3 Vitamins That Are Best for Boosting Your Immunity – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic

The complement system, a biochemical network of more than 30 proteins in plasma and on cellular surfaces, is a key component of innate immunity. It’s one thing to want to stress less, and another to actually make that happen. Reddy writes the Your Health column for Personal Journal. Your browser's Javascript functionality is turned off. Some of these helpful bugs make antimicrobial chemicals and compete with pathogens for food and space.

  • The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons.
  • Vitamin C is great for fighting off sickness and helping you get well more quickly.
  • So, vitamin formulations will do little to help you stay healthy if you are healthy already.
  • Believe it or not, foods that have even more vitamin C than citrus fruits include red bell peppers and strawberries.
  • In 2020, a study by University of Birmingham and King’s College London found that 125 non-smoking amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 still had the immune systems of young people.
  • Council on Environmental Health, Section on Dermatology.

To get your fill of vitamin E, look to these foods: Most experts say you should be able to get enough of these vitamins and minerals through your diet, and extra supplementation isn’t necessary. Excellent sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables. You can also get folic acid in fortified foods (check the label) such as enriched breads, pastas, rice and other 100 percent whole-grain products. If you find yourself regularly fighting illness, consider the following areas of your life, in addition to pursuing vitamins and supplements:

Fight Off A Cold: 3 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. 3 A supplement such as Nature Made® Vitamin E 400 IU d-Alpha liquid softgels can help meet your vitamin E nutrient needs. Pour into your favorite shot glass and drink up! They are the ones that remember germs, “so if you meet that germ again,” says Cruickshank, “they’ll just deal with it probably without you even knowing. For best results, please make sure your browser is accepting cookies.

Thus, when treating PEM in connection with chronic disease, it is necessary to address the underlying cause of malnutrition, as well as correct the associated nutrient deficits (25, 26). The adaptive system can take between 5 and 10 days to identify the antibodies that are needed and produce them in the numbers required to attack an invader successfully. Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins a and d take centre stage. It’s main function in immune health is as an antioxidant that rids your body of those damaging free radicals bouncing around your system.

I practice what I preach. Clinical, immunological, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant roles of zinc. Allergies and asthma develop when the immune system responds to substances that are not harmful.

Eat Foods With Certain Nutrients.

The immune system is essential for our survival and has several critical functions that protect the human body. A healthy diet is the best way to maintain a strong immune system. “Toxin” has become a buzzword in the world of natural health, but there are some habits that are clearly unhealthy. Think happy thoughts. A large, randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Pemba, Zanzibar, where malaria is endemic, reported an increase in serious adverse events (hospital admissions and deaths) among young children (ages, 1-35 months) receiving iron plus folic acid supplements compared to those receiving placebo [RR: Specific measures of functional activity affected appear to include chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and immune cell ability to generate oxidants that kill invading pathogens (56). Loaded with whole grains from granola and probiotic yogurt, a yogurt parfait is an immune-boosting start to your busy day. How about this 30 Minute Italian Sausage and Pepper Soup?

No one can completely avoid getting sick, not even top immunologists. “When you're under chronic stress or anxiety, your body produces stress hormones that suppress your immune system,” Moyad says. While some people age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them. Does being cold give you a weak immune system? Moreover, lipids can regulate gene expression through stimulation of membrane receptors or through modification of transcription factor activity. Antioxidants are like the repairmen that capture the bull, and then help to repair whatever the free radicals destroyed. Phytochemical antioxidants are immune-boosting and can be found in apples. 2 Good food sources of vitamin A and its precursor, beta-carotene, include:

  • These antibodies are the reason that the breastfed children are healthier and have less risk of catching a cold or allergies.
  • Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions.
  • Research confirms that probiotics are the healthy bacteria your body needs that will also boost your immune system.
  • If you’re considering taking extra vitamins to help your immune system, Hansen recommends checking with your provider before buying any supplement, as these can interfere with your regular medications.

