What Vitamins and Supplements Can Boost the Immune System

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By David Thoreau

Updated on

fact checked

Boosting the immune system is something can be done by three key things; eating healthily, exercising and taking supplements. This article details hat supplements you should be taking to boost immunity.

What Vitamins and Supplements Can Boost the Immune System

What Vitamins and Supplements Can Boost the Immune System

Certain vitamins and supplements can be very beneficial for the immune system.

Presuming you have a well-balanced diet, you should be able to get all the vitamins you need from your food.

If I would be restricted to taking just 2 supplements to boost my immune system they would be vitamin C and zinc!

That same can be said for minerals but there is nothing wrong with covering all the bases.

If you are eating healthily you can still take supplements as well. 

However, some supplements provide plant extracts that you may not be able to incorporate into your diet.

For instance, if you live in China tossing a few ginseng leaves into your salad is an easy affair.

If you live in Europe you are unlikely to have access to fresh ginseng leaves so eating them in a salad is out of the question.

The only way to reap the benefits of this famous life-giving herb is to consume it in supplement form.

So Many Immune System Boosting Supplements on the Market

The abundance of supplements on the market can be overwhelming at times. Even confusing.

So Many Immune System Boosting Supplements on the Market

With so much choice and so many big promises from manufacturers, it can be difficult to know which supplement to choose.

When you are searching for vitamins and supplements that can boost the immune system it can be particularly confusing.

It’s hard to find the right information all in one place.

If that’s the situation you presently find yourself in, the information on this page should help. 

However, before we look at the various vitamins and supplements that can boost the immune system we need to take a look at the bigger picture.

Knowing the value of vitamins and supplements is only half the story. You need to have a health and wellness action plan.

A Strong Immune System Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Fruit and vegetables provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a strong immune system.

It is so easy to get your daily requirement of fruit and vegetables – drink a daily smoothie!

Unfortunately, despite the government recommendation that we eat five pieces of fruit and vegetable per day, many people do not.

If you are thinking that doesn’t matter because you can use supplements instead, you are wrong.

Smoothies for training
Smoothies packed with fruit and veg are an easy way to boost your immune system

A better idea is to use supplements as well. Think about it.

Although modern supplements are good, could you live on them? Absolutely not. But you can live on food. 

Fruits and vegetables are more than just a source of vitamins and minerals.

They provide antioxidants that help purge the body of toxins and keep us in good health.

Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber to keep our intestines strong. Some forms of dietary fiber are prebiotic.

This type of fiber feeds the probiotic (good bacteria) in our guts. It’s important to maintain adequate levels of probiotic bacteria because it helps us maintain optimum health.

If you are serious about boosting your immune system eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the first step.

However, even if you are supplementing as well, it may take some time for the benefits to kick in.

You can’t just eat a couple of oranges or take a tablet that contains ascorbic acid and expect a blast of Vitamin C to ward off a cold. It’s not that simple.

A strong immune system requires a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals—every day.

Getting your immune system strong is only half the battle once it is strong it needs to be maintained—for life.

Vitamins That Boost the Immune System

Although you need to consume many different vitamins and minerals each day to support ongoing good health, nine of them are particularly important for building a strong immune system.

Vitamin A

You get Vitamin A from many food sources including carrots, sweet potatoes, cod liver oil, and eggs.

You may have heard Vitamin A is good for your eyes. That’s true. Most people know it but fewer people are aware of the important role Vitamin A plays in cellular immune responses.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in the human immune system.

Vitamin C boost the immune system system
Vitamin C is great for the immune system. The problem is most people don’t get anywhere near enough

If your diet lacks enough of this important vitamin it may cause your immune system to become weak.

Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables, including spinach and kale, but most people associate it with citrus fruits.

However, although citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, bell peppers contain much more.

Even though many foods provide Vitamin C, it’s a vitamin that’s easily lost from the body so topping up with supplements is not a bad idea.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin you can get by eating spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and nuts.

Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps purge the body of toxins and prevents oxidative stress (weakens the immune system).

Some research suggests supplementing with Vitamin E may decrease the rate of disease progression in people suffering from HIV.

Vitamins A, C, and E are often combined in supplements and sold as a trio known as the “ACE Vitamins.”

