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

This anti-inflammatory effect allows for better digestive and gut health, leading to a boost in your immune system to keep you healthy. Looking for a challenge that will support better immune function? Here are some nutrition-focused tips Haas offered up to help boost your immune system.

Check out my Protein Calculator for more info on how much you need every day. When it’s a vitamin or supplement, it’s often questionable how much you’re actually getting. Red bell peppers have the most vitamin C of all varieties, and all bell peppers also have lots of phytochemicals and carotenoids, like beta-carotene, which are chock full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits as well. The reality is it’s more than just diet that supports a healthy immune system. But what’s so great about probiotics? Also said to have anti-inflammatory properties, it warms the stomach and can reduce nausea.

Whether cranberries help prevent or treat urinary tract infections is still being debated, with recent studies suggesting they may not be able to lower the amount of bacteria in women’s urine. Dried, unsweetened cranberries can be added to salads, oatmeal, muffins, and trail mix. Try the following recipes to help keep your immune system in top condition.

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Some studies suggest elderberry extract reduces the duration of the flu. Teas are a great way to help improve your immune system and battle common symptoms when you’ve already become run down with a cold. As well as sweet potatoes, other foods that are high in vitamin A include carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables, squash, romaine lettuce, dried apricots, red peppers, fish and organ meats. Eating nourishing foods rich in certain vitamins can help your immune system fight off illness.

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But you can also help your body prepare in case you do come in contact with the virus, or if you just generally want to keep healthy. Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. Buy organic or wash well before eating:

Citrus fruits Most people instinctively turn to citrus fruits if they feel a cold coming on, whether it’s hot lemon and water, orange juice, or slices of fresh grapefruit. For individuals who are obese, losing even a small amount of weight could play a role in better immune function. Salmon is rich in omega 3 fats. For adults only, add half or a whole bottle of white wine or champagne for special occasions, and stir. Several cultures swear by chicken soup to nurse the sick back to health, and while of course it’s comforting to sip, science shows that chicken soup can actually aid in fighting infections. Remember, Vitamin C is water soluble-meaning consuming extra amounts of it will only be flushed out in your urine. One of the best uses of holy basil tea, when you are sick, is to help with respiratory disorders, though it’s also beneficial for fever, asthma, lung disorders, heart disease, and stress.

“So eating candies, cookies and sugary beverages is going to have a negative impact and lower our abilities to fight against any immune stressors like the flu or other viruses. Zinc is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. Elderberry syrup benefits for cold and flu: what the science says. Why would vitamin D lower risk for respiratory illness? Start your day with Mini Breakfast Egg, Tomato, and Spinach Flatbread Pizzas.

  • Vitamin K deficiency is rare but when people don't have enough they suffer from weak bones and compromised immune systems.
  • Jalapeño peppers get their spice from a compound called capsaicin, which is something of an all-star in the nutrition world.
  • 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.
  • More great ideas include these Flourless Sweet Potato Blender Muffins or this Sweet Potato and Apple Soup.
  • This tropical fruit is packed full of vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, fiber and vitamin K.
  • Therefore, those living in northern climates where sunlight is limited might also want to consume at least 600 IU (15 mcg) from vitamin D supplements per day.

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But what about humans? Lutein is one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids and is found in high quantities in green leafy veggies such as spinach and kale. Staying hydrated can help loosen trapped mucus, according to The Mayo Clinic. People who regularly consume foods containing vitamin C may have slightly shorter colds or milder symptoms.

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But balance is important, even when it comes to foods you might consider healthy. So far, scientists do not know the answer. Free radicals can damage the body’s cells and may contribute to disease. MSN UK is committed to Empowering the Planet and taking urgent action to protect our environment. This vibrant-colored fruit is jam-packed full of antioxidants, which help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. 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. Plus, licorice has been shown to enhance immunity more directly by boosting immune system chemicals that help ward off viruses. Get this immune-boosting vitamin from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs or foods labeled "vitamin A fortified," such as milk or some cereals.

They have different properties that help things like a sore throat, upset stomach, and congestion, and can help you feel like your symptoms are fading away. Garlic is a common home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illness. Keep up with your kids’ vaccines. The majority of the research that supports this was carried out on animals or in a laboratory. ” She recommends plant-based yogurts and sauerkraut. Consuming it also helps the body better absorb iron, which is critical for normal immune-system function.

You need to eat to boost your immune system.

Grab an apple. Getting outside during the cold of winter isn’t easy, but spending more time in nature encourages good health. Try to avoid overdoing beverages that can made you dehydrated, like coffee.

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Learn more about how a plant-based diet can lead to better sleep. But the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically. Can i boost my immune system?, you’ll want to check out Vitamin E. Will my workouts improve?

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Immune system explained, a person with a weak immune system might have difficulty fighting off infections. 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. The right combination of fruits and vegetables can give your body an immune boost during the winter months.

To turn apples into a more energizing snack, slice one up and enjoy with a spoonful of peanut or almond butter.

