While it’s always important to keep our immune system healthy, there’s even more need right now. There are so many things we can do to support immunity, including the food we eat, how and how much we move, managing our stress – today let’s talk about 3 nutrients we all need.
The first one that I want to talk about is probably familiar to most people. Vitamin C is found in all kinds of citrus fruits, most plant foods, things like broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, and bell peppers. I was surprised to find out that strawberries are one of the most vitamin-C rich foods out there. Not only does vitamin C help to keep the immune system strong, it’s also good for our skin health, for heart health, it also supports collagen and keeping our skin healthy and young-looking. And who doesn’t want that?!
The second one I think of for immune health is vitamin D. We all know that we get vitamin D from the sun. I don’t know about you, but I’m in Texas, in July right now. I’m not spending a whole lot of time outside, but when I do, it’s early in the morning so that I get the sun’s rays at the lowest intensity. And bonus: that early morning sun helps keep our natural body rhythms balanced for better sleep and energy.
But there are also some foods that we can eat that can help us to absorb the vitamin D that we do get from the sun. We take it in through our skin, but there are foods that can help us do that, including fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, swordfish and tuna, as well as liver and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is definitely a big player in the immune system, but it has so many other functions in our bodies! It has a lot to do with our bone health, heart health, blood sugar regulation, and a number of other things. So it’s an important nutrient.
The third nutrient I like for the immune system is zinc. It’s also helpful for the nervous system, heart health and blood sugar regulation. It can be found in many foods, including grass-fed beef, lamb, chickpeas, oysters and pumpkin seeds.
So those are all places that you can get these nutrients from food.
What about supplements??
If you feel yourself getting sick, if you feel like you’ve got a virus or an infection or anything like that coming on, your need for it is higher and it’s much harder to get enough from foods. At that point, you may want to consider supplementing.
If you choose to supplement with vitamin C, it’s pretty easy to see if you’ve gotten enough. When your urine starts to get a darker or brighter color yellow, either of those things, then you can probably back off a little bit.
I tested one time and I think I got up to nine or 10,000 milligrams a day. If your immune system is working hard, your need will be higher. And so you may be able to take only 1,000 today, but when you get sick, you might need more. So always keep an eye on that. There’s also bowel tolerance, which is when your bowels show that you’ve had enough. You might get a little crampy, maybe a little diarrhea, that sort of thing. Again, if you see that, just take less the next day.
You can’t really overdose on vitamin C – it’s what’s called water soluble, meaning that if you get too much of it, you just pee it out.
You have to be a little bit more careful with Vitamin D and zinc, because in both cases there’s such a thing as too much.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means that you need to have some fat to help absorb it and it gets stored in your body. If you choose to supplement Vitamin D, choose a D3 supplement and make sure it’s also got Vitamin K2, because K2 helps to absorb the Vitamin D. And be sure to get tested. When it comes to Vitamin D, more is not always better. Suggested ranges vary, but it’s around 40-60 – ask your doctor and do your research.
Zinc is a bit harder to test for but there’s a taste test that I do in my practice. When you do take it, it should be taken in very small doses, like five milligrams at a time, but several times throughout the course of the day. And again, if you’re actively fighting something, your body is really going through it so you need to have more of it. And then once you start to feel better, you can back off from it.
So these are 3 nutrients I think we should all be concerned with. For the most part, I try to get them from food, but I do supplement as needed. I keep them around always, and the minute I start to feel any symptoms of being sick, I load up on them.
What are your thoughts about these nutrients?