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

November 14, 2017

How vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12 and folate effect immunity.

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

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 role of vitamins.

Vitamin A works to maintain the integrity of the skin, eyes, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts, to reinforce the barriers against disease-causing organisms; it is also essential in the generation of immune cell anti-body production. Foods rich in vitamin A include eggs as well as red and yellow vegetables.

Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant, which protects immune cells from damage. Foods rich in vitamin C include Kiwi, oranges, strawberries and broccoli.

Vitamin D increases the effectiveness of antibacterial proteins and may reduce the incidence of upper respiratory infections. Sources of vitamin D include UV light, fortified foods and supplements.

Vitamin E protects the cell membranes of immune cells, especially lymphocytes. Avocado, almonds and sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E.

Vitamin B6 facilitates the formation of new immune cells. Foods like salmon, turkey, chicken and walnuts are excellent sources of B6.

Immune cells require vitamin B12 to mount suitable immune responses. Beef, fish and chicken provide abundant vitamin B12.

Folate or folic acid is critical to the formation of new immune cells and the generation of immune response. Foods rich in folate included beans, spinach and kale.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! hoping this message helps power your path to happiness!


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