Best Immune System Boosting Vitamins

best immune system boosting vitamins

Many people get a flu shot this time of year, but can certain foods and supplements boost your immune system? Focus on a healthy eating plan.

Vitamin C, for example, supports immune function by enhancing the actions of various immune cells and helping to keep your body’s cellular death program in check. It also serves as an antioxidant, protecting against the buildup of oxidative stress that can negatively affect your immune health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is a vital nutrient that supports your immune system by boosting production of white blood cells and fighting off harmful molecules called free radicals. It’s one of the best antioxidants available, and it can be found in many foods, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, berries and broccoli.

Researchers have found that taking a high dose of vitamin C may decrease allergy symptoms in people who have asthma, hay fever or other skin and respiratory allergies. The nutrient also helps your body fight off harmful bacteria that can cause infection or damage your skin.

However, high-dose vitamin C supplementation doesn’t seem to prevent the common cold in people who are generally healthy and well-nourished. Moreover, studies have shown that it can also make you more susceptible to other diseases, so be sure to keep your vitamin C intake consistent from week to week, unless otherwise recommended by your healthcare professional.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the immune system, and it’s been shown to help reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses. A deficiency in the nutrient is also linked to increased levels of infection.

Your body makes vitamin D from sunlight (the primary source) and through dietary intake, including from foods fortified with it. People with darker skin have lower blood levels of the nutrient because melanin in their skin acts like a sunscreen, preventing vitamin D from being produced by the sun.

The optimal level of vitamin D is between 75 and 100 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) in serum, the circulating form of the vitamin. However, in actual intervention studies where people were given supplements to get them up to this level, the results haven’t been that great.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps keep your immune system healthy and strong. It also prevents free radicals from damaging your cells and tissues, lowering the risk of disease.

It also keeps your skin and eyes healthy. It is an anti-inflammatory agent and supports the growth of T cells, one of the two main types of immune cells that fight infection.

This essential nutrient is found in many foods, including sunflower seeds, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens. It can also be taken as a supplement to meet your daily requirements.

It is a critical vitamin for people with a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV. It has been shown to bolster the immune response, increase lymphocyte proliferation, and reduce non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in patients with HIV.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the best immune system boosting vitamins. It works to support the production of white blood cells, T cells and antibodies — all of which help your immune system respond to infections.

Vitamin B6 can be found in nutrient-dense foods like beef liver, poultry, salmon, chickpeas and dark leafy greens. You can also get it from a daily supplement.

In addition to helping your immune system, vitamin B6 may also protect you from heart disease and cancer. It has anti-inflammatory properties, can lower blood pressure and can regulate the levels of carnosine, a cardioprotective molecule.