Your immune system is a complex machine that protects you from a wide range of infections. It needs a steady supply of good nutrients to keep running at top efficiency.
The best way to support your immune system is through a balanced diet, but you can also take supplements to fill in any nutrient gaps. When choosing a supplement, look for one that’s third-party tested and consider how much you need to take, says Gorin.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that can support immune system health. It’s found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as dietary supplements.
It’s an antioxidant, meaning it helps protect against oxidative damage to cells and other biological molecules. It can also help prevent a heart attack or stroke and improve vision.
In addition to its antioxidant function, vitamin C plays an important role in immunity. It supports the production of cytokines, which are molecules that trigger a response in the immune system.
Vitamin C is a good choice for people who have allergies because it can reduce their symptoms. However, it may not work as effectively for everyone, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before you take any vitamins.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps strengthen the immune system. Deficiency of this nutrient can lead to autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes mellitus.
Research shows that vitamin D stimulates the production of antiviral peptides, such as cathelicidins and defensins, that bind to innate immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells) to promote a response against bacterial and viral infections. It also inhibits the release of parathyroid hormone, a hormone that causes bone breakage and osteoporosis.
Many people have insufficient levels of vitamin D because they don’t spend enough time outdoors or because their skin is dark. This nutrient is essential for good health, especially as we age and for those who live in northern countries where sunlight isn’t as plentiful. Low blood levels of vitamin D can cause problems with bone growth and can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. These conditions can be prevented by taking vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that helps protect against disease and infection. It keeps oxidative stress in check and boosts immune function, as well as helping with vision, reproduction and eye health.
Deficiency of this vitamin is common in developing countries where dietary intake is limited, and it can lead to a range of health complications. Signs and symptoms include dry skin, aching muscles, and blurred vision.
While this vitamin is commonly found in animal products, such as eggs and milk, it’s also available in plant sources like carrots and kale. Ideally, get your recommended daily intake from a varied diet.
Researchers have found that VitA enhances the ability of B cells to produce antibodies, which play a key role in defending the body against infections. The nutrient has also been shown to reduce the risk of tuberculosis and hepatitis C in HIV patients, as well as help with pregnancy and postpartum recovery.
Vitamin B is an essential nutrient that your immune system needs to function properly. It’s found in many foods, but supplements are also helpful for boosting immune health, especially if you don’t get enough vitamins in your diet or you’re suffering from an illness that affects your gut’s ability to absorb nutrients like B vitamins.
Aside from being an important component of cellular energy production, vitamin B 12 also supports red blood cell formation and immunity. A deficiency can lead to anaemia, fatigue and a weaker immune system.
It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help with wound healing, neuropathy and fibromyalgia. Foods rich in pyridoxine include chicken, fish, potatoes, chickpeas, seeds and avocados.