A healthy immune system is vital for preventing infection and disease, which is why it’s important you’re getting enough of the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. With so many fruits and vegetables already packed with these immunity boosters, taking care of your health is as easy as a trip to the produce aisle.
In this post we’re sharing 4 of the best vitamins for promoting a healthy immune system — as well as the top fruits, vegetables and other ingredients that pack the most nutritional punch.
Since our bodies don’t produce or store vitamin C, we need it daily. Plus, vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.
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Citrus is an excellent source of vitamin C, so be sure to load up on oranges, grapefruit and tangerines next time you’re at the grocery store.
Tip: Infuse a pitcher of water with lemons, oranges, or both. Not only is it a good way to up your vitamin C consumption, but it’ll also keep you hydrated throughout the day.
Red bell peppers are another great source of vitamin C and are also rich in beta carotene, which is known to promote healthy eyes and skin.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 include chicken and cold water fish such as tuna and salmon. If you don’t eat meat or fish, turn to green vegetables, brown rice or chickpeas.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection, and you can find it in nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
If you have a hard time incorporating enough leafy greens into your diet — or you have picky eaters at home — consider “hiding” them in a healthy green smoothie. With fresh or frozen fruit and other good-for-you ingredients, you won’t even notice the spinach or kale.
Often called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is produced when our bodies are exposed to sunlight. Not only is vitamin D important for the normal development of bones and teeth, but healthy levels of vitamin D could also help lower your risk of respiratory infections.
Not many foods naturally contain vitamin D, so it’s often added to products like milk, yogurt and orange juice; however, you can find it naturally in foods such as salmon, sardines and egg yolks.
Other foods with immune-boosting properties include garlic, ginger and mushrooms — all cooking staples that add flavor (and nutrition) to a variety of meals.