Fish Oil (omega-3)

Since many of us live in areas where UV rays are weak, or we just don’t want to be exposed to the sun, a supplemental option is the next best thing. Drink more green tea. Let’s face it, those cute little munchkins are pros at spreading germs. Vitamin A deficiency is a major public health problem worldwide, especially in developing nations, where availability of foods containing preformed vitamin A is limited (for information on sources of vitamin A, see the article on Vitamin A). Do your best to limit your child’s exposure, and if someone in your house is sick, do your best to limit your exposure to others, too. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid. Individuals afflicted with marasmus appear emaciated and are grossly underweight and do not present with edema (23). Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment.


Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. For more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter. Children should get more, depending on their age.

Regular exercise mobilises the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. The best way to reduce the spread of germs is to wash your hands throughout the day, with soap and for at least 20 seconds. For individuals who are obese, losing even a small amount of weight could play a role in better immune function. CoQ10 helps cells function properly by aiding in the production of the energy they need to grow and stay healthy. Unfortunately, science is still on the hunt for the “cure for the common cold. Glutamine supplementation in people with immune dysregulation, the extracellular concentration of glutamine is around 0. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. In response to invading microorganisms, phagocytic leukocytes release non-specific toxins, such as superoxide radicals, hypochlorous acid (“bleach”), and peroxynitrite; these reactive oxygen species kill pathogens and, in the process, can damage the leukocytes themselves (149). A group of Canadian researchers that has reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and conducted some of its own research concludes that there's no need to worry about moderate cold exposure — it has no detrimental effect on the human immune system.

  • For more information on the specific autoimmune conditions discussed above, see the article on Vitamin D.
  • Consuming high doses of certain supplements, such as vitamin A and vitamin D, can in fact be toxic.


They've studied people who lived in Antarctica and those on expeditions in the Canadian Rockies. Protect your health with immune-boosting nutrition, practice good sleep hygiene. The investigators noted that their finding has encouraging implications for people with chronic diseases — including arthritis and fibromyalgia — and obesity. In addition to the obvious immune supporters like vitamin C, levels of vitamin D3 may have an impact on immune health. So what can you do? Water intake can have many positive benefits for your immune system, including but not limited to aiding in digestion and preventing possible pathogens like a virus or bacteria from getting into the eyes, nose and mouth. Stop the habit of smoking because not only does it increases the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system. Put away the candy and soda. 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?

9 g of DHA had no effect on NK cell activity, T lymphocyte proliferation, or cytokine production (43). Cortisol interferes with the T-cells(a specific white blood cell) to reproduce and receive signals from the body. Vitamin A and its metabolites play critical roles in both innate and adaptive immunity. Fatty acids that have this role include the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of the omega-3 and omega-6 classes.

However, moderate consumption of alcohol can be helpful to the overall health of the body. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Exercise and immune health, be patient, you have the rest of your life to be physically active again! In a 2020 study published by the British Journal of Nutrition, micronutrients support the body’s immune system at three separate levels:

Drug Basics & Safety

Colostrum is the referred to the first milk from nursing mammals. This water-soluble vitamin delivers antioxidant activity and helps to support immune cells against oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals before they can cause harm to cells. Foods that will boost your immune system, good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system, which offers protection from seasonal illness such as the flu and other health problems including arthritis, allergies, abnormal cell development and cancers. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine in that time window can reduce your total sleep by as much as an hour.

Selenium deficiency also appears to enhance the virulence or progression of some viral infections (see the article on Selenium) (210-212). To a certain extent, the relative production of these lipid mediators can be altered by dietary and supplemental intake of lipids. Make a Ginger Hot Toddy and get the amazing health benefits of the ginger root, which include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Downing fruit juices when you're under the weather will only lead to a blood sugar crash, making you feel worse. Free radicals are imbalanced molecules that can damage parts of cells such as proteins and DNA by taking electrons via oxidation.

However, in some people, medications or immune system disorders cause overactivity or low activity of the immune system. In a small feeding study conducted in nine healthy young men, long-term high intake of copper (7. How stress can affect your immune system, in fact, your gut is home to more than 70 percent your immune system cells. )Perhaps that thinking needs to change. While you can’t control your immune response to every sniffle, you can take steps to boost your immune system. Macrophages also produce the 25-hydroxyvitamin D 3 -1-hydroxylase enzyme, allowing for local conversion of vitamin D to its active form (88). Several studies have shown that acupuncture can have anti-inflammatory effects and can help boost your immune system.

(The Linus Pauling Institute was originally co-founded by Pauling himself to conduct research on nutrition and its role in health and disease.)

