While a robust immune system has some obvious benefits — the ability to fight off pathogens, including cold and flu viruses — a healthy immune system also plays an important role in combating cardiovascular disease and even cancer progression. Orange juice does not offer a miracle cure for immune system issues — it can’t replace traditional medical care to treat diseases affecting your immune system — but it can boost immunity by providing essential nutrients that your immune system needs to function.
Orange juice serves as a source of vitamin A, a nutrient important for immune function. Vitamin A promotes the development of new white blood cells, the immune cells that circulate in your bloodstream to identify and destroy harmful pathogens. It also helps activate your white blood cells so they can fight off infection. Drinking a cup of fresh orange juice provides you with 498 international units of vitamin A — 17 and 21 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and women, respectively, established by the Institute of Medicine.
Orange juice benefits your immune system by boosting your intake of vitamin C. Each cup of orange juice contains 124 milligrams of vitamin C, or the entire recommended daily intake for men and women, according to the Institute of Medicine. Vitamin C keeps your skin healthy, so that it can maintain a strong barrier that stops pathogens from entering your body. It also helps you make white blood cells and boosts white blood cell function.
The folate, or vitamin B-9, in orange juice promotes healthy immune function. You need folate for healthy cell growth — it helps your cells make the DNA and protein or newly created cells. This proves important for immune function, because your body constantly produces new white blood cells to maintain your immune system. Low levels of folate lower your immunity, explains the Linus Pauling Institute. Drinking a cup of fresh orange juice provides you with 74 micrograms of folate, or 19 percent of the recommended daily folate intake set by the Institute of Medicine.
Orange juice also serves as a source of copper, a mineral that boosts your immune system. While the effect of copper on your immune system is not entirely understood, you need to consume copper to maintain a healthy white blood cell count. Copper deficiency causes neutropenia — a condition characterized by low levels of white blood cell that leaves you vulnerable to infection. Each 1-cup serving of orange juice offers 109 micrograms of copper — 12 percent of your daily intake requirements, established by the Institute of Medicine.