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One medium orange provides 70 mg, a grapefruit contains almost 90 mg, and a medium raw red bell pepper packs 150 mg. Need a recipe for cooking with nutritious bell peppers? A healthy diet is a big part of managing inflammation in the body. Increased vitamin C requirements are observed in periods of stress for immune system support. A number of small studies have suggested garlic may enhance immune system function.


When it comes to treating a common cold, ginger is one of the best foods for relief. It also contains an enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects -- and inflammation is one factor in most illnesses, so avoiding it can help your body fight off bacterial infections like sinusitis. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? Some studies have linked high dosages to an increased risk of miscarriage. How much folate should you eat a day: A blood test is required to check vitamin D levels.

One notable study showed that chicken soup diminishes the presence of white blood cells associated with inflammation in upper respiratory conditions that often plague cold sufferers, suggesting that it encourages a more effective immune response and helps symptoms clear up quicker. But the majority of us are failing when it comes to getting an adequate amount of vegetables in our diet. Plus, it’s been shown to help soothe stomach bloating! Being strong, from the inside out. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, your mucous membranes and your immune system. Try adding extra Tumeric to your diet during periods of stress or during flu season. Enjoy and allow your body to be nourished. The body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but it's more efficient to consume them in your diet.

8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System

Taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya are also excellent sources. Astragalus is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body balance out what needs balancing:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits increase the production of white blood cells, fortifying your immune system to help fight infections.
  • “Ginger is a nutrient-dense root that cleanses the lymphatic system and treats inflammation,” says Hayim.
  • It also contains immune-system-supporting compounds like beta-carotene and capsaicin.
  • Flu season is the worst, right?

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Just choose plain frozen foods rather than those with added sugars or sodium. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are crucial for a healthy immune system. Who doesn’t want a healthy immune system? Fermented foods heal your gut lining and digestion, and your gut houses 70% of your immune system cells, meaning fermented foods boost your immunity, too. RA is a chronic autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body.

It helps me easily drink water throughout the day and I rarely ever deal with dehydration. The flowers contain compounds called flavonoids that may help reduce inflammation and pain. When people are exposed to situations they regard as stressful, it is difficult for them to measure how much stress they feel, and difficult for the scientist to know if a person's subjective impression of the amount of stress is accurate. There is still much that researchers don't know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. In addition to antioxidants, avocados are also an excellent source of potassium, lutein, and vitamins E, C, K, and B-6. 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. Try these omega-3-rich foods: Ask us about tinctures and extracts to help find the right one for you!

For these reasons, it is a good choice of vegetable to eat regularly to support immune system health. Some major vitamins, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and Vitamin E, are also antioxidants… surprise! Wolfram says, “I also like to eat foods that contain probiotics, which help keep our gut microbiomes in balance.

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There are other ways to stay hydrated, like drinking this Classic Peach Iced Tea. After completing an honours degree at the University of Guelph in Applied Human Nutrition, Dr. Combining turmeric with black pepper significantly ups curcumin bioavailability. Blend until smooth, adding water if needed for the desired consistency. While you may be more familiar with the culinary usage of certain mushrooms, like antioxidant packed Shiitakes, most medicinal mushrooms are intended to be consumed in dried powder form.

Add the spinach, apple slices, walnuts, salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with lemon and olive oil.

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According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology, curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are the main cells fighting for your health in your immune system. It can also help lower the duration and severity of a cold. Pairing these and other fruits and vegetables with adequate protein intake will help supercharge your immunity, says Smithson. Try incorporating almonds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter into your diet to reap the benefits of Vitamin E. While we’re certainly not fans of the sniffles, we love cooler weather because it means we have more excuses to cozy down with a big bowl of soup or delicious broth! It has been shown to decrease inflammation, which can help if you get swollen glands or a sore throat or any inflammatory ailment.

More Foods for Boosting the Immune System

This could help prevent you getting sick from germs you’ve come in contact with. You’ve probably heard of turmeric as a superfood herb, with its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The study found that people who were ingesting at least 75 milligrams of zinc a day were relieved of their cold symptoms in a shorter amount of time in comparison to those who did not.

  • Especially in the early stages of a cold, the goal is to get the patient to sweat out the illness through the pores before it moves deeper into the body.
  • Instead of being pro-inflammatory, the cells turn to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help the body recover from infection and illness faster.
  • 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.

Ginseng Tea

Scientists have dunked people in cold water and made others sit nude in subfreezing temperatures. Mushrooms are high in things like antioxidants and phytonutrients, which means that many of them play a function in protecting the body against oxidative stress. Add spinach to your eggs. To do this sort of research, exercise scientists typically ask athletes to exercise intensively; the scientists test their blood and urine before and after the exercise to detect any changes in immune system components. Elderberry is also high in flavonoids. No matter the season, keeping your immune system healthy is very important to your overall health and well-being. To boost your broth, add in a few more goji berries. Zinc is found in the human body in all organs, tissues and body fluids.

