Your immune system is a complex network of tissues, organs, cells, and body chemicals that work together to protect you from infection. Like the rest of your body, the immune system is fueled by nutrients found in the food that you eat. While many nutrients act as immune booster vitamins and minerals, a few stand out for their importance to the immune system. Notably, it's vital that you get enough vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc for immunity to pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a nutrient found in many foods, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vegetables like red and green peppers. Your body requires vitamin C but cannot manufacture the nutrient on its own, making it important that you get enough of the vitamin from the meals and snacks you consume.
Vitamin C and Immune System Function
Vitamin C benefits many parts of the body. It is necessary for producing collagen, a protein needed to build skin, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The nutrient is also one of the most important vitamins for immune system function. Cells that help to defend the body from infection need vitamin C to work correctly, and it helps the body kill damaged and infected cells so that they can be replaced.
In addition, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, defending the body from free radicals found in ultraviolet radiation and pollutants. Studies have even found that vitamin C supplements may have the potential to shorten the length of colds and ease the intensity of cold symptoms.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body manufactures in response to sun exposure. Unfortunately, our modern indoor lifestyles have made vitamin D deficiency common. Children, older adults, and those who must avoid the sun are most at risk for the problem.
The nutrient is found in some foods, such as fish and mushrooms. In the United States, vitamin D is also added to milk, cereals, and other foods. Still, those who suffer from low vitamin D levels who cannot spend more time in the sun often must take supplements.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Your Immune System
Many studies have confirmed a link between vitamin D and immune system function. The nutrient assists white blood cells with their important job of fighting pathogens and eases inflammation to stimulate immune activity. Your body also needs vitamin D to properly absorb and utilize other vital immune support nutrients from the foods you eat.
Research shows that people who take vitamin D supplements may have a lower risk of catching upper respiratory infections. There is also evidence to suggest that vitamin D enhances the effectiveness of antiviral medications.
What Is Zinc?
Zinc is a mineral found in shellfish, meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Like vitamin C, zinc is not naturally produced by the human body. Roughly 30 percent of all older adults are believed to be at least slightly zinc deficient.
Zinc and Immune System Support
Without zinc, key immune cells are unable to develop properly and communicate with one another. As a result, the mineral is vital to a healthy immune response.
Scientific studies show that low levels of zinc can increase the risk of pneumonia and other infections. Research also indicates that zinc supplements may reduce the length of cold symptoms and shorten hospital stays for seriously ill people with acute lower respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Mineral Zinc, a Powerful Immune Boosting Combination
Many people struggle to get enough of the essential immune system booster vitamins and minerals from their diets alone. One way to address the problem is to add standalone vitamin C and D and zinc immune-boosting supplements to your diet; however, remembering to take three separate products can be difficult. Plus, it may be costly to purchase individual zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D supplement products.
Fortunately, a simple solution exists for those who wish to benefit from all three supplements to boost immune system function--a combination supplement. A combination product is like taking a vitamin C, a vitamin D, and a zinc supplement all at once and can give you balanced doses of each nutrient to help support your immune system.
Taking an Immune System Booster Supplement
To ensure the best results, talk to your health care provider before you begin to take any new supplement. In addition, only use the supplement as directed by the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging unless your medical provider gives you other advice. This will lower the risk of potential side effects and help you get the most benefits from the vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc combination supplement.