Foods, minerals to help boost your immune system

Doctors warn of vitamin overdose
Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 13:04:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are proper and more common ways to boost the immune system as more people get sick of COVID-19.

Dr. Heidi Silver, research associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said a healthy and balanced diet is a good approach to helping your body fight against viruses.

While there are supplements and minerals available, Silver urges healthy people not to consume an overload of supplements or herbal agents because it could impair immune functions. For example, too much zinc can cause deficiency in copper which can help with protection.

“When you’re trying to enhance something like the immune system, you can consume more but you don’t want to go above certain levels for each nutrient,” she said. “With certain nutrients, too much can create toxicities or deficiencies of other nutrients.”

Depending on your sex, the appropriate amount of Vitamin C supplements are either 75 or 90 milligrams. There are doctors in New York giving critically sick COVID-19 patients with abnormally high doses of Vitamin C as part of a test.

To learn the appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals, click on this link. []

Silver said people should get most nutrients from food, many rich in vitamins, if you’re generally healthy.

“In general, most people do not get adequate amount from their diet and should make a concerted effort to add these foods to their diet,” Silver implored.

Foods rich in vitamins

Vitamin C can be found in oranges, strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers and kale.

Vitamin E can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts and sunflower oil. If using a supplement, doses of 50 milligrams are recommended but studies have shown 200 milligrams can help older people protect themselves from infections.

Vitamin A increases resistance to infections and produces antibodies and antigens. It can be found in cod liver oil, eggs, fortified cereals and milk.


Selenium is normally found in immune tissues, liver, spleen and lymph nodes. Foods high in selenium include Brazil nuts, different types of fish, eggs, pork, turkey and chicken.

Zinc can be taken as a supplement up to 11 milligrams each day, but it can also be found in red meats, shellfish and legumes. Zinc helps the cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Prebiotics are types of fiber that can help your gut bacteria, which are found primarily in fruits and vegetables like bananas, and onions and garlic.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that provide health benefits are produced like yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha.


Elderberry has not been tested on COVID-19 patients but many people swear by the benefits. Silver said it doesn’t prevent anyone from getting a virus, but it helps treat symptoms.

“It may actually decrease the duration of the symptoms. It decrease how sever the symptoms are or how you have it,” Silver said.

While there are no known toxicities, people on medication should check with their provider since elderberry can interferes with the level or activity of the drugs.