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Most of us have heard the term “immune system” thrown around a lot, but a surprising number of us couldn’t say exactly what our immune system is or what it does. Put simply, our immune system is a complex collection of cells, processes and chemicals that serve the function of protecting our bodies against pathogens such as viruses, toxins and bacteria. There are a number of things you can do to support your immune system, such as getting enough sleep, doing your recommended one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week and staying hydrated. But for now, we’re going to focus on how your diet (and the vitamins and minerals you incorporate into it) can help. Here are five vitamins and minerals that you should try to incorporate into your meals and snacks that could make all the difference!
Let’s start out with Vitamin D. This is a fat soluble nutrient that is thought to be closely linked to your immune system, its health and its ability to function. It is thought that vitamin D can help to enhance your monocytes and macrophages’ pathogen fighting effects. It can also help to decrease inflammation, which can help to promote immune response. Your body can create vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but this tends to be sparse in the winter. The good news is that you can also get vitamin D from a number of food sources, including:
If you follow a vegan diet, you can also get vitamin D from fortified foods, such as cereals and fat spreads. You may also want to take a vitamin D supplement. It is generally recommended to opt for supplements that contain 10 micrograms, however, it’s always best to check with your doctor for individual recommendations.
Zinc is a mineral that is commonly associated with a healthy immune system. It is closely involved with immune cell development, as well as communication between cells. Zinc is also important for your body’s inflammatory response. Considering how important zinc is for our immune systems, you may be surprised to know that roughly two million people worldwide are zinc deficient. But where can you find zinc to avoid zinc deficiency yourself? Here are some suggestions:
You can also take zinc supplements. It is generally recommended that women take 8g a day, while men take 11g a day, but (as always) it’s best to check with your doctor first. Only they know your individual needs and requirements.
Vitamin C is a popular vitamin when it comes to supporting your immune system. This vitamin can help a number of immune cells within your immune system. It is also integral to the cell death process, which sees your body remove old cells and replace them with new ones. Now, most of us are aware that vitamin C can be most easily found in oranges. So, make sure to drink plenty of freshly squeezed orange juice and to eat plenty of fresh oranges. On top of this, you can also find vitamin C in:
Again, this is a vitamin that you can supplement if you are struggling to get sufficient levels through your diet alone.
This, of course, isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the vitamins and minerals that can help you to maintain a healthy immune system. However, these are three of the most recommended. If you are struggling to get sufficient vitamins and minerals in your diet, you may want to consider our Men’s Multivitamins or Women’s Multivitamins. These contain Vitamin D, zinc, Vitamin C and a number of other immune supporting vitamins and minerals!