Most Helpful Vitamins for Your Immune System

You may not see it with the naked eye, but harmful bacteria are all around us. To keep your body free of any disease, your immune system must work to distinguish between healthy tissue and pathogens, acting as your defence program. If it gets damaged, you become more vulnerable to all sorts of viruses. For this reason, you must take care of it. Here are five of the most helpful vitamins for your immune system.



It’s widely known that vitamin A plays an important role in the protection and function of the immune system. A manuscript published in Nature Reviews Immunology reiterated the significance of vitamin A, and its effects on the gut mucosa. This allows your gut to differentiate between friendly and harmful tissues.

While a large chunk of the population has become dependent on supplements, a good rule of thumb is to only take them when prescribed by a doctor to correct deficiencies. After all, ingesting excessive amounts of vitamin A can lead to hypervitaminosis A, which can be lethal in severe cases.

You can easily find vitamin A in many foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, organ meats and even eggs. For men over 40 years old, the recommended dietary intake is 900 mcg per day.


As one of the B vitamins, vitamin B6 best performs its functions in conjunction with its fellow nutrients under the B umbrella. However, that isn’t to say that vitamin B6 is entirely useless on its own. In fact, vitamin B6 produces antibodies that fight against viruses. It’s also an essential booster that aids immune markers like T lymphocytes and neutrophils.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that vitamin B6 supplementation increased the immune response in critically ill patients. The single-blind intervention study was conducted on 51 subjects at the Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. The subjects hadn’t received any vitamin supplementation prior to the study.

The recommended dietary intake for males aged 40 to 50 years old is 1.3mg per day. The intake increases for men over 50 years old, with the recommendation sitting at 1.7mg per day. Good sources of vitamin B6 include salmon, tuna and other fatty fish, as well as chicken, leafy green vegetables and whole grains.


Vitamin B12, otherwise known as cobalamin, also makes the list of helpful vitamins for your immune system. This crucial nutrient improves your body’s defence mechanism by keeping your white blood cell count normal. A deficiency in vitamin B12 depletes your white blood cells, which can make you more prone to infections and disease.

Only animal products like meats, shellfish and dairy products consist of this crucial vitamin. While that may not be a problem for most people, vegans are more susceptible to a vitamin B12 deficiency due to this fact. For this reason, they may consider turning to supplements for their daily dose.

However, getting your vitamins from natural sources like food is still the best option. This is because a lot of supplements contain synthetic ingredients. For men over 40, a dietary intake of 2.4 mcg per day is recommended.

Your immune system definitely plays a vital role in your general health, so you mustn’t overlook it. You must take proper care of it by maintaining a balanced diet that is packed with all your nutritional needs. After all, you’re not getting any younger.


You may have heard that vitamin C can cure or prevent the common cold, but that notion hasn’t actually been proved. However, a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews does present some evidence that vitamin C can reduce the length of colds.

Despite this, there’s no doubt that vitamin C is also good for your immune system. It consists of powerful antioxidants and anti-stress properties, which are both beneficial for your overall health. Apart from that, this essential nutrient also assists the cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

While humans are unable to produce vitamin C on their own, plenty of foods are rich in the nutrient. Citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers and broccoli are only a few examples that come to mind. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the recommended dietary intake for men over 40 is 45mg per day.


It’s no secret that vitamin D is necessary for many bodily functions. As one of the most helpful vitamins for your immune system, this sunshine nutrient has been associated with reducing the risk of tuberculosis, as well as other respiratory diseases.

An analysis published in The British Medical Journal concluded that vitamin D ‘protected against acute respiratory tract infection’. However, it must be noted that the patients who improved the most were those who were deficient in vitamin D.

Unfortunately, the human body can only produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Thus, it becomes harder to get your dose of the nutrient during seasons when sunlight is in short supply. However, there are some good dietary sources of vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna and other fatty fish. Cod liver oil is a popular supplement that is rich in both vitamin D and A.


Apart from promoting healthy skin, vitamin E also plays a vital part in the maintenance of strong immunity. It consists of powerful antioxidant properties that help fight against infections.

A Japanese review published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition links vitamin E deficiency to an increased risk of infectious diseases. And, according to Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field, the essential nutrient is also required for the normal functioning of the immune system.

For men over 40 years of age, the adequate intake for vitamin E is currently set at 10mg per day. Good sources of this nutrient include various oils, spinach, seeds, nuts and avocados.

These vitamins exist in many dietary sources, so it is going to be hard to get all of them through a balanced diet. While supplementation has become widespread, getting your nutritional needs from food is still the best way to go about it. Supplements are only just that; supplements.


Anthony Hill

When you put together the sum total of my 30 years of bodybuilding training, the contests, the vast array of diets I have experimented (tortured) myself with as well as the experiences I have been through with various training partners in the gyms I have trained in all over the world, it’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do lots of personal training for private clients alongside my day job. For a few years during my 30’s, I moved to Asia and worked as the Fitness Manager and head personal trainer at one of Thailand’s leading gyms in Bangkok. Learn More

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