Supporting your immune system
Your immune system is constantly active, figuring out which cells belong to your body and which don’t. This means it needs a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals to keep its energy up and going.

The following recipes are packed with essential nutrients for everyday health or for fighting off viruses such as the cold or flu.

Learn which immunity-enhancing nutrients each juice, smoothie, or seed milk has so you can start your mornings off with a refreshing boost to your body’s natural defenses.

1. Orange, grapefruit, and other citrus
Photo by Happy Foods Tube
This citrus explosion by Happy Foods Tube contains more than enough of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which protect your cells from substances that damage the body.

A vitamin C deficiency can lead to delayed wound healing, an impaired immune response, and the inability to properly fight infections.

There’s currently no evidence that oral vitamin C is effective in preventing transmission of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) or treating the disease it causes, COVID-19.

However, research has shown promise for intravenous (IV) infusion of vitamin C as a COVID-19 treatment.

More clinical trials are in the works for treatment, not prevention, using IV infusion, not oral therapy.

However, if you have a cold, high doses of vitamin C might result in less severe symptoms and a quicker recovery. For adults, the tolerable upper limit is 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
potassium from the oranges
vitamin A from the oranges and grapefruit
vitamin B-6 from the oranges
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the oranges
vitamin C from all of the citrus fruits
zinc from the oranges
2. Green apple, carrot, and orange
Photo by The Urban Umbrella
Carrots, apples, and oranges are a winning combination for helping your body protect itself and fight off infections.

The apples and oranges give you your vitamin C.

Vitamin A, which is also critical to a healthy immune systemTrusted Source, is present in carrots in the form of the antioxidant beta carotene.

The carrots also contain vitamin B-6, which plays an important role in immune cell proliferation and antibody production.

Click here for a recipe by The Urban Umbrella that’ll get you glowing and going in the morning. The tartness of the green apples really cuts through the sweetness of the carrots and oranges.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
potassium from the carrots
vitamin A from the carrots
vitamin B-6 from the carrots
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the oranges
vitamin C from the oranges and apple

3. Beet, carrot, ginger, and apple
Photo by Minimalist Baker
This fortifying juice by Minimalist Baker features three root vegetables that’ll help your immune system and decrease inflammatory symptoms.

Inflammation is often an immune response to infections originating from viruses or bacteria. Cold or flu symptoms include a runny nose, coughs, and body aches.

People who have rheumatoid arthritis may find this juice especially beneficial, as ginger has anti-inflammatory effects.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
potassium from the carrots, beets, and apple
vitamin A from the carrots and beets
vitamin B-6 from the carrots
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the beets
vitamin C from the apple
4. Tomato
Photo by Elise Bauer for Simply Recipes
The best way to be sure your tomato juice is fresh and doesn’t contain a lot of added ingredients is to make it yourself. Simply Recipes has a wonderful recipe that only calls for a few ingredients.

The best part? No juicer or blender is required, although you’ll want to strain the bits and pieces through a sieve.

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin B-9, commonly known as folate. It helps lower your risk of infections. Tomatoes also provide modest amounts of magnesium, an anti-inflammatory.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
magnesium from the tomatoes
potassium from the tomatoes
vitamin A from the tomatoes
vitamin B-6 from the tomatoes
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the tomatoes
vitamin C from the tomatoes
vitamin K from the tomatoes and celery
5. Kale, tomato, and celery
Kale is a staple in many green juices, but the Kale Mary — Tesco’s take on a bloody Mary — is truly one of a kind.

Instead of cutting the taste of kale with sweet fruits, this recipe uses tomato juice, adding more than enough vitamin A.

Adding some spicy horseradish to this recipe may also provide anti-inflammatory benefits, according to some research. Blend it up for a drink that’ll awaken your senses.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
magnesium from the tomato juice
manganese from the kale
potassium from the tomato juice
vitamin A from the kale and tomato juice
vitamin B-6 from the tomato juice
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the tomato juice
vitamin C from the kale and tomato juice
vitamin K from the tomato juice
6. Strawberry and kiwi
Photo by Well Plated
Strawberries and kiwis are other healthy options to include in a vitamin C-packed drink. Since it takes about 4 cups of strawberries to make 1 cup of juice, you may want to blend these fruits into a smoothie rather than a juice.

