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As we head into cold and flu season, it’s important to make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. One of the best ways to support immune health is to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of key vitamins and minerals that have been shown to enhance immune response and resilience. At our IV drip clinic in London, we often recommend optimizing levels of vitamins C, D, zinc, B6 and E to our patients who are looking to beef up their immunity during the fall and winter months. Read on to learn more about each of these micronutrients and how to make sure you’re getting enough from your diet and supplements.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is likely the most well-known vitamin when it comes to immune health. It’s a powerful antioxidant that supports a variety of immune cells and can have profound impacts on susceptibility to infection. Vitamin C has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B and T cells, allowing your body to ramp up production of pathogen-fighting cells when you need them most. It also supports phagocytic cells to engulf and destroy bacteria and viruses more efficiently and boosts levels of interferon to protect cells from viral infection.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 75-90 mg per day, but studies suggest you may need even higher levels, in the range of 200 mg daily, to optimize immune function, especially during cold season. Citrus fruits, red peppers, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes are all good food sources of vitamin C. Supplements are widely available and absorption is best when taken in divided doses throughout the day. At our clinic, high-dose IV vitamin C is one of our most popular drips to boost immunity.

Vitamin D

Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is absolutely crucial for modulating immunity. It activates cells responsible for fighting infection like T cells and macrophages. Vitamin D also balances immune function by suppressing overactivation that can lead to increased inflammation. Studies show that people deficient in vitamin D are at far greater risk for acute respiratory infections.

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600-800 IU daily, but many experts suggest at least 1000-2000 IU daily may be optimal, especially during winter at latitudes above the 37th parallel north, where sunshine is scarce. There are very few food sources of vitamin D – primarily fatty fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and cereals. Safe sun exposure for 10-15 minutes twice weekly can help maintain vitamin D status, but supplements are likely necessary for most people, especially in the winter. We provide high-dose vitamin D injections at our clinic for a rapid boost.


Zinc is a trace mineral that plays diverse roles in immune cell development and communication. It supports the growth and activation of T-cells that target infected cells for destruction. Zinc also enhances the function of natural killer cells that patrol for abnormal cells. The anti-inflammatory properties of zinc help calm cytokine storm-like reactions that can sometimes occur in severe infections.

Adults should aim for at least 15-30 mg of zinc per day for immune resilience. Oysters contain the most zinc per serving, followed by meat, beans, nuts, dairy and whole grains. If supplementing, opt for zinc gluconate, citrate or acetate rather than zinc oxide, which is poorly absorbed. Zinc should be taken with food to minimize potential side effects like nausea or gastric irritation. We offer zinc injections at our clinic when serum levels are low.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, aids immune function in several ways. It supports proliferation of lymphocytes for adaptive immunity and production of antibodies. Vitamin B6 assists in forming red blood cells to carry oxygen and helps maintain healthy inflammation responses from immune cells.

The RDA for vitamin B6 is 1.3-1.7 mg daily but studies indicate immune effects may require higher intakes around 10 mg per day, especially for older adults. Good food sources include poultry, fish, potatoes, chickpeas and bananas. Because high supplemental doses of B6 can cause nerve damage, it’s likely best obtained from foods rather than supplements. If supplementing, stay under 100 mg per day and take a B-complex rather than B6 alone.

Vitamin E

Lastly, vitamin E deserves honorable mention for its antioxidant effects that protect immune cells from damaging free radicals produced during infections. It also balances release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

The recommended daily vitamin E intake is 15 mg. Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, spinach and broccoli are all rich sources. Vitamin E absorption is enhanced when consumed with fats or oils. High supplemental doses may interfere with blood clotting, so it’s best obtained from whole food sources.


Supporting your immune system with adequate rest, managing stress, exercise and a nutritious diet should always be the first line of defense. But strategic supplementation with vitamins C, D, zinc, B6 and E can provide an immune boost when you need it most. Be proactive by eating plenty of bright fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Get your vitamin D from smart sun exposure and vitamin levels checked annually. See your doctor at the first sign of infection, and consider IV vitamin therapies for a rapid-acting immune system recharge. With the supportive care of vitamins and lifestyle measures, your body’s natural defenses can stay resilient despite the bugs going around.

Written by: Maria Simion Simion - Registered Nurse Practitioner