The Best Vitamins And Minerals For Immune Health

Who doesn’t want a healthy immune system? We are imagining that none of you readers are raising your hands, and that’s because a healthy immune system is integral to fighting infection, viruses, and bacteria. Many people have turned to a variety of supplements to boost immune health, and while some plant-based products that are made from natural ingredients are beneficial, many of these vitamins and minerals can be found in dietary sources.

Research has shown that the most important nutrients for immunity include vitamins A, C, D, and E, and the minerals selenium, zinc, and iron. There is no single vitamin or mineral that will maintain a high-functioning immune system, despite what you eat or do to the body. Studies show that the immune system suffers without sufficient intake of essential nutrients. Additionally, people with deficiencies in vitamins C and D have a higher risk of developing infections, including pneumonia.

Vitamins

The body needs an array of vitamins for optimal immune function. While there are many vitamins that have immune-boosting properties, the following vitamins are the best.

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is typically associated with improving vision and skin health. What most people don’t know is that vitamin A is necessary for the development of specific immune cells that fight both inflammation and infection. Great sources of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, papaya, butternut squash, and pumpkin. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A is 700-900 RAE for adult men and women.

Vitamin D:

A lot of people have a hard time absorbing vitamin D from food, which is why many people resort to supplements. Don’t forget that about 20 minutes of direct sunlight exposure every day is another great way to absorb natural vitamin D. It is a micronutrient that works to reduce your risk of infection by boosting immune cells. The RDI of vitamin D is 400-800 IU.

Vitamin C:

You can’t talk about immune health and not talk about vitamin C. A 2006 trial in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism found that sufficient vitamin C intake through diet could decrease or shorten symptoms of respiratory infections. Increase your vitamin C intake by consuming kiwis, guavas, citrus fruits, cayenne pepper, bell peppers, papaya, and berries. The RDI of vitamin C is 75-90 milligrams for adult men and women.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is both a powerful antioxidant (just like vitamin C) and a fat-soluble vitamin. It plays a role in nearly 200 biochemical reactions in the body, and is critical for optimal immune function and fighting off infection. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. The RDI of vitamin E is 15 milligrams.

Minerals

Few minerals have immune-boosting properties, but the ones listed below have been researched for their ability to amp up immune function.

Zinc:

Zinc may be considered one of the most crucial minerals for maintaining overall health and boosting the immune system. In order for immune cells to mature and proliferate, you need to consume zinc-rich foods regularly. Additionally, getting enough zinc in your daily diet has been associated with reduced risk of malaria and pneumonia. Zinc is in pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, beans, hemp seeds, lentils, steel cut oats, wild rice, quinoa, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and chia seeds. The RDI of zinc is 8-11 milligrams for adult men and women.

Selenium:

Studies have shown that selenium works to regulate immune responses to inhibit the spread of inflammation. It may also have the potential to slow the body’s over-active responses to certain cancers. Finally, selenium acts as an antioxidant in the body, working to reduce oxidative stress that can lead to cell damage or inflammation. Selenium can be found in garlic, Brazil nuts, barley, broccoli, flaxseeds, chia seeds, cabbage, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms. The RDI of selenium is 400 micrograms.   

Iron:

You need iron in you diet for red blood cell production and because it helps to transport oxygen to your cells. Not many people know that iron has impressive immune-boosting properties. In fact, studies have shown that iron deficiency can impair the body’s immune response; such is the case with many anemia patients. Iron can be found blackstrap molasses, lentils, green leafy vegetables, raisins, beans, broccoli, and sea vegetables. The RDI of iron is 8-18 milligrams for adult men and women.

This article aimed to highlight the primary vitamins and minerals that can improve immune function, but there are many other supplements and foods that can support the immune system.

Sources:

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=229772

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6212925/

2020-04-18T11:19:12-07:00