Dietary Tips on How to Activate the Immune System

When cold seasons set in more people come down with the flu. Dietician Catherine Field believes that almost all the vitamins and minerals play a part in ensuring the best reaction of the immune system to infections. But she points out that the intake of chemical vitamin additives does not help the immune system and can even harm it. Dr. Catherine Field, Ph.D., is currently a professor at the Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition in Canada. She and her colleagues study the influence of particular nutrients on the immune system.

Catherine Field offers some recommendations on the right dieting for cold seasons based on a great deal of evidence. She urges to pay attention to three main substances for strengthening the immune system: vitamin C, zinc and selenium.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps absorb iron from food; it plays a very important role in protecting the body against viruses. The daily dose for women is 75 mg and 90 mg for men. You must add 35 mg for smokers as their body is weakened. You can get the necessary dose from 2-3 citrus fruits, for example, oranges, or kiwi fruit, pomegranates, apples, berry. Vitamin C is also found in vegetables, for example, in sweet pepper and onion.


Zinc is needed for many processes in the body. It supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood and teenage years. Zinc is also important for the cells which protect the body from viruses. The daily zinc dose for women is 8 mg and 11 mg for men. You can best get zinc from seafoods, meat, beans, peas, lentil and sunflower seeds. A portion of beef about 2.8 oz contains 4.6 mg zinc. 6 oz lentil contain 2 mg zinc. Plants in general are less reliable as regards zinc because of their great dependence on the zinc content in the soil.


Selenium is important for a healthy immune system too, for it promotes oxidation-reduction reactions. Its daily dose is 55 micrograms. You get selenium from nuts, pork meat, by-products, whole grain, brown rice, garlic. For example, only 2.7 oz different nuts contain about 150 micrograms selenium.

Dr Field says that good health does not require complicated diets or unordinary products. These simple tips are enough to prevent your contracting the flu this season. Even if you come down with the flu balanced food will help your immune system fight down flu complications and recover quickly.

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