When we have a cold or other viral infection we turn to good old Vitamin C to help boost our immune systems. We have a tendency to load up on orange juice and consume other citrus fruits but did you know that there are other super hero vitamins that also play a vital role in boosting immune systems?
Vitamin C is what many of us associate with boosting immunity, and for good reason. Vitamin C can help protect your body from infection and can even stimulate the formation of white blood cells and antibodies to fight off disease. Unfortunately our bodies cannot make Vitamin C – we can only get it through our diets and the foods we eat day to day.
Where is it found? It is commonly known that Citrus fruits, and in particular oranges, are well known for their high Vitamin C content. Red peppers actually contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of all the fruits and vegetables closely followed by strawberries.
Vitamin A, be it a little less famous that Vitamin C, also helps to regulate our immune systems and protect against infection.
Where is it found? Sweet potatoes, broccoli, red bell peppers and carrots are all high in this immune boosting vitamin. Whilst spinach doesn’t contain a lot of Vitamin A when raw, light cooking of spinach enhances its Vitamin A levels.
Vitamin E, whilst it is not known for its immune boosting properties and takes a back seat to Vitamin C, it is an antioxidant and can help to neutralise free radicals in the body. It is key to a healthy immune system – research suggests that Vitamin E can even help protect the body against a number of infectious diseases. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin meaning it needs to be consumed with healthy fats in order for the body to absorb it properly.
Where is it found? Green vegetables including spinach and broccoli provide some vitamin E but the highest amounts are found in almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds. Try adding nuts to meals or having a few as a snack but remember nuts are very high in calories so try to not indulge in giant handfuls as tempting as it may be!
Author: Laura Stembridge, CEO InsideOut
STEFANI SASSOS, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN