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8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic

If you want to avoid coming down with the flu, here are 65+ immune-boosting tips you can employ to equip you to fight off germs all season long. Eat more yogurt. The scientist can only measure things that may reflect stress, such as the number of times the heart beats each minute, but such measures also may reflect other factors. You’ve probably heard of turmeric as a superfood herb, with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Frozen is fine.

A diversity of fruits in your fruit salad adds complexity and interest, not to mention vital phytonutrients to your diet. Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to cells, comes in different forms. They provide a boost when her blood sugar is low and serves as the ideal pre- and post-workout snack. How can you bolster your defenses against the germs lurking in the common areas in your office, the mall where you do your holiday shopping and the rest stops you encounter in your holiday travels?

  • In fact, holy basil is another amazing herb to help relieve stress and support your adrenal glands, which indirectly helps support your immune system.
  • While everyone is talking about the coronavirus COVID-19, we need to remember that influenza is a more immediate threat here in the United States.
  • Try to minimize stress.
  • Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round.
  • Eating right is a great start, and there are other things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu, cold, and other illnesses.

Healthline compiled the list and The Beet added even more research to bolster the facts. 5 to 10 years old also proved zinc to be a helpful component in preventing that cold. Hayim recommends adding elderberries to your diet because they fight recurrent infections and prevent the common cold.

The phytochemicals in it are great for arming and strengthening your immune system. One study found that those who sleep fewer than five hours per night are more likely to have recently suffered a recent cold compared with those who sleep more. The nutrient is great for your skin, which acts as a barrier between your body and harmful organisms. Written by Katie Mitton. Taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not.

For can't-miss news, expert beauty advice, genius home solutions, delicious recipes, and lots more, sign up for the Good Housekeeping newsletter. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked per day, but this is the right moment to try the raw or slightly wilted approach. Those who were stressed were more likely to produce cytokines, molecules that trigger inflammation, and were about twice as likely to get sick. Feeling a bit more in touch with your inner germaphobe? Some of these helpful bugs make antimicrobial chemicals and compete with pathogens for food and space. Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to "support immunity" or otherwise boost the health of your immune system. Boosts immunity, protects against eye disease. Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. This tropical fruit is packed full of vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, fiber and vitamin K.

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Tinctures & Extracts

Holy basil (Tulsi tea): Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach. Supporting a healthier happier you, rheumatoid arthritis. While an all-around diet is the key to stronger immunity, these particular immune system-boosting foods and ingredients can keep you in fighting condition. You can also drink bone broth which contains a more concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Pairing these and other fruits and vegetables with adequate protein intake will help supercharge your immunity, says Smithson. There appears to be a connection between nutrition and immunity in the elderly. Wild salmon is filled with zinc, a nutrient that has been proven to assist with reducing common cold symptoms.

Yellow bell peppers contain even more.

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For individuals who are obese, losing even a small amount of weight could play a role in better immune function. Commit to 1000 Hours Outside in 2020. Innate vs. adaptive immunity, hypersensitivity reactions are divided into four classes. Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. This nutrient aids the immune system by helping to produce white blood cells, which fight bacteria and viruses.

In the spirit of boosting white blood cells, make a habit of incorporating these cold-fighting foods into your diet whenever you're fending off the sniffles. But don’t throw away your hat or scarf just yet – keeping warm will keep you more comfortable and protect you from things like frostbite. The plant medicine works by reducing swelling in mucus membranes. Any yogurt with a live and active cultures seal contains some beneficial bugs, but Stonyfield Farm is the only U. Your body will thank you. They're also incredibly high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.

But the majority of us are failing when it comes to getting an adequate amount of vegetables in our diet. The latest, it’s a powerful antioxidant linked to a healthy immune system. Half a grapefruit has more than 60% of your daily vitamin C content, and eating grapefruit may also help the body absorb other essential nutrients, such as iron. What if you improve your diet? But make sure you eat enough! When consumed, carotenoids are converted into vitamin A (a nutrient that helps regulate the immune system).

Oats are a great source of selenium and zinc, two key ingredients for a hardy immune system.

