Vitamins and supplements to support immune health
The immune system is a complex and integrated system of cells, tissues and organs that play specialized roles in defending us against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Certain vitamins and minerals are involved in different aspects of our immune system and are needed in adequate amounts for it to do its job properly.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A maintains the structural and functional integrity of epithelial cells in the body. These are the cells that line the skin, airways, digestive and urinary tract. These cells function as a barrier and form the body’s first line of defense against infection.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant that maintains immune health by stimulating the production and function of white blood cells in the body. These specialized cells are essential for good health and protection against illness.
- Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 has an effect on immune function; important proteins secreted by the immune system including cytokines and antibodies, require B6 as a coenzyme in their metabolism.1
- Vitamin D – Adequate levels of vitamin D are needed to maintain immune health.
- Zinc – Sufficient levels of zinc are essential for maintaining the integrity of the immune system, specifically for the normal development and function of cells involved in the immune response including neutrophils, macrophages and natural killer cells. Zinc deficiency may affect immune function and increase susceptibility to illness.2
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E is an antioxidant that plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system, particularly in older adults.
- Iron – Inadequate iron intake may affect immune system function.
Along with a balanced diet, multivitamins and specialized immune supplements containing these vitamins and minerals may help support the health of your immune system.
- Maggini S et al. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. British Journal of Nutrition, 2007; 98 (1): S29–S35
- Higdon J, Zinc, v, June 2013, Accessed March 2014
Published May 7, 2014