Micronutrients to Boost Your Immune System

iStock_000002845394XSmall_colorfulfruit22The days are getting shorter and the nights, longer.  The brisk air is slowly creeping in, which is a sure sign that winter has arrived!   Before flu season is in full swing, I thought now would be the perfect time to provide tips on how to boost your immune system to kick off the start of winter on the right foot.

What you eat plays a major role in how you feel and how your body functions as a whole.   You have the power to potentially beat off infections if you prepare your body and immune system to do so.   By eating the right foods, immune boosting properties will be provided.  As a result, your immune system will be ready to battle flu season and defeat those watery eyes, coughs, and sniffles.

In order for your immune system to fight off harmful invaders, it needs proper nourishment.   There are specific micronutrients known to help fight the battle against damaging microorganisms.  Studies have shown that vitamins A, B6, C and E along with minerals, zinc, selenium, iron and folic acid all play a role in strengthening the immune system.

So, how do you incorporate these vitamins and minerals into your daily eating plan?   Let’s take a look at each micronutrient separately and discover foods rich in each independently.

Vitamin A:   Vitamin A can be obtained from many fruits and vegetables.  Some produce especially high in vitamin A are carrots, spinach, kale, peas and mango.  Vitamin A can be also found fortified in milk or milk products.

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 can be found in a wide variety of poultry, meat and seafood options such as chicken, turkey, cod, salmon and tuna.  Luckily, you can also obtain vitamin B6 from a vast amount of vegetables.  Bell peppers, spinach, baked potatoes, broccoli and asparagus provide exceptional amounts.  Let’s not forget about nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes!  These also contain vitamin B6.

Vitamin C:  Fruits and vegetables are where vitamin C can be found.  Specifically, citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and dark leafy greens are the superstars.

Vitamin E:  Good sources of vitamin E include eggs, seeds and nuts, leafy vegetables such as spinach, and fortified foods.

Zinc:  Zinc is a mineral that can be found in red meat, poultry and oysters.  It can also be found in your favorite whole grains, or fortified in dairy products.

Selenium:  Found in fresh and saltwater fish, nuts and grains.

Iron: The most absorbable Iron is found in protein sources.  Meats such as turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, beef and sardines all contain iron.  Iron is also often fortified in whole grain cereals.

Folic Acid: Lastly, folic acid can be found in a variety of produce including strawberries, spinach, peas, asparagus and legumes such as lentils.

It is important to note that you will get the right proportions of these immune defending micronutrients by incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, low fat meats, whole grains and healthy fats into your meals on a regular basis.  Variety is key!

So next time you are at your local grocery store, choose the rainbow. The more colorful your shopping cart, the more protected you will be against those awful microorganisms that can make you sick. Strengthen your immune system and help your body fight those cold winter blues!

 

Your Turn to Take Action:  How will you incorporate these micronutrients to help strengthen your immune system for the winter months ahead?

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