Even in the best of times, everyone wants a healthy immune system. It’s what keeps us in top form, protecting us from toxins and infectious disease. But especially now, a year and change into a global health crisis, an optimally-functioning immune system seems of greater importance than ever.
In keeping us healthy, our immune system’s greatest ally is diet. Sadly, many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to stay healthy year-round. We can’t just grab an orange or pop a multivitamin, and expect that to grant lasting immunity from colds, infections, or the flu. Effective immunity means consistent healthy eating practices. And that means making sure we have a full complement of healthy vitamins each day.
But what are the most important vitamins and minerals for immune health? Below is a handy list of 6 of the most useful nutrients you can add to your diet in order to ward off opportunistic infection. Most are abundant in our juices as well, so please enjoy the guides at the end of each installment!
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid/Folate
Vitamin C is (famously) one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. A deficiency in vitamin C will make you more prone to getting ill. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, pineapples, strawberries, bell peppers, beetroot, spinach, kale and broccoli. Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it. The good news is that vitamin C is present in so many foods that people usually don’t need to take a vitamin C supplement unless a doctor advises it.
(Handy vitamin C juices: Seize the Day, Hummingbird, any of the red (beetroot) or green juices.)
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.
(Handy juices: Nuts About You, Lean Green, Island Girl, Nutty Latte, Choconut)
Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. It helps create white blood cells, reduces inflammation, and even helps coordinate immune responses. Vitamin B6-rich foods include carrots, chicken, fish, and green vegetables.
(Handy juices: Seize the Day; Lean Green; any of the green juices)
Did you know vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It functions more like a hormone in our bodies. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it’s one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Food sources are limited but comprise fish, red meat, liver, and egg yolks (this is the only vitamin not present in our juices).
Folate is the natural form and folic acid is the synthetic form, often added to foods because of its health benefits. It can drastically improve immune responses by affecting the production of nucleic acid, protein synthesis, and increasing the activity of immune cells. To get more folate, add more citrus fruits, beans, and broccoli to your plate on a regular basis, as well as leafy green vegetables. Beetroot is another tasty source.
(Handy juices: Seize the Day; Green Day; Superman; any of the green or red juices).
Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to cells, plays a part in many of the immune system processes. It comes in different forms. Iron is abundant in beetroot, cabbage, leafy greens, beans, and broccoli.
(Handy juices: Cabbage Beach; Red Rescue; Lean Green; any of the green or red juices)
The bottom line
Eating a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, as well as fortified foods, is an easy way to balance your vitamin intake and maintain a strong immune response to the world out there.
Paired to regular exercise, good sleep, and a balanced work routine, you can rest assured that you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself in good fighting trim.