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Vitamins to Support Your Body’s Immune System

Mark Cassidy - Certified Personal Trainer InstructorBy Mark S. Cassidy, MS

COVID-19 is now causing major health concerns throughout the United States along with the world. Close to 150 nations are being affected by this virus and (as of March 2020) there is no vaccine currently on the market.  However, that doesn’t mean that people can’t take proactive measures to help slow the spread of the virus.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has made the following daily recommendations:

  • Limit social gatherings and keep approximately 6 feet of distance (Social Separation)
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay at home if you are sick (Self Quarantine)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or disinfected wipe
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

All of these recommendations by the CDC are important.  But we can all do more.

Viruses negative effects on the body are influenced by one’s own immune system.  The stronger and healthier your immune system is, the more efficient you are to fighting back against bacteria and viruses.  It is very important for us to maintain a healthy immune system.  Therefore, a proper diet that is filled with the necessary vitamins is needed, to help against harmful germs.

The vitamins that should be taken to help maintain a healthy immune system are as follows:

VITAMIN C

Vitamins C takes aggressive action towards germs causing damage to your immune system.  Vitamin C strengthens the cells that help in killing the germs, hence providing a boost to the immune system.  In the body, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, working to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.  (Antioxidant – is a substance that inhibits oxidation, deterioration or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals).  Vitamin C helps the body make collagen and helps improve the absorption of iron from plant-based foods.

Citrus fruits and green vegetables are all great sources of vitamin C.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is often associated with vision, but it also has a positive role in a strong immune system.  Vitamin A is considered to be a defensive line for the immune system because it helps keep the germs and the viruses from entering the body.  Vitamin A helps in keeping the mucous membrane moist and soft (which can be found in the nose, throat and mouth).  The mucous membrane needs to be kept moist and soft because this helps it in trapping the germs and stopping them from infiltration into the body.  Vitamin A also creates the enzymes that boost the immune system, along with playing a role in the maintenance of body linings and skin reproduction.

Vitamin A can be found in vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, carrots and squash, along with breakfast cereals, dairy products and some types of fish.

VITAMIN B6

Vitamin B6 (chemically know as pyridoxine) is a critically important nutrient with a wide range of functions.  Vitamin B6 is involved with more than a hundred enzyme reactions, within the body, involved in metabolism.  (Metabolism – is the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life).  Vitamin B6 plays a big role in protein metabolism, making hemoglobin (that is needed in blood – oxygen transportation) and boosts to proper immune function.

Vitamin B6 comes from a variety of foods such as chicken, fish, potatoes, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E is good in boosting the immune system to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.   Vitamin E helps in the production of the protein, interleukin-2, which is a protein that kills bacteria, viruses and germs when the body is infected.  The protein (interleukin-2) that is produced by vitamin E is also used in the treatment of certain cancers.

Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of Vitamin E.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D supports the immune system and is necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones.  The reason for this is calcium, which is the primary component of bone, can only be absorbed by your body when adequate amounts of vitamin D are present.  Your body is able to make vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of vitamin D (called calciferol).

Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods naturally, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.

Each of these vitamins can be obtained through food, eaten during a balanced diet.  However, you could also choose to take any (or all) of these vitamins through supplementation.  A multi-vitamin or a combination of vitamin tablets (once a day) will be sufficient to help your body’s immune system remain strong and healthy during these tough times.

Being proactive with your health, is a benefit to you and the people around you.

Stay safe.

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