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15 Nutrients That Are A Blessing To Your Immune System

Did you know that the foundation of a robust immune system lies in the nutrients you consume? Nutrition for immunity is a deal breaker.

A study published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” emphasizes the pivotal role of proper nutrition in enhancing immune response and overall health. 

Discover the best immunity boosting foods and the significance of nutrition in strengthening your body’s defense mechanism in this article.

Importance Of Nutrition For Immunity:

nutrition for immunity

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As Dietitians, we do get a lot of questions like – ‘How do I improve my immunity in a month’s time?’ or ‘Will taking vitamin C supplements help me avoid all viral and bacterial infections?’ etc. 

To stay away from infections, you need a strong immune system. But immunity cannot be improved with just consuming lemon water or taking vitamin supplements! How do we make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our immunity robust? 

Nutrients play a pivotal role in building our immune system. To make sure our immune system is robust, we must eat a variety of foods to get a variety of essential nutrients. 

Nutrients which will help your immune system function better.

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7 Nutrients That Enhance Immunity

1. Vitamin D: 

Vitamin D is known for its role in improving our immunity, especially against the diseases and infections targeting our lungs! Very few foods naturally have vitamin D. 

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the best sources. Fortified foods like milk provide most of the vitamin D. 

Sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm for 10 to 15 minutes on a clear day, without sunscreen is the best source since Vitamin D is synthesized on the skin. 

2. Vitamin C: 

vitamin c from oranges

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Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant properties and is abundantly available in a variety of fruits and vegetables. 

Red peppers, orange juice and oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, green capsicum, broccoli, strawberries (these foods are highest on the list providing 50-95 mg of Vitamin C per serving). 

The Daily Value % of Vitamin C is 60 mg for children older than 4 years and adults. 

3. Vitamin A

It is known to help fight off infections and give a boost to the fighter cells in our body. 

Orange vegetables and fruits like sweet potato, carrots, spinach, greens, papaya, musk melon, egg yellows, dairy products and seafood. 

4. Zinc:

Our immune system needs zinc for defense against bacteria and viruses. Zinc is also known as the healer nutrient, since it plays an important role in wound healing. 

While you can get zinc from plant sources like sesame, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and cashews, zinc is best absorbed from sea foods like oysters, crab and lobster. Animal sources include beef and pork. 

5. Selenium: 

selenium from cottage cheese

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This is another antioxidant nutrient which helps make our immune system stronger. 

It helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in our body. Food sources include fish, eggs, chicken, cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms and oats. 

6. Iron:

iron from leafy green vegetables

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Iron, available in lean meats, beans, and leafy greens, is essential for maintaining healthy immune cells. It plays a role in carrying oxygen to cells, aiding in their optimal function

7. Probiotics:

A healthy gut is closely linked to a strong immune system. Probiotics, found in yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods, promote a balanced gut microbiome, enhancing immune function and supporting overall well-being.

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

In the heart of fatty fish like salmon and flaxseeds lies omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory prowess. They lend a hand in immune balance.

9. Vitamin E:

vitamin e from nuts

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Nuts, seeds, and spinach shine with vitamin E, an antioxidant guardian that protects immune cells from damage, ensuring their efficient operation.

10. B Vitamins:

Whole grains, poultry, and eggs supply B vitamins, each with its unique role in supporting immune function. Vitamin B6, for instance, influences immune cell activity.

11. Vitamin K:

Found in spinach, kale, and broccoli, vitamin K contributes to immune health by aiding proper blood clotting and supporting bone health.

12. Magnesium:

magnesium from leafy green vegetables

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Leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains are rich in magnesium, a mineral that assists immune cell communication and overall immune system coordination.

13. Copper:

Lentils, beans, and nuts offer copper, which supports the formation of immune cells and ensures their effective response.

14. Vitamin B12:

Abundant in animal products, vitamin B12 plays a role in immune cell production and maintaining overall immune system balance.

15. Folate:

Avocado, legumes, and dark leafy greens provide folate, a B vitamin essential for cell division, including immune cells.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I boost my immune system quickly?

Boosting your immune system quickly involves adopting certain habits and making dietary choices that support your body’s defense mechanisms. While there’s no instant solution, these practices can help enhance your immune response over time:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Practice stress-relief techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Limit sugar and processed foods
  • Include immune boosting foods

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What foods help fight infections?

Certain foods contain nutrients that can help strengthen your immune system and support your body in fighting infections. Including these foods in your diet can provide a natural defense against illnesses:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Berries
  • Yogurt and Fermented Foods
  • Almonds
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Green Tea

Remember that a balanced and varied diet, along with a healthy lifestyle, is essential for supporting your immune system and overall well-being. 

Recommended Read: 6 Low Fat Protein Foods for Weight Loss

What vegetables are good for the immune system?

Several vegetables are known for their immune-boosting properties due to their rich content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. 

Some vegetables that are particularly good for the immune system are broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, garlic, cabbage, tomatoes and onions.

Final Word On Nutrition For Immunity:

The power of proper nutrition in fortifying your immune system cannot be overstated. By incorporating these seven essential nutrients into your diet, you can enhance your body’s ability to fend off infections and maintain optimal health. 

The best immune-boosting foods not only support your immune response but also contribute to your overall well-being. Remember, a well-nourished body is your greatest ally in the journey to a healthier, more resilient immune system.

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