5 vitamins that will give your immune system a boost

Vitamins

A good immune system. Who would not want that? With a good immune system, your body is better able to fight “invaders”, such as pathogenic bacteria and viruses. One of the conditions for a strong immune system is the intake of sufficient vitamins. If you have a healthy lifestyle and always eat according to the five-point diet, then you don’t have to worry about a vitamin deficiency. But unfortunately, about 90 percent of the people do not eat according to these guidelines.   

A vitamin deficiency can have negative consequences for health. Especially on the immune system. A solution for this is to take supplements to make up for this vitamin deficiency. In principle, all vitamins contribute to a healthy immune system, but some do more than others. We have listed five vitamins for you that will give your immune system a boost.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known to give your immune system a real boost. This vitamin stimulates the production of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells kill and clean up the germs that have entered the body. In addition, these cells also produce antibodies against pathogens. Although vitamin C cannot prevent colds, it can shorten the duration of a cold and reduce complaints.

In addition to the fact that Vitamin C improves the immune system, taking this vitamin also brings a lot of other benefits. This vitamin reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, eye disorders and even skin wrinkles. A side note here is that 500 milligrams of vitamin C must be taken daily to achieve these health benefits. This number is well above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 70-95 milligrams for adults. So unless you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, you could choose to take vitamin C supplements to get all of the benefits that are listed above.

Vitamin C can be found in many different fruits and vegetables. The following foods are especially packed with vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and orange juice
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Black berries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes

As mentioned before, the RDA for vitamin C for adults is 75 milligrams per day. This number is much lower for children:

Age  Recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C in milligrams 
6 – 11 months  20 
1 –2 years  25 
2 –5 years  30 
6 – 9 years  40 
9 – 13 years  50 

Source: Gezondheidsraad 2014 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D also plays an important role in our immune system. This vitamin ensures that our immune system remains in balance. Vitamin D activates T cells in our body. These T cells are also called “killer cells”. These cells detect and destroy “invaders” such as viruses and unwanted bacteria. The vitamin, therefore, plays a major role in balancing our resistance.

In addition to a balanced immune system, this vitamin D also ensures strong bones and teeth, and the maintenance of good muscle function.

Vitamin D is naturally found in products of animal origin, such as:

  • Fatty fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver – such as beef liver, lamb liver or liver sausage
  • Egg yolks
  • Margarine

Vitamin D is a very special vitamin because our body can produce this vitamin itself. This vitamin is one of the few vitamins that our body can produce itself. This happens under the influence of sunlight on the skin. In the summer, the chance of a vitamin D deficiency is therefore fairly small, if you go outside frequently. However, in the autumn and winter the sun shines less, which means that our body produces less vitamin D. So it’s important to pay a little extra attention to your vitamin D levels at this time of year by eating vitamin D-rich foods or taking supplements.

For adults and children, the recommended daily allowance of 10 micrograms of vitamin D. Only people over 70 should consume 20 micrograms per day.

Vitamin A

In addition to vitamins C and D, vitamin A, sometimes referred to as Retinol, also plays a major role in maintaining the body’s natural defenses. Vitamin A is involved in the production of white blood cells, which in turn play a role in trapping and removing “invaders” such as bad bacteria and viruses. A deficiency in this vitamin increases the risk of infections and can delay recovery when you are ill.

In addition to the fact that vitamin A plays a role in improving your resistance, this vitamin also contributes to healthy skin, hair and nails and even the proper functioning of your eyes.

Vitamin A is naturally processed in animal products, such as:

  • Liver such as beef liver, lamb liver or liver sausage
  • Fatty fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
  • Cheese – such as goat cheese, cheddar or blue cheese
  • Butter

To stay healthy, the daily recommendation of vitamin A is 800 micrograms for an adult man and 680 micrograms for an adult woman. These numbers are somewhat lower for children:

Age  Recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A in micrograms 
6 – 11 months  300 
1 –2 years  300 
2 –5 years   350 
6 – 9 years  400 
9 – 13 years  600 

Source: Gezondheidsraad 2014 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 ensures a strong immune system. By producing white blood cells and T cells that help fight off invaders such as viruses. This keeps the immune system strong. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can cause a lack of the amount of antibodies needed to prevent infections.

In addition to the fact that Vitamin B6 is good for the immune system, the vitamin also improves circulation, a better mood and a even a lower risk of cancer.

Foods high in vitamin B6:

  • Salmon
  • Lean chicken fillet
  • Tofu
  • (Sweet) potatoes
  • Bananas

The RDA for vitamin B6 for adults is 1.5 milligrams per day. This is the amount you need to stay healthy. Vitamin B6 can also be taken in the form of supplements, but be careful not to take too much of this. An excessively high level of vitamin B6 in your body can be harmful to health. The upper limit is 25 milligrams per day. For children, the RDA is slightly different than for adults:

Age  Recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin B6 in milligrams 
6 – 11 months  0,2 
1 –3 years  0,4 
4 – 8 years  0,7 
9 – 13 years  1,1 

Source: Gezondheidsraad 2014 

Vitamin B12

The last vitamin from this list is vitamin B12. This vitamin also contributes to the production of white blood cells in your body, and thus to the strength of your immune system. Besides the fact that this vitamin also boosts your resistance, vitamin B12 has even more health benefits. Thus, the vitamin can improve your mood and give you more energy.

Vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin, such as:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Liver – such as beef liver, lamb liver or liver sausage

The recommended amount of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.8 micrograms per day. Especially for people who are vegan, and therefore do not eat products of animal origin, it is important to take vitamin B12 supplements, so that a shortage of this vitamin can be prevented. Children need slightly less vitamin B12 to stay healthy:

Age  Recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin B12 in micrograms 
0 – 6 months  0,4 
6 – 11 months  0,5 
1 – 3 years  0,7 
4 – 8 years  1,3 
9 – 13 years  2,0 

Source: Gezondheidsraad 2014  

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