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The 3 best vitamins for immune system

Boosting our immune systems has never been more important. Luckily, these vitamins can help.

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Laura Sugden
Lead Copywriter and Health Coach
July 27, 2022
5 min read

In the current climate, it’s absolutely understandable to have immune support on your mind. Taking care of your natural defenses with the best vitamins for immune system has never been more important. 

Article breakdown

Is there a way to improve your immune response to COVID-19?

According to the COVID-19 Symptom Study, the largest study in the world on the effects of COVID-19, and the Predict Program, the largest nutrition study in the world looking at diet and COVID-19, the risk of severe COVID-19 is 40% lower when people eat a healthy diet, rich in plants and gut-friendly fermented foods. 

That said the company that runs both studies, ZOE, note that the only way to boost your immune system against COVID-19 specifically is to introduce it to the invaders it needs to fight by getting vaccinated.

Natural ways to boost your immune system

There are plenty of natural ways to boost your immune system. Getting enough high-quality sleep, exercising regularly, managing your stress levels, and making sure you’re well-hydrated are all really important for immune function.

But, if you feel like you need an extra boost, there are several immune system booster vitamins. So try to make sure you are getting enough of these either through the foods you eat or by taking supplements to boost immune system.

What vitamins are best for immune system?

Some of the most commonly recommended vitamins for the immune system are vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. 

We’ve broken it down below to help you understand how they work with your immune system, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how they impact your brain. After all, what’s good for the brain is good for the body.

Does vitamin C boost the immune system?

Probably the one you’re most familiar with—thanks to your nana force-feeding you oranges as a kid—vitamin C is good for the immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation, strengthens skin barriers, and encourages the production and function of white blood cells.

The NHS says it's one of the best vitamins for kids immune systems and can also help children absorb iron.

It’s been found that vitamin C may prevent colds for acutely stressed people, (that’s most of the world at the moment then). And, it’s useful in reducing the duration of a cold and may help to lessen the severity of symptoms. 

Brainy bonus: Higher levels of vitamin C are directly associated with higher levels of cognitive function. 

Food sources: blackcurrants, kiwi, green and red peppers, oranges.

Vitamin D and the immune system

Vitamin D3 has been a hot topic since Public Health England started recommending it as a daily supplement in May 2020.

While it’s true that we can get it from sunlight, there’s little to no chance of us getting exposure between 10am and 3pm to produce enough of it—especially with the vast majority of people working from home. 

Many studies have shown that vitamin D3 is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, as it enhances the function of immune cells that actively protect your body from pathogens. 

Known to act in the first stage of the body’s immune response, supplementing with D3 has been shown to correlate with a stronger immune system, it is a great immune booster.

Brainy bonus: It’s thought that vitamin D3 reduces harmful amyloid plaques in the brain (high levels of amyloid plaque is associated with Alzheimer’s disease). 

Food sources: eggs, fortified margarine.

Is vitamin D beneficial against infections?

Studies show that Vitamin D reduces the risk of microbial infection and has shown favorable effects in viral infections including influenza and HIV.

Can taking Vitamin D prevent COVID-19?

There's some research that indicates taking vitamin D supplements can protect you against respiratory illnesses, such as the common cold or flu, and there are clinical trials underway to figure our whether it can also protect against COVID-19.

That said, there's currently not enough evidence for a definitive answer.

Is zinc good for your immune system?

Although zinc is a trace mineral—meaning you only need very small amounts—it plays a big role in caring for your immune system. 

Not getting enough of it will result in your immune cells not being able to protect your body from bacteria properly. Zinc deficiency has been linked to a decrease in immunity and higher risks of infectious diseases in the respiratory tract. 

Supplementing with zinc has also been shown to improve the duration and severity of cold symptoms. 

Brainy bonus: Zinc is known to be helpful for spatial memory - e.g. your recollection of the environment around you. It also helps with normal brain function and can help with symptoms of depression and low mood. 

Food sources: pumpkin seeds, shellfish, legumes.

Summary: Best vitamins for immune system

  1. Vitamin C reduces inflammation, strengthens skin barriers, and encourages the production and function of white blood cells.

  2. Vitamin D actively protects your body from pathogens. 

  3. Zinc improves the duration and severity of cold symptoms.