Boosting Immunity With Oranges

  • Maariya Rachid DaudDoctor of Philosophy - PhD, Bioprocessing and Chemical Engineering, The University of Manchester

Oranges are a very popular fruit enjoyed by many. In addition, to its juicy delicious taste, this citrus fruit provides many health benefits including boosting our immunity. Our immune system is involved with many different processes and is essential to keep us happy and healthy. Therefore we must try our best to eat well and boost our immune system the best we can. This short but very informative article will guide you on the importance of our immune health, the role and vitamins produced by oranges and how to incorporate them into our diet.  


The immune system is one of the most important systems in our bodies which  is responsible for protecting us from harm including harmful substances, germs and detrimental changes in our body.1  The immune system can be described as a very large network as it is composed of a mixture of cells, soluble factors and tissues which all come together and interact with each other to protect us from harm.2 To carry out this vital role the immune system will recognise the foreign substance or pathogen including bacteria, viruses and parasites and instigate an immune response to try and eliminate them from our body.1 Therefore it is essential and our responsibility to ensure that our immune system is always strong and healthy to protect us from the outside world. One way to do this is to increase the intake of certain vitamins and nutrients which will indirectly boost our immunity. There are many food sources that include a variety of nutrients and vitamins. Fruits and vegetables, especially, are dense in nutrients and can even be described as nutritional powerhouses. One of the delicious, juicy fruits which can be enjoyed in a variety of ways include oranges. The orange is a citrus fruit comprised of vitamins C, A and B1 which all play different roles in enhancing our immune system.3

The Immune System

The immune system can be argued to be one of the most important networks in the body. It is a complex network comprised of a variety of cells that work together to act as the first line of defense when encountering harmful agents including pathogens. A strong immune system is essential to be able to stay healthy, in good shape and prevent any unwanted illnesses.1  The role of the immune system can be summarised into three main tasks:

  • Recognise and remove foreign antigens including bacteria, fungi and viruses
  • Neutralise harmful substances from the environment in the body
  • Fight and raise a response when encountering diseases or abnormalities like cancer in the body 1 

By fulfilling these three simple yet very important tasks, the immune system can ensure that we maintain good health. There are many cell types involved in the immune system that help the completion of the two tasks. However, out of all the cells, there are two main types which are the most crucial known as T-cells and B-cells. T cells are like the first line of defense which coordinate an attack on pathogens by seeking them out, fighting and essentially removing them from our body. B cells, on the other hand, are responsible for producing Y-shaped proteins known as antibodies which bind to the specific parts on the foreign pathogen known as antigens and destroy the foreign substances. Without T and B cells, it would be very hard to produce an immune response. Many nutrients and vitamins contribute to the production of both these cells and many more. Therefore, to give our bodies sufficient fuel and power to combat these infections, it is essential to keep a healthy balanced diet and incorporate as many nutritional powerhouses including oranges into our diet.4

Importance of Oranges

There are many different types of oranges with the most popular ones being the sweet and bitter oranges. Both these oranges are from the citrus family and are nutrient-dense with many crucial vitamins essential to support the immune system. Some of the most beneficial nutrients in oranges include:

  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, plays several vital roles in immune health including in the production of white blood cells to fight infections. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties that allow the protection of immune cells from free radical damage. In addition, our immune system also relies on the skin as a first line of defense against pathogens preventing them from entering our bodies. Vitamin C contributes to collagen production which supports the skin's integrity allowing it to complete its role as a physical barrier.5
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A has many roles in the body, with one of the main ones being the maintenance of the health of mucous membranes. The mucus membrane as the name suggests is responsible for making mucus and is found in the places that pathogens are likely to try and enter including the mouth, nose, and eyes. The mucus membrane keeps these places moist and can even trap pathogens preventing them from entering the body and causing detrimental infections. 6
  • Folate: Folate is a B vitamin found required for the synthesis and repair of DNA. IT is crucial to have good DNA in our body to allow them to contribute to making immune cells which is needed to defend the body against pathogens.7
  • Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is necessary for the development and maintenance of immune cells. This is because our immune system needs a good amount of energy to carry out its many roles and have the strength to combat infections and pathogens. Thiamine is involved in the conversion of food into energy, ensuring that the immune system has the energy it needs to function properly.8
  • Antioxidants: There are many antioxidants in oranges such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which neutralise free radicals resulting in less oxidative stress on the immune system.

