How does the immune system work? The nutritional aspects of immunity and the role of minerals.

November 8, 2017

How the minerals zinc, selenium, copper, and iron effect immunity.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! College of Immune Health – Immune Health 101: The Nutritional Aspects of Immunity – minerals

The immune system functions as an integrated network of organs, specialized cells and unique bodily fluids. In this segment, I discuss the nutritional aspects of immunity and in particular the role of minerals.


Zinc facilitates the synthesis of antibodies and the production of lymphocytes, neutrophils and monocytes. It also acts as an anti-oxidant to protect immune cell membranes. Food like oysters, black beans and red meat contain zinc.


Selenium acts as an important anti-oxidant and promotes the production of chemical messengers that regulate immune function. Pork, sunflower seeds and tuna are good sources of selenium.


Copper is a powerful anti-oxidant that works to protect immune cell membranes. It also promotes the action of natural killer cells produced by the bone marrow. Oysters, crab, hazelnuts and lentils are rich sources of copper.


Iron is necessary for the production and regeneration of immune cells including lymphocytes. Like other minerals, iron is a potent anti-oxidant. Red meat and lentils contain good sources of iron.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Power your path to happiness!


Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Online [available at]:Ā