Immune System and Diet

Immune System Health

Immune System and Diet

The importance of having a healthy immune system has become an increasingly popular subject. The primary role of the immune system is to prevent or limit infections within the body. A properly functioning immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and pathogens and diseased or malfunctioning cells that harm the body. Research has shown that there is a connection between a healthy, functioning immune system and diet. 1 The best way to boost and support your immune system is through a healthy diet, exercise, fresh air, and sunlight. The proper function and health of the immune system rely on a healthy lifestyle. Here are several ways to help support a healthy immune system:

  • Consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise daily
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Avoid smoking and consume alcohol in moderation
  • Minimize stress

Supplements That Support Healthy Immune System

Vitamin C and Immune System

Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, is crucial for immune system health, protecting against infections, aiding wound healing, and supporting red blood cell formation and repair. Additionally, the immune system assists in collagen production, facilitates iron absorption from plant-based foods, and acts as an antioxidant.

Research shows that daily vitamin C supplementation of 200 mg or more can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold, especially in those under physical stress or with low vitamin C levels. Few studies specifically address vitamin C’s impact on colds, but evidence suggests it is used during infections, aiding recovery.2

Studies on pneumonia patients indicate that vitamin C supplementation can reduce symptom severity and hospital stays. In elderly pneumonia patients with very low vitamin C levels, supplementation improved respiratory symptoms. Prophylactic vitamin C intake also appears to reduce the risk of severe respiratory infections, suggesting that low vitamin C levels during these infections are both a cause and an effect of the disease.

Natural Sources of Vitamin C

Natural sources of vitamin C include:

Citrus Fruits

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Lemons
  • Limes


  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackcurrants


  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers (especially red and green)


  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe

Other Sources

  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Potatoes
  • Guava

Incorporating a variety of these fruits and vegetables into your diet is generally a good way to ensure adequate intake of vitamin C.

D3 and Immune Function

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone mineralization through the regulation of calcium and phosphorus. It also plays many non-skeletal roles, particularly within the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.

Research indicates that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risks of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Supplementation in individuals with low vitamin D levels has shown potential benefits in reducing respiratory infection severity and duration although it should be noted that in some some studies, such as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 322 healthy adults, showed that while high-dose vitamin D3 supplements significantly raised vitamin D levels, they did not reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.3

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be obtained through diet, supplements, and sunlight exposure. Here are the primary sources:

Natural Dietary Sources

Fatty Fish

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Tuna


  • Beef liver
  • Cod liver oil

Egg Yolks

Red Meat

  • Chicken eggs
  • Beef
  • Lamb

Fortified Foods

Dairy Products

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk

Cereals and Grains

  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified orange juice

Margarine and Butter

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Oat milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Some brands are fortified with vitamin D


  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements
  • Multivitamins containing vitamin D


  • Exposure to sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the skin. It’s recommended to get about 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week, depending on skin type, geographic location, and weather conditions.


Copper is an essential micronutrient that is required for many important functions in the human body. It is involved in the production of red blood cells, the formation of collagen, the metabolism of energy, and the maintenance of healthy immune function.

Research has shown that copper plays an important role in the development and function of immune cells, such as T-cells and neutrophils. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in the immune response by recognizing and attacking foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils are another type of white blood cell that are the first responders to infection and inflammation.4

Copper deficiency has been shown to directly impact the function of T-cells, leading to reduced proliferation and impaired immune responses. Additionally, copper deficiency can lead to a reduction in the number of neutrophils circulating in the blood, which can impair the body’s ability to fight off infections.

While the exact mechanisms by which copper supports immune function are not fully understood, it is clear that this micronutrient is essential for the proper development and function of immune cells. Ensuring adequate copper intake through diet or supplementation may help to support immune function and overall health.

Sources of Copper

  • Seafood (oysters, lobster, squid, mussels, clams)
  • Organ meats
  • Nuts (cashews, filberts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, peanuts)
  • Beans
  • Unsweetened or semisweet chocolate and cocoa
  • Enriched cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Black pepper

Selenium and Immune System Function

Selenium is an essential micronutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, helps regulate the immune response, and is involved in the production of selenoproteins, which are important for various physiological functions, including the immune response.

Antioxidant Properties

Selenium’s antioxidant properties help protect immune cells from damage caused by free radicals. By neutralizing these harmful molecules, selenium ensures that immune cells can function effectively, which is crucial for an optimal immune response.

Regulation of Immune Response

Selenium is involved in the regulation of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It helps modulate the activity of various immune cells, including macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer (NK) cells. These cells are essential for the body’s first line of defense against pathogens.


Selenium is a key component of selenoproteins, which are critical for immune function. These proteins include glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases, which protect immune cells from oxidative stress and support their function. Selenoproteins also play a role in the production of cytokines, which are signaling molecules that help coordinate the immune response.

Impact on Viral Infections

Research has shown that adequate selenium levels can enhance the immune response to viral infections. Selenium deficiency has been associated with increased virulence of certain viruses and a higher susceptibility to infections. For instance, selenium deficiency has been linked to more severe forms of influenza and HIV.

Selenium Deficiency

Selenium deficiency can lead to impaired immune function and increased susceptibility to infections. Deficiency can result in a decrease in the activity and proliferation of T-cells and other immune cells, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. It can also lead to an increase in inflammatory responses, which can be harmful to overall health.

Sources of Selenium

To ensure adequate selenium intake, it’s important to include selenium-rich foods in your diet. Some good dietary sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts: One of the richest sources of selenium.
  • Seafood: Such as tuna, halibut, and sardines.
  • Meats: Including beef, turkey, and chicken.
  • Eggs: Provide a moderate amount of selenium.
  • Grains: Whole grains and cereals can be good sources, especially when grown in selenium-rich soil.
  • Dairy products: Such as milk and yogurt.


Selenium is a vital nutrient for maintaining a healthy immune system. Its antioxidant properties, role in regulating immune responses, and involvement in the production of crucial selenoproteins make it indispensable for immune health. Ensuring adequate selenium intake through a balanced diet can help support and enhance immune function, reducing the risk of infections and improving overall health.

Zinc and Immune System Function

Zinc is an important mineral in the body, required for over 100 enzymatic reactions. Zinc plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, cell division, and normal growth and development. The highest levels of zinc are found in the prostate, and zinc is important for maintaining healthy prostate cells and normal serum testosterone. Zinc deficiencies have been noted in women who suffer from PMS. Since our bodies cannot store zinc, we must get it from the foods we eat everyday. The main sources of zinc are from animal products as the bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is low. Zinc is water-soluble, so canning or cooking a food in water depletes its zinc levels. Dietary sources of zinc include but are not limited to:

Sources of Zinc

  • Lamb
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Scallops
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Oats
  • Yogurt
  • Turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Green peas

Zinc Fact Sheet: The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

“Zinc is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, cell division, and normal growth and development. A daily intake of zinc is required as the body does not store zinc. The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is low, and phytates from beans and grains bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Those with sickle cell disease and excess alcohol intake also have low zinc levels. The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-lymphocytes. In one study, supplementation with antioxidants plus zinc significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration.”

Zinc Cellular Nutrition

“Zinc is required for normal growth and development, reproductive development and function, and to support the immune system. Zinc is water-soluble and canning or cooking in water can deplete the amounts of zinc in food. Zinc is necessary to maintain normal serum testosterone. Zinc is associated with its paired mineral Potassium.”5

Zinc and Prostate Health

“The normal human prostate accumulates the highest level of zinc of any soft tissue in the body. Several studies have implicated impaired zinc status in the development and progression of prostate malignancy. Adequate zinc levels are essential for maintaining healthy prostate cells, but zinc supplementation may not prevent already cancerous prostate cells from growing.” 

Zinc and copper levels in premenstrual syndrome

Data suggest that zinc deficiency occurs in PMS patients during the luteal phase, and the availability of zinc in PMS patients during the luteal phase is further reduced by the elevated copper.


Colostrum is a milky fluid that is produced by mammals, including humans, during the first few days after giving birth. It is often referred to as “first milk” or “pre-milk,” and it is rich in immune-boosting substances, including antibodies, growth factors, and cytokines.

Colostrum has been shown to have several benefits for immune health. It contains high levels of immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that help protect against infection. These immunoglobulins can help boost the immune system and protect against illness.

In addition to immunoglobulins, colostrum contains other immune-boosting compounds, including lactoferrin, which has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, and cytokines, which help regulate the immune response.

Research has also suggested that colostrum may help improve gut health, which is closely linked to immune health. Colostrum contains growth factors that can help promote the growth and repair of the intestinal lining, as well as prebiotics, which can help nourish beneficial gut bacteria.

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of colostrum for immune health, current evidence suggests that it may be a valuable addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle for those looking to support their immune system.


Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric, a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine and traditional medicine. Curcumin has been studied extensively for its potential health benefits, including its ability to support immune system function.

Studies have shown that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can weaken the immune system, making it less effective at fighting off infections and diseases. By reducing inflammation, curcumin may help to support immune system function and improve overall health.6

Curcumin has also been shown to have antioxidant properties, which can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can damage immune cells, making them less effective at fighting off infections. By protecting immune cells from damage, curcumin may help to support immune system function and improve overall health.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, curcumin has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties. It may help to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can weaken the immune system and cause illness.

While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of curcumin on immune system function, current evidence suggests that it may be a useful dietary supplement for those looking to support their immune system. However, it is important to note that curcumin supplements are not appropriate for everyone and may interact with certain medications, so it is always best to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.

Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen

Stabilized oxygen is oxygen in molecular form. It is used as a non-toxic water purifier. The main constituent of stabilized oxygen is sodium chlorite, which breaks down into chlorine dioxide when it comes in contact with an acid that triggers the reaction. Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing biocide that is effective against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.7

Stabilized Oxygen actually puts oxygen into the blood without the process of breathing. It cannot over-oxidize the cells because the iron atoms on the red blood cells can only release the amount of oxygen that the cells can use. When taken orally, Stabilized Oxygen is nontoxic. Stabilized oxygen works simply by releasing chlorite ions, trace amounts of sodium and chlorine dioxide, plus substantial amounts of molecular oxygen. The reaction is triggered when the stabilized oxygen comes into contact with the strong acids found in the stomach and becomes highly unstable, breaking down immediately. Chlorite, a major constituent of Stabilized Oxygen, and one of its reaction products (Chlorine dioxide) are extremely effective viricides, bactericides, and fungicides. Stabilized Oxygen is a high concentration of oxygen. That is oxygen in molecular form. It can be added to contaminated water (20 to 30 drops per liter) and left to stand for 24 hours to completely neutralize any potentially harmful water-borne pathogens that may be present.8

This article is copyright ©2019 Essense of Life, LLC. All rights reserved. Do not copy without permission.

This information is not medical advice and is certainly not intended to replace the advice or attention of your personal physician or other healthcare professional. Therefore, consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or starting a supplement program.

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