Ever since the beginning of the new year, I’ve been sick on and off. I’d been feeling poorly for a while, but then I contracted strep throat. Since then, my immune system hasn’t really recovered. During my yearly physical, I asked my health care professional about my increase in illness.
After pointing out that my glands were very swollen, an indicator that my immune system was working overtime and compromised, she suggested that I make a few changes in my diet. One of the changes was to add a multivitamin that would help provide me with some of the vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system.
While I generally try to eat healthy and get regular exercise (my efforts have fallen off since I’ve been sick so much), and I haven’t felt a lack from not taking a vitamin, I decided to go ahead and take the multivitamin. I do feel like I’m on the mend, but I might have further to go, since the stress and lack of sleep I’ve been experiencing is still something of an issue.
If you are concerned about your own immune system, here are 6 nutrients that can boost your immune system and help you improve the way you feel:
- Vitamin D: Apparently, Vitamin D can be a big immune booster, by helping boost T cells that help destroy viruses and bacteria. Vitamin D can be manufactured by your body, with the help of the sun, or it can be absorbed from foods and vitamins. My health care professional seemed especially concerned about a Vitamin D deficiency, and encouraged me to focus on this nutrient.
- Vitamin C: This is another vitamin that researchers believe helps the immune system. Indeed, most of us know about Vitamin C. I’m a big fan of citrus fruits and strawberries, so I don’t think that a lack of this vitamin is my problem.
- Zinc: While many of us think of Vitamin C, and even Vitamin D, when we consider the immune system, we often neglect minerals. Zinc is a mineral that is thought to be related to the production of antibodies, as well as to support lymphocyte activity and help T cells. Zinc is a little harder to find, and my multivitamin should help with this nutrient.
- Selenium: This is another mineral that is considered to be useful to the immune system. It is also thought to protect your cells against the damage done by free radicals. Selenium isn’t a mineral we think of much, and your body doesn’t need a lot of it to get the benefits.
- Folic Acid/Folate: Many pregnant women know that folic acid is important to prevent problems for a fetus. However, folic acid helps in the formation of blood cells — both red and white. Your white blood cells are a big part of fighting off infection.
- Vitamin E: This vitamin is important when it comes to your immune system. However, few people have deficiencies. In fact, if you don’t have a Vitamin E deficiency, taking extra Vitamin E is unlikely to provide you with extra benefits.
For most of these nutrients, the key is to make sure you are getting your recommended amount, and not deficient. If you are deficient, remedy the problem. Many of these nutrients can be found in plants and even in some meats and seafood. A balanced diet, with a carefully chosen supplement, might help you boost your immune system and remedy some of your problems.