To remain more resistant to viruses and pathogenic bacteria during a cold or flu, some vitamins are essential for the immune system. In addition, eating healthy can have a positive effect on immunity during infections. Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep your defenses ready for action by providing your body with natural vitamins. Here is some useful information and health tips that can help you do just that.
Table of Contents
- How to choose the right vitamins for the immune system in winter?
- Provide the body with sufficient protein
- Support immune function with vitamin C
- Fat-soluble vitamins for the immune system such as D3 and E
- Take vitamin A against infections
- B vitamins for the immune system to strengthen the body’s defenses
How to choose the right vitamins for the immune system in winter?
The cold season is a real challenge for some people when it comes to staying healthy. In a perfect world, everyone would have access to a balanced, nutrient-dense diet packed with healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, adequate protein and fiber. Theoretically, in this case, no additional vitamin supplements would be needed to boost immune defenses . However, most of us rarely achieve these daily nutritional goals, and physical stress or inflammatory health issues can complicate the situation. As a rule, it is pointless to supplement an unhealthy diet with vitamins, but you can fill in some gaps with them to give yourself an extra leg up.
There is usually no strict immune diet, but consuming a variety of vitamins and minerals can help prevent nutrient deficiencies that lead to a decline in immune function during the winter season. In addition, an overall balanced diet can help you consume adequate amounts of specific nutrients. This makes it easier to prevent deficiencies and maintain better overall health.
Indeed, such nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, are always needed for immune cell production and overall immune system health. Below are some of the most important immune system vitamins that are essential to take, especially during the winter season.
Provide the body with sufficient protein
Proteins are often associated with building muscles and feeling full between meals. However, they also play an important role in wound healing, recovery and cell construction. In addition, amino acids, or the building blocks of proteins, help maintain immune system function by supporting the production of immune cells. Many sources of protein such as eggs, chicken meat, legumes, fish, lean beef, and plain yogurt, when consumed regularly, can boost the immune system in both adults and children . This will make your body’s fight with any infections and diseases easier. However, try to add to their daily menu protein-rich foods without additives or artificial colors.
Support immune function with vitamin C
You probably already know that vitamin C boosts immune function and is essential for shortening the duration of a pesky cold. However, this nutrient actually does much more. Vitamin C also plays a huge role in wound healing, which goes a long way toward maintaining the immune system by keeping the skin barrier intact. It is also a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body and ultimately reduces our risk of developing diseases and feeling sick.
However, since humans cannot manufacture vitamin C and it is not stored in the body, it must be constantly replenished. During an infection and under tremendous stress, the body quickly depletes its stores. In winter, citrus fruits such as tangerines, oranges or grapefruits are an ultimate natural source of vitamin C. But vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and red peppers are also great for daily consumption.
Fat-soluble vitamins for the immune system like D3 and E
Vitamin D improves immune cell function by reducing inflammation in the body, thus significantly reducing the risk of infection. The best source is actually not food, but sunlight. In addition, it is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in the body’s fatty tissues and liver where it can be stored. To maintain a healthy and naturally achieved level of the sunshine vitamin, you should expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day.
However, if you live in a colder climate or cannot get regular sunlight, it is important to supplement it through food. Vitamin D is one area where you may not feel deficient, even if you have a mild one. However, it is one of those immune system vitamins that you can supplement with food to close the gap. Foods high in vitamin D include salmon, orange juice fortified with vitamin D, whole grains, milk or plant milk, tuna, sardines and egg yolks.
Take antioxidant vitamin E
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin with powerful antioxidant properties that contribute to immune cell production. Accordingly, this micronutrient supports the growth of T-cells or white blood cells, which play an important role in immune function. So when you think of cells in the body that defend and fight pathogens, vitamin E helps support the growth of these defense T-cells. Add some foods with vitamin E to your daily meals to boost immune health. The best sources of this are eggs, nuts, sunflower seeds, red peppers, spinach, kale and arugula.
Take vitamin A to fight infections
Vitamin A is another fighter against infection and comes in two forms: pre-formed as in animal foods like fish, meat and dairy or from plant carotenoids. Tuna is a great source of pre-formed vitamin A. When it comes to carotenoids, you can consider carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or butternut squash, and dark green leafy vegetables.
B vitamins for the immune system to strengthen the body’s defenses.
Group B vitamins are critical to the existence of all life forms on Earth. There are eight different types, each responsible for a variety of metabolic and regulatory processes. Simply put, without them, humans would not be able to move, think, or build and repair tissues in the body. In addition, there are several evidences that these nutrients play an important role in strengthening the immune system.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 and B12 deficiencies can drastically alter the immune response. They do this by negatively affecting white blood cell production and activity. They can also lead to a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia, which increases systemic inflammation and triggers many other diseases. Researchers also found that decreased levels of B6 can also negatively affect the immune system. Fortunately, you can get such immune system vitamins from whole foods. As long as you stick to a healthy diet rich in whole grains, meat, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts, fruits, and dark leafy vegetables, you should easily reach your recommended daily allowance.
Frozen foods as an alternative to fresh foods in winter.
Depending on where you live and the time of year, high-quality fresh produce may not always be available. Remember that buying frozen foods is a good option and can be very convenient. In addition, frozen foods can also contain important vitamins for the immune system. Manufacturers produce frozen fruits and vegetables at ‘peak’ ripeness. This means they have similar nutritional value to their fresh equivalents. However, choose plain frozen foods rather than those with added sugar or sodium.