Key Nutrients You Need Right Now
Many of us understand the role of vitamin C in supporting our immune function but there are other key nutrients that play a role in this support system as well.
The antioxidant function of vitamin C is definitely important for boosting your immune system’s ability to fight off an illness. But is that all it’s good for? And how do I know if I’m getting enough?
Vitamin C is required for hundreds of functions in the body, however, unlike most mammals and other animals, humans cannot manufacture vitamin C. It must be obtained from our diet.
Eating a diet rich in vitamin C is much easier now that we have access to fresh food year-round. Check out this article for my top foods that contain vitamin C (more than oranges!).
Vitamin D is special. It helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.
For those of us in northern climates, it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. And, while severe vitamin D deficiency is rare, most of us have lower than optimal levels.
Check out this guide to optimizing your vitamin D from the sun (safely), food and supplements.
Vitamin A is a powerful anti-oxidant with a critical role in enhancing immune function. This micronutrient is involved in cellular immune response and is essential for repairing mucous membranes, which includes the lungs.
Vitamin A is found in bright orange plant foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots and in high, absorbable amounts in organ meats. Check out this Sweet Potato Quiche recipe to include in your routine.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that fights cellular damage by protecting the cell membrane. It also improves circulation and plays an important role in immune function.
Supplementation has been shown to reduce respiratory infection in the elderly. But rather than relying on supplements, deficiency can be prevented with adequate dietary intake of foods like nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.
I have combined these nutrients in my family's favourite Blueberry Lemon Salad. Try it and let me know how you like it.
Selenium is an essential mineral that acts as a powerful anti-oxidant. Adequate dietary selenium is required for the function of many aspects of the immune system. So inadequate intake can seriously reduce your body's ability to fight infections.
One of the best ways to get adequate selenium is through the consumption of Brazil nuts. Because they are so high in selenium, it's possible to get too much. Limit your consumption to 1-3 nuts per day.
This is one of my favourite chocolate pudding recipes when I'm looking to get some selenium.
Zinc is essential with its antiviral activity and immune-boosting properties. Even mild to moderate zinc deficiency can cause impaired immune function and increase the risk of respiratory infections.
One of my favourite ways to get sufficient zinc is to use pumpkin seed butter. Try it, it's not as hard to make as you think and adds great variety to your nut butter choices.
There are many aspects that work together to support your body's immune system and nutrients are just the beginning. Also important is gut health, sleep, hydration and more. Check out these other factors that can support your immune system function as well.