We love this recipe by Well Plated, which includes skim milk. Milk is a good source of protein and vitamin D, which is hard to come by in juices that use only fruits or vegetables.

Many people are deficient in vitamin D, which is largely found in sunlight and in smaller amounts in animal products. Healthy levels, achieved through sunlight, diet, or supplements, reduce your risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia or the flu.

Some recent research suggests a connection between vitamin D deficiency and infection rates and severity. Clinical trials are needed to determine whether it has the same effect on SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus.

For an additional boost, swap the milk for a few ounces of probiotic-rich Greek yogurt. Taking probiotics may help your cells maintain an antimicrobial barrier. Probiotics are commonly found in supplements and fermented foods.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
calcium from the skim milk
manganese from the strawberries and oats
phosphorus from the oats
potassium from the strawberries, banana, and orange
vitamin B-1 (thiamine) from the oats
vitamin B-6 from the banana
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the strawberries and orange
vitamin B-12 from the skim milk
vitamin C from the strawberries, kiwi, and orange
vitamin D from the skim milk
vitamin K from the kiwi
zinc from the skim milk
7. Strawberry and mango
Photo by Feel Good Foodie
Feel Good Foodie’s strawberry mango smoothie is the healthy way to satisfy your cravings for a bottomless brunch. This recipe uses some frozen fruit, which packs the same nutritional punch as fresh fruit.

You can also opt for using all fresh fruits if you have them on hand.

The vitamin E from the mango and almond milk adds extra antioxidant benefits to enhance the immune system, especially in older adults.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
calcium from the almond milk
manganese from the strawberries
potassium from the strawberries
vitamin A from the mango and carrot
vitamin B-6 from the mango
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the strawberries and mango
vitamin C from the strawberries, mango, and orange
vitamin D from the almond milk
vitamin E from the mango and almond milk
8. Watermelon mint
Photo by Veg Recipes of India
Not only is watermelon rich in vitamin C and arginine (which can bolster your immune system), but it also can help relieve muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is a common symptom of the flu, especially in older adults.

The heavy water content of this fruit may also make it easier to juice (and it feels like less of a waste of fruit).

Take a look at Dassana’s recipe for watermelon mint juice at Veg Recipes of India. You can also mix watermelon juice with other plain fruit juices, such as apple or orange, that may not have as much vitamin A.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
arginine from the watermelon
citrulline from the watermelon
magnesium from the watermelon
vitamin A from the watermelon
vitamin C from the watermelon
9. Pumpkin seed
Photo by Trent Lanz for The Blender Girl
Many pumpkin juice recipes online include a lot of added sugars or require store-bought apple juice.

This is why we decided to include this pumpkin seed milk recipe by The Blender Girl instead. It’s one of the freshest, most natural recipes available online. It works as a great base for fruit smoothies too.

The extra health benefits are also hard to ignore. Not only will this milk boost your immune system, but it may also help your:

bone health
menopause symptoms or effects such as worsening cholesterol levelsTrusted Source
urinary health
hair and skin
mental health
prostate health
The pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. Zinc is already a common ingredient in many cold remedies, due to its positive effect on both inflammation and the immune system.

Australian researchers are looking into intravenous zinc as a treatment for respiratory issues associated with COVID-19.

Also in the works is at least one U.S. clinical trial exploring zinc’s effect (in combination with other therapies) on preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
magnesium from the pumpkin seeds
manganese from the pumpkin seeds
potassium from the dates
zinc from the pumpkin seeds
10. Green apple, lettuce, and kale
Photo by Show Me the Yummy
A vegetable-based green juice is a powerhouse of nutrients that promote a strong immune system.

Show Me the Yummy has a wonderful recipe that’ll make anybody, including kids, happy to drink their greens.

Throw in a handful of parsley or spinach for some extra vitamins A, C, and K.

Notable nutrients (in one serving)
iron from the kale
manganese from the kale
potassium from the kale
vitamin A from the kale and celery
vitamin B-9 (folate) from the celery
vitamin C from the kale and lemon
vitamin K from the cucumber and celery
Keep your immune system strong
Making juices, smoothies, and nutritional drinks is one of the tastier ways to stay healthy. No matter which one you like, you can always add other superfoods such as chia seeds and wheat germ for more health benefits.

Other ways to keep your immune system strong include practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated, sleeping well, reducing stress, and exercising frequently.