Gaps in vital nutrients putting immune function at risk


Gaps in vital nutrients putting immune function at risk

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A review from leading experts has highlighted the role of specific nutrients in optimal immunity but warned that many of us are not getting the right levels in our diets.

Public health measures to combat viruses include handwashing and vaccinations but health professionals should also be giving advice about diet and nutrition.

Key nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fats, are important for optimal immune function. However, intakes of these are often lower than recommended due to poor eating habits. This leads to a risk of deficiencies which can impair our immune function.

Some nutrients, especially vitamin C and D, are needed in greater amounts than general recommendations because infections and stressors, like ageing, increase requirements. Blood vitamin C levels, for example, fall during infection and supplementation might be needed.

The authors conclude that "supplementation with micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids is a safe, effective, and low-cost way to help eliminate nutritional gaps and support optimal immune function".



Calder PC et al. (2020) Optimal nutritional status for a well-functioning immune system is an important factor to protect against viral infections. Nutrients 12: 1181.

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