Our immune system is our only defense that helps fight foreign bodies and keeps us safe. A healthy immune system makes for long and healthy living. It is thus everyone’s necessity to have a healthy immune system.
The only question is how do you get a healthy immune system?
If your guess is by eating healthy foods, then you’re 100% correct. But do you know exactly which foods to eat to help boost your immune system?
It might be a little difficult for you to answer this question. You would have most probably guessed the name of half of the foods in our list right.
Now, let me ask you another simple question i.e. name the list of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy immune system? What would your answer be?
I would say, it would be much harder for you to answer this particular question. But once you’ve read and understood this article, you will be able to answer these questions with ease.
So, without further delay, let me provide some spotlight on the matter at hand.
Here’s the list of vitamins and minerals required for a healthy immune system:
Vitamin A For Healthy Immune System
Vitamin A plays an important role in ensuring the proper function of our immune system. Furthermore, vitamin A is crucial for maintaining our vision and helps in proper growth and development.
The anti-inflammation property of vitamin A makes it crucial in enhancing our immune system. It plays an important role in immune system development and also helps in regulating the cellular immune response.
It helps in the production of white blood cells (WBCs) that play an important role in fighting and capturing of foreign bodies such as bacteria and other pathogens.
Vitamin A also plays the role of a regulator and helps in regulating the humoral immune processes of our body. It is thus advised that an adult needs to consume 700 – 900 micrograms of vitamin A. The children and teenagers needs to consume 300-600 micrograms of vitamin A daily.
Lack of vitamin A can make us susceptible to different types of diseases and recovery from diseases can take a longer time than usual.
The good thing is vitamin A can be obtained from both plant-based and animal-based foods.
Here’s a list of healthy sources of vitamin A:
- Cod liver oil,
- Beef liver
- Fortified breakfast cereals,
- Sweet potato,
- Fortified skim milk,
- Sweet red pepper
- Dark green, leafy vegetables, etc.
Fruits rich in vitamin A:
Vitamin C For Healthy Immune System
Vitamin C, much like vitamin A is an essential micronutrient that helps to strengthen our immune system. It does so in more than one way.
Vitamin C is involved in the formation of an epithelial barrier, a skin defense mechanism, and helps to prevent the entry of foreign bodies such as bacterias and pathogens.
It is also actively involved in the production of WBCs, the cells of the immune system that helps to protect our body from foreign invaders that somehow get inside our body.
Furthermore, vitamin C also supports various cellular functions of the innate immune system and the acquired immune system.
Lack of vitamin C may result in a weak immune system and increase the risk of infections from pathogens and bacterias.
The good news is that you can easily obtain vitamin C from foods, mainly green leafy vegetables and some fruits.
It is highly recommended that one needs to intake at least 100-200 mg of vitamin C.
List of healthy foods rich in vitamin C:
- Brussels sprouts,
- Green and red peppers.
- Sweet potatoes,
- Leafy green vegetables, etc.
Fruits rich in vitamin C:
- All types of citrus fruits and juices, such as lemons, orange, grapefruit, etc.
- Kiwi fruit.
- Other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc.
Vitamin D For Healthy Immune System
Vitamin D helps to keep our immune system balanced and helps fight cold and flu especially during winter seasons. A balanced immune system is very important to help keep our bodies safe from both inside and outside.
A lower level of vitamin D in white blood cells makes them weak and cannot function properly. This may result in susceptibility to infections from bacterias and pathogens.
Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency may worsen the autoimmune disease state if you have any.
Vitamin D can be obtained from different types of foods including fatty fish and some other fortified food items.
Thus it is recommended to intake 10-20 micrograms of vitamin D for the optimal immune system.
List of healthy food sources of vitamin D:
- Canned tuna
- Fortified milk
- Egg yolk
- Fortified yogurt
- Fortified cereal
- Fortified orange juice
Apart from the foods that you eat, you can obtain vitamin D by sunbathing in the early morning sun.
Vitamin E For Healthy Immune System
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and may help to protect skin cells from being attacked and destroyed by free radicals by strengthening the cellular immunity.
Free radicals are formed due to our body’s normal function and lack of antioxidants to control the free radicals may result in damaged and shortened cell life.
