Popeye had it right

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

The one thing at the top of our health and wellness list these days is our immune system.

Who knew we’d come to cherish them as much as we do now?

How to keep them up and running is of paramount importance, hence I give you – the three vitamins absolutely essential in keeping our immune systems in tip top shape.

Now, I know many of us take a lot of vitamin pills – an estimated billions dollars’ worth a year in the U. S.

But here’s the awful truth – we’re probably doing ourselves a disservice by depending on vitamins.

A healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables does a far better job of providing the nutrients our bodies need.

In fact, many experts are now advising that we shouldn’t try to compensate for a diet poor in fresh foods by taking vitamins – as this is not helping us, only wasting our money and giving us a false sense of security.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find the foods that are richest in the three vitamins necessary for a strong immune system.

You probably already know that vitamin C is essential.

Studies have shown that a lack of vitamin C from fresh food sources can actually make a person prone to getting sick.

Conversely, people who get plenty of vitamin C have the most efficient immune response.

But you can’t have it every once in a while and think you’re getting enough because our bodies can’t produce it or store it, so daily intake of vitamin C is absolutely essential.

Fortunately, there are lots of foods rich in vitamin C – oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, black currents, snow peas, pineapple, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe, to name just a few.

Make sure you are getting a few servings of some of these foods every day.

Not only will you be doing your immune system a favor, you’ll also be enhancing your iron absorption and fighting off heart disease, gout and, for those pirates out there, scurvy.

Vitamin B6 is instrumental in supporting the biochemical reactions necessary to a robust immune system.

It’s good for combating stress.

And B-6 is also easy to come by.

You’ll find it in abundance in chicken, cold water fish like salmon and tuna, milk, eggs, beef and chicken liver.

Green vegetables (especially spinach and green peas), chickpeas, which is the main ingredient in hummus, sweet potatoes and carrots are also rich in B-6.

The third indispensable vitamin for a strong immune system is vitamin E.

It’s a potent antioxidant.

Besides helping the body fight off infection, it protects eyesight and prevents muscle weakness.

Like the first two vitamins we’ve discussed, vitamin E is not hard to come by.

It’s in many kinds of nuts, seeds and also in spinach.

Wheat germ oil has the most vitamin E.

But you’ll also find it in abundance in other nuts and nut products, like sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower oil, hazel nuts, pine nuts, peanuts and Brazil nuts.

Goose meat, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, avocados, sweet red peppers, mangos, kiwi fruit and turnip greens also contain high percentages of vitamin E.

You may have noticed one food that’s rich in all three of these vitamins.

Yep. It’s spinach.

So, if you want to keep your body in peak fighting form, able to fend off dangerous microscopic invaders, I suggest you take care to eat some foods from each of these lists every day.

And, like Popeye, lean heavily on that spinach.

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