Immune system health and keeping the system strong and healthy can be accomplished by maintaining healthy eating habits. Eating foods rich in specific vitamins and supplements can help the immune system fight off illness, maintain energy levels, and help during injury recovery. Here we look at choosing foods with the right vitamins to build and strengthen the immune system throughout the year.
Immune System Health
The immune system consists of complex cells, processes, and chemicals that constantly defend the body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins, and bacteria. Keeping the immune system healthy year-round is key to infection and disease prevention. Healthy lifestyle choices consist of the following:
- Nutritious food, healthy sleep, physical activity, and exercise are the most important ways to strengthen the immune system.
- Supplementing certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs can help improve immune response.
- However, some supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Certain supplements may not be recommended for individuals with certain health conditions.
- Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any nutrition or supplement program.
Scientists have found that vitamin C deficiency can cause over-susceptibility to viruses, bacteria, etc.
- Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from toxins that cause inflammation.
- Regular vitamin C intake is essential for optimal health because the body does not produce it independently.
- Many foods contain vitamin C, so supplements are unnecessary unless a doctor recommends taking them.
Vitamin C foods
These foods are ranked from highest levels of Vitamin C to lower levels:
- Red bell peppers
- Oranges and orange juice
- Grapefruit juice
- Green bell peppers
- Cooked broccoli
- Brussels sprouts
- Raw broccoli
- B6 is essential to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system.
- One of the major roles is producing white blood cells and T-cells.
- These are the cells that respond to fight off viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin B6 Foods
B6-rich foods in order from highest levels of B6 to lower levels:
- Beef liver
- Cold-water fish – salmon and tuna
- Chicken breast
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Cottage cheese
- Winter squash
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.
- Research has found that vitamin E is effective because it maintains T-cell full performance.
Vitamin E Foods
From the highest levels to the lowest.
- Wheat germ oil
- Seeds – sunflower and pumpkin.
- Nuts – almonds, peanuts, and associated nut butters.
- Zinc is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
- Zinc makes all immune cells function properly.
Foods from highest levels to lowest.
- Blue crab
- Pumpkin seeds
- Pork chops
- Turkey breast
- Cheddar cheese
- Canned sardines
- Greek yogurt
- Research has found that selenium activates the immune system when there is a threat and signals when to slow or shut down immune responses.
- Selenium keeps the immune system from overworking.
- Selenium protects from chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis.
Foods from highest to lowest levels of selenium.
- Brazil nuts
- Canned sardines
- Lean meats
- Cottage cheese
- Brown rice
Increase Water Intake
Maintaining healthy hydration can increase immune health.
- Water helps the body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells.
- Try to balance out dehydrating beverages, like coffee and soda.
- Try eating more hydrating foods like cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and strawberries.
Immune System Health
Chaplin, David D. “Overview of the immune response.” The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology vol. 125,2 Suppl 2 (2010): S3-23. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2009.12.980
Halliwell, B. “Antioxidants in human health and disease.” Annual review of nutrition vol. 16 (1996): 33-50. doi:10.1146/annurev.nu.16.070196.000341
Lewis, Erin Diane, et al. “Regulatory role of vitamin E in the immune system and inflammation.” IUBMB life vol. 71,4 (2019): 487-494. doi:10.1002/iub.1976
Mora, J Rodrigo, et al. “Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take center stage.” Nature reviews. Immunology vol. 8,9 (2008): 685-98. doi:10.1038/nri2378
Nicholson, Lindsay B. “The immune system.” Essays in biochemistry vol. 60,3 (2016): 275-301. doi:10.1042/EBC20160017
Shakoor, Hira, et al. “Immune-boosting role of vitamins D, C, E, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids: Could they help against COVID-19?.” Maturitas vol. 143 (2021): 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.08.003
The information herein on "Vitamins For Immune System Health: Sciatica Wellness Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card