Essential vitamins to support our immune system

Our nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ has put together some top tips for keeping well, including how to power your immunity through nutrients.

As with any cellular process or system within our body, our immune system also needs nutrients to power it. Theres are lots of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that aid our body’s immune system, to help hinder infection, as well as clear infections and repair damage.

The key vitamins and minerals that are essentials for our immune system are vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and B12, folate, iron, selenium, and zinc.

The great thing is that a number of while foods are rich in these vitamins and minerals. Have a look at our list below to check you’re eating a wide range of these nutrient-rich food.

  • Vitamin A: Orange veggies such as pumpkin, kumara and carrots, red capsicum, as well as egg yolks and dark leafy greens.
  • B vitamins (including folate): whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, meat, dairy, eggs, leafy greens, fruit and vegetables*.
  • Vitamin C: red capsicums, citrus fruits, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.
  • Vitamin D: canned tuna, oily fish, eggs and whole grains.
  • Vitamin E: nuts and seeds, avocado.
  • Zinc: shellfish, nuts and seeds, chickpeas, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and beef.
  • Selenium: brazil nuts, fish, eggs, whole grains and legumes. You can get all the selenium you need in one day from one brazil nut. It is recommended to eat no more than 3 brazil nuts each day.
  • Iron: shellfish and fish, red meat, whole grains, legumes, broccoli, spinach and dried fruit.
  • Macronutrients such as proteins, carbs and fats also play a role in immune function or nutrient absorption, so eating a healthy, balanced diet is important.

*All different B vitamins have differing food sources. Be sure to check out the NZ Nutrition Foundation website for more details.

Information provided is generic and not specific to every person. Nutrient status and immune function differs between individuals. Seek personal medical advice from your health professional, especially if you are aware of underlying medical concerns or if you think you may require supplement advice.

NZ Nutrition Foundation;
Maggini, S., Pierre, A., & Calder, P. C. (2018). Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients, 10(10), 1531.

Meet the Nutritionist

Emma ‘Edamame’

Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?

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