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 plays a key role in white blood cell production. As you may be aware, whenever infections enter the body the white blood cells go on the attack.

Good sources of Vitamin B6 include chicken, salmon, and tuna. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s present in salmon, tuna, and sardines.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is great for improving your immune system. It is sourced by sunlight and food and boosted by supplements

Your body also manufactures Vitamin D in response to sunlight on the skin. However, you may be surprised to learn Vitamin D deficiency is quite common.

Your immune system needs Vitamin D. If you don’t get enough it can make you more susceptible to disease. Taking fish oil capsules is a good way to top-up Vitamin D.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. Also known as Vitamin B9, folate is present in peas, beans, and leafy vegetables.

Your body uses folate to maintain and repair DNA so a lack of folate may weaken your immunity to disease.


Iron is a mineral you can get by eating grapefruits and red meats. Your immune system uses iron in several ways. One of the things iron does is support the creation of immune cells. If you don’t get enough iron it can compromise your non-specific immune response. 


Selenium is an essential mineral. Food sources include pork, beef, and Brazil nuts.

Some research associates high levels of selenium with improved immune response. Additional research suggests selenium deficiency retards immune function.


Many people take zinc supplements to help them recover from colds and some studies suggest doing so may promote faster recovery.

Research conducted in 1984 goes one better by suggesting taking zinc supplements may help prevent people from becoming sick in the first place.

There is so much clinical study connected to zinc and its positive effect on the immnue system.

Natural Supplements that Can Boost the Immune System

Many plants and their extracts appear to be capable of giving the immune system a boost.

Three of the most popular ones are Ginseng, ginger, and green tea.


A mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is a popular medicinal herb. It’s famed as an aphrodisiac and offers many proven health benefits including reducing inflammation.

There are several different types of ginseng used in supplements. They are all good but experts agree Korean ginseng (red ginseng/panax ginseng) is the best.

Ginseng’s ability to boost the immune system has been subjected to extensive research and there is plenty of evidence that shows it works.

However, although there is sufficient evidence that shows the things the herb can do, experts feel further research is necessary to reveal all the underlying molecular mechanisms involved.


ginger is good for boosting immunity

Ginger is a popular cooking spice that has a unique flavor and offers many medical benefits.

It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. It’s also an antibiotic.

Many studies prove ginger’s value as an immune system booster. The results of one study are particularly interesting.

Researchers in Taiwan wanted to explore ginger’s anti-viral activity in response to a human respiratory virus and began treating patients with hot-water and ginger extracts.

The results of the study led the researchers to conclude fresh ginger is “effective against HRSV-induced plaque formation on airway epithelium by blocking viral attachment and internalization.”

Green Tea

Green tea has a reputation for being the healthiest beverage in the world.

Much of its health-boosting ability is due to the fact the leaves are packed full of antioxidants that are specific to tea plants. They are known as green tea catechins.

Green tea is a popular diet pill ingredient that gets a lot of attention for its proven fat burning capabilities.

green tea

However, typecasting this star-player as only being a diet pill ingredient is selling it short.

Green tea lowers cholesterol, is good for the heart, and offers more additional health benefits than you can shake a stick at. 

The results of one study suggest green tea catechins may be capable of killing flu viruses.

Researchers conducting another study found green tea boosts production of the T Cells that play an important role in human immune system function.

What Vitamins and Supplements Can Boost the Immune System – In Summary

Many people don’t think about boosting their immune system until after they have become ill and are looking for a quick way to get better.

That’s a little like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Prevention is always better than cure. It’s a much better idea to look at ways of keeping your immune system permanently strong.

The immune system requires a variety of nutrients to support it in its work.

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is the best way to ensure your immune system always has the raw material it needs.

Though not strictly necessary, vitamin and mineral supplements can provide further support.

Supplements that contain certain herbal ingredients, such as ginseng and ginger, also have the potential to keep your immune system strong and may offer additional benefits as well.

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about the author

David Thoreau is a Biotechnologist with a background in life sciences. He has worked for many years on research projects that have helped people improve their quality of life. David has enjoyed collaborating with other scientists around the world, and he loves sharing his knowledge to help educate others about biotechnology.