Updated: May 7, 2020
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.
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
Why: Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects against infection
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
Why: Vitamin C forms antibodies to protect against infection and supports good immune health
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
Why: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body
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
Why: Zinc supports a healthy immune system and helps heal wounds
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:
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed foods
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