Maintaining a Healthy Immune System – Top 3 Questions Answered
Your immune system is dynamic. When it recognizes something that isn’t supposed to be there, it kicks into gear – normally. But, unless it is primed and ready to go, it might not respond the way it should. There are things you can do to prepare your body and maintain a healthy immune system.
1. What mineral is important for a healthy immune system?
Calcium • Chloride • Magnesium • Phosphorus • Potassium • Sodium • Sulfur
Chromium • Copper • Fluoride • Iodine • Iron • Manganese • Molybdenum • Selenium • Zinc
Now that you’ve read an overview of all minerals that are important for you on the daily, let’s move to immune minerals. There are a few minerals that seem to be directly important for a healthy immune system based on current research.
Minerals for a Healthy Immune System
Zinc is a mineral that works to positively impact the immune system. Think of it as the mineral necessary to open the gate that starts a healthy immune system response. There is substantial research to support that zinc deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility to infectious disease.
We often talk about oxidative stress as it relates to vitamin E deficiency, but Selenium is also involved in reducing oxidative stress. Increased oxidative stress reduces cell function within an otherwise healthy immune system. Selenium deficiency is associated with a lower resistance to infection from viruses and bacteria.
Iron balance is a tricky one. It is necessary to control infections and plays a role in innate immune response. But iron can also lend a hand to external microbes. More often than not though, we see iron deficiency, especially in women. Iron helps regulate oxygen in the body and stems appropriate metabolism in immune cells. So, while we need to balance intake, do not discount its role in a healthy immune system.
There is a large body of evidence to support the importance of copper for a healthy immune system. However, the mechanism is unknown. Copper is involved in cell mediated immunity, and in states of deficiency, antibody response is reduced. It is important to understand that copper and zinc act opposite each other when absorbed. If you take in too much zinc, you will not absorb enough copper. If you do not get enough zinc, you will absorb too much copper. The reverse is also true for zinc. Focus on getting the RDA for appropriate balance.
Not having enough of both major and trace minerals can slow your immune system. But, having too much can cause deficiencies in uptake of another, as is the case for zinc and copper. The key take away here is don’t over do it for any one mineral. You need a little, but not in large doses. Keep in mind, if you have health conditions, intake of minerals will need to be monitored by your healthcare team.
2. What vitamins and minerals support the immune system?
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Vitamin K
Water Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins B • Vitamin C
Vitamins for a Healthy Immune System
We’ve done a deep dive on the best vitamins for the immune system. We definitely recommend the read. But here they are again in no particular order:
Vitamin A • Vitamin B (B6 and B12) • Vitamin C • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Vitamin K (K2)
Yep, that’s all of them. If we discover more, we’ll let you know!
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, don’t discount the importance of phytochemicals and antioxidants. While these are not necessarily vitamins, they do play important roles in immune system health. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to consume these important secondary nutrients. However, if you just can’t make it work because of your busy life now and then or you have an underlying condition, supplements are a great way to support your diet.