By Addison Dunn
Although flu season usually peaks in December, now is the time to prepare your immune system. Getting enough immune-boosting vitamins and minerals is a great way to armor your body from the inside out.
Because we do not always eat a perfectly balanced diet, we will need more vitamins and minerals as the autumn and winter days set in. You can go to any grocery store, pharmacy, or order supplements online. Here is what to look for, and where it can be found naturally:
· Vitamin B: Found in brown rice, barley, millet, red meat, poultry, and fish. Eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts. Broccoli, spinach, citrus fruits, avocados, bananas.
· Vitamin C: Found in broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Green and red peppers. Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens. Sweet and white potatoes and winter squash. Tomatoes and tomato juice.
· Vitamin D: Very few natural foods contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
· Vitamin E: Found in vegetable oils such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils. Almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts. Sunflower seeds. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.
· Folic acid: Found in broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens, and spinach. Peas, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
· Iron: Found in beans, lentils, and baked potatoes. Nuts such as cashews. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and in some fortified breakfast cereals.
· Selenium: Many whole grains and dairy products, including milk and yogurt, are good sources of selenium. Some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with selenium, and some fruits and vegetables contain selenium. Pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs contain high amounts of selenium.
· Zinc: Whole grains and milk products are good sources of zinc. Baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts such as cashews and almonds. Oysters, red meat, and poultry are excellent sources of zinc.
Increasing the intake of these healthy foods and supplements with smart lifestyle choices will create a stronger immune system. Quitting smoke, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight adds to longevity and vitality as well. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Do not forget to get your rest! Adequate sleep is vital for the body’s ability to repair itself. And of course, take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and staying away from others who have symptoms.