Your immune system is your primary defense against sickness and all types of different diseases.
Understanding what vitamins and minerals your immune system needs, can help you make the right diatery choices, so you can keep fighting off those nasty diseases and infections.
Here we will identify the 4 essential vitamins for immune system health, including 3 minerals which help support a healthy immune system. We will also show you where to find them, and some key things to look for.
Some Facts About Your Immune System
Our immune system is composed of several factors which work together to protect your body from harmful diseases and infections.
In case you didn’t know already, we listed some important facts so you can better understand your immune system and its function.
Blood And Lymph
Our immune system is part of a large network, which is responsible for balancing fluid levels and fighting off infection. This network is called the Lymphatic System.
Lymph is a clear fluid that is mixed with your blood, containing white blood cells. This clear fluid is responsible for removing toxins, and unnecessary materials from our body.
The Lymphatic system also helps with the production of new immune cells, including lymphocytes, monocytes, and antibody production cells, called plasma cells.
The Role Of White Blood Cells
White blood cells play an important role when fighting viruses and toxins in the body.
There are two types of white blood cells, phagocytes, and lymphocytes.
Phagocytes move through your blood vessels, and responsible for fighting off toxins and various diseases.
Lymphocytes are produced by red bone marrow that multiplies throughout the lymphatic system. They produce antibodies that have several categories including T-cells(target virus cells), cancer cells, and natural killer cells.
Both of these white blood cell types contribute to your body’s immune system and how it responds.
Fevers Are Good Signs
No one likes the aches and pains of having a fever, but did you know that having it is your bodies way of letting you know that it is fighting off an infection?
When you have a fever, white blood cells are called to action and are then released. They then begin to fight infection and stop harmful cells from multiplying and causing more damage.
Although fevers are clear indicators of our immune system doing its job, its important to monitor and make sure the bodies temperature doesn’t go beyond 103 F (39.4 C), Anything above this threshold can be life-threatening, and can cause serious damage to your organs, and body.
If a fever goes beyond 103 F, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
Stress Harms Your Immune System
Your bodies immune system is a powerful defence mechanism, but it also has its limits.
Chronic stress can have a large impact on your immune system over time if untreated. That is why it is important to stay healthy under stress, and find ways to manage it.
A large amount of chronic stress can increase chronic inflammation, therefore straining your immune system due to the array of hormones produced.
Laughing And Happiness Will Make It Better!
Happiness and laughter can increase dopamine levels in your body. These neurotransmitters allow us to feel motivation and experience feelings of satisfaction.
The production of dopamine can also help reduce stress, and ultimately help keep your immune system in check.
Sleep Is Key!
Not getting enough proper sleep can give bacteria more opportunities to give you the flu, or a cold. Therefore your immune system is forced to work harder to fight off bad cells.
In addition, not getting enough rest can weaken your immune system which can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. These conditions all contribute to a unhealthy immunity.
The immune system is a powerful line of defense. However, it is not indestructible. Remember, it too has its limitations as to how much it can handle.
7 Vitamins & Minerals That Boost Your Immune System
Your immune system is highly influenced by what nutrients you intake regularly.
Here are 7 essential vitamins and minerals that can help you boost your immune system:
1. Vitamin C
One of the biggest immune system contributors is the famous Vitamin-C.
This vitamin is found in almost every kind of food and plays an important role in your body when healing wounds, repairing bones, teeth, and skin cells. Dental experts also strongly suggest taking your daily dose of vitamin C for both immunity and to help repair your bones and teeth.
Although there is no scientific evidence showing significant changes in combating a cold or flu, studies have shown that taking more than 200mg of vitamin C daily, can help reduce the severity and duration.
Birth to 6 months 40 mg
Infants 7-12 months 50 mg
Children 1-3 years 15 mg
Children 4-8 years 25 mg
Children 9-13 years 45 mg
Teens 14-18 years (boys) 75 mg
Teens 14-18 years (girls) 65 mg
Adults (men) 90 mg
Adults (women) 75 mg
Pregnant teens 80 mg
Pregnant women 85 mg
Breastfeeding teens 115 mg
Breastfeeding women 120 mg
2. Vitamin E
Antioxidants are vital when fighting off infections and free radicals.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which supports a healthy immune system, healthy eyes, and skin.
Studies have shown that Vitamin E significantly improves immunity, which naturally weakens as we get older.
White blood cells in your body highly rely on this vitamin, because it helps increase the number of mature T-cells in lymphocytes which fight off harmful cells.
Birth to 6 months 4 mg (6 IU)
Infants 7-12 months 5 mg (7.5 IU)
Children 1-3 years 6 mg (9 IU)
Children 4-8 years 7 mg (10.4 IU)
Children 9-13 years 11 mg (16.4 IU)
Teens 14-18 years 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Adults 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Pregnant teens and women 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Breastfeeding teens and women 19 mg (28.4 IU)
3. Vitamin B6
Research has shown that Vitamin B6, helps increase overall immunity response in individuals who are ill.
Pyridoxine or “Vitamin B6”, plays an important role in brain development and keeping both your nervous system and immune system healthy.