Baked Beans And Pumpkin Seeds

Here’s some essentials to pick up: They also contain manganese, magnesium, and fiber. The raw seeds have 204 calories per quarter cup. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. Routhenstein says lentils are packed with zinc, which is a mineral required for creating T-cells, a kind of white blood cell that helps fight infection. People use ginger in a variety of dishes and desserts, as well as in teas. High doses of ultraviolet light (usually from the sun) can affect it negatively, weakening any protective functions (as well as triggering immune suppression in the skin itself). This opportunity for research based on updated biomedical technology can be employed to give a more complete answer to this and similar questions about the immune system.

Can supplements help your immunity? Treat it with care, though – the more you cook it, the less nutritious it will be. Advances in Nutrition, January 2020. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity. Top navigation, i know, I know, unusual for me to post on a Monday but I have soooo many things to share with you all before Christmas, the only way I can do that is by squeezing in this Immune Booster Juice recipe on a Monday. “I’m not suggesting that people are pathologically dirty but there’s evidence that washing your hands, being careful not to sneeze over people, keeping surfaces nice and clean all reduce the risk of transmission. Article info, , symptomatic) level. In fact, we have an entire group of proteins in our blood called immunoproteins, also known as immunoglobulins or antibodies. It gunges the halls and doorways to try to flush it out (that’s why you fill up with phlegm and snot), it yanks up the thermostat to try to boil it (why you run a fever), and it shuts down the building until the problem is solved (it makes you depressed and lethargic so you don’t go out and pick up another infection while your immune system is at work).

According to a study published in the journal JAMA, participants who took a daily serving of vitamin D in the wintertime were less likely to catch a cold or any other upper respiratory tract infection in comparison to those who did not. I can confirm I have read and accept the Terms Of Use. Personally, my immune system is not necessarily very good at seeing colds. In a German study published by Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten, vitamin C was shown to be a vital part of the strength of the body's phagocytes and t-cells, two major components of the immune system. Without a sufficient amount of sleep, we increase our risk for developing serious health problems—like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. Anise acts as an antibacterial and antifungal, according to an in-depth review of the plant published in the International Scholarly Research Notices: To get your fill of vitamin E, look to these foods:


There are so many options and you don’t need to be taking supplements to see the benefits — simply use them to make flavorful food. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, your mucous membranes and your immune system. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant and essential for collagen and other protein synthesis within the body. How much beta carotene do you need a day: A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time, plus normal sleep patterns and a hefty dose of exercise.

For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function. She's got this. Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response? Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system.

Miso, Soup or Paste

Whole grains contain anti-inflammatory properties, which allows for an increase in production of healthy bacteria, according to a study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The good news is that vitamin C is in so many foods that most people don’t need to take a vitamin C supplement unless a doctor advises it. Now few store-bought formulations do. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment.

The production of certain immune cells is limited when zinc intake is low, and adequate zinc is crucial for the normal development and function of the immune system.

The following 20 science-backed foods provide valuable ammunition for your own private cold war. “These proteins are particularly active in the respiratory tract. Green tea is steamed so the EGCG is still active when you drink it. Get free access, we are here to help. These spinach nuggets (pictured above) are another way to get your kids eating greens! The soup’s salty broth also keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. They also include a number of other immune-boosting nutrients, such as B vitamins and selenium. Oranges are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient when you're feeling under the weather.

Enjoy wild-caught salmon to increase the zinc in your diet and fight off potential infections. This fruit contains phytochemical antioxidants, according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal. A cocktail or glass of wine while you are sheltering in place during coronavirus is fine. But those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues are often highest in antioxidants. Cook with garlic. Think orange when looking for other foods rich in beta-carotene: Perhaps most importantly, read up on the flu vaccine and decide whether it's right for you.

  • Vitamin C is great for fighting off sickness and helping you get well more quickly.
  • Your kids will be sure to love this Triple Berry Baked Oatmeal (pictured above).
  • In addition to being one of the top anti-inflammatory foods, walnuts contain several nutrients that play a role in supporting the immune system, including vitamins E and B6, copper, and folate.

