The best vitamins to boost your immune system
In the current climate, it’s absolutely understandable to have your immune system on your mind. Taking care of your natural defences has never been more important.
There are plenty of lifestyle factors that can impact how well your immune system works. 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 a few nutrients that have been proven to help. 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, as well as how they impact your brain. After all, what’s good for the brain is good for the body.
Does vitamin C help 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 generally understood to be good for the immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation, strengthens skin barriers, and encourages the production and function of white blood cells—all key for immune systems.
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.
How much is in Heights: 80mg, 100% of what you need. Extreme vitamin C fans can take up to 1000mg safely—one we recommend for a top-up is yourzooki.
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.
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.
How much is in Heights: 20mcg, 400% of the NRV. This is definitely more than enough, plus you don’t have to take a pill full of nasty caking agents and fillers (yuck!).
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.
How much is in Heights: 5mg, 50% of the NRV. We do this on purpose as most people get some zinc from the diets easily and only need a top-up.
For more ways to look after your immune system, check you are getting the right nutrients from your diet with our assessment.