It’s inevitable that a long winter can leave you feeling a bit run down. As we still have a few more cold weeks ahead of us, I thought I would share with you the immune boosting vitamins that have helped me out this winter and how to pack them into our diets.
Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin, as our bodies can synthesise it when we are exposed to sunlight. However, as most of us haven’t seen the sun for a while now, it is essential that we find the next best thing, a tasty replacement. It has been estimated that almost 50% of adults in the UK are vitamin D deficient, this can lead to a weakened immune system and more serious issues such as osteoporosis and in extreme cases, rickets.
So where can we find this precious vitamin during the long winter months? The richest source is oily fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel and you can also get a little hit of vitamin D from butter and eggs. So think, a vitamin D rich brunch of eggs royale – yum.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The media consistently preaches that a diet rich in Omega 3 is more beneficial for us without really explaining why. Let me break it down: as part of our immune system (or lymph system) we have cells called lymphocytes that fight off all the nasty germs and keep us feeling our best. Omega 3 directly increases the number of one of these types of lymphocytes called T-cells, giving us a fighting chance to avoid the sniffles.
So how do we get lovely flu fighting Omega 3 into our diets? Seafood such as anchovies and sardines, seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds and oils such as hemp seed oil and canola oil – all of which can be chucked into a delicious salad. Easy.
Zinc is vital for a strong immune system! Our white blood cells use zinc to code genes that control the way the white blood cells (immune cells) interact with pathogens (nasties). Essentially this means that zinc makes our bodies more effective at fighting foreign invaders. The best sources of Zinc are shellfish, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
Good old vitamin C – not only does it support our immune system, but it is also great for our skin! It plays a vital role in making collagen which keeps our skin looking young and fresh.
The best sources of vitamin C are colourful fruit and veg such as red peppers, raw green, citrus fruits and goji berries.
Although the end of winter is in sight, a strong immune system will also help lessen the effects of hay fever when spring arrives.
What are your favourite immune boosting foods?
– Elsie Rutterford & Dominika Minarovic