Vitamin B6 is also helpful for patients that have high cholesterol, blood pressure and other forms of heart disease, as they allow the arteries to open up more.
4. Vitamin D
One of the most common deficiencies found among people is Vitamin D.
This vitamin plays an important role in contributing to bone and heart health, including the prevention of cancer.
According to studies, Vitamin D is highly linked to our immune system and has been used to help fight infections even before antibiotics were available.
The responsibility of iron in our immune system is to help with the maturity of white blood cells in our body, specifically lymphocytes.
Maintaining sufficient levels of iron is essential for helping fight bacteria, parasites, and other harmful cells such as neoplastic cells, which cause tumor growth.
It is important to keep healthy amounts of iron in your body. However, having too much iron can result in health problems, including diabetes, heart failure, and liver problems.
A popular way of reducing the duration of the common cold is with zinc, thanks to its bacteria-fighting properties.
7. Folic Acid
Another important mineral that is essential to supporting a healthy immune system is folic acid.
Folic acid, is responsible for proper production and maintenance of our bodies, especially during periods of rapid growth.
Additionally, folic acid helps DNA from being changed, which helps to prevent cancer, as well as problems during pregnancy in women.
Where To Find Your Essential Vitamins And Minerals?
Now that we understand the nutrients that help boost our immune system, where do we find them all?
There are two ways we can source our 7 essentials. The food we eat, and supplementation.
Immune System Booster Foods
Below, we listed some of the best foods that contain our 7 essential vitamins and minerals for boosting your immune system.
Best Source of Vitamin C
- Citrus Fruits (grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes..
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
- Chilli Peppers
Best Source of Vitamin E
- Sunflower Seeds
- sunflower oil
- Almond Oil
- Goose Meat
Best Source of Vitamin B6
- Lean Chicken Breast
- Sweet Potatoes
Best Source of Vitamin D
- Natural Sunlight
- Fish Oils (Omega 3’s)
- Fresh Fish
- Fortified Milk
Best Source of Iron
- Dark Chocolate
Best Source of Zinc
- Shellfish (Oysters, clams..etc)
- Hemp Seeds
- Lean Pork Chops
- Shiitake Mushrooms
Best Source of Folic Acid
- Garbanzo Beans
- Brussels Sprouts
Taking Supplements To Help Boost Your Immune System?
Although foods can be a great source of finding your immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, it may be a bit overwhelming to keep up with.
Supplements can be a great help if you are always on the go, or if you struggle to keep up with preparing meals, or your diet.
There are tons of vitamins and supplements available today. However, be careful when choosing cheap products that may contain fillers and other additives that may conflict with natural ingredients.
It is always recommended that you pick products that you are informed about, are natural, and show all the ingredients on the label.
Lastly, remember to always question a doctor or qualified health professional if you are ever unsure about a product, or if you are currently on medication.
What Are Some Signs Of A Weak Immune System?
Although our immune system is a warrior against infections, bacteria and fighting off dangerous diseases, it’s still not perfect.
There may be various reasons as to why you could have a low immune system, and identifying the signs and symptoms early on can help you get it back up to speed.
Here is a list of signs and symptoms that can warn you of a weak immune system.
When stressed, our bodies release excessive amounts of hormones to help us manage it.
These hormones can often interfere with the immune systems functions, resulting in inflammation, as well as reducing white blood cell production
You Constantly Get Sick
A weakened immune system means your body cannot fight off bacteria that cause illness.
If you find yourself getting sick often and do not know why, there could be a good chance that you have a weak immune system.
Wounds Heal Slowly
Your immune system is responsible for fighting infection and helps your ability to heal by rebuilding new cells.
Any signs of slow healing wounds when injured, or bruises that take a long time to go away, can also be clear indicators of weak immunity.
Working hard consistently can tire out anybody after a long day.
However, if you feel you are getting enough sleep, and you know you shouldn’t be as tired as you are.. as often as you are, then this can be another indication of a weak immune system.
Your body does the majority of fighting off dangerous cells when you are asleep. If you are still tired in the morning, this means that your immune system is doing too much heavy lifting for what it can handle, therefore using up a lot of your energy.
Unhealthy Looking Skin
Our skin can often be used as an instrument to measure how healthy we are. Everything that goes on inside will eventually find its way out.
Unhealthy looking skin can show us that our bodies are struggling to fight inflammation, therefore resulting in pale, dry, and non-healthy looking skin.
In comparison, healthy skin will look hydrated, have color and glow to it, because your body is constantly battling inflammation, and supporting healthy cell growth.
Keeping a healthy immune system is critical when helping your body fight off infections, illness, and cells that can cause diseases.
Making sure you stick with a healthy diet plan that contains the necessary vitamins and nutrients your immune system needs to support proper function.
Remember, If you struggle with meals, you can always supplement. Just be sure to choose products that are natural, and safe.
Consult a doctor if you are on medication or if you are unsure whether to take a particular product.
Daniel has a dedicated history and passion for health and wellness. His journey began when he served in the Canadian Forces while pursuing bodybuilding for a hobby. Through several years he learned about what it takes to achieve a healthy lifestyle holistically and now desires to help others get on track.