Mighty minerals

Some people cruise through winter with barely a sniffle; others keep the tissue companies in business. Is it because some of us are munching on the minerals.

The difference between an efficient immune system and regular bouts of sickness could have everything to do with what you’re eating (or not!). There are four key minerals that your immune system needs for top performance. 

1. Zinc 

Number one mineral for mighty immunity is zinc. However you can have too much of a good thing, which could actually have a negative effect on your immune system. To get the right balance, try to get your zinc from food. Best sources include seafood, lean meat, milk, grains, lentils and nuts. 

2. Iron 

Women are quite often iron-deficient; however men can have the opposite problem. Too much or not enough can increase your susceptibility to infection. As with zinc, try to get your iron from food sources, particularly red meat, mussels and chicken liver. Legumes can also provide iron, but you’ll absorb more if you eat a vitamin C food or red meat at the same time. 

3. Magnesium 

There is a strong link between low magnesium levels and poor immunity. To get more magnesium into your life, eat almonds and cashews, wheat germ and wheat bran, soya beans and rolled oats. 

4. Selenium 

Selenium is an important antioxidant and certain viruses become stronger in selenium-deficient people. Because New Zealand soils have low levels of selenium, you could benefit from a daily brazil nut, which are higher in selenium than any other common food. 

And don’t forget the ACE vitamins!

While the minerals we’ve just mentioned are really important for a healthy immune system, you also have to focus on vitamins A, C and E. They’re all antioxidants that help reduce the number of free radicals in the body, which can cause damage to immune cells. Vitamin C also assists production of white blood cells and interferon, an antibody that stops viruses from multiplying.