Boosting Immunity Naturally: Key Nutrients and Supplements

Boosting Immunity Naturally: Key Nutrients and Supplements

While immune health gets the most attention during the cold months and back-to-school season, it’s important to prioritize all year long. After all, we’re exposed to germs every day and it’s crucial to have a strong defense system in place. One of the best things you can do to boost your immunity naturally is to incorporate a variety of nutrients into your diet. Prioritize nutrition through food first and consider where additional supplements may be a good idea. 

Key Nutrients for Immune Health

Getting a variety of nutrients is important for overall health, but several nutrients are especially beneficial for optimizing your immune function.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties, which means it helps protect your cells from damage and stress, which may damper immunity. Vitamin C is also important for supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Research suggests that keeping up your vitamin C levels is an important aspect of supporting your immune health.

The best sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and bell peppers. Vitamin C supplements are also available for times when you’re dietary intake may be low.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting the function of immune health. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased susceptibility to infections and autoimmune diseases, highlighting its importance in maintaining a strong immune system. Seeing as vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent than ever, it’s important to know where you’re getting it. 

There aren’t many natural food sources of vitamin D, except fortified dairy and plant milk, egg yolks, fatty fish, and mushrooms that have been treated with UV light. Your skin also produces vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, but many factors influence how much is made. 

It may be a good idea to have your blood levels checked. If they’re low, your healthcare provider may prescribe a vitamin D supplement.


Zinc is involved in the development and function of immune cells, helping them recognize and eliminate pathogens. Zinc deficiency has been associated with impaired immune responses and increased susceptibility to infections.

Some of the best food sources of zinc include shellfish, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. If you don’t consume many zinc-containing foods, there’s some evidence that adding a zinc supplement at the early signs of a cold may be beneficial for your immune response, possibly shortening the duration.

Other Supplements for Immune Support

In addition to designing a healthy diet that emphasizes the nutrients above, certain supplements may also help support a normal immune response:

  • Echinacea: Echinacea is a genus of flowering plants in the daisy family native to North America. While research on its effectiveness is mixed, some studies suggest it may modestly reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms if you take it early.
  • Elderberry: Elderberry supplements are rich in antioxidants, particularly flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyanins, which may support healthy immune function. 
  • Quercetin: Quercetin is a type of plant pigment with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s found in apples, onions, citrus fruits, berries, grapes, broccoli, kale, and tea. Quercetin supplements may help support immune health.

When you’re wondering how to help your immune system tackle the tickle in your throat or want to prepare your body better for the barrage of germs this winter, look to your nutrition. Optimize your diet as much as you can and consider whether certain supplements make sense for you, Speak with your healthcare provider before adding anything new to your health routine.


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