Vitamins and nutrients for immune support
3 min read
As we already know, your body needs a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. During the winter months it's even more important to add foods to your diet that are high in immune health vitamins and nutrients.
Here are a list of foods that are good for supporting your immune system:
Vitamin C has long been known as a vital support for immune health. This is because immune cells need vitamin C to function as they need to. Further to this research has shown that a higher supply of vitamin C enhances several immune system parameters, especially if you have low vitamin C intake to begin with. Great food sources of vitamin C include strawberries, broccoli, peppers, and citrus fruits. If you're struggling to eat enough of these sorts of food you may want to opt for vitamin C supplement.
Vitamin D contributes to immune cell modulation and response, and studies show vitamin D supplementation may have beneficial effects on immune function. Cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, eggs are all food sources of vitamin D. The best place to get it, of course, is through sunlight on your skin. It is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D through diet alone and is especially difficult during winter months when there is less sun and when we do go outside our skin is covered up. Vitamin D is important for a strong immune system so keep your levels of Vitamin D topped up by taking a vitamin D supplement.
Like vitamin C, zinc is essential for immune system function, in fact some have even have even dubbed it the 'Gatekeeper of Immune Function'. It pays a roll in cellular signaling pathways and works as an antioxidant. Zinc has been shown to reduce the severity of the common cold in humans and possibly shorten its duration. Good food sources of zinc include pumpkin and squash seeds, pork, chicken, and beans. If you're worried you're not eating enough of these sorts of foods then you could try a zinc supplement.
Everyone needs B vitamins to support overall wellbeing and energy production, however vitamin B6 specifically is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system, as well as being known to help reduce stress and fatigue. Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables, and chickpeas. Otherwise, a B6 supplement provides a convenient way to ensure optimum levels in the body.
The availability of vitamin A in our food is a key factor in a tolerant and well functioning immune system. It is crucial to a mechanism that takes place in the digestive system and leads to immune tolerance across the entire gut lining. Immune tolerance is the essence of good health - an intolerant immune system will lead to a wide range of illnesses. You may not already know this but the gut is where many people first lose immune tolerance.
Food sources packed with vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant with the ability to modulate immune functions. Research has shown that supplementation with vitamin E has various benefits for the immune system, with experts suggesting it’s an important nutrient for maintaining immune health. Vitamin E is a common nutrient found in many foods, exceptionally rich sources include, wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, atlantic salmon and avocado.
L-lysine is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the body. Lysine helps strengthen the immune system by adjusting body chemistry so it is less hospitable to foreign organisms.
Good souces of L-Lysine include lean beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, beans, and lentils. If you feel you may be falling short opt for a L-Lysine supplement.
Probiotics are well known for supporting digestive health, but they also promote immune health. A good balance of healthy intestinal microflora (the 'good' bacteria probiotics provide) has been shown to support optimal immune system function. Foods that provide probiotics include yogurt, kefir, miso, and tempeh, however they can be an acquired taste so you may prefer to opt for a probiotic supplement.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.