August 16, 2012 by Warren Wilkinson
This nutrition paper suggests that the primary immune system boosting nutrients are zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, E, and B-6, and folic acid (B9).
I’m going to look at all of them, and explain how common cold remedies stack up: Chicken soup vs garlic vs ginger vs citrus fruits.
In the following charts I’m comparing:
- Chicken Broth: about 3 cups.
- Oranges: About 2.5 small.
- Garlic: eating 9 cloves (about a head) — raw because the USDA doesn’t have roasted.
- Mussels, same mass as the 9 cloves garlic. I’ve added this as a control. Seafood is great for you.
- Ginger: Eating a big 85g (3/4 a cup?) piece — raw because the USDA doesn’t have cooked.
Our immune systems requirement for Zinc is well documented. But adequate zinc is often missing from our diets — for vegans especially!
- Phytates (found in whole grains) prevent absorption of many minerals.
- I’ve heard tannins (red wine) can also hinder zinc absorption.
- High concentrations of iron will also impede zinc absorption
Best Sources: Mollusks, meat, mushrooms
Selenium is turned into the amino acid selenocysteine which is mixed with proteins to form selenoproteins.
- Selenium deficiencies tend to coincide with iron and copper deficiencies. But this could be correlation and not causation. The best selenium sources are also sources or iron and copper.
Best Sources: Kidneys, brazil nuts, fish, spleen, mollusks, crustaceans, various other meats (especially organs).
- Phytic acid, found in grains, legumes and nuts, binds with iron, zinc, copper, etc and prevents absorption.
Best Sources: meat, breakfast cereals, potatoes.
Copper deficiency leads to lower production of T Cells. But not much is known about the exact role it play.
Phytic acid, found in grains, legumes and nuts, binds with iron, zinc, copper, etc and prevents absorption.
Best Sources: Liver, Mollusks, grape leaves, mushrooms.
I don’t know exactly what this means, but T cells are a type of white blood cell.
- Excessive iron consumption
- Zinc deficiency
- Low fat intake
Best Sources: Liver, carrots, kale, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato
Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in white blood cells — and it’s quickly used up in their line of work.
Exactly how or why isn’t well-known.
- Smoking costs the body about an orange worth of vitamin-c
- Healing naturally by bee suggests that too much sugar can crowd out vitamin-c absorption.
- Alcohol (depletes the bodies vitamin C)
Best Sources: peppers, broccoli, kale, parsley, strawberries, oranges.
(one broccoli stalk has 177% of daily Vitamin C while one small orange only has 85%)
Not sure about this one — a lack of Vitamin E impairs immune system… but that can be said of almost any nutrient.
Best Sources: turnip greens, oils, snails, roe, collards, spinach
- Most of the vegetables we eat are from the crucifer family. These contain pyridoxine glucoside, which inhibits most absorption. That’s why Brussel sprouts didn’t make the best sources list.
Best Sources: Fish, Liver, Cereal bran, offal, meat.
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid)
Vitamin B-9 seems to affect the survival rate of T cells. In most places it’s added to wheat products (Canada made it mandatory in 1998). Overconsumption is linked to cancer. But a lack of the vitamin can cause birth defects.
Best Sources: liver, dark leafy greens, legumes.
There are a lot of nutrients in this category — it’s hard to tell what’s important. The chicken soup and mussels provided good mineral support, but less of the vitamins. Oranges had lots of these vitamins.
Next time I’m sick, I’m going to cook mussels with garlic+orange sauce. How can I lose?
(this post part of the Modern Paleo blog rodeo)