Author: Kate Higham

As the seasons shift and bring cooler weather, our bodies prepare to face the inevitable common cold and flu. But how does your body, a complex and intricate system, respond to these seasonal challenges? The answer lies in the essential, yet often overlooked, role of vitamins and minerals.

Understanding your immune system

Your immune system is your body’s natural defense. It's built to identify and manage unwelcome visitors such as viruses and bacteria. This system is a team effort involving various cells, organs, and tissues that collaborate to maintain your well-being. Here's a brief rundown of the key players:

White Blood Cells (WBCs): These cells are the backbone of your immune system. Different types of WBCs have specific roles. For instance, lymphocytes have a sharp memory for past intruders and can quickly recognize and deal with them if they return. Phagocytes act like the clean-up crew, watching your body to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Antibodies: These are special proteins made by your body. They attach precisely to certain intruders, either neutralizing them or marking them for other immune cells to handle. Antibodies work like your body's ID tags, pinpointing specific threats without disrupting your cells. They're crucial for managing infections and remembering past invaders for a quicker response in future encounters.

Lymphatic System: Think of this as your body's drainage and distribution network. It's a network of vessels and nodes that circulate lymph, a fluid packed with WBCs, throughout your body. It helps maintain fluid balance, filters out unwanted particles, and ensures immune cells and other important substances are delivered where needed. The lymphatic system acts as your body's internal maintenance and delivery system, keeping everything balanced and your immune system running smoothly.

Understanding these components provides insights into how your body naturally maintains its health. It's a sophisticated and active system that continuously safeguards your well-being.

Key vitamins for cold and flu season

To boost your immune system during the cold and flu season, specific vitamins are essential:

  1. Vitamin C: This vitamin supports the function of immune cells and enhances their ability to fight infections. You can get Vitamin C from citrus fruits, bell peppers, and spinach. Remember that your body doesn't produce or store Vitamin C, so regular dietary intake is crucial (1)

  2. Vitamin D: Known for its role in bone health, Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight exposure, fatty fish, and egg yolks. Interestingly, some studies suggest vitamin D could help your body defend itself from respiratory infections (2).

  3. Vitamins A & E: These vitamins play a vital role in maintaining the health of cells that act as barriers and regulate immune responses. You can find Vitamin A in sweet potatoes and carrots and Vitamin E in nuts and seeds.

Minerals: The unsung heroes

Besides vitamins, your immune system relies on vital minerals:

  1. Zinc: Helps your immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses and is used by the body to make DNA. You can get Zinc from meat, shellfish, and legumes. Some studies have shown that a lack of zinc can weaken immune responses (3).

  2. Selenium: Has many roles including DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection.(4) . Sources include Brazil nuts, seafood, beans & lentils.

  3. Iron: Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Sources include red meat, beans, and nuts. Iron deficiency is not uncommon, especially among women under 50, and pregnant women. (5)

Incorporating nutrients into your diet

Incorporating cold and flu-fighting vitamins and micronutrients into your diet can be both delicious and creative. Here are some fun and easy ways to get a powerhouse of immune-boosting nutrients daily:

  1. Start your day with a smoothie: Kick off your morning with a nutrient-packed smoothie. Blend oranges or strawberries for a vitamin C boost, add a handful of spinach or kale for vitamin A and iron, and throw some Greek yogurt for zinc. Consider adding fortified orange juice or milk for an extra dose of vitamin D.

  2. Snack smart: Swap out the chips for snacks that pack a nutritional punch. Nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E and zinc. Pair them with cheese slices or a hard-boiled egg to add vitamin D and protein into the mix.

  3. Soup-er meals: Soups and stews are comforting and an excellent way to combine several nutrient-rich foods. Think chicken soup with plenty of vegetables, lentil stew, or a hearty chili. These dishes are great ways to incorporate lean proteins, whole grains, and all the veggies you need for a well-rounded dose of vitamins and minerals.

  4. Spice it up: Many spices and herbs, such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric, are known for their immune-boosting properties. Incorporate these into your cooking to enhance flavor and boost your intake of antioxidants.

  5. Theme nights: Make mealtime fun, focusing on nutrient-rich cuisines. For instance, a "Mediterranean Monday" can include dishes rich in healthy fats and vitamin E, like a salad with olive oil-based dressing and nuts. "Taco Tuesday" can be a chance to enjoy dishes with lean meats, avocado, and citrus-based salsas for a mix of protein, healthy fats, and vitamin C.

  6. Dress it up: Salads offer the perfect canvas for a variety of nutrients. Create colorful salads with leafy greens, sliced fruit, crunchy seeds, and a sprinkle of cheese. Use dressings made with olive oil or yogurt to enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

  7. Dessert with a bonus: End your meal on a sweet note with a dessert that doubles as a nutrient boost. Greek yogurt with honey and almonds, fruit salads, or dark chocolate (in moderation) can satisfy your sweet tooth while contributing to your nutrient intake.

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you're not just feeding your body; you're fueling your immune system with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off colds and flu effectively.

Protecting your immune health with LetsGetChecked

Good health requires more than a healthy diet. While vitamins and nutrients are essential for a robust immune system, regular exercise, enough sleep, and managing stress are equally important for your overall well-being.

So, how can you be sure you're receiving the essential vitamins and nutrients your body requires? This is where LetsGetChecked simplifies the process for you. We offer convenient micronutrient tests that help you detect any nutrient deficiencies from the comfort of your home. With this knowledge, you can work with your healthcare provider to make changes to feel your best.


  1. National Institutes for Health: Vitamin C. Online.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin D and respiratory health. Online.
  3. National Institutes for Health: Zinc in Humans Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells. Online.
  4. National Institutes for Health: Selenium. Online:
  5. National Institutes for Health: Iron. Online: