Your immune system is your body’s “defense team.” This well-organized squad is constantly at work defending your body against bacteria, viruses, parasites and other invaders. Even when you’re sleeping, your immune system is wide awake and ever vigilant. Just as every organ, tissue and cell needs energy to support their function, the cells and tissues that make up your immune system do too – and this comes from the food you eat and the supplements take. So, it’s not surprising that what you eat impacts how well your immune system does its job. What role does nutrition play in immune health?
Deficiencies of specific nutrients have been linked with worsening of immune function. When you don’t consume enough of the antioxidant vitamins, vitamin A, C and E through diet, immune cells are more prone to damage due to oxidative stress. Sufficient quantities of B-vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and B12, are also essential for healthy immune function. In terms of minerals, deficiencies of iron, zinc and selenium are most strongly linked with healthy immune function. Immune function declines with age, which may be partially due to the fact that older people eat less and may fall short of getting adequate quantities of the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy immune function.