Our immune system does a great job at protecting our body against microorganisms that cause disease. However, sometimes it fails to perform and when germs successfully invade our bodies, we get sick. What can we do boost our immune system, and is it true that a vegan’s body is more susceptible to illness than the body of a person who consumes meat? Vitamins and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. Getting them from healthy sources such as food is equally important. Here are several key vitamins that boost your immune system if you’re vegetarian.
- Vitamin A: Usually found in beta-carotene, vitamin A has powerful antioxidant properties that safeguard our cells from harm produced by oxidation. By including more vitamin A in our diets, we prevent our bodies from degenerative diseases common throughout the aging process. This essential vitamin protects our vision, also keeping our mucous membranes, soft tissue, and skin in healthy state. Vegetarians should include in their daily diets the following: carrots, sweet potato, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe melon, squash, and mango.
- Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B complex, or the B vitamins, are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system. They help with development and growth by converting food into energy. This energy is necessary to fuel the functions of the body. The B vitamins are known to protect the body from various health conditions, including cancer. Folic acid in particular, or vitamin B9, prevents birth defects in pregnant women, strengthens the nervous system, and boosts the body’s energy reservoir. The vitamin may also help with anxiety and depression. Other important B vitamins are omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Vegans who don’t eat meat to get their vitamin B intake can opt for vegetarian omega-3 supplements, or opt for food sources like: pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, avocado, bananas, and spinach.
- Vitamin C:Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it doesn’t stay in the body for too long. Sufficient amounts of vitamin C heal common wounds a lot faster. Studies have also shown that the vitamin has antioxidant properties, too; it blocks harm from oxidation that may trigger inflammatory conditions, cancer and heart disease. Vegans have nothing to worry about, as vitamin C can be found is many types of vegetables and fruits, such as: citrus fruits, strawberries and berries in general, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red peppers, cantaloupe and leafy greens.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is another essential vitamin that our body needs to stay strong and healthy. It aids with calcium absorption and it plays an important role in preventing bone degeneration diseases like osteoporosis. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system. The best source is usually the sun, although it’s not the only one. Main food varieties rich in Vitamin D for vegans are: orange juice, mushrooms, and cereal.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E wards off damaging free radicals that cause genetic harm and cell death. This vitamin may additionally protect our bodies from certain types of cancer and heart disease. Some studies have proven that if you include more vitamin E into your diet, your chances of getting cancer are significantly decreased. Sufficient amounts of vitamin E advert kidney and liver problems. It can also keep cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels under control. Vegetarians should include the following vitamin E food sources into their diets: leafy greens, avocado, nuts, sunflower seeds, asparagus, olive oil, and soybean.
- Vitamin K:Research shows that vitamin K doesn't just protect your immune system. It may also protect you from prostate and liver cancer, as well as calcification of the arteries. Vital in the process of blood clotting, vitamin K makes sure that your blood flows normally throughout your body. Calcium buildup in the arteries usually leads to hardening of the arteries and atherosclerosis that may trigger heart disease. Healthy food sources of vitamin K include: green vegetables, hot spices, fennel, leeks, asparagus, dried fruit, olive oil, pickles and soybeans.
Keeping your immune system strong and healthy is easier said than done. Eating healthy is a first step. Vegetarians have a wide palette of veggies and fruits they can include in their diets to keep their immune system protected. Every now and then, you might want to visit a nutritionist, too, just to make sure you've got the right stuff on board. Happy eating!