Our immune system helps sustain our overall health and wellbeing. While there are several ways to help ensure a well-functioning immune system, making sure that we provide our bodies with nutrients that support our healthy immune system is also really important. Read on to discover which nutrients provide immune system support, each nutrient’s role in your immune system, and the foods and/or immune supplements that deliver these nutrients.†
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that includes active Vitamin A (or retinol) as well as carotenoids, which are precursors that are converted to active Vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is the most common of these carotenoids. Vitamin A has been recognized for its importance in the immune system.1 Vitamin A also helps support cellular processes in the immune system.2 Good food sources of Vitamin A and its precursor, beta-carotene, include:
- Fish-liver oil
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Deep orange fruits and vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
National survey data shows that 45% of Americans are not consuming enough Vitamin A from their diet alone.3 A supplement containing Vitamin A (such as Nature Made® Vitamin A liquid softgels) may help fill a nutrient gap from inadequare dietary intake.
- Sweet red peppers
Many Americans are not consuming enough Vitamin C through their diet alone (about 37%),3 making it a common nutrient gap in the US. If you do not consume the fruits and vegetables above, consider a Vitamin C supplements, such as Nature Made® Vitamin C with Rose Hips to help meet your daily Vitamin C nutrient needs.†
This essential fat-soluble vitamin, studied primarily for its role in bone health, has also been studied extensively for its importance in immune system health.† Vitamin D receptors are located in almost all immune system cells, where Vitamin D regulates and enhances the immune response and is involved in immune cell function.5, †
Vitamin D is found in only a few foods, including fatty fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, and vitamin-D fortified milk. Sunlight is also a source of Vitamin D, however many people do not meet the minimum requirement of sun exposure (without sunscreen) of 5-30 minutes a day/two times a week.6 Some people have a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency, including those with darker skin pigmentation, the elderly, obese individuals, and those living in areas with limited sunlight.7 Consequently, national surveys show that 95% of Americans are not consuming enough Vitamin D from their diet alone,3 and approximately 1/3 of the US population, including children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, are suffering from either insufficient or deficient levels of Vitamin D.8 Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to determine your Vitamin D status. A Vitamin D supplement is an inexpensive, safe and effective way to help ensure you are receiving adequate amounts of this important nutrient. Try Nature Made® Vitamin D3 Adult Gummies.
Learn More: Vitamin D Immune System Benefits
When choosing immune system support supplements, consider vitamin E to help support immune cell function. Vitamin E is a fat soluble essential nutrient that has antioxidant properties to help ward off damage from oxidation in the body. Vitamin E may help neutralize damaging free radicals and help protect healthy cells.† Good food sources of Vitamin E include:†
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
Vitamin E is another common nutrient gap in the US, with nearly 90% of Americans not meeting their needs through diet alone.3 A supplement such as Nature Made® Vitamin E 400 IU d-Alpha liquid softgels may help meet your vitamin E nutrient needs.
Zinc is an essential part of hundreds of different processes throughout the body, including the immune system, which is why it is a key nutrient for immune system health.† The immune system relies on zinc for normal development and function of immune cells.10 Zinc is also required for certain antioxidant enzymes and helps to protect cells from susceptibility to oxidative damage.11 Zinc can be found in shellfish such as oysters and crab, as well as some animal sources like beef, pork and turkey. If you do not regularly consume these foods, consider taking a supplement with zinc for immune support, like Nature Made® Super C Immune Complex with Zinc Tablets.†
Additional Ways You Can Support Your Immune Function
Remember that you can help support keeping your immune system strong with healthy lifestyle habits and proper immune supplements.† Here are some additional tips to incorporate into your daily life to stay healthy.12
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables - Eating a nutrient rich diet on a regular basis gives you great benefit in getting the vitamins and minerals you need.
- Drink plenty of water- Your healthy diet should also be accompanied by drinking plenty of water daily.
- Quit smoking- Smoking is associated with many harmful health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and lung cancer.13 Don’t smoke to promote a strong body that includes a healthy immune system.
- Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can make you more prone to falling ill through a weakened immune system. Get a good night’s rest to prevent this cause of falling sick often.
- Exercise regularly- Exercise contributes to general good health and protects you from serious diseases like cardiovascular disease.14 Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight that contributes to good health. A healthy immune system is also part of good health, so schedule regular exercise in your daily routine to support a healthy, well functioning immune system.15
- Wash your hands- Simple habits like washing your hands before you eat can go a long way in protecting you from falling ill.
The Bottom Line
Help your body out by practicing good habits that can support your immune health. Supplements for immune health can be a good choice if you’re looking to support your immune system. These nutrient supplements for your immune system are all great choices for added support. Talk with your healthcare provider about which nutrients are best for you.†
Learn More About Vitamins for Immune System Health:
- Can You Take Vitamin C While Pregnant?
- How Much Vitamin C Should You Take Per Day?
- Elderberry Health Benefits
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Green HN, Mellanby E. Vitamin A as an anti-infective agent. Br Med J. 1928;2(3537):691-696.
- Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91
- Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr. 2011;141:1847-54.
- Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab 2006;50(2):85-94.
- Edfeldt K, Liu PT, Chun R, et al. T-cell cytokines differentially control human monocyte antimicrobial responses by regulating vitamin D metabolism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107(52):22593-22598
- Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency, N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-281.
- Balk SJ. Council on Environmental Health, Section on Dermatology. Ultraviolet radiation: a hazard to children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011;127(3):e791-817.
- Looker AC, Johnson CL, Lacher DA, et al. Vitamin D status: United States, 2001-2006. NCHS Data Brief. 2011(59):1-8.
- Marko MG, Ahmed T, Bunnell SC, et al. Age-associated decline in effective immune synapse formation of CD4(+) T cells is reversed by vitamin E supplementation. J Immunol. 2007;178(3):1443-1449
- Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353-357
- Prasad AS. Clinical, immunological, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant roles of zinc. Exp Gerontol. 2008;43(5):370-377
- Harvard Health Publishing. “How to Boost Your Immune System”. Harvard Medical School. Accessed on: March 15, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system