Nutrition can be a great way to boost your immune system. Now more than ever we need all the tools possible to optimize our systems to fight off viral illnesses! A few of the top nutrients that have been identified as critical for growth and function of immune cells are vitamin D, Zinc, and vitamin C.
This is my favorite because it’s known as the “sunshine” vitamin because of the production in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet-B rays. Vitamin D is essential to keep your immune system healthy and protect against respiratory conditions in general. It directly enhances the function of immune cells including T Cells that fight off pathogens (viruses). Recent studies of COVID hospitalization patients have shown that sufficient levels of vitamin D decreased the risk of adverse health outcomes. Some healthy foods that are high in Vitamin D include salmon, canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms. For most people the best way to get sufficient vitamin D is through supplements.
Growing up as a kid my mom always had me take a zinc lozenge to fight off the common cold. Evidence shows that zinc reduces the duration of the common cold. Zinc is essential for immune cell development and a deficiency affects the immune system’s ability to function properly. With a varied diet your body usually gets enough zinc. Foods that are high in zinc include chicken, red meat, nuts, seeds, dairy and eggs.
The classic immune system booster! Vitamin C directly encourages the production and functionality of immune cells while protecting them from harmful free radicals. Also, it is an essential part of the skin’s defense system, as it acts as an antioxidant and helps strengthen the skin’s barriers. Deficiencies in vitamin C have been linked to poor health outcomes. Many fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries, grapefruits, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and spinach.
The bottom line is that we can help boost our immune system with a healthy diet (i.e. fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains) and dietary supplements that can prevent deficiencies in the essential nutrients vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C.
While these nutrients promote the function of our immune system, we can give it a further boost with consistent exercise that helps circulate immune cells throughout our body. Diet and exercise for the win!
Author Nathan Eng is a Portland personal trainer at Hyatt Training. Nathan was hooked on sports/fitness at an early age, inspired after running his first 5k and becoming a standout soccer player. Through many years working with professional athletes in sports marketing at adidas, and as a NASM certified Personal Trainer, he has dedicated his lifestyle to being active in sports/fitness. His passion is to inspire people to be physically active while helping them achieve their goals. Learn more about Nathan, or get in touch with him by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more fitness related posts like this one, follow this link.