8 Nutrients to Boost Your Immunity

Simply for the prevention of a seasonal cold to aiding in the recovery of COVID-19, boosting your immunity is so important.

Your immune system is your body’s defense system, protecting you from unwanted harmful viruses, toxins, and bacteria. However, it is essential to provide your body with nutritional support for your immune system to further help your body fight against infections and times you are feeling ill. 

What nutrients are important for immune health?

There are 8 major vitamins and minerals to strengthen your immunity.

  1. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help combat inflammation and help stimulate the production of antibodies to support your immune system1

Some great sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits (tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and kiwi)
  • Strawberries 
  • Red bell peppers, chilli peppers, and cayenne peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya

  1. Vitamin D regulates some of the antimicrobial proteins that fight against pathogens and can help balance your immune system2

Include these foods in your meals to boost your vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
  • Egg yolks
  • Yogurt 
  • Cheese
  • Mushrooms  
  • Fortified cereals and milks

  1. Vitamin A maintains the structural tissues and skin throughout your body from your mouth, respiratory, and gastrointestinal tract (like a defense barrier!)2.  This protects you from exposure to infections and can further promote your immune defense.

Vitamin A is mainly found from animal and vegetable sources:

  • Eggs
  • Fish 
  • Lean Meat 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Carrots 
  • Red bell peppers
  • Dark leafy greens

  1. Vitamin E is another mighty antioxidant that may help your body fight against harmful pathogens. 

Food sources mainly come from healthy fats:

  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds (and oil)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Nut butter

  1. Zinc is important for the growth and production of new cells in the immune system2

You can find this key mineral in foods including:

  • Shellfish (mussels, oysters, lobster, crabs)
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry
  • Whole grains
  • Beans 
  • Seeds & Nuts

However, it is important to note that you should not consume more than the daily recommended amount of 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men3. Too much zinc can end up suppressing your immune system.

  1. Iron is another essential mineral important for immune cell growth, as it helps transport oxygen to these cells2

There are a variety of foods that contain high amounts of iron:

  • Edamame 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Red meat 
  • Chicken
  • Seafood
  • Dark leafy greens

 

  1. Selenium has a strong impact on our immune health by protecting it from cellular damage and oxidative stress2.

This essential mineral can be found in:

  • Brazil nuts (one of the best sources!!)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Tuna
  • Brown rice
  • Chicken
  • Lentils
  • Shrimp
  1. B Vitamins (mainly B6 and B12) help regulate inflammation and the biochemical reactions that occur within our immune system. B vitamins are very useful to make our immune systems stronger. 

These vitamins are mainly found in animal sources. However for my vegetarian and vegan friends out there don’t worry! 

There are other plant based sources of B vitamins including:

  • Beans
  • Bananas
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Enriched grains
  • Sweet potatoes

The best way to keep your immune system in check

Overall, having a well-balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats to ensure that you’re getting sufficient vitamins and minerals is the most effective way to keep your immune system healthy.

Even simple daily practices have an impact on your immune health. So make sure you are getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated, maintain your stress, and engage in physical activity when you can.  

 

References

  1. EatRight.org
  2. NCBI
  3. NIH

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