Open Accessibility Menu

Boosting your Immune System

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
Boosting your Immune System

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, cold and flu season and with the winter blues upon us, a healthy immune system is more important than ever. We want to empower you with some tools that give you control of your health. There are many things you can do to support a properly functioning immune system: Eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, get enough sleep, and manage stress as best as you can.

Eat Well--The first step in fortifying your immune system is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, pre- and probiotics, and high-quality protein. While specific foods will not prevent you from getting sick if you are exposed to illnesses, ensuring you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals from your daily diet is a key factor in maintaining a strong immune system.

“Everyone can benefit from a healthy immune system. Sometimes it is difficult to get all your nutrients from foods. No matter what state of health you are in, there are a few supplements that can be beneficial for maintaining a strong immunity and preventing illness. This allows people to take control of their own health,” said Myrtue Medical Center’s Director of Pharmacy Nancy Gau, PharmD. “Building a strong immunity with diet, exercise, and healthy supplements doesn’t mean you won’t get sick, but what it does mean is your immune system may have a better chance of fighting off illness.”

Stay Active - Exercise is medicine. Exercise has many proven benefits including reducing the risk of upper respiratory infections, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, improved blood glucose levels, weight loss, improved sleep, reduced incidence of depression, and improved immunity to name a few. Regular exercise boosts the body’s immune response by increasing immune cell production and activating antioxidant production. Research supports exercise reduces inflammation in the body, improves circulation, has a positive effect on our gut microbiome, and reduces risk of chronic health conditions.

Exercise can help prevent, manage, or reverse underlying conditions which may make us more susceptible to illness. Routine exercise is an important aspect in boosting your body’s immune function. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) generally recommends 150 min/week moderate intensity exercise for maintenance. Exercise is not one size fits all. If you have questions about where to start or how to modify based on your needs, the Petersen Family Wellness Center has personal trainers to assist you, as well as Myrtue Medical Center’s Physical and Occupational Therapy.


Vitamin D- Recommended dosing: 2000-4000 units daily (Yearly lab draw with your primary care practitioner and drink plenty of water)

Vitamin D is one of the most important immune boosters we can take. The best source of Vitamin D is from the sun. Spending just 15 minutes a day in the sun can help increase your vitamin D level. However, environmentally we do not all have access to sunshine year round. Maintaining Vitamin D levels by a food source can be very limiting, so talk to your practitioner if considering the need to supplement.

Vitamin D has also been proven in many clinical studies to support immune health. Vitamin D will help boost your immune system against the common cold, the flu, and any other viral infections.

It is important to keep your levels between 30-70 ng/mL for good immunity. Obtaining your level is very simple. You can have your primary care practitioner order a vitamin D level blood test for you.

Vitamin C -- Recommended dosing: 500mg twice daily (Drink plenty of water)

Vitamin C is very easily consumed through food if you are eating colorful fruits and vegetables. The more colorful the better. However, when you get in the cold and flu season, it may be necessary to supplement to help fight and ward off sickness.

Because Vitamin C has effects on the immune system, it may help boost immunity to COVID-19. However, just like vitamin D, it can also boost your immune system against the common cold, the flu, and any other viral infections.

Zinc: Recommended dosing: 30 to 50 mg daily

Increase food sources of zinc to prevent deficiency; zinc is responsible for activating white blood cells that are essential for our immune system. We don’t store zinc in our bodies, so it needs to be consumed daily. Food sources rich in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, pork, pumpkin, yogurt, cashews, chickpeas, and fortified cereals. It can sometimes be difficult to get all of it absorbed from a source of food, so it is necessary to supplement.

Zinc has been proven in many clinical studies to have an antiviral effect, therefore potentially being very beneficial in the fight against Covid-19.

Pre and Probiotic

Get your healthy dose of pre- and probiotic--This can be done by certain foods such as yogurt (without sugar), kefir (smoothies are great), artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus, sauerkraut and kombucha. It may be difficult to supplement these select foods all the time. This might be because of limited access, limited time, or financial issues. Research shows that probiotics can help promote the production of natural antibodies and can optimize the body’s immune response to viral infection. Our gut is often referred to as the “second brain”. If you do not have a healthy gut (intestine), you can be an easy prey for unwanted disease states. Sometimes it is hard to find the right fit for a pre and probiotic. If you need assistance, reach out to your primary care practitioner and ask them to make some suggestions.

Get recommended amounts of sleep - Don’t underestimate the value and importance of sufficient, good-quality sleep for your health. Sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system in order to prevent susceptibility to illness. Most adults need seven or more hours per night on a regular basis.

Get recommended amounts of water – Along with an adequate amount of sleep, it is recommended to get a minimum amount of 48 – 64 ounces of water daily to keep your body hydrated.


  1. Exercise is medicine
  4. Maret W. Zinc Biochemistry, Physiology, and Homeostasis, Recent Insights and Current Trends. Springer Science & Business Media; 2013
  5. Jäger R, Mohr AE, Carpenter KC, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Probiotics. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019;16(1):62. doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0329-0