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5 Nutrients You Need to Supercharge Your Immune System

Eating for your body is important for your immune health, and it needs these specific nutrients to keep its immune system healthy. These foods have been known to boost the immune system, preventing colds and the flu. Incorporate at least one of these foods from each nutrient into your diet for a boost. Here are 5 types of nutrients that your immune system needs to perform and which foods to find them in.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of those essential vitamins that act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight harmful molecules in the body called free radicals. According to Healthline, vitamin C may help lower blood pressure, prevent an iron deficiency, and protect your memory. The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. There's some evidence that vitamin C may be particularly helpful in boosting the immune systems of people under major stress. To increase your vitamin C intake, add these foods to your diet:

  • citrus fruits and juices

  • kiwi fruit

  • red and green peppers

  • broccoli

  • strawberries

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant similar to vitamin C. Research suggests maintaining ample levels of vitamin E is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system, especially among older people. According to the National Institutes of Health, it helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them. In addition, cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many important functions. To increase your vitamin E intake look to these:

  • wheat germ oil

  • almonds

  • sunflower seeds

  • hazelnuts

  • peanut butter


Zinc is an essential mineral involved in the production of certain immune cells. The National Institutes of Health cautions that even mildly low levels of zinc may impair your immune function. The Mayo Clinic reveals that if zinc lozenges or syrup is taken within 24 hours after cold symptoms start, the supplement can help shorten the length of colds. Here are some top food sources with zinc:

  • oysters

  • baked beans

  • cashews

  • raisin bran

  • chickpeas


Another type of antioxidant, carotenoids are a class of pigments found naturally in a number of plants. When consumed, carotenoids are converted into vitamin A. This is a nutrient that helps regulate the immune system. Carotenoids are better absorbed when cooked or eaten with fat. To increase your vitamin A intake, add these foods to your diet:

  • carrots

  • kale

  • apricots

  • papaya

  • mango

  • sweet potato

  • spinach

  • collard greens

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of essential fatty acid known to suppress inflammation and keep the immune system in check. Although, it's not known whether omega-3 can help fight off infectious diseases and viruses. Research suggests that omega-3 can protect against autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. To increase your omega-3 intake, add these foods to your diet:

  • oily fish (including mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and trout)

  • flaxseed

  • walnuts

  • chia seeds

Featured photo by iStock photos

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