Your immune system functions to protect your body against infection and disease. What and how you eat affects your immune system; inadequate intake of selected micronutrients can lead to immune deficiency. The following chart helps to explain the role each nutrient plays in your immune system.
|VITAMIN A, C & E||Helps to maintain the lining of the respiratory and digestive tract which acts as a barrier against infection)||Fruits and vegetables with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues||Aim for 3-4 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables per day|
|VITAMIN D||Works with T cells, a type of white blood cell that is key to the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and disease||Milk, vitamin D fortified rice or soy beverage, and canned tuna||It can be very difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone; take a vitamin D supplement daily as prescribed by your physician or dietitian|
|SELENIUM||Part of many selenoproteins that act as an antioxidant to help fight infection and protect the body against oxygen free radical damage||Brazil nuts, walnuts, tuna, beef, poultry, and grain products||Pair a handful of brazil nuts with fruit for an energy & immunity boosting snack combination|
|PROBIOTICS||Helps to maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines, thereby helping to boost immunity||Look for yogurts with probiotics, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and miso||Speak with your dietitian to determine the right type of probiotic for you|
|OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS||Essential for reducing inflammation||Walnuts, chia, hemp, flax seeds, canola oil, & fatty fish||Aim for 2 servings of fatty fish per week or speak to your dietitian about an appropriate supplement|
Zinc, copper, B vitamins, and iron are also micronutrients which are critical for optimizing your immune system.
Should I take vitamin or mineral supplements?
Foods have many different nutrients which simultaneously work together. Supplements do not have the same mix and can often be found in toxic dosages. Chances are if you eat an unprocessed, balanced diet you will be able to get what you need from your food to optimize immune function. To be certain you are getting the nutrients your body needs, please book an appointment with your Copeman Registered Dietitian.