There are lots of things you can do to help support and strengthen your immune system, including boosting your intake of some essential vitamins. In this article I take a look at three of the best immune-boosting vitamins and how you can increase your intake of these vitamins through your diet and supplements, where appropriate.
Prefer to watch Nutritionist Emma talk about this topic? Play the video below to watch Emma discuss which 3 vitamins she recommends to help support and strengthen your immune system.
What vitamins help your immune system?
There are several vitamins and minerals that can help support and strengthen your immune system, but three vitamins which are particularly important are:
Vitamin C Vitamin D Vitamin A
In this article, I take a look at how each of these vitamins can help support your immune system and how you can increase your intake of each.
When it comes to vitamins for supporting the immune system, diet is, first and foremost, very important. We should be getting the majority of our nutrients this way.
However, during some of the more challenging times, such as the one we're in right now, we might want to boost our intake of nutrients a little bit and we can do that to some degree with supplements, which I'll discuss in this article.
In a recent A.Vogel survey, we found that up to 46% of people had discovered that they had a deficiency in one or more nutrients. That's basically half of all people - and this is only people that have been to their doctor and have discovered that they do have a deficiency.
I imagine that the figure would be much higher if everyone was tested. It's not common that people are routinely tested for deficiencies, so it probably would be higher than that.
Some common tell-tale signs of deficiencies are low energy and recurring illness. We know that these symptoms affect a lot of people so it's probably quite likely that that figure would be a lot higher than the 46%.
Top vitamins for your immune system
There are a variety of nutrients that we need to support our bodies and our immune systems but, in this article, I'm focusing on vitamins and those which are particularly important for your immune system.
This one has sparked quite a lot of interest recently and quite rightly so!
Vitamin C is an antioxidant in the body, which means that it helps to protect our cells from damage from free radicals. Right now, the most important of these cells are our immune cells.
Our immune cells are thought to mop up vitamin C so that they can store a little of it which then helps them work optimally. But interestingly, vitamin C as a nutrient itself is water-soluble, which means that we can't store high amounts of it in the body. This means that we need to work hard to get a good daily intake of vitamin C and keep our levels topped up.
How do I get a good daily intake of vitamin C?
Firstly, you can do this through your diet, which I would recommend, being a nutritionist myself.
So, good sources of vitamin C include all citrus fruits, lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables such as bell peppers, and also leafy greens as well, such as spinach, kale and broccoli.
So, a good variety of fruit and vegetables should help to keep your vitamin C topped up. But as I've said at the start of this article, during more challenging times, especially when we're keen to offer our immune system a little extra support, supplements can also help to increase our levels slightly.
We have our Nature-C tablets, which is a source of vitamin C. What sets this apart from other vitamin C supplements is that it's a food source, so this means that the vitamin C is extracted from fruits. The main extract in there is acerola cherry, which is one of the highest sources of vitamin C out there in the food world.
One tablet of Nature-C provides up to 100 milligrams of vitamin C which already exceeds our recommended daily amount of around 60 milligrams, but you can take one to two daily just to get a little extra!
As I mentioned above, vitamin C is water-soluble, so you don't need to worry so much about taking too much of this one, unless, of course, you were taking very high amounts. You could easily take two a day of Nature-C to ensure that you're getting a good amount.
Again, it's thought to be one that we're very deficient in as a nation, especially in the UK. Unfortunately, a lot of that comes down to the lack of sunshine that we get here compared to other countries.
How do I get a good daily intake of vitamin D?
Food sources of vitamin D are more limited, so it can be difficult to get a good amount through your diet. We do get it to some degree in mushrooms and oily fish, for example, but compared to other nutrients, the food sources are quite limited.
The main source of vitamin D is getting outside and getting sunshine, and we produce it that way through our skin.
Compared to vitamin C, vitamin D is fat-soluble in the body which means we can store it. This means that we need to be slightly cautious with supplements, and I wouldn't recommend taking too high a dose.
Our Balance Mineral Drink is quite a good option. It has vitamin D in there in combination with a few other nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium and zinc which are all other essential nutrients. So, it's a good all-rounder for supporting your immune system.
Balance Mineral Drink contains 5 micrograms or 200IU of Vitamin D. This is just below the daily recommended dose for most people, but it's still a good amount. And, if you take it every day, you can help to gradually build up the levels of vitamin D in your body, so it's a really good option.
Vitamin A is another vitamin that is considered to be useful for the immune system. It's thought to be quite regulating rather than over stimulating or under simulating, of course, which is a worry. It is thought to be quite helpful in regulating your immune cells so that they work optimally.
How do I get a good daily intake of vitamin A?
Vitamin A is not one I would tend to recommend that we take in supplement form. Again, it's fat-soluble and we do need to be careful how we take this. Therefore, this is one that I would recommend just getting through your food and dietary sources.
Food and dietary sources include oily fish and full-fat dairy. For me, I always recommend full fat, not your reduced-fat options.
Also, some of your brightly coloured vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and squash are all good sources of vitamin A.
To sum up
I hope this has helped you get a better understanding of the best vitamins for your immune system. Just a quick summary of what I've mentioned.
I looked at vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E, but my top pick right now would probably be your vitamin C. It is not a fat-soluble vitamin, so we need a continuous daily supply to help top up our levels and, in particular, to support those immune cells.
If you're as keen as me to top up your levels, taking our Nature C along with a healthy, varied diet is a good way to do that.