Sweet Potatoes

Regular exercise mobilises the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. A recent study found high-performance athletes have an increased risk of infection, says Elizabeth Bradley, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. Ginseng, fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. How it helps immunity? A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. She recommends eating nine servings of vegetables every day — most than the USDA recommendation — and in order to do that, she says it is imperative to build all three meals around vegetables. Read on to discover 15 foods that boost the immune system. What is there to be learned from this? Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published online May 20, 2020.

You can find it in garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts and barley, among other foods. It's also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. As polar vortexes, nor'easters and monsoons ensue across the country, people are more likely to stay indoors, which also means that germs can circulate more easily.

Garlic, Eaten By the Clove

So far, scientists do not know the answer. The optimal amount of garlic to eat is more than most of us can fathom: “It has 350 percent more vitamin C than an orange and the whole fruit is used medicinally,” Lisa Hayim, a registered dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities, tells SheKnows. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. The pungent aroma comes from sulfur compounds, including allicin. What is binge drinking? Disruption of any of these connections can affect how the brain works. In fact, vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency (which affects an estimated 42 percent of Americans) may increase your chances of upper respiratory infections and even immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, research shows.

If you want your family, and especially your children, to avoid a cold this winter season, then you should be giving them zinc-rich foods.

Readily available all year round, broccoli is perhaps one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get extra vitamins into your diet. Maintaining a healthy weight can also benefit the immune system. Whether you want to keep away the stomach flu that’s spreading around the office or avoid catching a debilitating cold, you’re going to need a strong immune system. “We know this because as we age we see more infections that were previously controlled, like chicken pox, which returns in old age as shingles; and because vaccines don’t work quite as well in older people as they do in children. A balanced diet and moderate exercise are not only good for you, they help you feel better as well, even if the long, dark winter is getting you down. Eggs, and especially the yolks, are packed with immunity-boosting nutrients.

 Although it's not known whether omega-3s can help fight off infections (such as the common cold), research suggests that omega-3s can protect against immune system disorders like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

A Guide to Vitamin C: Health Benefits and Best Sources

Scientists believe that allicin may block enzymes involved in infections; some studies suggest that swallowing garlic may ward off colds. It contains flavonoids, an antioxidant that boosts immunity, and it has anti-inflammatory properties, according to a study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. Along with being high in vitamin C, apples are also a rich source of soluble fiber. Tumeric bolsters the immune system by stimulating antibody formation and people with auto-immune diseases are told by their doctors to take 500 mg of curcumin daily to reduce inflammation and stave off soreness. Wolfram says, “I also like to eat foods that contain probiotics, which help keep our gut microbiomes in balance.

Eating nutrient-dense foods, in general, provides for higher energy levels, mental clarity, better performance, and an overall healthy feeling,” Chase says.

Here are 16 top picks, and how to incorporate each into your regular eating routine. Mushroom extracts: “The microbiome really likes fibre, pulses and fermented foods,” she adds. Get enough essential vitamins. Soup in general hydrates, making it a smart meal pick when you’re sick. Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

And vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to immunity!


Mushroom are nature’s way of breaking down the organic matters to convert it into fertile soil. What you eat functions as a piece of that puzzle. It's a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties are tied to its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal research. Flatbreads topped with spinach and egg Credit : Liam O’Mahony is a molecular immunologist at the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research in Davos. Eat a balanced diet, exercise and skip unproven supplements.

  • Since the majority of Americans don't get enough vitamin D, most experts recommend a D supplement.
  • Carry hand sanitizer.


This flavorful spice is considered a superfood for a good reason. More chocolate, please. Turmeric is a yellow spice that many people use in cooking. Latest news, (21) Sometimes addressing a nutritional deficiency is how to boost your immune system. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the juice of half the lemon and the olive oil.

Can certain foods really boost immunity?


The current U. However, more research is necessary to confirm whether or not it can effectively prevent illness. Don’t care for produce?

Whatever the crisis, eating a healthy balanced diet makes a lot of sense, so get stuck into these. All of these nutrients work in different ways to enhance immune system function. Greek yogurt is filled with sickness-fighting probiotics and is packed with more protein than regular yogurt. It has been found to alleviate pain and fight nausea, which is the reason ginger ale was given for upset stomachs, back when it contained actual ginger. A review of the food published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews showed that a group of participants in a study who ate garlic over a three-month period only had 24 cases of the common cold total, a significant decrease in comparison to the 65 cases reported by the control group. Turns out this herbal remedy has some science behind it: In one study, British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. There are small studies that suggest a benefit to some of these foods, but strong evidence is lacking.

