vitamins immune systemIt’s winter and that means it’s winter cold and flu season. At the grocery store, the mall, in the office – everywhere - people are coughing, sneezing, and sniffling.

But you don’t have to be as concerned about it if you’re giving your immune system the vitamins it needs to function at peak efficiency!

Take a look at these important immune system vitamins, and work them into your daily diet and supplement routine for the healthiest cold and flu season yet!

Beta Carotene – A powerful antioxidant, beta carotene works to boost your immune system and counter the oxidative stress caused by exposure to free radicals that’s wearing down your system. Find it this season in pumpkin, squash, and sweet potato. It’s year-round in tomatoes, kale, and spinach.

Folate/folic acid – Folate and folic acid are the same thing, one of the B vitamins. But folate is the natural form and folic acid is the synthetic form. Luckily, both immune system vitamins work equally to keep you well. They’re essential for the production and maintenance of cells. Without them, your body can’t repair and rejuvenate – or heal from illness. You’ll find plenty of folate in beans and peas.

Iron – Not really a vitamin, but iron is an immune system booster worthy of mention. It helps get oxygen to cells throughout your body – keeping them, and you, healthy. Look for iron in beans, broccoli, lean red meat, and chicken.

Selenium – Low levels of selenium appear to be linked to many forms of cancer, whereas healthy levels of selenium seem to have a powerful, positive impact on immunity. Find it in sardines, tuna, and Brazil nuts.

Vitamin A – One of the least controversial immune system vitamins, vitamin A has long been recognized as essential to a healthy immune response. Without enough vitamin A, your immune system is weaker and you’re more susceptible to infection. Look for colorful foods, like sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash.

Vitamin B2 – Early studies in mice indicate that vitamin B2, or riboflavin, can help stave off bacterial infections. Load up on lamb, milk, mushrooms, and spinach.

Vitamin B6 – Not having enough vitamin B6 can slow your immune system, keeping you sick and unable to fight off the latest bug. Maintain your B6 levels with bananas, baked potatoes, and chick peas.

Vitamin C – Another good old standby vitamin when it comes to the immune system is vitamin C. It works alone and possibly in conjunction with other nutrients, as well, to help boost your responses. You probably know to eat citrus fruit, but you can get vitamin C from leafy greens, green peppers, and strawberries, too!

Vitamin D – The so-called “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D isn’t just for bone strength any longer - it's one of our favorite immune system vitamins. Vitamin D deficiencies have been officially linked to immune disorders and may contribute to catching colds and flus. However, many people struggle to absorb vitamin D from food, so talk to your doctor about supplements or get outside for a few minutes every day.

Vitamin E – As with all other antioxidants, vitamin E helps fight off the germs that cause cold and flu. Be sure to get enough with a regular supply of nuts, spinach, and broccoli.

Zinc – A trace element, zinc is still an important to your immune system as many vitamins. Zinc helps immune cells function properly and efficiently. It also may help control the body’s inflammatory response. Just know that too much zinc can have the opposite effect, and hamper your immune system. Eat smart amounts of oysters, lean meats, and chick peas for proper levels of zinc.

So go ahead! Brave the cold – and the flu. With a diet full of immune system vitamins, you can sail through the season in good health.