Vitamins and minerals can help improve your immunity

The immune system of an individual does a remarkable job to defend our body against microorganisms that infect or attack our bodies and cause diseases or infections.
Dr Joseph Kamugisha

The immune system of an individual does a remarkable job to defend our body against microorganisms that infect or attack our bodies and cause diseases or infections.

Germs and viruses invade our bodies and make us sick. We therefore need lifestyle changes to adopt and produce an improved immune system to fight increasing health hazards like Ebola among others.

Many people can have the idea on how they can feed or adjust their lifestyle to boost immunity but the ability to do so has proved elusive for various reasons. For the immune system to function well, you need balance and harmony in lifestyle.

Body immunity is important for some one to overcome illness and infections. The stronger the immunity of an individual, the stronger is the resistance to some infections. Therefore, people need to feed well in order to improve on their immunity.

There are a number of vitamins, minerals, plant components and herbs that are beneficial to the immune system. Knowing the specific foods that boost the immune system can be complicated, because certain vitamins work best when taken with other vitamins.

For instance, vitamin C probably the most commonly recommended vitamin for infection resistance works best when taken with calcium and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral component helps the cells absorb Vitamin C and other nutrients more efficiently.

Magnesium plays the same role and is also essential for proper function of the muscles and nerves. Therefore an effective diet to boost the immune system must include foods that contain Vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, or a combination of foods that contain all these important nutrients.

Important to notice also is that calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for the proper absorption of Vitamin C work best when taken with iron, manganese, and Vitamin D. The body cannot absorb calcium, if Vitamin D is not present and this is why milk is sometimes fortified with Vitamin D.

In addition, lack of Vitamin A in the diet can lead to frequent infections and Vitamin A works best when taken with zinc, calcium, B-complex, and vitamins C, D and E.

Some people use multi-vitamins to improve on the immunity but not all multi-vitamins are the same. Some do not contain calcium or iron. Some are properly balanced for men, but not for women.

Even if one takes a good daily multi-vitamin, it is still important to eat a healthy diet and there are some interesting foods that boost the immune system. Edible mushrooms for example are a valuable source of biologically active compounds called beta glucans and could benefit a diet to boost the immune system.

Beta glucans stimulate the immune system that can provide resistance to viral infections such as colds, influenza and the human immune virus through inhibition of viral replication. Beta glucans can be found in plant foods such as oats and yeast.

Some rare plants such as Crabmeat, lobster, oysters, salmon and tuna are all foods that boost the immune system. Most of these plants can be found on Asian and western soils. They contain good sources of calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and vitamins A, C, D, E and B complex.

Salmon plant is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids believed to be beneficial in preventing heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 supplementation can improve overall mental function and reduce symptoms of depression.

There are foods that can boost the immune system because of the vitamins and minerals they contain, but balanced diet is preferred.

The best protection is obtained by eating the right foods in the right combination whenever possible, supplementing with a daily multi-vitamin and possibly a natural immune system enhancer during cold and flu season or whenever you feel you are at risk for infection.

Dr Joseph Kamugisha is a resident oncologist at Jerusalem Hospital, Israel