It also has the ability to influence the immune system according to our body’s needs and play an important role in slowing down the aging process.
Vitamin E also helps in the production of antibodies and helps to enhance our body’s immune response. Lack of vitamin E may result in a weakened immune system resulting in an increased possibility of infectious diseases and body tumors.
Vitamin E can be easily obtained by consuming different types of healthy foods, including different types of fruits and some vegetables. It is recommended that you need a daily dose of 15 milligrams of vitamin E.
List of healthy foods rich in vitamin E:
- Sunflower seeds,
- Fruit juices,
- Fortified breakfast cereals,
- Vegetable oils, etc.
Fruits rich in vitamin E:
- Mamey sapote,
- Olives, etc.
It is an essential component of our body’s immune system and helps in the production of DNA and RNA, the genetic components that dictate the cell’s functionalities.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9 (folate) that is found in different types of foods, including some fruits, vegetables, and dried peas and beans. It is vital in maintaining our body’s cellular immunity.
Lack of folic acid may lead to a weakened immune system. Weakened immunity may lead to decreased resistance to infections.
Folic acid is found in different types of fruits and vegetables naturally. It is, however, important to eat foods rich in folic acid in order to avoid folic acid deficiency.
A daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid is recommended for adults.
List of healthy foods containing folic acid:
- Brussels sprouts
- Leafy Greens vegetables,
- Broccoli, etc.
Fruits rich in folic acid:
- Citrus Fruits,
- Papaya, etc.
Iron is another fundamental element of our immune system. It helps in the proper development and functioning of our body’s immune system.
Iron is essential for white blood cells, especially lymphocytes’ growth and maturation. Lack of iron is linked with a slower immune response to foreign threats such as bacteria and pathogens.
A higher amount of iron in our body may be potentially harmful since iron also helps in the growth and multiplication of bacterias and parasites.
Iron is found in the food we eat and thus is easy to obtain by eating some of the healthy foods containing iron in them. The daily requirement of iron for adult make is 8 milligrams and for females is 18 milligrams.
List of healthy foods rich in iron:
- Pumpkin seeds,
- Dark chocolate
- Canned salmon, etc.
Selenium (Se) is a powerful nutritional antioxidant and when incorporated into selenoproteins plays an important role in inflammation and immunity.
Studies confirm that selenium (Se) is has a role to play in antiparasitic responses. Selenium (Se) deficiency may negatively impact immune cells during activation, differentiation, and multiplication.
Thus the adequate amount of selenium (Se) is needed for initiating immunity.
Selenium can be obtained from different types of healthy foods, including some kinds of fruits. It is suggested that a healthy adult needs to intake 400 micrograms of selenium every day.
List of healthy foods rich in selenium:
- Yellowfin tuna,
- Enriched foods,
- Cottage cheese,
- Chicken, etc.
Fruits rich in selenium:
- Brazil nuts,
- Bananas, etc.
Zinc helps to keep our immune system strong and also helps in the rapid healing of wounds.
It plays a key role in the immunity system and lack of zinc may result in increased susceptibility to infections from various pathogens.
Zinc also helps to create a strong barrier of the skin to help prevent the entry of bacterias and pathogens from outside in our body.
Lack of zinc leads to severe immune dysfunctionality and makes our body susceptible to foreign invasion from pathogens.
Zinc can be easily obtained from different types of foods we eat. But it is important that you consume the recommended amount o zinc each day.
The daily recommended requirement for zinc for adult men is 11 milligrams and for adult women is 8 milligrams.’
List of healthy foods rich in zinc:
- Pumpkin seeds,
- Hemp seeds,
- Whole Grains,
- Kale, etc.
Fruits rich in zinc:
- Kiwi, etc.
Our immune system is our only defense against a foreign invasion that may result in diseases and infections. Not only that but, it also protects from pathogens that may get into our body from air.
It is thus important that we strengthen our immune system in order to be able to live a long and healthy life free of diseases and infections.
The foods we eat are the primary source of all the essential micronutrients needed to help improve our immune system.
Thus, it is important that we eat healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals in order to keep our immune system healthy.