Six essential vitamins and minerals for a strong and healthy immune system

With many people concerned about COVID-19, a common question that keeps drawing attention is “are there ways to help prevent getting sick?”

The short answer is yes, and looking after your health and hygiene plays a huge factor in prevention.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, practising basic hygiene is essential. Washing hands, using hand sanitiser and minimise contact with others, especially if they are feeling unwell.

Your immune system and general health are just as important. The best way to boost your immune system essentially is through diet and ensuing you’re consuming the correct foods.

1. Vitamin C

Most people will know how important vitamin C is for a healthy immune system. In addition to helping to keep away coughs and colds, vitamin C also keeps your skin, bones and connective tissue strong and healthy, helps to heal wounds and prevent infection and is crucial for assisting your body to absorb iron from your blood.

Where can you find vitamin C? Vitamin C isn’t only found in oranges and citrus fruits, it is also found in berries, blackcurrants, sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicum.

2. Vitamin A

Vitamin A has an antioxidant effect on your body, which will help to strengthen your immune system so your body can help fight infection. The most effective and safest way to consume vitamin A is through carotenoid-containing fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, papayas, watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes.

3. Vitamin E

In addition to helping improve sperm production, Vitamin E is also a very effective antioxidant, helping your body fight off infections by boosting your immune system. Foods high in vitamin E include nuts such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, spinach and broccoli, and plant based oils such as sunflower oil.

4. Vitamin D

Fertility First has recognised the importance of sufficient vitamin D levels not only in our female patients, but also our male patients for over 10 years and routinely test our patients’ vitamin D levels as part of our preliminary assessment and treatment programs. Vitamin D can help to modulate immune responses and is produced by the body in response to sunlight. Recently, scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that Vitamin D may also influence T-Cells, the key cells involved with the immune system.

In addition to sunshine, vitamin D can be found in foods such as fatty fish like salmon and sardines, fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals, eggs, and mushrooms.

5. Iron

The role of Iron is essential in providing the body with a strong immune system. Iron is important for cell proliferation, maturation and imperative for the function of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are responsible for specific responses to infection. It is especially important for women, particularly if they are pregnant or trying to conceive. Foods rich in iron include read meat such as beef, lamb and kangaroo, liver, canned salmon, tofu, nuts such as cashews and almonds, quinoa, kale, broccoli, spinach and green beans.

6. Zinc

Zinc is essential for sexual health, has been known to increase testosterone levels and improve sperm motility in many cases. It also helps to metabolise nutrients and maintains a healthy immune system by growing and repairing body tissues. As your body doesn’t store zinc, it is important to eat enough every day to ensure you are able to maintain daily requirements and keep your immune system healthy. Foods rich in zinc include meat such as beef, lamb and port, shellfish such as oysters, lentils, chickpeas and beans, nuts and seeds, eggs and dairy, and vegetables such as green beans, kale, potatoes. As an added bonus, a reasonable amount of zinc has been found in dark chocolate!

It is crucial to note that like all medications and supplements, they can have benefits and can also be dangerous to exceed the daily recommended dose. We encourage our patients to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle when looking at undergoing fertility treatment during this time and strongly suggest that when in doubt, check with your fertility specialist and be guided by The Australian Government Department of Health.