Oranges and Immunity

Due to the wide variety of nutrients and vitamins in oranges, the citrus fruit can be described as a nutritional powerhouse which strengthens the immune system. In addition to strengthening the immune system, all of the different nutrients and vitamins stated above found in oranges also: 9

  • Strengthen immune cells: Vitamin C in particular in oranges plays an important role in strengthening the immune system by enhancing the function of the many immune cells including white blood cells which are crucial to fight infections. 
  • Reduce the duration of colds: The vitamins found in oranges are not sufficient to prevent a cold, however, they have been shown to help you recover more quickly.
  • Protect against respiratory infections
  • Enhance skin health: Oranges promote collagen production which is essential for skin health. 9

Incorporating Oranges into Your Diet

One of the great properties of oranges is the ability to incorporate them into our diet easily. There are many ways that oranges can be enjoyed which will all provide you with all the essential and beneficial nutrients to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Some of the most common, delicious and diverse ways of incorporating oranges into our diets include:

  • Fresh orange juice or smoothies
  • Oranges as snacks or desserts
  • Incorporating orange slices into salads
  • Using orange zest for extra flavour and nutrients
  • Dried orange peel for teas and cooking 10


To summarise, oranges are delicious citrus fruits that can be described as nutritional powerhouses as they are dense in nutrients and vitamins. The many vitamins and nutrients found in oranges have many beneficial health properties with one of the main ones being boosting the immune system. The immune system is composed of a wide network of many cells, tissues and organs which all come together to fight pathogens including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Therefore, due to the crucial role of the immune system, it is essential to do our best to keep it healthy and eat fruits like oranges which will boost our immune system resulting in strengthening our immune cells, reducing the duration of colds, protecting against pathogens and respiratory diseases. Another great benefit of oranges is their diversity considering that they can be incorporated into our diet in a variety of ways ranging from orange juices or whole oranges used as snakes or deserts.


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  2. Varadé J, Magadán S, González-Fernández Á. Human immunology and immunotherapy: main achievements and challenges. Cellular & Molecular Immunology. 2021;18(4): 805–828. Available from: .
  3. Farag MA, Abib B, Ayad L, Khattab AR. Sweet and bitter oranges: An updated comparative review of their bioactives, nutrition, food quality, therapeutic merits and biowaste valorization practices. Food Chemistry. 2020;331: 127306. Available from: .
  4. Cano RLE, Lopera HDE. Introduction to t and b lymphocytes. In: Autoimmunity: From Bench to Bedside [Internet]. El Rosario University Press; 2013. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
  5. Abdullah M, Jamil RT, Attia FN. Vitamin c(Ascorbic acid). In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
  6. McEldrew EP, Lopez MJ, Milstein H. Vitamin a. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
  7. Merrell BJ, McMurry JP. Folic acid. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
  8. Martel JL, Kerndt CC, Doshi H, Franklin DS. Vitamin b1(Thiamine). In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
  9. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin c and immune function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11): 1211. Available from: .
  10. 11 ways to include oranges in your diet | TheHealthSite. [Accessed 15th October 2023]. Available from: 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Maariya Rachid Daud

MSc Molecular biotechnology, University of Birmingham

Hi, my name is Maariya and I am currently a student at the Univeristy of Birmingham studying a masters in molecular biotechnology. I love reading and writing articles about a wide range of topics with the hope of allowing everyone to learn how to live a healthier happier life. I especially enjoy writing articles that are targeted to people with non-scientific backgrounds giving everyone the opportunity to learn more about biology. I really hope that you find all my articles interesting and insightful.

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