Eating for a Healthy Immune System

Updated on 04. Oct. 2020

Eating the right foods can play a role in how equipped our bodies are to stave off infection and disease.

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A well-functioning immune system is key to keeping you safe, especially during flu season in the cold weather months. A number of factors contribute to how healthy your defenses are, from genetics and geography, but an easy thing you can do right now for a better immune system is to start eating the right foods. With the right fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins you can provide your body with a powerful mix of minerals and vitamins that can help support overall immune health. Here what to start eating:

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is an antioxidant which helps support healthy bones, vision and the maintenance of vital organs. People who are deficient in vitamin A have been shown to be more susceptible to infections, which supports long-held theories that vitamin A is an important part of keeping our immune systems functioning properly.

Some of the richest sources of vitamin A can be found in carrots, swiss chard, kale, papaya, grapefruit (red or pink varieties), and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B6 

Commonly found in animal organ meats and fish, vitamin B6 is an important nutrient for metabolizing the foods we eat as well as the proper function of many of our body systems.

Other sources of vitamin B6 are starchy vegetables (such as potatoes), and non-citrus fruits.

Vitamin C

Long touted as a key to a healthy immune system, vitamin C is often the star of many “immune boosting” supplements. While vitamin C can't exactly "boost" your immune system, this powerful vitamin can help contribute to overall immyne system health. It's also been shown to help the body heal and also block damage caused by environmental pollution.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, dark berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries), mangos, and certain melons (watermelon and cantaloupe).

Vitamin E

Known for its antioxidant properties, vitamin E helps protect our cells from damage and has been shown to help the antibody response that happens in our bodies after certain vaccines.1

Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ oil, nuts, and seeds.

Folic Acid

Folic acid, or folate, is an essential nutrient utilized by in the function of multipe systems in our bodies, including the immyne system. However our body doesn't produce folate, so it's important to make sure you are consuming enough of it.

Folic acid can be found in leafy greens, as well as many enriched foods such as cereal, bread, and pasta.


Another essential nutrient that our bodies cannot produce, selenium is part of muscle function and how our immune system responds to vaccines. Selenium has also been linked to a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

Selenium is found in seafood such as tuna and salmon, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and eggs.


An essential trace nutrient (our bodies only need a trace amount), zinc is important for immune function, thyroid function, and healing.

The best food sources of zinc are dairy, nuts, meat, legumes, whole grains, and meat.

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