A 2020 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Whether this decrease in thymus function explains the drop in T cells or whether other changes play a role is not fully understood. One medium cooked sweet potato (roughly 114 grams or 5 inches long) only packs about 100 calories and more than 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A.  Here are some top food sources of zinc: Contact us at [email protected] Food should always come first, but if you have chosen to take a probiotic supplement, you'll want to make sure you're taking the right one. By consuming prebiotics, it will also increase the population of the beneficial microbes (i. )It's important to consume inflammation-fighting foods on a regular basis, but especially when you're feeling under the weather.

What Vitamins Can Boost My Immune System?

Take the widely held but incorrect assumption that wrapping up warm will protect you from catching a cold. “Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin,” explains David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, CT. Chicken soup is a staple for surviving cold and flu season, and not just because the warm comfort food is a nostalgic throwback to mom taking care of you. Plant-based protein sources such as nuts and seeds also provide antioxidants, while meat, shellfish, and legumes supply zinc, the mineral that helps maintain immune cells and heal wounds. A stronger immune system is just one of 7 benefits of aerobic workouts. Red peppers are another vitamin C-rich source for fighting colds. Read on for our top 4 immune-boosting herbs and start using them in your kitchen. You can still get probiotics from other fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha.

Astragalus is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body balance out what needs balancing: Drink more water. “Exercise helps boost the immune system, but we have to be careful not to overexercise because it can weaken your immune system,” she says.

Research also indicates that flavonoids may help to prevent the common cold in otherwise healthy people. Here are five foods to be sure to incorporate in your diet so that you have the strongest immune system this flu season. For adult men, it's 11 milligrams (mg), and for women, it's 8 mg. Not only is it packed with digestion-regulating fiber, but it also contains vitamin C. When it’s weak, you have a harder time staying healthy. You can also get it (in small doses) from fatty fish, such as salmon, and fortified milk-and your body makes vitamin D from the sun. Eat more greens.

What do I eat to help strengthen my immune system?

This translates to roughly one less day of illness. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and smoking also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses. Hair care, it can even help decrease symptoms like fever, muscle spasms and dry mouth. Put it in overdrive with these 13 foods. Make a smoothie.

There is still much that researchers don't know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. Foods that boost your immune system can help keep you healthy all year long, even in the midst of cold and flu season. Have two 6-ounce servings a day. In a controlled experiment, the scientist can change one and only one factor, such as the amount of a particular chemical, and then measure the effect of that change on some other measurable phenomenon, such as the amount of antibodies produced by a particular type of immune system cell when it is exposed to the chemical.

Everybody has got colds, and now we are braced for a coronavirus epidemic. Phytochemical antioxidants are immune-boosting and can be found in apples. People who eat an apple a day use fewer prescription medications, according to a 2020 study. Not all probiotics are made equal, and products that contain them don't always have enough active cultures to make a real difference. Gingerol is responsible for much of its medicinal properties.

  • They also provide vitamin C (you can meet half your daily requirement from one fruit), so adding lemon juice to your meals is an easy strategy for protecting yourself against colds and other infections.
  • One approach that could help researchers get more complete answers about whether lifestyle factors such as exercise help improve immunity takes advantage of the sequencing of the human genome.
  • My daughter’s favorite way to eat salmon is Salmon Cakes or Nuggets (pictured above).
  • But don't add milk, because the proteins will bind to the polyphenols, making them ineffective.
  • Loading up on nutrient-packed, immune-boosting foods can work wonders, especially during the colder months.

Oysters on the Menu

Older people should discuss this question with a physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious repercussions in this age group. And as that’s a fairly difficult thing to show off at a dinner party, it’s probably not worth the investment. In what sounds like something from a Roald Dahl recipe book for disgusting medical concoctions, the use of faecal transplants – taking the poo from a healthy individual and transplanting it, along with all its friendly bacteria, to the gut of a patient through their bottom or nose – is gaining popularity. Immune system boosters Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. In powder form, obtained from cows, goats and other mammals, these antibodies can be mixed with water, juice and shakes. That’s when you’ve got immunity and is the basis of vaccination. But adding foods that are rich into zinc into your diet is an incredible way to boost your immune system in a balanced way, Haas says.

