MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Infectious disease experts say if you’re getting vaccinated, it can’t hurt to boost your immune system beforehand.

Having a strong immune system will also help your body fight COVID-19 more effectively if contracted.

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Mary Giarusso, a 71-year-old resident of Big Lake, says she started a regimen of vitamins for the first time toward the start of the pandemic. She recently took a blood test to detect any nutrient deficiencies.

“[I took it] because of COVID, and I’m going to be traveling next week, so I wanted to make sure my immune system … is still in good working order,” Giarusso said.

The food we eat plays a big role in our immunity, according to licensed nutritionist Jesse Haas, owner of Wellness Minneapolis.

“In terms of boosting our immune system and helping us prevent illness, we have the power in our pantry,” Haas said.

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Haas says Vitamin D is important for immunity. She recommends mushrooms, liver and supplements. For Vitamin C, you can look beyond citrus. Haas says bell peppers and broccoli are a good source. Zinc is tougher to find, but oysters can do the trick.

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Alex Lamkin, owner of Any Lab Test Now in Plymouth, administered Giarusso’s nutrient test.

“A lot of times you’re deficient in the areas that you have no clue about,” Lamkin said.

He says patients are most commonly lacking Vitamins D and B12.

But immunity is about more than just diet, according to Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease physician at Allina Health’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

“Getting sleep, exercising, not being overweight is going to help people in every single way that health can be measured,” Rhame said.

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Haas also said the vitamins found in a drug store are called “supplements” for a reason. They’re not a substitute for a balanced diet.

David Schuman