Your immune system is your friend. The Immune system protects your body and fights bacteria and viruses. It is a complex network of cells and proteins that guards the body against diseases.
A healthy immune system keeps a record of every germ that it has defeated and allowing your body to defeat the microbe if it enters the body again.
Luckily, there are some vitamins that we know are great at boosting our immune systems. While it is always a great idea to get your vitamins and minerals through your diet, in today’s fast-paced, hectic world that’s not always easy. That’s why supplements can help you, well, supplement your dietary needs.
Here we will go over five of the best vitamins your body needs to strengthen your immune system as well as what foods contain high amounts of those vitamins.
Let’s get this one out of the way first because it’s probably the most well known vitamin for immune health, Who among us hasn’t had a big glass of orange juice when we feel a particularly nasty cold coming on.
Cells of the immune system can accumulate vitamin C and need it function. It’s so important in fighting disease that a deficiency can lead to reduced resistance to pathogens.1
Studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce the duration of illnesses. It can help taking a vitamin C supplement when you are feeling ill because the body doesn’t produce or store it on it’s own.
Foods high in Vitamin C include:
- Orange Juice
Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that terminates the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. An important role in maintaining an immune system in good health. It also helps to widen blood vessels and avoid blood clots.2
Foods high in vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds
Vitamin A plays a critical role in immune health and is one of the most important vitamins when it comes to staying healthy in general. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it is known as an anti-inflammatory vitamin.3
Having a vitamin A deficiency is a notable risk factor for infectious disease.
Foods high in vitamin A include:
- Sweet potatoes
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for your overall health. Having a deficiency can lead to all sorts of problems including hair loss, depression, fatigue, and weak bones, just to name a few. It is also now clear that Vitamin D has an important role with the immune system acting in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic environment.4
Unlike other vitamins, however, your body has a real hard time getting vitamin D from your diet alone. In fact, the best source of Vitamin D is sunshine. When you can’t get in the sun due to winter, the rainy season, or being quarantined to your house for weeks at a time, taking a supplement can keep you at your healthiest.
Foods high in Vitamin D include:
- Vitamin D Milk
- Egg Yolks
Vitamin B6 is probably best known as an essential vitamin for promoting energy. It’s an essential ingredient in energy drinks. It also plays an important process in the biochemical reactions of the immune system. Studies show that B6 deficiency affects both humoral and Cell immune responses!5
Foods high in Vitamin B6 include:
- Leafy greens
When it comes to getting your daily amount of vitamins sometimes a diet alone simply isn’t enough to cut it. Supplements make it easy to get all the vitamins you need for maximum health and a strong immune system.
While it may be tempting to take these vitamins in excess to double down on your immune health, remember the body can only take in so much of any vitamin. Any more than a daily dose of any of these vitamins will be expelled as waste in the urine. Taking an abundance of any of these vitamins can lead to noticeable side effects. For them to be the most effective you only need to take your recommended daily dose.
Also, a healthy immune system doesn’t mean you won’t get sick or that you won’t feel any symptoms if you do get sick. In fact, most symptoms you feel when sick are from your immune system fighting the virus. Not the virus itself.
Before taking any supplements or making any drastic dietary changes it may be wise to consult your physician.
Lastly, remember that these vitamins can help a healthy individual boost their immune function, but they won’t cure any disease. They also aren’t an alternative for proper medical care, especially if you have a preexisting condition or compromised immune system.
During these uncertain times we could use any advantage we can get our hands on. These five vitamins can make sure that your immune system is running at maximum efficiency.
Citations:1NCBI, Vitamin C and immune function 2NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, Vitamin E 3NCBI, Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System 4NCBI, Vitamin D and the Immune System 5NCBI, Vitamin B6 and immune competence