Boost Immunity with Vitamins, Minerals and Probiotics Found in a Healthy Diet
By Dana Babeu, R.D. | September 23, 2020
Apart from getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient dense diet and finding ways to de-stress - keeping up with vitamins and supplements can have a positive effect on our immune response. There’s plenty of vitamins and supplement products on the market that claim to boost your immune system, but do they really help? The selections that I share below have been studied and shown to be effective. The best part? They are all easily obtained through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Now more than ever, it’s important to do everything we can to keep our immune system in tip top shape.
- Vitamin C - The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C is 65-90mg and can be easily obtained through foods like bell peppers, tomatoes and kiwi. This water-soluble vitamin is vital for fighting infections and supporting overall immune system health. It also helps with iron absorption, a mineral essential for healthy immunity.
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found naturally in only a small number of foods like salmon, tuna, mushrooms and egg yolks. Under the right circumstances, it can also be manufactured by the body with exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D plays several roles in overall immune function and a recent study suggests blood concentrations above 40-60 ng/mL may provide some protection against infection. However, Vitamin D toxicity is possible with repeated high doses, so be sure to discuss with your doctor or registered dietitian.
- Probiotics - Known as “good bacteria,” probiotics live in and on the human body and together with other invisible organisms comprise something known as the microbiota. Probiotics are studied for their potential role in many areas of health, including immune support. The best advice for achieving a healthy microbiota is to eat a nutrient dense diet rich in fiber-containing and fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables and kombucha. Probiotics can interact with medications including antibiotics and oral steroids, so check with your doctor if probiotics are right for you.
- Omega 3 fatty acids - These polyunsaturated fatty acids found in foods like walnuts, salmon and tuna play numerous roles in immune system regulation and signaling, These fatty acids have long been known for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Several servings per week of fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds or walnuts can provide adequate dietary omega 3’s.
- Magnesium - Magnesium is a trace mineral which may offer both direct and indirect benefits to the immune system, including its mood boosting capabilities and promotion of relaxation. Because less stress and quality sleep equals a better immune response, it is recommended to eat magnesium-rich foods like beans, nuts, seeds, broccoli and raspberries on a regular basis. Soaking in an epsom salt bath is a great way to absorb magnesium through the skin with the added benefit of promoting sleep and relaxation.
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For questions or a more customized approach to immune support, call us at 908-481-1270 to schedule an appointment with a physician.
By: Dana Babeu, R.D.
Dana Babeu, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.