Antioxidants are a highly popular topic when it comes to health and beauty and with good reason. These food and skin care ingredients really do help in a large variety of ways from protecting your immune health to helping you look younger. There are several ways to use antioxidants in order to boost your immunity. The most common way for people to get antioxidants to improve immune functioning is through their diet. A healthy, well-balanced diet often provides all the antioxidants you need for proper immune functioning. However, there are supplements designed to pack an extra punch with antioxidants. Following, we’ve compiled a brief list of the most recognized antioxidants to look for when it comes to boosting your immunity.
Vitamin C as an antioxidant fights free radicals that attack your body daily. According to a paper published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, vitamin C deficiencies lead to reduced resistance against pathogens, while an increase in supply can enhance certain immune system parameters. The paper further states “With regard to the common cold different studies including meta-analyses underline that the prophylactic intake of vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of the illness in healthy persons…”
Foods that are high in vitamin C include many citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges and kiwis. Other foods rich in the antioxidant vitamin C include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Red, yellow or green peppers
Another important antioxidant to help boost your immune system is vitamin E. Vitamin E is essential to immune functioning because it signals the germ/bacteria/virus killer cells to target foreign or harmful substances and destroy these cells. Additionally, vitamin E stimulates the production of B cells which create antibodies to fight diseases. Foods that are high in vitamin E include:
- Leafy greens such as chard and spinach
- Red peppers
- Sunflower seeds
Selenium is an important antioxidant that increases natural killer cells and that enhances the results of vitamin E in the body. In addition, selenium is a powerful antioxidant in the fight against cancer because it mobilizes cancer-fighting cells and reduces damage due to chemical carcinogens and radiation. Selenium also boosts your immune response to infections and helps your body form blood clots. To get more selenium in your diet consider these foods:
- Whole grains
Carotenoids are also an important immune-boosting antioxidant. When your body requires vitamin A it converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, but otherwise allows carotenoids to be free to fight free radicals. Beta-carotene is important to your immune system because it interferes with the oxidation of fat and cholesterol in your blood stream. When you want to increase your intake of beta-carotene, look for brightly colored foods such as:
- Sweet potatoes
Varying your diet helps provide your body with the nutrients it needs and including antioxidants helps to boost your immune system. Before beginning any new diet or taking supplements, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor first.