Hydrate Creatively.

Researchers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University launched a clinical trial with 140 patients in February to test whether ultrahigh doses of vitamin C, delivered intravenously, could treat the viral infection more effectively than a placebo. 5 must-have essential oils to boost your immune system – earthroma. Should I take vitamin or mineral supplements? The innate immune system is comprised of various anatomical barriers to infection, including physical barriers (e. )A number of small studies have suggested garlic may enhance immune system function.

If you use ad-blocking software, it may require you to allow JavaScript from hollandandbarrett. α-Linolenic acid (ALA) is a nutritionally essential n-3 fatty acid, and linoleic acid (LA) is a nutritionally essential n-6 fatty acid; dietary intake recommendations for essential fatty acids are for ALA and LA. But in the general population, the supplements did not prevent the common cold. Supplements to support immune health, it adds a little zing to food and it's a must-have for your health. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. Prioritizing exercise. But is this something we should be spending our money on? Any member of this family, including onions and leeks, can help build up your immunity to ailments most common during fall and winter. Meditate on the go.

What do I eat to help strengthen my immune system?

More Chocolate, Please.

Innate immunity involves immediate, nonspecific responses to foreign invaders, while adaptive immunity requires more time to develop its complex, specific responses (1). Why you should choose whey over other protein powder sources. Look for updates on this season's influenza vaccine and book in a jab when it's available. Make sure your diet includes moderate amounts of the following vitamins: A spinach and red pepper stir-fry is loaded with vitamin C. Commit to 1000 Hours Outside in 2020.

But vitamin C supplements don't ward off the common cold in most people, and there's even less evidence that they grant immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Your immune system needs fuel, so avoid ultralow-carbohydrate diets, experts say. Eat more veggies. The adaptive system spots an enemy and produces the specific weapons — or antibodies — that are required to destroy and eliminate the invader from the body. You can still get probiotics from other fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. See our prices on co-pays and same-day visits, with and without insurance.

  • Not feeling well?
  • † Fats are present in all cell membranes and are susceptible to damage by free radicals.
  • Frozen is fine.
  • Obesity has been linked to increased risk for influenza and other infections such as pneumonia.
  • Does it help keep the immune system healthy?
  • Although supplements containing high doses of antioxidants and other nutrients found in whole foods are often touted as natural immune-boosters, some research indicates that taking dietary supplements may have limited benefits for the immune system.

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Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. We talked to registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, for a closer look at these vitamins, what foods you can find them in and how they can help keep you healthy. Immune system boosters Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. The efficiency of the adaptive response can be sped up with vaccinations. Patients who have medical conditions or take other medications should be encouraged to discuss these supplements with their primary care providers before using them. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are preflavored and loaded with sugar. Sleep is important for your immune system.

These soluble factors are important in recruiting phagocytic cells to local areas of infection. What and how you eat affects your immune system; inadequate intake of selected micronutrients can lead to immune deficiency. In short, the body relies on vitamin C to launch an effective immune response while sustaining minimal damage. Vitamin D status: Innate immunity is the first line of defense against foreign substances and pathogenic microorganisms. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.

8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System

A 2020 study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at adults 50 and older and found that those who either did a daily exercise routine or performed mindfulness meditation were less likely to get sick with a respiratory infection than subjects in a control group, and if they did get sick, they missed fewer days of work. There’s a reason they call it Grandma’s penicillin! A 2020 study in Nutrients found that air travelers who took elderberry extract spent less time sick with a cold and had lower symptom scores than a placebo group.

Or try eating more hydrating foods, such as cucumbers, celery or watermelon.

Eat more greens. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to catch the infections they’re exposed to. Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations?

Specifically, deficiency in this micronutrient has been shown to affect lymphocyte proliferation, differentiation, and maturation as well as cytokine and antibody production (172-174). Clinical folate deficiency, known as megaloblastic anemia, results in impaired immune responses, primarily affecting cell-mediated immunity; correcting the vitamin deficiency with folic acid supplementation restores the affected immune functions (181). Ingested probiotics that survive digestion can transiently inhabit the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract (237). Weakened immune system For many people, the immune system works well to regulate itself and does not need any help.

