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Boost your immunity this fall

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Robert Occhipinti, Internal Medicine Physician
Boost your immunity this fall

Have you been so focused on COVID-19 that you haven’t given much thought to the approaching cold and flu season? Fortunately, you’re not destined to get sick. Build up your defenses now so that you can fend off germs when they attack.

One of the best ways to boost immunity: a nutritious eating plan. Focus on these four nutrients to increase your chances of staying healthy all season long.

1. Vitamin C

The daily recommended amount varies by life stage, ranging from 40 to 50 mg for infants to 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need even more.

What it does: Supports the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies

Examples of where to find it:

  • Red or yellow bell peppers, 1/2 cup, raw = 95 mg
  • Orange, one medium = 70 mg

2. Vitamin A

Infants need about 400 to 500 mcg a day, women need 700 mcg, and men need 900 mcg. Women who are pregnant need 750 to 770 mcg, while those who are breastfeeding need 1,200 to 1,300 mcg.

What it does: Helps regulate the immune system and protects against infections; keeps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs healthy

Examples of where to find it:

  • Sweet potato, one, baked in skin = 1,403 mcg
  • ­­­­Eggs, two large, hard-boiled = 150 mcg

3. Zinc

Infants need about 2 to 3 mg a day, while adult women need 8 mg and men need 11 mg. Women who are pregnant need 11 to 12 mg. Those who are breastfeeding need 12 to 13 mg.

What it does: Supports immune function and may help wounds heal

Examples of where to find it:

  • Beef patty, 3 ounces, broiled = 5.3 mg
  • Baked beans, ½ cup, canned = 2.9 mg

4. Protein

The daily recommended amount ranges from 2 ounce-equivalents per day for kids 2 to 3 years of age, 5 to 5.5 ounce-equivalents for women, and 5.5 to 6.5 ounce-equivalents for men.

What it does: Plays a role in healing and recovery

Examples of where to find it:

  • Almonds, 12 = 1 ounce-equivalent
  • Trout, one small = 3 ounce-equivalents

Healthy Habits

Other ways to strengthen your immune system to prepare for cold and flu season:

  • Get your flu shot, preferably in October before the flu season begins.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise regularly.

Dr. Robert Occhipinti specializes in Internal Medicine at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. After earning his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Occhipinti completed residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

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