Let’s take a moment to give your immune system the recognition it deserves. After all, it is your body’s defense system constantly fighting off foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses so you can stay healthy and happy.
One of the best ways to thank your immune system is to support it. There’s lots of ways to do that.
Exercise, proper sleep, stress management, and no more smoking are all great. Getting adequate vitamins is another important step.
The 5 Best Immunity Boosting Vitamins
Below I’m going to show you 5 of the best vitamins for your immune system. I’ll also share some helpful tips on supplements as well as the best foods that are rich in each vitamin.
1. Vitamin C
This one probably doesn’t come as much surprise, right? Vitamin C is definitely the most common vitamins we all go to whenever we want to boost our immune systems or ward off any potential illness. Turns out, there’s a real reason for that.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, which is vital for your immunity. Studies show that when you are low in vitamin C, you are much more likely to get ill.
Top Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C is a great nutrient to supplement because it is water soluble. Your body will not store it, so you don’t have to worry about building up toxic levels. While taking the recommended doses can help, it’s important to realize that scientific research does not support the idea that taking a ton of extra vitamin C will effectively ward off illness.
Top Vitamin C Foods:
- Bell Peppers
2. Vitamin B6
While all B vitamins are great for your body, B6 plays a very important role in helping the chemical reactions of your immune system to work properly.
Studies have even shown that high doses (given by a doctor) can really improve the immune system of critically ill patients. The elderly, those with HIV, and those with autoimmune diseases are also greatly negatively affected by B6 deficiency when it comes to matters of the immune system.
Vitamin B6 Supplements
Though you can technically get a B6 supplement, you might as well take a B complex. The range of benefits you’ll get from boosting all your Bs is so beneficial – including more energy and higher fertility.
Top Vitamin B6 Foods:
- Sunflower seeds
- Light Meat Poultry
- Dried Prunes
- Lean Beef
3. Vitamin E
Here we have another antioxidant that is essential in supporting the body’s ability to stay healthy and fight off illness. And having too little vitamin E can actually change the immune response.
Studies have shown that vitamin E is particularly important for maintaining the immune system in the elderly.
Vitamin E Supplements
Most people do not take a vitamin E supplement by itself unless there is a marked deficiency found by a doctor. A small amount in a multivitamin should be all you need.
Top Vitamin E Foods:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Butternut Squash
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A plays an important role in regeneration and immune function. Studies show it’s one of the most specific helpers to the immune system (conversely, something like vitamin C broadly helps).
One of the best ways to get vitamin A in your body is through beta-carotene. That’s the antioxidant that often gives fruits and veggies a yellow or orange color.
Vitamin A Supplements
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, so the excess doesn’t just come out of your urine. It can build up. Most people are not deficient enough in vitamin A to take it as a supplement by itself. Only do that if your doctor tells you to. A general multivitamin may be a good choice, but food is ideal.
Top Vitamin A Foods:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash
5. Vitamin D
Like vitamin A, vitamin D has been shown to help the immune system in very specific ways. The immune system’s cells can actually metabolize vitamin D, and this leads to a wide variety of benefits including infection prevention, autoimmune disease prevention, and reduced inflammation.
Unfortunately, most people are insufficient or deficient in vitamin D. So this is one of the most important nutrients to get more of.
Vitamin D Supplements
Make sure you look for a supplement brand that offers D3 instead of D2. D3 is similar to natural vitamin D and can be absorbed much more easily. At the end of the day, the best vitamin D supplement you can take is a little bit of sunshine! That way your body makes it on its own. So get outside each day.
Top Vitamin D Foods:
- Rainbow Trout
- Cremini Mushrooms
- Fortified tofu/yogurt/milk/cereal/juice
- Pork chops
Getting Vitamin Tested
If you are wanting to boost your immune system in general, simply taking a complex or multivitamin supplement and getting more of these foods should be all you need. However, if you feel like you get sick a lot or have reason to believe your immune system is compromised, it’s time to go to the doctor.
Among many other tests, your doctor can also check your vitamin levels to see if you are deficient in any of these 5 essential vitamins. If so, they will recommend supplementation that goes above and beyond what you would normally take.
Using Vitamins for Heightened Immunity
Remember that the best way to get these vitamins is always to eat them. Keeping to a healthy diet every day that’s filled with a large variety of produce, nuts, seeds, and high-quality meat is key.
But sometimes even the healthiest eaters need a little helping hand – especially when you’re around lots of germs (in an airport, school, cold season, etc.). Be sure to add immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, astragalus, and andrographis to your list of helpful supplements.
By including both good food sources and helpful supplements into your daily life, you are giving your immune system the best chance possible to fight of any foreign invaders and keep you healthy.