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Vitamins & Minerals That Boost the Immune System
By Dr. Rachel Levine, eHow Contributor
The immune system identifies and destroys foreign invaders in the body. Different parts of the immune system are involved in protecting the body from invaders, identifying invaders and making an appropriate attack on those invaders. Many different vitamins and minerals support the immune system.
1. Vitamin A is a group of compounds that play a role in regulating the immune system. Vitamin A helps make white blood cells and helps make lymphocytes, a particular type of white blood cell that fights infections. Furthermore, Vitamin A is a component of healthy skin as well as part of the linings of the eyes, the respiratory system, the urinary tract system and the intestinal tract. The barriers that surround these systems are the body's first line of defense against invaders.
2. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is important in assisting the immune system fight off infections. In particular, Vitamin B6 helps support the lymphoid organs, which include the thymus, the spleen and the lymph nodes. These organs make white blood cells.
3. Vitamin D, the vitamin found in sunshine, is an important contributor to immune function. Vitamin D reduces inflammation in the body. Many different proteins related to cell differentiation, growth, development and death require vitamin D.
4. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects cells against free radicals. Free radicals are charged particles believed to damage cells and cause cancer. Vitamin E has a role in immune function as well.
5. Selenium is a trace mineral. In addition to controlling free radicals in the body, selenium is used in proteins that regulate thyroid function and play a role in maintaining the immune system.
6. Zinc is a trace metal in the body that supports immune function. ZInc is involved in producing more than 100 different enzymes in the body. Zinc is involved particularly in the development and activation of T-lymphocyte cells, designed to identify and destroy invaders. Zinc is also involved in the macrophage and neutrophil functions. Finally, Zinc helps preserve the integrity of the skin, a barrier against invaders.
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