Boosting your immune system is great all the time, but at a time when a compromised immune system from the “coronavirus” or COVID-19 can have major negative effects, it’s more important than ever. Here are eight vitamins and minerals that you may or may not know can help boost your immune system and fight off incoming infections.
1) Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a known connection to the immune system. It’s one of the most common vitamins we can all take to boost our immune systems to fight off sickness. Did you know you can get it from much more than just citrus fruits? Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, Brussel sprouts, and strawberries are also great sources.
2) Vitamin E
Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. You can supplement with vitamin E capsules or you can get it from snacks like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds.
3) Vitamin D
You can easily get most of your vitamins from food, but vitamin D may be the exception to that rule. While you can increase your intake through fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines) and other foods such as fortified milk, orange juice, and cereals. Unfortunately, many people have a hard time absorbing vitamin D from food, so supplements might be a better option.
Of course you can also stimulate your internal vitamin D production by exposing your skin to sunlight. But with many of us sheltering indoors, this might not be the safest thing to do. Under normal conditions, aim for 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week. Adjust your time according to how sensitive your skin is so that you don’t burn.
4) Vitamin A
Don’t forget about vitamin A! The body turns the colorful compounds called carotenoids in certain food into vitamin A, and they have an antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system against infection. You can find vitamin A in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and squash.
5) Folic Acid
Folic acid is often added to foods because of its major health benefits. You can get folic acid in fortified foods such as enriched bread, certain kinds of pasta, rice, and other 100 percent whole-grain products.
Zinc appears to help slow down the immune response and control inflammation in your body. You can find zinc in oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans (skip the kind with added sugar), yogurt, and chickpeas.
Iron helps your body carry oxygen to cells and comes in different forms. You can take supplements or look for this immune defender in your own kitchen. Your body can easily absorb “heme iron,” which is abundant in proteins like chicken, turkey, and seafood. You can also get other forms of iron in beans, broccoli, and kale.
Selenium is another one that seems to have a powerful effect on the immune system! It is known to have the potential to slow the body’s over-active responses to certain aggressive infections. You can find it in garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, Brazil nuts, and barley.
We realize that many of us are adjusting our diets due to restrictions on going anywhere, including regular trips to the grocery store and restaurants. When you compound that with many business closures, depleted food supplies, and personal financial hardships, eating a balanced, healthy diet might not seem like a priority. So when eating right takes a back seat to life-changing circumstances, remember why the supplement industry exists – to supplement your diet with beneficial nutrients and compounds that your regular food intake doesn’t supply.
After all, quality nutrients, however you get them, go a long way to bolster the immune system so it can take on pathogens, allergens, and toxins as intended.