Vitamin C is known to help reduce common cold symptoms(1). It can shorten the duration of cold symptoms, as well as the severity of those symptoms(2). Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions, which can help protect our bodies from many things, including environmental oxidative stress (3). Vitamin C can be found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, including red peppers, broccoli and spinach, to name a few.
Check out this recipe: This soup contains 113 mg of Vitamin C per serving
Zinc is another major player in building up our immune system and foods are often overlooked as a great place to find zinc. It is essential for many cellular functions, including our immune system, especially in times of stress(4). Oysters are a well-known source of zinc, as is red meat. If you’re looking for plant-based sources, chickpeas and almonds are also a great source. This recipe has 7 mg of zinc and 95 mg of Vitamin C too!
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, and for good reason! The sun is the best way to get vitamin D(5). Throughout the winter months, and due to global conditions right now, you may be spending less and less time outside, so it’s best to find ways to increase vitamin D through food. Vitamin D is often overlooked for building up immune function, but insufficient vitamin D is linked to impaired immune function(6). Foods that are a great source of vitamin D are liver, mushrooms, egg yolks and fatty fish.
This meal below packs 123 IU of Vitamin D. Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D and peppers are a great source of vitamin C
Garlic is often a vegetable that goes unnoticed when it comes to building up immune response. It’s one of the oldest remedies across many different cultures to help the immune system(7). It contains many different compounds that have the potential to influence immunity(8), and there are so many different ways to use it!
By now, we all know the positive effects that probiotics can have on our gut flora, but they can also help our immune response. Probiotics are proven to help with elevating our immune system(9). In fact, yogurt with a specific probiotic strain may help reduce upper respiratory tract infections in the elderly(10).