7 Key Vitamins for Immune System to fight Corona Virus
In today’s world where we are surrounded by alarming pollution and processed food, it is important to keep a check on our immune system. Our immune system is being compromised due to our lifestyle and eating habits. The easiest and healthiest way to fortify our immunity is to include essential vitamins in our diet. Vitamins are an easily accessible source of immunity-boosting agents, available in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and poultry. Read more about vitamins for the immune system further.
Vitamins are essential nutrients required for the proper functioning of various metabolism in the body. They form an essential component for various enzymes and hormones. Although required in trace amounts, they play a crucial role in maintaining good health
Types of Vitamins
The primary classification of vitamins is based on their solubility – water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are in frequent demand in a minor amount and comprise of Vitamin B complex, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Folic acid, and Vitamin C.
Whereas, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, and do not require frequent intake. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K falls under the category of fat-soluble vitamins.
Role of Vitamins
Vitamins are commonly referred to as micronutrients as they are required in small amounts. But, even the deprivation of this trace quantity can lead to severe deficiency diseases like scurvy, night blindness, rickets, infertility, etc.
The major roles the Vitamins perform in our body are to assist enzymes in energy production and release, metabolize amino acids for protein production, boost collagen growth, improve eyesight, strengthen bones, etc.
Read More: Corona Virus Complete Safety Guide
Role of Vitamins to Boost Immunity
Besides performing multiple functions, Vitamins play a major role in developing and strengthening our immune system. They can ward off various ailments in severely malnourished people. In the market, most of the products that are sold by claiming to boost your immunity are vitamin supplements.
Vitamins help to generate the white blood cells, prevent inflammation, fight against infection, and provide antioxidants to the body. All these factors contribute to a sound immune system.
Vitamins to Boost the Immune System
While all the fat-soluble, as well as water-soluble vitamins, are essential for the body, there are some significant ones that can enhance the functioning of the immune system. The list of immune booster vitamins are as follows:
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is popularly known as ascorbic acid. When it comes to immunity-boosting Vitamins, it tops the list. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, enriched with antioxidant property. It acts as a boon for the vulnerable immune system in people dealing with stressful conditions.
It increases the cell proliferation of immune cells like T cells, lymphocytes, and phagocytes. The antioxidant property helps to scavenge the free radicals that can lead to cell damage (1). An ample amount of vitamin C in the diet helps to stave off the common cold, flu, and respiratory infections.
Citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, lemons, tangerines are rich in Vitamin C. A regular intake of ascorbic acid is good for health as the body cannot store it. It is one of the most important vitamins to boost the immune system.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E goes by another name of Tocopherol. It has a powerful antioxidant property that helps to fight infections and boost immunity.
Tocopherols are known to induce differentiation activity in immature T cells of the thymus gland. The development of T cells adds on to the strength of the immune system, especially in old age people (2).
A drop down in Vitamin E level makes the body susceptible to various infections, hormonal disorders, vision disturbances, muscle damage, and inflammation. Nuts, seeds, and spinach are rich dietary sources of Vitamin E.
Read More: Vitamin E Rich Foods and Benefits
3. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps to improve the energy level and immunity power in patients suffering from critical illness. It helps to deal with fatigue, low energy level, and chronic pain. The immune response of elderly patients has shown significant improvement after high doses of Vitamin B6 (3). It is one of the fewer known vitamins to boost the immune system.
Vitamin B6 is also vital for patients suffering from chronic inflammation. The condition triggers the degradation of tryptophan in the body, leading to a loss of pyridoxal 5 phosphates. The condition demands a high intake of Vitamin B6 to compensate for the loss.
Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and fruits are full of Vitamin B6.
4. Vitamin D
The fat-soluble vitamin is known for its inflammation-reducing properties, thus grabbing a place in the list of immunity-boosting Vitamins. They protect from the invasion of bacteria and fungi while regulating the process of cell differentiation, proliferation, and death.
Vitamin D helps macrophages to destroy the pathogenic cells by transcription of proteins. It is also known as cholecalciferol and helps the body to fight against the common cold, flu, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Read More: Vitamin D Rich Foods, Sources & Benefits
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is called retinol and acts as an enhancing agent for the immune system. The genes that govern the immune response in the body are regulated by Vitamin A. It helps to fight against infectious conditions, autoimmune diseases, and tumors.
Vitamin A supports the function of natural killer cells, macrophages, and neutrophils to protect the body against respiratory infections, skin damage, and digestive disorders. It also helps to mature the T cells and B cells for a sound immune system (5).
