4 Essential Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Your Immune System As the Season Changes
The changing weather always brings with it an increase in sniffles and bugs, and although bolstering your body's immunity won't make you completely immune to them, there are ways to bolster its defences against them. Read on for six supplements that will reduce your chances of falling victim to — and increase you chances of recovering from — seasonal ailments all year long.
What they do: Probiotics are predominantly known for keeping our guts healthy and regulating our digestive system, but one of their added benefits is immune health. Our gut walls make up 70 percent to 80 percent of our immune system, which means their overall health lessens the immune system's chances of being compromised.
Where to find them: Although dairy products like yoghurt and cottage cheese are great sources of probiotics, there are also vegan-friendly foods that are probiotic-rich like sauerkraut.
What it does: Selenium is a trace mineral that contains proteins called selenoproteins, whose antioxidant properties stop cell degeneration caused by free radicals and bacteria, leaving you less susceptible to illness. Selenoproteins also have regulatory properties that stop the immune system from overexhausting and compromising itself when fighting infections and inflammations.
Where to find it: You can up your intake of this micronutrient by eating foods like brazil nuts, yellow fin tuna, and halibut, or by adding wheat germ oil to your smoothies.
What it does: Of the many functions zinc has in the human body, including stress reduction and digestive health, one of its most important is that it aids in the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. This multifunctional micronutrient isn't only involved in cell production, though; it also supports immuno health by effectively slowing infections and reducing excessive inflammations, giving the immune system more of a chance to recover. Simply put, when a pathogen enters your bloodstream, zinc enters the affected cell and stops the infection from escalating at its normal rate and putting a strain on your immune system. Zinc has been proved to shorten the duration of colds by almost 50 percent if taken early into infection.
Where to find it: Great sources of zinc are varied and include spinach, beef, shrimp, kidney beans, and flax seeds.
What it does: Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidant supplements you could ever introduce to your diet. This vitamin enhances your body's B-lymphocyte production and stops the deterioration of T-lymphocyte cells, which are both important antibody cells that are responsible for detecting and alerting the body to the presence of pathogens and fighting them. Vitamin C also takes the strain off your immune system with its antioxidant properties that stop cell deterioration caused by free radicals and oxidisation.
Where to find it: There's a reason you're encouraged to down orange juice when ill; citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C. Other ways of upping your vitamin C include taking supplements or eating more green veg like broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts.
What it does: Vitamin D is special in that it's formed in the skin in reaction to direct sunlight; although its primary function is aiding in bone and muscle strength, it also fights stress and anxiety, as well as benefits our immune systems. When we get ill, vitamin D supports the body's production of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin, which aids in stopping the development of harmful bacteria, microbes, and viruses. As well as this, vitamin D regulates the function of important antibody T-cells.
Where to find it: Vitamin D is absorbed straight from the sun, so upping your body's intake can be as easy as getting more sun, as well as taking cod liver oil, eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and consuming more mushrooms.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What they do: Omega-3 fatty acids aren't only good for regulating your heart health, these good fats are also incredible anti-inflammatories that reduce how much work your immune system has to do when compromised by inflammatory infections.
Where to find them: Fatty acids can be found in various foods such as nuts like almonds, fatty fish like salmon, veg like avocado, and fun foods like dark chocolate!