Vitamins A, C and E for a Healthy Immune System
Bacteria, viruses, parasites and cancer cells are all invaders that can potentially harm the body, but a vigorous immune system can provide protection. A healthy lifestyle may help boost immunity, and good nutrition plays a major role. Regular intake of essential vitamins helps to shield the body from infection and disease. Vitamins A, C and E are vital to a healthy immune system and these three are specifically known for their anticancer properties.
Vitamin A plays a role in the development of white blood cells which fight harmful bacteria and viruses. This important vitamin may also help lymphocytes (a certain type of white blood cell) more effectively fight infection. Pro-vitamin A carotenoid is the type found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Research shows that certain types of pro-vitamin A carotenoid function as antioxidants in a laboratory setting, but this has not been regularly proven with humans. Antioxidants provide protection from free radicals which can potentially harm cells and contribute to some types of chronic disease. Good sources of vitamin A are sweet potatoes, carrots, dried apricots, cantaloupe and butternut squash.
It has been found that 1000 to 2000 mg per day of vitamin C may reduce histamine levels. Histamine is the chemical produced by the body when it is having an allergic reaction. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant and has been known to stimulate other antioxidants including vitamin E. Studies into the effects of vitamin C on free radicals are ongoing. Of particular interest is whether or not vitamin C can prevent or delay certain cancers, and cardiovascular or other diseases caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin C also strengthens the immune system with improvement in the absorption of nonheme iron – the type found in plant-based foods. Rich sources of Vitamin C are bell peppers, guava, dark-green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and berries.
As mentioned, vitamin E has healthful antioxidant properties which protect cells from free radicals. Free radicals are formed inside the body with the conversion of food into energy and they can also come from the environment through air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet rays. Vitamin E also helps to expand blood vessels, which lowers the potential for clotting. Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower and wheat germ oil, nuts (especially almonds) and seeds.
In addition to the consumption of foods mentioned above, it is always a good idea to take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement in order to ensure good immune system health. Or, find supplements of these specific vitamins mentioned above at your local whole foods store or websites specializing in all-natural supplements.