8 Vitamins and Minerals Needed for a Healthy Immune System

8 Vitamins and Minerals Needed for a Healthy Immune System

Instead of relying on supplements, choose foods that boost your immune system.

Who doesn't want to have a healthy immune system? (Raise your hand. Nobody?) But do you know what role your diet plays in keeping it in top shape to protect you from toxins and infections?

Unfortunately, too many of us don't eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods we need to stay healthy all year round, and most people don't have enough water in their bodies. Drinking water (see here: https://mywatershop.ru/catalog/clear_water) is just as important as healthy food. Healthy foods contain many substances, including vitamins and minerals, that help us stay strong and healthy. You can't just eat an orange or grapefruit or take a vitamin pill and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent colds and boost your immune system.

“A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced, healthy diet over time,” says certified nutritionist Maxine Smith. “It's like preparing for battle and preparing your body in advance so that it can take a good hit when viruses, bacteria and toxins attack it. Other lifestyle practices, such as regular exercise and good sleep, will better prepare you for battle." 

With a few exceptions, it is best to get vitamins and minerals from food rather than pills. Smith shares some tips on some of the essential vitamins and minerals your immune system needs:

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C may help prevent infections or shorten their stay. Citrus fruits are an outstanding product, but did you know there are other good sources as well? It's right! Smith recommends the following:

  • Spinach.
  • Kale.
  • Bulgarian pepper.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Strawberry.
  • Papaya. 
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Fun fact: Vitamin C is found in many foods, so most people may not need to take a supplement unless directed by a doctor. Check with your doctor before taking any vitamin C supplement.

2. Vitamin E

Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight infection. Part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body, this essential vitamin is critical to the functioning of your immune system. To get vitamin E, consider high-fat plant foods such as:

  • Almond.
  • Peanuts/peanut butter.
  • Sunflower seeds. 
  • Oils such as sunflower, safflower and soybean oil.
  • Hazelnut.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an infection fighter and comes in two forms: preformed, such as found in animal products such as fish, meat, and dairy products, or from plant carotenoids. Tuna is a great source of preformed vitamin A. When it comes to carotenoids, be colorful: 

  • Carrot.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Butternut squash.
  • Cantaloupe.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables.

4. Vitamin D.

Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Food sources are limited but include:  

  • Salmon. 
  • Mackerel.
  • Tuna.
  • Sardines.
  • Vitamin D enriched with milk, orange juice and cereals. 

In general, it's best to get most of your vitamins from food, but vitamin D may be an exception to this rule. Talk to your doctor to see if you need a supplement. 

5. Folate/folic acid

Folate is the natural form, while folic acid is the synthetic form that is often added to food for its health benefits. To get more folic acid, regularly add more beans and lentils, as well as leafy green vegetables, to your plate. Avocados are another delicious source. You can also get folic acid from fortified foods (check the label first).

  • Enriched pasta.
  • Enriched bread.
  • Enriched rice.
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6. Iron

Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to your cells, plays a role in many immune system processes. It comes in different forms. Your body can more easily absorb heme iron (iron from animal products), which is found in:

  • Red meat (limit to smaller amounts and less often).
  • A hen.
  • Turkey.
  • Canned sardines.
  • Oysters.
  • Shellfish.
  • Shellfish.
  • Canned light tuna.

If you are a vegetarian, fear not. You can still find iron in:

  • Beans.
  • Broccoli.
  • Kale.
  • Iron-fortified cereals.

7. Selenium

Selenium appears to have a strong effect on the immune system, which is important in preventing infections. Animal products are the best sources, with the exception of Brazil nuts, which offer a whopping daily value of over 100% in a single nut. However, too much can be a problem, so stick to no more than one or two of them a day. Look for selenium in: 

  • Seafood (tuna, halibut, sardines).
  • Meat and liver.
  • Domestic bird.
  • Cottage cheese.

8. Zinc

Zinc is essential for the production of new immune system cells. It is found mainly in animal products, but can also be found in some vegetarian foods, for example.  

  • Oysters.
  • Crab.
  • Lean meat and poultry.
  • Baked beans.
  • Yogurt.
  • Chickpea.

Choose frozen if you can't get fresh.

Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you may not always get quality fresh produce. Keep in mind that buying frozen food is a good option and can be quite convenient in our time-limited world. Frozen food can still boost your immune system. 

"Producers freeze frozen fruits and vegetables at 'peak' maturity, which means they will have the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts," she says. "Just choose plain frozen foods, not foods with added sugar or sodium."

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