Every year, there comes a time where sniffling, sneezing and call-outs are plenty. We call this “cold and flu season”, a period that generally lasts between October and February and results in many cases of illness.

Thankfully, we can benefit from a boost to our immune systems with just minor adjustments to our diet. There are a variety of foods known to be high in different antioxidants that can help our bodies fight off impending and current infections. They may not be as powerful as a flu shot in keeping influenza at bay, but these vitamins and minerals play a very important role in keeping good health. So if you wish to avoid round-the-clock medicines and being bound to a tissue box this year, ensure your diet is rich in the following antioxidants:

Vitamin A

Not only is vitamin A essential for immune system health, it also plays a vital role in growth, development, and eye health. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means you are better off getting it from your diet than supplementing it as over consumption may lead to toxicity. But don’t fret; it’s unlikely you will get too much vitamin A through diet alone.

Food sources that are high in vitamin A include:

  • Chicken, beef or turkey liver
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Butter
  • Kale

Vitamin C

Did you know vitamin C is essential to tissue repair and production of some neurotransmitters? While the latest research found that vitamin C cannot reliably prevent a cold, the boost it gives our immune system can help our body to fight the infection and recover quicker.

The following food sources are high in vitamin C:

  • Guava
  • Currants
  • Red bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Oranges and lemons

Fun fact: While vitamin C is an essential vitamin for all mammals, humans are one of the only mammals that cannot produce it within their own bodies.

Vitamin E

Currently, global consumption of vitamin E is below the recommended daily intake of 7 to 15 milligrams per day. But those who do regularly meet the recommended amount of vitamin E tend to have lower incidences of heart disease, making it a very important nutrient for our health. Plus, getting enough vitamin E can really help your immune system as it is a powerful antioxidant.

Foods high in vitamin E:

  • Wheat germ and wheat germ oil
  • Hazelnut, canola, sunflower, safflower, almond, and other seed oils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Seed and nut butters

Just like vitamin A, vitamin E is fat-soluble, but it is unlikely for humans to be deficient in vitamin E specifically. Most deficiencies occur due to difficulties in properly digesting dietary fats, rather than a true deficiency of the vitamin itself.