8 Nutrients in Food That Boost Winter Immunity

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/martdiv/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/martdiv/

Having a healthy immune system if vital to keeping yourself free from illness year round, and especially key during cold and flu season. The season lasts from October to March, and peak activity normally occurs in January and February. A special report by Harvard Health Publications says that the first step to protecting yourself and strengthening your immune system is adopting a healthy lifestyle. It goes on to list several factors, like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, controlling blood pressure, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

Diet is important — and the report advises one rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but low in saturated fat. Speaking on diet more specifically, it says that although a trend has been noticed between malnutrition, and vulnerability to infectious diseases, causation has not been established. When certain nutrient deficiencies occur in animals, there is also an altered immune response. Some research has been done, but more is needed. The following are the eight nutrients that have the potential to be immune boosters and the foods where you can find them.

1. Selenium

According to the National Institutes of Health, most people in the U.S. are not at risk for selenium deficiency. It is nutritionally essential in a person’s diet, containing more than two dozen selenoproteins, which are important for reproduction, DNA synthesis, thyroid hormone metabolism, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. The recommended intake of selenium is 55 micrograms. The foods that are highest in selenium are organ meats and seafood. Dairy, muscle meats, and cereals also tend to be good sources of the nutrient. Examples include tuna, halibut, brazil nuts, oatmeal, spinach, milk, and baked beans.