SUPPORTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Updated: May 7

Eating for Immune Health


When it comes to your immune health, it's important to know there ARE NOT any foods, supplements, or other products that will actually boost your immunity.

Adequate amounts of the following nutrients support your immune system to help fight against infection and illness.


Meet your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) by getting foods rich in these nutrients into your daily diet.


If you struggle to get in these types of foods or have a nutrient deficiency, supplementing may help, however food first is always encouraged.

PROTEIN FOODS


Why: Protein is part of the body's defense mechanism, especially for healing and recovery


RDA: 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight

This is the RDA for most Americans. Athletes may require more protein based on training and goals


Sources: meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, beans, peas, lentils, soy, nuts & seeds, some whole grains

VITAMIN A

Why: Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects against infection


RDA:

  • Males 14+: 900 μg/day

  • Females 14+: 700 μg/day

Pregnant and lactating females have increased Vitamin A needs


Sources: sweet potato, broccoli, spinach, carrots, peppers, cantaloupe, mango, milk with added vitamin A, fortified cereals

VITAMIN C


Why: Vitamin C forms antibodies to protect against infection and supports good immune health


RDA:

  • Males 14-18: 75 mg/day

  • Males 19+: 90 mg/day

  • Females 14-18: 65 mg/day

  • Females 19+: 75 mg/day

Pregnant and lactating females have increased Vitamin C needs


Sources: bell peppers, citrus fruit, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, tomato, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, potato, cantaloupe

VITAMIN E


Why: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body


RDA:

  • Males 14+: 15 mg/day

  • Females 14+: 15 mg/day

Lactating females have increased Vitamin E needs


Sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach

ZINC


Why: Zinc supports a healthy immune system and helps heal wounds


RDA:

  • Males 14+: 11 mg/day

  • Females 14-18: 9 mg/day

  • Females 19+: 8 mg/day

Pregnant and lactating females have increased Zinc needs


Sources: oysters, red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, nuts, whole grains, dairy products

Other important factors for immune health:


  • Adequate sleep 

  • Stress management 

  • Physical activity 

  • Adequate calories 

  • A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed foods

  • Proper hygiene 

  • Adequate hydration



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© 2020 by Jessica Isaacs, RD