Vitamins are essential organic nutrients. And a small number of vitamins are essential for our bodily functions like metabolism, immunity, and digestion i.e. growth, protection, and energy regulation. There are a total of 13 vitamins in all. But only four of those vitamins can boost immunity in our bodies. These are Vitamin A, B6, C, and E. Hence we must try to take these vitamins in prescribed quantities to ward off the risk of infection of COVID-19. Since we have not found any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus, the only way to protect ourselves is by boosting our immunity in these difficult times.
The vitamins that boost immunity are taken by us in one form or the other daily. Like the fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish, etc. that we take daily as food. Also, there are certain foods that contain more than one of these vitamins. so we can modify our food habits to get the desired quantities of these vitamins and make our bodies impregnable from the lethal coronavirus.
Vitamins That Boost Immunity
1 ) VITAMIN A
There are two main forms of vitamin A in the human diet. These are preformed vitamin A i.e. retinol or retinyl esters, and provitamin A i.e. carotenoids such as beta-carotene that are converted to retinol in our bodies. Further preformed vitamin A comes from animal products, fortified foods, and vitamin supplements. But carotenoids are found naturally in plant foods. Again there are other types of carotenoids also in our food which are not converted to vitamin A. Still, they have health-promoting properties e.g. lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Functions of Vitamin A
Vitamin A has multiple functions. it is important for growth and development, for the maintenance of the immune system, and for good vision.
Food that contain Vitamin A
– Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli),
– Orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and other winter squash as well as summer squash)
– Red bell pepper
– Cantaloupe, mango
– Beef liver
– Fish oils
– Fortified foods
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. That level for vitamin A from retinol is 3,000 micrograms of preformed vitamin A.
Mild vitamin A deficiency may cause fatigue, susceptibility to infections, and infertility.
The following are signs of a more serious deficiency :
* Xerophthalmia, a severe dryness of the eye that if untreated can lead to blindness
* Nyctalopia or night blindness
* Irregular patches on the white of the eyes
* Dry skin or hair
Vitamin B6 also known as Pyridoxine is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. This vitamin helps in the production of chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with each other, ensuring that metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism run smoothly. And, above all, it is important for regulating immune function in older individuals.
Sources of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is found in a variety of animal and plant foods like :
*Some vegetables and fruits , especially dark leafy greens, bananas, papayas, oranges, and cantaloupe etc.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adults 19 years and older is 100 mg daily, with slightly lesser amounts in children and teenagers. And, this amount can only be achieved by taking supplements. Even higher amounts of vitamin B6 supplements are sometimes prescribed for medical reasons, but under the supervision of a physician as excess vitamin B6 can cause toxicity.
A mild deficiency may have no symptoms, but a more severe or prolonged deficiency can exhibit the following:
Certain conditions can increase the risk of developing a deficiency by interfering with the absorption of vitamin B6:
*Autoimmune intestinal disorders like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
*Inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate and C stands for Citrus. It is because this vitamin was first discovered in citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruits, etc. Also, this vitamin is found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. Generally, It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. It is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is very important for our immune system function. And, last but not the least it also acts as an antioxidant.
By incorporating just a few servings of vitamin C rich foods in our diet daily, we can take advantage of all the health benefits that this water-soluble vitamin has to offer. Since our body doesn’t store vitamin C or make it on its own, it’s absolutely necessary to include plenty of vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. Further, benefits of vitamin C may include enhanced iron absorption, better immune function, plus a reduced risk of conditions like gout and heart disease.
The Best Sources of Vitamin C
*Black Currant – 1 cup: 203 milligrams
*Red Pepper –1 cup: 190 milligrams
*Kiwifruit – 1 cup: 164 milligrams
*Guava – 1 fruit: 126 milligrams
*Orange – 1 large: 98 milligrams
*Strawberries – 1 cup: 89 milligrams
*Papaya – 1 cup: 87 milligrams
*Broccoli – 1 cup, raw: 81 milligrams
Vitamin C rich foods are a powerhouse of antioxidants, which may help in flushing out the toxins from our body. And that will reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Also, one of the most popular health benefiting properties of vitamin C is its immunity-boosting capacity. Hence, a daily dose of this vitamin may help in fighting cough, cold, and several seasonal diseases.
|Kids (1–3 years)||15 mg|
|Kids (4–8 years)||25 mg|
|Adolescents (9–13 years)||45 mg|
|Teens (14–18 years)||65–75 mg|
|Adult women (aged 19 and older)||75 mg|
|Adult men (aged 19 and older)||90 mg|
|Pregnant women (aged 19 and older)||85 mg|
|Breastfeeding women (aged 19 and older)||120 mg|
If we take vitamin C more than the prescribed limit, our system will try to flush the excess vitamin C out of our gut. Hence we may have to experience Gastrointestinal issues. Severe abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea may occur after taking a mega-dose of vitamin C.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant qualities that helps in keeping our immune system strong. It occurs naturally in a wide range of foods and is even added to certain food products to help increase our intake. This vitamin E occurs naturally in foods such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals which would otherwise damage fat-containing structures like cell membranes and brain cells. Further, a regular intake of this nutrient is essential for the proper functioning of a number of processes in our body and it even helps prevent oxidative stress. Scientists have also found vitamin E beneficial in slowing Alzheimer’s progression as well as treating conditions like cataract, asthma, skin issues, aging, respiratory infections, and so on due to its significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin E is safe for use in the general population at levels up to 1000 mg. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin E is 15 mg, and only a small fraction of the population gets this much from diet alone.
Overdoses of vitamin E supplements can cause nausea, headache, fatigue, etc. People who take blood thinners or other medicines should not take vitamin E supplements without taking advice from a physician.
For more information related to immunity please go through the below mentioned article.