No one likes getting sick. And for parents, catching a cold could mean spreading the virus to the kids! For you and your family, taking care of your health is a must. In addition to adequate exercise and sleep, vitamins and minerals can keep your far from illness and in tip-top shape. “You should ideally try to meet your vitamin and mineral needs through your diet rather than supplements,” says Dr. Howard D. Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. According to Harvard, there are five micronutrients that play vital roles in maintaining immune function. The best food to provide them include:
1. Red meat and seafood, especially oysters
What do these foods have in common aside from protein? Zinc. “The body’s immune system needs zinc to do its job,” says the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Older people and children in developing countries who have low levels of zinc might have a higher risk of getting pneumonia and other infections.” If you’re sick already, studies have shown that zinc helps reduce symptoms of diarrhea and the common cold, according to the NIH. Why? Because zinc helps the immune system fight off infection. Zinc is also essential for pregnant women, infants and children as it's vital to development. Zinc deficiency causes slow growth in kids and delayed sexual development for adolescents.
2. Citrus fruits like orange, suha (pomelo) and calamansi
Yup, you guessed it right. Citrus fruits boost the immune system because they contain high amounts of vitamin C. According to Healthline, vitamin C tops the charts for the best vitamin to keep your immune system at its optimal condition. Vitamin C helps in the production of white blood cells—the body’s first and primary defense against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The body doesn’t make or store vitamin C, however, so getting it from your daily diet is essential, says the NIH.
3. Chicken, cereal and bananas
All the foods listed above have a nutrient in common: vitamin B6. There are eight types of B vitamins, all of which help convert food into different sources of energy for the body, according to University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Vitamin B6, in particular, is vital in the formation of healthy red blood cells. It's also essential for normal brain development and function as it helps in transmitting nerve cells signals. “It is rare to have a significant deficiency of B6, although studies indicate many people may be mildly deficient, especially children and the elderly,” says UMMC.
4. Green leafy vegetables, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds and oil
Listed above are the foods that are known to be rich in vitamin E. Sunflower seeds, especially, are so high in vitamin E that just a 1/4 cup serving accounts for 82 percent of your vitamin E daily needs. You may have heard of vitamin E from commercials about skin care products, but more than keeping skin youthful, vitamin E is an antioxidant. It protects cells from damage and plays an important role in immune system functions. Vitamin E deficiency is rare but often occurs in low-weight premature infants, says WebMD. Pregnant women are advised to ensure they meet their vitamin E daily intake as it helps prevent complications in late pregnancy due to preeclampsia.
5. Whole wheat, almonds and soymilk
Here’s another reason to switch from white bread to wheat bread: magnesium. The body uses magnesium in a lot of ways including blood pressure regulation, muscle and nerve function, and energy production, according to the NIH. It also keeps bones strong and the heart rhythm steady. Adults who don’t get enough magnesium are more likely to suffer from inflammation which is associated with heart disease, diabetes and cancer. So one way to ensure you stay healthy in the long-term is to get enough magnesium today.