What are immuno-nutrients and why do babies need them?

You may have seen the term ‘immuno-nutrients’ before and wondered what it means. Read on to learn about what immuno-nutrients are and why are they important for your little ones

Quick Explanation

This article explains what immuno-nutrients are, and how they support your baby’s normal immunity development.




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What are immuno-nutrients?

Immuno-nutrients are a combination of vitamins and minerals - Vitamin A, C & D and Zinc - that contribute to the normal functioning of your baby’s immune system.

Why is immunity important?

When your little one is first born, they aren’t just learning their surroundings from what they can see and touch. Their immune system is also learning how to navigate a new environment; the outside world is completely different to being in utero.  Throughout the early years of life, your baby’s immune system is maturing to learn to fight off infections and illness and they are more susceptible to illnesses such as the common cold and flu1.

How can you support your baby’s developing immune system?

Newborn babies have some immunity from their mother, who can pass on antibodies through the placenta and through breastmilk2. This temporary protection slowly reduces over the first few months of life, which is why childhood vaccinations start at 8 weeks old2

The development of the immune system can also be supported through nutrition.

What are the benefits of immuno-nutrients and which foods do they come from?

Vitamin A

  • Supports the normal functioning of the immune system3
  • Important in visual development4
  • Good food sources include eggs, oily fish, milk, yoghurt and cheese5


Vitamin C

  • Helps fight bacteria6
  • Keeps cells healthy and maintains healthy organs such as skin and blood vessels7
  • Good food sources include oranges, peppers, broccoli and potatoes7


Vitamin D

  • Supports normal immune system function8
  • Supports the normal inflammatory response8
  • Good food sources include oily fish, egg yolks and fortified breakfast cereals9



  • Helps cells repair and with wound healing10
  • Supports the normal functioning of the immune system11,12 
  • Good food sources include meat, shellfish, cheese and bread10


The UK government recommends a supplement of Vitamin D for breastfed babies below 6 months, and supplements of Vitamins A, C and D from 6 months to 5 years. However, babies fed infant formula do not need vitamin supplements if they're having more than 500ml (about a pint) of formula a day, because formula is fortified with Vitamin D and other nutrients4

...babies fed infant formula do not need vitamin supplements if they're having more than 500ml (about a pint) of formula a day, because formula is fortified with Vitamin D and other nutrients4

To summarise:

  • As your newborn grows, their immune system is learning to fight off infections and illnesses like the common cold and flu. Immuno-nutrients, vitamins A, C, D and Zinc, are an important part of your baby’s nutrition as they support the normal functioning of their immune system. 
  • Immuno-nutrients can be found in breast milk, certain foods and formulas.
  • Navigating the nutritional needs of your baby can be overwhelming especially as a first-time parent. If you need advice, our Careline has nutritionists and other experts who can support - we're here to help.

  1. Bliss. Common winter illnesses. https://mft.nhs.uk/app/uploads/sites/4/2018/04/Bliss-Common-Winter-Illnesses.pdf [Accessed 4 April 2024]
  2. NHS. How long do babies carry their mother's immunity? Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/childrens-health/how-long-do-babies-carry-their-mothers-immunity/ [Accessed 2 April 2024]
  3. Vitamin A and normal development and function of the immune system | EFSA (europa.eu)
  4. Vitamins for children. NHS choices. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/vitamins-for-children/ [Accessed 27 March 2024]
  5. NHS. Vitamin A. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a/ [Accessed 4 April 2024]
  6. EFSA Journal 2015;13(11):4298, 9 pp
  7. NHS. Vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/ [Accessed 2 April 2024]
  8. EFSA Journal 2015;13(7):4182, 9 pp
  9. NHS. Vitamin D. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/ [Accessed 4 April 2024]
  10. NHS. Vitamins and minerals. Others. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/ [Accessed 2 April 2024]
  11. EFSA Journal 2009;7(9):1229, 34 pp​
  12. EFSA Journal 2014;12(5):3653, 9 pp

Last reviewed 18th April 2024

Written by Aptamil's Nutrition and Medical Affairs Team

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