Nuts And Seeds

Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy — a period where the immune system is in continual flux — may modify the immune system of the newborn in such a way that protects against respiratory infections and asthma. Online chat is also available 24/7. Further, lipids can covalently modify proteins, thereby affecting their function (34).


When you think of cold and flu, fish is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Simple steps to boost your immune system, elderberry benefits are numerous, however, the remedy may interact with certain prescription medications. Concern that iron administration could increase susceptibility to malaria and the risk of adverse events has received a lot of well-deserved attention (225). For more tips on having a good night in bed, visit the Sleep Health Foundation.

Some experiments with mice suggest that cold exposure might reduce the ability to cope with infection.

About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6. 30 immune-boosting foods to get you through cold & flu season, researchers claim that sulforaphane, a chemical in the vegetable, turns on antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which combat free radicals in your body and prevent you from getting sick. Try to sleep for 7–8 hours and avoid having an all-nighter. For instance, lipids are metabolized by immune cells to generate energy and are also important structural and functional components of cell membranes. The authors of the paper suggest that between 30 and 60 grams of carbs every hour during physical activity can help maintain normal immune function.

  • † Vitamin D receptors are located in almost all immune system cells, where vitamin D regulates and enhances the immune response and is involved in immune cell function.
  • The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity.
  • Realistically, vitamin and mineral supplements are most effective as a support for your immune system.
  • Leptin also affects aspects of cell-mediated immunity; for example, leptin promotes T helper (Th)1 immune responses and thus may have implications in the development of autoimmune disease (259).
  • One type, called macrophages, inhabit all our body tissue and, says Cruickshank, “have all these weapons ready to go, but they’re not terribly precise”.

Do Pets Help Immune System Function?

Chances are if you eat an unprocessed, balanced diet you will be able to get what you need from your food to optimize immune function. Research is still ongoing, but science consistently supports the fact that vitamins in supplement form may do more harm than good. Grab an apple. “how can i have an allergy if i have a weak immune system?”. Get enough essential vitamins. Increased stress could lead to immune system disorders, study finds, everyone is different, and just because running helped one person reduce anxiety does not mean it's going to work for you. Some contain colostrum, which is rich in antibodies and immunoglobulins A and E that may provide immune-modulating benefits. Obesity has also been linked to increased risk of mortality (249).

A lack of adequate nutrition is one of the primary contributors to a weak immune system.

Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? Vitamin A deficiency also affects B cell function; for example, animal experiments have shown that vitamin A deficiency impairs antibody responses (70-72). But the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically. The health benefits of tea are impressive and include a lower risk of infections.

Keep your body in top shape. Bring on the hummus! However, long-term high intakes of copper can result in adverse effects on immune function. Good or bad for immunity? Unfortunately, cold and flu season is an especially tough time to keep your immune system going strong.

Vitamin E

Eat foods with certain nutrients. Immune system vitamins kids, more than 800 million people are estimated to be undernourished, most in the developing world (16), but undernutrition is also a problem in industrialized nations, especially in hospitalized individuals and the elderly (17). How sleep can boost your body's immune response. Wash any buckets or filter systems every two to three days, as well. However, the immune system is a double-edged sword in that host tissues can be damaged in the process of combating and destroying invading pathogens.

There are many fascinating aspects of the immune system that scientists are still exploring. Cytokines are chemical messengers that have key roles in regulating the immune response; some cytokines directly fight pathogens. Potent & pure Elderberry delivers powerful antioxidants from super-dark fruit flavonoids believed to account for the therapeutic action of Elderberries. Supplements to consider: This comfort food isn’t just food for the soul, it is packed with veggies and bone broth, making it one of the best home remedies to fight germs. So whenever possible, try to be aware of your stress levels and work to lower them when they get too high.


Further, a 2020 animal study found a specific gut microbe, triggered by the consumption of flavonoids found in tea, berries, and chocolate could help reduce the incidence of flu. If you sleep less than your body needs, you’ll build up a sleep debt. The current U. B cells produce antibodies, which are specialized proteins that recognize and bind to foreign proteins or pathogens in order to neutralize them or mark them for destruction by macrophages. If your diet does not provide adequate levels of any the following vitamins and minerals, your immune system may not be operating at its best: The right combination of fruits and vegetables can give your body an immune boost during the winter months. Take probiotic supplements. They can also inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (reviewed in 175).

