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Are certain vitamins and minerals especially important for a healthy immune system?

Answer by:
David Kiefer, MD

Family Medicine, WebMD Medical Expert
University of Arizona, Tucson

The immune system, which defends the body against disease, is made up of millions of cells that circulate through the body or reside in lymph nodes. Like all cells in the body, they require a wide spectrum of nutrients to perform at their peak. Over the years, research has pointed to key roles for nearly all nutrients, including zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, C, E, D, and B6. Doctors have long known that serious malnutrition can weaken the immune system, making people vulnerable to many kinds of infections. To support your immune system, focus on eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated oils. You can also consider a multivitamin to help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.

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