How To Choose The Right Vitamins For A Better Immune System
The immune system is based on an innate immune response and an acquired immune response. The innate immune response – also known as the natural defense system or non-specific immune response – has anatomical barriers such as skin, mucous membranes, eyelashes, tear fluid, saliva, gastric acid and urine, which prevent the entry or spread of pathogens or foreign substances. On the other hand, immune cells such as white blood cells (leukocytes) and macrophages make pathogens harmless by enclosing and subsequently digesting them. While the innate immune system fights all exogenous pathogens, the specific immune response targets already “known” pathogens.
Thanks to the so-called B and T lymphocytes, the specific defense system is able to “remember” the recurrent (pathogenic) antigens and to react quickly and effectively to a new infection using the formed antibodies. For this reason it is also called “intelligent” defense or acquired immune system.
Vitamins and minerals for the immune system
Did you know that you can strengthen your immune system with vitamins and minerals? Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12, iron, copper, selenium and zinc contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system. A balanced diet with a high percentage of fruits and vegetables can ensure the absorption of essential nutrients for the immune system.
Below we will explain why vitamins and minerals are so important to the immune system and what functions the individual micronutrients assume during the strengthening of the immune system.
With these vitamins and minerals you can strengthen your immune system:
Vitamin A: Fat-soluble vitamin contributes to the normal maintenance of the skin and mucous membranes, while vitamin A supports the anatomical barriers of the non-specific immune system. Milk and dairy products, as well as vegetables and fruit in particular, contain a lot of vitamin A.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D, also called the “sun vitamin”, has an important function in cell division and supports the activation and reaction of white blood cells. Foods rich in vitamin D are fish, avocado and mushrooms.
Vitamin C: The water-soluble vitamin involved in many processes of the human body contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, especially during and after intense physical activity. Among the most important sources of vitamin C are potatoes, vegetables and fruit.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B6 has the fundamental role of constituting an immune barrier in defence against diseases. It is present in numerous foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and cereals.
Vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 contribute to normal blood formation and the proper functioning of the immune system. Several vegetables and legumes are particularly rich in folic acid.
Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in foods of animal origin such as meat, fish, milk and dairy products.
Iron: As a component of many enzymes and protein complexes, iron also contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system. A low iron intake leads to a decrease in active macrophages and antibodies in the body. Foods such as meat, cereals, nuts and some vegetables are good sources of iron.
Copper: Copper as a trace element also contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, since it is involved in the cell-mediated immune response. The food sources rich in copper are crustaceans, legumes, whole grains, dried fruit and cocoa.
Selenium: the essential trace element contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies. Selenium is found mainly in fish and meat, but also in legumes and nuts.
Zinc: it is an essential mineral involved in many metabolic processes throughout the body and regulates, among other things, the immune response. The main suppliers of zinc are meat, eggs, milk and dairy products, as well as whole grain products and dried fruit.