7 Nutrients Your Immune System Needs—Now Let's Make Sure You're Getting Them

We're sharing some of the most recommended nutrients for your immune system to operate in tip-top shape. 

Without a doubt, we all want to take care of our bodies, which is why we try to exercise and eat a healthy diet. However, did you know there's an extra step we can take? Sure, our immune system is designed to be our first line of defense, but there are specific nutrients available to us that can help to keep it strong.

Supporting Our Immune System

When it comes to the immune system, there are several factors that are involved in maintaining optimal function, such as sleep, stress levels, and nutrition. By eating foods rich in nutrients and vitamins, we can give our immune system that special boost it needs. These nutrients may also provide support in T-cell production or taking in antioxidants to balance out free radicals. (1)

Our immune system is one of the most necessary and hard-working systems in the body. It involves cells, tissues, proteins, and other organs. For example, one of the main stars of the immune system are white blood cells, and they are found all throughout the body, such as in the spleen, in bone marrow, and lymph nodes. When the immune system encounters an imposter, like a pathogen, it goes into response mode. (2) 


Nutrients Matter

By getting the proper amount of nutrients in your body, you can make sure your immune system is getting the support it requires to respond in the healthiest way possible. 

We can all benefit from taking supplements and specific capsule nutrients depending on our lifestyle, especially with the current nutrient deficiencies stemming from our modern lifestyles. Scientific research has shown that there are a variety of different nutrients that the immune system may need to encourage a healthy immune response. The good news for you is that you can easily take the necessary steps to make sure you're getting them. We're going to share some of the most recommended nutrients for your immune system to operate in tip-top shape. 

#1 Turmeric

Turmeric is considered a superfood spice with a variety of benefits to the body. One of the significant benefits of turmeric is how it encourages the immune system to continue performing exceptionally well. Turmeric is said to be beneficial for the immune system because this spice aids in increasing the body's immunomodulating capacity. (3) Immunomodulation simply refers to the act of modifying the way your immune system responds. This means that turmeric can help your immune system respond in a healthier and more effective way.

Incorporating turmeric in your diet can be very easy because this spice is easy to throw into your favorite smoothies, soups, and even comes in a supplement form. You can also take a capsule chocked full of this incredibly beneficial nutrient.

#2 Vitamin C

Vitamin C is considered an essential nutrient for a variety of ways, such as acting as a powerful antioxidant for the skin. In terms of the immune system, vitamin C supports tissue function and regeneration that can act as a barrier to unwanted pathogens. Studies have also acknowledged the possibility of vitamin C aiding in supporting healthy respiratory and systemic functions. (4) Fortunately for us, vitamin C is generously found in various foods, and also comes in supplement form, so you can make sure to get the necessary amount of this nutrient. Some of the foods containing vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, strawberries, kale, papaya, broccoli, kiwis, and thyme, to name a few. (5)

#3 Zinc

When it comes to the immune system, zinc appears to aid in slowing down the body's immune response and supports a healthy response to inflammatory reactions. Suboptimal zinc levels have been linked to an imbalance within the immune system. (6)

For those interested in taking zinc, this nutrient can be found in various ways, whether it's liquid or capsule form, or in the foods we regularly eat. Some of the foods that contain the nutrient zinc include beans and nuts, crab, lean meats/poultry, chickpeas, and yogurt. (7)

#4 Iron

Iron is most known for helping carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron has also been deemed an essential nutrient for the immune system due to its aid in the rapid development and maturation of cells in the immune system. Having suboptimal iron levels can also result in an imbalance within your immune system. (8) Luckily, iron can be digested in multiple forms, whether it be in capsule form or the foods we eat. Some iron-rich foods include chicken, turkey, kale, beans, seafood, and broccoli. (9)

#5 Vitamin D

Did you know vitamin D is not only just a nutrient we eat but also a hormone created within our bodies? Vitamin D is responsible for a lot more than we think. This vitamin is known for enabling the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which maintains strong bones. Apart from that, studies have shown this nutrient can help support a healthy inflammatory response. The body has vitamin D receptors and activated enzymes throughout, so vitamin D is meant to be absorbed and fortifies many parts of our body, including the immune system. 

You can find Vitamin D in a few foods, such as salmon, tuna fish, orange juice, egg yolk, fortified cereals, and fortified milk and plant-based milk. Many people may find it hard to get the recommended amount of this nutrient with just eating, so many turn to asking their doctors for recommended supplements/capsules. (10) Although the main source of Vitamin D is the sun, some people just don't get enough sun because of their lifestyle, where they live, or due to sensitivities to the sun. As a result, they have to get their daily dose of Vitamin D with foods or supplements. 

#6 Probiotics

Did you know that 70% of your immune system is found in your gut? Adding probiotic nutrients to your diet can promote the proper working of your immune system. The immune system works to keep a balance between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria in your body, and the presence of beneficial bacteria in probiotics can help to maintain that balance. Also, probiotic bacteria directly encourages the immune system response through supporting healthy inflammatory reactions, barrier function, and cell-to-cell signaling (11). Probiotics can be found in supplement form, or some of our favorite foods. 

Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, some cheeses, kefir, pickles, tempeh, and so many more. (12). Probiotics are most known for having a powerful effect on digestive wellness, but not many know of the support it offers our immune system as well.

#7 Protein

Hearing protein can support the immune system may seem a bit broad and even a bit confusing. We know protein is part of an essential healthy diet, but what exactly can protein do to give a boost to our immune system? Surprisingly enough, certain amino acids found explicitly in protein are essential for T-cell function. T-cells are the cells that support our bodies when it comes to pathogens. This is excellent news, because not only is protein a significant part of a great diet, but it can also promote a healthy immune system! 

The best part is that protein is present in a variety of tasty accessible foods, so you won't feel like you're missing out on this nutritious boost. Protein-rich foods can include poultry, seafood, eggs, lentils, and seeds, to name a few. (13)

Final Thoughts

When it comes to our health, we always want to feel our best. Our immune system is our first line of defense, and so, of course, we want to make sure we're getting the best nutrients to boost our immune system and have it working at an optimal and beneficial pace. There can be a lot of different opinions when it comes to what supports the immune system, but the nutrients listed above have been known to encourage a proper immune system response. 

Luckily, the nutrients listed are available to us in different forms, whether it's in our breakfast and lunch, or specifically recommended capsules. Why wouldn't you want to make sure your immune system is getting an extra boost of support? Your body will thank you for it. Take the necessary steps to provide the very best for your body and always be sure to check with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your diet!

Quick Disclaimer‍

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Sources


  1. https://health.ucdavis.edu/good-food/blog/nutrients-to-help-prevent-illness.html


  1. https://sightandlife.org/blog/nutrition-immunity/


  1.  https://www.purplecarrot.com/blog/5-health-benefits-turmeric-never-knew/


  1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/


  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods#section7


  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/


  1. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-zinc#2-4


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10971835/


  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/


  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/


  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-probiotics-safe-for-your-immune-system/


  1.  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-super-healthy-probiotic-foods#section12


  1. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php


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