. Nov 2007;297(5):62-5, 68-70, 72. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1107-62

8.  Arablou T, Aryaeian N, Djalali M, Shahram F, Rasouli L. Association between dietary intake of some antioxidant micronutrients with some inflammatory and antioxidant markers in active Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 2019;89(5-6):238-245. doi:10.1024/0300-9831/a000255

9. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211.

10. Morris G, Anderson G, Dean O, et al. The glutathione system: a new drug target in neuroimmune disorders. Mol Neurobiol. Dec 2014;50(3):1059-84. doi:10.1007/s12035-014-8705-x

11. Silvagno F, Vernone A, Pescarmona GP. The Role of Glutathione in Protecting against the Severe Inflammatory Response Triggered by COVID-19. Antioxidants (Basel). Jul 16 2020;9(7)doi:10.3390/antiox9070624

12. Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology. 2012/07/01 2012;4(3):298-307. doi:10.4161/derm.22876

13. He Y, Yue Y, Zheng X, Zhang K, Chen S, Du Z. Curcumin, inflammation, and chronic diseases: how are they linked? Molecules. May 20 2015;20(5):9183-213. doi:10.3390/molecules20059183

14. Pivari F, Mingione A, Brasacchio C, Soldati L. Curcumin and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Prevention and Treatment. Nutrients. Aug 8 2019;11(8)doi:10.3390/nu11081837

15. Panahi Y, Darvishi B, Ghanei M, Jowzi N, Beiraghdar F, Varnamkhasti BS. Molecular mechanisms of curcumins suppressing effects on tumorigenesis, angiogenesis and metastasis, focusing on NF-κB pathway. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. Apr 2016;28:21-9. doi:10.1016/j.cytogfr.2015.12.004

16. Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health Potential. Nutrients. Sep 8 2019;11(9)doi:10.3390/nu11092147

17. Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Foods. Oct 22 2017;6(10)doi:10.3390/foods6100092

18. Souza PR, Marques RM, Gomez EA, et al. Enriched Marine Oil Supplements Increase Peripheral Blood Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators Concentrations and Reprogram Host Immune Responses. Circulation Research. 2020;126(1):75-90. doi:doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.119.315506

19. Meng T, Xiao D, Muhammed A, Deng J, Chen L, He J. Anti-Inflammatory Action and Mechanisms of Resveratrol. Molecules. Jan 5 2021;26(1)doi:10.3390/molecules26010229

20. Mrityunjaya M, Pavithra V, Neelam R, Janhavi P, Halami PM, Ravindra PV. Immune-Boosting, Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Food Supplements Targeting Pathogenesis of COVID-19. Review. Frontiers in Immunology. 2020-October-07 2020;11doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.570122

21. Javadi F, Ahmadzadeh A, Eghtesadi S, et al. The Effect of Quercetin on Inflammatory Factors and Clinical Symptoms in Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Double-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2017/01/02 2017;36(1):9-15. doi:10.1080/07315724.2016.1140093

22. Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities. Antioxid Redox Signal. Apr 1 2012;16(7):705-43. doi:10.1089/ars.2011.4145

23. Ohishi T, Goto S, Monira P, Isemura M, Nakamura Y. Anti-inflammatory Action of Green Tea. Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Allergy Agents in Medicinal Chemistryrrent Medicinal Chemistry – Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Allergy Agents). // 2016;15(2):74-90.

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Published: Jan 9, 2023

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