12 best vitamins to boost your immune system

Vitamins are key to a healthy body and mind, but which aid the immune system? Here’s our full guide to immune-supporting vitamins and minerals.
12 best vitamins to boost your immune system
minute read

With so many components contributing to optimal health and wellness, the sheer amount of info can quickly become difficult to process. The immune system is just one aspect of a vast, interconnected matrix of biology, requiring a unique set of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and protocols for its best function.

But before you get overwhelmed with detail, remember that true health is actually a process of simplification. The better you understand and execute on the fundamentals, the more easily everything will click into place for exceptional wellness and quality of life.

With that in mind, we’re taking this opportunity to discuss the role of key vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system, fortifying your body’s defenses and fending off illness. Immunity goes beyond combating common colds — it’s also important for recovery, balance, and general quality of life.

Let’s explore some of the most crucial vitamins for immune health and examine the role each one plays in the big picture of immunity. With this information, you’ll know how to better structure your diet, supplementation program, and more — all leading you on the path to better immunity and wellness overall.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for the body to maintain structure, function, and optimal health. From development to digestion and metabolism, vitamins contribute to a wide range of biological processes that run 24/7 and keep our bodies and minds working as they should.

One key distinction to frame your understanding of vitamins is that of micronutrients vs. macronutrients. While proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are considered macronutrients that fuel the body with energy, vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, supporting the pathways and processes that help us utilize these fuel sources properly.

That’s why vitamin deficiencies can manifest in the form of low energy, lack of focus, and even immune health problems. When building your vitamin and mineral game plan for the future, remember that these micronutrients are key to robust and optimal health, so they should never be left out of your protocol.

What are the health benefits of vitamins for your immune system?

Vitamins are often associated with energy production, metabolism, recovery, and other aspects of health related to everyday physical activity. However, behind the scenes, the immune system is always working hard, protecting the body from viruses, bacteria, and other unknown microbes that may lead to illness or dysfunction.

While no single vitamin or mineral is exclusively used by the body to support immune function, there are several vitamins that contribute to healthy defenses. These range from antioxidants and enzymes to the production and function of immune system cells like white blood cells, pathogen fighting, and much more.

As we explore the roles of individual vitamins and minerals, keep in mind that the immune system is one of many facets of health that these compounds support. You’ll discover that these simple organic compounds wear many hats in the grand scheme of health and wellness, making them more essential than you might have previously thought. 

What are the best vitamins to support your immune system?

Now that you have an idea of how vitamins and minerals work to support overall health, we can focus on the immune system and how these compounds contribute to its function and utility. The immune system has many components of its own, encompassing skin, blood cells, antibodies, enzymes, and more. 

Let’s check out the 12 essential vitamins and minerals that keep the immune system strong.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the main micronutrient associated with immune function, and for good reason. For starters, it’s a potent antioxidant, supporting cells during exposure to oxidative stress and the damage of free radicals. When oxidation is managed on a cellular level, this gives our bodies a strong perimeter of defense that helps the immune system greatly.

Vitamin C also enhances the skin’s barrier against pathogens thanks to its role in proper collagen production and mucous membrane support. Meanwhile, vitamin C supports the proper ability of T cells to effectively target and destroy microbes that threaten the body internally. 

To increase your intake of vitamin C, consume citrus fruits, bell peppers, and other colorful fruits and veggies throughout the week. Vitamin C supplements can also support immune system function in the short term if you feel like you could use a helping hand.

2. Vitamin A

As a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A plays a central part in supporting the body’s protective cells. From the skin and respiratory systems to the gut and beyond, these barriers are the first line of defense.

Additionally, vitamin A helps support various immune cells, including both B cells and T cells. These are critical in the maintenance of the adaptive immune system that responds to the invasion of pathogens that get through the initial barrier. 

A diet rich in dairy products, lean meat, and carrots can help keep your vitamin A stores high.

3. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is known as one of the more powerful antioxidants in the body, supporting immune cells while maintaining the body during exposure to free radicals. Vitamin E also supports the T-cell-mediated immune response, helping them properly detect pathogens for rapid removal.

Immune cells are sensitive and require heavy energy expenditure, and vitamin E is key to ensuring these processes are efficient and accurate. This compound also supports the immune response by maintaining the proper production of cytokines. These signaling modules regulate immunity and ensure that the immune response is balanced while under stress and pressure. 

Legumes like lentils and leafy vegetables are typically great sources of vitamin E, so a balanced diet should generally cover your bases.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another fat-soluble vitamin that contributes greatly to immune function. It supports both the innate and the adaptive immune systems, keeping them balanced.

Vitamin D also supports the efficacy of pathogen-fighting white blood cells called monocytes and macrophages. These cells play a role in targeting harmful microbes and cleaning up key immune pathways with antimicrobial effects.

As the “sunshine vitamin,” this compound has the unique feature of synthesizing with exposure to sunlight. Still, vitamin D supplements may be required for those with vitamin D deficiency, ensuring that immunity remains strong during months with less sun exposure. Fatty fish and fortified foods like cereals and whole grains also tend to be good sources of vitamin D.

5. Zinc

While it might not be a vitamin, the mineral zinc is one of the best-known compounds for immune support. This trace element helps support innate immunity, and it also plays a part in adaptive immunity — especially in maintaining the proper growth and support of T cells.

Thankfully, zinc is found in a wide range of fortified foods, as well as meat and shellfish. However, over saturation of zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals — consult your doctor to find the right balance of daily zinc intake to avoid side effects.

6. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is central to the production of white blood cells like T cells, B cells, and other components of the adaptive immune system. Specifically, B6 helps support the body’s ability to properly synthesize the proteins and acids from macronutrients, supporting the growth and formation of these killer cells.

B6 also helps ensure that the immune response is well-regulated and that antibodies remain strong in the face of stress and attacks. Moreover, B6 interplays with other nutrients and ensures that the body’s energy pathways remain strong and functional. 

Higher energy in the body is generally a good signal of health and allows us to stay active, productive, and stable, even when fighting off illness. Prioritize foods like fish, poultry, potatoes, and fruits to get your B6 intake and supplement with a B complex if necessary.

7. Folate/Folic Acid

Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps with cell division and DNA synthesis. While these mechanisms might not directly support the immune response, they ensure that new cells are in frequent and consistent production — that includes immune cells in both the adaptive and innate systems.

For example, when the body is under attack by pathogens, protective cell production goes into overdrive to respond to the threat. Folate helps ensure this production process is quick, efficient, and ready to fight back against pathogens that pose a threat to the system at large.

Food sources like leafy greens, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all great ways to get B6, and as a water-soluble compound, you need to ensure consistent daily intake to get the best effects.

8. Magnesium

Magnesium is another trace element that plays a key role in immune function and countless other processes throughout the body. In particular, magnesium supports the activation of killer cells that help the body fight back against pathogens in a dynamic, targeted way.

The mineral also supports a type of white blood cell called neutrophils, which form a large part of the innate immune system and the first line of defense for the body. Meanwhile, magnesium is crucial in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body, supporting energy production that helps the immune system stay strong and responsive.

Unfortunately, most Americans have low levels of dietary magnesium, meaning extra supplementation is likely necessary for most individuals. If you suspect a deficiency, consult your doctor for advice. Look for absorbable forms of magnesium that contain multiple pathways for best results, and focus on foods like leafy greens and whole grains.

9. Iron

Iron is often overlooked as an immune-supporting trace mineral, but it serves a key role in supporting defensive systems. Specifically, iron is a building block of hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body. Oxygenated cells are key to proper functionality, especially in resource-demanding immune cells.

Additionally, iron helps with the healthy development and differentiation of immune cells that attack pathogens and support adaptive responses. Macrophages, for example, need iron stores to function effectively and destroy pathogens quickly. 

Iron deficiency is uncommon, and excesses can come with serious side effects. Only add iron to your supplement stack under the close supervision of a healthcare professional.

10. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is known as an energy-supporting compound rather than an immune supporter, but its role in metabolic pathways helps indirectly maintain immune responses. B12 is central to the production of red blood cells and also plays a role in DNA synthesis in repair, for instance. 

These functions help maintain a strong, responsive immune system and assist in signaling, which helps the body fight back against pathogens.

Meat, fish, and dairy products are typically reliable sources of B12 — but those following vegetarian or vegan diets may have a hard time getting enough of this vitamin. Supplementing with a B complex can help support energy overall and give your immune system a lift when under stress. Just be sure to consult your doctor before starting supplementation.

11. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

While omega-3s aren’t your typical vitamin or mineral, they deserve a mention on this list due to their significant role in immune system support. These fatty acids are critical to the development of immune cell membranes, from innate defensive structures to the active cells that target and destroy pathogens in the body.

Omega-3 fatty acids also may be beneficial by soothing swelling and easing tension on key cells in the immune system. This balance is a key part of healthy immune function overall, and fatty acids may help maintain the integrity of these systems when under attack.

There are many effective ways to supplement with omega-3s, but food sources like fish and certain seeds can offer a sufficient foundation. 


12. Vitamin K

Finally, vitamin K is a group of vitamins with strong connections to the immune system, particularly in supporting the function of cytokines. These substances are released in reaction to pathogen detection and ensure the body’s defenses are primed to defend against an attack.

Vitamin K also plays a key part in the programmed cell death function of the body’s systems, including immune cells that are old or no longer functioning. This efficient turnover of cells is important in making room for new, healthy cells that are ready to fill the role, whether it’s active T cells or innate structures that defend against invaders.

Vitamin K can be found in leafy greens, fermented foods, and clean vegetable oils. While deficiencies are uncommon, supplementation may be required in cases of malabsorption. 

What’s the best way to boost your vitamin intake for immunity?

Remember — vitamin and mineral supplements alone won’t guarantee a healthy immune system. It’s also important to prioritize a balanced diet, practice self-care, lead a healthy lifestyle, and get enough sleep to ensure an effective immune response, as well as to support nightly recovery and repair.

Our Supergreens Daily Gummies provide a complete foundation for daily vitamins and minerals, in addition to probiotics, functional mushrooms, and more. It’s the superfood supplement that gives your immune system the support it needs while also unlocking energy, focus, and holistic balance.

The bottom line

Immune health becomes increasingly complex the more we examine the many cells and systems that tie together — but simplicity reigns supreme when it comes to wellness. Focus on the fundamentals of diet, lifestyle, and streamlined supplementation that is proven to work. That way, you can keep your immune system strong while nature handles the details. 

Stay tuned for more deep dives on vitamins, minerals, immune function, and more with Sunmed.


Dietary Supplements for Immune Function and Infectious Diseases | National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

Exploring the Immune-Boosting Functions of Vitamins and Minerals as Nutritional Food Bioactive Compounds: A Comprehensive Review | NIH

Immune-boosting role of vitamins D, C, E, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids | NIH

Vitamin K information overview | Mount Sinai

Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis | PMC'.