Most women focus on getting their iron, calcium and even omega-3s to stay healthy, so do your body a favor and add some other immune system vitamins to your repertoire to prevent illness. Those vitamins can also help you get over an illness faster or stave off disease.
Women and men need a different set of vitamins to keep them in top form. Unfortunately, a multivitamin isn’t always the way to go. Some of the most important vitamins are easy to get from food sources, and some require supplements to get the daily recommended amount.
Vitamin A is an immune-system booster that protects eyesight and promotes tissue and bone health. It fights everyday illnesses and infection, especially in the eyes, respiratory system and urinary tract. When bacteria aren’t able to enter these areas, you are less likely to get sick. As an added bonus, vitamin A may also lower the risk of certain cancers.
Animal sources of vitamin A, such as milk and eggs, are more readily absorbed by the body, where plant sources are not as effective (but still excellent). Orange and green fruits and veggies, like cantaloupe, carrots, spinach, peas and kale, will help you get your daily dose.
Vitamin C – the citrus vitamin – encourages your body to produce more white blood cells, helping beat out viruses. It also increases the antibody interferon, which protects cells from viruses. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which your body will not store, therefore, it’s necessary to get your recommended daily allowance everyday. Citrus fruits are an excellent source vitamin C.
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, which, as you know, is necessary for bone and dental health, aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis. Some studies also show that vitamin D can help reduce the occurrence of certain cancers and arthritis. Food sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, fortified milk, and eggs. There are few other sources, so considering a supplement is not a bad idea.
Vitamin E is one of the most important immune-system-boosting vitamins. Its job is to start the production of B-cells, the killers that seek out cancer cells, germs and bacteria. Most people need a minimum of 100 mg of vitamin E each day, but only get about 60 mg. Therefore, taking a supplement is a good idea to help keep your immune system in check. As an added bonus, vitamin E helps promote strong hair and nails. Most nuts, avocado, and sweet potatoes are great ways to get vitamin E.
Some research even states that taking large doses of zinc within 24 hours of getting a cold can help reduce symptoms faster. Zinc works by increasing your white blood cell count, and helps those cells release antibodies to fight infection and cancer. But having too much zinc in your system can be a very bad thing. Even tripling your 15-25 mg recommended allowance each day can backfire and reduce immune function. Oysters, wheat germ and roast beef top the charts for the highest zinc content. Thankfully, so does dark chocolate!