Written by Ryan Raman, MHSC, RD
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infection and disease.
That’s why it’s important to fuel your body with the right types of nutrients to help protect and defend against infections, diseases, and to improve your overall health and wellness.
Although many nutrients are great for your health, certain nutrients like those listed below stand above the rest when it comes to boosting your immunity.
Here are 5 nutrients that can help boost your immunity.
Zinc is a powerful mineral that’s important for a strong and healthy immune system.
In fact, research shows that taking a zinc supplement can help protect and defend against infections like the common cold and may help you recover from it up to 33% faster (1).
Zinc is important for your immune system because your immune cells use zinc to work efficiently and communicate with each other. That’s a big reason why people who don’t eat enough zinc often have a weaker immune system (2, 3).
If you want to add zinc to your diet, experts recommend taking 15–30 mg per day (4).
Summary Zinc helps your immune cells work efficiently and communicate with each other.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful nutrient that can help boost your immunity.
It helps your immune system in many ways, like making white blood cells — the cells that protect and defend you from infections, helping your white blood cells work efficiently, and improving your ability to recover from an illness faster (5, 6).
If you’re looking to boost your immunity, try adding a vitamin C supplement to your routine.
Summary Vitamin C helps boost your immunity by helping make white blood cells, helping the white blood cells work more efficiently, and improving your ability to recover faster.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays many roles in your health — including for your immunity.
That’s because vitamin D helps your immune system work more efficiently (9).
In fact, vitamin D is so important for your immunity that having a deficiency can increase your risk of infections, diseases, and immune-related disorders (10).
If you’re looking to try a vitamin D supplement, it’s best to choose a vitamin D3 supplement. This type of vitamin D is twice as effective at raising your blood levels of vitamin D.
Summary Vitamin D helps boost your immunity by allowing your immune cells to work more efficiently to better protect and defend against infections.
- Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is a popular supplement that’s made from the leaves of the olive plant.
People have used olive leaf extract for thousands of years to help protect and defend against infections, fight inflammation, treat diarrhoea, and even treat chronic fatigue.
Most of the benefits of olive leaf extract come from a powerful nutrient called oleuropein. Studies show that oleuropein helps reduce signs of inflammation, enhances your immune defenses, and can improve your health in many different areas (11, 12).
If you want to try olive leaf extract, experts recommend taking 500–1,000 mg per day.
Summary Olive leaf extract contains powerful nutrients like oleuropein which has been shown to boost your immunity, protect against infections, and reduce inflammation.
Echinacea is a popular herb that’s been used for centuries in herbal medicine.
Today, it’s best known as a remedy for the common cold or flu. However, echinacea has other benefits and is used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines, and other concerns.
Echinacea is great for a healthy immune system because it has many immune-boosting nutrients like caffeic acid, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, and many antioxidants (13).
Not to mention, research shows that taking an echinacea supplement may slash your risk of a cold by more than 50%. If you have a cold, echinacea may help you recover faster (14).
If you want to try echinacea, experts recommend taking 300–500 mg, up to 3 times a day. Echinacea is often packaged with vitamin C to combine their immune-boosting effects.
Summary Echinacea is packed with many immune-boosting nutrients and may drastically slash your risk of a cold. If you have a cold, echinacea may help you recover faster.