Sometimes we just can’t beat that cold that’s been hanging around for weeks, and we cannot understand why! A lot of the time, your immune system is just so run down that you keep getting re-infected. If you find that your immune system is run down then you probably need to review your diet, and ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs!
We’ve compiled a list of the vitamins and minerals that you need to keep your immune system healthy and where you can get these nutrients from!
Get Vitamin A from eggs, fish oil, butter, and liver. It helps to supports healthy tissue membranes in your nose and mouth and cell membranes keeping them strong which lessens your vulnerability to infectious organisms. It’s been known to help fend off a cold and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too.
You can find beta-carotene in brightly colored fruit and veg such as carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin – most fruit and veg that has an orange color. It provides anti oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which promote immunity. Your body can even convert beta-carotene into the amount of Vitamin A it needs and stops converting when it has what it needs!
Vitamin C has long been touted the cure to the common cold and apart from supplements, you can get your dosage from kiwis, citrus fruits, berries, and red peppers. It helps prevent and fight off a cold, supports infection fighting T and B cell function, phygocytes (which actually devour harmful bacteria) plus it promotes healthy skin and wound healing!
Vitamin E is found in spinach, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, avocado, almonds and wheat germ. It supports T and B cell functions and has anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also boosts response to vaccines making them more effective – it’s especially important to have this in your diet if you are older to ensure vaccines meet their full effect.
Found in mushrooms, oily fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk, Vitamin D may be preventative panacea – meaning it protects from cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and the flu! It activates T cells helping to produce antibodies, and cytokines (proteins that affect cell behavior) and works as an anti-inflammatory. Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D and it allows your body to absorb calcium giving you healthy bones and teeth. For older women, Vitamin D is especially important as it helps to counteract osteoporosis.
Vitamins B5, B6, B12
These B vitamins can be found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, yogurt, liver and beef, also, fermented foods (such as sauerkraut) contain small amounts. B5 and 6 help get your antibodies working against infectious invaders while B12 helps produce B cells and healthy red blood cells. These vitamins are especially important for increasing your energy levels so if you don’t have enough in your diet it is strongly recommended to find a supplement.
Zinc can be found in root veg, oysters, shellfish, seafood, and almonds. It is the most immune essential mineral and a deficiency puts you at a very high risk of infections. Zinc works with Vitamin E and Selenium as an antioxidant, it enhances cell function, and it helps your body make more antibodies. A lot of cold medication contains it. Excess can cause issues too though so if you are taking supplements you should speak to your doctor about it.
Iron is found in lentils, leafy greens, red meats, molasses, and raisins. It helps transport oxygen to your cells and is key for energy production. A deficiency in iron will make you tired and make you susceptible to frequent infections. Young women and pregnant women are most likely to be affected by a deficiency but they too can affect anyone. On the other hand, too much iron can cause bacterial growth so ensure you are taking the right amount, and check with your doctor if you’re on supplements.
Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, brown rice, wheat germ, and salmon. It works primarily as anantioxidant. By working with Vitamin E to produce glutathione it protects your cells from free radicals and supports detoxification. It should be taken in limited doses so supplements are a bad idea. This is a nutrient which should be primarily taken from your food.
This is found in avocado, leafy greens such as spinach, almonds, brown rice, and tofu/soy. It works as an anti-inflammatory and helps the immune system stay strong. It helps strengthen muscles and bones, and also supports dozens of other functions from cardiac function to enzyme activity. Magnesium is also a hormone regulator so it can help with PMS and menopause symptoms. You can find Magnesium in supplement form if you are worried your food intake does not provide enough.