Maintaining a Healthy Immune System – Top 3 Questions Answered

immune system vitamins

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.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of questions about immune system health, and we love it! Here are the top 3 most asked questions. Let’s dive in!

1. What mineral is important for a healthy immune system?

Minerals are nutrients, just like vitamins. Most people don’t think about them differently, but technically they are. Vitamins are in plants and animals, while minerals are from soil and water. Both are necessary for a healthy immune system. In fact, there are 30 daily nutrients – vitamins and minerals – that are essential for life. We’ve highlighted the minerals that are specifically involved in immune system health. But, don’t discount the others. Every system in your body works together. If one is off for a period of time, the others will follow.
But first, let’s break minerals down into two parts; major minerals and trace minerals.

Major Minerals

Major minerals help maintain appropriate levels of water balance in your body. A healthy immune system needs water in order to work properly. Normal water flow helps to quickly deliver immune cells to targets, flushes away bacteria and viruses and distributes nutrients to other areas in the body to keep each step in the immune process on track.

Calcium • Chloride • Magnesium • Phosphorus • Potassium • Sodium • Sulfur

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals in your body are just that – trace. If you combined all of the trace minerals in your body, you wouldn’t fill a thimble. You really don’t need much to have a healthy immune system or whole body health. But trace minerals are as essential to your health as any other nutrient.

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?

This might be the most googled question of the year? If not, it’s probably the one that most people ask amongst themselves and their friends.
As we mentioned above, you need the daily 30+ every day. But, just like the 4 immune boosting minerals listed above, research has shown that some vitamins have a direct effect on the immune system. While others play a supportive role.  It’s important to understand that immune function involves every system in the body. So, while there may be a few vitamins that reduce your likelihood of infection, all of them are necessary to fight disease.
We think of vitamins broadly in two categories; fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Vitamin K

Water Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins B • Vitamin C

Fat soluble minerals are stored in your body, so it’s important to stick to the RDA. Water soluble vitamins that are not used in your body are excreted in your urine. It is possible to have vitamin toxicity, even with water soluble vitamins, when taking high doses.

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.

3. Do prenatals boost the immune system?

This might be my favorite one to answer. Possibly because I love helping pregnant women. But also, because I have seen so many people buy prenatals this year that are not pregnant. Even those who need eye vitamins! What?
When it comes to a healthy immune system, prenatals do play a role for pregnant women. But recently, they are popping up on many a doorstep! There are a couple of reasons why and all of them are related to issues stemming from the pandemic.
Covid19 has sure changed a lot about our daily lives. But, one of the more interesting ones was this. Because of the vitamin shortage that swept through our nation and our world, many people could not get the vitamins they needed. So, when the vitamin they needed was out, they turned to the one supplement that has just about every nutrient on the ingredient list; prenatals.
Some people also thought that if I just take more of a particular vitamin, then I will have an even better immune response. Which vitamin has more? Again, prenatals. There is just one flaw in this line of thinking. When it comes to a healthy immune system, more is not always better.
Research has shown that too much can do harm. Unless you are in a state of growth, like pregnancy, then it’s really not a good idea to use prenatals to boost your immune system.  That being said, short term use if you really cannot find anything else, may not cause harm. It tends to be prolonged use in high doses that seems to be an issue.
Keep sending us your questions. We love them! Really, ask us anything! And just like Zappos, we’re even excited about helping you find the best pizza near you – one with lots of vegetables, or course!
If you are looking to customize your vitamin intake, even for immunity, let us know. We’re happy to help out. Drop us a line at or take our customized vitamin quiz. And we wouldn’t mind at all if you give us a follow @vitaminandme
Cheers! Here’s to the next Q&A!

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