Your immune system is your body’s defense against toxins, pathogens and inflammation. In order for it to function optimally, your immune system needs micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals. You can help your immune system do its job well by supplementing these nutrients individually or by consuming superfoods chock-full of phytonutrients, beta-glucans and powerful antioxidants.
Vitamins and Minerals for Immune Boosting
Vitamins and minerals are found in tiny quantities in your body. But despite their minuscule footprint, these substances can spell the difference between health and illness as well as vitality and weakness. If you’re working to support your immune system, especially during seasons when viruses or germs abound, consider supplementing with these beneficial vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C belongs to a family of nutrients called antioxidants. Vitamin C is involved in many important immune system activities. It has been shown to potentially support the treatment of respiratory infections.
- Vitamin D has long been recognized for its important role in supporting bone health. Now, research suggests that vitamin D also plays an important part in building healthy immunity. Autoimmune disorders respond positively to vitamin D supplementation.
- Zinc is another potent antioxidant integral to many enzyme processes and immune system functions of the body. Zinc is necessary for healthy human growth and cognitive function, and it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties.
- Magnesium, one of the most important micronutrients in the human body, has been linked to improved immune function, including the production of immune cells.
Herbs That Help
Traditional medicine has made use of the beneficial properties of nutrient-rich superfood plants through centuries of experimentation and shared anecdotal evidence. Modern researchers are just beginning to explore many of these supplements, in an attempt to analyze how or why they support your body’s natural healing processes. From blossoms to leaves and roots, these humble herbs are gaining recognition as important sources of immune support.
- Echinacea, sometimes also called purple coneflower, has been shown to be effective in helping alleviate some of the severity of colds. Echinacea flowers, leaves and roots are all traditionally used to create immune boosting tea.
- Garlic is a powerful root, often used for its antibacterial effects to help the body’s response to infection. Recent research suggests it may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, as well as possessing some anti-microbial properties. It can be eaten raw, cooked or in dried powder form.
- Elderberry and elderflower, the edible portions of the black elder tree, have been used for centuries as remedies for colds and flu symptoms. Studies support their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in humans.
Superfoods - Mushrooms and More
In addition to specific vitamin supplementation and the use of medicinal herbs, several foods known as superfoods can provide your body a powerful package of immune support in a few bites. These superfoods don’t just supply one specific nutrient; rather, their unique blend of vitamins, antioxidants and other micronutrients provides a comprehensive range of support.
- Mushrooms are some of nature’s best immune-boosting foods. There are many varieties of functional mushrooms, often called medicinal mushrooms, including Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail have been traditionally used for supporting healthy immune function, and current research supports their effectiveness. While it’s possible to eat these mushrooms whole (cooked or raw), some other convenient ways to add mushrooms to your diet include adding a scoop of Om Mushrooms Immune powder to cereal or yogurt, swallowing a few Immune Defense capsules, or stirring Immune+ drink sticks into your favorite beverage.
- Bone broth is another tasty way to support your health. Since much of your body’s immunity is affected by your digestive health, a strong digestive tract is a vital line of defense against disease. Bone broth helps heal “leaky gut” and reduces inflammation of the digestive tract, thereby supporting immunity. Take Om’s Mighty Bone Broth — simply stir it into eight ounces of hot water and enjoy!
- Carrot juice, with its high concentration of the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, is a bright and delicious addition to your diet that can help support healthy immune function.
Amy Smith is a writer, educator, and health-conscious mother of five, living on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania. She produces informative online content for a variety of clients in the fields of natural living, health and wellness, family and parenting.