The Food Fighters: 5 Immune-Boosting Nutrients You Need to Ward Off Cold, Flu and Illness

By Team Best Life

For every day of good health you enjoy, you can thank your immune system. Adequate sleep (7 to 8 hours per night), regular exercise, and well-managed stress all contribute to boosting your immune system. In addition, what you eat has a direct effect on how well your body defends itself from microbes and other disease-causing foreigners. And the best foods have plenty of these nutrients.

vitamin c

Vitamin A

What it does: Once converted from beta-carotene in the body, vitamin A helps develop defensive T-cells that protect you from foreign bacteria and viruses.

Where to find it: Beta-carotene-rich foods (look for orange), such as cantaloupe, carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes. Also, leafy greens like collard, kale, mustard, and spinach.

Vitamin C

What it does: It stimulates the production of immune cells such as neutrophils, which attack bacteria and viruses while protecting these cells from free radical damage.

Where to find it: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, sweet red pepper, tomato.

Vitamin D

What it does: It’s a crucial vitamin that a healthy immune system can’t be without. Vitamin D protects against autoimmune disorders like asthma and irritable bowel syndrome.

Where to find it: Fish like mackerel, sardines, and salmon, and vitamin-D-enriched cow’s and non-dairy milk. It’s tough to get all the D you need through diet alone. And although sun exposure helps us create the vitamin, the risks of cancer and other side effects like wrinkles make this a dangerous way to get your vitamin D. The best way to obtain it is often through a daily supplement.

Vitamin E

What it does: It acts as a protective coating in the membranes of immune cells to protect from damage from free radicals. Studies have also shown that lowered immune system function due to age can be improved by taking a vitamin E supplement.

Found in: Nuts like almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts; vegetable oils like canola and olive; and avocados.


What it does: Zinc is a mineral that supports T-cells and other immune cells, which guard against infection and cancerous tumors.

Where to find it: Shellfish like oyster (which has five times as much as the next-highest source of the mineral) and crab; cashews; milk; and the dark meat of turkey and chicken.

Also Read:

8 Cold-Fighting Bites

Feeling Sick? When to Skip Your Workout

Yoga for Fighting the Cold and Flu

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