Plant oils, leafy veggies, whole grain products, liver, etc are a rich source of Vitamin A.
6. Folic Acid
Vitamin B9 is commonly known as Folic acid, and its deficiency weakens the immune system. Folic acid is known to stimulate the generation and function of white blood cells.
The immune response is enhanced by an increase in the number of T cells due to Folic acid (6).
Folic acid is found in abundance in legumes, seeds, orange juice, liver, etc.
Read More: Folic Acid Rich Foods
7. Vitamin K
A sound heart and bone health is a result of Vitamin K in the body. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which is one of the best immunity improving components (7).
Vitamin K absorption takes place with the help of intestinal flora; thus, a good digestive system is important to retain the vitamin in the body.
It is important for blood clotting, and its deficiency can cause bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome, etc.
Collard greens, spinach, nuts, seeds, egg yolk, broccoli should be included in the diet to get Vitamin K.
Here is an informative video from Medsimplified on how vitamins help you boost the Immune system
Foods Rich in Vitamins that Boost the Immune System
The best source to obtain Vitamins from your diet is to include an ample amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, fishes, seeds, nuts, meat, and poultry. Fill up your pantry with the following immune booster foods to maintain a sound and healthy body.
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C and is a key to fight seasonal infections. It helps to enhance immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells in the body. Grapefruity, lemons, clementines, limes, oranges, and tangerines are great options to get your daily dose of Vitamin C.
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables that you should make sure to include in your diet. It not only helps to keep the immune system in good condition but also provides Vitamin A, C, E, fiber, and antioxidants to the body. It is beneficial if eaten raw or slightly cooked.
The high content of sulfurous compounds in Garlic imparts its immune-boosting property. Various cuisines throughout the world use it. It protects the body from infection, lowers blood pressure, and prevents hardening of the arteries.
4. Bell Peppers
While it is a general notion that citrus fruits are the best source of Vitamin C, you would be surprised to know the amount of Vitamin C, a bell pepper has. They are a great booster of immunity with their content of beta carotene. It keeps skin and eye in good health.
People are using ginger as a home remedy to various diseases since ages. It helps the immune response by decreasing the inflammation, chronic pain, and cholesterol levels. Ginger is a great treatment option for sore throat and inflammatory conditions. We often use it in cooking as well as in sweet dishes.
After Vitamin C, if any Vitamin is able to ward off seasonal infection, it is undoubtedly Vitamin E. Almond is rich in Vitamin E and acts as a key to a healthy immune system of the body. The best form of consumption is raw almonds as it also has a good amount of healthy fats.
The anti-inflammatory property if this bright yellow spice is useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric helps the immune system by reducing the inflammation and also helps to decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
8. Green Tea
Green tea has flavonoids in abundance. Flavonoids have antioxidant properties that play an important role in the immune system. Green tea has a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate that enhances the immune system. It also enhances the germ-fighting potential of the T cells.
Spinach is a must-have component in your immune-boosting diet plan. It is a rich source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene. It helps to fight infections and supports the immune system. Cook spinach lightly to retain the vitamins and the nutrients.
Yogurts with living and active bacterial cultures are the best option for immune booster food. The bacteria in the yogurt accelerates the immune response to any infection. Yogurt is also rich in Vitamin D that boosts the body’s natural defense mechanism against illnesses.
Kiwis are crunchy green fruits rich in loads of essential nutrients. It contains folic acid, potassium, vitamin K, and Vitamin C. It stimulates the generation of white blood cells to support the immune system.
Papaya is full of immunity booster ascorbic acid. Papain is the digestive enzyme present in papaya that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Papaya is also rich in potassium, vitamin B complex, and folic acid. They improve overall health.
Poultry like chicken and turkey are not just a treat to your taste buds, intact they are a rich source of Vitamin B6. It helps to keep the flu and the common cold infections at bay. The broth of chicken bones is high on gelatin and chondroitin content making them good for healing and immune response.
13. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds help in regulating the function of the immune system as well as maintaining it. They are rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants. Apart from, they also have phosphorous, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 to support the immune functions.
Shellfish is not an option that promptly pops up in our mind while shopping for immunity booster foods. But shellfishes like crab, mussels, lobsters, and clams are some good options to choose from. They are rich in zinc, that is an essential component of the immune cells of our body
I hope this article will help you to choose a natural and healthy way to boost your immune system.