Can Foods Raise White T Cells?

T cells, also known as T lymphocytes, are a white blood cell of grave importance to your immune system; they allow your body to adapt a response to any pathogen. Your physician may recommend medications to boost T cell counts when you are fighting an illness, but there are also foods you can eat to trigger production of these critical cells.

A basket of garlic bulbs for sale at a market. (Image: lovell35/iStock/Getty Images)


Eat oysters to boost the number of T cells in your body to fight infections. A 3-oz. serving oysters cooked in moist heat contains 66.8 mg of zinc, a mineral that bolsters white blood cell production and helps these cells to produce greater quantities of antibodies. Oysters also contain a small amount of vitamin A -- 75 IU per serving -- which also helps stimulate the production of white blood cells. You require 8 to 11 mg of zinc and 2,300 to 3,000 IU of vitamin A each day.


Including garlic in your meal plan to increase your T cells is a good option. A study published in the February 2009 issue of the journal "Planta Medica" indicates that compounds in garlic trigger the growth of lymphocytes. Garlic also contains a small amount of zinc -- 0.1 mg -- and 2.8 mg of vitamin C, another vitamin useful for your immune system. The vitamin C in garlic pumps up your body's production of white blood cells; adults need 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C per day.

Brazil Nuts

Eating more brazil nuts, a large South American nut, may improve your T cell count, thanks to the selenium content. A 1-oz. serving of these nuts provides you with 543.5 mcg of this mineral, and research indicates that selenium positively influences T cell proliferation and activity, according to a study featured in the June 2010 "Journal of Nutrition." Adults require 55 mcg of selenium each day. Brazil nuts also supply small amounts of zinc and vitamin C.


The vitamin A in carrots helps trigger white blood cell production; a 1-cup serving of chopped carrots has 21,384 IU of this vitamin, many times the daily recommended intake. You also take in a small amount of vitamin C in a serving of carrots -- 7.6 mg -- as well as small amounts of zinc and selenium, all of which contribute to T cell counts.

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