Five Minerals You Need to Boost ImmunityPosted on : December 4, 2023
by Ashleigh Feltham Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist
Five Minerals You Need to Boost Immunity
The immune system works constantly; on guard and ready to fight any bacterium, virus, fungus or abnormal cell that enters the body. Factors that impact your immune system include stress, sleep and diet. Dietary minerals are essential for a variety of vital functions, including immunity. Here are five minerals that support immune system function.
Magnesium influences both the innate and adaptive immune systems. Your innate immune system is the body’s first line of defence against germs and viruses entering your body. The adaptive immune system is the second line of defence. This type of immune system keeps a record of germs that your body has been previously exposed to. This allows your body to respond faster the next time it encounters the same germs.
Magnesium is a cofactor for vitamin D and hence influences how much vitamin D is formed. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the immune system needs to fight infection and ward off autoimmunity. Good sources of magnesium include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Zinc promotes optimal functioning of the innate and adaptive immune systems. It helps to fight off viruses, reducing the risk of a virus causing sickness. Good sources of zinc include seafood, beef, pork, cheese, milk, eggs and nuts.
Copper is important for developing immunity cells and fighting fungus. Good sources of copper include beef liver, oysters, potato, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds, salmon, tofu, turkey, chickpeas and whole grains.
Iron is essential for immune system development and function. Iron ensures the immune system efficiently forms and disperses the cells that kill foreign invaders. Good sources of iron include animal meats, like red meat, and poultry. Also, seafood, eggs, tofu, dried fruit and fortified cereals and beverages.
Selenium is the fifth vital mineral for optimal immune system functioning. Selenium helps regulate inflammation. Research suggests that selenium may play an important role in combating the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A study found those patients who survived the SARS-CoV-2 had higher levels of selenium compared with those who did not survive it. Good sources of selenium include brown rice, oats, sunflower seeds, oats, brazil nuts, mushrooms, meat, tuna, salmon and shellfish.
Take home message
The need to boost immunity is ever-present. The five minerals linked to the immune system are magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc and copper. Eating an overall balanced diet will help you meet your body’s daily mineral needs to support an optimal functioning immune system. If you are not sure if your diet is balanced, see an accredited practising dietitian who can help tailor your diet to meet your individual needs.