It is crushing tourism, the markets, trade, and the news cycle. Garlic’s scent tips you off to its many health benefits. It’s especially important to avoid taking vitamin E supplements. “Anything’s better than nothing,” says Akbar. That dream is not too far away – it’s already happening in the clinic, albeit in a very basic form.

When you have a cold, a little fennel is your friend. Yet another reason to enjoy those blueberries! This is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington. Want more stories like this? subscribe to the live well blog. They have an intensely earthy taste so a few go a long way. "For adults only, add half or a whole bottle of white wine or champagne for special occasions, and stir. While some changes have been recorded, immunologists do not yet know what these changes mean in terms of human immune response.

Sunflower Seeds And Almonds

Anti-Viral by Natural Factors is a potent tincture that includes Echinaceato help fight colds in a powerful way. Because supplements are regulated as foods, not as drugs, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t evaluate the quality of supplements or assess their effects on the body. Be sure to pick up containers free of excess added sugar. However, the researchers noted that more research needs to be conducted to support ginseng's immunity-boosting claims fully.

According to a 2020 review, curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. See our Privacy Policy for further details. But sometimes it fails, and an organism or substance makes you sick. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, Feb.

It’s a line of research that might one day fulfil the empty promises made by immune-boosting supplements. Kale, spinach, and broccoli are top choices for fighting off colds and the flu. Vitamin B6 also is found in green vegetables and in chickpeas, which is the main ingredient in hummus. Is stress bad for you?, resting includes taking a break from work, giving yourself time to go outside and enjoy nature, taking a yoga class, meditating, going out with friends, or enjoying a funny show. By eating a wide variety of seeds, you’ll be getting vitamin E, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids, all of which help your immune system. For a healthy liver, cruciferous vegetables like Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage should be included in daily diet. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Although rich in a wide variety of antioxidants, fennel boasts particularly high amounts of selenium, a mineral that stimulates our body’s response to infection.

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It’s loaded with healthy medium chain fatty acids, is beneficial for our metabolism, can be used as a beauty product for healthier hair and skin, and now you can add “immune-boosting” to that list of benefits. Nuts and peanut butter are also good sources of vitamin E. Using machine learning to analyze whole brain vasculature, we have summarized the emerging mediators that are involved in the response of several immune cells in ALD from studies in recent several years (Table 1). Don’t like water?

1 Plus, another study showed that a high dose of garlic extract can the amount of cold or flu sick days by 61%.

Sweet Potato

Papayas contain potassium, vitamin B, and folate, which is a powerful cell rebuilder. An ounce of sunflower seeds, or a quarter cup, supplies about half of the daily recommended target for vitamin E. Smoking is said to have a negative impact on both adaptive and innate immunity. Abstract, dPCP is an antigen that triggers the development of a brand new immune response; the strength of the response can be assessed by applying more DPCP to the skin four weeks later and measuring the resulting redness and skin thickening. Plus, it’s been shown to help soothe stomach bloating! “Chronic stress produces a stress hormone called cortisol that kills or neutralises your immune cells. Extracts of elderberry have antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties.


You can’t just eat an orange or grapefruit and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent a cold. Of course, one of the best ways to keep yourself from getting sick is by getting your annual flu shot. But what’s so great about probiotics? Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi's other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly. A squeeze of lemon also makes steamed veggies tastier.

A small handful or a quarter of a cup of almonds is a healthful snack that may benefit the immune system. Zinc can be found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds and nuts. Vitamin A, B6, C, D and E can help increase the strength of the immune system. Stick to a healthful, balanced diet filled with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough zinc and vitamin D and other important vitamins and minerals.

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“It’s more effective to change your diet,” says Cruickshank. How does your immune system work, anyway? Getting sick is the worst—especially during the holidays when your schedule is packed with parties, travel plans, and delicious food.