In an earlier trial, daily supplementation of healthy older adults (≥65 years of age) with 200 mg of all-rac-α-tocopherol for 235 days also improved T lymphocyte-mediated immunity — as measured with the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin test — and increased the production of antibodies in response to hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines (160).

7 Consequently, national surveys show that 93% of Americans are not consuming enough vitamin D from their diet3 and approximately 1/3 of the US population, including children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, are suffering from either insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D. Several scientific publications have reported on the effectiveness of spirulina in strengthening the immune system. But today, there isn't enough understanding of the complex interplay between the body and the microbiome to effectively use probiotics to improve health.

The ancient Chinese treatment uses tiny needles to stimulate certain parts of the body. Say “Thank You” and reap the health benefits of practicing gratitude. Alcohol alters the number of microbes in the gut microbiome, a community of microorganisms that affect the immune system. Adopt a yoga practice. While many products claim to boost immunity, the concept makes little sense scientifically.  Look to these foods to boost your carotenoids: Find out how to quit Juul. If you think you aren’t getting enough via food, antioxidant supplements like grape seed extract and green tea complex are an easy and efficient way to get more.

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This essential fat-soluble vitamin, studied primarily for its role in bone health, has also been studied extensively for its importance in immune system health. In contrast, a hallmark of kwashiorkor is the presence of edema. For example, one study in obese children and adolescents associated impairments in cell-mediated immunity with deficiencies in zinc and iron (267). 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. Through these roles, vitamin D helps protect against infections caused by pathogens.

Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. A key component of the immediate immune response is inflammation, which can cause damage to host tissues, although the damage is usually not significant (2). Foods affecting immune response Studies have focused on how specific foods or diets might affect the immune response.

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These hormones help control the response of the cardiovascular system to severe infections, while collagen fortifies the skin against injury. 5 foods to supercharge your immune system, white blood cells help fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria, he explained. Curcumin, found in curry and turmeric, may assist the immune system with clearing the brain of beta-amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Results of another study showed exciting information on the role of immunoglobulin A in pro- moting immune health and regulating the composition and function of gut microbiota. At this time, the scientific evidence is too weak to advocate the use of probiotics to reduce respiratory infections and improve vaccination response, especially in the elderly (reviewed in 246, 247). Eat more yogurt.

Share on Pinterest The immune system contains many different cell types that respond to different microbes. And, if you drink a lot of caffeine or take any fitness supplements that contain caffeine, try to avoid doing so within six hours of bedtime. Further studies have demonstrated zinc can decrease the duration of the common cold. Hansen says to focus on what you can control to keep you and your family healthy. The recommended dose depends on your age, sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding status, but in general, adult men are recommended to ingest at least 90 milligrams (mg) a day, and adult women should consume at least 75 mg.

This is currently an active area of investigation; see the article on Essential Fatty Acids. If your immune system is weak because of a particular vitamin or mineral deficiency, then supplementing with that nutrient may lead to improvements. Antioxidants neutralize chemicals called free radicals. Washing your hands regularly with plenty of soap and water for at least 20 seconds — or using an alcohol-based hand rub if soap isn't available — is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. With some exceptions, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form. Is your immune system unhealthy? why things can go wrong – health essentials from cleveland clinic. Ask your doctor if it's safe for you to indulge in an occasional alcoholic drink and if so, how much is safe for you to consume.

In these cases, the incidence of cold was reduced by 50% with the use of vitamin C.

Diet & Fitness

There is still much that researchers don't know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. Because zinc is not stored in the body, regular dietary intake of the mineral is important in maintaining the integrity of the immune system. The mineral plays an important role in the development and maintenance of immune system function, but the exact mechanism of its action is not yet known. Robot check, available at Pharmaca, PCC and online ( for 1 ounce). Vitamin E helps neutralize these free radicals. Whether or not one can safely consume some alcohol has to do with many factors including overall health status, risk factors for disease, and any medications you may be taking. According to the World Health Organization, more than one-third of the world’s underprivileged, preschool age children (80% living in Asia, 15% in Africa, and 5% in Latin America) are affected by PEM.

Just choose plain frozen foods rather than those with added sugars or sodium.