Can juicing help your immune system?


With cold and flu season upon us, many people are looking for ways to give their immune system a boost. Juicing has become a popular health trend, with advocates claiming it can help support immunity. But what does the science say about juicing and immunity? Keep reading to learn more.

How Juicing Works

Juicing involves extracting the nutritious juice from fruits and vegetables, while removing the fiber. This allows you to easily consume large quantities of micronutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants from produce.

Some examples of ingredients commonly used in juicing include:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Ginger
  • Lemon

You can make juice using a special juicing machine, or a high-speed blender. Blender juices will contain some fiber, while juices made with a juicer filter out the fiber completely.

Juicing vs Whole Produce

Juicing has some advantages over simply eating whole fruits and vegetables:

  • It’s easier to consume more produce and get a big nutrient boost.
  • Some nutrients are more bioavailable in juice form without fiber.
  • It’s fast and convenient.

However, there are also some drawbacks:

  • Fiber is removed, which provides many health benefits.
  • It’s less satisfying than eating whole produce.
  • Nutrients are more concentrated, so drinking too much can cause problems.
  • Phytochemicals interact, so isolating them via juicing isn’t ideal.
  • Chewing produce has unique benefits.

For these reasons, juicing shouldn’t completely replace eating whole fruits and vegetables. But it can be a nutritious addition to your diet in moderation.

Juicing and Immune Function

So what influence could juicing have on immune health specifically? Let’s take a look at some of the key nutrients.

Vitamin C

Many citrus fruits and veggies are packed with vitamin C. Just one orange supplies over 100% of your daily vitamin C needs. Here are vitamin C levels in some common juicing ingredients:

Ingredient Vitamin C per Cup
Oranges 82 mg
Grapefruit 78 mg
Kale 134 mg
Broccoli 101 mg
Strawberries 85 mg
Pineapple 78 mg

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and plays a central role in immune function. It supports the production and function of various immune cells. Vitamin C also helps these cells regenerate after fighting off pathogens.

Studies show that vitamin C supplements may slightly reduce the length of colds. Getting enough vitamin C is especially important before and during infections. Since the body doesn’t store vitamin C, regular intake is key.

Vitamin A

Many orange and green veggies are loaded with provitamin A carotenoids. The body converts these compounds into active vitamin A as needed. Some top sources in juice include:

Ingredient Vitamin A per Cup
Carrots 453 mcg RAE
Sweet potato 961 mcg RAE
Kale 806 mcg RAE
Spinach 469 mcg RAE

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system. It’s needed for the growth and function of various immune cells involved in fighting infection. Vitamin A also keeps the linings of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract healthy, providing a barrier to pathogens.

Multiple studies have linked vitamin A deficiency with increased risk of infections like measles, diarrhea, and malaria in children.

Vitamin D

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. While some mushrooms and fatty fish supply small amounts, sunlight exposure is the main source for most people. However, you can add vitamin D to juices by using fortified juice or plant milks.

Research suggests vitamin D helps regulate immune function. It boosts production of antimicrobial proteins that attack pathogens. Vitamin D also modulates inflammatory responses.

Several studies have found an association between low vitamin D status and increased respiratory infections like colds, bronchitis, and flu. However, more research is needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements actually reduce risk.

Vitamin E

Dark leafy greens, broccoli, and kiwi offer vitamin E in juicing recipes. Here are some of the top food sources:

Ingredient Vitamin E per Cup
Sunflower seeds 41 mg
Almonds 26 mg
Kiwi 2.6 mg
Broccoli 1.4 mg
Spinach 1.9 mg

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and regulate immune function. Some research indicates vitamin E supplements may enhance immune response in the elderly. But more studies are needed on its immunity effects.


Many greens used in juicing are high in folate, including spinach, kale, arugula, and broccoli. Citrus fruits and legumes also supply folate.

Folate helps make new cells, including immune cells like T cells and natural killer cells. Without enough folate, the immune system can’t function properly.

One study found that folate deficiency weakened immunity in elderly individuals. Getting adequate folate may prevent declines in immune function.


Foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and mushrooms contain zinc. While zinc from supplements can interact with foods, zinc from food sources is better absorbed.

Zinc supports the growth and activation of various immune cells. It also helps regulate inflammation. Even mild zinc deficiency can impair immune function, especially in the elderly.

Multiple studies demonstrate that zinc lozenges may help shorten colds by a day or two. Getting enough zinc before an infection occurs appears most important.


Spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, and dried fruits provide iron in juice recipes. Iron is required to make hemoglobin in red blood cells, which carry oxygen.

Some research links iron deficiency with decreased immune function. For example, low iron reduces T cell count and activity. This likely contributes to increased infections like pneumonia.

However, more research is needed on whether correcting iron deficiency enhances immunity for non-anemic individuals. Iron overload can also cause problems, so moderation is key.


In addition to vitamins and minerals, produce contains thousands of beneficial plant compounds called phytochemicals.

Some phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects include:

  • Beta-carotene – carrots, sweet potatoes
  • Lycopene – tomatoes, watermelon
  • Anthocyanins – berries, grapes
  • Quercetin – apples, onions
  • Lutein – kale, spinach
  • Resveratrol – grapes, peanuts
  • Ellagic acid – strawberries, pomegranate

By juicing a variety of fruits and veggies, you can take in a wide range of unique phytochemicals. Research suggests these compounds help enhance immune defense and fight inflammation.

Downsides of Juicing for Immunity

Despite the potential upsides, there are also some drawbacks to consider regarding juicing and immune health:

  • Excess vitamin C, vitamin A, iron can cause side effects.
  • Phytochemicals may interact, so isolating them into juice isn’t ideal.
  • Lacks protein, fiber, and other nutrients from whole produce.
  • High glycemic index of fruit/veg juices may be harmful.
  • Possible food safety issues if produce isn’t cleaned well.

Additionally, while juices contain many beneficial micronutrients and plant compounds, they lack macronutrients and fiber.

Getting adequate protein, fiber, omega-3s, and other nutrients is also crucial for proper immune function. So a juice-only regimen doesn’t provide complete, balanced nutrition.

Tips for Juicing to Support Immunity

If you want to try juicing to give your immune system a boost, here are some tips:

  • Use a variety of colorful produce like berries, citrus, kale, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Add anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon.
  • Include healthy fats like avocado, chia seeds, or nut butter.
  • Mix up fruit- and veggie-based juices for balanced nutrition.
  • Aim for moderation – 1 cup or less per day.
  • Drink juice shortly after making it to preserve nutrients.
  • Wash produce thoroughly before juicing.
  • Store juice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 72 hours.

It’s also important not to rely solely on juicing to prevent or treat illness. Make sure you also:

  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet with whole foods.
  • Get adequate sleep and manage stress levels.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take additional immune supplements if needed.
  • See your doctor for guidance on strengthening immunity if needed.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating nutritious juice into a healthy diet may offer some benefits for immune function. Juices provide concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health.

However, whole fruits and vegetables are preferable for their fiber and synergistic nutrient interactions. Drinking juice shouldn’t replace eating whole produce.

While juicing is no miracle cure, vegetable- and fruit-based juices can be a tasty way to hydrate and increase your daily nutrient intake. As part of a balanced lifestyle, juicing may provide a small boost to your immune system. But always talk to your doctor for individualized advice.

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