Yogurt is chock-full of all kinds of goodness for your gut—and your best friend when it comes to fortifying yourself against a nasty stomach flu. Like glutathione, vitamin E is an antioxidant that works in the body by minimizing the damaging effect of free radicals. The main protein food sources are meats and seafood, so chicken, poultry, fish and shellfish. Initial research suggests that drinking kefir may boost the immune system. As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. If you have a cold fighting tip or favorite food not found in this list we would love to hear about it.

What’s better when you have a cold or the flu than curling up on the couch with a giant mug of tea? They also provide bioactive compounds that release a chemical signal that optimizes immunity in the gut, the location of 70-80% of immune cells. It helps to relieve stress and increase relaxation, which is so vital when you’re feeling under the weather. Elderberry, a strong antiviral, is particularly effective at fighting upper respiratory infections. Drink more green tea. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. This is particularly crucial for older adults or anyone with a suppressed immune system. Try it in a turmeric latte, aka golden milk , or use it to season lean meats, grains and other healthy foods.


She says we should always want our bodies to be functioning at the highest level so it is important to think of these suggestions as a way of living, not just a reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak. The most common type of MCT found in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is converted into a substance known as monolaurin during digestion. Add the grapes, cutting in half if they happen to be very large, stir and garnish the top with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint, if using. Top 20 foods for immune health Many people don’t realize just how significantly our diet can influence our immunity. We use cookies to enhance your experience, for analytics and to show you offers tailored to your interests on our site and third party sites. Help protect yourself against infection and boost your immunity by including these nutrients in your eating plan. For a stronger immunity: natural ways to boost the immune system. Research is still ongoing, but science consistently supports the fact that vitamins in supplement form may do more harm than good. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick.

Folate is the natural form, and folic acid is the synthetic form, often added to foods because of its health benefits. Shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch; according to a 2020 University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study, eating shiitake mushroom daily can boost your immunity. In the same way as other antioxidants, vitamin E improves immune function. Sage, which can be made into tea, is an ancient remedy for sore throats, cough and colds. Loaded with whole grains from granola and probiotic yogurt, a yogurt parfait is an immune-boosting start to your busy day.

For instance, the bone broth claim has been fueled by a study published in 2020 that showed eating chicken soup seemed to reduce symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. Therefore, it’s best to take iron supplements only if you have an iron deficiency or on the advice of a doctor. Three reasons to get your stress levels in check this year. Manufacturers freeze frozen fruits and veggies at “peak” ripeness, which means they’ll pack a similar nutritional value as their fresh counterparts. How cool is that? Broccoli may be the most super of superfoods on the planet. As with blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of a cold.

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Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Anti – Inflammatory Foods & Spices: While you might be skittish right now about going out to meet a friend for dinner or attending a book club, instead of canceling, consider catching up in a less crowded space. So how much of each micronutrient is required and where in your diet can you find them? To get your daily requirement of selenium, eating just a single Brazil nut per day will do it. While scientists are still not sure exactly how it helps, vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system. Here are 16 top picks, and how to incorporate each into your regular eating routine. According to the University of California Los Angeles, this soup has an anti-inflammatory effect and calms down inflammation in the upper respiratory tract that takes place when you develop a cold.

Of course, ideally you’re not getting sick in the first place, so we can’t forget about prevention. Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you can’t always get your hands on high-quality fresh produce. High intakes of vitamin A supplements during pregnancy may also increase the risk of birth defects. Mix sage, goat cheese and eggs for a flavor-filled omelet. Not all probiotics are made equal, and products that contain them don't always have enough active cultures to make a real difference. The key to keeping its powerful nutrients intact and ready for helping the body's immune response is to cook it as little as possible — or even eat it raw. You probably know about vitamin C’s connection to the immune system, but did you know you can get it from much more than just citrus fruits?

The immune boosting properties are in numerous foods, so eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Wheat Germ

Eat a balanced diet, exercise and skip unproven supplements. Whether this decrease in thymus function explains the drop in T cells or whether other changes play a role is not fully understood. Which cells should you boost, and to what number? Gingerol is responsible for much of its medicinal properties. This fruit contains phytochemical antioxidants, according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal. Marijuana: more than just the high, our immune system also plays a key role in detecting malfunctioning cells inside our bodies, and, through the process of apoptosis or cell death, ensures that these cells do not continue to grow and become tumors. In the body, vitamin C behaves as an antioxidant, which means it protects cells from free-radical damage. But these subjects are elite athletes undergoing intense physical exertion.

Oranges are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient when you're feeling under the weather. Oats contain beta glucans, a component of fiber that activates killer cells. Vegetables harness so much amazing power to impact and better our health.

Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body’s natural immune response. Facts (and myths) about boosting your immune system, if a pathogen breaches these defences, it has to deal with our white blood cells, or immune cells. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly. Research has shown it can have anti-inflammatory effects by inducing the expression and production of interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive cytokine. That's because "chronic inflammation can weaken and disrupt the function of your immune system," says Yeung. Eat them on a regular basis so your immune system is always firing on all cylinders. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.

"The best way to stave off the cold and flu is try to stay as healthy as possible by maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active and practicing good hygiene," says Yeung.