Symptoms of the common cold can last up to two weeks. Who has time for that?! No one does! Fortunately, there are ways to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, and reduce the likelihood of illness getting you down. Below are the top five nutrients to include in your diet to stay healthy this season.

Iron: This mineral is important to immune function as our bodies use it to make white blood cells, or leukocytes. White blood cells are responsible for eliminating infectious pathogens that enter our bloodstream. Good sources of iron include meats, poultry, seafood, legumes, beets, and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron is best absorbed when consumed with foods high in Vitamin C.

Vitamin C: Not only does Vitamin C help our body absorb Iron more readily, but it also boosts immune function all on its own. Good sources include citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, and lime, as well as tomatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, and berries.

Zinc: Another mineral vital to normal immune function, Zinc appears to improve our resistance to cold viruses. Good sources include beans, nuts, whole grains, some seafood, and fortified foods like breakfast cereal. You can also find zinc supplements marketed for use during illness. Be sure to follow printed instructions or your physician’s recommendations for use.

Vitamin E: This potent antioxidant appears to enhance overall immune function. It can be found in nuts and seeds, wheat germ, as well as vegetables oils including sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils.

Vitamin A: Deficiency in this nutrient, and especially its precursor beta-carotene, seems to lead to weaker immune function and reduced resistance to infection. Beta-carotene can be found in vegetables including sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Remember that along with consuming a healthy diet, rich in the above nutrients, healthy lifestyle habits can also go a long way to keeping us healthy. Practices like getting adequate sleep, managing stress effectively, and drinking plenty of fluids are all important to good health. Contact a Nutrition Specialist for more tips!